After 11 years in North America, Mike Hansen (pictured) is flying home to London and into a new role as the global head of aviation for Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty.
Hansen, who had been Allianz’s North American head of aviation, based out of Toronto, Canada, will now lead Allianz’s overall aviation underwriting strategy. He recently told Insurance Business about the new position and what the change will mean for both his professional and personal life.
“This is a huge opportunity for me individually,” he said. “It is a privilege to be given the responsibility of managing such a high-profile portfolio [with such a] highly-talented and market-leading team.”
The 51-year-old will assume his new seat in London, England, in October.
Hansen has a family history with aviation, having been born “very close to the end of the runway at Heathrow Airport” – though he never saw himself ending up here.
“Despite growing up with the smell of aviation fuel in my nostrils and the fact that my father was involved in the aviation industry for over 40 years as an aircraft engineer … it was a complete accident that I ended up in aviation insurance,” he said.
Having left school at 16, a chance encounter led to Hansen joining Leslie & Godwin in 1982 as the office "boy" in the aviation department. Moving his way up, he ended up broking in the Lloyd’s and London market for 15 years, “ending up as a director of Aon’s aviation division”.
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In 1997, he moved into underwriting, where he has been for the past 20 years.
“I am particularly proud of being a co-founder of Catlin’s aviation business in 2002 and growing their portfolio over 10 years to be one of the top-five insurers in the aviation market,” he said. “I was the global leader of their aviation business when the company was purchased in 2015 by XL.”
Hansen helped establish Catlin’s Canadian branch in 2006 and was the CEO there for three years, in addition to his aviation role, before joining Allianz in June 2016 to run the North American business. “I am now extremely fortunate to assume a global leadership role again in such a large and prestigious company,” he said.
The trans-Atlantic move, though, will take him away from his home of the past 11 years. He will be moving Canadian wife, Natalie, and will be reunited with his 19-year-old daughter who relocated from Canada back to study journalism in the UK. A Canadian citizen since 2015, he expects he will summer regularly, “as my wife has family and we have many friends there and we are lucky to have a cottage on a beautiful lake to enjoy in the summer,” he said.
In terms of his new role, Hansen is excited to be leading and building a team – something he is “especially passionate” about – and wants to continue to grow Allianz’s aviation business, too.
“Watching as individuals assume greater responsibility and add even greater value to the whole team is extremely fulfilling on a personal level,” he noted. “I feel a great responsibility to continue to drive the business forward, to maintain the profitable performance of recent years and to explore ways we can enhance [our] profile with our key producers and clients.”
Ultimately, though, the journey home will be a welcome one, he said.
“London still holds a special place in my heart,” he said. “The London market itself still has a special buzz about it, even in an increasingly global insurance world. It’s where my insurance journey began and I am very excited to be going back and connecting with so many old acquaintances.”
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