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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 27th March 2020

27 Mar 2020

Kingsbridge Group has been bought by US-based NSM Insurance Group for an undisclosed sum. The Tewkesbury-headquartered Broker specialises in insurance for skilled contractors and freelancers.

Ecclesiastical has launched a toolkit to help teachers offer Cyber safety lessons to children aged between nine and 13. The Insurer encouraged Brokers to share the toolkit with their education clients. The toolkit uses visual aids and scenarios to help teachers explore Cyber safety issues with their pupils.

Freedom Services Group, which includes MGA Pukka and claims firm Action365, has confirmed that 30 people have been made redundant following a business restructure which saw Gibraltar operations brought over to the UK. The restructure meant that a variety of duplicate roles across the business have been lost – about 15% of the workforce.

The Danish Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has ordered Gefion Insurance to stop writing new business. The move comes after the regulator decided not to approve Gefion’s recovery plan and the order will remain in force until the DFSA can approve a new plan or Gefion complies with its solvency capital requirement.

Lloyd’s has revealed a pre-tax profit of £2.5bn for 2019, a significant step up from the £1bn loss reported in 2018. Gross written premiums (GWP) remained relatively flat at £35.9bn (2018: £35.5bn) and its combined operating ratio improved to 102.1% in 2019 from 104.5% in 2018. Lloyd’s further noted it had paid gross claims of £23.0bn (2018: £19.7bn), while its net resources grew to £30.6bn (2018: £28.2bn).

The Ardonagh Group has published increases in income and Ebitda for 2019, despite making a loss before tax of £104.2m for the year (restated 2018: £137.8m). The investor report showed the total loss, after a tax credit, was £74m compared to £102.6m in 2018.

Macmillan Cancer Support has been selected as Russell Scanlan’s charity of the year for 2020. The charity committee of the Nottingham-based independent insurance Broker will be spearheading a variety of fundraising initiatives, including a 26-mile hike across the Peak District and the company’s annual Charity Quiz, to reach or even exceed the £5,000 target.

After successfully launching in selected markets around the world, Zurich Insurance Group has now revealed plans for a broader roll-out of its Marine insurance platform. Known as the Zurich Swift Insurance Platform, its focus is on providing web-based access to insurance within the small and medium Cargo field.

Extratropical cyclone Ciara (UK and Ireland), which also went by the names Sabine (Germany) and Elsa (Norway), brought about approximately €1.55 billion (around £1.42 billion) in insured Property market losses, according to PERILS. The independent Zurich-based catastrophe insurance data provider based the initial estimate on claims data collected from affected insurance companies. The February 2020 event hit the British Isles as well as Western and Central Europe.

Direct Line Group (DLG) subsidiary Churchill has found an ally in insurance comparison website Quotezone.co.uk. It’s been announced that the insurance brand will be leveraging the Seopa-owned platform’s multi-million customer base to widen the reach of Churchill’s Van insurance offering.   

The Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa has refused ex-Old Mutual CEO Peter Moyo’s appeal of an earlier decision – a decision which overturned his temporary reinstatement and dismissed the case against his axing last June. “Old Mutual welcomes this ruling as it enhances certainty and is another important step forward in ending the litigation instituted by Mr. Moyo against Old Mutual,” Old Mutual said in a statement following the company’s reveal of the decision.

Examining whether new technologies or the demand for new technologies comes first is a “chicken or egg scenario” according to Jeffrey Skelton, MD of insurance for LexisNexis Risk Solutions, UK and Ireland. In the end, he said, technology is not useful if consumers do not use it. A business can innovate to the point where people cannot understand or implement the solution, he said and so the right solution needs to make sense in the context of the marketplace.

Insurtech Urban Jungle and fintech Canopy have joined forces to provide comprehensive contents insurance to tenants for as little as £5 per month.“Tenants have been historically underserved by the financial services sector and, in particular, insurance cover that does not reflect their financial needs and stretched budgets,” said Canopy Founder and Chief Executive Tahir Farooqui.

Companies developing or using autonomous vehicles technology can now get insurance coverage from the Property & Casualty and specialty risk division of AXA Group. Recognising the opportunity in this space, AXA XL has introduced a new insurance solution designed to cover the new and evolving risks associated with autonomous vehicles. The policy’s core coverage includes third-party Liability, damage to Property insured and vehicle theft.

Randall & Quilter Investment Holdings (R&Q) have announced that its wholly owned subsidiary, R&Q Gamma Company Limited, has completed the transfer of US Liability insurance underwritten by Anglo-French. The transaction was accomplished through an insurance business transfer schemed under Part VII of the Financial Services and Markets Act of 2000.

Ransomware remains a top cybersecurity threat for businesses, according to the latest Beazley Breach Briefing, an annual update on Cyber trends produced by Beazley. Ransomware attacks skyrocketed last year, according to the firm. The Insurer’s in-house team of Cyber breach experts, Beazley Breach Response (BBR) Services, reported the number of ransomware attack notifications against clients shot up 131% from 2018. The sums demanded by Cyber criminals also rose exponentially, sometimes reaching seven or eight figures, Beazley said.

 

Coronavirus-related News

A Broker has refused to sell rent guarantee cover amid the ongoing coronavirus crisis while others say there is confusion over the cover. On 18 March the government stated it would take forward emergency legislation to suspend new evictions from social or private rented accommodations during the outbreak. When it comes into force landlords will not be able to start proceedings to evict tenants for at least a three-month period. In a LinkedIn post dated 18 March, Dan McDonald, Commercial Director at Everett Mead Insurance Brokers (EML), wrote: “With immediate effect EML are placing sales of Rent Guarantee Insurance policies on hold. “It has come to light that in order for a policyholder to claim for rent guarantee on some policies they must start eviction proceedings against the tenant.”.

The ABI (Association of British Insurers) has highlighted what Motor and Home insurance members are offering to customers who may be affected by the impact of coronavirus (Covid-19). The commitments include waiving any requirements to extend cover for key workers who may need to drive to different locations, people who want to help their communities by transporting medicines or groceries to support those affected by Coronavirus and office workers who need to work from home.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has estimated that Travel Insurers will pay out a minimum of £275m in relation to 400,000 expected coronavirus claims. Cancellation payments, which will make up the “vast majority” of the total, are expected to be the highest on record. Claims on disruption costs incurred overseas are also expected.

A cross-industry coronavirus personal injury protocol has been launched by Thompsons Solicitors and the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Described as immediate and practical, the protocol is designed to protect access to justice for injured claimants in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Thompsons and the ABI are urging law firms and Insurers to sign up to ensure that neither party in a personal injury claim is unfairly impacted by the disruption brought about by the coronavirus.

The government has launched the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme. The scheme will provide government-backed loans of up to £5m to small and medium sized businesses, while the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility will provide working capital for large firms. An information campaign has been launched to make businesses aware of the support available, including the creation of a ‘Business Support’ site by the government.

The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (Biba) will hold its 2021 conference at Manchester Central on 12 and 13 May. The announcement follows the cancellation of this year’s event, amid the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak. Biba had planned to host its annual conference on 13 and 14 May 2020 under the theme ‘A Year to Pioneer’.

Insurance United Against Dementia (IUAD) has launched an emergency fundraising appeal amid the Covid-19 outbreak. IUAD said that social isolation practices triggered by the ongoing pandemic are an “enormous threat” to people living with dementia. People over 70 have been advised to isolate for 12 weeks as a precautionary measure and IUAD said that around 700,000 people in this age group are living with dementia.

Brokers have confirmed they are taking the necessary steps after the government urged people in the UK to stay at home to help stop the spread of Covid-19. The situation has forced Brokers to explore new ways of working and staying connected to their colleagues and peers. Peter Blanc, group CEO at Aston Lark, stated that he was keeping in touch with quite a few industry peers, including GRP’s Mike Bruce and PIB’s Brendan McManus, by text and WhatsApp.

The government has announced that vehicle owners will be granted a six-month exemption from MOT testing. Legislation will be introduced on 30 March and will come into immediate effect for 12 months. The government said that until 30 March, drivers will still need to get their vehicle tested until the new regulations come into place.

The Ardonagh Group has expanded on its response to Covid-19 in a presentation to investors. The company said it “rapidly implemented key business continuity measures, leveraging our well invested IT and operational infrastructure”. More than 70% of Ardonagh employees are working from home, including the 97% of its specialty business that is now remote working.

The Helping Hand Project – which began in Newcastle to provide a secure way of connecting people in isolation with those who can help – will now be rolled out across the UK. How it works is isolated people, particularly the elderly, just have to register by texting the word “hand” to 07723496916 . This will provide them access to a growing list of volunteer groups and the likes of foodbanks and take-away services that can offer a hand. The service, which is the brainchild of ThingCo Chief Technology Officer Jonathon Valentine, is being launched in Wolverhampton.

“The coronavirus pandemic is going to fundamentally change the way we interact with customers for quite some time, but it won’t stop Property claims from happening.” Those were the words of Qlaims Insurance Development Director Mike Keating when Qlaims Ltd highlighted the benefit of video technology at this time of self-isolation and social distancing. The company wants Loss Adjusters, Insurers, Managing General Agents and Brokers with claims delegated authority to leverage its video-streaming platform and keep both customers and staff safe by remotely surveying Property damage.

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak has already had a severe impact on the insurance sector globally and Fitch Ratings has revised its London market insurance sector outlook from stable to negative. This revision reflects increased concerns over the disruption from the outbreak and the related impacts on the credit quality of London market Insurers. Fitch said that its outlook for ratings in the sector remains stable but that it expects to revisit the rating outlook again as its analytical work related to COVID-19 advances.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is now open for applications and small insurance Brokers operating in the UK are eligible. How small? Those wishing to apply for the full amount of the facility under CBILS must have a maximum turnover of £45 million per year. According to the British Business Bank, which will deliver the scheme through more than 40 accredited lenders and partners, interested companies should also have a borrowing proposal which would be considered viable if not for the pandemic and for which the lender believes the provision of finance will enable the business to trade out of any short- to medium-term difficulty.

The 4.3 million businesses on the Companies House register will be able to apply for a three-month deadline extension for filing their annual accounts and reports in order to allow them to prioritise managing the impact of Coronavirus. Under normal circumstances, companies that file accounts late are issued with an automatic penalty.

Inspired by the early efforts in the Bristol community, a local company has launched a brand new, free community car share scheme to help move essential services around Bristol as the crisis intensifies. Karshare aims to establish a fleet of 500 cars, on loan from members of the local community, to be used by charity workers, food bank and NHS volunteers, health workers and care workers, absolutely free of charge.

Airmic's June 2020 Edinburgh coference has been cancelled. In a statement from Airmic CEO John Ludlow: “I think we can all agree that it has been a surreal start to the year considering developments associated with the rapid spread of the Covid-19 illness. Airmic is open for business as the virtual association for risk and insurance professionals. We will continue to offer support to our members and partners during these uncertain times, ensuring that what we do is appropriate and relevant.".

RSA are working as hard as possible to make sure that their employees can continue to provide services and support to you and to customers. To assist in this RSA have created a Personal Lines Coronavirus FAQ webpage which they will keep updated over the coming days and weeks.

Global insurance company MAPFRE is donating €5 million (around £4.6 million) to the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC or Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas) to aid in fully examining the current coronavirus pandemic. CSIC, which was instrumental in the development of the SARS vaccine in 2002, will be able to conduct a comprehensive study of COVID-19 and form the scientific basis aimed at protecting people in the future, with the help of the funding.

Zurich UK, which last week donated 1,800 facemasks to the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, is the bearer of more good news. “We are committed to treating our customers fairly and so we accept that where our customers are making appropriate provisions to mitigate their unoccupied risk as a result of coronavirus, the temporary closure of your building should not prejudice any claim made,” announced the Insurer, which said this relates to its entire Property business.

Commercial Express has announced it will be waiving any additional premium for existing policyholders that will turn themselves into takeaways to continue serving the British public during this difficult time. 

Willis Towers Watson has introduced a new risk-and-analytics feature that enables risk managers to assess their coronavirus (COVID-19) Property exposure in real-time, providing them with real-time developments of the pandemic set against their Property assets around the world. 

The Chickasaw Nation Department of Commerce and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma have filed identical lawsuits against AIG firm Lexington Insurance Company, certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London and several others over their supposed all-risks policies after the two tribes were forced to shut their casino operations amid the coronavirus pandemic.  

British insurance giant Prudential Plc has revealed that it is looking at other options for its planned minority public offering for its US business Jackson, as the markets continue to reel under the coronavirus pandemic.

 

The board of the London & International Insurance Brokers’ Association (Liiba) announced that Richard Dudley, CEO of Aon’s UK Global Broking Centre, will become its new Chair. He succeeds Roy White of Marsh, who served a two-year term.

Axa UK and Ireland revealed two changes to its management committee. Roland Moquet will join the company as Chief Financial Officer (subject to regulatory approval), replacing Amelie Breitburd who is leaving Axa. Amber Wilkinson, currently Chief of staff, has been promoted to the management committee in the role of Director of Strategy, Brand and Communications.

Willis Towers Watson’s GB Financial Lines and Executives Risk (Finex) team strengthened its D&O capabilities with the hiring of Eve Richards as GB Head of Finex D&O and Angus Duncan as Executive Director & Coverage Specialist.

Aspen Insurance Holdings announced that Kevin Chidwick has been appointed Group Chief Financial Officer, effective 1 May 2020.

Marsh has announced the appointment of Fiona Park as its Multinational Practice Leader for Scotland within its UK Corporate division.

Global risk and reinsurance specialist Guy Carpenter & Company, a business of Marsh & McLennan Companies, has announced the appointment of George Williams as Managing Director, Global Head of Client Support Services.

Specialty international reinsurance company Chaucer has announced the appointment of Ann Blanco, Class Underwriter, to support development of the company’s international general Liability account.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc has added a major name to its board. Effective immediately, Sir Stephen Lamport – the former Receiver General of Westminster Abbey – will serve as a Non-Executive Director at the specialist Insurer.

Sompo International Holdings has revealed that, subject to applicable regulatory approval, it has appointed Christopher “Chris” Donelan as Chief Executive Officer of Sompo International (SI) Reinsurance.

AXA Italy Chief Financial Officer Roland Moquet will be serving in the same capacity at AXA UK & Ireland. Subject to regulatory approval, Moquet is replacing Amelie Breitburd. 

Executives within the global claims team of specialist Insurer Beazley are moving up. Following the elevation of Beth Diamond to Group Head of Claims last month, a further two members have now been promoted. The duo are based in New York. Steven Chang, who has been with Beazley since 2006, is now Global Head of Complex Claims. Succeeding Chang is Kati Bynon, who has managed claims on behalf of Beazley clients for 11 years.

Peter Moyo, the ex-Chief Executive of Old Mutual, has resigned from his position on the board of South African financial services group Nedbank.

Ascot will have a Professional Indemnity proposition come April. The market entry will be signified by the arrival of Class Underwriter Antonio Bellanca and an underwriting line-up made up of Matthew Watson, Manoj Sharma and Henry Hollingdale. Making the switch from Neon, they will write at Lloyd’s of London on behalf of Ascot Syndicate 1414.

 

 

 

 

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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