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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 27th September 2019

27 Sep 2019

Insurance News

Ascent Underwriting is set to rebrand as Optio following its merger with Cove Programs, a US-headquartered Managing General Agent (MGA) specialising in the construction sector. The business stated that the new name symbolises “a future-focused organisation that will leverage the strength of its people and embrace technology”. The move follows on from Preservation Capital Partners taking a “substantial stake” in Ascent in November 2017.

Gender equality remains the number one area to be addressed in the insurance industry, according to research from Dive In. Dive In, the global festival for diversity and inclusion (D&I) in insurance, said the survey was conducted from a sub-set of more than 10,000 registered attendees in the run-up to the festival’s fifth year. The organisers explained that employees of all levels from over 30 countries had identified the most important areas that the sector needs to focus on in order to build more inclusive workplaces.

In other news....Independent research involving more than 5,000 Dive In attendees has pointed to a lot more than just gender balance as something the global insurance industry needs to pay close attention to, amid efforts to build more inclusive workplaces. While gender balance topped the list – with 54% of executives of all levels from over 30 countries identifying it as among the most pertinent areas that require focus – mental health came a close second (47%), followed by culture & ethnicity (38%) and family & care responsibility (28%).

Coinciding with the global industry gathering is the release of poll findings on the gender care gap from AIG Life. Conducted by Opinium among a representative sample of more than 3,000 UK adults, the AIG Life research found that women are nearly three times more likely to have to take time off work to look after children. The study revealed that 74% of women say they are the main carer for children who take short or long periods off work to look after family, whereas the figure is a mere 26% for their male counterparts. 

JCB Insurance Services has reported a rise in turnover to £4.5m for the year ended 31 December 2018 (2017: £4.0m). The Broker, based in Rocester near Stoke-on-Trent, also saw a rise in operating profit to £2.5m in 2018, compared to £2.1m in the preceding year. According to the document, published on Companies House, the firm also posted a pre-tax profit of £2.6m (2017: £2.1m).

The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) has started paying out to Now4cover Home insurance policyholders, following the collapse of unrated Insurer Lamp. Lamp applied for liquidation at the Supreme Court of Gibraltar earlier this year and the application was accepted by the court on 31 May. FSCS explained that eligible policyholders will receive their compensation payments during the week starting 23 September 2019.

Markel’s purchase of Caunce O’Hara’s direct business means it will have over 50,000 customers buying direct. Markel revealed it was set to buy Caunce O’Hara’s contractor and freelancer business last week, subject to regulatory approval. Divisional Managing Director for Markel UK, Neil Galjaard said: “We would hope that we would complete in November but we’re waiting to hear back from the FCA.”

Freedom Services Group (FSG) has partnered with InsurTech firm ThingCo to launch Pukka Tech. The joint venture has been created to enhance Freedom’s existing technology offering and ensure a more seamless and cost effective journey for customers In the future, Freedom and ThingCo are aiming to market Pukka Tech’s technology and advances to other insurance firms.

Price Forbes has announced that it has purchased a minority stake in Sino Insurance and Reinsurance Brokers. Based in Hong Kong, Sino is a leading Broker involved in the placement of insurance programmes for Chinese multinationals overseas. Its clients include some of the largest Chinese construction companies, where it specialises in Contractors All Risks (CAR) insurance projects. The deal paves the way for Sino’s clients to access Price Forbes’ broad range of products and sector experts and also builds on Price Forbes’ strategy to work closely with clients globally to support insurance placement regionally as well as in the London Market.

Following the news that Thomas Cook UK Plc and its associated UK entities have entered compulsory liquidation and are now under the control of the Official Receiver, AXA has issued a statement: “AXA is currently experiencing three times the amount of calls usually handled by our Claims teams at this time.  To help customers, we have set up a page on our website and will also be sharing information on our social media pages.”

In further news...The Property & Casualty (P&C) and specialty risk division of AXA has teamed up with global professional services company Accenture to offer AXA XL clients additional bespoke Cyber risk mitigation services. Initially rolled out on an industry basis for the likes of manufacturing, retail, healthcare and financial services, the proposition is to be expanded to cover the P&C spectrum by early 2020. AXA XL clients outside the US will benefit from post-breach security services such as incident management and IT forensics. In the US, Accenture will provide post-breach services as part of a panel of vendors.

Lloyd’s of London will soon assemble the third cohort of its six-month development programme designed to support future female leaders in the Lloyd’s market and Corporation. Nominations are now open until October 07. Called “Advance,” the modular-based scheme aims to raise the number of senior female leaders in the insurance industry by providing women – who are identified by their managers as future female leaders – the opportunity for targeted development as well as access to mentors and role models.

The London Market has indicated there is a long way to go to achieve equality in Lloyd’s following on the publication of a culture survey which found 8% of workers had witnessed inappropriate behaviour and 41% of those who reported concerns felt they were not dealt with effectively. Sheila Cameron, LMA’s Chief Executive, commented: “I have seen the market change in a positive way in recent years, but this is a journey and there is still some way to go."

Inclusion @ Lloyd’s has put together a data collection toolkit which looks to offer practical advice for businesses on how to use data collection and analysis on their journey to creating diverse and inclusive workplace cultures. It features a five-step plan for businesses which explores why data should be collected; what the data shows; how to collect data; analysing the data to find patterns and how the resulting insights can be used to help shape and adjust the wider culture. The toolkit also details five rules regarding data collection on the journey to become more diverse and inclusive. These included: understanding why the data is being collected; ensuring that the data is in accordance with local laws and for businesses to keep track of their progress by having clear targets. 

Granite Underwriting’s recruitment drive is part of the Broker’s plan to expand its core product offering, according to Co-Founder and Managing Director Alan Keating. The business, which sits behind Broker Acorn Insurance, revealed that it was set to make over 300 hires in its Liverpool headquarters. “We’re looking to expand our core products and are ensuring we have the right people on board to manage the growth,” said Keating. 

While there have been no major terrorist attacks in Western Europe in recent months, Brokers and Insurers offering Terrorism cover should be quick to inform clients that the threat has far from disappeared – as a recent Facebook clampdown proves. The social media giant shared a series of shifts aimed at improving how it combats terrorists, violent extremist groups and hate organisations not only on Facebook but also on Instagram. The changes form part of the company’s dangerous individuals and organisations policy, the goal of which is to prevent real-world harm from manifesting on its platforms.

The government has now responded to the recommendations set out by the Housing, Communities & Local Government Select Committee report on modern methods of construction (MMC) and Insurer Zurich Municipal isn’t entirely pleased. “We welcome the government’s response to the Select Committee’s report on MMC which provides welcome clarity on how they will seek to facilitate the use of MMC to address the housing crisis,” said Zurich Municipal Housing Head Allison Whittington in a statement sent to Insurance Business.

The AA reported that its insurance revenue for the first half of 2019 of £73m, up on the £69m reported for the same period last year. Ebitda slipped to £28m (H1 2018: £29m) and average income per policy fell to £69m compared to £73m this time last year. Operating profit also dropped slightly from £25m this time last year to £23m.

Tarian Underwriting has unveiled a new “quote to bind” platform for Cyber insurance, Tarian Online. The business said the system has been designed to simplify the process of understanding and obtaining Cyber insurance cover, combining quotes, statement of fact and policy issuance. It added that the new platform will enable regional Brokers to offer its specialist Cyber cover to clients, with access to Tarian’s Cyber team.

RSA, whose annual Broker leader programme has now welcomed more than 50 Brokers since its inception, has introduced its line-up for this year. The 2019/2020 cohort consists of Sutton Winson’s Dean Luce, Tristan Lennox-Gentle of Lloyd and Whyte, Basil Fry’s Kelly Simmons, Towergate’s Samual Jackson and Jordane Dobbins, Marie Clay of BHIB Insurance Brokers, Aston Lark’s Chelsea Boekbinder, Charlotte Eggleton of Higos Insurance Services, Legal Insurance Management’s Amie Jones, Erskine Murray’s David Plowman, Jelf’s Matthew Whitehurst and Ramzan Ghafoor of MRIB Group.

With the goal of gaining insight into the future of Home insurance, Allianz Partners has produced a new report that teases the sorts of technology that will be found in households by the year 2040. As part of its “The World in 2040” futurology series, Allianz Partners has collaborated with futurologist Ray Hammond to produce “Super-Smart Living – The Mid-21st-Century Home,” a detailed report that presents likely future developments and trends that are expected to transform home life and housing between now and 2040.

Zurich Insurance Group has announced the launch of the second edition of its Innovation Championship, which offers start-ups the opportunity to work with Zurich to grow their business. The contest is seeking established start-ups with commercially viable technologies and innovative business models that work to solve challenges in climate, health, automation and other issues. There is also a “wild card” category for start-ups with other solutions that have the potential to help Zurich explore new innovations, the company said.  

Global insurance Broker and risk adviser Marsh has announced the inaugural class of cybersecurity products receiving a Cyber Catalyst designation. The designation is “part of a first-of-its-kind program designed to bring organizations greater clarity in the crowded cybersecurity marketplace,” Marsh said. Cyber Catalyst by Marsh, launched in March, convened Cyber Insurers Allianz, AXIS, AXA XL, Beazley, CFC, Munich Re, Sompo International and Zurich North America to identify products and services they considered effective in reducing Cyber risk. More than 150 cybersecurity offerings were submitted for consideration, Marsh said.

Applied Systems has launched its Epic product for the Northern Ireland market. The software house stated it will deliver technologically advanced software to independent Brokers with the aim to enable faster growth and profitability. It rolled out Epic for the rest of the UK in October 2016. At the time, Joe Sultana, Managing Director, Broker solutions at Applied in the UK, explained that some of the key features included a focus on communication with customers, a single view of the clients and big data analysis.

Market Movers and Shakers

Gravity Risk Services has hired Alan Hood to become a Senior Account Executive, joining from Clear Insurance. Lucy Aldridge takes up the post of Operations Manager and its new Claims Handler is Sam Labon. The hires have been made as part of its national expansion plan. The Black Country-domiciled firm has also announced plans for more jobs at its Bradford and Leicester offices.

Ed, the global reinsurance, wholesale and specialty Broker, has appointed a new Divisional Director for its risk solutions team. Simon Stovell took up this position with immediate effect and is now overseen by Stephen Louden, MD, Risk Solutions. Stovell joins Ed from his role as Senior Binder Underwriter at Faraday, a post he has had since 2014 and he has worked in the industry for over three decades.

Gallagher has said that Steve Wilkinson has become part of its global Aerospace practice as Head of Claims, effective immediately. The role is based in London and as part of it he leads the claims team supporting Gallagher’s airline and aerospace individuals across the globe. Wilkinson has over 40 years’ experience and most recently held the position of MD of Aviation and Aerospace at Marsh.

Lloyd’s has selected David Sansom as Chief Risk Officer, while Annette Andrews, Chief People Officer, will be leaving at the end of this year. Sansom will oversee all areas of risk management within the corporation, as well as overseeing market-level risks. He will also manage Lloyd’s relationships with regulators across the globe.

InsurTech firm, Insurdata has hired Rosina Smith to be Head of Client Success. She will be responsible for ensuring that clients capitalise on the full benefits offered by the firm’s products, ranging from supporting clients in their use of technology to helping its integration into client’s existing workflows and will need to help the firm to develop capabilities in accordance with the fast-changing market.

AXIS Insurance has announced that Chief Claims Officer David Hayward will retire in March 2020 and will be succeeded by Michael Baumel, current Head of North American Claims. Following the six-month transition period, Mr. Baumel will assume the Chief Claims Officer role. He will join the AXIS Insurance leadership team and report directly to CEO Peter Wilson. Mr. Hayward will retire from AXIS following a career that has spanned more than thirty years, with the past seventeen years spent at AXIS. He has played an instrumental role in building the Company’s award-winning global claims management function.

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) has announced that Peter Giger will join the Group on October 1, 2019, as Group Chief Risk Officer and a member of Zurich’s Executive Committee. He succeeds Alison Martin who was recently appointed Chief Executive Officer Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA) and Bank Distribution. Mr. Giger joins Zurich after four years as Head of the Insurance division and Deputy CEO of the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA. He left FINMA in September 2018.

Two people have taken over the post left behind by Global Director (Claims) Andrew Taylor, who retired on September 20 after 36 years with North P&I Club. Named joint Global Directors for claims were Matthew Moore and Mike Salthouse. The latter came onboard North’s FD&D (Freight, Demurrage and Defence) department in 1992 and has been involved in P&I (Protection and Indemnity) claims management since 2005, while Moore made a comeback – he first joined the Club in 1995 – in 2014 following a stint at Ince & Co where he was a partner.

“Exceptionally well-qualified.” That is how Maurice Tulloch, Chief Executive Officer of Aviva, described the company’s new CFO in a statement released. Taking the role of Chief Financial Officer is Jason Windsor, who also becomes an Executive Director of the company effective September 26. Windsor had been the interim CFO – taking the role at the beginning of July this year – and was previously CFO at Aviva UK Insurance. As part of the announcement, Tulloch referred to Windsor’s extensive experience – he has been with the firm since 2010 in roles including Chief Capital and Investments Officer.

In further news...Aviva has reshuffled its top teams following its decision to separate the management of its GI and life businesses. As a result, Rob Townend, Managing Director of UK GI, will leave the business at the end of the year after 23 years at Aviva. He will continue to work closely with Colm Holmes, Aviva CEO of general insurance, until December, taking a lead role in transitioning the business to the new structure.

Global Risk Partners
(GRP) has hired Scott Hallett to the newly created position of Investment Director. The broking group stated that the appointment is a “significant investment” in its mergers and acquisitions team. Hallett will report to Stephen Ross, GRP’s Chief Operating Officer. The new recruit will be responsible for working with GRP’s Brokers and Managing General Agents to accelerate the company’s acquisition strategy.


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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