Hamilton Re to enter property insurance
New player Hamilton Re will enter the property insurance market, CEO Kathleen Reardon said yesterday.
Ms Reardon added that the firm would also join the facultative market — a form of reinsurance in which a contract is negotiated for a specific insurance policy used when a policy is unusual or large and the original insurer is concerned about the liability risks.
And she said that “a star casualty underwriter” will shortly join her team from a Lloyd’s of London syndicate.
Ms Reardon said: “From day one we have been a company that has been happy to diversify and not rely on one channel for business.
“We are thinking big and acting big when it comes to a diversified product range.” Ms Reardon was speaking at industry summit the Monte Carlo Rendez-vous to the event’s Monte Carlo Today newspaper.
She said that the rash of major mergers and takeovers had created “a new talent pool” to draw from as new joint companies cut staff.
Ms Reardon added: “Mergers and acquisitions are going to continue and that is offering more opportunities to pick up talent.”
And she did not rule out Hamilton Insurance Group and Hamilton Re joining the rush to expand through acquisition.
“There are some attractive companies that could give Hamilton Insurance Group a start with a new strategy or which have a different product range or operate in another region. We would have to look at it.
“Some people are questioning the valuations of some merger and acquisition strategy, but if shareholders feel that it is a solid decision and gives them what they need, then it is a sensible thing to do.”
But she added that the group’s main focus was on “organic growth”, writing “volatile severity driven” business and looking for greater diversity.
Ms Reardon said that the company also hoped to become listed in the future. She explained: “It’s something we will be looking at in the future. We are a highly liquid company that operates on both sides of the balance sheet.
Ms Reardon added that Hamilton Re was “comfortable” with its position relating to a US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) probe into hedge fund-backed reinsurers — some of which the IRS suspects are hedge funds using a reinsurance company as a front for tax purposes.
She said that Hamilton Re — owned by a mix of private equity companies as well as its founders — was not hedge fund-backed.
Ms Reardon added: “We are focused on building a franchise with a global platform and I am comfortable with our strategy now and in the future.”
The US is considering imposing a minimum standard for reserves to draw a line between insurers engaged in genuine underwriting and what it calls “passive foreign investment companies.”
Ms Reardon said that Hamilton Re backed the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers stance that the US Treasury, if it adopts that policy, it should use the “bright line safe harbour test” of a 15 per cent reserve-to-asset ratio.