Pricing nerves draw 1/1 renewals into market ‘far earlier’

The pandemic is certainly challenging but, according to tech firm Riskbook’s co-founder and chief executive Jerad Leigh, it is an exciting time that offers opportunities for real change as renewal talks start “far earlier” than in previous years.

During the last year, Leigh told Baden-Baden Today, he had been “very pleased” with the technology provider’s progress.

“We’ve been able to work closely with practitioners to build a truly game-changing set of solutions within our platform. We recently deployed a re-designed workflow that allows brokers to prepare even the most complex reinsurance structures and send clean, structured data to their underwriters, helping them to price far more quickly than before,” he explained.

However, he is under no illusions: this will be a renewal season “like no other”.

“It seems on reinsurance pricing the jury is still out, particularly given underlying rate rises, yet some nervousness here—combined with operational concerns—is certainly drawing January 2021 renewals into the market far earlier than usual.”

He said there will be an impact on market talent and culture “despite the herculean efforts of brokers and underwriters to sustain business as usual through challenging conditions”. 

“Many voices will be asking whether a return to the substantial office, travel, and expense budgets of old can be justified, now that we’ve been forced to prove that we can survive without them.

“In the absence of an expiry date for the pandemic, the bad dream is increasingly becoming a bad reality. Most firms lack the tools to support remote operations at scale, while few e-placing systems have won hearts and minds among discerning reinsurance customers. 

“At Riskbook, we are fortunate to have started out as a fully remote team, and—in the hope that reinsurance brokers and underwriters can enjoy working from home (or anywhere else) as much as we do—we are baking a similar recipe into our software,” he explained.

“We are thrilled to be at the heart of progress.” Jerad Leigh, Riskbook

In fact, Leigh went on: “This is a strange but exciting time to be an independent provider of global reinsurance-placing technology. Overall, the market has been taking a good hard look at historical placement operations, accelerated by the pandemic.

“We are thrilled to be at the heart of progress, defining and creating a digital placing experience that will benefit cedants, brokers, and reinsurers alike.”

More challengers

Leigh said that the firm was increasingly onboarding brokers and underwriters as it prepares to support some significant placements for the upcoming renewal season.

“We’re very fortunate to have closed a new funding round led by some of Europe’s best early-stage investors, securing our position in the market and helping us to invest further in our platform, as an independent alternative,” he added.

As to trends he was watching in the global reinsurance sector, he said he was “very excited” by the continued emergence of “challenger” brokers in the reinsurance space. 

“Watching each of these new brokers establish new teams and distinct value propositions is truly inspiring and we look forward to supporting many of them to scale efficiently across the reinsurance market,” he said.

“The majority of these challenger brokers have very little legacy technology and have (so far) avoided the mistake of spending millions—of dollars and hours—on building placing solutions in-house.

“This is raising hopes among the reinsurer community that collectively, they might gradually migrate towards a single placing platform for distributing global reinsurance deals.

“In such a scenario, reinsurers can aspire towards being able to access deals from all brokers through just three platforms: ABConnect, GC Marketplace, and Riskbook.

“Among those, we have reasonable assumptions as to which will provide them with the best quality data and user experience,” he concluded.

Main image: / Seasontime