The re/insurer’s tale

This Bermuda platform was able to hit the ground running when it launched in late 2020. James Holliss, head of Bermuda at Chaucer, explains why the time was right.

“We are developing a work experience programme to help Bermudian youngsters.”
James Holliss, Chaucer

When was the company formed and with how much capital?

Chaucer established its Bermuda platform at the end of 2020, operating as a class 4 re/insurer. We write a range of US property, casualty and specialty reinsurance business for Chaucer Insurance Company, which launched in Dublin in 2017 to provide clients with more platform and security choice and to support Chaucer’s growth plans. Chaucer Insurance Company has a financial strength rating of A (excellent) from AM Best.

Who are the main investors?

Our Bermuda platform is a branch of our insurance company in Ireland which is backed by our parent company, China Re, the seventh largest reinsurer in the world.

What was the inspiration for the name?

We don’t have a “special” name, this is simply another branch of the Chaucer Group.

“For year one we are mainly targeting US property and casualty treaty.”

Who are the key figures/senior management at this stage?

I previously worked in London as our head of US property reinsurance before transferring to Bermuda to lead our branch there. I am also our head of US property reinsurance and a senior property reinsurance underwriter in the Lloyd’s market, with 20 years of reinsurance underwriting experience at Chaucer, having begun my insurance career with CNA London.

Zak Mallen previously worked in London on our US casualty treaty account before moving to Bermuda. He predominantly writes general and professional liability, as well as worker’s compensation reinsurance. He is also a lead market underwriter for cell captive reinsurance and non-standard risks.

Zak has a law degree from Newcastle University and an MBA completed in 2019. He is involved in a number of strategic projects at Chaucer, including a cross-class diverse and bespoke group, which focuses on alternative specialty, and Chaucer’s innovation incubator group.

What is your initial business plan in terms of target lines of business?

For year one we are mainly targeting US property and casualty treaty with some ancillary specialty reinsurance capacity available. Over the next five years we hope to grow our product offering and lead more North American reinsurance business.

Why did you feel now was a good time to launch a new reinsurer?

Our new ownership in 2018 allowed us to reassess our strategic growth plans, with North America being a key territory, so our new Bermuda platform facilitates this expansion. It will also help us as a group to deliver greater capacity and platform choice to our brokers and clients.

“We are aiming to build out a diverse product offering as the office develops.”

Why did you choose Bermuda?

We selected Bermuda as the destination of our next global platform because Bermuda is an exceptionally well regulated and highly renowned reinsurance market with strong US and international connections. Culturally it was an excellent fit and with many of our distribution partners already in situ, it made opening an office here a clear priority.

What has been your experience of Bermuda so far?

It has been overwhelmingly positive to date. Forming any new entity comes with its challenges, but we were able to pull together a dedicated team and work with the BMA to get the green light in time for a successful January 1 launch.

In terms of ease of trade, Bermuda as a market has been superb with local and US domestic brokers alike welcoming us and keen to understand our appetite to help us reach our targets.

What are your predictions for reinsurance market conditions in 2021?

We feel there is sustained positive rate momentum in reinsurance rates across nearly all classes for the remainder of the year, although clearly some sectors have a further way to go than others to reach what we would consider rate adequacy.

What are your medium-term objectives as a business?

First, we are aiming to build out a diverse product offering as the office develops, so we can explore D&F opportunities, as well as expanding our casualty and specialty lines to offer a broader product suite and value to broker partners.

Second, we would like to secure Chaucer’s reputation on the Island for being an intelligent, stable and valuable capital partner that is capable of leading business and offering creative solutions when required.

Finally, we are developing a work experience programme to help Bermudian youngsters get an insight and access to the reinsurance market. Giving back to the community is a core Chaucer value and one we are certainly looking to continue here in Bermuda.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock / Alexander Raths / Paul Orr

In association with:

A Bermuda:Re+ILS Special Report