Zurich Global Corporate Casualty Takes Innovative, Unique Path to Success
Five years ago, Zurich Global Corporate in North America (GCiNA) began to create a formidable casualty practice.
Yet even with early successes, two years ago Zurich’s casualty practice made a dramatic change in the way it does business. In essence, Zurich didn’t modify its casualty product lineup, which is what other competitors typically do when trying to grow business. Instead, it changed its very culture by accomplishing something other casualty carriers had not tried (and have yet to duplicate).
At the time, Brian Winters, executive vice president and head of the casualty practice, Zurich GCiNA, pushed the organization to form a practice that brought domestic casualty, excess casualty and international casualty together under a single roof. Today, Zurich remains the only large global casualty market with all three areas reporting into one P&L entity. And, as Winters explained, Zurich has not looked back and is reaping the benefits of the energizing effect of its innovative market strategy.
“The main idea is to offer clients unique casualty coverage in a single, smooth, transparent process. We have no silos to manage,” Winters said, adding that much of the business being generated by Zurich’s unique approach comes from brokerages willing to adapt and forge new best practices. “Currently, we target specific customers who fit this mold. Most of all, it gives them consistency. For example, all three of those coverage areas can have the same effective policy dates, broker and risk manager buyer.”
Winters explained that while he was managing Zurich’s domestic casualty practice two years ago, his extensive work with clients in the field uncovered the fact that excess casualty and international casualty could be added to the mix. Customers often asked about the concept. But it would require a total rethinking of how to conduct Zurich GCiNA’s casualty business.
“Client feedback drove the synergies that led us to restructure the way we operate,” he said. “While we already offered a deep, comprehensive array of casualty coverages and related services for global clients, they wanted a simpler, more direct way of doing business.”
Winters processed that client feedback and — interestingly enough — it dovetailed with his team’s sometime inability to meet customer needs. Plus, clients (and brokers) told Winters that Zurich was a sleeping giant, with much potential in the casualty market. “We had the natural efficiencies to make this work, and not everyone can say that,” Winters noted. “Listening to customers and brokers saying that Zurich had it all and should be leading the marketplace, well that got the idea spinning.”
“It’s not typical in our industry that risk managers can go to the CFO and say they are able to take three casualty lines and get the best deals in collateral, pricing and coverage.”
— Brian Winters, executive vice president and head of the casualty practice, Zurich GCiNA
“This strategy is focused on a unique customer, but we have a definite advantage because our competitors tend to be organized around products,” he said. “We built this around customer need, not products. To do what we have done, you have to change your whole culture and structure. It’s not easy and others can’t be that flexible. They can’t turn that ship around.”
Basically, Global Corporate Casualty can give customers coverage in the three areas with a single coordinated proposal, rather than three individual proposals. That way, not only can customers benefit from better pricing, but they also can take advantage of improved collateral, coverage terms and conditions.
“We get a unique view of the insured’s culture as well,” he said. “When they buy all three coverages from a single market, it offers unique opportunities in areas including claims and risk engineering. It’s the best way to show Zurich’s value proposition.”
Winters says feedback from customers has been extremely positive, especially the idea of getting the best a carrier has to offer across multiple lines — something that is much easier to accomplish when the carrier’s P&L is managed by one business unit. Customers also favor that all three areas offer multi-year type of arrangements and good stability on important lines of business, that and Zurich’s proven financial stability in the market.
Of course, there are the built-in efficiencies in underwriting and enhanced performance guarantees, so if customers have service issues they can more easily get them resolved.
“It’s not typical in our industry that risk managers can go to the CFO and say they are able to take three casualty lines and get the best deals in collateral, pricing and coverage,” Winters said. “That offers a lot of attractiveness.”
Internally, Winters said the move has energized and galvanized Zurich’s teams across each line. You can literally sense the excitement when they are working together. The result is higher confidence levels among the teams, which translate into an enhanced customer experience.
Of the three lines, the most critical addition for Zurich was its ability to bundle international in with the domestic and excess, something that has not been duplicated. Our International Casualty group offers many unique solutions for customers and a real sense of confidence to brokers and customers about having a state of the art program. Very few markets can complete with this group or sophisticated program.
Zurich’s big advantage is the company’s proven ability to minimize risk on compliance issues — a very important and growing factor today with the way the global markets are changing. Large customers are no longer willing to take increasingly complex compliance risks. Along those lines, Zurich offers a state-of-the-art app, Zurich Multinational Insurance Application that can help customers in sorting out compliance issues.
“Making structural change is not easy, but has been well worth it for Zurich,” Winters concluded. “We have had a significant increase in new business across the casualty practice since its inception. Cross selling opportunities have been improving steadily across all of Zurich’s businesses. We continue to lead and exceed expectations and continue to improve. In the end, financial performance and customer retention are the true barometers of success.”
This is intended as a general description of certain types of insurance and services available to qualified customers through the companies of Zurich in North America, provided solely for informational purposes. Nothing herein should be construed as a solicitation, offer, advice, recommendation, or any other service with regard to any type of insurance product underwritten by individual member companies of Zurich in North America, including Zurich American Insurance Company. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage, terms and conditions. The description of the policy provisions gives a broad overview of coverages and does not revise or amend the policy. Coverages and rates are subject to individual insured meeting our underwriting qualifications and product availability in applicable states. Some coverages may be written on a nonadmitted basis through licensed surplus lines brokers.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Zurich. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.