What’s your back story?
It will probably come as no great surprise that like many people, I rather fell into insurance.
After completing a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics I was considering a career in the city – either in banking or stock broking – when a family member, who was a recruitment consultant at the time, found a temporary role for me at Benfield Insurance Brokers. I had not considered insurance until that point, but after working at Benfield it gave me a taste of insurance broking which I liked. I then set out looking for a broking role and pretty quickly found one at Howden Insurance Brokers within the D&O team. I worked there for four years before making the decision to move on to underwriting. After roles at Allianz, Axis and Dual I settled down at Sompo International ,where I have been for just over six years now.
Outside work, my hobbies need to fit around family life, in particular driving my daughters to and from the stables and riding competitions. While I’m there I try and block out all things equine by engulfing myself in a good book – usually sci-fi. My latest book was Dune, which is apparently the third most printed book in the world after the Bible and works of Shakespeare. I enjoy a game of golf, and less enjoyably watching Tottenham Hotspur. Also, walking Bertram and Woody my French Bulldogs during the weekends is a great way to get some fresh air and clear my head after a typically intense week at work.
Tell us about your market
It is the hardest market I have known in Management Liability. During the many years of reductions and extensions of coverage two themes have been constant. First – there is no doubt the world is becoming a more and more litigious and regulated place to operate in. Secondly, lawyers seem to be more expensive. COVID-19 has been something of a catalyst to further hardening of the market, but at the same time it has presented Sompo International with many opportunities. I believe that it is worth mentioning that the underwriting process is taking much longer and the decisions we make take much more thought given so many unknowns. I tell the team never to make a big decision on a Friday afternoon as one may be suffering from decision fatigue.
What’s your USP?
We are known for our consistency and appetite, but above all for our service. We endeavour to underwrite through difficult times rather than just saying no. We understand the time constraints that brokers are under and try our utmost to respond as soon as possible, regardless of the message. Our speed of response is helped by the fact the team are knowledgeable and empowered to make decisions.
I think we are set for interesting times. The D&O market has experienced heavy premium increases over the last few years and affordability will be an issue for clients. We are seeing coverage pared back to reduce costs even when D&O coverage is at its most needed. However, D&O is still an essential purchase and I certainly wouldn’t sleep at night without it.