Allied World’s 20-Year Journey

November 13th marked the 20th anniversary of Allied World’s launch in Bermuda. What started as a single line, high excess P&C carrier, is now a global player, offering multiple lines, with 21 offices worldwide, over 1,400 employees and more than $5 billion in gross written premium.
By: | November 16, 2021

To understand the story behind Allied World’s success, one needs to go back to the very beginning.

With a significant capital shortage in the insurance market just after the World Trade Center attacks of 2001, Allied World was set up to provide P&C coverage for those in need of capacity. The company quickly built up a core base of clients, many of whom are still with them today, and created a solution-oriented culture focused on maintaining strong relationships.

Colm Singleton, head of Bermuda office and head of Bermuda and global markets claims, reflects on the success of Allied World and key milestones in the organization’s development.

“The initial public offering, the growth of our operations in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and, most recently, our acquisition by Fairfax, are certainly, in my mind, the most significant milestones for the company over the last 20 years,” Singleton said.

The early years had their challenges, including the 2005 hurricane season, which brought with it three of the costliest storms in U.S. history: Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma. This period was the first big test for the young company.

Despite clients suffering significant losses, Allied World stepped up, paid claims quickly and helped their clients navigate through this difficult time.

“Clients began to see us as more than just a hard market capacity provider. That really established us as an insurer that is always there to support its clients, particularly during the tough times,” said Singleton.

Barely three years later, the massive worldwide financial crisis hit. Like many insurers, the company was inundated with hundreds of professional lines claims, most of which were highly complex and took several years to work through.

Allied World, yet again, made it a priority to support clients and forge stronger relationships with them and with brokers moving forward. “Our proven claims track record, disciplined underwriting approach, and ability to respond in non-traditional ways has earned the reputation that clients can count on us.” said Singleton.

A Client-Centric Focus

Colm Singleton,
head of Bermuda office, head of Bermuda and global markets claims, Allied World

A key feature of Allied World’s evolution over the last two decades has been its ability to bring clients on the journey with it, maintaining long-term interactions even as it has grown and transformed.

What may have started out as a mono line business transaction has evolved into multi-line, multi-region relationships.

Bermuda has many benefits, including easy access to the island, flexibility of forms, bespoke risk management solutions, and a robust regulatory regime, that fosters the development of personalized client relationships.

“Being able to arrange multiple meetings in one visit to see everyone you need to and get deals done is highly appealing to clients. Risk managers doing business in Bermuda can meet with brokers, insurers and reinsurers in the same place, all in one day,” said Singleton.

That ability for clients to sit down, face to face with underwriters and describe the unique characteristics of their complex risks is important.

Not only do the risk managers feel empowered and understood, it is an essential part of the underwriting decision-making process.

“That’s particularly important during these tough times when virtual meetings have become the norm,” said Singleton “When you’re discussing or trying to place large and highly complex risks, it’s beneficial that you meet face-to-face to make sure you get your message across properly and are able to find the best solution.”

Innovative Solutions

Another key to the carrier’s success is the early (and continued) embrace of innovative solutions – and a credit to its entrepreneurial and collaborative culture.

“Our ability to offer clients innovative solutions has enabled our relationships to evolve into long-term partnerships.”

While most insurers were providing high excess P&C capacity, Allied World took a more novel approach, offering solutions at lower attachment points and writing primary business in Bermuda.

In Bermuda, the company writes primary property, primary employment practices and primary cyber as well as low attaching professional lines and casualty.

Yet another benefit of operating in Bermuda, Allied World can provide coverage enhancements that aren’t available in other jurisdictions, like wage and hour or fines and penalties.

“We’re constantly trying to find areas where clients need additional coverage and searching for ways to innovate,” said Singleton. That entrepreneurial spirit, cultivated throughout the span of 20 years, has enabled Allied World to grow and thrive.

True Claims Expertise

One of the other ways in which Allied World has managed to differentiate itself is through investing in and enhancing its claims expertise.

Clients now actively seek to meet with the claims team to develop a relationship so that they know exactly who they will be dealing with if they experience a loss.

“We identified early on that investments in claims expertise was critical for our customers. They want to see that we know what we’re doing when faced with significant losses, and that desire has only increased in recent years,” said Singleton.

“Building relationships with the claims team before there is an actual loss has been well received by our customers.”

Such is the strength of this relationship that, in a recent claims survey, 94% of Allied World clients say they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with their claims service.

The Next 20 Years

While many of the “class of 2001” insurers have struggled to maintain their market share, been bought up, downsized or disappeared in recent years, Allied World has gone from strength-to-strength.

If it continues on its current trajectory, Allied World can look forward to another 20 years of being at the forefront of innovation and client service. &

Alex Wright is a UK-based business journalist, who previously was deputy business editor at The Royal Gazette in Bermuda. You can reach him at [email protected].

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