AXIS Capital eyes greater presence in Latin America, Caribbean insurance markets

Company looks to capitalise as report says most of Latin America is uninsured

AXIS Capital eyes greater presence in Latin America, Caribbean insurance markets
Paolo Taruc

AXIS Capital has set its sights on an untapped insurance market. The firm announced Friday that it has established Miami-based AXIS Special Underwriters (AXIS Miami) to expand its presence in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC).

AXIS Miami will operate within its international insurance division as the (LAC) regional coverholder of AXIS Syndicate 1686. It will provide direct and facultative reinsurance coverage to the LAC market, focused on energy and property.

Most of Latin America’s population is uninsured despite relatively high insurance growth, Ernst & Young’s 2017 Latin American Insurance Outlook said.

“Insurance accounts for less than 3% of GDP in countries such as Mexico and Colombia,” the report stated. “It is only moderately higher in Brazil and Chile.”

Citing figures from Munich Re Economic Research, the Ernst & Young report said 2017 real growth in life premiums may rise to just over 5% for the region, and property and casualty (P&C) premiums should increase by about half that rate, to just over 2.5%. 

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 “The launch of AXIS Miami is a significant milestone in our global strategy to provide leading specialty risk solutions in every region in which our clients operate,” said Mark Gregory, CEO of AXIS Insurance’s international division. 

Latin American reinsurance industry veteran Eduardo Hussey will lead AXIS Miami as its chief underwriting officer. The firm said Hussey has 20 years’ experience in the Latin American insurance and reinsurance sector. He joins AXIS from Marsh, where he held a number of regional senior-level roles.

Ernst & Young managing director Edgar Sanchez said his company is optimistic about the region’s insurance business in 2017.

“A pickup in oil prices should help the economy, and firming currencies could drive stronger car sales,” he suggested. “And a long-awaited turnaround in Brazil could boost other markets in the region.”

However, Ernst & Young warned that a US policy shift under the Trump Administration could undermine the region’s economic rebound.

“A loosening fiscal stance in the US, combined with rising local interest rates, could limit the ability for Brazil, Argentina, Colombia and other countries to facilitate growth through looser monetary policies,” it noted.

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