R&Q’s expansive program fronting carrier Accredited is continuing its push into Continental Europe with the establishment of an Italian branch office as it looks to partner with MGAs and reinsurers to find profitable growth opportunities, The Insurer can reveal.
As previously reported, Accredited has been building out its A- AM Best rated platform in the US and Europe with a portfolio of programs that has now topped the $1bn mark measured by annual premiums.
Accredited has established a strong position in the European and UK market, and the program specialist is now looking to extend its influence further into Continental Europe, from its Maltese base.
Its focus has been on what it calls core tier one target markets such as the Netherlands and Germany, with large insurance and MGA segments.
“Our approach to Continental Europe has been to hire Continental Europeans, with people who speak the language and know the culture. We understand that is especially important in Italy, which is quite a traditional market”
Accredited’s Nick Evers on the fronting carrier’s approach to the local Italian market
With a significant number of MGAs, Italy also falls into that category, and Accredited has now established a branch office staffed by Italian underwriting executives as it sets about building a presence in the local market.
In an interview with this publication, Nick Evers, head of underwriting for European program management at Accredited Insurance Europe Limited (AIEL), said that the company has identified a significant opportunity in Italy, as well as its neighbours on the continent.
A common theme has been the recent exit of several fronting companies as well as retrenchment by Lloyd’s syndicates and the company market, with reduced appetites in different territories and classes of business.
Italy also has a lower insurance penetration than France and Germany, providing significant growth potential.
But to approach MGA opportunities in Italy, Evers said it was crucial to make a commitment to the local marketplace and demonstrate to counterparties that Accredited has a different way of operating than some of the companies that have recently exited program management.
“Our approach to Continental Europe has been to hire Continental Europeans, with people who speak the language and know the culture. We understand that is especially important in Italy, which is quite a traditional market,” Evers explained.
The Italian insurance regulator – Istituto per la vigilanza sulle assicurazioni (or IVASS) – allows carriers to delegate capacity to coverholders only if they have established a presence in the market.
AIEL received its license from IVASS in August and now has a registered branch in Milan, Italy.
“Setting up a branch office is a key signal of our commitment to building a long-term venture in the Italian market that provides a stable partner for local MGAs to do business with,” said the executive.
Evers revealed that Accredited plans on building out its personnel as its business in the region grows.
Crucially it will also be outsourcing claims handling to Italian law firms and local third-party administrators with a strong track record in the domestic market, rather than the function being based in London.
The executive highlighted the longevity and financial strength of Accredited’s parent R&Q, which has built out a meaningful live-to-legacy platform since its foundation in 1991, with the program business a more recent addition that has grown rapidly in the last few years.
“So we’re not just some newco entering the Italian market. This is an established company with history,” he said.
It is also looking for longevity in the Italian market and will look to build strategic relationships with high quality MGA partners that could see it build out multiple programs with each.
Accredited will not restrict itself to multi-program relationships, however, and will be open to single program relationships with niche or specialist MGAs that have strong track records.
The fronting specialist will look to source opportunities from local contacts, reinsurance brokers and other insurance entities with a local presence, including service providers.
In Italy, Accredited will have a risk appetite that is aligned with the rest of its European platform.
Evers said it will take a conservative approach to grow very selectively and only target underwriting opportunities that match its appetite.
The fronting carrier’s core underwriting appetite has centered on the more traditional P&C lines of business including motor third party liability, general liability, professional indemnity, financial lines, household insurance and commercial property.
The company’s focus has primarily been on SME sized risks rather than larger accounts. That has typically seen it put down line sizes with limits up to Eur5mn to Eur10mn.
In Italy it will also consider writing surety business on a limited basis with a highly conservative approach as it pursues profitability for its reinsurance partners.
In line with the model it operates across the rest of its platform, Accredited in Italy will focus purely on MGA business.
It will have the capability to retain a small share of the risk on a program, ceding the balance to its panel of highly rated reinsurers.