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General Insurance newsletter Friday 19th June 2020

19 Jun 2020

International payment facilitator fintech, WorldFirst has joined the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) as an Associate Member. According to Biba, WorldFirst’s global network will enable Brokers and their customers to collect, convert and pay all over the world – helping to remove the barriers and frustrations of international trade while remaining totally compliant.

Global Risk Partners (GRP) expects to complete a number of deals in the next few weeks, according to Group Chief Executive Officer Mike Bruce. Bruce commented that some of the firm’s due diligence processes had “slowed down” in the last few months due to Covid-19, but noted that its M&A activity was now gaining momentum again. “We tend to be like London buses in terms of deals, we’ll have a slight hiatus for six weeks and then suddenly we’ll do three in a couple of weeks,” he added.

PIB Group has revealed it is rebranding twelve of its businesses to trade as PIB Insurance Brokers. The affected businesses all sit within its Specialty division, which includes Brokers that specialise in commercial lines, supported by in-house claims handling and a risk management team. The move will see Cooke & Mason, DE Ford, Franklands, Lorica, PIB Private Clients, PIB SME Insurance, QPI, Wilby (including Websters Insurance Brokers), WW Group, BKG West and Cobra Insurance Brokers names culled.

Lloyd’s of London and RSA Insurance have apologised after their roles in the slave trade came to light in UCL’s Legacies of British Slave-ownership database. The Telegraph reported on 17 June that a total of nine companies in Britain linked to the slave trade were highlighted in the database. According to the article, Lloyd’s, along with pub chain Greene King, had pledged to pay large sums to black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities.

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has revealed a growth in total membership to 129,151 at the end of 2019 (2018: 127,480). In its financial statement for 2019, the body also reported a 5% increase in operating income to £45.2m in 2019, compared to £43.2m in 2018. It stated that the rise was driven by the membership growth as well as increased uptake of qualifications and e-learning platforms. Meanwhile, expenses were down by 1% to £42.9m (2018: £43.4m), which included £900,000 of “continuing investment in transformation activity”.

RSA’s decision to pull out of the single commercial vehicle market has been met with mixed reactions from Brokers. In a communication to Brokers last week, the Provider stated that single vehicle business was “no longer Broker territory, because alternatives from both direct and through aggregator sites are readily available”. Peter Robinson, Managing Director of Prizm Solutions, commented that he "accepted that RSA is a business that needs to make money, but critisised the wording of the communication".

Open GI has added Plum Underwriting’s home product, eFlex EDI, to its Insurer Hosted Pricing application, IHP Plus. The software house noted that the partnership provides Brokers with access to the latest competitive home products from Plum. David Whitaker, Plum Underwriting’s Managing Director said: “We are delighted to be strengthening our distribution capability with Open GI’s IHP Plus.

Pen Underwriting has partnered with the Police Digital Security Centre (PDSC) on a new national certification scheme designed to boost the cyber security resilience of small businesses in the UK. Pen explained that it will recognise and reward firms that can demonstrate they are ‘Digitally Aware’. Developed by the PDSC, in collaboration with BSI (British Standards Institution), the ‘Digitally Aware’ certification scheme uses an online assessment tool, which enables SMEs to test and improve how resilient they are to the most common types of cybercrime. According to the Gallagher-owned MGA, SMEs who achieve the certification and then buy cyber insurance from Pen through their Broker will receive a premium discount.

Some of the biggest Brokers in the UK have responded when questions about the action they are taking to push for better equality and diversity in their own businesses following the widespread Black Lives Matter protests in the UK. The answers were a mixed bag. And in some cases non-existent.

Insurance technology specialist SSP announces that One Call Insurance has signed to extend their partnership for a further three years. This new agreement allows SSP to continue supporting One Call’s personal lines business, now and in the future.

With RSA becoming the latest insurance carrier to leave the Single Vehicle Commercial Motor market Direct Commercial (DCL) has renewed its commitment to supporting the Broker community. DCL has invested heavily in the sector via the Broker only channel and in light of recent developments is very keen to engage with agents both new and existing. Michael Dickinson, Head of Schemes at DCL says “We have been very excited for the launch of our new Haul-in-One online portal in May. Since we went live, we have provided access to over 900 separate brokers who have been obtaining quotes for both single vehicle policies and those with multiple vehicles up to a total of 10".

Carrot, the young driver telematics Broker, has taken another step towards its ambition of becoming a wholly digital Broker after signing a deal with SmarTek21 to roll out its SmartBotHub chatbot and ensure 100% of all Carrot customer interactions can be initiated with a chatbot.

Searchlight Capital Partners’ deal to buy a majority stake in Global Risk Partners (GRP) has been completed following regulatory approval. The move was announced in February 2020 after months of speculation. GRP founders, David Margrett and Peter Cullum, were seeking to dilute their stake in the business but retain an interest. Following the deal, Mike Bruce has become Group Chief Executive, while Andy Homer takes on the position of Non-Executive Chairman of GRP, in addition to his role chairing the board of the Retail division.

Motor insurance Providers across the U.K. can now start testing LexisNexis® Vehicle Build, a new solution to better evaluate specific Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), to support pricing and underwriting. LexisNexis® Risk Solutions, a leading data, analytics and technology provider for the insurance industry, is inviting Motor Insurers to test the data solution against real-world performance and claims data, prior to launch later this year.


Coronavirus-related News

A number of staff at Markel International have entered a redundancy consultation following the Insurer’s decision to reduce its Personal Accident, Contingency and Entertainment portfolio (PACE). The Provider declined to say how many people were affected. Effective immediately the business will no longer be writing Personal Accident or Contingency insurance.

The High Court test case names eight Insurers as defendants, with the FCA acting on behalf of policyholders who believe Insurers should be paying out on BI policies in the claimant seat.  The case is expected to begin on 20 July, running for eight days and overseen by two judges: Commercial Court judge Mr Justice Butcher and Court of Appeal judge Lord Justice Flaux. Mr Justice Butcher oversaw an online case management conference, in which much of the time was spent by Insurers arguing that it may be impossible to agree on the FCA’s use of an analysis without expert testimony, which would not be possible in the allotted timeframe. The FCA used the Cambridge Analysis, which is relied upon by the government and Public Health England in determining the R number [rate of infection], in its particulars of claim alongside a report from Imperial College scholars on estimating the number of infections across 11 European Countries.

Hiscox could look to an analysis of the Covid-19 economic impact on Sweden versus the UK, which its counsel said has faced “draconian” lockdown measures, as a defence in the Financial Conduct Authority’s Business Interruption test case.

In other news... Beleaguered Provider Hiscox has been served notice on an arbitration claim on behalf of some members of Hiscox Action Group. Mishcon de Reya, the law firm representing the group, has formally written to the Insurers pursuing its claim against Hiscox for non-payment of Business Interruption insurance totalling almost £40m. According to the group the action triggers the Arbitration clause for nearly 350 policyholders’.

Mactavish has reviewed the list of insurance policies that the FCA has published as being subject to review by the Court in the Covid-19 related legal review of failed Business Interruption claims. Mactavish is calling on Herbert Smith Freehills, which is representing the FCA in this case, to disclose if it also represents any of the insurers or brokers whose wordings will be subject to scrutiny since Mactavish believes that if that is the case it is difficult to see how conflicts of interest would not arise.

The British Dental Association (BDA) has shared an open letter to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in which it sets out the issues the watchdog should consider as part of its Business Interruption test case. The letter highlights that the work down by Brown Rudnick has shown that there are a number of policies with questionable wordings that are not included in the FCA’s test case It also sets out what factors and issues the FCA should consider in the test case, in particular those pertinent to the BDA’s membership

BGL Group, a digital Distributor of insurance and household financial services, announced that after 20 years with the company, and seven years as CEO, Matthew Donaldson will step down from the Board and leave the business on 19 June 2020. According to a statement, Donaldson has played a fundamental role in growing the business over the years, providing strong leadership throughout, with his professional, conscientious and motivational approach. Donaldson will be succeeded by Mark Bailie, who, subject to regulatory approval, will join BGL on 1 September this year.

Ageas’ new UK CEO Ant Middle, is reintroducing a Group Wide Distribution Director as part of his first major moves since succeeding Andy Watson in April. The position is one of two new roles being created with Caroline King appointed Customer Operations Director, assuming responsibility for front line sales and service operations alongside the business-wide customer service strategy.

Axa XL has made two additions to its UK Broker management team. The provider has hired Michael Clarke as Regional Broker Distribution Leader and Robyn Warke as Broker Distribution Leader.

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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