Back to news
Climate change is the number one priority for D&O market

The article below, by Nicky Stokes, Head of Management Liability and Financial Institutions at New Dawn Risk, was originally published in Insurance Day in July 2021.

It is a tough time to be a di­rector or officer. Few can remember an operating en­vironment characterised by quite such a level of uncertainty and array of emerging risks. At the same time, for those looking to transfer some of that risk, the directors’ and officers’ (D&O) lia­bility insurance market has been going through a long overdue pe­riod of price corrections, coupled with restrictions on coverage.

The full impact of Covid-19 has yet to be felt and is unlikely to be until governments begin to wind back the unprecedented levels of financial support they have put in place. With the near-term eco­nomic and political outlook still uncertain, D&O liabilities linked to company insolvencies are like­ly to increase.

Of course, the pandemic has by no means been all doom and gloom. Pent-up capital has been seeking an outlet, which has re­sulted in a wave of transaction activity, driven in no small part by the rise of special-purpose ac­quisition companies (SPACs). This has brought its own set of risks. A SPAC has just two years to deploy investor capital, which puts the onus on swift action. Rushing to market brings with it the risk of bad deals being negotiated and we should expect claims to be brought against directors and of­ficers as a consequence.

Company executives must also contend with the rising cyber threat, which has been exacerbat­ed by the shift to remote working. Additionally, environmental, so­cial and governance (ESG) issues are climbing up the agenda. With more personal accountability, changing attitudes and the rise of social media, directors and of­ficers are increasingly exposed to claims related to employment­related risks, ethics and culture.

Looking ahead, though, the big­gest threat over the coming years will be claims that result from cli­mate change and other environ­mental issues. These are already behind a number of D&O claims, a trend that is only going to accel­erate, driven by a combination of three groups of actors: activists, regulators and investors.

Activist efforts

The recent case brought by Greenpeace, five other environ­mental organisations and more than 17,000 individual claimants against Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands has brought this issue sharply into focus. Dutch judges ordered the oil and gas major to implement stringent carbon dioxide emissions cuts within the next few years.

On the same day, a tiny hedge fund – Engine No.1 – mobilised by a dissident shareholder group dealt a major blow to Exxon Mo­bil, unseating a number of board members in a bid to force the company’s leadership to reckon with the risk of failing to adjust its business strategy to match global efforts to combat climate change.

Given mounting public concern about the environment, activism is only going to increase and it will not just be oil and gas companies that are targeted. They may be first in the firing line as some of the world’s biggest polluters but firms across agriculture, industry, manufacturing, transportation, the list goes on … should expect to come under scrutiny as well.

Climate change is also being tak­en increasingly seriously by regu­lators. In 2019 the UK’s Prudential Regulation Authority applied new rules that require certain finan­cial services firms to nominate a senior manager responsible for identifying and managing finan­cial risks from climate change.

In the US, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to require public com­panies to publish data on a whole range of new areas, including greenhouse gas emissions, work­force turnover and diversity, as its new chairman looks to enhance the SEC’s disclosure regime.
Gary Gensler, SEC chair, has already said it plans to introduce new climate-related and human capital rules as it steps up ESG disclosures and earlier this month closed a public consultation on a potential new rule, which is likely to be proposed in October.

Investor behaviour

But it is investors that probably hold the strongest hand when it comes to forcing companies to change their behaviour concern­ing climate change and, by exten­sion, raising the level of risk facing directors and officers should they fail to do so.

Last year, BlackRock – the world’s largest investor – an­nounced it was making climate change central to its strategy for 2021, putting environmental and social priorities at the forefront of its investment approach. With as­sets under management of more than $7trn, BlackRock has signifi­cant influence on most of the com­panies in the S&P 500.

Interestingly, BlackRock and fel­low investors Vanguard and State Street gave powerful support to Engine No.1 in its case against Exx­on’s leadership. These huge invest­ment companies rarely side with activists on such issues, so this marks something of a sea change.

Investor pressure is building elsewhere. Launched last year, the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative saw 30 of the world’s largest asset managers commit to supporting investing aligned with net zero emissions by 2050 or sooner. Just last week Amundi, Franklin Templeton, Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management and HSBC Asset Management an­nounced they were among the latest big investors joining the ini­tiative, bringing the total on board to 128, which means $43trn in assets are now committed to a net zero emissions target.

This is a now a one-way street. Companies across the board need to understand that failing to un­derstand and take seriously their exposures to climate change will have significant ramifications for them and, ultimately, their direc­tors and officers too.

The original article can be viewed here

The article below, by Tom Malcolm, Head of UK Broking at New Dawn Risk, was originally published in Insurance Day in June 2021.

Even though four years have passed, issues in cladding have still not been resolved since the Grenfell Tower tragedy. Individuals and families across the UK are stuck living in dangerously clad properties that are more vulnerable to fire and have plummeted in value, nearing the point of being unsellable unless expensive remediation work is carried out.

In February, the Housing Secretary announced that the government would finally be intervening and will pay to remove unsafe cladding for all leaseholders in high-rise buildings, providing reassurance and protecting them from costs. It will also introduce measures to boost the housing market and free up homeowners to once again buy and sell their properties. This is a very welcome development for affected homeowners but does little to address the issues still faced by architects, another key group impacted by Grenfell.

Architects are unable to practice without a professional indemnity insurance policy in place that protects them against a broad range of potential risks, including professional negligence that might result in property damage, personal injury or financial loss, which might stetch back over many years. The problem is the cost of this insurance has risen astronomically to the point where it poses an existential threat to some architects.

Underpriced cover

Why exactly has this happened? To find the answer you need to look back some time. Architects’ PI insurance had been under-priced for many years prior to the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire. The tragedy (and subsequent Hackitt Report) called into question the safety of accepted design and building practices for high-rise buildings, including the use of many types of common cladding, fire-safety management and the principles and responsibility for the sign-off of any building as being ‘safe’. What this brought to the fore was a number of systemic issues with the UK’s Building Regulations regime. 

Previously, any architect’s insurer could rely on the standards and efficacy of all architects’ work being guaranteed by adherence to building regulations, but the confidence of insurers in this as a protection against large-scale claims was undermined by the failings that Grenfell Tower uncovered, including a lack of any clarity over who was ultimately responsible for a building’s safety.

Since 2017, that uncertainty, combined with multiple claims post-Grenfell, has generated fear in the insurance market, with large concerns that the liability may be passed back to the architects and thus the insurers. We have seen many insurers withdrawing from the professional indemnity market altogether. This has caused demand to far outstrip supply, driving up prices to an unprecedented level.

In addition, insurers have also put strict restrictions on the limits they will cover for any one claim, as well as excluding any buildings with ACM cladding from their cover – a significant restriction for commercial architects.

Restrictions in cover also severely limit the types of work architects can carry out, (for example basements, swimming pools, anything fire related) meaning some bread-and-butter architecture project types are becoming close to uninsurable.

The virtually universal restriction on protection for fire safety and strategy in professional indemnity insurance policies issued to architects has led to mistrust of insurers, while insurers have been obliged to take defensive action in response to brokers seeking quickly to “block notify” all projects which may in the future face a challenge to their fire strategy. The ultimate outcome in some cases, and, depending on the breadth of the fire safety exclusion, has been that some firms have had to cease practising.

A way forward

A solution to all this lies with the government. Its announcement in February included a proposal to provide a state-backed indemnity scheme for qualified professionals unable to obtain professional indemnity insurance for the completion of EWS1 forms. Our view at New Dawn Risk is that this proposal should be expanded to include a provision to provide PI insurance covering architects and engineers who specified cladding materials that were within building regulations at the time.

This fund can either be delivered in the form of indemnities directed to the architect, or, we believe more practically, via a reinsurance scheme for insurers of architects, engineers, and other professionals to carve out exposures relating to the specification, inspection and installation of cladding materials that are now deemed to be unsafe. The scheme could be administered through a commercial third-party administrator and claims would be continued to be handled by the insurance industry. Participating insurers would contribute a levy of a percentage of the premium (maybe 5%) to obtain access to the reinsurance fund and would not be permitted to exclude cover for cladding or fire safety claims. We think this will allow the PII insurers to remove the exclusions that are crippling the industry – such as those involving tall buildings, specifications of cladding, etc. – and to moderate the premiums being charged to professionals that are exposed to such historical projects.

Ultimately, this issue has underlined the importance of all parties working together. Insurance brokers and underwriters, lawyers and professional bodies should continue to engage closely to lobby local and national government to broker an effective, long-term solution that supports architects and the wider construction industry.

The original article can be viewed here

Latin American insurance markets are becoming more international and seeing regulatory improvements in some areas.  However, the challenges are growing for financial lines, as the global rate increases currently seen in D&O and aligned capacity / rate crunches in cyber cover begin to bite.

New Dawn Risk’s latest white paper Connecting across continents: International reinsurance solutions for Latin America is launched today, and highlights the interactions between Latin American markets and London, as well as the tensions that capacity and rate issues can bring.

Download the white paper in English or in Spanish here.

Max Carter, CEO of New Dawn Risk, said: “Latin America is seeing growing demand for increasingly complex insurance products.  One notable development has seen local brokers putting together in-country consortia to cover some larger risks, reducing their reliance on London. But the need for international cyber and financial lines cover is growing on a steady trajectory. Claims continue to spike in cyber, with ransomware being the most noted ‘problem child’, causing prices to be steeper than the broader class. These lines are seeing decreased local capacity, creating a growing need to look to London for its expertise and appetite in these areas.”

Manuel Sicard, Senior Broker for Latin America, commented “The link between London and Latin America is strengthening, and it is now more relevant than ever to examine what each market needs to know about the other to help trade flow more smoothly. We have brought together views from Latin American experts both in-country and in London, along with our own insights as a specialist broker dealing with both regions, to publish our first Latin American market report.”

Notes to Editors

Established in 2008, New Dawn Risk is a dynamic, specialist insurance intermediary providing bespoke advisory solutions. We focus on complex, international liability and other specialty insurance and reinsurance. Clients large and small profit from our expertise, creativity and responsiveness – from risk assessment through to claims.

Can you describe what your current role involves?

I am a Management Liability and Financial Institutions Broker at New Dawn Risk. My team specialises in the placement and negotiation of Directors’ & Officers’ Liability and Financial Institutions Insurance, primarily from the Middle East and the US.


What is your favourite insurance fact?

There is a type of insurance called Spooksafe Insurance which provides coverage in the event that you are attacked by a spirit, werewolf or vampire. One woman with this insurance died after she was allegedly thrown over the banister of her home by a poltergeist. The insurer concluded this was a valid claim and paid out $100,000.


What did you do before joining New Dawn Risk?

I joined New Dawn Risk just after graduating from Bristol University with a BSc Geography degree.


Tell us one thing about your career we didn’t know:

I have co-hosted two New Dawn Risk virtual internships with my colleague Amelia Acreman. Both were aimed at educating school and university students about insurance basics and helping them to access the industry.


What are your hobbies outside of work?

Over lockdown, I took up guitar and spent the vast majority of this period learning the opening to “Do I Wanna Know” by Arctic Monkeys. Expecting a band to snap me up in the coming weeks.

New Dawn Risk has today launched its latest white paper on insurance for the US legal cannabis, CBD and hemp markets. The 2021 report is called “Opportunity knocks at last in the US cannabis insurance market”.

Download the white paper here.

Since the publication of the previous report in 2020, US sales of medical and recreational cannabis have grown exponentially, reaching $17.5 billion in 2020, a 46 percent increase from 2019. In addition, the legislative landscape in the USA has been transformed by the arrival of the pro-cannabis Biden presidency, supported by a Democratic majority in both Houses.

A new CLAIM (Clarifying Law Around Insurance of Marijuana) Act has been introduced to the Senate, alongside the parallel SAFE Banking Act, and both are expected to pass into law by the end of 2021.  This will at last permit insurers to work with the cannabis industry legally; and will also reduce some of the insurance risks that previously dogged the industry.  For example, D&O cover will become a legally available option, and marijuana businesses will be able to regularise their banking and cash operations.

The updated white paper examines the key drivers of growth whilst exposing both the potential premiums and the size of the insurance gap for the cannabis industry in the US. Headlines include:

  • 36 US states, and Washington D.C., have now legalised cannabis for medical or recreational use.
  • Americans now spend almost as much on legal marijuana products as they do on Coca Cola.
  • Cannabis dispensaries were deemed “essential businesses” by many states and therefore remained open during lockdown.

Max Carter, CEO of New Dawn Risk, commented: “The legal and regulatory environment of the cannabis industry has transformed over the past year.

“The changing attitude towards the cannabis industry, and new State and Federal legislation present an exciting opportunity for insurers to work with growers and sellers. With legalisation of banking and insurance, the door seems likely to open to what could be a $1bn premium market.

“On the consumer side, cannabis was deemed an “essential business” during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the growth of the sector seems inexorable. New Dawn Risk is committed to working with carriers and clients to share knowledge and insights to help identify and deliver cover for this untapped market.”

Notes to Editors

Established in 2008, New Dawn Risk is a dynamic, specialist insurance intermediary providing bespoke advisory solutions. We focus on complex, international liability and other specialty insurance and reinsurance. Clients large and small profit from our expertise, creativity and responsiveness – from risk assessment through to claims. 95% of our business emanates from outside the United Kingdom.

The article below, by Nicky Stokes, Head of Management Liability and Financial Institutions at New Dawn Risk, was originally published in Middle East Insurance Review in May 2021.

There are signs that significant changes are afoot in the litigation environment in the Middle East – and this could have an impact on the directors and officers insurance market.

The market for directors and officers (D&O) insurance in the Middle East is in something of a state of flux. Historically, regional demand for the product has been relatively limited due in part to the proliferation of large, affluent, family-owned private companies in the area who have simply not seen the need for this type of risk transfer solution. With demand for D&O insurance low, pricing of the product has been relatively cheap, and it has been viewed as something that is a nice-to-have rather than a necessity.

Furthermore, the litigation environment – a potential key driver for claims to be brought against directors and officers – has been comparatively benign in the Middle East. However, there are signs that significant changes are afoot.

Regulatory developments

Up until recently, there had been a patchwork of litigation regulation across this region. But as Middle East states look to align with global standards and reporting requirements, the regulatory burden is increasing. In Saudi Arabia there is a massive drive to regulate the financial services industry as part of the government’s National Transformation Plan 2020 and Saudi Vision 2030, designed to reduce the kingdom’s dependence on oil, diversify its economy, and develop public service sectors. One key development – among a string of reforms under Vision 2030 – was the introduction of a Bankruptcy Law in 2018, to further encourage the participation of foreign and domestic investors by structuring the business legal framework and putting new regulations around businesses operating in the kingdom. This is having a direct effect on directors and officers as it makes it much easier to identify where obligations have not been met. Where duties are codified into law, it is much more straightforward to bring a claim.

In October 2020, the UAE government made various changes to its Bankruptcy Law to similar effect. In another development in December 2017, one which marked a first for the region, the Capital Market Authority in Saudi Arabia introduced a new class action regime for claims by shareholders of listed companies in the country. Last year, the first lawsuit filed under the regime was brought against the former board of directors of Al-Mojil Group, its senior management and its auditor for alleged violations committed during the subscription in the company’s shares as part of its 2008 IPO. We should expect more to follow.

Claims drivers

In fact, the last few years have seen an increase in regulatory investigations across the region, which has changed the claims landscape for the directors and officers of Middle Eastern companies. Criminal or regulatory actions increasingly relate to allegations of financial irregularities or accounting misstatements. There has also been an increase in investigations into alleged fraud, money laundering and embezzlement by directors and officers.

Indeed, the wide range of D&O claims drivers that is apparent the world over is increasingly present in the Middle East. These include investor claims of mismanagement against executives of companies in distress to those that stem from criminal or regulatory action against the directors and officers. We have also seen claims stemming from third parties such as private equity investors alleging financial irregularities prior to their investment. And civil claims have arisen against board management individuals for alleged financial wrongdoing where the company has been unable to repay debt to a lender.

An international market

Meanwhile, recent events have underlined the global nature of the insurance market. A combination of increasing litigation and regulatory risks, more notifications, and profit pressures following years of premium reductions are prompting underwriters to carefully manage the capital they deploy for D&O risks. TI1is has diminished insurer competition fo1· buyers and resulted in higher rates and less favourable coverage terms for most buyers.

Rates for D&O insurance have been hardening significantly in the UK, and latterly in the US, for some time. But prices in the Middle East have followed suit. Increases at renewals are now starting at a minimum of 20% and can rise into triple-digits. Because the D&O market comprises a large number of international insurers, price changes in the region are being driven from a top-down perspective. Those international insurers that have been hit hard in terms of losses, in the UK and US for example, are looking to remediate their books elsewhere.

As insurers’ appetite for D&O has diminished, this has led to a reduction in capacity. For example, an insurer that used to underwrite around $60m of Middle East D&O may now do no more than $10m. Last year we saw placements of $10m on the primary layer and $1Sm on the excess for D&O insurance. This year, placements dropped to around just $2m on the primary and $Sm on the excess.

These factors have led to some difficult conversations and pushback from buyers at renewals this year. For example, an insured who bought $75m worth of cover last year might have got a third of that for the same price. This has always been a price-sensitive market and, as a result, people are buying less cover than they have done in the past. We are starting to see a number of businesses that are clearly under­insured for the exposures that their directors and officers are facing, a trend which may store up trouble for the future.

Interesting times ahead

Looking ahead, the risks facing directors and officers in the Middle East are broadly in line with those that their counterparts are exposed to elsewhere in the world. Cyber is high on the agenda and there are a number of recent cyber events in Saudi Arabia that have hit both government ministries and petrochemical firms, generating significant losses with the potential to impact the D&O market. Saudi Aramco has seen an increase in attempted cyber attacks since the final quarter of 2019, which the company has so far successfully countered. However, the increasing magnitude and frequency of these incidents is a trend that is only expected to worsen over time.
It is unclear at this early stage, but it is likely that we will also see a string of claims against directors and officers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. The situation is still evolving, but businesses in the Middle East and elsewhere should brace themselves for a likely flood of shareholder lawsuits. We have seen some massive share price drops, and if investors feel they were not fully informed about supply chain vulnerabilities or distribution problems they may choose to litigate. While there is no guarantee that these claims will be upheld, there is a potentially significant exposure to directors and officers in terms of defence costs.

Emerging risks

Potentially an even bigger pandemic-related threat to directors and officers in the Middle East and elsewhere is the ongoing recession. With the near-term economic and political outlook remaining uncertain, D&O claims resulting from company insolvency are likely to increase. Insolvency rates had already been increasing in certain regions prior to the pandemic due to slowing global trade and political threats.

Meanwhile, with COVID-19 vaccines finally being rolled out, dealmakers are hoping for an economic rebound and are targeting vulnerable or attractive assets. There has been a dramatic increase in the number of special purpose access companies – listed vehicles that are pre-funded by backers and set up ready to acquire a portfolio of businesses that look ripe for investment – and blank cheque companies. Anyone and everyone are looking to raise funds, which could lead to bad deals being negotiated and agreed in a rush to market. With rushed deals comes a very high chance of failure – leading to an uptick in D&O claims.

This would, without doubt, prolong the hard market cycle already being experienced, which could continue for another 24 months. Underwriters, brokers and insurance buyers are trackirig D&O developments in the Middle East closely. There could be tough times ahead.

Can you describe what your current role involves?

I lead the Professional Risks team at New Dawn Risk. The team specialises in the placement and negotiation of a variety of professional liability insurance sectors, primarily assisting professional service firms and healthcare facilities in the US.


What is your favourite insurance fact?

A Chinese insurer offered “heartbreak” insurance for fans at the 2014 FIFA World Cup whose teams were knocked out of the tournament.


What did you do before joining New Dawn Risk?

I joined New Dawn Risk straight after graduating with a BSc in Economics from Kingston University.


Tell us one thing about your career we didn’t know:

In between meetings on a business trip to the US, I won a foot race wearing flip-flops that set a Guinness World Record for the largest group of runners in flip-flops. Sadly, it has since been beaten by a group in Spain…


What are your hobbies outside of work?

The pandemic has made me hit the pause button on most hobbies but being at home a lot has given me more opportunities to cook and bake. I’m really looking forward to traveling and getting out to see live music over the summer.

The article below, by Rachel Cohen, Senior Treaty Broker at New Dawn Risk, was originally published in Insurance Day in March 2021.

The market is hoping that as Covid-induced losses start to come through, and reinsurance rates harden, it will drive further increases in underlying liability rates in the region.

Before the onset of the global pandemic and the subsequent lockdown at the end of March 2020, the reinsurance sector had certain­ly seen some hardening of rates in the January 1, 2020 renewals, com­pared to the recent past.

In the international casual­ty treaty sector, this hardening was more prevalent on loss­-affected programmes. Reinsureds were achieving more and more increases in underlying rates, in particular on directors’ and offi­cers’ (D&O) and the professional lines business, where increases were anything between 25% and 200%, even where accounts were claims-free. However, it could still be argued that rates were still not quite where they should be, mainly because of the abun­dance of reinsurance capacity in the market.

Modest rate rises

Fast forward to the recent Janu­ary 1, 2021 renewals and it can be said that for the most part, casual­ty treaty reinsurers remain fairly subdued about the overall rein­surance rate changes that were achieved. There was certainly a hardening of rates, particularly on distressed accounts, but not the emergence of the hard market that many had speculated would finally occur post-pandemic.

In the Middle East, many ced­ants during the July 2020 and Jan­uary 2021 renewal meetings told their reinsurers they were achiev­ing underlying rate increases on bankers’ blanket bond and D&O business for the first time in a long time. These rate increases range from +5% to +30%, which is considered significant for the Middle East.

This certainly brings a glimmer of hope that the United Arab Emir­ates (UAE) market is turning, even if that turn is in its very early stag­es. Even on general liability pol­icies where rate decreases have traditionally been recorded year on year, cedants were reporting that rates were finally holding flat, which can certainly be de­scribed as an achievement.

These rate increases bring wel­come news to those reinsurers who participate on proportional placements and therefore directly benefit from these increases. In addition to this, the treaties that New Dawn Risk places in the UAE continue to remain even more profitable because of the absence of significant casualty losses, cer­tainly compared to London mar­ket placements.

It was also apparent, particu­larly during the recent renew­al season, that reinsurers were holding firm on the ceding com­mission and profit commission levels on their casualty propor­tional treaty renewals; certainly no decreases were being granted to the reinsureds, and reinsur­ance rate decreases on non-pro­portional contracts were also rarely seen.

One key trend in the Middle East market at the moment is the growth in single-project profes­sional indemnity (PI) business risks because of the increase in construction projects in the re­gion. ·while rate increases are being achieved on this line of business, many reinsurers remain cautious about the extensive long­tail nature of this line of business, and some are reducing capacity, since 10 years of extended report­ing period coverage tends to be standard in the territory.

Covid claims expected

In terms of Covid-19-related claims, liability claims are typical­ly long tail with a lag in reporting, so general liability and workers’ compensation claims have not yet materialised. However, the prediction is there will be a sig­nificant rise in these loss notifica­tions all over the world over the next few years.

Several outbreaks of corona­virus have already been linked to high-risk environments, such as gyms, hotels and cruise ships. There is a significant likelihood that all these environments will be sued for not taking proper care of their clients by either al­lowing them to enter against the government rules or failing to provide a Covid-19-safe environ­ment, resulting in clients catch­ing the virus.

The more of these liability losses that come to fruition, the greater the likelihood that under­lying rate increases in the liability sector in the UAE will finally turn positive along with more harden­ing of reinsurance rates.

As a result of the fallout from the pandemic, closer attention is now being given to wording cov­erages and more questions are being asked in relation to any existing clauses in contracts that could be construed as ambigu­ous. Certainly, in the UAE, the majority of cedants are imposing the Covid-19 specific or commu­nicable disease exclusions on all their new and renewal business. Most of our clients have informed us that they have not received pushback from their brokers on applying these clauses to the con­tracts, which is a great comfort for the reinsurers.

Finally, changes in the Middle East market continue, with insur­ers and reinsurers moving in and out of the Dubai International Fi­nancial Centre and some reinsur­ers making the decision to write the business out of their Europe­an offices instead going forward. In addition, new reinsurance ca­pacity continues to be set up, with the capabilities to write Middle Eastern business.

As 2021 continues, time will tell if there will be an increase in casualty losses, particularly in relation to Covid-19, to continue hardening reinsurance rates or if new reinsurance capacities will continue to suppress this.

The article below, by Max Carter, CEO of New Dawn Risk, was originally published in Insurance Day in March 2021.

Underwriters and brokers alike must be more responsive and innovative when it comes to addressing client needs to repair London’s reputation with regional and international clients.

Over the last year, the COVID pandemic has changed almost every part of the global economy, and insurance is no exception. Working online, with data held in the cloud, has proved robust and practical.  Like other industries we have experienced a revolution in working practices, creating a new normal.

The signs now are that many firms will soon begin adopting a hybrid office/home model that should end up being just as effective and more efficient, adding back in that missing element of human interaction.

Beyond the purely practical, though, there are other areas where the past year has not gone as smoothly as we may at first have imagined. In some cases, we have, I believe, made the mistake of thinking that continuing to function in any way at all was a success, and we have failed to acknowledge that our clients require more than just the basics. In my view there has been resulting collateral damage done, and it will require effort on our parts to help our economic bounce-back.

Service standards

Firstly, it seems that to many the London market has appeared expensive and gained an unwelcome word-of-mouth reputation for delivering poor service to regional and international buyers over the past twelve months.  Lloyd’s Decile 10 remediation was already well underway when COVID hit and, as a consequence, London pricing was out of kilter with the wider market.  It was a tricky time for clients to be suddenly unable to talk to their brokers/insurers face-to-face; and some important conversations were undoubtedly mishandled or avoided, simply because it is easier to ignore the hard yards when you are not physically present within a market.

Perhaps it would be more charitable to consider some teams were simply swamped and were finding everything was taking longer to work through (I wonder if this is subtle support for the old argument that face-to-face broking is more efficient for the underwriters, if not for the brokers).  Response times to brokers certainly suffered through the second half of 2020.

To my mind, the consequences of this could ultimately be serious, because this sort of criticism soon ripples around the world.  We cannot take our pre-eminence for granted.  Clients who have been loyal to London for many decades now have alternative options available to them and could head for the exits if they continue to be faced with an expensive market that is hard to communicate with.  We have an opportunity now to step up and demonstrate that our reticence over the last year was a covid-related blip, not a permanent step down or backwards, and we must take it.

What are the remedies for all this reputational damage? First (and urgently) both underwriters and brokers in the London market need to focus on being more responsive. It is bad enough having to give out bad news, but if the news comes late, the person giving the news is reluctant to engage, and overall service is also poor, we must ask ourselves why anyone would bother to come back to London next time, particularly as the market starts easing again.

Innovation

Innovation is also important to help create a step change in per­ception. All of us in the market need to work to rebuild our lost reputation by creating new and innovative products that seek to cover the business interruption risks caused by future epidemics (including Covid).

Organisations like the London Market Group (LMG) have a role to play too. We are in great need of a strong promotional campaign that reaches far into the international markets that feed into London and I applaud the LMG for its work in this field. Its “London makes it pos­sible” campaign must now, more than ever, be our mantra around the globe: not just a slogan, but an approach to live and work by for our international market.

Underwriters also need more help in delivering upon this en­deavour. Busy teams are cut too thin at present; this makes it hard to come up with smart, bespoke solutions. Insurers perhaps need to consider how to deliver digital underwriting better by staffing up on the underwriting support side. Moving to a more radical option, would it be so wrong for insurers to start publicly agreeing service standards for underwriting en­gagement and setting out to ad­here to them?

Finally, insurers and brokers need to recover their teamwork, rather than trying to eat each other’s lunch. Let us stop quib­bling about commission, espe­cially in a hard market, and look outwards to our clients. We all re­alise the market needs to squeeze costs out of distribution, but let us not do this until we have worked through these more pressing is­sues together.

We must work as one to rebuild London’s reputation as a great in­surance centre as the pandemic comes to an end.

New Dawn Risk Group Limited, the international specialist insurance intermediary, announced today the appointment of Manuel Sicard to lead the company’s expansion into Latin America.

Max Carter, CEO of New Dawn Risk, said: “Latin America is a dynamic and developing region that is experiencing growing demand for increasingly complex insurance products, translating into a broad range of opportunities for international reinsurers.  Given that this is relatively uncharted territory for some, cedants and reinsurers alike need to know their broker can provide local specialist knowledge of the markets they are operating in. Manuel’s depth of experience in the region – spanning underwriting, broking and risk management – combined with the strength of the relationships he has built up over more than two decades working in the industry, means we are now able to offer clients a more engaging and valuable proposition in Latin America.”

Prior to joining New Dawn, Manuel was vice-president, financial lines at Guy Carpenter. He previously held a similar role at Willis Towers Watson in London. Earlier in his career he worked in Colombia as a reinsurance analyst for Allianz and a risk consultant at RE Ingenieria. He has an MBA from the University of Cardiff.

Notes to Editors

Established in 2008, New Dawn Risk is a dynamic, specialist insurance intermediary providing bespoke advisory solutions. We focus on complex, international liability and other specialty insurance and reinsurance. Clients large and small profit from our expertise, creativity and responsiveness – from risk assessment through to claims.