New York Insurance Forum 2020

Staying power: talk of a “true” hard market, but for how long?

What a difference a year makes. It was just over 12 months ago that the first real signs of a market in transition appeared.

The Corporation of Lloyd’s deep dive into syndicate business plans was leading to capacity withdrawals and AIG’s re-underwriting of its book was beginning to be felt in the market.

But at that stage the talk was still of hardening pockets and flat to moderately firming elsewhere as brokers downplayed broader momentum in price rises.

From around the time of RIMS through the second and third quarters of this year though there has been a dramatic shift.

Now pockets of the market that aren’t in meaningful hardening territory are few and far between (beyond workers’ comp). And for the first time since the early 2000s the talk is of a true hard market emerging, albeit one that looks very different from those that have passed before.

Rather than a hardening driven by capital erosion, this broad turn seems to be the consequence of carriers saying “enough is enough” in acknowledgement that they have not been making adequate returns for far too long.

With pricing on the rise across almost the whole sector, led by broad swathes of the insurance market, a tight retro market with no relief on the horizon, and a reinsurance market that finally looks to be playing catch-up, the question is how hard will it get and how long will it last?

While we don’t believe in crystal ball gazing, for our second annual New York Insurance Forum we have pulled together a stellar group of industry savants that will leave you with a better understanding of where the market is heading through 2020 and what will take it there.

We’ll discuss the drivers of change: what is behind the surge in frequency and severity of losses (whether it is social inflation or climate change); are reserves adequate; and why is the sector seemingly in such a different place now than just 12 months ago?

We’ll also look at market psychology; how underwriters can navigate hard market growth opportunities while avoiding the landmines; and how brokers are juggling client expectations with the realities they see when they try to place a risk.

In our view nowhere has the change been felt more keenly than in US casualty and in an excess and surplus lines (E&S) market that is in record growth territory.

Away from the actual business of underwriting, the makeup of the (re)insurance industry’s constituents is also changing. The fallout from Marsh & McLennan Companies’ acquisition of JLT Group continues to be keenly felt across the broking sector. Existing intermediaries have sought to bolster their ranks with new arrivals, while a host of new brokers have opened up seeking to tap talent now suddenly and offer alternatives to the established powerhouses.

These topics and more will all be discussed during The Insurer’s annual conference in the heart of New York City.

Already confirmed to speak at the morning event are Steve McGill and Albert Benchimol.

Industry veteran McGill teamed up with private equity firm Warburg Pincus earlier this year to open a new specialty broking firm called McGill & Partners.

He is joined at the top of the bill by Benchimol, the president and CEO of Bermuda-based (re)insurer Axis Capital.

We have also put together a US casualty panel to discuss the dramatic shifts in the market that this year led to some areas of lead umbrella being almost impossible to place.

Our E&S panel will explain what is behind the huge surge in business into the channel that is driving new highs for organic growth at major wholesalers and increasing the importance of access to non-admitted paper.

Join us on 27 February to hear what McGill, Benchimol and more have to say about the industry at a time of the greatest dislocation in over a decade.