After taking the helm at Axa XL’s reinsurance arm in March this year, Bewlay’s first priority was a review of product lines across the portfolio to decide where the company could grow – part of which involved drastically reducing its cat exposure.

She stepped up from her former role as global chief underwriting officer to lead the reinsurance business after Charles Cooper unexpectedly quit.

The reinsurer cut back its catastrophe risk appetite by roughly half, but has managed to keep the business of most of those clients in other parts of its book, she stressed.

“We did restructure our cat portfolio, but we want to remain relevant in this space. We actually retained 95 percent of our clients in the cat space,” Bewlay told The Insurer TV, reporting live from the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous as part of #ReinsuranceMonth.

“What it’s allowed us to do is to focus on our long-tail lines more than we had previously, and give us the time and the space to really focus on that growth potential. We’d like to see growth in the casualty space and really train on our expertise, which is property, casualty and specialty,” she explained.

At Monte Carlo this year, Bewlay said she expects discussions to be straightforward around pricing, which she says will need to rise at 1 January.

“Everyone’s talking about a realistic approach to the market,” Bewlay said. “We still see hardening of the market coming into 2023. I think everyone has been really transparent about what’s going on, all the challenges that we’re seeing, and how we can navigate what’s to come.”

Commenting on the relative shift to casualty business, Bewlay said she is focused on the risks posed by inflation and litigation risks to the reinsurer’s book.

As we come out of Covid-19 and we see the reopening of the courts, we expect that we’ll get back to a pre-Covid activity. We’re monitoring that,” she said.

She is also monitoring a European shift towards a class action environment alongside growing inflation.

“We really have to monitor it closely, but we are committed to that space. We want to be a provider of capacity in the long-tail and casualty lines,” Bewlay said.

The focus on expertise, and retaining and attracting talent, has been another major priority for Bewlay since taking over the leadership of the business. She travelled to Monte Carlo from a recent off-site meeting in Paris, along with 60 leaders from within the business.

“Talent is such a concentration for us. We had Thomas Buberl, CEO of Axa, come to support and help with the messaging to all of our talent that we are so committed to this space,” she said.

“Diversity and inclusion are obviously top of mind. We want to hire from 100 percent of the population so that we can represent our clients. It’s a constant focus for us,” Bewlay added.

See the interview with Nancy Bewlay in full, filmed from the balcony of The Insurer TV’s pop-up studio suite in the Hôtel de Paris during the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous. View for more on:

  • Bewlay’s priorities as Reinsurance CEO
  • Appetite for cat business drastically cut
  • Axa XL’s pivot towards casualty