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Aon PLC plans to close its $30 billion proposed purchase of rival Willis Towers Watson PLC “as early as possible in the third quarter,” according to Aon CEO Greg Case.
Mr. Case made his comments Wednesday morning as he spoke with Julie Herman, director in New York with S&P Global Ratings Inc. at the company’s 37th Annual Insurance Conference, being held virtually online.
The past year, Mr. Case said, has seen an increased awareness – a “great awakening” – among company leadership industrywide on the idea of what it means to deal with long-tail risks such as climate, cyber and pandemic. “I’m talking really C-Suites – CEOs, CFOs, boards, asking themselves ‘How do we think about these long-tail risks’ because they are no longer on the horizon, they are on our doorstep,” Mr. Case said.
He rejected the notion of a “new normal,” calling the phrase and idea “corrosive” and “negative,” instead proposing a “new better.”
As an example, he asked Ms. Herman about attendance at the conference, which she pegged at more than 1,000 this year online, where in the past the physical conference had drawn some 500.
“More exposure than ever before,” said Mr. Case. “Connectivity with clients is up. The opportunity for innovation is up,” as is the chance to scale that innovation, he said.
Part of that innovation will come from increased digitization and use of technology, which Mr. Case called “fundamental,” and “essential.” He noted as an example Aon’s January 2020 purchase of New York-based digital insurance platform Coverwallet Inc.
“Coverwallet has been phenomenal. It’s created access for us in ways, for different groups, that we didn’t have in the same way before,” Mr. Case said.
In the commercial insurance marketplace, upward rate momentum has seen some moderation as new capital has entered the market, Mr. Case said. There is, however, “a lot of pressure” in North America, particularly in property coverage markets and financial lines insurance. Upward pricing pressure in Europe is less than in the U.S., “but still there,” and pressure in Asia and Latin America is less than in Europe, Mr. Case said.
Aon PLC announced Thursday that it has agreed to sell its U.S. retirement business to private equity firm Aquiline Capital Partners LLC and its retiree health exchange to former Aon unit Alight Solutions for a total of $1.4 billion in a further effort to allay antitrust concerns over its proposed purchase of Willis Towers Watson PLC.