As the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies’ annual conference got underway this week, Willis Re North America President James Kent said he was bullish about the possibilities for his company.
“As far as Willis Re North America is concerned, we have achieved outstanding substantial growth numbers, despite the challenges of the current reinsurance market and the pricing around it, and consolidation by a number of clients,” Kent told Carrier Management at the start of the NAMIC conference just outside of Washington D.C. “We are on course to achieve continued growth in 2014 and have high expectations forwards.”
Kent explained: “Since 2011 we segment our business into business class lines to ensure that our clients are matched up with the requisite expertise needed to help [their] business. We continue to invest in people and have made a number of hires who have had a meaningful impact for our clients and our business over the last few years. We’ve made small acquisitions, the most recent being on the accident and health side and feel very bullish about the market possibilities in this segment and the ability to grow our clients’ business.”
Corporate parent Willis Group announced one of those acquisitions Kent was referring to just a few weeks ago: division parent and reinsurance intermediary Willis Re has snatched up SurePoint Reinsurance Advisors LLC, a professional advisory and reinsurance brokering firm offering specialist services to insurance companies in the accident and health/employee benefits market.
Kent said that that, along with other deals and business initiatives, reflects Willis Re’s strong growth success in a difficult reinsurance environment.
“We feel that in the current environment, the pressures of less premium in the market, reinsurance consolidation by many buyers, and increased client retentions challenge the opportunity to grow,” Kent said. “But we feel very good about our product offerings, which means that we are able to grow despite those headwinds.”
Kent said that includes tools and resources created to help serve clients, including a number of third party joint venture arrangements.
Part of that growth comes from Willis Re’s business with mutual insurers. Kent said that Willis Re, a NAMIC conference sponsor, had a presence at the conference because “the mutuals form a meaningful part of our business.”
“It is an area where we have grown substantially over the last decade,” he said, noting Willis Re managers are at the conference “to support our brokers in managing our client relationships [and] we are seeing a number of prospects while we are here.”