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EC News (16th November 2017)

November 16, 2017

Round-up of the weekly news and developments from the global insurance market with stories from Chord Re, AXA, Agora and more.

MGA Chord Re launches

Former head of Aspen Re London Stefan Long has launched Chord Re, a new reinsurance-focused managing general agency (MGA) that is set to begin writing business on 1 January 2018.

Chord Re has been set up as a joint venture between its management team, Neon and insurance focused venture investor Beat Capital, who share the same long-term goal of transitioning Chord Re into a fully integrated reinsurance carrier.

The MGA opened its doors on 6 November and will structure and lead programmes in specialist classes of reinsurance business, initially underwriting solely on behalf of Neon Syndicate 2468.

Long, who is CEO of the firm, will be joined by his former Aspen Re colleague Tom Meyer who will be 

CUO, alongside fellow Aspen Re alumni Chris Schmidt, Ed Wheatley and Marc Brendle and two assistant underwriters. The team will work closely with Darren Lednor, Neon’s chief underwriting officer and active underwriter, across its portfolio.

Willis Re CEO John Cavanagh, is set to join the MGA as non-executive chairman upon his retirement at the end of the year.

Chord Re has received the requisite approvals to act as a Lloyd’s Coverholder and will start quoting for business that incepts from 1 January 2018.

For the first year, Chord Re will concentrate on underwriting specialty-focused reinsurance lines including marine and marine composite, property, engineering, aviation & space, terror, nuclear and cyber.

Long remarked: “We intend to build a market-leading reinsurance business, differentiated by product expertise, with a balanced portfolio that combines quantitative analysis with experienced judgement to provide clients with innovative tailored solutions.

We believe that the knowledge, experience and relationships of the team at Chord Re, aligned to the support of Neon, creates a compelling proposition and we look forward to offering an attractive new source of capacity to the market.”

Meanwhile, chairman of Beat Capital, Tom Milligan added, that he was “delighted” to partner with Neon again in the creation of another business, following the launch of cyber focused MGA Tarian in 2016.

AXA unveils new operating structure

AXA Group has embarked on a simplification of its operating model that will see the organisation restructured into five geographies and a single, refocused corporate centre.

The five geographies are France, Europe, the US, Asia, and international, while the new corporate centre represents a reduction from the current three layer structure of head office, global business lines and regional divisions.

AXA expects the new operating model to be effective in the first quarter of 2018.

The French carrier said that its specialty, large risks insurance business AXA Corporate Solutions and asset management arm AXA Investment Managers will be run alongside the five geographies, with the CEOs of these two divisions continuing to report to AXA’s Group CEO. Furthermore, as part of this simplification effort, in Europe, direct and traditional entities will report to the country CEO to accelerate the synergies between direct and traditional business, it said.

As part of the shake-up, AXA also announced a host of senior appointments to steer the new operating model.

CFO Gérald Harlin and general secretary George Stansfield have been appointed deputy CEOs, in addition to their existing responsibilities.

AXA chief transformation officer Benoît Claveranne has been named CEO of international and new markets, while Mark Pearson, president and CEO of AXA Financial in the US, will become CEO of AXA US. Jacques de Peretti remains chairman and CEO of AXA France.

Antimo Perretta, previously CEO of AXA Winterthur in Switzerland, has been appointed CEO Europe, whilst former executive board member of AXA in Germany, Astrid Strange, has been named chief operating officer.

Meanwhile, Alban de Mailly Nesle will take on the additional responsibility of the new Group Insurance office whilst continuing his role as group chief risk officer.

Regional AIA chief executive Gordon Watson will join the management committee on 1 January 2018 as CEO Asia.

AXA announced that Gaëlle Olivier, CEO of AXA Global P&C, and Paul Evans, CEO of AXA Global Life, Savings & Health, will leave the group.

The new management committee appointments are effective from 1 December.

AXA CEO Thomas Buberl said: "My objective is to let our teams focus their energy on growing our business and deliver excellent service in their respective markets.

"I am convinced that local empowerment is instrumental to the long-term success of AXA, by making our transformation tangible on the ground, as close as possible to our clients.

"In order to achieve this, the simplification we are implementing is an absolute pre-requisite, but also the starting point of a large effort to make AXA simpler for all our stakeholders."

Agora receives approval for full Lloyd’s syndicate

Agora Syndicate 3268 has received approval from Lloyd’s to commence underwriting business from 1 January 2018, graduating to a full syndicate having originally been established as a special purpose arrangement (SPA) in 2016.

The syndicate will be managed by Asta and privately capitalised by a number of well-known industry players.

Agora Syndicate 3268 has planned gross premium of £98mn for 2018, with business underwritten by active underwriter Mike Pritchard. The syndicate will write property business, with a focus on direct & facultative, binder and treaty business on a worldwide basis.

Since 2016, Agora has operated as Special Purpose Arrangement (SPA) 6126 at Lloyd’s. The new full Syndicate 3268 received ‘in principal’ approval from the Lloyd’s Franchise Board in September 2017.

Pritchard commented: “Since launching in 2016, our long-term ambition has been to establish Agora as a market-facing syndicate. I am very pleased to confirm that we will commence underwriting business as Agora Syndicate 3268 in the new year. This is evidence of our success, market expertise and the hard work of the team. I look forward to continuing the Agora story with the team and the support of all our capital partners and managing agent Asta.”

Asta CEO Julian Tighe also said: “Over the past two years, Agora has undergone measured and sustainable progress. It has been a pleasure to see Mike and his team develop such a strong book of business from the ground up. We are very pleased that Agora has received approval to underwrite as a market-facing syndicate. We look forward to continuing to work with the Agora team and provide underwriting management, regulatory and business support, which will help ensure its success into 2018 and beyond.”

Asta is responsible for nine syndicates with capacity under management in 2017 of about £1bn.

Zurich names Moss as UK specialty lines head

Stephen Moss is set to join Zurich from Brit as UK head of specialty lines, replacing Steve Watson.

Prior to joining Zurich, Moss served as portfolio underwriting director for Brit syndicate for 12 years covering all direct long tail business written globally by syndicate.

As part of a restructure at Zurich, Watson has taken on a new role within the company, responsible for leading Zurich’s technical underwriting in the UK.

UK head of commercial insurance Vinicio Cellerini said: “Stephen joins us with a host of experience gained across a broad spectrum of financial, specialty, and casualty lines – and I’m pleased he’ll be able to bring that to our team.”

Cellerini added: “We have a clear focus for our commercial business and the unified approach to the market we implemented earlier this year is already re-cementing our position as the go-to insurer for commercial risks here in the UK.”

CFC hires Beaton to develop FI offering

Cyber specialist managing general agency (MGA) CFC has hired Neil Beaton from Newline Group to build a new team focused on developing a suite of products for financial institutions.

Prior to joining CFC, Beaton served as head of financial lines at Newline Group since 2014, having originally joined the carrier in 2011 as a senior financial institutions underwriter. Before this, he was a financial institutions underwriter at Brit for more than a decade. Beaton has also previously worked at Wellington Underwriting and Axa.

Commenting on the appointment, CFC chief underwriting officer Andrew Holmes remarked: “The look and feel of financial institutions is changing as they utilise more and more technology in their core operations.

This evolution presents financial institutions with a new range of exposures which we believe the insurance market is not adequately addressing, whether that is a product designed for the new breed of Fintech companies or a crime proposition which properly caters for the way crime against financial institutions is committed in 2017.

With CFC’s expertise in cyber and technology allied to Neil’s extensive experience of insuring financial institutions, we believe there is an exciting opportunity to bring a modern and relevant product set to this market”

Bryceland named as Coverys Syndicate 1975 active underwriter

Medical professional liability insurer Coverys has hired Keith Bryceland as active underwriter of Coverys Syndicate 1975.

This comes as US medical malpractice specialist Coverys gained in-principle approval from Lloyd's in September to establish a full syndicate that will be managed by R&Q Managing Agency.

The syndicate is expected to begin underwriting business on 1 January 2018, subject to completion of the final approval phase of the Lloyd’s application process.

Bryceland bring more than 25 years of experience to his role, specialising in underwriting global professional liability insurance and reinsurance.

Prior to joining Syndicate 1975, Bryceland served as senior underwriter at Chubb Syndicate 2488 where he was responsible for underwriting all classes of professional liability insurance and reinsurance, ranging from medical to legal liability.

Placed through brokers, Syndicate 1975 will provide protection coupled with risk management and mitigation solutions to improve margins and increase patient safety for physicians, hospitals, and other providers of healthcare.

Coverys president and CEO Gregg Hanson said: “As growing healthcare systems look to the Lloyd’s market for customized protection and financial strength, Syndicate 1975 will build upon Coverys’ expertise in bringing unparalleled products and services to the healthcare market.

“Keith’s knowledge and experience is an asset that will assist Coverys as it seeks to enter the Lloyd’s market in London, offering sophisticated insurance and reinsurance solutions for larger group practices and healthcare systems,” Hanson added.

Dale receives approval for Lloyd’s SPA

Dale Underwriting Partners has received approval from Lloyd’s for its new special purpose arrangement (SPA).

The SPA, which will be managed by Asta, will reinsure a portfolio of contingency and specialty property business that has been underwritten into Dale syndicate 1729 by a new team led by former Swiss Re Corporate Solutions head of special risks Tom Phillipson.

Dale said that it plans to grow its gross premiums by USD$22mn, which will then be divided 40 percent/60 percent between Syndicate 1729 and the SPA for 2018.

Duncan Dale, chief executive of Dale Underwriting Partners, commented, “I am very pleased to confirm that our SPA will be part of our underwriting framework from 2018. The SPA structure is the ideal platform for this innovative and entrepreneurial team, and has great potential to increase underwriting profit and fee revenue for Syndicate 1729.

“Tom is a recognised industry figure who brings an exceptional track record and breadth of hugely relevant experience in this specialist area. I am confident that he and his highly talented team will quickly establish themselves as a significant participant in this market.”

Newbridge secures capacity from Chaucer and Markel in political violence and terrorism push

Managing general agent (MGA) Newbridge Risk Partners has secured capacity from Chaucer and Markel International to support the continuing growth of its political violence and terrorism insurance and reinsurance business.

The new capacity will allow Newbridge to offer physical damage, business interruption and liability coverage with limits up to $20mn for operational and construction risks on a wide spectrum of political violence and terrorism products, on a non-referral basis.

Chris Kirby, principal partner of Newbridge said: “Being able to attract capacity from such respected and prominent markets reflects our success in delivering solid results through a broad range of distribution channels.”

Kirby added Newbridge’s focus on underwriting industrial and commercial risks in emerging markets addresses the needs of a client base that requires more than a one size fits all product and that appreciates a partner they can approach directly or through a local intermediary.

“Our new capacity partners value the team’s underwriting and territorial expertise and our ability to react quickly in these changing environments to provide strong growth with profitable results,” he concluded.

Newbridge operates as underwriting cell on the Castel MGA formation platform and commenced underwriting in 2015.Write something here...