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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 5th March 2021

05 Mar 2021

Life reinsurance and insurance holding company Monument Re Ltd is acquiring Athora Ireland Plc’s closed-block portfolio of variable annuities. The transaction, financial terms of which were not disclosed, is subject to necessary Irish High Court and regulatory approvals.

Aon has announced what it calls a “first-of-its-kind” offering to secure capital through a collaboration with Nayms, an insurtech platform that supports cryptocurrency investors in insuring crypto risk.

In its financial results report, Admiral said its group statutory profit before tax from continuing operations amounted to £608.2 million. The figure signifies a 20% increase from the £505.1 million posted in 2019. Meanwhile “group’s share of profit before tax” – an alternative performance measure which represents Admiral’s profit before tax excluding the impact of non-controlling interests – grew 21% from £526.1 million previously to £638.4 million this time around.

To coincide with results day, Aviva made official its exit from Italy to “focus on its strongest businesses.” The company is selling both its life and general insurance businesses in the country for €873 million in cash, valuing the businesses at €1.2 billion when incorporating Unicredit Group’s 49% shareholding. The life business is being sold to CNP Assurances for €543 million, while the general insurance business is heading the way of Allianz for €330 million. Judging by its full-year 2020 financial results, it appears to be in good shape with operating profit standing at £3,161 million – only a small fall from last year’s £3,184 million. Indeed, IFRS profit for the year actually climbed to £2,910 million – up from £2,663 million.

Managing General Agent Inperio (London) Limited is now a member of the Managing General Agents’ Association (MGAA). “Since its inception, the MGAA has transformed the perception of the MGA market, improving standards and ethics across the member community,” said Inperio Product Development Manager Alan Brett in a release.

As cybersecurity becomes a bigger concern for organisations that have transitioned to remote working in the wake of the pandemic, the Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) has unveiled a new designation programme for Cyber Liability professionals. The new Cyber Professional Liability Practitioner (CPLP) designation builds on PLUS’s Registered Professional Liability Underwriter (RPLU) designation, but with a Cyber Liability slant. The CPLP designation is a specialised one, which allows Cyber Liability professionals to distinguish themselves in a highly competitive and evolving market.

Swiss Re has announced that it has entered into a partnership with ICEYE, the largest commercial synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) satellite operator and flood monitoring provider. The partnership will advance flood risk management, assist disaster response and expedite claims payments globally, the reinsurer said.

Atrium Underwriters Limited has announced a total comprehensive income of £55 million for 2020, which the company says demonstrates its resilience in providing uninterrupted service to Brokers and clients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The company’s income decreased by 23.6% from the previous year, according to a statement, while underwriting profit also decreased by 31.25% – from £48 million in 2019 to £33 million in 2020. On the other hand, gross written premiums increased by 7.3% to £633 million for 2020. Its combined ratio slightly worsened from 91.4% to 93.8%.

Lorega Solutions, the claims specialist arm of Lorega Group, has teamed up with Wynterhill LLP, a firm dedicated to acting for insurance policyholders, to launch a product that will bolster its loss recovery services.

Liberty Mutual Insurance has announced a rebrand of its European and UK surety and guarantee operations to Liberty Mutual Surety. The company has also revealed it has created a single surety and guarantee entity, Liberty Mutual Surety Europe B.V., to offer aligned surety and guarantee solutions across the EU.

“A resilient performance in a challenging year” is how Hiscox Ltd described its full-year results for 2020. The global Insurer posted a loss before tax of $268.5 million (approx. £192.28 million), driven by COVID compared to its profit of $53.1 million (approx. £38.03 million) in 2019. Its COVID-19 reserves of $475 million remain unchanged. In better news, however, the business’s gross written premiums (GWP) of $4.03 billion are up slightly from the previous year. Meanwhile Hiscox London Market delivered profits of $97.2 million, up substantially from last year’s $23.3 million and Hiscox Retail grew 3% to $2.3 billion. The insurer’s direct and partnerships business increased by 15% and is now approaching $600 million GWP and serving over 800,000 customers.

Specialist professional services firm Davies has closed its acquisition of Nationwide Property Assistance (NPA), a home emergency specialist. Based in Birmingham, UK, NPA offers claims management and command centre solutions to housebuilders, housing associations, and insurance companies.

Group CEO of Aston Lark, Peter Blanc was not exaggerating when said the broking group has a lot of deals in the pipeline for 2021. This week the business has announced its acquisition of Bruce Stevenson Insurance Brokers. Bruce Stevenson, which has offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, the Scottish Borders and Turriff, was established almost four decades ago and provides specialist products and services to both commercial and private clients across the UK.

Only 1 day later, Aston Lark, backed by Goldman Sachs, announced the acquisition of inet3 Limited, which trades as magenta insurance. The latter, an MGA based in East Anglia, is known for providing specialist insurance solutions for non-standard residential Property. It has been in the market for 27 years, sourcing underwriting capacity from Lloyd’s of London and the composite markets, as well as being led by renowned insurance figure, Chairman Catherine Bell.

Aston Lark then made it three in 3 days with its acquisition of Venture Insurance Brokers Ltd. (Venture) marking its third deal in three days. The Bristol-based brokerage was formed with the focus of offering traditional insurance advice to businesses and individuals. In the commercial insurance space, it advises on business risks across multiple sectors and assists with surveys, claims analysis, and health and safety.

Whitespace Software, a provider of digital placing technology to the reinsurance market, has signed a definitive investment and acquisition agreement with Verisk subsidiary Sequel. Sequel’s investment and support will bolster Whitespace’s growth, the companies said.

Global Risk Partners (GRP)’s Birmingham-based brokerage Newstead Insurance Brokers (Newstead) is adding to the mix by announcing its first acquisition. Newstead, which first joined GRP in November 2020 with the ambition of accelerating inorganic growth, has acquired 100% of the share capital of Alford Burton and Company Ltd (Alford Burton). The deal has been approved by the regulator, and the consideration is undisclosed.

After rumours began swirling that AXA XL was looking to sell its private client business to fellow insurance giant Aviva, the company has issued a statement confirming its plans. In the statement, the company outlined that it has been looking to reposition its UK & Lloyd’s business to focus on optimising its portfolio to fit strategically within the AXA Group and the broader AXA XL division – and part of that will see it reduce transaction volumes and the type of consumer and personal business it writes in the UK.

Managing General Agent (MGA) Avid Insurance Services has secured its first acquisition with a move for specialist Construction MGA Incorporated Insurance Group Ltd (IIGL). The move sees Leeds- and London-based Avid take its GWP to circa £75 million as it makes what CEO Steve Gibson described as a “very exciting step.”

The Ardonagh Group, through its subsidiary Hamilton Investment Bidco Ltd, is snapping up the trade and assets of specialist M&A (mergers and acquisitions) insurance Broker Hemsley Wynne Furlonge LLP (HWF). Without disclosing financial terms of the deal, Ardonagh said it has entered into an agreement to invest in HWF, which specialises in warranty & indemnity, tax, contingent risk, and environmental indemnity products. The investment will see Hamilton Investment Bidco Ltd change its name to Hemsley Wynne Furlonge Partners Ltd.

Netherlands-headquartered insurance group Aegon has crossed the finish line in its £60 million sale of UK accident Insurer Stonebridge. The offloaded company, which has been closed for new business since 2014, specialises in accidental death and hospitalisation products and provides policies to around 200,000 customers across the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, the Nordics, and Ireland.

International private equity firm Cinven and Singaporean sovereign wealth fund GIC have completed the acquisition of re/insurance brokerage Miller from Willis Towers Watson, which used to hold an 85% stake. The deal, which was first announced in November 2020, went for an undisclosed sum.

Broadspire – the third-party claims administrator subsidiary of Crawford & Company – has made a series of appointments for its global operations executive team. All new members of Broadspire’s executive team were selected from within the company. Joining Broadspire TPA North America President Mike Hoberman in their new positions are Jeff Sickles as Chief Claims Officer; Erica Fichter as Chief Operating Officer, Medical Management, Accident & Health Claims; Michael Becker as Chief Client Officer; Marc Cunningham as Chief Sales & Marketing Officer for TPA US; and Andrea Aiken as Vice President of TPA Canada.

Zurich Insurance Group (Zurich) has revealed that Sierra Signorelli has been appointed both CEO for commercial insurance and as a member of the executive committee with immediate effect. The new appointment to the executive committee is subject to regulatory approval and her successor to her current role as Group Chief Underwriting Officer (CUO) will be announced in due course.

Richard Shanks is now the UK & Ireland Claims Director at Chubb, having been promoted to the post with immediate effect. Succeeding John Latter, Shanks will be in charge of the delivery of Chubb’s claims service across the UK and Ireland.

Pool Re has appointed Katy Huang to the newly-created role of Head of Digital Transformation, effective immediately. Huang leads the design and implementation of Pool Re’s digital strategy, overseeing both the in-house IT team and outsourced partners. She reports to Tracey Paul, Pool Re Chief Strategy and Communications Officer.

Beazley Plc Chief Executive Andrew Horton is leaving the UK-headquartered specialist insurance group to join QBE Insurance Group in Australia as group CEO.

Specialty (re)insurance enterprise Ascot Group – the name behind operating divisions Ascot Underwriting (Ascot at Lloyd’s), Ascot Bermuda, Ethos Specialty, and Ascot US – has tapped internal hire Ian Thompson to serve as Bermuda Chief Executive. 

Burns & Wilcox UK – which came to life when US-headquartered H.W. Kaufman Group acquired Barbican Protect – has added a key hire to its leadership line-up. Appointed as Underwriting Director is John Tiernan, who will be based in the London office. In the UK, Burns & Wilcox also has operations in Manchester and Birmingham.

AXIS Insurance, the specialty insurance business segment of AXIS Capital Holdings, has announced the appointment of Paul Fillbrook as a Senior Underwriter for international Accident and Health.

Insurance software provider Duck Creek Technology has announced the appointment of Courtney Townsend as Chief People Officer. In her new role, Townsend will be responsible for developing and executing the company’s overall human resources strategy.

AXA XL has announced the appointment of Matthew Bishop as Senior Underwriter for downstream and power for the UK and Lloyd’s market.

Two promoted Executives have joined the senior team at Wellington Circus insurance Broker Russell Scanlan. Steve Wright, who came onboard in 2014 to introduce the claims function role and eventually went on to become Claims Manager, will now serve as Claims Director with a wider remit spanning not only insurance claims but also the human resources and health & safety department. Also joining the senior team is company stalwart Matt Franklin, who started out as an Account Handler in 2004 before climbing the ranks and taking responsibility for a wide book of clients. Franklin will continue to look after clients while now being involved with the general running of Russell Scanlan in his new capacity as Director.

Miller Insurance Services has hired two Professional Indemnity experts who join as new members for its UK Professions team – Paddy Synnott and Joe Newbury.

Specialist MGA, Optio Group has today announced that its Group CEO Kevin Hastings is stepping down from his role. Hastings, who has been with the business for a decade, will take up a Non-Executive role on the Optio Group board. Meanwhile, his executive duties and responsibilities will be assumed by Executive Chairman Matthew Fosh and other members of the management team.


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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