Canadian Underwriter

Seeing Double

May 25, 2011   by Suzanne Sharma

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Joe Restoule (left), president of the McGannon Foundation, receives a cheque from Catlin CEO Michael Hansen at the RIMS Canada conference in Edmonton.

Company: Catlin Canada

President and CEO: Michael Hansen
Year Founded: 2005
Public or Private: Part of the Catlin Group
Premiums/Year: 2010 CDN $105 million
# of Employees: 60

Beginnings: Over the last 10 years, the Catlin Group, a worldwide underwriter of specialty P&C insurance and reinsurance, has been expanding its business on a global scale. Catlin Canada was established in 2005 as part of this strategy. Canada was a natural place to launch an underwriting operation due to the amount of Canadian business Catlin was underwriting in London, England, via wholesale brokers, says Michael Hansen, president and CEO of Catlin Canada. “To truly maximize our opportunity we recognized that we needed to be physically present. We are committed to building a full-service hub for the Group in Canada, with dedicated, experienced Canadian market practitioners who can provide a premier level of service to the domestic insurance industry.”

Reason to Watch: Catlin Canada has doubled its underwriting income in the last two years, entering a number of new lines of business including energy, D&O, E&O, and construction. The new lines complement existing businesses in aviation and marine. This was achieved by researching a market segment (both domestically and internally) and analyzing whether it was a good fit for the firm over the long term. Hansen stresses Catlin Canada is not interested in short-term opportunities and will not dabble in lines of business, as that strategy has historically proven to be a recipe for disaster.

Once a line of business is identified as being potentially profitable, Catlin Canada recruits the best available teams and underwriters in the local market to support it, says Hansen. He adds one of the benefits the company is able to offer its employees [and clients] is its ties to Lloyd’s, which has a strong brand and reputation in Canada. “As the larget syndicate of Lloyd’s, we can offer all of the benefits that Lloyd’s underwriters traditionally offered to the Canadian market, but with the significant added advantage of being locally domiciled with experienced Canadian practitioners. We believe this is a powerful combination that is at the cornerstone of our success to date.”

Recent Triumphs: One of Catlin’s greatest accomplishments, according to Hansen, is building a strong aviation underwriting team, with offices in both Calgary and Toronto. The company is the only firm that has full authority for all lines of aviation business, from Air Canada and WestJet to individual private pilot, he says. This puts Catlin Canada in a unique position for Canadian airline insurance business.

“This class is typically syndicated across 15 to 20 companies worldwide due to the high values and limits of liability the carriers must purchase,” he says. “The leading insurer is responsible for setting terms and conditions, and managing any claim activities up to, and including, a major incident. Typically this business has always been led in the European markets as that is where the majority of expertise resides. We are the only Canadian-domiciled insurer whose underwriters physically lead this class of business.”

Challenges: Catlin Canada recently underwent extensive restructuring and added a number of new underwriters. This required integrating a lot of people into the company at once, he points out. “The integration has been accomplished through a clear vision and regular communication from the management. We’ve developed our long-term strategy, informed the staff at the appropriate times, kept them updated, and fundamentally stuck to our plan.”

New Ventures: Hansen was unable to go into detail at press time due to business sensitivity and confidentiality; however, he does reveal Catlin Canada has two key initiatives underway relating to geographic and product line expansion.

One of them is to begin a new line of underwriting reinsurance business in 2011. Additionally, Catlin Canada is implementing a new system for the production of documentation, which will aim to improve both the quality and delivery speed of policies.

Quote from CEO: “If we believe in a market’s long-term potential, we will seek out the best people, develop a plan, and then aim to deliver as quickly as the opportunity will allow.”

Catlin Canada Charitable Cause:

  • $25,000 to the William H. McGannon Foundation
  • Support for local children’s charities during the Christmas season
    Toronto Head Office: 36 Toronto Street, Suite 1210, Toronto, Ontario M5C 2C5
    Telephone Number: 416-644-3312

© Copyright 2010 Rogers Publishing Ltd. This article first appeared in the October 2010 edition of Canadian Insurance Top Broker magazine.

This story was originally published by Canadian Insurance Top Broker.