In this week’s episode of The Voice of Insurance, Mark Geoghegan chats with Jonathan Turner, CEO of Gallagher Specialty UK. In this wide ranging discussion, Jonathan chats about the state of the specialty market, rate adequacy and capacity, digitisation and data-driven decisions, attracting diverse talent and what he brings to the broker market as an underwriter.
Kicking off the discussion, Mark asks Jonathan for his view on the specialty market. Jonathan discusses how the market is patchy, with some really tough pockets such as cyber in terms of finding capacity and sufficient and sensible pricing. However, Jonathan says that there are classes that are experiencing year after year rate increases, “We´re actually seeing it being extremely competitive. It´s a challenging market, certainly, it´s a challenging market for our client base, it´s a challenging market, I know, for insurers.”
Speaking further about the market, Jonathan adds, “We´ve not seen irrational underwriting behavior. What we do see, certainly within Gallagher Specialty world is we have underwriters coming to us every day, every week of the year and they´re all keen to do more.” Jonathan remarks how underwriters see this point in the pricing cycle as an opportunity to put their foot down and expand business, which is also positive for Gallagher because it means more and more options for its client base.
“The area that we still struggle with, I guess in terms of the market struggles with vertical capacity is the cyber space. But actually that is slowly moving in the right direction,” Jonathan responds when asked about the cyber space. He also discusses how despite a lot of pain in the last 24 months, carriers are coming back into the cyber area as the risk is repositioned and with added controls being put into place. “People understand the risk a lot better today than they did 12 months ago, 24 months ago, 36 months ago. The product´s proved itself, we´ve had claim activity, we´ve had payouts, but it´s a very different type of aggregating exposure than pretty much any other class of business.” Speaking about assessing cyber risk, Jonathan adds, “I think that the modelling piece clearly it´s getting better, but it´s an evolving line of business and it will continue to change and shift over time.”
What does it feel like to have a big loss even if it was planned - Jonathan replies, “You expect to pay losses; that comes with the territory and actually it´s good when you pay losses because that proves that the product works. My boss has a brilliant expression which is you know, we put people’s lives back together, and that´s what insurance does, that´s what makes it such a wonderful product, what makes is such a brilliant industry to be part of is that our business helps the world go round and it helps economies function and it helps put society, industry, people back in the position they were before the disaster happened.”
With the insurance market and the London market focused on innovating across the value chain, Mark asks if the sector is innovating fast enough to keep up with 21st century risks and challenges, Jonathan replies, “I think that the mentality that the team has here, and I think the mentality that exists in the broking world, is finding solutions and giving your customer options and coming up with innovative answers to quite often difficult questions. I think the challenge for insurance more broadly is firstly, how do we make insurance sexy, how do we encourage good people, diverse people, young people to join the sector and then how do we also spread the word so that we do create innovative, new products that tackle the changing world.”
As for digitising processes and data driven decisions, Jonathan remarks, “I think the important thing Mark is, are we adding value in the conversation, and if we´re providing great advice, great analytics, great advisory capabilities to our client base then they´re going to value that and will want to pay for that.”
Speaking specifically about data, Jonathan says, “I think that’s the beauty of the broker and the model and the distribution that we have – we have great data, and when you get those huge portfolios that exist that we have currently, that stuff you can play back to customers and clients and talk knowledgably about what we’re seeing, talk knowledgably about how they should be protecting their particular businesses, how we can provide great advice and great leadership and advisory services to what can be very complex businesses.”
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