"Massive" possibility for growth in wholesale market

Burns & Wilcox head pinpoints the area you should be paying attention to

"Massive" possibility for growth in wholesale market

Insurance News

By David Saric

Having assumed the role of vice president and practice group leader, professional liability, at Burns & Wilcox last week, Andy Wood (pictured) sees the cyber market as an area with huge potential – and one that prompts innovative thinking due to the breakneck speed it evolves at.

“It is constantly moving at a pace beyond really any other marketplace in terms of the threat, capacity, coverage, as well as the risk management tools and techniques that are available,” he said.

Wood has also witnessed exponential growth in the excess and surplus market especially considering how choosey those in the admitted markets can be when picking what risks to provide coverage for.

“That really provides the wholesale market a massive opportunity for growth,” he said.

Elsewhere, Wood is excited to see how new capabilities can be developed by tapping into the transformative opportunities afforded by the emergence of new technologies in the industry.

“I think it’s interesting to see how a company can embrace technology to do business more efficiently upfront,” he said. “But also embrace technology to do a better job in defining markets, defining the coverages that you want, and isolating those opportunities where you’re going to have the most success.”

In an interview with Insurance Business, Wood spoke about the challenges that the insurance industry is most likely going to face going forward and how his previous professional experience led him to his new role.

Keeping an eye on obstacles in the market

An admitted “glass half full” kind of guy, Wood tries not to dwell on the negative developments or trends in the insurance industry and focus on new solutions to solve them.

However, he would be remiss to not recognize what obstacles are in the market right now that require attention.

“Wholesalers sit on top of the admitted markets — if there is a business that standard carriers don’t want to write or just doesn’t fit their underwriting appetite or niche, then that’s where we come in,” Wood said.

“However, with the advent of new data analytical capabilities, they’ve been able to hone down what it is they want to work on. They’re looking at certain areas, such as the miscellaneous professional market, as very profitable, which diminishes our opportunity to play in that sweet vanilla space.”

While Wood views cyber as an area of opportunity going forward, he pointed out how there will be a constantly shifting risk profile as threat actors become more sophisticated in their tactics.

“While there was a cyberattack dip in December, carrier partners and analysts are expecting it to increase along with severity. So that, I think, is going to remain a challenge,” he said.

Additionally, Wood has noticed an increase in claims in the architects and engineers (A&E) space — most likely due to inflationary pressures - and larger claims payouts in the medical space are resulting in a spike in pricing.  

“So, it’s going to be a challenging marketplace for sure,” he said. “But where there is a challenge, that means that there is also opportunity.”

Andy Wood before Burns & Wilcox

In the years prior to starting his new position with Burns & Wilcox, Wood fell into the insurance industry by happenstance.

“I had a degree in engineering but didn’t enjoy that field whatsoever, so I switched into a career in consulting,” he said.

“However, being on the road four-to-five days a week was not exactly ideal, but I learned a lot about business, be it retail trade, manufacturing, how to work with clients, how to structure question sets and problems, while also finding solutions to them.”

Wood then secured a job at CNA, where he bounced around from department to department before settling into the company’s life sector where he helped set up their alternative distribution channel.

“Afterwards, I collaborated with a couple of individuals from CNA to build a web-based wholesaler for commercial business, which was eventually bought by WTW in 2007,” he said.

Wood then switched to Insureon before landing a gig at Hiscox USA, where he would eventually become acquainted with Burns & Wilcox through business collaboration.

“I got to run the company’s Midwest region, but in the meantime, I also got to know people like Danny Kaufman [Burns & Wilcox’s president] and other key personnel. And when they eventually reached out to offer this new position, it was kind of a no-brainer saying ‘yes’,” he added.

Now, Wood is in charge of building a cohesive strategy to develop new products and programs while aggressively recruiting top professional liability producers nationwide.

“This is a great opportunity for the company and I to take advantage of all of the things that are going on in the industry, which is very exciting,” he said.

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