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Axis exits property reinsurance in major overhaul

Reinsurance chief executive Arora departs in strategic overhaul refocusing on specialty underwriting  

Axis Capital is to exit property reinsurance in a major overhaul of the business that will see it focus on specialty underwriting and expand its insurance products for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Following weeks of speculation over whether it will sell its reinsurance arm, the Bermuda-based company said it was committed to this division but would refocus its risk appetite on lower-volatility business.

This will see the reinsurance arm focus on casualty, specialty, accident and health (A&H) and credit lines.

As part of this change, Axis Re chief executive, Steve Arora, will leave the business at the end of the year.

The overhaul will see Vince Tizzio elevated to chief executive of specialty insurance and reinsurance with a broader remit to lead a “globally integrated approach” to drive growth in the group’s key markets.

This will see Axis introduce new products “to meet the diverse needs of the global specialty market”, including new offerings specifically designed for SMEs.

Axis will also look to develop new “digitised solutions”, appointing Linda Ventresca as head of digital.

Former Hartford executive Tizzio joined Axis is January to advise on insurance market strategy.

Tizzio will oversee the business’s core insurance divisions, which include wholesale, international, financial lines, A&H and cyber, as well as Axis Re. Following Arora’s exit, Ann Haugh has been appointed chief executive of Axis Re, reporting to Tizzio.

“We are simplifying our organisational structure and aligning our resources to advance leadership in specialty underwriting,” Albert Benchimol, president and chief executive of Axis Capital, said.

“[This] is part of a multi-year effort to build on the significant progress Axis has made to generate consistent profitable results, reduce earnings volatility and grow a stronger overall book of business, all with an eye toward better serving customers and providing increased value to our shareholders,” he added.

Axis said the exit from property reinsurance was part of an “overall approach” to reduce its exposure to volatile catastrophe risk.

The company will honour all multi-year treaties and outstanding quotes but will no longer consider new property and catastrophe reinsurance business.

“We have completed the refocusing of the reinsurance business to align with our overarching goal of being a leading specialist reinsurer,” Haugh said. “With these actions, we provide clarity on Axis Re’s long-term risk appetite, the sustainability and predictability of our approach and our go-forward priorities.”

The group also announced it is consolidating underwriting analytics and actuarial support functions under a global chief underwriting officer.

A search is under way to fill this role.

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