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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 21st August 2020

21 Aug 2020

Nexus Group has announced it is bringing together its Trade Credit broking businesses under one trading name and brand; Xenia. The move follows its purchases of Trade Credit Brokers Credit and Business Finance (CBF) in March 2019 and Credit Risk Solutions (CRS) in October 2017. The CBF and CRS teams will now be united under the Xenia brand and Nexus stated that this will “magnify their impact on the specialist Trade Credit and Surety market”.

CFC has expanded its Life Sciences insurance offering to be able to accommodate the needs of mid-market companies on a global basis. The Provider noted that it can now offer Excess Products Liability, E&O and Clinical Trials solutions for global clinical research organisations and companies manufacturing or selling medical devices, functional food and dietary supplements with a revenue threshold of £2.5bn.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has issued a warning about a clone of Saga Services Limited. Saga Services includes Saga’s insurance business, as well as its travel and personal finance businesses. The regulator stated that the clone firm has been giving out details of the authorised company as part of its tactics to scam people in the UK.

Right Choice Insurance Brokers (RCIB) has posted a rise in turnover for the full year 2019. According to a document filed on Companies House, the Broker’s turnover was £30.39m in 2019, up from £27.99m in the preceding year. In addition, gross profit grew to £24.85m in 2019 (2018: £22.63m), while operating profit fell to £6.31m (2018: £7.46m). The average number of employees was 353 in 2019, up from 336 in the preceding year. The Broker further reported an increase in administrative expenses to £17.86m, compared to £14.58m in 2018.

International General Insurance Holdings Ltd (IGI) has reported 27% year-on-year growth in gross written premiums for the first half of 2020, to US$236.5 million (around £180.5 million). For the second quarter, IGI’s gross written premiums grew 29.2% to US$137.3 million. The increase was attributed by the company to new business generated across virtually all lines, as well as improved renewal pricing. Amid a firming market, IGI said that it also took the opportunity to further refine its existing portfolio, achieving improved terms and conditions.

Manchester-based Broker Champion Insurance Group has launched a new financial lines arm. Champion Professional Risks is headed by Managing Director John Jones – who joins from McParland Finn – and is looking to build up a team of five people in the near future. The Broker - which is a member of Willis Towers Watson Network and recently re-signed a deal to retain its affiliation for another decade - is also part of Champion Accountants, a business advisory group with over 120 staff across offices in Manchester, Chester, Preston, Blackpool and Falkirk Scotland. Until Jones builds up his team, Champion Insurance Group Managing Director Dan Maloney explained the subsidiary would be supported by the Broker’s team of ten staff, based in it its Worsley office. 

Allianz Insurance has hit the £500,000 fundraising mark for leading mental health charity Mind, just 18 months since the partnership began. Employees have taken on a range of fundraising activities this year, despite the challenges of the lockdown due to Covid-19. Activities have included the Stronger Together campaign where colleagues covered a distance of 140,785km from May to June to raise £30,000.

The Chartered Insurance Institute is launching a campaign designed to raise awareness among consumers of what they can expect from companies that achieve Chartered status. Chartered status is a symbol of technical competence and signifies a public commitment to professional standards. Between August and the end of October 2020, advertorials will appear in Chamber of Commerce magazines, Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales publications, the Law Society Gazette and Money Week.

Global Parametrics (GP), the Provider of parametric protection against climate risks and natural disasters in emerging markets, has structured a solution to provide parametric protection against extreme windstorms for the Tristan Lobster Processing Facility, the main business on the world’s most remote habitable island, Tristan da Cunha, a British Overseas Territory in the South Atlantic. The solution has been structured as a derivative issued by GP’s Natural Disaster Fund (NDF) with Ovenstone Agencies (Pty) Ltd (the operator of the Tristan da Cunha Lobster concession) as counterparty.

Global average commercial insurance prices increased 19% in the second quarter of 2020, according to the Global Insurance Market Index released by Marsh. The increase, the largest since the index was launched in 2012, follows year-over-year average increases of 14% in the first quarter and 11% in the fourth quarter of 2019. As with the first quarter, average price increases were driven principally by increases in Property insurance rates and Financial and Professional Lines.

Information has surfaced that business technology company Konica Minolta was the target of a ransomware attack last month. On July 30, 2020, customers reported that Konica Minolta’s product supply and support website was inaccessible, displaying a message which said that the portal was down and being fixed. The website was out of action for nearly a week, and customers took to social media to say that they could not get a straight answer from the company regarding the nature of the outage.

Insurance law firm Kennedys has launched a virtual work-experience programme to help prospective lawyers get a taste of the profession. The new virtual program “allows anyone anywhere to experience life at one of the world’s leading law firms,” Kennedys said.

Cyber analytics Provider CyberCube has released an updated version of Account Manager, its Cyber risk modelling platform for Insurers and Reinsurers. Account Manager allows underwriters to better assess the cyber risk profile of individual risks on which they are being asked to quote. The update includes a revamp of Account Manager’s scoring methodology and the addition of a broader collection of threat information to reflect the growth of cyber threats since the programme’s initial launch.

Marsh Commercial has announced that it will be providing insurance and risk management services to Leicestershire-based Pall-Ex Group, a major international palletised freight distribution network of SME haulage firms. The announcement follows the recent establishment of a dedicated transportation industry practice group within Marsh Commercial made up of specialists in broking, client service, and claims.

While many insurance companies have been caught cold by the COVID-19 pandemic and have been ramping up their technological switch ever since, one MGA has already completed its second phase. Glemham Underwriting Ltd, which specialises in Property, Liability and PI, has formed a partnership with software company Total Systems and sealed its second phase during July.

Shares in Duck Creek Technologies spiked 55.5% after the company’s debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange Friday, according to a Reuters report. The debut came after Duck Creek’s initial public offering raised US$405 million. That’s in addition to the US$230 million it raised from new and existing investors ahead of the IPO. The stock opened on the Nasdaq Friday at US$42 per share, up from the IPO price of US$27 per share, Reuters reported.

Just Travel Cover, a North East England Broker specialising in Travel insurance, is no longer just about travel. After 21 years, the firm has ventured into home coverage with the help of insurance heavyweights. The policy, which is available either as standard or premier, is provided by Fairmead Insurance Limited – the new name used by Legal & General Insurance Limited since the start of the year when it became part of LV= General Insurance under the ownership of Allianz UK. 

Terrorism Reinsurer Pool Re has introduced new scholarships for UK students. The scholarships will be provided to up to five students undertaking the MSc in Counterterrorism, Risk Management and Resilience at Cranfield University. The first has already been dished out – awarded to head of resilience at Manchester Airport, Mark Susca.

A couple, who worked together to make a series of false claims for car crashes that never really happened, have been sentenced. On 14 August 2020, they were both sentenced at Luton Crown Court, after they pleaded guilty to one count each of ‘Conspiracy to Defraud’. This follows an investigation by the City of London Police’s Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department (IFED).

Everest Re Group, whose second quarter net income was US$190.9 million (around £145 million when the results were released two weeks ago), is once again the bearer of good news. The insurance group, headquartered in British island territory Bermuda, announced that its board of directors has declared a dividend of US$1.55 per share for all shareholders of record as of September 02.


Aviva has reported a 14% increase in gross written premium driven across its commercial lines digital Broker channels, Fast Trade and e-trade, in the first six months of 2020. The Provider noted that the Aviva Broking Community, which is comprised of regional Brokers, was behind a 25% increase in GWP traded online. According to Aviva, many Brokers turned to digital channels during lockdown in order to continue trading, with traffic moving from phone calls to the provider’s live chat facility.

Zurich UK has reported a business operating loss of £35m in its general insurance division for the first half of 2020. The Provider stated that this included £133m of Covid-related items, adding that excluding Covid-19 it would have achieved a business operating profit of £98m. The business posted an operating profit of £185m in its GI division in H1 2019. In addition, its combined operating ratio worsened to 103.4% including Covid-19 impacts. Zurich noted that its COR on an underlying basis was 90.8% in the first six months of 2020 (H1 2019: 85.6%). However, gross written premium grew by 11% to £1.34bn, up from £1.20bn in H1 last year.

QBE has made a loss of US$712m (£543.5m) for the first six months of 2020. Net loss after income tax for the half year ended 30 June 2020 was $712m compared with a profit of $479m in the same period last year. The pre-tax result was materially impacted by underwriting impacts from Covid-19 ($335m), adverse prior accident year claims development, higher than anticipated catastrophe experience, and a net investment loss of $90m compared with a net investment profit of $755m in the prior period.

Legal teams representing Hiscox and the Hiscox Action Group have agreed on an expedited arbitration process for all policies in its ongoing legal dispute. At a hearing in the High Court (12 August) the parties agreed for the action to be heard as a single arbitration, with three arbitrators reviewing four categories of policy. Richard Leedham, the Mishcon de Reya partner representing HAG, said: “Today’s agreement represents a significant step forward for the Hiscox Action Group in agreeing a simple arbitration process.

Five employees, including head of corporate affairs, Andy Thornley, have been let go by the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) as it makes redundancies amid the coronavirus pandemic. CEO Steve White commented: “Like many other businesses Biba has been impacted by Coronavirus. Over the last couple of years we had, in response to the needs of our members, increased the number of people working in the business and refocused some of our key activities.  “The pandemic has forced us to revisit this focus and we have had to make the difficult decision to part company with five Biba employees whose roles have been affected.”

Lloyd’s has announced its new cohort of InsurTech disruptors that will join the Lloyd’s Lab innovation accelerator programme, and includes start-ups who are focused on providing solution to support the Market to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 140 applications were received from across the world for the fifth cohort of the Lloyd’s Lab, which begins 7 September 2020. The ten successful teams were selected after presenting their ideas in a competitive process during a virtual pitch day on 29 July 2020. This is the second completely virtual Lloyd’s Lab cohort following the successful completion of cohort four. The new Lab teams will join Praedicat, Metabiota and Dialogue; three teams specially selected in June to work on our COVID-19 response.

Insurtech start-up Thimble has been selected to take part in the Lloyd’s Lab accelerator programme, in which the company will develop an insurance solution to address the pandemic coverage gap of small businesses. According to a release by Thimble, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many small businesses to learn the hard way that their business interruption insurance does not cover losses related to the outbreak. Not only has this trend led to a severe blowback for the insurance industry, but it has also led to multiple lawsuits from business owners seeking payment, Thimble explained.

The insurance industry is waiting with bated breath for the ruling from the FCA Business Interruption test case, which is expected to be issued by late September. Over the last few weeks, there has been significant discussion about what this judgement might mean, and how the confusion surrounding these business interruption claims might impact the reputation of the insurance industry.

“Although the room will look a little different for a while, we feel confident that the right solutions are in place to ensure that face-to-face business in the market can continue efficiently, effectively, and safely.” Those were the words of Lloyd’s of London Chief Executive John Neal, referring to the underwriting room, when the insurance marketplace issued guidance for its September 01 reopening. It outlined what will be accessible and what areas will still be closed, as well as what measures will have to be observed.

GENRIC Insurance Company, the South African Insurer, has launched a new pandemic health product using the Genasys Technologies no-code BUILD toolkit. GENRIC’s new pandemic health product, Pandemic Shield, pays a lump sum stated benefit if the policyholder is hospitalised due to COVID-19 or any pandemic declared by the World Health Organisation (WHO). A hospital admission longer than 48 hours triggers the benefit.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has examined the impact of the coronavirus crisis in terms of death claims in the period March 01 to May 31, which is said to be the height of the pandemic. During the three-month span, according to data released by the ABI, about 7,000 life insurance claims were received by Insurers who collectively paid £90 million to support the families of those who tragically passed away due to COVID-19.       


Mergers and acquisitions in the global insurance industry rose in the first half of the year with 201 completed deals, up from 197 in the second half of 2019, according to Clyde & Co’s Insurance Growth Report mid-year update. This was only the second six-month period in the last five years where transaction volume topped 200, Clyde & Co reported.

The Ardonagh Group has bought specialist Managing General Agent Thames Underwriting for an undisclosed sum. Thames specialises in providing insurance solutions to Brokers across the construction, leisure and commercial sectors. Ardonagh explained that Thames will join its suite of MGA brands and operate within Geo Specialty Group Holdings, which it noted had exchanged and completed contracts in relation to the deal.

In other news...Ethos Broking has bought Broker Network member Guy Penn & Co for an undisclosed sum. The consolidator explained that Lancashire-based Guy Penn, which brings £9m in gross written premium to the group, will become its latest regional broking powerhouse. According to Ethos, the broker was established in 1971 and offers both personal and commercial lines products.

Bollington is in growth mode with five potential deals in the pipeline, according to group Chief Executive Officer, Paul Moors. Moors commented that the Broker is set to complete a number of transactions in the next two or three months, “depending on how the conversations go”. He added “We’re currently speaking to five different firms that are all at different stages.

The County Group, part of Global Risk Partners (GRP), has bought Britannia Consultants Services for an undisclosed sum. The business noted that commercial lines broker Britannia, which is based in Northwich, Cheshire, was established over ten years ago. This follows County’s deal to buy Worcestershire-based broker CJN Insurance Services, which was announced earlier this week.

Randall & Quilter has snapped up another legacy firm – swooping for a company that has been in run-off since September 2009. Subsidiary Randall & Quilter Holdings II has reached an agreement to acquire the share capital of Inceptum Insurance Company Limited, which was incorporated in England & Wales back in 1998. It was ultimately sold by the HSBC group to Syndicate Holding Corp in September 2011.

Allianz Benelux (Belgium) and Monument Re announced a closed book portfolio transaction on Tuesday, August 18, through which Allianz Benelux will shed 95,000 policies from its closed classical life retail insurance book together with the covering assets, including 4,500 mortgage loans, to Monument Assurance Belgium (MAB). The run-off portfolio has technical provisions of 1.4 billion euros under Solvency II. This transaction, which will take a period of 18 months to enable a seamless transfer for both clients and Brokers, is part of Allianz’s life strategy to move to modern capital light insurance products. The Insurer’s stated intention is to focus on open books in life, health, employee benefits and property-casualty, offering innovative and modern product lines like Branch 23.

Aon plc and Willis Towers Watson Public Limited have announced that they have both received recommendations from Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. ("ISS") and Glass Lewis & Co. ("Glass Lewis") to vote in favour of their proposed combination.

ERS has appointed ex-Ageas boss Francois-Xavier Boisseau as Chair of ERSSML, the managing agent of Syndicate 218 at Lloyd’s, and as a Non-Executive Director of its holding company, ERS DGB.  In his role as Chairman, Boisseau succeeds Amanda Blanc, who left the business to take over as Aviva Chief Executive Officer last month. Blanc had joined the ERS board in December last year.

Sabre Insurance Group has announced that Andy Pomfret will succeed Patrick Snowball as Chairman. The Provider stated that Snowball had advised the board at the beginning of the year that he was ready to step down and it was time to find a successor.  He first joined the Sabre board in 2017. Snowball has previously been UK general insurance CEO at Aviva and has also worked with Towergate and at Australian firm Suncorp. 

Citynet Insurance Brokers has appointed Simon Fitter as an Account Executive within its Motor Fleet operation. The business stated that Fitter has been involved in the Motor insurance industry since 1985 and was originally an Underwriter at Paladin Motor Policies before moving on to hold senior underwriting positions at Brit, Markel and Newline. Since 2013 he was head of motor for Direct Insurance London Markets.

Pen Underwriting has promoted Alex Tinsley to the newly created position of Head of Technical Claims, as it continues to invest in enhancing its in-house claims capabilities as a virtual Insurer. Previously Pen’s Head of Commercial Claims, Tinsley’s new role will see him take company-wide responsibility for claims across all divisions in setting strategy, agreeing personal delegated authority levels and delivering a robust and responsive service to Pen’s insurer partners and capacity providers, while serving as the highest point of technical referral for claims.

InsurTech firm Uinsure has appointed Amy Groome as Head Of Sales. The business stated that Groome has previously worked at Crystal Group, where she progressed from a Sales Agent to Head of Sales and has extensive sales knowledge within financial services. At Uinsure, she will be focused on scaling up the firm’s Refer and Earn Broker proposition and continue to grow its recently introduced customer renewal proposition.

Willis Towers Watson has recruited Mark Russell-Vick as its new Head of Broking for its GB Finex line of business within the Corporate Risk & Broking (CRB) segment. Russell-Vick will be responsible for developing and leading the Finex GB broking and segmentation strategy. He will be reporting to both Olivia Cooper, Head of Finex GB and Clyde Bernstein, GB CRB Head of Broking.

Oneglobal has appointed Gavin Pickering as Senior Partner Energy, reporting to Group Head of Broking, Roger Spicer. Pickering has 18 years’ experience in leading business production and relationship development. He joins Oneglobal from Aon where he held the position of Director of Upstream Energy. Prior to that he was an Upstream Energy Broker at RKH, and also worked at Marsh having started his insurance career at JLT Group.

Jensten Group has appointed Lisa Siggery as its new Group Risk and Compliance Director, with effect from 1 October. Siggery will report to Group Chief Executive Alistair Hardie who joined the Broker in early August. She joins Jensten from RFIB and has previously held senior roles at Towergate, Equity Red Star and Groupama.

Direct Insurance Group has hired Simon England as Business Development Manager for its Lloyd’s Broker division, Direct Insurance London Market (DILM). England joins from Compass where he was Strategic Accounts Manager. He has more than 20 years’ experience as a BDM and has previously worked for insurers including Barbican, NIG Commercial, QBE, Brit and Chubb. In his new role, he will support DILM’s Brokers in the North, working alongside Shaun Woodhouse, DILM’s BDM for the UK’s Southern region.

Global Risk Partners (GRP) has hired Stuart Grieb as Regional Managing Director for the South. Grieb has previously worked for Marsh, Towergate, Brightside and Willis. He takes over the role from Chris Haggart, who is moving to take on wider responsibilities with the Group’s retail division in a newly created role.  Haggart, who joined GRP as Commercial Director in November 2018, will now assume wider responsibilities across GRP’s retail division including ownership of the firm’s digital proposition, performance optimisation and a number of organic growth initiatives.

International General Insurance Holdings Ltd. has announced the appointment of Brian James as Class Underwriter for Cargo. Brian brings over 30 years of experience in the Cargo industry, and joins from Neon Underwriting, where he was Class Underwriter. Prior to this, Brian spent over a decade at Wellington Underwriting where he was responsible for establishing Wellington’s Syndicate Services and Wellington Genoa, following acquisition by Catlin.

Willis Towers Watson has announced the appointment of Fiona Shaw as Head of Data, Analytics and Innovation for its Global Fac division. Shaw, a 30-plus-year veteran of Willis Towers Watson, has extensive experience in insurance, reinsurance and analytics. She initially joined the company in retail insurance before joining Willis Re’s research and development team in 2000. Shaw went on to co-lead the development of the catastrophe management services team at Willis Re international. Since 2018, she has been Head of Strategy and Operations for Global Fac within Corporate Risk & Broking.

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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