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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 15th November 2019

15 Nov 2019

Insurance News

Tasker Insurance Group (TIG) has bought Vantage Professional Risks, a Worthing-based Broker which has Medical and Healthcare specialisms, for an undisclosed sum. The Worthing-based team, led by Martin Swann, will form part of the Broker’s Professional Risks division within the broader retail business, Tasker Insurance Brokers. This is TIG’s third acquisition of 2019 with the previous two also being of specialist broking businesses – Hobbs Broking and Castle Insurance Consultants.

Independent insurance Broker, Airsports Insurance Bureau has joined the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba). The firm operates in both personal and commercial lines and was started in 1993. In a statement it has detailed that it has a panel of over 30 Insurers and places importance on insuring High Net Worth and niche personal lines clients. All of the FCA authorised business’ staff are based in the UK and the Broker’s offices are in Eastleigh, Hampshire.

The Society of Insurance Broking (SIB) has produced a good practice guide explaining what Brokers need to do to ensure the Cyber cover they recommend is suitable for their clients’ needs. According to SIB, the guide explains while all businesses need to understand their specific Cyber Security Liability, Brokers must be prepared to provide specific and customised cover, considering the unique impact a Cyber related incident could have on their client.

The Plan Group has bought Kingswood Insurance Brokers, owner of the Pedal Cover Plus brand, for an undisclosed sum. According to Plan Group the purchase of Kingswood takes it’s business to over £30m GWP. The group has detailed that this buy should double the firm’s presence in the Cycle insurance space.

Lloyd’s has announced its decision to merge the Council and the Franchise Board effective from 1 June 2020, after receiving widespread support from across the market. According to the market the decision was made following consultations across the market which found that over 90% of those it spoke too supported the proposal to merge the Board into the Council to form a single governing body for the Corporation and the Lloyd’s market. This new, revised Council will have 15 members and consist of six nominated members, six members elected by the market and three Executives.

Vibe Syndicate Management is to put Syndicate 5768 into run-off. The business published a statement which said that the planned run-off would begin on 31 December this year. Vibe CEO Joe England said the business simply wasn’t large enough to absorb its operating costs.

The integration of Stackhouse Poland, bought by Gallagher in January 2019 for £265.5m, is almost complete, according to Michael Rea, UK retail CEO at Gallagher. Around half of the 23 Stackhouse Poland branches across the UK already carry the Gallagher branding with the remainder set to follow suit by the end of this month. Rea said that the first week in November was important because it saw the rebrand of the HNW specialist as 90-95% complete.

Applied Systems has announced the addition of First Underwriting to its personal lines panel. The Insurer’s Motor and Home products will available via the software provider’s TAM and Epic platforms. Jeff Purdy, Senior Vice President of International Operations at Applied Systems, said: “By adding First Underwriting to the Applied personal lines panel, we are providing Brokers with greater choice to deliver the most effective advice and protection to their customers.”

Ageas has reported an increase in profit for the first nine months of 2019. Net profit at the Insurer rose 7% to £58.2m from £54.2m over the same period in 2018, with the combined operating ratio improving to 97.0% from 97.5% However, gross income fell 4% to £1.17bn from £1.22bn in 2018.

Davies announces the acquisition of Thornton Group. Based in Dublin, Thornton is a leading multi-line claims adjusting and third-party administration (“TPA”) business specialising in Property, Casualty, Energy, Marine & Engineering and Jewellery claims. Operating from three locations across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, Thornton provides end-to-end claims solutions to Insurers, Brokers, MGA’s and corporates. 

Marsh has released its Global Insurance Market Index for the third quarter of 2019. Key findings include: Average commercial insurance pricing increased 8% in the third quarter of 2019, the largest increase since the survey began in 2012 and the eighth consecutive quarter of average price increases. Globally, on average, pricing for Property risks increased by 10%; Financial and Professional Lines rose by nearly 14%; and Casualty increased by 1%.

Industry disruptor Zego now has an insurance licence of its own. In an announcement the London-based start-up said it is the first UK insurtech to have been awarded an insurance licence that will allow it to build and sell its own products. Benefits of the licence include the ability to implement product changes in less than 24 hours. Meanwhile Zego, whose policies are backed by Swiss Re and 14 other A-rated reinsurance companies, will continue to work in tandem with its growing network of Insurer partners.

Amid the prevailing soft reinsurance market and escalating catastrophe losses linked with climate change, the industry must make several adjustments and improve its adoption of technology, according to an expert. Dermot Dick, Head of Treaty Production at Lloyd’s re/insurance brokerage New Dawn Risk spoke on the various trends and issues faced by the Treaty reinsurance market today. “There is a definite need to clear the air and help blow away the wreckage caused by the longest soft market in living memory,” he said. “The industry needs to get its pricing and coverage right to preserve its ability to trade forward, make itself more accessible to clients and provide the support that they need.”.

CEO of Aston Lark, Peter Blanc is a man on a mission. Having worked in the insurance industry for 30 years, Blanc’s career has run the gamut from Motor underwriting to his leading the merger between Aston Scott and Lark Group in 2017. As group CEO, he now oversees a business with over 750 staff throughout the UK and Ireland and has implemented a successful development strategy for Aston Lark by expertly balancing organic growth with new acquisitions. While the recent addition of financial services Broker Protean Risk to Aston Lark’s expanding portfolio has piqued public interest in the latter of these strategies, Blanc is clear that the success of Aston Lark lies within its ability to blend these growth areas.

It may be two and a half years since tragedy struck at London’s Grenfell Tower, with a fire killing 71 people, but the embers are still burning ominously over the insurance industry. According to sources in the sector, quoted by Reuters, premiums for Architects and Surveyors, as well as Contractors, have surged since the event placing many future projects at risk. Indeed Insurers are increasingly turning away from cladding – excluding it from the bulk of Professional Indemnity (PI) policies. Speaking to the publication, Gallagher Construction PI Broker David Stocks explained that rate increases had varied from 10% all the way up to 300-400%, with the average at 50-100%. This was backed by a spokeswoman at the Royal Institute of British Architects who outlined that a “doubling or tripling” of insurance premiums was a regular occurrence.

With approximately one in four UK Motor insurance policies provided by Gibraltarian companies and 92% of Gibraltar’s financial services business in the UK, the fate of both jurisdictions is intrinsically linked. This unique relationship is being protected and preserved by new legislation, including a new UK Financial Services Bill which guarantees continued market access on a bilaterally agreed basis between Gibraltar and the UK, without restricting Gibraltar’s regulatory autonomy in financial services. Speaking at the same event, Director General of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Huw Evans said: “We are very fortunate to have worked with the support of the Gibraltar government over many years.”.

AXA is saying goodbye to its remaining stake in AXA Equitable Holdings (EQH) to the tune of US$3.1 billion (£2.5 billion). In a release, the Paris-headquartered insurance giant said it sold 144 million shares of common stock of EQH to Goldman Sachs at a net price of US$21.80 per share. The investment bank acts as the sole Underwriter in a registered public offering of the shares.

Things are looking good for Beazley Plc as the specialist Insurer reveals its financial figures for the first nine months of 2019. In the period ended September 30, Beazley posted a 12% increase in gross written premium (GWP) from US$1.96 billion in 2018 to US$2.19 billion this time around. The biggest jump, at 24% to US$662 million, was recorded by the Specialty Lines division.

PSC Insurance Group (PSI), headquartered in Australia, has bought London-based Carroll Insurance Group (CIG) for £3.4m. The business detailed that the deal included 100% of the share capital, excluding net assets and that the transaction was funded using existing cash resources. CIG is a direct and wholesale Broker, operating in the Lloyd’s and London markets. It offers business and Home insurance as well as niche lines such as Kidnap & Ransom and Travel & Personal Accident.

Hood Group has implemented back-office policy administration platform, ICE Policy, in partnership with Acturis-owned ICE InsureTech. Acturis bought the ICE insurance software business from Hubio Technologies in November 2017. According to Hood Group, the platform integrates with a number of front-end operations, including websites, apps and customer portals.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been forced to take action after its new £60m headquarters in London was left in a “shameful” filthy state. The misdemeanours listed included people defecating on the floor in toilet cubicles, urinating on the floor in the men’s toilets, stealing plants and subjecting catering and security teams to verbal abuse.

The international Insurer, Brit, is set to launch an online platform for Cyber risks. Brit plans to operate the e-trading portal in both the UK and the US. According to the business, the portal will give Brokers an agile, accessible outlet for Brit’s Cyber underwriting capabilities, allowing them to quote and bind in minutes, entirely online, with a maximum of four question responses.

In further news...Allianz has launched a new Cyber solution for mid corporate businesses called Cyber Select. The offering includes Cyber cover, access to prevention support, and incident response services. Cyber Select offers customers selectable limits and can either be purchased as a standalone product or packaged with Property and Casualty covers.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) has called upon the future government to confirm that it will continue with its commitment to ring-fence money collected through the increase in insurance premium tax (IPT) for flood defence spending. In the 2016 Spring Budget, then-chancellor George Osborne increased IPT by 0.5%, stating that this would raise an extra £700m towards supporting those affected by flooding. Biba later confirmed that the money had provided extra funds for the Environment Agency after pledging to follow up on the issue to make sure that the government honoured its pledge.

Tempcover CEO Alan Inskip has revealed that the firm will be expanding into Europe in 2020. Inskip said: “It’s something that we had ambitions to do for some time – what we haven’t really had is the resource or the ability to prioritise that. “However, the new private equity ownership has allowed us to think a little longer term and, as such, that quickly become a priority. It’s something that we hope and expect to be making some major strides with next year.”

Pool Re, Britain’s government-backed Terrorism reinsurer, announced the launch of Pool Re Solutions, a specialist unit created to support its member Insurers and their policyholders by sharing the unique understanding and partnerships it has established over 25 years of reinsuring Terrorism risk. The new in-house centre of excellence has been developed to streamline and amplify its emphasis since 2015 on risk awareness, risk modelling and risk management.

Another day, another headline about a high-profile hack or data breach. The media and public take notice when consumer data has been compromised. Also with the threat of litigation and massive losses, companies are paying more attention than ever to cybersecurity growing and are increasing how much they spend in cybersecurity every year. According to a survey of executives and IT/security directors from 250 small and mid-size enterprises (‘SMEs’), conducted by IT research and advisory company 451 Research, more than 80 percent of the SMEs reported they were planning to increase their cybersecurity budgets by 14 percent in 2019.

It is only a matter of time until the insurance industry experiences Uber-level disruption, Una Alliance Executive Chairman Tim Ryan has warned. Ryan told delegates at this year’s Una Conference that change is happening in the industry at a rapid pace and that the speed of this change is only increasing. Discussing disruptors such as Uber in the transportation sector and Air BnB in the hospitality industry, he added that no one expected this disruption, but that both industries have been fundamentally changed.

Amazon has been talking about its plans to use drones to deliver packages for years – but given the obvious Public Liability issues that come with it, the execution of those ambitions has been a long time coming. However, the company now believes it is finally at a point where it can start to use drones as part of its service, with confidence that it has created an accident-proof machine.

Market Movers and Shakers

Andy Briggs, former Aviva UK CEO, is set to take the CEO role at Phoenix Group’s following the retirement of current incumbent Clive Bannister who is set to retire on 10 March 2020, after nine years at the firm.

Specialist provider, Beazley has appointed Kirsten Shastri to its international Healthcare team in London, who will be focusing on its UK & international Life Sciences business. Shastri has been in the London market for eight years and joins Beazley from a Life Sciences underwriting role at CNA Hardy.

Insurance Broker, Blackford hired two members of staff for its Glasgow headquarters. The firm which launched six months ago has made the hires for its Glasgow headquarters and to help resource its growing client portfolio. Fiona Walker, formerly Broking Manager at TL Dallas, has been appointed as Head of Broking & Operations, while Doug Prentice, formerly a Director at what is now Marsh Commercial, joins as a Client Director. Together, they bring more than 65 years’ experience to the Blackford team.

Freedom Services Group (FSG) has appointed Paula Coulthard to the role of Group Chief Commercial Officer, reporting to Group Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Sam White. Coulthard has held the role of Managing Director of Pukka Insure since the launch of the MGA in 2015. Her move to group CCO sees Former Director, James Blake, take on the role of Managing Director for Pukka Insure.

Sarah Darling, Managing Director of Coversure Insurance, left the company on 30 October. She had been with Coversure for five years. Andy Fairchild, who joined Coversure as retail MD from Broker Network in July, takes over as Retail Managing Director and will continue to drive advances in the business.

David Capdevila has been appointed as the new Chief Executive Officer of Atradius N.V. From 1 January 2020, he will replace Isidoro Unda who has announced his departure after 12 years in the Chief Executive role.

Lee Bodman will become a Director of Technical Excellence, within the pricing team at LV GI. Bodman takes up his role with immediate effect and will oversee the setting and delivering the pricing strategy and technical excellence program.

Hyperion Insurance Group has announced that effective 1st January 2020, Mark Craig will assume the role of Group CFO and Mark Hudson will assume the role of Group Finance Director.

Tokio Marine Kiln (TMK) has announced the appointment of Matthew Shaw as Chief Underwriting Officer. He will join the firm in the first half of 2020, subject to regulatory approval. Shaw was most recently Divisional President of Global Markets at Chubb (formerly Ace), having spent 17 years with the firm.

Willis Towers Watson has announced the appointment of Andrzej Danyluk as Head of International Property, London. Mr Danyluk will be responsible for growing the international Property portfolio placed in the London insurance market on behalf of Willis Towers Watson offices worldwide.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions (SRCS) appoints Loredana Mazzoleni Neglén as Head Customer Experience & Global Sales Steering, effective 1 February 2020. In this newly created role, Ms. Mazzoleni Neglén will be responsible for supporting SRCS to better understand and address its customers' needs and pain points, and deliver a better Customer Experience.

Lockton has announced the appointed David Spence as an Account Executive at its Aberdeen office as it looks to grow its customer base across the North East of Scotland. Spence brings over 16 years of experience in the corporate insurance broking environment to the role and is an Associate of the Chartered Insurance Institute. 


All information provided in this Market Digest has been gathered from multiple General Insurance Media sources and individual company press releases.

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