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Brokers, insurers target new areas for growth

Posted On: Oct. 15, 2019 7:05 AM CST


Several insurers and brokers attending the Insurance Leadership Forum in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last week were launching and promoting new strategies and services to executives at the meeting.

Recently launched units, expansion of underwriting areas and efforts to streamline business processes were all discussed during private meetings at the annual event, sponsored by The Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers.

Below is a sampling of some of the new developments.

  •  Birmingham, Alabama-based brokerage Cobbs Allen recently established CAC Specialty with several brokers that formerly worked at JLT Specialty USA, McGriff, Seibels & Williams Inc. and elsewhere.

Cobbs Allen is an investor in CAC Specialty but employees own more than half the brokerage, said Bruce Denson Jr., president of Cobbs Allen.

For the past several years, Cobbs Allen has focused on placing capital markets risk in the insurance sector, he said. “There are certain types of risk that insurers are better able to handle than traditional capital markets,” for example, insurance products that can supplant a letter of credit, Mr. Denson said.

But the brokerage sought to expand into other areas, including the private equity, transactional liability and management liability insurance sectors, he said.

Initially, CAC Specialty will focus on executive liability coverage, said Michael Rice, former executive chairman of JLT Specialty USA, who joined the firm as CEO in September. But the brokerage has recruited brokers with expertise in other property/casualty areas to expand its business, he said.

“Over time, standard property/casualty will be the more dominant portion of our book. It may not be that way for the first 12 or 18 months, but it will be that way,” Mr. Rice said.

CAC Specialty has 55 people in seven cities, he said.

  •  Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Co. is looking to expand its middle market casualty business in the United States, including compulsory auto and primary general liability, said David Bresnahan, executive vice president of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Co. in Boston. “It will be 2020 at the earliest.”

The decision to expand did not stem from the turn in the market, he said. “If we want to continue to broadly serve customers, we have to have an additional suite of products and capabilities,” Mr. Bresnahan said, “and however you define middle market in the United States, it’s a massive opportunity.”

  •  Burns & Wilcox is building out practice groups, said Denis Brady, San Francisco-based president of Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, an H.W. Kaufman Financial Group Inc. unit. It launched a personal lines practice group last year and plans to launch a professional liability practice group in November, which will likely be followed with transportation, construction, health care and practice groups for other exposure lines, he said.

Previously, various resources would be siloed within the brokerage, with managing general agency staff and brokerage staff working largely independently, Mr. Brady said. “Now we are trying to present a united front and take advantage of all the expertise within the company and make sure it’s available to our retailers.”

The change will also benefit staff training and mentoring, he said.  

  • Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. recently named David Perez, chief underwriting officer, North America, for Global Risk Solutions, its global commercial and specialty lines insurer and reinsurer to target “whole account solutions” and bring together the insurer’s offerings across its operations, including admitted and nonadmitted insurance.

“My job is to work with each business, first and foremost to homogenize and elevate underwriting talent, leverage an analytical ecosystem that will help us make decisions on triage and capital utilization, develop future leaders, whole account solutions and just work with our business leaders to generate growth,” he said.

Adding a few lines of business to existing accounts has the potential to add significant amounts of business, Mr. Perez said.