Embracing 2024: Allied World's European platform

The Insurer recently met with Peter Ford, Allied World’s executive vice president, head of the European insurance division. Here is what he had to say about the impressive growth within the European platform.

As a seasoned underwriter, now responsible for leading Allied World’s European Insurance arm, Peter Ford eagerly anticipates what is in store for the business. While the past year set a solid foundation, he is looking at the opportunities and challenges ahead in 2024 and beyond.

The Bermuda-based carrier, now a key part of the Fairfax Financial (Fairfax) portfolio of companies, is almost 23 years old and has a proven track record of double-digit growth in Europe and the UK — a clear indicator of its ability to thrive in a fluctuating global landscape.

“Our growth is not just about expansion, but about strategic adaptation. I joined Allied World in 2008 and have witnessed an amazing transformation from a small team to a global force, with $6.5bn in gross written premiums, over 1,600 employees and 26 global offices.”

For the European operations, the focus has been growing the teams and the business in a measured, profitable way. In 2023, the company opened an office in Manchester to better service regional brokers and clients and expand their risk management offering.

The platform now offers a product portfolio of 11 individual profit centres, including construction and engineering, UK commercial, international property, general casualty, professional indemnity and management liability. The teams underwrite risks for a diverse client base ranging from SMEs to FTSE 100 companies, underwritten on either Allied World Assurance Company (Europe) dac or Allied World Syndicate 2232 platforms.

“Our product diversity enables us to navigate the various market cycles, balancing the portfolio against the backdrop of an ever-evolving risk environment. Additionally, we can manage market cycles for each line of business without being impacted by a decreasing rate environment for one line.”

The opening of the Manchester office is one example of how the almost $7bn carrier empowers each region to make relevant and timely business decisions to better service the customer. Ford explained that having a local presence is critical to building long-term relationships, and that is a core value for the company.

Additionally, Ford noted that a significant part of the strategy for 2024 will revolve around addressing the challenges in the D&O market. While current market dynamics present both challenges and opportunities, the carrier will focus on maintaining rate adequacy and risk selection whilst adapting strategies to the evolving market conditions.

From an underwriting perspective, Ford outlined how the strong technical expertise within the company is underpinned by responsiveness – to the customer and to market changes. “We have highly empowered underwriters who understand customers and work to find the best solutions for them. Allied World knows that one size does not fit all, and meeting the clients’ evolving needs oftentimes requires customised solutions.”

The cornerstone of Allied World Europe’s success is rooted in the company culture. Ford explained that Allied World believes in creating a supportive, collaborative working environment. This approach, combined with the business ethos – be consistent, responsive and deliver a level of service that builds trust – is reinforced through the integration with Fairfax and guides all operations.

Ford concluded, “Our journey thus far has equipped us with the insights and strategies necessary to not just succeed, but lead in an unpredictable world. The new year beckons, and we are ready.”