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EC News (29th March 2018)

March 29, 2018

Round-up of the weekly news and developments from the global (re)insurance market with stories from Beazley, Ascent Underwriting, Zurich and more.


Maidment to retire as Beazley CUO at year-end

Beazley has announced that its chief underwriting officer (CUO) Neil Maidment will be stepping down at the end of the year after almost three decades with the Lloyd’s carrier.

Maidement will also step down from the company's board at the same time. Adrian Cox, currently head of specialty lines, will succeed Maidment as CUO when he retires from the role on 31 December 2018 having held the position for around 10 years.

Maidment has also been a member of the Council of Lloyd’s since 2016 and became chair of the London Market Association in 2015.

Beazley said: “We are immensely grateful to Neil for his many contributions to the company, including his skill and dedication in guiding the development of Beazley’s well-balanced underwriting portfolio. We wish him well for the future."


Ascent names Weatherstone as non-executive chairman

Ascent Underwriting has appointed former Arch Insurance Europe CEO James Weatherstone as non-executive chairman.

At Arch, he was responsible for building the UK and international direct underwriting operations, stepping down as CEO of Arch Insurance Europe and Arch Underwriting at Lloyd's in December 2016. Prior to Arch, Weatherstone held senior leadership positions at the likes of XL Group, Brockbank Syndicate Management and Merrett Underwriting Agency Management.

Ascent said that Weatherstone's previous experience in scaling international businesses will provide it with additional capability to expand its global distribution base, broaden its product offering and attract high-quality talent as the business grows.

Commenting on the appointment, Ascent CEO David Umbers said: "James is a highly regarded market practitioner with a successful track record of operating in challenging and highly regulated environments. I’ve no doubt that his extensive, senior-level expertise will be invaluable as we look to grow our existing proposition and expand into other lines where we see synergies and value as an MGA. I am delighted to welcome him to the team."

Weatherstone added: "There is enormous opportunity for further development within cyber and other emerging risk and specialty business lines. Ascent, with its innovative distribution platform and exceptional underwriting performance, has quickly established itself as a leading MGA and with the backing of Preservation Capital Partners, it is very well placed for future expansion. I very much look forward to working with the management team."


Zurich to acquire Oak Underwriting from RSA

Zurich UK has inked a deal to acquire Oak Underwriting from RSA as it looks to bolster its market position in the high net-worth space.

The carrier said that the transaction enhances its existing high net-worth proposition, Zurich Private Clients, and provides it with a broader distribution platform and enhanced regional presence. Over the medium-term, Oak will become part of Zurich Private Client’s business.

The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Zurich’s head of specialist retail, Paul Glasper, will lead both businesses. As part of the transaction around 80 employees are expected to transfer to Zurich. The deal will also see Zurich retain Oak’s existing office in Chipping Norton.

Zurich UK head of retail David White said the deal accelerates the growth of the company’s high net-worth business, giving it significant scale in the market and transforming it into one of the largest providers.

“This deal broadens our distribution capabilities and enhances our regional footprint. We are confident the combined strengths of our businesses will create a market leading high net-worth proposition, focusing on high levels of service and depth of broker relationships,” he said.

Mark Coffey of Oak Underwriting commented: “Zurich has an ambition to become the leading high net-worth player in the UK market so I am pleased we are joining their organisation to achieve this. We have some great people and fantastic capability so combining the best of Oak and the best of Zurich Private Clients will create something which is really exciting.”

The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2018, subject to the necessary legal and regulatory approvals.


Hiscox CEO named PPL Chair

Hiscox CEO Bronek Masojada has been appointed chair of the Placing Platform Limited (PPL) board.

Masojada will replace outgoing chair David Ledger and will be responsible for for driving forward adoption of the electronic placing platform at Lloyd’s.

Last week, Lloyd’s issued a mandate for electronic placement as it looks to drive the market’s transformation from paper to digital and ensure the market realises the benefits of electronic placement.

From the end of the second quarter this year, each Lloyd’s syndicate will be required to have written at least 10 percent of its risks electronically. This target will rise by another 10 percent each quarter until the fourth quarter to reach 30 percent, with further targets to be confirmed before the end of the year.

Lloyd’s has warned that failure to comply with these targets will result in syndicates paying additional fees, as well as potentially being subject to capital loading.

Masojada said that the ambition of the PPL board is to drive adoption from 15 percent to 80 percent of London risks.

“We will be working with the broking and underwriting communities to hit this target. I ask all those interested in the long-term success of London to identify and get on with what they can do to achieve this, rather than enjoying the spectator sport of watching others fail,” he said.

““The market has been playing the modernisation game for a long time and I vividly remember previous attempts that delivered no obvious benefit. I remain unapologetically a champion of our efforts through PPL, and other London Market Target Operating Model initiatives, because their successful implementation will mean that we are getting the right data at the front end of the placement process and then the critical structured data at the end. It is this data – and the removal of slow, expensive paper-based processes – that will support ongoing face-to-face negotiations where it matters and help to ensure the future competitiveness of the London Market.” Masojada added.

Meanwhile, Ledger commented: “PPL has come a long way in the last few years and this is thanks to strong collaboration by all the market associations. The fact that over 15,000 risks have been bound on the system is proof positive that the platform works.

“Those businesses that are embracing electronic trading are already beginning to reap the benefits from both an efficiency and growth perspective. We do however need to move faster as regards adoption or we run the risk of losing all the momentum that has been generated over the past few months. I am absolutely delighted that Bronek has agreed to become Chair. He is a passionate advocate for market modernisation and will undoubtedly lead the next stage of PPL’s development with drive and commitment.”


Swiss Re consolidates European business under Cordioli

Swiss Re has appointed Claudia Cordioli to lead its reinsurance business in Western and Southern Europe.

From 1 April 2018, Cordioli will assume the role of CEO for Western and Southern Europe, with the move consolidating the reinsurer's France, Benelux and Switzerland operations with its Iberia, Mediterranean and Italy unit, which has been led by Cordioli since 2016.

Before that, she was CFO for Swiss Re’s EMEA reinsurance division. She joined the reinsurer in 2003.

The appointment follows the move of former head of the France Benelux and Switzerland region, Ivo Hux, to the position of general manager of Swiss Re Europe, Luxemburg.

The reinsurance giant said that the financial strength and expanded scope of this combined region will allow it to efficiently enable the European insurance industry to move forward on key priorities. These include reducing underinsurance through technology-based natural catastrophe insurance, further progressing product development to meet the needs of digital consumers and strengthening the use of reinsurance as a tailored tool for efficient capital management.

Jean-Jacques Henchoz, CEO reinsurance EMEA, said: "The consolidated Western and Southern European region offers Swiss Re a stronger basis to approach this significant group of insurance markets.

“This move gives us the strategic focus to strengthen our long-established relationships and to help our partners grow, especially through technological innovation and tailored reinsurance solutions. Claudia Cordioli's work in helping our partners close protection gaps, especially regarding natural catastrophe protection, as well as her strong financial knowledge, make her the ideal choice to lead our partnerships in this region."


Aon UK appoints Shanaghy as COO

Aon UK has appointed Nathan Shanaghy as COO, succeeding David Ledger who will retire at the end of the month after 21 years with the broker.

Shanaghy currently serves as COO of Aon Risk Solutions UK (ARS UK) and the London Global Broking Centre (GBC). In this role he has focused on enabling the business to more effectively serve clients through the delivery of innovative solutions, improved productivity and enhanced analytics. Before that, he was director of operations for ARS EMEA, having joined from Marsh in 2010.

He will commence his new role and join the Aon UK Ltd board on 1 April, reporting to recently appointed Aon UK CEO Julie Page.

Commenting on the appointment, Page said: “I have worked closely with Nathan since joining Aon, and know that he will be a great successor to David. I know I speak on behalf of the whole of the UK board in saying that we are very much looking forward to working with Nathan to manage the risk business in the UK.”

“I would like to thank David for his dedication, both to Aon and our industry, in a career that has spanned over 40 years. Both the board and I have valued his experience and counsel in a variety of leadership positions within the firm. We wish him all the best in his retirement.”

Shanaghy’s appointment comes a week after Aon UK named Matt Kimber as its new chief risk officer.


Pool Re to extend terrorism cover to include non-damage BI

Pool Re has hailed the UK Government’s commitment to amend the 1993 Reinsurance (Acts of Terrorism) Act to enable the reinsurer to extend its cover to include non-damage business interruption losses resulting from acts of terrorism.

The reinsurer is currently restricted by the 1993 Act to only pay out if physical damage has occurred to commercial property. This means that businesses, inside a police cordon, that suffer financial loss through being unable to access their property or to trade, are only covered if there has been physical damage during a terrorist attack.

Pool Re said that the recent terrorist attacks in Westminster, Manchester and London Bridge highlighted the actual impact of the gap in UK provisions for terrorism insurance coverage, fuelling its decision to extend its cover further.

In November 2017, Pool Re announced that it will extend its cover to include material damage and direct business interruption (BI) as a result of cyber terrorism from April 2018.

Pool Re CEO Julian Enoizi said: “We welcome and applaud the Government’s commitment to amend the 1993 legislation to allow Pool Re to be the first of the global terrorism pools to overtly extend its cover to include terrorism related non-damage business interruption.

“After months of extensive collaboration between ourselves and the Government, today’s announcement represents another landmark moment for the insurance industry’s ability to provide a comprehensive response to acts of terrorism in the UK and demonstrates the strength of public/private partnership in disaster risk financing”.

“This amendment will close the terrorism insurance gap for businesses up and down the country, which, combined with our efforts to make cover more affordable for SMEs and regional businesses across Great Britain, will increase the resilience of the economy. Businesses can be confident they will be covered in the event of a terrorist attack, and able to get back on their feet quickly for the benefit of their community, customers and suppliers,” he added.