After a long time spent “flying under the radar,” AmTrust International is ready to find its voice in the insurance marketplace. Speaking with Insurance Business, CUO Bruce Whitmee (pictured) shared why the time is right for the company market P&C insurer to boost its profile and market its potent blend of financial strength and strategic agility.
“AmTrust Financial wrote over $8 billion worth of GWP across the group in 2022, and about $1+ billion of that is outside North America,” he said. “In that international part of our business, we write a sub-90 combined ratio and we occupy some fairly niche lines of business.”
Touching on the reach of AmTrust International, a subsidiary of AmTrust Financial, Whitmee highlighted that the business specialises in professional indemnity (PI), legal expenses, mortgage & credit, property and warranty. Warranty is a business line embedded in the very DNA of AmTrust Financial, he said, while AmTrust International underwrites significant warranty business in the UK, Europe and around the world (including Asia and South America).
He revealed that the “natural uplift” AmTrust International’s business has seen over the last 12-18 months has served as the starting gun to get back into the conversation of the marketplace.
“We’ve started to see a lot more activity and a lot more opportunities coming through,” he said. “Obviously that differs from business line to business line because we’re quite diverse in our appetite within those niches. So, different areas of the market are moving at a different pace and a lot of what happens next depends on wider market trends.
“Take the PI space, for example - there’s been a significant hardening of rates over the past three or four years and we’re nimble and entrepreneurial enough as an organisation to spot those natural changes in the cycle of the market and jump in where we see an opportunity. And we have the [expertise and reach] to expand quite quickly because we have headroom in our capital.”
Whitmee noted that there’s no shortage of appetite for growth within AmTrust International and that the business has significant ambitions for the years ahead. The foundations have been laid by the restructuring undertaken by the company in recent years. AmTrust Financial went through a period of consolidation from 2018 until the end of COVID. Going private in 2018, he said, was a strategic move that allowed the business to step back and reassess which lines of business it wanted to operate in.
“Pre-2018, AmTrust Financial went through a very acquisitive period, and, over time, I think we allowed ourselves to get stretched slightly thin across multiple lines of business. Since 2018, we have focused on what we know and love, and what we’re good at – and to really invest in finding the right people to drive those lines of business.”
At the core of AmTrust International’s strategy in recent years have been two key components - getting the right people in the right roles and being very selective about the clients it wants to work with going forward. He said that working with trustworthy partners who bring a good understanding of the market and distribution, reliable data, and knowledge of compliance requirements is critical, as it is at the heart of building a secure and sustainable business and partnership.
“We’re now back on the front foot,” Whitmee said. “We’re looking for new MGA partners. In most of our lines of business, even though we have a wholly owned MGA that is a key distribution partner for us in that line, we don’t work with them on an exclusive basis. We do work with other clients and MGAs in those spaces and our objective is to work with more. As a great example, in PI, we have Collegiate, but we also work with a number of other partners.”
The British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA)’s recent conference represented a great opportunity for AmTrust to go out to the market and relay its message among its broking and MGA partners. To be able to speak with them face-to-face about the business’s plans for the year ahead and what it will mean for them was a very special experience, Whitmee said, and it was great to see how well that message was received.
“We’re continuing a big push on getting out and meeting our brokers,” he said. “Most of them are aware of AmTrust in its various guises but haven’t been able to see the full picture before now. I think they do see us as a credible, robust, well-capitalised market that is interested in writing business that fits within our niches and, most importantly, looking for more niches that match the characteristics of the business we love to write and segments we prefer to operate in.”
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