Over the next several weeks we will be releasing a series of video interviews, recorded at the Reinsurance Rendez-vous in Monte Carlo. They are wide ranging, covering a number of topics. They will air the views from some of the reinsurance industry’s most knowledgeable people.
Topics discussed include the influx of alternative, or third party, capital into the reinsurance market, the enhanced strategic importance of catastrophe models, the renewal of interest in casualty reinsurance and the effort to boost reinsurance takedown in emerging markets, as well as a number of other topics of interest.
Two of them are already on the site – an interview with Kurt Karl, Swiss Re’s chief economist, who sees a recovery, albeit a slow one, in the developed economies of the U.S., Europe, the UK and Japan – and with Ming Lee the CEO of AIR Worldwide, who describes the next generation of more highly accurate catastrophe models, exemplified by AIR’s “Touchstone,” which has been in process for the last five years.
Here’s a sampling of what’s coming from the Insurance Journal and Carrier Management
Jayne Plunkett may be the second most well-known person from Iowa after Bill Bryson. She heads Swiss Re’s International casualty reinsurance operations. Due to the long tailed nature of casualty coverage, which makes it very difficult to model, it has been more or less static for 10 years or more.
But Jayne expresses her view that it’s going to increase in the future. She describes casualty coverage as a “social science,” rather than a ”natural science,” since you’re dealing with people, rather than nature. As a result primary carriers and reinsurers have to gather data from each particular locality where coverage is sought, as they differ greatly from one country to another, and even within countries.
She may get some help from Adam Podlaha, Aon Benfield’s Head of Impact Forecasting International, who admits that although making models for casualty reinsurance is more difficult than for nat cats, it can be done, and Aon’s working on it.
R. Matthew “Matt” Fairfield, the Founder and CEO of ANV, is the epitome of a global insurance executive. He lives in Spain, runs a company based in the Netherlands, which in turn runs a Lloyd’s syndicate and does extensive business in the U.S. To top it off, the principal shareholder is a pension fund, based in Ontario, Canada.
How does he pull it off? No problem, a relaxed Fairfield said in the interview beside the pool at the Hotel Metropole. (Note: You are not to focus on the two bikini clad girls behind him). In fact he’s looking to expand, and has a couple of M&A targets in mind, one of which is close to fruition.
Stephen J.O. Catlin is in every sense of the word a pioneer. He’s led the group that bears his name since 1984, and has seen it grow from a start up to the manager of the largest syndicate at Lloyd’s with the Group’s gross premiums written close to $5 billion in 2012.
He was the first to move the company domicile to Bermuda, and the first to establish company operations outside of the UK to take advantage of its Lloyd’s expertise. The group now operates across the globe.
Perhaps the most adventurous initiative, however, has been Catlin’s sponsorship of an expedition to the Arctic, which gathered valuable scientific data, followed by another scientific study of the Great Barrier Reef and the current study of the coral reefs of the Caribbean. He’s a truly remarkable man, and one the insurance industry can be proud of.
James J. Wrynn, Esq. is a familiar name to most Americans, especially New Yorkers. He served as the state’s Superintendent of Insurance from 2009 to 2012, when he joined the law firm of Goldberg Segalla LLP, which specializes in insurance law.
His experience with insurance matters is broad and deep, especially in the regulatory field, where he has played a key role in developing national and international regulations and policies governing the insurance industry. After Hurricane Irene hit New York, he helped develop better emergency responses, which were proven to be of great value when Superstorm Sandy arrived. He discusses that and more in the interview.
We were fortunate enough, through the efforts of Alexandra Lewis, one of the brightest lights in Aon Benfield’s Marketing and Communications Department, to be able to do video interviews with not one, but three specialists from its international analytics division:
John Moore heads Aon Benfield’s International Analytics operations. He’s responsible for overseeing the collection of massive amounts of data, the construction of catastrophe models from that data, and the integration of the models in relation to the risks written by Aon’s clients.
Over the years constructing models has grown immensely more complicated, due to the immense amounts of data that must now be studied to produce ever more accurate models – demanded by companies and primary carriers – and the emergence of alternative capital to fund reinsurance vehicles. Models are now an integral part of the reinsurance market, to the extent that Moore said “no risks are written without using them”.
Adam Podlaha is the Head of Impact Forecasting International at Aon Benfield, part of John Moore’s division. Equipped with a PhD in flood model development from Charles University in Prague, he oversees the translation of the data Aon collects into useable models, a lengthy process that now takes two years or more.
While property reinsurance and the life sector have been the principle areas where catastrophe models have developed over the years, he is confident that other types of reinsurance, including casualty, have the potential to be modeled, or as he said: “Difficult, yes; impossible, no.”
Goran Trendafiloski is the head of earthquake model development at Impact Forecasting. He’s in charge of processing all of the data that pertains to areas of the world that are exposed to quake risk. It’s a difficult task, as so far no one has come up with any way to predict when they might occur, and while the general areas are known, the specific local areas where quake may strike is also impossible to predict.
Paul Little, the president of EQECAT, is also a specialist in the construction and use of catastrophe models, which the company has been doing for 20 years. He explains how, they have evolved from the general to the specific and what’s now required to create good ones.
He also foresees a time in the not too far distance future when cellular technology – iPhones, Androids, iPads and the like – will enable the insurance buying public to tap into cat models for their house or their cars, and place their coverage directly on line.
Toby Esser is a truly global executive. As the CEO of Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford, he coordinates the broker’s far flung operations in the UK, Europe, Asia and South America, as well as North America, which was recently consolidated under the under the management team of Swett & Crawford.
CGSW forecasts close to $5 billion in turnover by the end of the year, and Esser is still in the hunt for acquisitions. With the backing of private equity fund Lightyear Capital, he expects to find them.
Lloyd’s CEO Richard Ward announced he is stepping down from the post at the end of the year. He will be missed, as he has shepherded Lloyd’s through some rough times. He succeeded Nick Prettejohn in 2006, when the catastrophes of 2005 weighed heavily on the Lloyd’s market. Two years later the financial crisis hit, and in 2011, the second worst year for natural catastrophes in history.
Despite those disasters, Lloyd’s continued to progress under Ward’s leadership. It now has the largest reserve fund and the most capital in its history. What does he plan to do in the future? He’s planning an extended skiing holiday in the French Alps with his family – a well-deserved reward for a job well done.
Jeff Kingsley is a partner in the law firm of Goldberg Segalla, who specializes in the emerging and highly complex field of cyber liability and security. We spoke with him last year, when he explained the emerging concept of intangible property, which makes up the Internet.
In the interview he explains the difficult process of applying the long held strictures on tangible property, i.e. bricks and mortar, to the Internet, which exists only in an electronic format. Although a full body of law has yet to be constructed for cyber liability and security, the urgency of doing so means that it will be.
So, enjoy these video interviews from industry leaders, and let us know any suggestions you might have for future interviews.