Sponsored: Swiss Re Corporate Solutions

Applying Underwriting Heritage in New Markets

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions is building on their complex claims legacy and expending it outward, leveraging their expertise and support to branch into the primary casualty market.
By: | June 13, 2017 • 6 min read

If you want to build a world class insurer with a full suite of offerings and a global reach, there are a just a few things you’ll need: underwriting discipline, risk management experience, a strong balance sheet, a broad risk appetite, and excellent claims handling and customer service.

These components may seem commonsense. They are, after all, what every broker or risk manager is looking for in a carrier.

But perfecting each piece is anything but common.

Swiss Re Corporate Solutions was launched in 2010 with the goal of becoming a top ten player in commercial insurance globally. Through the unique heritage of its parent company Swiss Re, it had access to these key ingredients and used them to embark on a methodical journey of expansion, by line of coverage.

Building on Swiss Re’s area of expertise, Corporate Solutions started at the top, writing the most challenging and complex risks for large companies. Their status as a net capacity provider also enabled the latitude and flexibility to take this approach.

They then worked downward and outward, branching off from wholesale excess and specialty coverage, ultimately into the primary market.

“Casualty started that journey in 2009 with our lead U.S. umbrella product, which is exclusively a retail product with a focus on large risk management business,” said Robley Moor, Head, North America Casualty, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. “Now we are trying to reach a wider variety of brokers and expand in the middle market.”  Simultaneously, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has launched a new U.S. domestic primary general liability product.

Supporting Global Programs with Underwriting Acumen

Robley Moor, Head, North America Casualty

Through the build out of a robust international network and leading edge technology, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions aspires to be their clients’ market of choice for their domestic and international primary insurance needs across various lines of coverage.  Today, they offer this capability for their property single carrier coverage.

“We are building our own foreign casualty product network through local offices around the world,” said Moor. “At the moment, the new U.S. primary casualty product allows the North American team to support international colleagues on a ‘reverse-flow’ basis.”

In an age when nearly every mid-size and large company has some type of international exposure, the ability to offer comprehensive coverage and services around the globe will be a key to further expansion.

Current adverse market conditions make the new product expansion risky, but a 20-year history of primary GL underwriting alleviates some of the uncertainty.

“We’re in a very soft part of the market cycle and any new product launch needs to be aware of that reality,” Moor said. “But when you write products in a sustainable fashion and take a long term view, there never really is a bad time to enter the market.”

A new dedicated team of underwriters in New York, Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles for the retail primary product, separate from established E&S teams, ensures that both distribution channels receive the full attention and expertise of its underwriters.

Expert Services

Mike Kwan, Head, Primary & Specialty Casualty, North America

In the excess space, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions has developed claims expertise as well as risk engineering and crisis management services that it can bring to bear on its primary clients. The highly rated claims team is comprised of 120 professionals in North America with an average of 20 years of industry experience. This year, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions was awarded the Risk Manager Choice Award for No. 1 carrier on eight key factors, including claims handling.

“From an excess perspective, we consistently see how clients’ loss experiences could have benefitted from having our claims professionals involved at the primary level,” said Mike Kwan, Head of Primary & Specialty Casualty, North America, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions.

“It serves both the customers’ and our best interests to have our Swiss Re claims expertise come to bear on that first layer of risk transfer,” he said.

Their overall claims philosophy and approach is articulated through the company’s Claims Commitment, a pillar of the Swiss Re Corporate Solutions offering in both the excess and primary space. This commitment promises speed of service and communicating with policyholders early and often once a loss notification comes in. Initial investigations typically take no longer than 30 days, and in the event of an insured first-party property loss, they will advance payment of up to 50 percent of their estimate.

“We know that the claims experience leaves a lasting impression. Even a positive outcome can be soured by a difficult experience with your claims representative,” Kwan said. “We can leverage the heritage of Swiss Re in large, complex claims to deliver high-quality service to our primary partners.”

In addition, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions also brings plenty of experience to primary GL business.  Though considered a new product for retail clients, Corporate Solutions has amassed over $1 billion in written premium of GL business through the E&S marketplace. The new underwriting department, located in most of the major regions across the country, will look to carry over this depth of knowledge and experience.

With a move into the primary market, crisis management and loss control advisory services honed for excess and specialty customers will be offered to primary policyholders.

“Last year we brought on a whole team of crisis management underwriters and contracted with a leading crisis management firm to support that effort. We are in the process of developing a companion product for the new primary general liability policy that will provide enhanced crisis management services,” Moor said.

A Full Suite of Products

The new primary policy rounds out Swiss Re Corporate Solutions’ suite of products, which can both serve middle market companies looking for primary GL coverage and provide additional support and continuity for existing excess buyers.  The primary product will be offered on both a loss sensitive basis and a guaranteed cost basis.

“From a risk management or broker standpoint, it’s as close to one stop shopping as you could possibly want. Even as your needs go beyond casualty,” Moor said. “There’s also a benefit to existing casualty customers to have the same carrier handle both excess and primary coverage. If there is a claim, you can avoid carriers fighting over who is paying what.”

With financial ratings of “AA-” by Standard & Poor’s, “Aa3” by Moody’s and “A+” by A.M. Best, Swiss Re Corporate Solutions can also back up its ability to pay claims.

“That is, of course, the number one priority for risk managers and brokers,” Kwan said.

The recent launch of the primary general liability coverage – which is already attracting interest in the market – will also provide a path forward into other product lines, like auto liability, in the future, Moor said.

“Those are future builds for us. But for right now, general liability is an extension of our current expertise.”

To learn more, visit https://corporatesolutions.swissre.com/insurance/casualty/.

Insurance products underwritten by Westport Insurance Corporation, Overland Park, Kansas, a member of Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. This article is intended to be used for general informational purposes only and is not to be relied upon or used for any particular purpose.  Swiss Re shall not be held responsible in any way for, and specifically disclaims any liability arising out of or in any way connected to, reliance on or use of any of the information contained or referenced in this article.  The information contained or referenced in this article is not intended to constitute and should not be considered legal, accounting or professional advice, nor shall it serve as a substitute for the recipient obtaining such advice.

SponsoredContent

BrandStudioLogo

This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Swiss Re Corporate Solutions. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




Swiss Re Corporate Solutions offers innovative, high-quality insurance capacity to mid-sized and large multinational corporations and public entities across the globe.

R&I Profile

Achieving Balance

XL Catlin’s Denise Balan stays calm and focused when faced with crisis.
By: | January 10, 2018 • 6 min read

In the high-stress scenario of kidnap or ransom, the first image that comes to mind isn’t necessarily a yoga mat — at least, not for most.

But Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin, who practices yoga every day, would swear by it.

Advertisement




“I looked at these opposing aspects of my life,” she said. “Yoga is about focus, balance, clarity of intent. In a moment of stress, how do you respond? The more clarity and calmness you maintain, the better positioned you are to provide assistance in moments of crisis.

“Nobody wants to be speaking to a frenetic person when either dealing with a dangerous situation or planning for prevention of a situation,” she added.

“There’s a poem by [Rudyard] Kipling on that,” added Balan’s colleague Ben Tucker. “What it boils down to is: If you can remain calm, you can manage through a crisis a lot better.”

Tucker, who works side by side with Balan as head of U.S. terrorism and political violence, XL Catlin, has seen how yoga influences his colleague.

“The way Denise interacts with stakeholders in this process — she is very professional and calm in the approach she takes.”

Yin and Yang

Sometimes seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary and interconnected. In Balan’s life, yoga and K&R have become her yin and yang.

She entered the insurance world after earning a juris doctor degree and practicing law for a few years. The switch came, she said, when Balan realized she wasn’t enjoying her time as a commercial litigator.

Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin

In her new role, she was able to use her legal background to manage litigation at AIG, where her transition from law to insurance took place. She started her insurance career in the environmental sector.

In a chance meeting in 2007, Balan met with crisis management underwriters who told her about kidnap and ransom products.

She was hooked.

Because of her background in yoga, Balan liked the crisis management side of the job. Being able to bring the calmness and clearness of intent she practiced during yoga into assisting clients in planning for crisis management piqued her interest.

She then joined XL Catlin in July 2013, where she built the K&R team.

As she became more immersed in her field, Balan began to notice something: The principles she learned in yoga were the same principles ex-military and ex-law enforcement practiced when called to a K&R-related crisis.

She said, “They have a warrior mentality — focus, purpose, strength and logic — and I would say yoga is quite similar in discipline.”

“K&R responders have a warrior mentality — focus, purpose, strength and logic — and I would say yoga is quite similar in discipline.” — Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin

Many understand yoga to be, in itself, one type of meditation, but yoga actually encompasses a group of physical, mental and spiritual practices. Each is a discipline. Some forms of yoga focus on movement and breathing, others focus on posture and technique. Some yoga is meant to relax the mind and create a sense of calmness; other yoga types make participants sweat.

After having her second child and working full-time, Balan wanted to find something physical and relaxing for herself; a friend suggested yoga. During her first lesson, Balan said she was enamored with it.

“I felt like I’d done it all my life.”

She dove into the philosophy of yoga, adopting the practice into her daily routine. Every morning, whether Balan is in her Long Island home or on a business trip, she pulls out her yoga mat to practice.

“I always travel with my mat,” she said. “Daily practice is the simplest form of connection to routine to maintain my balance — physically and mentally.”

Advertisement




She said the strangest place she has ever practiced was in Lisbon. She was on a very narrow balcony with a bird feeder swarming with sparrows overhead.

After years of studying and practicing, Balan is considered a yogi — someone who is highly proficient in yoga. She attends annual retreats with her yoga group, where she is able to rejuvenate, ready to tackle any K&R event when she returns.

In 2016, Balan visited Tuscany, Italy, where she learned the practice of yoga nidra, a very deep form of meditation. It’s described as the “going-to-sleep stage” — a type of yoga that brings participants to a state of consciousness between waking and sleeping.

“It awakens a different part of your brain,” Balan commented. “Orally describing it doesn’t quite do it justice. One has to practice Nidra to fully understand the effect it has on your being.”

Keeping a level head during a crisis is key in their line of business, Tucker said. He can attest to the benefit of having a yogi on board.

“I’ve seen her run table-top exercises where there is this group of people in a room and they run an exercise, a simulation of a kidnap incident. Denise is very committed to what we’re doing,” said Tucker.

“She brings that energy. She doesn’t get flustered by much.”

Building a K&R Program

When Balan joined XL Catlin, she was tasked with creating the K&R team.

Balan during a retreat in Sicily, Italy, 2017

She spent time researching and analyzing what clients would want in their K&R coverage. What stuck out most to Balan was the fact that, in these situations, the decision to purchase kidnap and ransom cover is rarely made because of desire for reimbursement of money.

“I asked why people buy this type of coverage. The answer was for the security responders,” she said.

“These are the people who sit with the family. They’re similar to psychologists or priests,” Balan further explained. “Corporations can afford to pay ransom. They buy [K&R] because it gives them access to these trained and dedicated professionals who not only provide negotiation advice, but actually sit with a victim’s family, engaging deep levels of emotional investment.”

“I’ve learned to appreciate all moments in life — one at a time. The ability to think clearly and calmly guides my work, my practice and my personal life.” — Denise Balan, senior VP and head of U.S. kidnap & ransom, XL Catlin

Balan described these responders as people having total clarity of purpose, setting their intentions to resolve a crisis — a practice at the very heart of yoga. She knew XL Catlin’s new kidnap program would put stock in their responders.

“I’ve worked closely with the responders to better understand what they can do for our clientele. These are the people who run into danger — warrior hearts married to dedication to our clients’ best interests.”

But K&R is more than fast-paced crisis and quick thinking; Balan also spent a good deal of time writing the K&R form and getting the company’s resources in order. This was a huge task to tackle when creating the program from the ground up.

Advertisement




“A lot of my day-to-day is speaking with brokers and finding ways to enhance our product,” she said.

After a few months, she was able to hire the company’s first K&R underwriter. From there, the program has grown. It’s left her feeling professionally rewarded.

“People don’t often get that opportunity to build something up from scratch,” she said. “It’s been an amazing experience — rewarding and fun.”

“She brings groups of people together,” said Tucker. “She’s created a positive environment.”

Balan’s yogi nature extends beyond the office walls, too. Her pride and joy, she said, are her kids. And while it may seem like two large parts of her life are opposite in nature, Balan’s achieved balance through her passions.

“[Yoga] has given me the ability to see beyond only one aspect of any situation” she said. “I’ve learned to appreciate all moments in life — one at a time. The ability to think clearly and calmly guides my work, my practice and my personal life.” &

Autumn Heisler is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]