“The industry really does look to specialty writers to be at the forefront of innovation,” says Gail McGiffin.

Executive Summary

Specialty insurance carriers are known for being leaders of insurance innovation. According to Gail McGiffin, a principal in EY insurance practice and EY global underwriting leader, their "toolset" includes their flexibility to write for both admitted and non‑admitted markets, their ability to create and test new products quickly, and their skill in reusing components and repeating processes. They, like all carriers, face challenges such as a need to invest in technology and control costs. As for where these talented underwriters will be for tomorrow's products, McGiffin is certain: "The pace of innovation and underwriting sophistication has to keep up with the pace of what's happening with technology and data in the world around us."

Specialty insurance carriers have a unique “toolset” that helps them grow through innovation. This toolset includes their flexibility to write for both admitted and non‑admitted markets, their appetite for developing new coverage that is untested and making adjustments as the product performs, and more recently, their growing skill in reusing product components and repeating creative processes efficiently.

McGiffin, a principal in EY’s insurance practice and an EY global underwriting leader, who works with carriers looking to innovate and grow, shared her insights in a recent conversation with Carrier Management.

Specialty and excess and surplus carriers come in all sizes and shapes. There are global carriers that have dedicated specialty divisions. There are the “pure-play” specialty writers, some of which were started in the 1980s or even more recently. There are other traditional carriers that when they go direct in commercial lines are tending to go after excess and surplus business. The alternative capital category may also be seen as a form of specialty. The widening definition also encompasses program business.

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