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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 17th April 2020

17 Apr 2020

Green Insurance Group, the South Eastern hub for Global Risk Partners (GRP), has bought RT Williams Insurance Brokers and its appointed representative NIB Insurance Brokers for an undisclosed sum. The two businesses write a range of general insurance products, primarily in Sussex, Surrey and the London area.  Both brokerages operate from the same office in Brighton, and Green Insurance Group has a total of ten branches across the South. Green has acquired 100% of the share capital of both.

Gresham Underwriting (GUL) has announced its Professional Select product is available to the market following its launch with a test panel of Brokers late in 2019. According to the organisation, which is the MGA arm of Tasker Group, the product is backed by A-rated capacity and covers more than 300 acceptable trades. Gresham detailed that Professional Select is the first product in its range to offer a flexible commission slider which allows Brokers to choose how much commission to charge per policy.

The UK Government is conducting a deep-dive into why people in Doncaster did not have the appropriate insurance cover following the flooding that occurred during 8 – 18 November 2019. Former Axa UK CEO and Zurich head of EMEA, Amanda Blanc, has been appointed to lead the review which is set to consider if there are systemic issues in the provision of flood insurance for personal lines and business customers. It will also examine barriers to obtaining insurance and consider actions relevant for future events.

One Insurance purchased Staveley Head from administrators for an undisclosed sum last week adding £11m in GWP to its portfolio. Chris Lear, Managing Director of One Sure, said that "the businesses were a good fit for one another. The main attraction was the synergy around our product offerings, both organisations specialise in niche Motor insurance e.g. Motor Trade, HGV, Taxi, Courier and Motorhome".

Ethos Broking, formerly known as Broker Network Partners and part of Bravo Group, has bought Portsmouth business Hughes & King. According to Ethos, the commercial brokerage employs eight members of staff, all of whom will remain within the business. Following completion, the business will retain its current premises and Director Roy Blackburn will take over as Commercial Manager.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a fresh warning over a clone insurance Broker. The regulator said that ‘No Quibble Insurance’ has been targeting people in the UK and falsely claiming to be an authorised business. No Quibble used the details of authorised companies Tasker Insurance Brokers and QIC Europe to try to dupe customers.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has revealed an increase in complaints recorded by firms in the second half of 2019. The regulator stated that a total of 6.02m complaints were recorded in H2 2019, up from 4.29m in the first half of the year. According to the FCA, the rise was driven by a 75% increase in the volume of payment protection insurance (PPI) complaints received, from 2.12m in H1 to 3.71m in H2. PPI, which continued to be the most complained about product, made up 62% of all complaints received during the six-month period.

Ex Jelf boss Phil Barton and former Bluefin CEO Stuart Reid have teamed up to launch insurance advisory business Partners&, formed of five broking businesses - MRIB and Independents, La Playa, CGI and Versatile. It creates a team of 140 people, based in nine offices across the South East, Midlands and South West. The Broker controls approximately £65m in gross written premiums. Phil Barton, CEO of the newly formed Broker, has said the organisation has been set up to challenge the Broker status quo and bring back the original values of the insurance sector. Barton commented: “Partners& has been built on a culture of partnership.” He continued: “This is not about scale. We have no desire to be a consolidator. We want to bring high quality advice to the market and move away from some of the worst excesses".

Lemonade, the insurance company powered by artificial intelligence and behavioral economics, launched in another European country on the 2nd April 2020. Consumers in the Netherlands can now get Contents and Liability insurance instantly, anytime, and from any device – as well as file claims and get paid in seconds through the Lemonade app. The launch marks the second EU country Lemonade has entered, following Germany last year.

Insurance services company Charles Taylor has announced the expansion of its marine technical services offering with the integration of Bowditch Marine, Pilot Marine and the marine surveyors of Charles Taylor Adjusting. The newly integrated team will be known as Charles Taylor Marine Technical Services. London-headquartered Charles Taylor purchased Bowditch Marine Inc. in 2018 and acquired Pilot Marine earlier this year to service the US marine industry.

A wholly owned subsidiary of Randall & Quilter (R&Q) is purchasing the entire issued share capital of ICI Insurance Company Limited (ICIICL) from Imperial Chemical Industries Limited. Without disclosing financial terms of the swoop, R&Q announced that the deal agreement has been signed.

Liberty Mutual is facing increasing pressure from climate and indigenous rights groups, as well as its own policyholders, to exit the fossil-fuel space. However, at its annual policyholder meeting Wednesday the Insurer refused to answer policyholder-submitted questions about its role insuring the tar sands oil industry, according to a news release from environmental non-profit Stand.earth. “The insurance giant did not include time or space for policyholders to speak or vote during the virtual meeting, which lasted all of six minutes,” the non-profit said.

UK Motor premiums have continued to rise, according to data published by Consumer Intelligence. Prices rose 2.8% over the last three months, contributing to a 5.5% increase in the last year. The research firm said claims costs are “driving the continued upward trend”

Last week, Prudential Regulation Authority Chief Executive Sam Woods wrote to UK Insurers – reminding them to prioritise their obligations to policyholders when considering any profit distributions to shareholders at this particularly disruptive time. “Through their provision of both general and life insurance products, insurers provide an essential safety net for individuals and businesses,” asserted Woods. “They also have an important role as long-term investors in the UK economy."

 

Coronavirus-related News

Association of British Insurers (ABI) Director General Huw Evans has placed the claims cost of the Covid-19 pandemic as “well in excess of £1 billion in the UK”. In reaching the figure, Evans cited the ABI’s estimate of £275m in travel cancellation and repatriation costs as well as Lloyd’s expectation that claims will be triggered “on more than a dozen policy types”. He added: “This is on top of the £7.8 billion in claims incurred every year from businesses for the types of day to day risks such as fire, flood and employee accidents that insurers protect against.”

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has ordered Insurers to pay out claims related to the coronavirus as soon as is possible. In a Dear CEO letter to the insurance industry, Christopher Woolard, Interim Chief Executive Officer of the FCA, detailed that for policies where it is clear that the Insurer has an obligation to pay out, claims must be assessed and settled quickly. He added that where there are “reasonable grounds” to pay part of a claim, Insurers are urged to adopt an approach of making an interim payment.

Hiscox is facing a potential class action after declining a series of Business Interruption payments, but says it could pay up to $175m and is “proactively paying claims”. Hiscox issued a statement claiming its exposure to Business Interruption in Europe due to Covid-19 is limited. The provider responded to an attack by a consortium of companies in the UK which claimed it was wrongly denying BI claims putting thousands of businesses at risk. The Group, the Hiscox Action Group, includes a number of UK SMEs and had threatened to take the Insurer to court.

The number of acquisitions in the broking sector is expected to fall as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, according to experts. However, several of the consolidators commented publicly that their strategies have not changed since the crisis started and that they are still keen to make deals. Mike Bruce, Group Managing Director at Global Risk Partners (GRP), commented: “This thing that’s turned everyone’s lives on their heads has effectively happened in three weeks. We had a strong pipeline of businesses we were talking to with a number in due diligence before the virus hit and those are still progressing.” Bruce stated that GRP is seeing the same level of activity as it did before the lockdown in the UK started.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) has stated that temporary relief measures introduced by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will not affect premium finance arrangements. The regulator confirmed the introduction of measures designed to give temporary financial relief to customers facing payment difficulties.

Carrot Insurance has announced a raft of measures intended to assist its customers during Covid-19. The telematics Broker said the measures would help key workers stay on the road. Andrew Brown-Allan, Director at Carrot Insurance, commented: “The insurance industry has been under a lot of pressure in recent weeks, but at Carrot we’re on the front foot and trying to do what we can to help proactively. With the support of our major insurer partners, we can give extra assistance to our customers who need their cars for essential work”.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued its business plan for 2020/21. The plan includes a proposed 3.0% rise in the fees that Brokers pay and a 7.1% rise for general Insurers. The regulator also announced that it is undertaking a review to increase authorisation application fees. The fees would rise £1,500 to £2,500 for general insurance distribution firms, £5,000 to £8,500 for insurance special product vehicles and managing agents at Lloyd’s and £25,000 to £42,000 for Insurers. Brokers have reacted with disappointment to the news, with Simon Mabb, Group Managing Director at Romero Insurance commenting "It is disappointing to see fee increases at this time when Brokers will be looking to manage costs like all businesses,” & “I’m sure these were signed off pre Covid-19 hitting but I think now is the time for these to be reviewed in line with what is happening in the economy right now.”

Brokers are scrambling to help hotel and restaurant clients amid the Covid-19 pandemic. These types of businesses were the first to be temporarily closed as the government implemented social distancing measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Romero Group MD Simon Mabb said "the first thing Brokers had to do was unravel the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s March announcement that pandemic cover would pay out. This led to a lot of confusion from businesses which thought this meant all Business Interruption would pay out."

Aviva, the UK’s largest Insurer, has pledged £5 million to NHS Charities Together as part of a package of measures aimed at supporting customers and their communities during the Covid-19 crisis. Aviva’s donation will fund support for the NHS in three key areas: welfare and wellbeing for NHS employees, volunteers and patients; assistance for patients leaving hospital; and long-term mental health support for NHS workers.

QBE’s charitable arm, QBE Foundation, has announced a £400,000 grant to be split among its charity partners in Europe. In the UK, grants will be provided to QBE’s charity partners the British Red Cross, Crisis, Mind and Save the Children. Grant Clemence, Chair of QBE Foundation, said: “QBE Foundation’s aim is to make a lasting difference in communities in which we operate. Now, more than ever before, those communities need our support. By providing these grants, we hope to not only help with much needed funds for the short-term but also support the communities we operate in remain resilient in the long term.”

AXIS Capital Holdings Limited has announced $1 million in targeted philanthropic donations to support COVID-19 relief and community support efforts. AXIS will partner with non-profit organizations providing pandemic relief globally, as well as in communities in which AXIS operates.

Chubb has announced that it is committing $10 million to pandemic relief efforts globally.  The support will go to people and programs providing emergency frontline services and for assistance to the most financially vulnerable members of the community who have been impacted the hardest by the pandemic.

The coronavirus outbreak has been a challenging period for all of us, but the self-employed have received a double whammy – many have lost work and found it difficult to qualify for the government’s support package. Insurtech Dinghy has come up with its own special offer to assist in this time. It has announced a new measure for freelancers that can see them pick up two months’ free Professional Indemnity cover while they are not working and pause their cover with its on-demand insurance.

The CII has announced its decision to extend the term of its current President and Chair of the Board, due to the delay of its annual AGM as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The CII usually makes a new appointment to this role at its annual AGM which was due to take place this summer but has now been postponed to the autumn.

Global Marine Insurer North P&I Club has developed a new COVID-19 tracking tool. North has made the tool available as a shared resource to the International Group of P&I Clubs. The tool was first released by North in February. It details the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak and the response measures that have been introduced in a single digital dashboard, including country and port-specific advice for shipowners, charterers, operators and others.

New statistics released by the London Market Group have highlighted how Placing Platform Limited has been tracking performance over the last few weeks – and there has been a significant surge in activity. “March 31 was a record day for the volume of trades on PPL,” said Susan Jakobek, Managing Director of Placing Platform Limited. “Last week the market placed over 5,600 risks – around 2,000 risks higher than the previously weekly high. All the statistics show that usage and adoption are growing at pace. Even more importantly, the experience is proving to be positive with Brokers commenting on the good response times from Underwriters and more Brokers starting the process from quote. Collaboration has got us to where we are today. The market built this platform and it is great that it can support everyone in these extraordinary times.”

Brokers have revealed a varying approach to the government’s furlough worker scheme, with some taking advantage of it and others saying the scheme does not apply to them. One of the brokers using the scheme is Romero Insurance Brokers, with Managing Director Simon Mabb explaining that around 25 out of the broker’s 195 employees are currently furloughed. “We’d probably have been able to find work for them doing other stuff, but it helps at this time to try to get on as normal without trying to make up jobs for people to do,” adding “We’re paying people 100%, we’re just using some of the government money to offset a bit of that”.

Niall Barton, Insurtech UK Chairman and Wrisk Executive Chairman, has called on insurers to support their insurtech partners during the Covid-19 pandemic. “While we’re seeing unprecedented support from the state in this time, we need to see some signals of unprecedented support from the incumbents for the small businesses.” He further commented that “The UK insurance market will be stronger as a global insurance sector for having this innovation community. We’ll be stronger together.”

The Global Federation of Insurance Associations (GFIA) has issued a statement warning of the need for the continued financial stability of the insurance industry and the danger posed by forced coronavirus payouts. The statement detailed the work being done by the global insurance industry to help develop solutions to the greatest challenges facing individuals, businesses and governments, and its role as an essential stabilising force throughout the world.

The annual general meetings of a couple of major insurance companies have been postponed:
AXA, the Paris-headquartered insurance group, the AGM of which was supposed to take place on April 30 without the physical presence of shareholders – has moved the annual event to June 30 to give the company time to discuss with watchdogs.
FBD Insurance Plc. The Ireland-based property & casualty insurer is rescheduling its annual meeting, which was originally slated to be held on May 08. “All business normally conducted at the AGM, including the approval of a final dividend, will be deferred to the later date which will be advised to shareholders in due course,” noted FBD in a regulatory filing on Friday.
SCOR. Among the first to postpone its AGM was global reinsurer SCOR, which last week cited difficulties in holding annual shareholders’ meetings in the current context of the coronavirus outbreak. Initially set for April 17, the event has been pushed back to June 30.

It looks like MAPFRE isn’t done helping out during this unprecedented time. The Spanish insurance giant, which last month unveiled a €5 million (around £4.4 million) donation to CSIC (Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) to aid virus research, has now announced further support including handing back insurance payments. According to the global insurer, it will return €30 million (around £26.6 million) of insurance premiums to its self-employed and SME policyholders. In addition, MAPFRE is allocating as much as €24 million (around £21.2 million) to billing advances for the company’s suppliers.

Last month, we heard about legal actions involving Oklahoma’s Chickasaw and Choctaw tribes and their insurers including AIG firm Lexington Insurance Company and certain underwriters at Lloyd’s of London. Now certain Lloyd’s Underwriters are being sued by a family owned and operated business whose insurance claim has been denied, supposedly due to lack of physical damage, after restaurants and bars were ordered closed in Florida in response to the pandemic. 

It’s all hands on deck in the nation’s fight to limit the burden of the coronavirus outbreak on our NHS – and that means that Bupa UK, one of the biggest names in health insurance, is making a clear commitment to its customers. Today, CEO Alex Perry announced that the firm would pass on any exceptional financial benefit that arises from COVID-19 to its customers. The move is being made as the independent health sector is disrupted with non-urgent hospital procedures postponed to free up resources for the NHS. Most deferred treatments are expected to be delivered as soon as possible, but Bupa still expects an overall reduction.

On demand Motor providers have called on incumbents to reduce premiums amid the current lockdown which is in place to diminish the spread of coronavirus. Insurtechs Cuvva and By Miles both separately urged traditional insurers to consider changes to premium to reflect that policyholders are using their vehicles less while social distancing measures are in force. Cuvva noted that government figures show vehicle use is down two thirds and some providers have seen claims drop by as much as 50%.

 

MS Amlin Insurance Societas Europaea has made two major appointments as it looks to strengthen its board and management committee. Incoming is Ludovic Senecaut as CEO and Rogier Peters as Chief Risk Officer. Senecaut steps into the position held by interim CEO Rudy Benmeridja, who will now resume his role as Chief Underwriting Officer for P&C Europe and Country Manager for Belgium. He has spent 15 years at Euler Hermes Group, holding a variety of top roles including CEO of Northern and Eastern Europe, as well as group COO. He now makes the switch from Kerudys Group, where he was Chief Executive Officer. Peters, meanwhile, steps in for former CRO Martyn Rodden who now becomes Deputy CEO of MS AUL. Peters is perhaps best known for his time as CRO of Ageas UK and has held a host of senior risk positions across the insurance sector internationally.

LV Broker has confirmed that Commercial Lines Director Euros Jones has left the business. Jones joined LV in October 2015 after previously working as Head of Regional Operations at Arista. He took over the Commercial Director post from Mike Crane, who moved into a Managing Director role at LV. LV has recently completed the transfer of its commercial lines business to Allianz after entering a joint venture with the provider in 2017.

Andy Watson is set to leave Ageas UK this summer to focus on further education and non-executive roles. Watson has been with the provider for ten years and took over as UK CEO from Barry Smith in 2013. Subject to regulatory approval, Ant Middle become CEO on 1 June 2020. Middle joined Ageas as Managing Director of Partnerships in 2014. Brokers have praised the outgoing Ageas UK Chief Executive Officer, for being supportive of the broking channel during his seven years at the helm of the provider.

Jason Harris will succeed Richard Pryce as Chief Executive Officer of QBE International, the Insurer revealed. Pryce is set to retire at the end of the year. QBE group CEO Pat Regan commented: “I am delighted to announce that Jason Harris has accepted the role of CEO International. Jason will commence in Q4 2020, subject to the required regulatory approvals, and Richard will leave QBE in early 2021".

Ecclesiastical has appointed Sir Stephen Lamport as a Non-Executive Director effective from 23 March 2020. Lamport was most recently the Receiver General of Westminster Abbey for ten years, and previously Group Director of the Royal Bank of Scotland for five years. Earlier in his career, Lamport was a senior career diplomat, serving overseas in New York, Iran and Italy.

Applied Systems has announced that it has named David Chapman as Sales Director of Applied Systems Europe. Chapman will lead Applied’s European Broker and Insurer sales strategies and operations to support the company’s expanding business operations. Chapman joins Applied with more than 18 years of insurance and sales leadership experience at SSP. Most recently, he served as Director of Account Management where he led client relationships in Europe, the US and Caribbean across Broker, Insurer and Distribution, for all SSP clients.

Aston Lark has hired Jim Stevenson as Associate Director and head of its new Cheltenham office, with effect from 6 April 2020. Stevenson joins after a 19-year career at Clarke Roxburgh, Jelf and Marsh Commercial where he was Regional Director in the South Midlands and South Wales leading offices in Worcester, Cheltenham, Bath, Swindon, Cardiff and Swansea. Previously, Stevenson spent 12 years with Commercial Union, CGU, Norwich Union and Aviva.

Pen Underwriting has promoted Billy Hinken to the newly created position of Head of Claims Operations. The appointment, effective immediately, will see Hinken take responsibility for the strategic delivery of multiple projects which together form Pen’s claims transformation programme and establishment of its target operating model. He will retain his responsibilities as Pen’s Head of Specialty & Financial Lines Claims and continue to report to Gareth Crosbie, Pen’s Claims Director.

Direct Insurance Corporate Risks (‘DICR’) is has announced the appointment of Kevin Dawes as Commercial Director. Dawes will be heading up the Broker’s new Motor Fleet proposition and supporting the growth of the RHA partnership.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions appoints Claudine Delavy as Head of Distribution Management, Europe, Middle East & Africa, effective 1 May. Ms. Delavy will be responsible for advancing the company’s distribution strategy, representing all Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ products and solutions to commercial insurance Brokers, and maintaining strong relationships with key partners. She will relocate from London to Zurich.

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has promoted Rachel Watkinson to Head of Underwriting, Marine Transportation and Logistics. She is responsible for managing four classes of business: Marine Hull, Marine Cargo, Marine Liability and Marine War. She reports to Michael Burle. Alex Becker joins the division as Underwriting Manager, Marine Hull and will report to Rachel, leading the Hull account. They both take up their new roles with immediate effect.

Gallagher announces Peter Chesterfield has been appointed Partner for the Construction team within its Specialty Division. In his new role, Peter will be responsible for client engagement and business development. His key areas of focus will be how Gallagher can further develop and differentiate the services and products it offers, plus ensuring that client service is best in class. Peter brings a wealth of relevant experience from his previous role at JLT, where he was sales leader for its construction team.

Willis Towers Watson has announced the appointment of Matt Scott as a Senior Director in its Climate and Resilience Hub. Scott served on the Bank of England’s climate team under Governor Mark Carney from 2014 and led delivery of the UK government’s Green Finance Strategy in 2019.

Specialist insurer Beazley has announced the appointment of Beth Greenwood as Global Head of Cyber and Executive Risk (CyEx) starting in July. She will also join Beazley’s executive committee. Greenwood joined Beazley last September to lead the London market and US-based executive risk team, focusing on products including US Directors and Officers and Employment Practices Liability.

Sedgwick has named Steve Gargano as the Head for its Real Estate offering in the UK. Gargano, who has worked across insurance for more than 28 years, began his career at Lloyd’s of London but has been with Sedgwick since 2018, arriving at the company via its acquisition of Cunningham Lindsey where he had worked since 2009.

Specialist insurance and reinsurance broker THB has swooped on Aon Reinsurance Solutions for a key hire, snapping up Bob Reichenfeld as Executive Director for THB Europe, a role he will assume from July 01 this year. He is set to be based in Amstelveen and will head up the firm’s Treaty offering, working alongside the facultative line-up to help expand its client base.

Gallagher, has announced the appointment of Kimberley Kealing to the role of Managing Director of its brand partners team within its UK division. Kealing has worked in this team since 2016, having originally joined Heath Lambert in 2004 before its acquisition by Gallagher in 2011, and working in a variety of claims leadership roles for the RSA.

Deloitte UK stalwart Alex Poracchia has made the switch to Everest Re Group to serve not only as International Chief Actuary but also the Chief Financial Officer of the company’s global markets division. A fellow of both the Institute of Actuary and the French Institut des Actuaires, Poracchia brings more than two decades of (re)insurance market experience to Everest. His credentials include time spent at Zurich Financial Services, Swiss Re, and Bavarian Re.

Guy Carpenter & Company, a global risk and reinsurance specialist and a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies, has announced the appointment of Vijaya Singh as Global Head of Marketing and Communications. In her new role, Singh will lead Guy Carpenter’s branding, public relations, executive thought leadership, digital marketing and internal communications. She will be based in New York.

Global reinsurance, wholesale and specialty broker Ed has announced the appointment of Niraj Perera as Head of Transactional Risk in its Professional and Executive Risk team. Perera has more than 20 years of experience in the insurance industry, with a particular focus on M&A insurance.

Right Choice Insurance Brokers (RCIB) has hired Mark Mugge as Group Chief Financial Officer. Mugge most recently worked at Ardonagh Group, where he was CFO until March 2018 when he became a strategic adviser to the business.

All good things must come to an end, and as Ian Pawley steps down after 10 years at the helm of Cornish Mutual, the South West rural Insurer will be hoping that Jeremy Oatey can pick up the baton with style.

Dale Underwriting Partners has made a swoop for Jim Ramage, who has been an Active Underwriter and Director at a host of underwriting companies, as well as holding a number of senior positions at broking firms. Some of his notable roles include being Deputy CEO and Director at Guy Carpenter, as well as a Director at JLT Re playing a key role in establishing its broking business.

 

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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