Jensten and Hiscox partner; Aston Lark buys HNW book; Axa XL appoints reinsurance CEO

Friday Round Up

Friday Round-Up: Insurance Post wraps up the major insurance deals, launches, investments and strategic moves of the week.

From Insurance Post this week:

PIB cools M&A interest in ‘drying-up’ UK

Insurers pledge Brexit dividend won’t go to shareholders

Plexus investors pull funding and put business at risk

Gender pay parity ‘50 years away’ as insurance halts progress

Insurers show ‘slow but steady’ improvement as nuisance calls decline

AI will make staff ‘superhuman’ but customers will still be ‘light years ahead’

Allianz reveals Treloar’s successor at LV


From people this week:

Big Interview: Admiral founder Henry Engelhardt

Are you ready for the rise of robo-insurers?

Tackling soaring vehicle repair costs in the motor industry

View from the top: Why the Consumer Duty will strengthen third-party partnerships

Claims Apprentice 2023: Episode six – The Final Interviews


Pick of the Week:

Jensten Underwriting partners with Hiscox for technology launch

Date announced: 6 June

Deal value: N/A

Jensten Underwriting has launched an offering, providing specialist cover for technology businesses operating in a sector worth an estimated £1trn to the UK.

The solution, created in partnership with Hiscox, meets the specific needs of businesses from telecommunication service providers through to software developers, cloud service companies, IT consultants, staffing and training businesses.

The protection includes cover for professional indemnity incorporating breach of contract, wide intellectual property infringement, cyber and extensions for legal defence, sub-contractors and negligence.

Simon Taylor, wholesale managing director of Jensten, said: “The initiative enables Jensten Underwriting to offer a best-in-class product via our broking partners to this vital and fast-growing sector.

“Bolstering our existing expertise in the technology sector with additional products such as this adds to our toolkit, offering our broker partners a real competitive advantage by giving their clients the flexible, comprehensive cover they need.

“It is innovations such as this that are also enabling Jensten Underwriting to attract more and more brokers to trade with us.”


Deals of the Week:

Aston Lark announces HNW book purchase

Date announced: 6 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

George Seatter will be joining Aston Lark as a client director within the private client division, bringing with him the client base he developed while a partner at Vizion.

Laura Coles also joins Aston Lark as account executive to work alongside Seatter.

Launched in January 2017 by Chris Blackham and John Sims, Vizion is a boutique insurance broker that attracts professionals looking to run their own broking business.

Seatter was the first partner to join Vizion at launch.

Peter Blanc, Aston Lark group CEO, said: “We are on a journey towards creating a world-class Howden Private Client division which brings together the best of our operations from across the Aston Lark and A-Plan businesses.”

John Sims, Vizion chairman & CEO, said: “The Vizion model was designed to allow talented people like George to build their own business with our help and financial support. The model also allows for and expects that there would come a day where a partner would want to move on, and that time has come for George.”

Seatter added: “I’m very grateful for the support and the opportunity provided by John and the Vizion team. It’s been amazing being part of a brilliant, award-winning business.

“I’m excited to now be joining Aston Lark and Howden, at an important time in their business growth, and really pleased that Laura is also joining which will help us to continue providing outstanding service to our clients.”


Saga selects RAC for legal expenses insurance

Date announced: 6 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

The RAC has been appointed by Saga to provide legal expenses cover to more than a million customers.

The new multi-year contract, starting from June 2023 following a tender process, will see the RAC provide legal expenses insurance cover for all Saga motor, home and landlord legal expenses policies.

Paul Evans, general manager at RAC Legal Services, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen as Saga Insurance’s exclusive new provider for legal expenses insurance against considerable competition from others within the market, and look forward to working with the team at Saga and help them continue with their success.”

Stephen Hague, motor panel and partnerships manager at Saga, said: “It is with great excitement that we can announce RAC as Saga’s new legal expense provider.

“Their passion and enthusiasm for creating a market leading proposition tailored to the requirements of Saga’s over-50s market combined with their strong brand values – which remain very much aligned to Saga’s – make RAC the ideal new home for our legal products.

“The multi-year deal with RAC will allow our two businesses to build on the existing foundations to further enhance and innovate our products and services.”


MS Amlin launches AI-powered claims triage process

Date announced: 8 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

MS Amlin has launched a claims triage capability with new partner Genpact, a global professional services firm.

MS Amlin’s clients and brokers will benefit from swifter claims response times while also enabling the business to progress its ambitions to enhance its segmented claims resourcing model using Genpact’s dedicated MS Amlin claims team in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Complex claims are being retained by MS Amlin’s London-based claims team.

Genpact will support MS Amlin across a number of teams and services. The partnership commenced earlier this year and forms part of MS Amlin’s continued transformation to support ongoing profitability, improve operational efficiency and deliver improved client services. 

Alberto Verga, COO for MS Amlin, said: “As we continue to modernise our business, it is important to improve our operational effectiveness by enhancing efficiency, reducing cost and updating processes to support our profitability.

“Working with Genpact to replace time-intensive and complex processes with technology-driven solutions will enhance our financial position without making any compromises to both our underwriting and claims excellence or the service we provide our clients, partners and brokers.”

Philip Tyson, head of insurance, Europe at Genpact, added: “The insurance industry is ripe for innovation, and MS Amlin – a leading insurer and reinsurer – is set to lead the charge.

“Our goal is to help MS Amlin improve their service delivery across the value chain by bringing our extensive industry expertise and AI-powered claims management platform to the claims and underwriting services that MS Amlin provides.”


GRP buys high growth specialist broker Amicus

Date announced: 8 June

Deal value: N/A

Global Risk Partners has acquired 100% of the share capital of Amicus Solutions Holdings, a specialist commercial insurance broker headquartered in Surrey.

Following completion, Amicus will become part of GRP’s Retail Division. Managing director Adam Scott, his fellow senior leaders Jamie Agutter and Andy Morrison, and the rest of the team will remain with the business.

The office location will not change, and the Amicus brand will continue.

Stephen Ross, head of M&A for GRP, said: “Amicus has delivered exceptional growth thanks to Adam’s leadership and his highly entrepreneurial team.

“We are keen to support the team as it continues to grow its footprint in its target markets, where it has earned a great reputation for providing high quality insurance and risk management services to its growing customer base.”

Speaking on behalf of Amicus, co-founder and managing director Adam Scott said: “GRP has an enviable track record in helping companies like ours enhance our capabilities and provide new paths for success.

“The team and I are all very excited about the next chapter in our history, as we build upon our platform with both GRP and Brown & Brown support.”

The acquisition has received regulatory approval and the consideration is undisclosed.


Councils warned over rise in fake pothole claims

Date announced: 9 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

Local authorities are facing an influx of fake pothole damage claims as the cost of living crisis drives a rise in fraud.

In 2022 local authorities saw a 238% increase in pothole related vehicle damage claims, according to Zurich Municipal. Claimants either falsely alleged that their vehicle had been damaged as a result of hitting road defects, or fraudulently exaggerated their claims.

An increase in extreme weather conditions caused a rise in the number of road defects last year, leaving greater room for opportunistic fraudsters to falsely claim potholes were responsible for existing damage to their vehicles.

Zurich is warning local authorities to be vigilant as the cost of living crisis continues to drive up opportunistic fraud.

Overall, in 2022 the insurer detected 571 fraudulent claims made against councils worth £16.2m. This represents an 18% increase on the previous year, with the value of detected frauds increasing by 68%.

While the picture varies around the country, some 22% more casualty frauds were detected over the period, with a 74% increase in the value of frauds identified. These increases were driven by both the impact of the cost of living and the strengthening of Zurich’s anti-fraud measures.

Most casualty frauds (72%) were public liability claims, often relating to slipping or tripping incidents on publicly owned land.

These claims include contrived slip and trips, where the alleged incident never took place, fabricated claims where the injury may have been genuine but was not caused by the alleged accident, and exaggerated claims.

Scott Clayton, head of claims fraud at Zurich UK, said: “It’s vital that local authorities take the current heightened fraud risk seriously. While the cost of fraud against councils ultimately impacts the public purse, there are also significant social costs, including the funding of organised crime and costs to the judicial system.”


Ignite launches Open AI-powered chatbot for brokers

Date announced: 7 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

Ignite Insurance Systems has launched Ignite AI Layer, an AI-powered service for brokers.

The new tool, powered by Open AI, uses dynamic calls on policy data to answer customer queries within seconds, with the aim of eventually replacing less advanced chatbots currently being used by brokers, and reducing the need for costly call centres.

The launch version of the AI Layer will be used by back-office broker staff to assist in answering incoming queries.

The next phase, due to roll out in the next two to three months, will see AI responses appear within a supervised live chat service.

After iterations of user feedback have refined responses to a point of high reliability, the final iteration will be a standalone chatbot for customers to interact with directly.

Toby MacLachlan, CEO at Ignite Systems, said: “The AI revolution is coming to insurance. This is only the start of AI’s journey in insurance and we know that being an early adopter will give significant learnings and advantages to Ignite, Verisk and all our clients present and future.

“We’ve been using an AI chatbot for over 18 months with a 50% query-satisfaction success rate. We hope the Ignite AI Layer will increase that rate to 90%+, saving our brokers and their customers time handling queries, increasing customer satisfaction and driving proactive product development feedback loops”


Jensten Group completes Darwin Clayton acquisition

Date announced: 7 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

The Jensten Group has completed a deal to buy schemes broker Darwin Clayton, following approval from the FCA.

The acquisition brings more than 40 staff, 2,300 clients and in excess of £20m GWP to Jensten. The firm marked 100 years of trading in 2020.

The acquisition supports Jensten’s strategy of forming both regional and specialist ‘centres of excellence’, with Darwin Clayton becoming the centre of excellence for schemes.

The business has an existing suite of specialist schemes, providing insurance solutions for the cleaning, security, facilities management and electrical contracting sectors, complementing Jensten’s existing schemes, which include pharmacy, hair and beauty, cosmetics and training.

Commenting on the deal, Jensten retail MD Rob Organ said: “A major part of our strategy is to develop and distribute bespoke products which meet the specialist needs of different sectors and communities of clients.

“We know offering clients solutions which are designed to meet their specific needs is a genuine differentiator. I’m delighted to welcome Simon Henderson and the Darwin Clayton team to Jensten.”


Assured Partners announces eighth UK&I deal of the year 

Date announced: 7 June

Deal value: Undisclosed

Assured Partners has bought Exeter-based recycling specialists GM Insurance Brokers.

Founded in 2004, GM provides a range of commercial insurance solutions across various industry sectors including trade and construction, and has a particular expertise in placing coverage for the recycling industry.

Handling in the region of £10m GWP, the entire team will remain in their current roles and continue under the joint leadership of Gavin Mead and Lee Galan-Davis.

David Heathfield, CEO of Assured Partners UK and Ireland, said: “We met the team at GM through a recent acquisition and knew immediately that they would be a great addition to our growing network of companies. Gavin and Lee have built a great business over the years and have ambitious plans for growth.”

Mead and Galan-Davis said: “The approach of Assured Partners was refreshingly different and after meeting the senior team we were excited about the future with AP.

“We are really proud of what we have achieved and firmly believe that this new chapter gives us the opportunity to keep growing the business without compromising on our ethos which has served us so well.”


And finally…

  • Hiscox has appointed Fabrice Brossart as the group’s chief risk officer, subject to the relevant regulatory consents. Brossart will replace Hanna Kam who has decided to step down after 10 years with the group.
  • Axa XL has announced Renaud Guidée as CEO of reinsurance, effective 1 September.
  • DAC Beachcroft’s Claims Solutions Group has hired complex and large loss injury claims specialist Sara Lowther as a partner in its national Casualty practice.
  • Guy Carpenter has appointed Laurent Rousseau to the newly created position of Guy Carpenter CEO of EMEA and global capital solutions, effective 4 September.
  • Corvus Insurance has welcomed Albert Zhou as its new chief risk officer.
  • Bspoke Commercial has appointed Nick Grazier to the role of managing director, reporting to group CEO, Tim Smyth.
  • IQUW has hired ex-Validus chairman and CEO Edward Noonan as an Independent non-executive director to the IQUW Holdings Bermuda board.
  • Sedgwick has appointed Tracey Hudson as chief financial officer for Sedgwick’s UK operations.
  • Prima Group has hired Anuj Pradhan as global chief product officer.
  • Liberty Specialty Markets has appointed Zara Ismail to the role of head of business development – claims (London). 
  • Jade Wilcox, director of delegated authority for HDI in the UK, has been added to the board of the Managing General Agents’ Association.
  • Arch Insurance International has hired Jalal Chtioui to the position of senior underwriter, terrorism, political violence and war.
  • Miller has added Nick Lockyer to its direct marine team. He will join in the newly formed role of chairman of direct marine.

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