Rising to the Challenge
The insurance market is constantly changing, creating challenges for insurers, brokers and clients. Margins are thin and competition remains aggressive in a number of sectors as companies seek to maintain market share and look at ways in which they can remain relevant.
Aspen Insurance’s Onshore Construction team — underwriting within a market segment that has also experienced its ups and downs — demonstrates how a dedicated specialty market can compete and continue to grow by attracting and developing top talent, building relationships based on unparalleled expertise and mutual understanding, and by maintaining sound underwriting principles and discipline.
“We have a great story to tell,” said Ryan Hucker, Vice President, Construction, Aspen Insurance. ”Our approach and focus as a specialty insurer allows Aspen Insurance to respond to our client’s needs while delivering exceptional service. We want the right clients and the right business where we are able to supply thought leadership and offer a value proposition, as opposed to just capacity.”
Leveraging Experience and Expertise
“Our team is by far our biggest asset,” added Hucker. “Brokers and clients recognize our deep industry expertise, from our global leaders to our production underwriters and risk engineers. I regularly hear people in the market talk about the talent we have on our team.”
Aspen Insurance operates as an integrated business with its highly-skilled underwriting and claims personnel working as “one team”. This approach creates a seamless end-to-end client experience, with knowledge transferring between underwriting and claims to the broker and client.
“We value long-standing relationships with our brokers and clients, and strive to provide tailor-made solutions to meet their needs. Our ability to evaluate their multiple exposures and commit capacity based on this understanding allows us to build meaningful, long-term partnerships within the construction segment. Our claims personnel possess the necessary skills to actively respond to complex claims scenarios and deliver on our contractual commitments. This approach, and successful execution of our commitments, creates demand for our involvement on future projects.”
The organizational structure at Aspen, characterized by a global footprint and culture of collaboration and sharing of expertise, allows the underwriting teams to appropriately evaluate construction opportunities, regardless of where or how a potential client approaches them. This teamwork is particularly visible when reviewing new construction projects as the Energy and Construction unit regularly works hand-in-hand with the Inland Marine and E&S Property teams. Each has a different area of construction segment focus suited to meet the needs of their client base. The teams review submissions on a case-by-case basis to determine which has the most suitable expertise, experience and resources to successfully underwrite the project. “We carefully consider the appropriate internal team so that we can provide the best experience for the client,” Hucker said.
This culture of cross-team collaboration also allows Aspen Insurance to consider construction projects from new angles and offer additional coverage solutions from a multi-line perspective.
“We have recently expanded into civil infrastructure space, for example, and have a strong appetite to underwrite these complex risks,” Hucker said. Infrastructure projects – including transportation systems, roads, tunnels, bridges and railroads – are large endeavors that typically involve several stakeholders. “Civil projects represent unique underwriting challenges and often involve many different technical exposures. Our approach evaluates the technical aspects of the project work but also focuses heavily on the professionals performing the work and their risk control and mitigation strategies,” Hucker said.
Given their size and complexity, all civil projects are expected to encounter unexpected conditions, and the contractors overseeing the work have to be experienced enough to recognize the situation and develop appropriate solutions.
“We carefully evaluate the contractor’s history and experience as well as their key project management personnel. We determine the work activities they are self-performing, how much they are subcontracting to third parties, and what the selection criteria is for key subcontractors,” Hucker said. “We focus on obtaining a comprehensive understanding of the methods the contractor will deploy to monitor and control the project exposures which then permits an appropriate commitment of our capacity, coupled with meeting the client’s coverage needs.”
On energy-related projects, the technology involved and a demonstration of its acceptability is also a key factor in the underwriting equation. Whether it’s a simple cycle gas turbine, a combined cycle power plant, or a large renewable energy project, Hucker’s team examines whether the technology is tried and true, or more of a prototype.
“We have an appetite for prototypical technologies, but this exposure should be approached with caution. The research and development risks associated with newer technology should be mostly absorbed by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) until they can demonstrate the technology is fit-for-purpose. Transparent communication between the OEM, contractor, owner, broker, underwriter, and risk engineers facilitates the evaluation and acceptability of technology risks. We then work closely with our brokers to tailor policy wording that appropriately apportions the technology risk.”
Looking Forward with Optimism
Looking ahead, Hucker is confident that Aspen Insurance’s Construction team is well positioned for the future. “Our brokers and clients want Aspen on their projects because they value our expertise and commitment to the construction segment. They recognize we are a long-term market and our intention is to be here over the long haul through prudent delivery of underwriting capacity coupled with a high level of innovation and service quality,” he said.
To learn more about Aspen’s Energy and Construction practice, visit https://www.aspen.co/Insurance/Insurance-lines/Marine-Aviation-Transportation/US-MEC/.
This article is provided for informational purposes only, does not necessarily represent Aspen’s views, and reflects the opinion of the authors in light of market, regulatory and other conditions which may change over time. Aspen does not undertake a duty to update the article.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Aspen Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.