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General Insurance Newsletter Friday 9th October 2020

09 Oct 2020

Brit has announced a partnership with the African Caribbean Insurance Network (ACIN) to focus on improving ethnic representation in the London insurance market. ACIN was formed in 2018 to increase black and minority representation in the insurance industry, aiming to enhance cultural competence in the London market and make the sector more attractive for young professionals from underrepresented ethnic backgrounds.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has published its survey on ‘Regional Risks for Doing Business 2020’ which has identified that the top risk concern facing UK businesses today is that of cyberattacks. This is unchanged from the top risk of last year. Following this are Fiscal Crises, Extreme weather events, Spread of infectious diseases and Failure of climate change. 

1970 seems a long time ago, many of us were not even born at this point. Yet, that is when Northampton-based insurance Broker Pyke Smith & Cutler came to life, and it’s still going strong having notched up half a century...The family-run business began in September that year, set up by John Cutler, Joe Pyke and Brian Smith who formed a partnership after working for three major insurance firms.

If you thought a name change was the only thing different about Superscript after it rebranded from Digital Risks, then think again – because now the business insurance ‘challenger’ is also a registered Lloyd’s Broker. In a rarity for the insurtech market – indeed Superscript is the first Insurtech UK member to earn the distinction – it will now have direct access to the specialist insurance market. The firm has been a Lloyd’s coverholder since early 2019 and now it hopes to strengthen its ability to arrange cover for modern businesses.

QBE has certainly embraced the tech revolution! They are reporting that their "Robots" are on track to hit 30,000 tasks per week. By the end of the year, it hopes to have 45 "robots" in place, all helping it complete twice the number of tasks compared to 2019.

Markel Corporation has announced the consolidation of all of its Property catastrophe (CAT) reinsurance business under the Nephila brand. This announcement means the end of Markel’s Global Reinsurance property CAT unit. Moving forward, Markel will have one centralised point of entry for serving the property CAT reinsurance market via Nephila.

Aon Plc has arranged an Intellectual Property (IP) collateral insurance policy in excess of US$100 million (around £77.6 million) – a bespoke policy that the Irish-domiciled and UK-headquartered broking giant believes is the largest of its kind. The insurance coverage, arranged for the lender, allowed IP-rich agriculture technology company Indigo Ag to borrow the above mentioned amount with Intellectual Property as collateral. The value of the collateral is insured by a group of insurance markets led by Markel Specialty, with Hudson Structured Capital Management (HSCM) as the biggest capacity provider.

Markel International has adopted Concirrus’s Quest Marine Hull, a behaviour-based data analytics platform, to accurately assess and monitor Marine risk. The platform complements Markel’s strategy to examine digital data in order to ensure that underwriters have a real-time view of the global market.

Details surrounding the recent Cyber breach that hit The Ardonagh Group have been scant, but now a new report has shed some light. They commented “The incident was identified as a result of the routine comprehensive monitoring we have in place. We immediately took all necessary action including taking impacted systems offline and have implemented our business continuity plans in the impacted business units, to minimise disruption to our customers.”.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions is teaming with Hitachi Europe Ltd in what it describes as an “industry first”. With organisations increasingly turning to AI for critical business operations, the partners are offering a new industry solution to help accelerate digital transformation and minimise risk. Initially this solution will focus on the transport and manufacturing machinery industries, helping insure companies against unexpected business disruption.

Insurance-sports partnerships are nothing new, but striking a deal with England certainly catches the eye. It is this exposure that Allianz Insurance will be looking to capitalise on after being named the official insurance partner of England Rugby – meaning it will partner with both the men’s and women’s rugby teams. In addition, it will become the title partner of the Allianz Premier 15s, which begins on Saturday, and is the top women’s domestic rugby competition in the country.

Top British law firm Mishcon de Reya – which has been busy representing business interruption test case intervenors Hiscox Action Group and Hospitality Insurance Group Action – has another high-profile case to handle. Watchstone Group Plc, or what used to be known as Quindell, has not released a statement on the new proceedings yet, but records of the High Court’s Commercial Court list Mishcon de Reya LLP as the company’s legal representative in Watchstone Group Plc and another v. KPMG LLP.

There is a new name in UK business insurance circles. That name is Peach Pi, a niche Insurer that says it is committed to working with “like-minded” insurance professionals to “co-create” products that meet the needs of community professionals.

Beazley has launched a Cyber and breach response portal containing an all-encompassing set of resources designed to help Broker partners and coverholders stay informed and educated on the constantly evolving Cyber risk landscape. 

Genasys has developed a white-label customer portal that provides Insurers, MGAs and Brokers alike with capability to offer their own end-customers a digital quote and buy experience with self-service functionality. According to Genasys, the free platform enables customers to access policy documents, make mid-term adjustments, notify and track claims from their smartphone, tablet or laptop.

Specialist Engineering and Technology Insurer HSB has gained Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) accreditation for its Underwriting Foundation construction modules.

Global insurer Chubb has recently announced that it has launched of a new personal Cyber insurance product in the UK, designed to help protect individuals and their families in today’s digital climate.


It’s the turn of the Irish High Court’s Commercial Court to hear a Business Interruption test case relating to coronavirus coverage, with the web-streamed trial against FBD Insurance commenced on Wednesday in Dublin. The proceedings involve FBD policyholders Sinnotts Bar, The Leopardstown Inn, Lemon & Duke, and Sean’s Bar. According to Senior Counsel Michael Cush, there are about 1,100 other businesses whose FBD policies are identical to those of the four pubs. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on commercial and specialty lines of insurance, creating new trends that seemed to have reduced or changed risk in some areas. However, now an arm of global Insurer Allianz has revealed that, overall, the positive trends in claims for Insurers have been outweighed by COVID-19 notifications.

Zurich Insurance believes that COVID-19 has created a sense of urgency among the workforce – accelerating trends such as digitalisation and amplifying the strain on social protection systems. As such, it is calling for a radical rethink of work protections. “All working generations are affected - the young are becoming more risk-averse and older workers looking to postpone retirement,” said Nick Homer, Head of Market Management at Zurich Insurance. “Therefore, true collaboration is needed between state, employers and benefit providers to enable a new social contract to protect workers against risks of post-pandemic economy.".

The race is on to tackle the challenges associated with the coronavirus pandemic – and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is ready to offer its support. The regulator has opened up application windows for two ‘sandbox’ services – Cohort 7 of the Regulatory Sandbox and the pilot of a new Digital Sandbox Initiative. The idea is that they will focus on supporting customers and firms impacted by the pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many frontline workers anxious and struggling as they are more likely to contract the virus. That’s why insurance specialist Hooray Health & Protection has decided to donate 100% of its profits to an NHS charity until January 2021 in support of frontliners.


This week marks the completion of the first acquisition by Birrell Group since it became part of GRP as its Midlands hub in January 2020. Birrell Group, which trades as Kingsway Insurance Services, has finalised the purchase of Managed Risk Solutions Ltd (MRSL), a specialist commercial insurance Broker based in Northampton. MRSL serves the commercial business sector in this region and its surrounding areas and will retain all its staff on completion, as well as its brand and office facilities. The deal has received regulatory approval and the consideration is undisclosed.

In other news...Only two days after Birrell Group's first acquisition, the business has revealed its second acquisition of the month. It has made a deal to buy 100% of Home Counties Insurance Services Ltd (HCIS), a brokerage which was founded in 1990 and writes predominantly commercial insurance.

US insurance Broker NFP Corp, which snapped up Dublin-based HMP Insurance & Pension Advisors Limited in August, is planning to significantly scale its operations in Ireland. Now rebranded as NFP as part of the group’s global Broker network, the Irish unit aims to ramp up to twice as big its current staff size.

Ark Syndicate Management Ltd parent Ark Insurance Holdings Ltd will become majority owned by White Mountains Insurance Group. “White Mountains will contribute $605 million of equity capital to Ark, at a pre-money valuation of $300 million and will also purchase $41 million of shares from existing owners,” said the Investor, which is a Bermuda-domiciled financial services holding company.

The Ardonagh Group is on a roll despite the COVID-19 pandemic as it continues its acquisition spree with the latest purchase being that of Lloyd Latchford Group into Atlanta Holdings D1 Limited. Lloyd Latchford is a specialist retail Broker that has been trading for over 20 years and manages more than 12,000 policies a month, including car, driving instructor, commercial, and home insurance through its digital platforms and its Buckinghamshire office.

Experts have described Howden’s deal to buy A-Plan as a surprising but smart move. The transaction, which is believed to be valued at up to £700m, will create a business with £4bn in gross written premium. It also gives Howden access to a part of the UK insurance market that it did not have a strong presence in previously.

In other news...A-Plan Group has announced that terms have been agreed to acquire Ingenie from Watchstone Group, subject to contract. The deal is A-Plan’s first since being bought by Howden in a £700m deal which created a business with £4bn GWP and gives Howden a strong foothold in the regional space.

CLARIFICATION – On 7th August 2020, we reported that “Bennet Christmas had purchased Sennet Insurance Services”. We would like to make it clear that Sennet Professional Indemnity Limited remains a completely separate and independent entity and continues to trade as such, a completely separate and independent entity.


The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has announced the appointment of Aon UK Chief Executive Julie Page to the role of resident of the CII. Page, who worked in the insurance industry for over 30 years at a wide range of businesses, was made CEO of Aon UK in 2018 and directly leads Aon’s commercial risk, health and affinity businesses. She is a member of the Confederation of British Industry’s Presidents Committee and the Financial Conduct Authority Practitioner Panel. Previous roles have included as a committee member of Inclusion@Lloyds and the Dive-In Festival, and a Non-Executive Board Director role at BIBA. She also served as Deputy Chair at BIBA before standing down in July 2019.

Modus Underwriting Ltd, the digital Managing General Agent that became part of the OneAdvent family this year, has brought in a familiar name to serve as its Non-Executive Chairman. Assuming the post is Covéa Insurance veteran and Qlaims Ltd Non-Executive Chair Simon Cooter, who was tapped by the niche Property insurance MGA for his Broker distribution channel and e-trading systems knowledge and proven track record guiding enterprises to growth.

Underwriting hires Darren Pugh and Lance Carter are the latest additions to the NMU roster. “We’re delighted to welcome Darren and Lance to the NMU family,” said Chief Executive David Perfect, “strengthening our already significant team. Pugh and Carter specialise in engineering insurance and Cargo & Freight liability, respectively. Together, they bring more than 50 years of industry experience to NMU.".

Loss adjusting giant Sedgwick has brought in a new Broker Business Development Director in the UK. Jason Jones will take the role on the back of 28 years in the industry, primarily overseeing the Broker market and with expertise across technical Property claims.

AEGIS London has created a new role – and promoted a senior figure with a wealth of experience to take it. That role is Digital Applications Manager. It will be held by former Merrill Lynch, Lloyds Banking Group and Unilever employee Phil Lucas, who will now report to Head of Digital Trading Tom Squires. Lucas joined the firm back in 2010 and was formerly Business Application Manager.

Covéa Insurance Plc, the UK underwriting business of French mutual insurance group Covéa, has appointed a Personal Lines & Protection Managing Director in the form of James Gearey. 

DUAL is looking to take its private client team Aurum to the next level, with a swoop for a key industry figure. The company has brought in Paul Collinson as Senior Portfolio Underwriter. Collinson, who has 13 years of experience in underwriting roles, was last with Chubb as Senior Development Underwriter.

He’s a well-known name across the insurance industry and now John Blundell is set for a new task. Blundell has been revealed as Non-Executive Director for Pulse Insurance, with effect from the beginning of this month. Blundell is well known for his time at the likes of Sterling Insurance Group, St Andrew’s Group and Ecclesiastical Insurance.

Optio Group has appointed Matthew Fosh as its new Executive Chairman, making this his industry comeback in an executive capacity after stepping down from his role at AXIS last year.

Davies is determined to strengthen its global leadership team this year despite the COVID-19 pandemic – and the appointment of Dr Nneka Abulokwe as the new Non-Executive Director of its board is proof of that commitment.

Crawford & Company has revealed that Kieran Rigby, the Global President of Crawford Claims Solutions (CCS) has decided to retire, effective December 31, 2020. Rigby first joined Crawford in 2014 when the business acquired GAB Robins UK, of which he was CEO and shareholder.

Allianz as it has appointed Graham Stait as its new Head of Claims Operations. Since joining the Allianz graduate programme in 2008, Stait has held various leadership roles across the group, including Claims Proposition and Claims Manager. 




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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