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Art Moossmann is New York-based president and CEO of Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty North America, having assumed that role this year. He is also a member of the board of management. After selling the personal lines business of Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. to Ace Ltd. late last year, Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty is now integrating the Fireman's Fund commercial portfolio. Mr. Moossmann recently sat down with Business Insurance Associate Editor Matthew Lerner to talk about the ongoing integration, along with challenges and opportunities for the company in 2015. Edited excerpts follow.
Q: In terms of market conditions, how is 2015 different than 2014?
A: I don't think it's much different at all. The biggest similarities from our perspective and from the market perspective are the overcapacity that still resides within the insurance community, which suppresses rates and creates a competitive environment that we've not seen for many years. I think from an insurance company perspective it's an unhealthy environment currently. What I mean by that is insurance company margins are being compressed such that companies are forced to make critical decisions in terms of what lines of business they want to remain in or potentially move out of, which then ultimately creates the conundrum for policyholders as to not having as much choice at the end of the day.
Q: What are the greatest challenges for the company in 2015? Is it that overcapacity and that competitive environment?
A: That's part of it. Certainly we're part of the overall insurance market, so the comments I just made would apply to AGCS/ Allianz (S.E.) as well. But in 2015, one of AGCS' specific challenges is integrating Fireman's Fund into AGCS, a process that has gone extremely well for the first five months. We are now integrating the commercial lines of business that had been written by Fireman's Fund into AGCS.
Q: Where do you see opportunity in 2015?
A: The opportunities for Allianz in the U.S. are significant. Allianz, being the largest (property/casualty) carrier in the world, had a rather minimal brand awareness and product diversification in the U.S. AGCS in the U.S. was predominantly marine and aviation. Now with the integration of Fireman's Fund, we're a fully commercial product-loaded entity, which gives us tremendous opportunities for profitable growth.
Q: Will the company be doing anything differently than in 2014?
A: In 2015 we're setting up to become more heavily involved in the financial lines, lines of business in which Allianz has never really been a factor in the U.S. market ... Meanwhile, we will continue to be strong in the niche markets of the marine, aviation and entertainment businesses, and we'll be more aggressive in the casualty liability lines in the U.S. going forward. So we're moving forward in our core lines of business for the balance of 2015, but really gearing up with new product offerings for 2016 and beyond. So the preparation for new product launches in 2016 is essentially what we're doing as one part of our strategies and goals and objectives in 2015.
Q: How do you approach staffing and talent improvement?
A: People are our greatest resource, and for any company I believe their greatest asset. So retaining top talent is a top priority, providing them development opportunities, fair compensation and a challenging work environment. Something we've seen over the last six months — particularly ... with the integration of Fireman's Fund — is we're seeing people who over the years have left the company wanting to come back.
Laura Langone, senior director of global risk management at Juniper Networks Inc. in Sunnyvale, California, is chair of the Risk & Insurance Management Society Inc.’s ERM Committee, which focuses on enterprise risk management. Before joining Juniper, she worked for global insurance and risk management consulting companies, including American International Group Inc., Marsh L.L.C. and Towers Watson & Co. She was also a defense attorney with law firm Gordon & Rees L.L.P. Ms. Langone talked with Business Insurance Senior Editor Judy Greenwald about the committee‘s work. Edited excerpts follow.