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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 28th August 2020

28 Aug 2020


The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has confirmed that it would be the exclusive provider of professional examinations to the students of the Financial Academy for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) for the next three years. Under the agreement signed by CII Chief Executive Officer Sian Fisher and Financial Academy Director General Mana Al Khamsan, the CII will provide professional examinations across the KSA – including Riyadh, Jeddah, Dammam, and Abha.

Marsh JLT Specialty has updated its political risk map, revealing its risk ratings for 197 countries across nine perils covering the security, trading, and investment environments from January to July 2020. Marsh's Political Risk Map 2020: Mid-Year Update showed that all 197 countries had seen an increase in their risk scores during this period compared to 30% in the same timeframe last year.

Global insurance law firm Kennedys has announced that its annual salary increases, which were postponed from May for non-lawyer staff and from September for lawyers, will go ahead in November. The firm paused the annual increases to allow its board to monitor the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business. However, Kennedys has now decided to go ahead with the increases, which are performance-based and apply to all eligible fee-earning and business services staff.

The insurance industry is always looking for innovative ways to attract, retain, and support female employees in their career development. Every company has a different strategy, but one Insurer to really make waves in the women in the insurance arena is Zurich North America, thanks in part to one unique employee resource group (ERG) – the Zurich Women’s Innovation Network (WIN). WIN was founded in 2012 by Zurich employees. It was the insurer’s first ERG in North America, and it kicked off with 250 members. Since then, WIN has grown to 1,700 members across 22 chapters in the United States and Canada, as well as thriving in many of Zurich’s international locations. Its core strategy is aligned with Zurich’s workforce sustainability commitments, with the specific focus of building meaningful connections, developing leadership skills and inspiring confidence.

Das UK Group has posted rising profits for the year ended 31 December 2019. The specialist Legal Expenses Provider revealed a statutory profit of £1.6m in 2019, up from a statutory loss of £10.0m in the preceding year. In addition, post-tax profit gross of Ergo (Das’s parent company) quota share grew to £11.3m, compared to £2.3m in 2018. However, its combined operating ratio deteriorated to 99.2% in 2019 (2018: 95.4%) and gross written premium fell slightly to £115m from £118m in 2018. Das UK comprises its Legal Expenses insurance company as well as law firm Das Law.

Adrian Flux Insurance has stated that it is looking to hire 185 people as part of a recruitment drive. The Norfolk-based Broker stated that the roles will be created across its three offices in East Winch, King’s Lynn and Norwich. According to Adrian Flux, the business is expecting a “peak season” in spring 2021.

BIBA’s popular Tour of Regions returns this year as five one-hour virtual events, giving you the opportunity to hear the latest from BIBA’s senior team on the big issues affecting Brokers – from the impact of the pandemic, the FCA BI test case through to the current challenges with PI and the hard market, and regulation issues. 

Scammers have been posing as friends and family in order to get access to PayPal accounts. There has been a surge of reports where the recipient has received messages through Facebook Messenger from friends/family requesting to use their Pay Pal account to receive funds from the sale of items on EBay. Overall, between 1st June 2020 and 31st July 2020 a total of 95 reports have been made which specifically mention that the item sold was a camera. Messages are sent by fraudsters pretending to be friends/family stating that they have sold a camera on eBay but that they are unable to process the payment as they either do not have a PayPal account or because their Pay Pal account is not working. The request is that the message recipient receives the funds into their own Pay Pal account, then, after transferring it into their own bank account, they forward it onto an account controlled by the fraudster.

Ecclesiastical Insurance Office Plc is the latest to reveal how it fared in the first half of 2020, and the interim numbers show that the specialist financial services group has been dealt a blow. Due to the impact of the coronavirus crisis on financial markets, Ecclesiastical posted a loss before tax of £59.7 million during the January-June period – a plunge from the £42.8 million pre-tax profit it enjoyed in the same six-month span in 2019.

The advisory broking arm of Bravo Group, Ethos Broking, has shaken up its Accelerate programme to suit the digital age we all find ourselves living in. It has launched the programme on a digital platform thanks to a complete virtual re-design on the back of the complications caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, it has welcomed its first cohort to the three-month course, with 18 potential leaders taking part in three virtual events focused around topics such as strategic foresight and thinking, how to present to a board, cultural and emotional intelligence, and more. There will also be one-to-one mentoring and a host of learning tools available.

If you thought that the COVID-19 pandemic had meant crime had ground to a halt, then you may have to think again. Tracker has just released its latest statistics showing the number of recoveries it made during the month of July at 37, with the total value recovered at £942,361.

CX Reinsurance Company Limited (CX Re) has gone into administration. The High Court of Justice appointed Ernst & Young LLP’s Richard Barker and Simon Edel as joint administrators of the run-off Reinsurance firm, which used to be known as CNA Re UK but was renamed CX Re after it was purchased by Tawa UK Limited from CNA Financial Corporation in 2002.

The parent company of Broker Complete Cover Group and Hyperformance and Insurer Mulsanne, Key Topco, has reported losses for 2018. A document posted to Companies House highlighted a loss for the year of £41.7m, a deterioration on the £12m lost in 2017. GWP slipped to £33.4m from £35.5m. Restructuring costs went down to £421,000 from £1.1m.

Direct Insurance Group (DIG) has accused one of its own employees along with Amicus Insurance Solutions of a “planned unlawful competitive attack” in the latest lawsuit relating to breach of contract and client poaching in the insurance broking sector. The Broker filed legal proceedings against senior account manager Darren Judd, who had been with the business since 2009, and Amicus on 27 July 2020. The story was first reported by Law360. In the particulars of claim, filed on 14 August, DIG stated that around March Judd and Amicus had entered into a “common design” to use Judd’s access to confidential information and continuing employment to divert business from DIG to Amicus.

NFU Mutual has extended its complimentary RAC cover for a further three months as the number of breakdowns skyrockets ahead of bumper Bank Holiday weekend. Latest data from NFU Mutual revealed that the MOT extension and the COVID-19 lockdown continue to impact vehicle health, with a 160% increase in the number of breakdowns from May to July.

Leading telematics firm and Insurer partner Insurance & Mobility Solutions (IMS) has launched a recruitment drive to boost its workforce in Manchester and Crewe by 24%. The expansion of its Manchester and Crew teams is part of IMS's global recruitment programme, which would also see a significant increase in the company's workforce in Ontario, Canada, by the end of the year.

As schools prepare to reopen their doors to all pupils in September, specialist Insurer Ecclesiastical has launched The Hub for Education, an online portal developed to help Brokers and their education clients manage strategic and operational risks.The hub, which is available to Ecclesiastical customers and Brokers, provides insight, information, tools, checklists and a dedicated risk advice line, to help all types of education establishments a range of risks.

TT Club has partnered with the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) to improve the Motorway Buddy app, a driver-friendly compliance and safety management tool that provides the location of over 300 recognised truck stop facilities across the UK. The collaboration aims to turn the Motorway Buddy app into a unified platform by merging its existing truck stop and driver compliance functions with the theft and crime data provided by the freight unit of the NaVCIS.

Bridge Insurance Brokers Ltd has become the first UK Credit insurance Broker to use the Trade Cover Exchange platform as a fully branded, managed portal for its clients. Lifting the lid on what was described as an exciting partnership, Bridge Insurance Brokers Trade Credit Director Mark Johnson explained in a release: “Credit insurance is no different from every other product and service out there – it must adapt to suit the current needs of those who use it, and it’s fair to say that not every business needs to protect their whole debtor book.

Managing General Agent (MGA) Hive Aero Limited has forayed into all-risks Aviation Hull and Liabilities. The growing Aviation MGA started underwriting Aviation Hull War in 2018, before expanding to underwrite excess third-party Aviation War Liabilities last year. All-risks underwriting, meanwhile, will commence in time for the fourth quarter airline renewals of 2020.

 

 As Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged employers to bring staff back to the office from 1 August if it was safe to do so, insurance professionals revealed how safe they feel at work. Almost half of the 212 Chartered Insurance Institute members surveyed on social media in July revealed they felt their workplace had been made Covid-19 secure. Almost one in three said they felt partly protected from catching coronavirus while 15 per cent (70 professionals) said they did not feel safely able to work in the current climate. Roughly one in 10 of those polled said they did not know if they felt safe or at risk continuing to work this summer.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has confirmed that it is investigating over 150 COVID-related scams since the beginning of the pandemic. The latest data, obtained under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act by the Parliament Street think tank's cyber research team, revealed a total of 165 suspected scams reported to the FCA over the last five months. The latest scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic included phone calls, text messages, emails, letters, and social media.

A myriad of hospitality businesses had attended the COVID-19 insurance advice clinic held by the Hospitality Insurance Group Action (HIGA). The HIGA advice clinic supported hotels, restaurants, bars, cafés, and other hospitality businesses who have had claims for COVID-related business interruption losses rejected by their Insurers.

ERS experienced a decline in GWP of 8% year-on-year to £168m (H1 2019: £183m), almost entirely driven by commercial customers temporarily pausing coverage for their vehicles during the coronavirus pandemic. However, the Insurer’s half year results also showed its combined operating ratio improved to 84.9% (H1 2019: 102.8%), leading to a profit for the first half of £28.2m (H1 2019: £3.1m). The business also stated that its specialist segments including Agriculture, Taxi, Transportation and Prestige, saw new business enquiries remain steady through the Covid-19 impacted second quarter and were up 5% year-on-year.

BGL Group has revealed that its short-term insurance brand, Jaunt, has experienced significant growth since January despite the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Jaunt reported 60% growth surge in customer numbers since January – reflecting a spike in demand for flexible, cost-effective insurance in the UK amid the pandemic.

Data from the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) has revealed a big fall in the number of Personal Injury claims for the first half of 2020, as a result of the Covid-19 lockdown. The data was published following a freedom of information request from the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO). The figures showed that motor injury claims in the first quarter of 2020 (155,860) were roughly the same as in Q1 2019 (156,791), however claims in Q2 2020 fell by 35% to 94,733 (Q2 2019: 146,844).

QBE offers lifeline to underrepresented charities in latest round of charitable giving and releases more support from its Covid-19 resilience fund. The latest round of funding by the QBE Foundation has seen smaller underrepresented charities receive vital grants that will be used to support LGBT+ people with disabilities, victims of modern slavery, refugees, asylum seekers and BAME groups, as well people affected by negative coping strategies such as addiction and self-harm. The diverse group of smaller charities includes Their Voice, The Bike Project, Afghanistan and central Asian association, African Caribbean Achievement Project, Coventry Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre, Carers UK, Queen Alexandra College and Show Racism the Red Card.

 

Allianz Insurance plc (Allianz Insurance) has agreed to the sale of British Reserve Insurance Company Limited (BRIC) to Marco Capital Holdings Limited, a European P&C run-off group. Allianz Insurance purchased BRIC and its Musical insurance portfolio in 1997. BRIC then continued to underwrite Allianz musical insurance products until 2014, when Allianz Insurance began to underwrite the policies directly. Since then BRIC has been in run-off. The transaction is subject to regulatory approval.

Shareholders in Aon and Willis Towers Watson have voted in favour of all proposals to combine the two businesses. The combination, which remains subject to customary regulatory and other closing conditions, is expected to close in the first half of 2021. Upon the closing of the combination, Willis Towers Watson shareholders will receive 1.08 Aon shares in exchange for each Willis Towers Watson share they held immediately prior to the closing.

Monument Re Limited is snapping up Charles Taylor Group’s operations in British Crown dependency Isle of Man for an undisclosed amount. The unit being acquired principally consists of LCL International Life Assurance Company Limited and Charles Taylor Holdings (IOM) Limited. According to Monument Re’s announcement, both sides of the deal are committed to ensuring seamless continuity of services during the transition period.

Abbey Autoline is set to make acquisitions following its recent rebrand, according to Managing Director, Julie Gibbons. Gibbons commented that the business, which is based in Northern Ireland, is looking to make deals on both sides of the border as well as in the rest of Great Britain. “We would like to add to the business in a sustainable way, so we’d be interested in commercial brokers and even commercial and personal lines Brokers, something that would fit with us culturally and make the business as sustainable as possible,” she explained.

If reports are to be believed, it looks like AA Ireland could be facing another shift in ownership. The Irish insurance intermediary and roadside assistance provider is currently owned by Carlyle Cardinal Ireland (CCI), which in 2016 teamed up with Carlyle Global Financial Services Partners (CGFSP) to purchase AA Ireland from UK-based AA Plc for €156.6 million (around £141.2 million).

Randall & Quilter (R&Q) has acquired another legacy firm in run-off. R&Q announced its acquisition of the share capital of Inceptum Insurance Company Limited, which was incorporated in England & Wales back in 1998.

 

MS Amlin Underwriting Limited (MS AUL), has announced the appointment of Andrew Carrier as Chief Underwriting Officer (CUO), subject to regulatory approval. Carrier will take up the role on 7 September and report directly to Tom Clementi, CEO of MS AUL. As a result the Insurer is dissolving its co-CUO structure and the Co-CUOs for Specialty Insurance, Andrew Wright and Mark Clements, along with the CUO for Reinsurance, Phil Wooldridge, will step down from their roles on 30 September 2020.

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, has appointed two Underwriters to its Casualty team. Jonathan Powell joins as Senior Underwriter for the US book of business, reporting to Phil Stephenson, Senior Underwriter – Excess Casualty. David Bramall joins as Underwriting Manager for the UK book of business, reporting to Dan Munro, Liability Underwriting Manager. Both take up their new roles with immediate effect. 

Allianz Holdings Plc – the holding firm which owns the principal insurance operations of Allianz SE in Great Britain – has brought in Christopher Twemlow to serve as Chief Legal Officer. The former Lloyd’s of London solicitor made the switch from Euroclear, where he worked from 2007 and headed the international financial services group’s UK legal team for more than seven years.

Momentum Broker Solutions has appointed three new Brokers and an additional Finance Assistant to boost its over 50-strong broking and finance teams. Michael Cooper, Cert CII; Gemma Smith, Cert CII; and Barbara Preston joined Momentum Broker Solutions as new Brokers. Meanwhile, Lorraine Elkington joined the Momentum finance team as an experienced Finance Assistant. 

Lockton has announced the appointment of Kelly Conway as its Chief People Officer. In her new role, Conway will lead the company’s human resources strategy. “What sets Kelly apart is her robust experience driving global business outcomes in transformation and growth environments,” said Peter Clune, global CEO of Lockton. “Her leadership and strategic guidance will ensure our people have the resources they need to continue delivering innovative solutions to our clients. With Kelly in this key leadership position, Lockton is in the strongest possible position to continue competing for the best talent as a global employer of choice.”

Markel Corporation has appointed Julia Chu to the newly created role of Chief Risk Officer. In her new role, Chu will be responsible for Markel’s enterprise risk management, capital planning, and ceded reinsurance placements – functions that Markel says serve a “critical role” in managing insurance risk.

The hiring spree at Oneglobal is continuing with pace. Having made a cluster of recent appointments, the company is now bringing in a new Head of HR. Jeanette Paul will officially move into the role on October 05, reporting to CEO Mike Reynolds.

Markel Corporation has announced the appointment of A. Lynne Puckett to its Board of Directors. Puckett serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel at Celanese Corporation, a producer of specialty materials and chemical products. “We are delighted that Lynne has agreed to join Markel’s board of directors,” said Steve Markel, Chairman of the board at Markel. “She brings a wealth of global experience and expertise in a number of key business areas, as well as important new perspectives that will be invaluable to Markel and its management team.”

Gallagher has appointed Michelle Bree as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of its UK Retail division. Bree moves across from Gallagher-owned Pen Underwriting and will take up her new role on 1 October, subject to regulatory approvals.

Mark Cliff has been appointed Chairman of Avid Insurance Services and will take up the role, which has been approved by the FCA, with immediate effect. Cliff has a broad portfolio of NEDs, including Be Wiser and Evolution Claims Management, as well as a number of advisory roles for insurtechs, including microservices technology business Iotatech. Previously he was executive chairman and CEO of Brightside Group, which he joined in 2015. He exited the CEO role at Brightside in 2018.

To spearhead its entry into the Contingency and Fine Art & Specie markets, Fidelis Underwriting has announced the appointments of Emily Clapham and Stacey Munton respectively as Underwriters in these classes. Clapham and Munton will be based in London and will join the Fidelis Specialty Team reporting to Kayley Stewart, Head of Specialty.

Shropshire-based insurance Broker 1st Choice Insurance has seen significant company growth over the last 12 months and, as a result, it has expanded its departments and welcomed new staff. As 1st Choice Insurance nearly triples in size due to its growth plan, it has decided to apply a new management structure. Due to the growth of the Sales team, new Sales Manager Mary Leigh, has been appointed to work with the Sales Co-ordinator to monitor the team’s performance, ensure all members are fully trained and high levels of customer service are maintained throughout the sales process.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (BHSI) has appointed Dr Carsten Keune as the new Head of Executive & Professional Lines in Germany. Dr Keune holds a law degree from Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in Bonn and has over 20 years of industry experience, most recently as the Head of Global Commercial Lines Underwriting at ERGO. He also served as the Underwriting Director for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa at XL Catlin in Germany.

Mercer has appointed William Gibbons as Principal in its Insurance Investment Solutions business. Gibbons joins Mercer from PwC, where he advised Insurers and other financial institutions on strategic allocation, investments, asset restructuring, liquidity, market risk, and hedging. He also previously served as a director at Barclays Investment Bank, focusing on solutions for UK Insurers.

DARAG Group has appointed Alex Roth as Chief Executive Officer and Peter Klingspor as Chief Financial Officer of DARAG Deutsche Versicherungs-und Rückversicherungs-AG, the group's German risk carrier. Roth, whose recent appointment started on July 01, continues to serve as the company's Group Chief Strategy Officer. He also retained his group-level roles in addition to the new CEO position in the German entity.

 

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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