Meet Mathieu Borneuf, Senior Vice President, Professional Lines, Continental Europe, Sompo International London Market/Europe Insurance
What’s your back story?
My first degree was in French law at the Paris 2 Assas University followed by a post-graduate Diploma in Insurance law at the Sorbonne. I chose insurance because I wanted an international career and had been particularly riveted by one teacher who specialised in Marine insurance and told us piracy stories from faraway seas. Although I imagined I would work in Marine, a friend joined AIG at the inception of its D&O PL/FL team and so the die was cast. I signed up in 2000 and have loved it ever since – it’s such a fast-paced, diversified class.
When I’m not underwriting, my other adrenalin fix is surfing. Most often, I surf in the South West of France, in Taghazout, Morocco or in other places.
Tell us about your market
Together with Thomas Mannsdorfer, we opened Sompo International’s Barcelona Insurance Specialty hub, 2.5 years ago where I started to write the three key professional lines classes – management liability, professional indemnity and financial institutions. The book is building fast, writing excess lines on large risks for major accounts in every sector right across Europe with insureds in France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Portugal and Italy.
As others are reducing their exposures, we are taking a much longer-term view on the market. By that I mean we are adopting an approach focusing on sustainable terms, enabling us to invest in relationships and good service. As we build out the portfolio and achieve scale and greater diversification, so we will be ready to take on more primary layers, as well as expand our portfolio to include smaller risks.
This is not an easy market, however.
We are seeing a complex combination of economic and political tensions across the globe – not just COVID-related but also driven by ongoing renegotiation of U.S.-Asia and Europe-UK trade relations. We can also add to the mix an increase in regulatory complexity, shifting sanctions regimes, rising legal focus on bribery and corruption matters, major scandals and more frequent and higher stakes litigation in the U.S. and Europe. The potential for losses within the client base and amongst their insurers has never been as high.
Against this backdrop, claims in professional lines have been on a rising trend and there is clearly a need for an insurance industry market re-set.
What’s your USP?
I like to think that however challenging the conditions, our mindset is that we are looking for solutions – for reasons to write and renew business rather than to decline.
We have a strong, international team of highly experienced underwriters with long-standing market relationships. We enjoy a high level of local autonomy with line sizes on commercial risks of around $/€ 10-15m and $/€ 5-7.5m on Financial Institutions. Our underwriting appetite is broad, and brokers know they can rely on us to give them a fair hearing. If the answer is going to be ‘no’, we try to be quick about it.
Sompo International has a unique culture – our people are professional, highly qualified and experienced. Even though we live in difficult times, we hope to be perceived as flexible and approachable, and that people will feel comfortable calling us and asking us questions.
Much of the modern economy would be unable to function without insurance. At Sompo International we really are willing to find solutions to our clients needs.