WH Smith to launch ‘digital first’ insurance lines; WTW lines up first acquisition after Aon merger collapse; Converys Europe strikes fourth deal and Higos buys in Cornwall

For the record

For the record: Post wraps up the major insurance deals, launches, investments and strategic moves of the week.

This week in Post:

ABI publishes child sexual abuse claims code in response to inquiry

FCA fires fair value warning shot

Hemming bullish on growth at Aviva as survey shows solid broker optimism

Noise-induced hearing loss tops shrinking Elto enquiries in 2020

Q&A: Caroline Wagstaff, London Market Group

Stephen Hester takes wing to Easyjet after RSA sale


People moves:

Ki appoints Richard Hodgson as chief technology officer

Zurich recruits Peter Kasahara as group chief data officer


For the Record:

Hot Pick

WH Smith to launch insurance offering with Quotall

Date announced: 25 August

Deal value: N/A

Insurtech ecosystem specialist Quotall this week announced that it has entered into a significant strategic partnership with WH Smith to deliver a new insurance service for its UK retail customers.

The service will launch later this year with a range of ‘digital first’ products including travel, home and pet insurance, across its stores and online at www.whsmith.co.uk.

Products and regulatory services will be sourced through Quotall’s new strategic partnership with Acrisure.

Ian Sanders, group commercial development director at WH Smith, aid: “Quotall’s insurance ecosystem service provides WH Smith with a unique opportunity to extend our brand into insurance. This is an exciting and innovative move for us allowing us to provide our customers with an enhanced retail offering and customer experience with a first-class digital insurance proposition.”

Quotall CEO Simon Ball added: “We are delighted that WH Smith has chosen Quotall to help the brand launch insurance products for the first time to their customers. It is an extraordinary opportunity to showcase how insurtech and industry expertise can empower and enable brands to enter and shake up the traditional retail insurance market.

“This partnership is a great reflection of the massive investment we’ve made in the development of our digital insurance distribution system, and the quality of our insurance ecosystem partners and services.

“We are really excited to be working with such an outstanding retail brand in WH Smith and helping them to deliver additional value to their customers through their strong online presence and significant store estate.”

Quotall has also entered into a partnership with MCE Insurance whereby it provide specialist motorcycle insurer with strategic digital services and marketing consultancy to support its growth ambitions including diversifying into new lines of business.


Deals of the Week

Coverys acquires Brady Insurance

Date announced: 24 August 

Deal value: Undisclosed

Coverys European Holdings has completed the 51% acquisition of Brady Insurance, an insurance underwriting agency, broker and Lloyd’s coverholder based in Ireland. 

Brady Insurance is headquartered in Carrick-on-Shannon and has an office in Dublin and will continue to be led by Jane Brady, who has served as managing director since June 2005. A family business, Brady Insurance was established in 1959 by Jane Brady’s parents, Joe and Kathleen Brady.   

Jane Brady said: “CEH will support our journey of providing superior insurance services both nationally and locally. We also have ambitious expansion plans and look forward to drawing on the strength and expertise of the growing CEH network.” 

The acquisition of Brady Insurance is the fourth since the inception of the CEH network in January 2020, following previous acquisitions of the AEC Wholesale Group, Bridge Insurance Brokers, and Gava Underwriting. 

Doug Robare, chief underwriting officer of Coverys European Holdings, added: “Brady Insurance is a prime example of the top-quality businesses we are bringing into our expanding network. As an independent, the company has stood the test of time over the last six decades – with their impressive performance a testament to their expertise, the strength of their product base, technology platform and stellar network. Now, as part of the CEH family, I look forward to supporting Jane and her talented team in their next phase of growth.” 


Higos acquires Jacksons

Date announced: 26 August

Deal value: Undisclosed

Higos Insurance, part of Global Risk Partners and the South West hub for the group, has acquired Web Shaw of Penzance, in Cornwall.

Web Shaw, trades as ‘Jacksons’ and has been providing insurance solutions to commercial and private clients since 1923. 

The three owners, Steve Moses, Ian Eccles and David Hosken, and all the staff will be staying with Jacksons after completion, based at the firm’s office in Penzance, and will continue to write business under the Jacksons brand.

Matt Hartigan, Higos MD, said: “Jacksons is a high quality, well-managed local independent broker and just the sort of business we’re keen to work with. It has a long established track record of success with a great roster of clients for both Commercial and Personal lines business, and the deal will add considerably to our footprint in Cornwall.

“Steve, Ian, David and all the team are assured of a very warm welcome from all of us at Higos, and we have high expectations of further building their profile throughout the county.

“I’m really excited about the prospect of working alongside Steve, Ian, David and the team to help achieve our mutual long term ambitions.”

Moses, who will be the MD for Jacksons under Higos’ ownership, added: “Cornwall is a unique place to do business, and it was important for us that we could partner with a team that understands this. I am confident that we will be able to flourish with the support of Matt and the team at Higos.

“Matt made it clear to us during our discussions how much he values our local focus, and as Higos is the leading retail broker for the South West, the deal is a natural fit in terms of our values and aspirations to take the business to a new level of success in this part of the world.”


Willis Towers Watson expands in Israel through proposed acquisition of Leaderim

Date announced: 25 August

Deal value: Undisclosed

Willis Towers Watson has entered into an initial, non-binding agreement to acquire Leaderim, an insurance broking and consultancy business in Israel.

WTW describes Leaderim as one of the leading insurance brokers in Israel. Its team of 45 professionals offer a broad range of commercial insurance solutions to the Israeli market. It also has significant experience in creating multinational risk programs, reflecting the large concentration of global companies operating in Israel.

Pamela Thomson-Hall, head of Central and Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa at Willis Towers Watson, said: “This is a significant and exciting growth opportunity for us both in the Middle East and globally. We are focused on investing in high quality businesses, exceptional talent and thriving markets, and our agreement with Leaderim reflects that strategy.

“Leaderim’s reputation for quality, innovation and integrity is well known in the Israeli business world and beyond, and their values complement our own drive to serve our clients.”

Oded Haimov, CEO of Leaderim, added: “We have built this business with pride over 20 years and entering into a preliminary agreement is not something we have done lightly. This is the next stage in our evolution. Working alongside global colleagues at WTW, whose team already knows this market and neighboring markets well, our clients will benefit from access to global colleagues, additional offerings, and crucially the superior data and analytics capabilities WTW is known for. We have enjoyed fruitful discussions so far and we are hopeful that a formal agreement can be reached in due course.”

Willis Towers Watson has previously operated in Israel through a correspondent partner and has an extensive owned presence throughout the region, including operations in Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


And finally …

  • Specialist cycling insurer Bikmo and the online cycling encouragement platform Love to Ride have confirmed a three year partnership to get more people on bikes, and increase education for riders on how to keep their bikes safe. During Love to Ride campaigns riders accumulate points in order to win prizes. As part of the tie-up, Bikmo will be providing prizes for the winners including gold sold secure rated Hiplok bike locks and a £200 Freewheel voucher to spend in a local bike shop. Members of Love to Ride will also have access to exclusive discount on Bikmo cycle insurance.
  • Brit will partner with Vercida as part of an ongoing commitment to attracting diverse talent and create a culture of inclusion. Founded in 2017, Vercida is a careers technology platform which connects jobseekers with employers that prioritise diversity, inclusion and wellbeing.  Wayne Page, head of inclusion and diversity at Brit, said: “Accessing a broader range of talent through recruitment is an important focus for Brit as we continue to prioritise embedding inclusion, diversity and equality in our business and culture.”
  • Howden has appointed Jeroen Everling as CEO Netherlands, Corporate to build a specialist team focused on mid and large domestic and international clients.  Howden already has a specialist marine operation with a corporate portfolio in Rotterdam, led by Jan Oosterom. Everling will join Howden from Willis, where he has held the role of head of Benelux corporate risk and broking, alongside Dolf Balink, Willis’ former director of placement and claims, Netherlands. 
  • Probitas Managing Agency will assume responsibility as managing agent of Syndicate 1492. The management of the Syndicate will transfer from Capita Managing Agency Limited to PMA on 1 September 2021. Ash Bathia, CEO of PMA, commented: “This is a very significant milestone in our journey and provides us with a strong platform to continue to profitably build our business. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Saudi Re, our core equity partner, for their invaluable continued support, Capita Managing Agency for their guidance over the last six years, and, of course, the whole Probitas team, without whom none of this would have been possible.” 
  • Romero has opened its seventh UK office on Harrogate’s Cardale Park, joining its other locations across the country in Leeds, Halifax, Stockton, Manchester, Nottingham and London. CEO Justin Romero said: We’re particularly proud that this growth has been achieved organically, without any external debt or investment. We’ve always been focused on adding value to our clients & partners, and delivering personal service whilst nurturing strong relationships has been at the core of this, and we’re proud to say this has seen our retention rate grow again this year seeing us retain over 98% of our client base.”
  • Simply Business has extended its partnership with RSA whereby the insurer will join the broker’s panel of landlord insurance providers and offer tailored insurance products to Simply Business’s customers via More Than and RSA brands. This builds on the earlier announcement which saw Simply Business launch More Than and RSA shop insurance products to its SME customers.
  • The Standard Club has launched its new business model as the separation from Charles Taylor is complete. It added the new model will enable it to manage day-to-day operations for the long-term benefit of its members and brokers by bringing its core management operations ‘in-house’.  Charles Taylor will continue to provide a range of support services including the club’s technology infrastructure and services, investment management, internal audit and other support services. Charles Taylor Group companies will also be key providers to the club and its members for loss adjusting, medical assistance, marine technical and club correspondent services.
  • Tokio Marine has struck a deal with Cyber Cube to access its products including Account Manager, Portfolio Manager and a range of other cyber modeling solutions. Cyber Cube added this constituted its most comprehensive deal to date with an Asia-headquartered insurance institution.
  • Tysers has launched Tconnect – described as a cross-functional, cloud-based platform designed to consolidate processes and automate the end-to-end life cycle of a policy. The broker said the move represented “a significant milestone in Tysers’ digital transformation programme to modernise existing IT infrastructure, improve operational efficiencies and accelerate the growth of the business through the development of client-facing digital quote and bind capabilities and portals, digital placement, market integration and the modernisation of claims workflows”.
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