Newline’s Overy bullish on casualty growth opportunity

Newline Group is targeting further growth across its core casualty insurance portfolio with group CEO Carl Overy offering bullish commentary on the prospect of continued rate increases in 2022.

Speaking on the latest edition of Close Quarter, Overy, who has led the international specialty arm of Fairfax-owned OdysseyRe since 2008, stated that the primary casualty insurance market is witnessing rate rises and improved terms and conditions across all underlying business lines.

The executive, who has steered Newline to more than eight consecutive years of sub-100 percent combined ratios, added that the market conditions present a primary growth opportunity for the group.

“We’re very much a casualty insurance-focused operation and this sector of the market has now seen rate increases and improved terms and conditions for several years now across all of its underlying business lines,” Overy told The Insurer TV.

“We expect this to continue, certainty to 2022 and hopefully beyond,” he continued.

The executive noted that London-headquartered Newline – which operates through Newline Syndicate 1218 at Lloyd’s in addition to its UK and European subsidies – is “well positioned” to take advantage of the market opportunity.

“We can write on both Lloyd’s and company paper. We’ve got a network of offices to enable us to better access business and we’ve got a great team of underwriters who know what they’re doing,” he continued.

“Business volumes have increased significantly over the last four years and provided the market stays disciplined we expect continued growth. We’ve got all of the building blocks in place in order to achieve this.”

Overy said the carrier has “been in recruitment mode” during the last 18 months to ensure it is able to continue to offer the same levels of service to its clients as it looks to expand.

He revealed Newline has brought in more than 35 additional staff since the pandemic started and said the advent of online trading and virtual communication has not only provided staff with increased flexibility but also greater access to its satellite offices, overseas brokers and clients.

“Overall, despite the challenges of the pandemic, I think that as an underwriting business we’re in far better shape now than we were at the start of the pandemic,” he said.

Newline – which has an offering including public liability, employers’ liability, products liability, commercial crime, bankers’ blanket bond, professional liability, D&O, medical malpractice, satellite, cargo and specie – also benefits from a market-leading clinical trial unit.

This unit was one of the major success stories in the industry’s response to Covid-19, Overy said, with the insurer able to provide support to the medical community in its efforts to fight the pandemic. 

“We’ve got a very experienced team of clinical trial underwriters here at Newline and we were uniquely positioned to work alongside big pharma, universities and biotech companies, assisting them with their global studies of the virus and its impact,” Overy explained.

He said Newline insured over 700 individual clinical trials during the pandemic, ranging from those associated with diagnostic tools, helping to identify the disease earlier, to therapeutic tools, helping to manage symptoms of Covid-19, as well as the trials on the various vaccines themselves.

“We are also providing insurance cover to various vaccine designers, the manufacturers and the distributors, to help facilitate worldwide access to Covid-19 vaccines,” he said.