2019 has been an important year for Sirius—and one of change. Bermuda:Re+ILS talks to two of the company’s senior executives, Kip Oberting and Monica Cramér Manhem, about the adjustments it has made and what it is trying to achieve.
Sirius International Insurance Group (Sirius Group) wants to play to its strengths as it moves through 2019 and into 2020. It has reshuffled its leadership team this year and now wants to change the focus of the company so that the role of the underwriter takes prominence and it becomes nimbler and more client-centric.
That’s the message from Kip Oberting, chief executive of Sirius Group, and Monica Cramér Manhem, president of Sirius Group Global Reinsurance. Having completed several structural changes this year, they are looking ahead to the future.
Cramér Manhem describes 2019 as a transitional year for the business. In February, Oberting took over as chief executive of the Group, replacing Allan Waters. In August, Sirius Group unified its global operating structure, empowering a number of key business segment leaders in the process, while also creating a global management committee.
As part of that change, along with a much wider reshuffle, Cramér Manhem became president of global reinsurance. She says the company is now working towards a future where it, as an organisation, looks towards its strengths and leverages those strengths by consolidating its operations and becoming more agile and responsive.
“We are elevating the fact that underwriting comes first in our business,” says Oberting. “We want to allow our underwriters and our clients a clear understanding of our platform and of our business and to empower our business leaders.”
The move to unify the firm’s global underwriting leadership was probably overdue. It had not been done since Sirius International and FolksAmerica were combined in 2008. Oberting stresses that the company wanted to simplify its interaction with its customers, which he feels it has done.
Building on a reputation
Another area highlighted by Oberting and Cramér Manhem has been its accident and health (A&H) businesses, where over the past few years the company has enhanced its reinsurance leadership in the space. In recent years, the company has built an insurance platform and purchased two managing general underwriters that have broadened its reach into that market and extended and built on its relationships in that area.
In April 2017, Sirius acquired US-based healthcare specialist ArmadaCorp Capital, which provides supplemental healthcare insurance products and administration services in the US.
One month later, the firm acquired International Medical Group (IMG), a provider of global medical insurance products and assistance services.
IMG offers temporary coverage for customers’ medical expenses and emergency evacuations when travelling outside their home country, coverage for expats and global citizens, as well as coverage for trip interruption and cancellation, lost baggage and travel delays.
“We have a reputation as a leading player in the market, in terms of growth—seeking clients, appreciation for offerings and pricing and underwriting and overall responsiveness, and perhaps we haven’t fully used that strength as we should have,” Oberting says.
“It’s been very empowering for the business leaders. For example, in the US Warren Trace [president for North America reinsurance and deputy chief underwriting officer for the Americas] has been a long-time underwriter and has done a great job leading that business.
“For him to have a more unified portfolio view of the Americas, the US and Canada has been energising.”
Oberting and Cramér Manhem agree that the recent moves have been exciting for the company—almost rejuvenating, they say, as they are able to call upon the full resources of the Group. Oberting points out that to have the Group’s underwriting unified on a global basis, instead of underwriting in their former individual areas (such as the US, Bermuda, Europe, etc) has been a massive, but natural, step forwards.
“Sirius plans to do more in the life reinsurance space, continuing the growth of its A&H business as it seeks out areas of new business, as well as developing existing books of business,” he says.
Nimble by nature
Oberting adds that while Sirius is striving to be nimble in the market, a word that might be better used to describe the company’s attitude towards business and the execution of that business in terms of allowing its portfolios to evolve is “purposeful”.
However, he says, another part of being nimble that some companies do not talk about is the regulatory burden that affects the company globally, ranging from Solvency II to various local equivalents.
“A company like Sirius, which operates in more than 100 countries, has paid a great deal of attention to our legal entities and corporate structure. As a result, and especially bearing in mind the management changes mentioned above, we have been looking to simplify as much as we can, based on what is written where and by whom,” he says.
“It’s a question of Sirius’s remaining nimble, agile and above all efficient in how we deal with our clients.”
The changes come in a year when the firm has seen some mixed financial results. In June Sirius Group announced that its second quarter results had been hit by prior year loss reserves relating to Typhoon Jebi, but that it continued to enjoy steady growth and that its underlying business is performing well.
The company posted a net profit of $111 million in the first half of 2019, down 21.1 percent from the $141 million it made in the same period a year ago. Its combined ratio rose to 99 percent for the first half of 2019, compared to 85 percent for the period last year.
Gross written premiums were $1,109 million year to date, a decrease of 1 percent compared to the same period last year.
Kip Oberting is the chief executive of Sirius Group. Monica Cramér Manhem is president of Sirius Group Global Reinsurance. They can be contacted at: www.siriusgroup.com/about/sirius-group/management
Sirius Group, Reinsurance, Kip Oberting, Monica Cramér Manhem, North America, Bermuda