Westfield Specialty’s Jack Kuhn Discusses Market Challenges and Strategic Growth

Jack Kuhn of Westfield Specialty shares his insights on the shifting dynamics of the insurance market, focusing on the opportunities and challenges in casualty and auto insurance lines.
By: | May 7, 2024

Risk & Insurance had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Kuhn, president of Westfield Specialty, to discuss the challenges and opportunities in the insurance market, talent recruitment and retention, and the company’s approach to working with distribution partners at this year’s RISKWORLD conference.

What follows is a transcript of that conversation, edited for length and clarity.

Risk & Insurance: What do you see as the greatest opportunities for Westfield Specialty in 2024?

Jack Kuhn: The insurance market has been experiencing a tale of two cities, with some markets softening while others remain challenging. Casualty lines, in particular, have been a focal point due to the adverse results many companies have faced from legacy years, specifically 2013 through 2019.

Last year, the property market underwent a seismic change. The year before, it was cyber, and the year prior, it was the production line. Each product line goes through its own unique journey within the market cycle.

R&I: Which lines of insurance do you see as particularly problematic for customers this year, and where are they struggling the most?

JK: Interestingly, the problematic lines are often more appealing for Westfield Specialty because the challenges present opportunities due to higher conditions and pricing. The most prominent example would be casualty, particularly excess casualty, due to concerns stemming from runaway verdicts associated with social inflation.

Another problematic area has been auto insurance. Many insurers expected loss trends to remain similar to those seen during COVID, but as we’ve returned to a more normal environment, they’ve realized that loss costs are increasing.

R&I: What is your perspective on talent recruitment and retention in the insurance industry, and how has Westfield Specialty navigated this challenge?

JK: Talent recruitment and retention has not been an issue for Westfield Specialty. One of my personal pillars is that I do not enter any business line without a top-tier group or leader for that product line.

It’s crucial to have someone who resonates with brokers and clients, someone they want to have on their program. Having recognized and respected talent in each product line has been a key strength for us.

R&I: How would you define the culture of your business, and how do you protect and maintain it?

JK: Culture is a powerful word that everyone talks about, but it’s something you have to live and breathe every single day. For me, it’s about setting the tone for the staff, ensuring they know we’re all in this together.

R&I: What is your approach to working with your distribution partners as you build out Westfield Specialty?

JK: To me, it’s about communication and transparency. We aim to work shoulder to shoulder with our distribution partners as we build out the Westfield Specialty enterprise. This means maintaining open lines of communication, being clear about our goals and strategies, and actively collaborating with our partners.

R&I: What insights can you share about Westfield Specialty’s performance and the specialty lines market that would benefit our readers?

JK: Westfield Specialty has experienced phenomenal growth, finishing last year at $1.2 billion in premiums and achieving a profitable combined ratio of 92, which was well ahead of schedule. Much of this success can be attributed to the favorable market conditions and the opportunities we’ve had to expand our portfolio.

The specialty lines market has presented a wealth of possibilities for us to strategically grow our business. We’ve been fortunate to capitalize on these market dynamics and deliver strong results. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected].

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