Risk fears drive online platform business growth

A shift in the demand for the coverage of emerging risks across the globe has seen a significant uptick in the levels of business placed on the Global Markets Hub operated by broker Willis Towers Watson.

The firm issued an update in its hub which has seen business levels leap 67% year on year to reach $525 million in premium, despite the impact of COVID-19.

WTW said there were three key drivers for the increase including the market having embraced remote working as well as the use of electronic placing platforms such as PPL. The collaboration between brokers and underwriters means that month end binding has become more efficient. Equally, markets have in the main remained pragmatic in the face of COVID claim notifications recognising that client stakeholders may expect notification to be made without coverage or quantum being established at this stage.

However, the changing risk market has also played a part. The hub saw political and societal uncertainty drive new demand for products providing coverage for Strike, Riots and Civil Commotion following the Black Lives Matter protests. While this continues to be available within the property market, WTW said in a few instances the specialist market has provided a more competitive solution.

The broker said that underwriters have also been keen to deliver greater clarity around their willingness to cover cyber risks.

It said the hardening pricing conditions has enabled underwriters to follow through on their stated determination to eliminate “silent cyber.”  It warned cyber is now much more likely to be specifically excluded or affirmatively covered in many lines of insurance.

Garret Gaughan, Head of Property & Casualty Global Markets Hub, said: “Despite being what is undoubtedly the most unusual period of my career, the first half of 2020 has shown that the international market is able to step in at times of uncertainty. Whilst there has been upward pressure on pricing we have been able to work with underwriters, in extraordinary circumstances, to continue to fill out placements and meet clients’ coverage needs, which is a testament to the strength of the market.

“However, the direction of travel does not look set to change anytime soon. This is being compounded by the predicted above normal hurricane season. Whilst the insured losses to date have been modest these continue to erode the premium base for many carriers and a more significant loss from future storms will only lead to a tougher marketplace.”