FARMINGTON, Conn., July 24, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Leading specialist insurer Beazley recorded strong growth in the first half of 2014 on business underwritten locally in the United States. Gross written premiums rose 14% over the same period in 2013, to $238.2 million.
"The rationale behind our expansion into the U.S. market was to gain access to business that would not normally be seen by underwriters at Lloyd's," Beazley chief executive officer Andrew Horton told the company's investors on Tuesday. "This has proven to be the case."
As a Lloyd's insurer, Beazley has always had a strong orientation towards the U.S. market. In 1986, the company's first year in business, co-founder Andrew Beazley underwrote insurance for U.S. lawyers and for architects and engineers – still important lines of business for Beazley today. But it was not until 2004 that the company began to build a local underwriting and claims service presence in the U.S.
The goal was to access business lines that Beazley already underwrote, but writing smaller risks of the kind that do not normally cross the Atlantic to the Lloyd's market. Much of this smaller scale business was written in the U.S. admitted market, and Beazley's U.S admitted carrier, Beazley Insurance Company, Inc., opened its doors in 2005.
In the past year and a half, as the U.S. economy has gathered pace following the post-2008 recession, Beazley has accelerated its investment in the U.S., hiring 21 new underwriters and opening new offices in Miami and Dallas. Beazley now has 92 underwriters in the U.S. working out of ten offices. Six locations – New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, Los Angeles and San Francisco – have been designated for "hub" offices, offering multiple products to local brokers.
The majority of Beazley's locally underwritten U.S. business is in specialty lines – predominantly management liability and professional liability. Beazley's specialty lines division is the company's largest, accounting for 36% of total group premiums, or $385.3m, worldwide, in the first half of 2014. In an insurance market that is becoming increasingly competitive, rates have held firm for specialty lines business, rising by 1% in the first half of the year.
In addition to specialty lines, Beazley underwrites excess and surplus commercial property, accident and health, political risks, and contingency business locally in the U.S.
Adrian Cox, head of Beazley's specialty lines division, relocated to the U.S. in August 2013 for a two year period to oversee the continued development of the company's U.S. operations. "We've built a first rate insurance business in the United States," he said, "one capable of offering brokers access to some of the most talented and innovative underwriters in the market, backed by excellent service. We've weathered a financial crisis and the deepest recession since the second world war. We're hoping that our second decade here may prove a little less eventful, but we're ready, whatever comes."
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