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EC News (23rd August 2018)

August 23, 2018

Round-up of the weekly news and developments from the global (re)insurance market with stories from Axis, Aon, LSM and more.

Axis appoints Ventresca as chief strategy officer

Axis Capital has appointed Linda Ventresca as chief strategy officer, reporting directly to president and CEO Albert Benchimol.

In the newly created role, Ventresca will be responsible for guiding the development of the company’s strategic priorities and driving the delivery of those priorities across the organisation. She will continue to serve on the company’s executive committee.

Ventresca, who previously served as chief transformation officer, will continue to lead the company’s enterprise-wide transformation program, positioning Axis to capitalize on the changes reshaping the insurance marketplace.

Additionally, Axis’ corporate development and corporate communications teams will continue to report in to her.

During her more than 15 years at Axis, Ventresca has held a number of leadership roles, including head of corporate development and head of investor relations.

Before joining Axis she was an investment associate at MMC Capital Inc. where she worked with Axis as a portfolio company of the Trident II fund.

Previously, she had been a member of the financial institutions investment banking groups at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, and UBS Securities LLC.

“Linda is a respected leader, trusted advisor and the perfect person to serve as our first chief strategy officer. She’s been with Axis since nearly the beginning and has an expansive understanding of our business and the forces that our transforming the insurance industry,” said Benchimol.

“In addition to working with me to help shape our corporate strategy, Linda will serve as a partner to our insurance and reinsurance businesses and will help ensure there is direct alignment between our corporate strategies and the individual strategies that are being driven within our segments.”

Aon has advanced plans to establish post-Brexit EU hub

Aon has advanced plans to create a new European hub outside of the UK which can contract with European clients on behalf of Aon to ensure continuity for its client’s post-Brexit, if necessary.

With the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Brexit, Aon’s plans to develop a new EU hub follows a growing number of UK insurers and reinsurers that have already, or are in the process of doing so.

Concerning Brexit, Aon has taken the stance of “prepare for the worst but hope for the best,” and states that it is working hard to ensure that in the case of a hard Brexit, disruption to its services and to its clients’ insurance programmes, is minimal.

Aon notes that the majority of the London market carriers that it works with have advanced plans to ensure their contracts are still valid post-Brexit, plans that recognise the wealth of expertise and capacity available in the London marketplace, but that also understand the need to comply with a new, post-Brexit regulatory environment.

Aon said: “We have developed our own Brexit continuity endorsement for use on programmes when we are not yet satisfied that a carrier has a robust solution, and a Brexit contingency product,”

At the same time, the broker’s market security team is paying close attention to carriers options, and is also prepared to remove carriers that it deems are not “adequately prepared” from its approved list.

Furthermore, Aon has been undertaking training of its brokers so that they do not agree carrier policy clauses that fail to offer the fullest continuity post-Brexit.

AFL appoints new CFO

Independent Lloyd’s broker AFL Insurance Brokers Ltd (AFL) has appointed Chris Gagg as its chief financial officer (CFO) and a member of the AFL board of directors, effective 1 September.

Gagg joins AFL from Towergate Insurance (the Ardonagh Group) where he most recently served as group head of treasury. He brings experience in insurance and financial services. During his career spanning 17 years, Gagg has held senior positions at Deloitte UK, Grant Thornton UK LLP and Ernst & Young.

Working with leading insurers and intermediaries, Gagg has successfully executed complex finance redesigns, pursued growth strategies as a senior member of deal leadership teams, and is recognised as an expert in insurance financial regulation and operations.

Keely Dalfen, current CFO at AFL, will remain as an advisor to the business for the foreseeable future, focusing on finance and investment projects within the social enterprise and charity sector.

Commenting on the new appointment, AFL chairman Toby Esser said: “Chris is a trusted and respected insurance financial professional and I am delighted to welcome him to AFL. His appointment further cements the leadership team on the board, where his experience and insight will be invaluable in providing strategic corporate finance input as we continue to grow the business into a highly innovative wholesale and retail broker.

Our strategy is to modernise the broking model to offer more value to our clients, and to achieve a scale that offers a real independent alternative to market incumbents. We will continue to diversify our business and invest in new technology that drives efficiency across operations and finance. I look forward to working with Chris as we expand internationally.”

AFL CEO Bob Finch added: “The last 12 months has seen the company continue to grow into a dynamic and modern home for the best talent, and it is a great pleasure to welcome Chris to the team. At the same time we thank Keely, who has been with the business since it was founded in 2008, for her ongoing dedication and expert insight. We look forward to continuing to benefit from Keely’s input going forwards. Our future is bright and we are delighted that Chris is joining us at this pivotal time in our growth.”

Gagg said: “AFL is an innovation-focussed broker on a dynamic growth path. The company is building a business around digitisation, allowing it to operate more efficiently, and ultimately better serve clients and partners in the Worldwide Broker Network. It is an exciting proposition – the industry as we know it is changing, and the winners of the future will embrace this transformation. I am delighted to have the opportunity to join as CFO at a time when the company is rapidly expanding into a full service independent, international broker.”

Lloyd's syndicate DL Dale appoints claims manager        

DL Dale & Others, syndicate 2525, has appointed Nick Ryan as London market claims manager to "support the continued growth of the international account and maintain the syndicate’s market-leading reputation for proactive claims management."

Ryan joins DL Dale from QBE where he spent 17 years as claims manager for P&C, international markets since 2014.

Formed in 2000, Syndicate 2525 is managed by Asta Managing Agency.

Rob Turner, claims director at DL Dale & Others, Syndicate 2525 commented: “We’re very pleased to welcome Nick to the team and to have on board such an experienced and well-regarded claims specialist to support the continued growth of our international liability business. Nick’s in-depth knowledge and long experience of handling claims in multiple jurisdictions further enhances the international claims capability that forms part of our overall offering to brokers and policyholders around the world.”

LSM expands general liability in Netherlands

Liberty Specialty Markets (LSM), part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Group, is increasing the volume of general liability (GL) business it writes from its Netherlands office.

Nicole Nijhuis joins LSM in October as senior underwriter, general liability and she will lead the expanded Netherlands’ general liability team. Nijhuis has 27 years’ experience in the insurance market, first with Delta Lloyd as a senior liability underwriter and then with Mandema & Partners as a senior risk consultant and specialist liability broker.

Promoted to senior general liability underwriter, Johan Roos will work alongside. Roos joined LSM from Delta Lloyd in 2013 as general liability underwriter.

The team is completed by Burak Bilgin who joined LSM at the beginning of 2018.

Ruud van Nunspeet, a recently appointed contractor, will take the lead and service multi-national general liability programmes, working closely with Globex International Group.

Head of Benelux and Nordics, Rob Groenen commented: “We have written general liability from our Netherlands office since it opened, primarily for large domestic and midsize risks. But around three years ago we identified a clear opportunity to boost our presence in this class. Since then, we’ve been developing our plans and are now ready to roll them out with the express aim of doubling the size of our GL book. We also see the potential for selling our GL expertise in the Benelux and Nordic regions, which would be the next step.

“With Nicole, Johan, Burak and Ruud onboard, we have a very strong team ready to accelerate and expand our GL business.”

Acord launches new data standards reinsurance toolkit

Acord, the industry data standards body, has introduced a new adoption toolkit designed to support the application of data standards for global reinsurance and large commercial risks.

The toolkit provides detailed, step-by-step guidance on every stage of the implementation of standards along with a wide range of self-help resources and access to dedicated Acord support contacts.

Chris Newman, managing director of Acord in London said: “The benefits of implementing data standards are being realised by stakeholders across the global insurance ecosystem in terms of cost savings, greater efficiencies and easier access to new markets,”

“The toolkit has been developed in response to market feedback and is designed to make it much easier for all stakeholders to implement Acord Standards and access on-going support. In addition, the toolkit includes the option of a trial Acord membership for system vendors that allows them to road-test and realise the benefits of implementing standards.”

Testing and certification guides have been updated and all resources are now organised by member type. The toolkit will be updated regularly and Acord will also run clinics to support the implementation of standards.

Senior operations lead at XL Catlin and chairman of the industry group Ruschlikon, Simon Squires, said: “The London Market is making significant investments in making itself easier to do business with at all stages of the insurance value chain.”

“The adoption of Acord standards will be a key component in the market’s success, so the additional support and guidance that the adoption toolkit provides will be vital in helping to ensure that businesses can maximise the benefits of the new digital landscape.”

Richard Brame, a senior director at Willis Towers Watson added: “Adopting Acord standards is central to the CSRP, enabling money to move through the London Market more efficiently.”

“However, this is just one element, the fast and accurate exchange of information between all parties in the insurance value chain is a key component of market modernisation.”

Capsicum Re makes duo of appointments in cyber division

Capsicum Re has hired Jasper Goring as a cyber broker and Prab Naidu as wordings director within its cyber division.

Goring joins Capsicum Re from Paragon International Insurance Brokers, where he most recently served as senior vice president and focused on cyber business in the UK and US. Prior to this he was a broker at Willis and Lockton.

Naidu boasts oved 16 years’ experience in reinsurance contract wordings. He previously held the position of wordings manager at BMS Group. Before this he held roles at the likes of; Guy Carpenter, UIB, and Heath Lambert.

Both Goring and Naidu are based in London and will report to Ian Newman, global head of cyber at Capsicum Re, and Samantha Thompson, operations director for London property and specialty.

Speaking of the new appointments, Matt FitzGerald, managing partner of the London property and specialty division at Capsicum Re, said: “The cyber sector is progressing at an unparalleled pace; we anticipate it will be as big a sector of the market as property and casualty so it is a key focus area for the business.

“I am pleased to welcome another two excellent hires to our growing team, reinforcing our position as the largest dedicated cyber reinsurance broking practice in the UK and North America.”

Newman also commented: “Jasper is one of the leading cyber brokers in the London market. His expertise and in-depth understanding of cyber in multiple markets complements and strengthens our knowledge, ensuring we remain effective in placing cyber reinsurance from both our London and New York offices.”

“Creating innovative and modern wordings is key in ensuring Capsicum Re remains at the forefront of product development so Prab’s expertise is a real asset,”

Newman added: “He is a highly regarded wordings specialist and working alongside our partner, Hogan Lovells, he will construct market leading wordings that ensure our clients are equipped to deal with the cyber risks they face.”