“We provide space for our underwriters to make decisions, and we support them with the authority that they need to meet the marketplace needs and execute on our business plan,” said Semeraro, SVP and head of surety at Skyward Specialty.

“We’re really serious about doing things differently here at Skyward,” he added. “One of the best things about this company is, it’s a mantra that we follow – we’re building the place that we always wanted to work. And that translates, giving our employees this empowerment, enabling them to execute, it’s really been a differentiator for us.”

Speaking to The Insurer TV during the latest Close Quarter episode, Burkhart, president of specialty lines at Skyward Specialty, echoed these sentiments, referring to the group’s successful acquisition of Aegis Surety from K2 Insurance Services in January 2021.

“[Through the] surety acquisition of Aegis last year, which really kicked off the build of our larger surety platform, we’ve retained over 90 percent of the employees that came with that transaction and over 90 percent of the client base,” said Burkhart.

“But on top of that, we’ve built talent in both our contract and our commercial businesses, scaling our regions, and being able to attract a really, really nice group of underwriting talent to the organisation,” he added. 

Speaking specifically about surety business, Semeraro noted during the interview that the team at Skyward Specialty had more than tripled since 2020.

New talent enables new opportunities

Skyward Specialty has made a big push in the surety market in recent years and continues to eye new and emerging opportunities.

A recent example was the group’s entry into the cannabis space.

“We recognised there was a gap in the market due to the challenging nature of cannabis,” said Semeraro. “Our team quickly put together a strategy to offer our agency partners a solution that was competitive and helped meet the market demand.”

Another area where Semeraro and Burkhart see opportunity is in the renewable energy space.

“We’ve got some really strong in-house talent that’s very experienced in that space [which] enables us to focus on some key factors in our decision-making to provide the solution quickly, and provide something that other markets aren’t able to do as rapidly as we are. These niche markets are differentiators to our overall portfolio,” he added.

“I think Matt makes a great point in that adding new product portfolio capabilities, new sector capabilities, are important to innovation, and they’re important to limiting the number of competitors that we’re seeing in those particular areas,” continued Burkhart.

“But I harken back to, we still trade on a day-to-day basis in the more complex end of the surety market, which is sort of less occupied by a lot of our competitors, because it requires a different level of engagement at the point of sale, underwriter to producer. And that’s where we excel,” he added.

Watch the 14-minute interview with Skyward Specialty Insurance Group’s president of specialty lines John Burkhart and SVP and head of surety Matt Semeraro for their thoughts on:

  • Attracting and retaining talent in an increasingly competitive marketplace
  • New and emerging opportunities the group is well positioned to grow into
  • The impact of the US infrastructure bill
  • Showing caution in D&O market as rates come off