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EC News (12th October 2017)

October 12, 2017

Round up of the weekly news and developments from the global insurance market with stories from Argo, Hiscox, Karen Clark and more. 

Argo lures Eccles from Travelers

Argo Group has named former Travelers active underwriter Steve Eccles as chief underwriting officer of its international business.

Eccles will begin his new role upon completing his notice period and will report to Argo head of international Jose Hernandez.

Eccles’ hire comes as Argo also revealed that Bruno Ritchie, director of underwriting and active underwriter for Argo Syndicate 1200, has announced plans to leave the company.

Eccles joins Argo from Travelers, where he most recently served as active underwriter of Syndicate 5000 and a director on both the carrier’s company market entity and its Lloyd's managing agency. During his time in these positions, he was responsible for driving syndicate performance and serving as a member and chairman of various management committees.

Eccles is also on the board of the Lloyd's Market Association and leads its underwriting committee.

Commenting on the appointment, Hernandez said: “Argo Group continues to build an impressive international platform with a growing bench of top-tier talent, and I’m pleased to have Steve join the team,”

His strong leadership experience and deep knowledge of the industry will serve us well in this newly created, cornerstone role. Steve’s expertise will be valuable as he works with the team to further establish our footprint as we strive to be a leading specialty lines insurer internationally.”

Eccles’ appointment follows the recent completion of Argo’s $235mn acquisition of Ariel Re and a series of strategic organisational updates and new international leadership hires in Latin America, Europe and Asia.

Hiscox plans to increase Lloyd’s capacity by £450mn

Hiscox has announced that it plans to increase the capacity of Syndicate 33 by £450mn to £1.62bn for 2018 in anticipation of a “widespread market turn” following a recent spate of major natural catastrophes.

In a statement, Hiscox explained: “The increase in capacity is driven by an anticipated improvement in market conditions and a desire to have sufficient capacity available to participate in a widespread market turn.”

The decision, which is subject to Lloyd’s approval, follows a period of significant catastrophe activity in 2017, which Hiscox estimates has eroded more than $100bn of industry capital.

Compared to the 2017 forecast published at this time last year, the syndicate expects to write 57 percent more direct gross written premium (GWP) for 2018 at £1.06bn, driven by binding authorities business which is forecast to rise by 64 percent to £575.9mn.

2017 has seen a number of major catastrophe events so far, including Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria and most recently Nate, in addition to the Mexico earthquakes.

Earlier this month, Hiscox revealed that it anticipates combined net claims of $225mn arising from Hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Hiscox appoints Markham as London Market CEO

Hiscox has promoted Kate Markham to the newly established position of CEO of the carrier’s London Market business.

The announcement comes as Hiscox prepares itself for market changes and modernisation in the London insurance and reinsurance market.

Within her new role, Markham will work closely with Paul Lawrence, CUO of Hiscox London Market and joint active underwriter for Syndicate 33. Both Markham and Lawrence will be on the Hiscox Ltd executive committee.

Prior to her promotion, Markham was managing director of Hiscox UK Direct – the carrier’s UK direct to consumer operation – and was responsible for leading more than 200 people across underwriting, sales, marketing, operations, and delivering growth of 30 percent over five years, Hiscox said.

Markham began her career at Anderson Consulting (now Accenture) and then joined Vodafone where she served as head of international Enterprise before joining Hiscox.

Commenting on the appointment, Hiscox CEO Bronek Masojada said: "At Hiscox and Vodafone Kate has proven her ability to build profitable businesses in highly competitive markets.

"She will be a modernising force for our operations and culture, and relentless in making the most of the changing market and the opportunity it presents. The London Market will benefit from these skills now more than ever."

Karen Clark estimates $500mn Nate insured loss

(Re)insurers are expected to absorb close to $500mn of losses stemming from Hurricane Nate, modelling firm Karen Clark & Company (KCC) has estimated.

This figure includes insured wind and storm surge losses to residential and commercial properties, as well as industrial properties and automobiles, KCC said.

Hurricane Nate formed as a tropical depression at the beginning of October, upgrading to a tropical storm on 5 October and then a Category 1 Hurricane the next day. The catastrophe caused widespread flooding to parts of Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

The storm was forecast to become a Category 2 Hurricane, but the expected intensification did not materialise, KCC noted.

Nate follows a recent spate of significant natural catastrophes in recent months, including Hurricane Harvey, Irma and Maria as well major earthquakes in Mexico, which are collectively expected to have wiped out more than $100bn of industry capital.

AFL establishes wholesale property practice under Crouch

AFL Insurance Brokers (AFL) has launched a new wholesale property division, appointing former Lockton head of broking Neil Crouch to head up the practice.

Crouch will be responsible for leading the broker’s expansion in the property market, initially focusing on North American and Caribbean business. He moves over to AFL after more than a decade at Lockton.

AFL executive chairman Toby Esser said that adding a “property practice is a natural next step for AFL’s business profile”.

Current market conditions make it a compelling case to enter this class, where there is a need for proactive products and services that fully harness the highly skilled underwriting capacity at Lloyd’s,” the former Cooper Gay CEO said in a statement.

As part of its expansion plan, the broker noted that it is also working to expand in energy, financial lines, surety and trade credit and is exploring Insurtech collaboration options through its incubator division.

AFL said that it “aims to achieve significant growth over the next two years through organic growth and strategic bolt-on deals”.

Last month, Esser’s start-up Next Generation acquired a controlling interest in the company, with Esser joining the firm as executive chairman in a bid to grow the independent Lloyd’s broker and marking his return to the London Market following his departure from Cooper Gay.

At the end of September, AFL hired Dominic Quick and Simon Pearce from Tysers to spearhead the launch of a new energy practice.

Acappella hires Bassant as head of war, terrorism and political violence

Acappella has named Louise Bessant as divisional head of its war, terrorism and political violence insurance portfolio.

Bassant joins from Hardy Syndicate 382 where she spent four years as a senior underwriter of terrorism and political violence and was class underwriter for US product recall.

Prior to her role at Hardy, she served four years at Canopius as part of a brand new crisis management start-up underwriting political violence, kidnap and ransom and product recall. She began her underwriting career at QBE in 2006 within the crisis management team.

Within her new role, Bessant will be supported by Emily Humphries who joined Acappella in 2015.

Commenting on her appointment, Acappella Syndicate 2014 active underwriter David Indge said: “We are really delighted that Louse has chosen to join us. She has considerable experience and we all look forward to working with her”.

Endeavour launches cyber facility with Loizides hire

Lloyd’s broker Endeavour Insurance Services has announced the launch of a new technology and cyber facility, led by newly appointed Tony Loizides.

Loizides joins Endeavour from broker Safeonline, where he served as head of broking since 2010 and was responsible for insurance lines such as cyber, financial, professional and intellectual property. He brings with him 28 years’ insurance experience, predominantly focused on the North American markets, in all specialty lines including professional indemnity, D&O, financial lines and healthcare, but with a particular focus on technology and cyber.

He began his insurance career in 1989 at brokers Sedgwick before moving to First City Partnership and HSBC Insurance Brokers where he handled primary D&O insurance for some of the world’s biggest and most innovative technology firms.

The Endeavour Cyber Facility will mainly be managed via an online portal, providing multiple opportunities for MGAs, producing brokers and clients in the US and Canada to generate new business streams in the North American specialty lines space.

David Lawrence, chairman and CEO of Endeavour Insurance Services, said: “This is the next step in the growth of Endeavour with an exciting new business offering to an arena where organisations may not have immediate access to this class of insurance.

“Given recent events, cyber protection is fast becoming a major consideration in future risk management,” he continued, adding that the development of its cyber offering was “a medium term investment” for the company.

We expect that by creating an online platform to address the SME cyber space, there will also be offline mid-market opportunities that we can develop and look to build something around, in order to facilitate easier management of risks,” Lawrence added.

Price Forbes hires Hansen to expand renewable energy offering

Price Forbes has appointed Poul Hansen as head of renewable energy to lead the expansion of its renewable energy offering.

Hansen joins from JLT Specialty, where he was most recently senior partner and head of renewable energy. Prior to that he spent 13 years as a broker at Danish intermediary Optica, specialising in renewable energy business.

Commenting on his appointment, recently instated Price Forbes CEO James Masterton said: “Continuing our investment in specialist industries we are absolutely delighted that Poul has decided to join us.”

“He brings with him market leading experience and skills from which both our clients and our existing team will benefit enormously,” Masterton added.