IGI Opens for Business in Europe
Keith Mallia-Milanes, chief executive officer, International General Insurance Company (Europe) SE – IGI Europe, outlined IGI’s ambitious plans to expand in Europe from its new Maltese base.
What role does your new European office play within IGI?
Our new European subsidiary in Malta, which has been set up to directly access business across the continent, is strategically very important to the IGI group.
Before the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union, our footprint in mainland Europe was managed through relationships between our UK-based underwriters and London-based international brokers. When we were granted authorization by the Malta Financial Services Authority on 13 July 2021, we were delighted to re-affirm our position in Europe post-Brexit, and open for business to our European clients and brokers.
We’ve been extremely pleased with the positive reception we’ve received since we opened our doors, shown by the unexpectedly high number of approaches and contacts from clients and brokers. That augurs well for our ambitious plans to develop our European business.
We were delighted to re-affirm our position in Europe post-Brexit.
The same thing can also be said of the Maltese market. Since we are based on the island we will also be servicing and providing capacity domestically. The Maltese market has recently experienced a shortage of capacity in certain lines of business, and we have already managed to fill in some gaps. The move into Europe through Malta has been welcomed by Maltese insurance brokers too.
What lines of business are you focusing on in Europe?
IGI writes a good number of lines, including reinsurance and we’ve recently added Marine Trades and Contingency. Most of the lines or products that the group writes in the UK are also available in Europe.
The Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) has authorized IGI Europe to write a full suite of products and we are now exercising passporting rights across the European Economic Area.
We intend to build on IGI’s reputation as an agile and disciplined underwriter and deliver the best insurance solutions to European clients through our focus and ingenuity.
Why did IGI open its European office in Malta?
Operating from Malta presents a good business growth opportunity and will better enable IGI to serve its European clients.
We looked at several possible jurisdictions, but Malta proved to be the best fit.
We looked at several possible jurisdictions, but Malta proved to be the best fit. The country has a reputation for good, professional working relationships between its insurance operators and the regulator. Also, English is a commonly-spoken national language and the Maltese insurance market, which is a mature one, follows the UK’s practices of the market.
How would you characterise the state of the European commercial insurance market?
IGI moved into the European market at the right time. Players were moving out or reducing capacity, with some important lines of business still experiencing price hardening. From our point of view, the state of the market is good, and so it’s attractive to us. It will provide us with marked growth potential as well as geographical diversification and spread.
Is the hard market coming to an end after 18 months of strong price increases?
Pricing seems to be flattening out in some short-tail lines of business. The picture seems different in casualty, however, which is currently our leading line of business. This is very encouraging, and we will try to take advantage of this opportunity as much as we can.
What lines of business are seeing growth in Europe?
Although we are a niche player with a wide range of products, our Financial Institutions and Casualty lines of business are doing well, and we expect to maintain this momentum. IGI’s return to the Marine Cargo business has helped us to position ourselves well in several European markets. We already have a few facilities already in place. We’re also in other Marine lines. Also, we will cautiously monitor the potential in the aviation, property, engineering, and energy classes, so we can find a position in these lines too.
How can IGI Europe stand out from the crowd?
IGI’s reputation as a stable underwriter that is agile and innovative is now being extended into the European market. We are gradually building up a professional team on the ground supported by the various technical and operational units within the IGI group that will be able to respond to clients’ and brokers’ needs.
Also, I strongly believe that the ratings we were assigned within weeks of authorization speak volumes and support our development plans. S&P assigned an “A-” financial strength rating, while AM Best assigned an “A” financial strength rating – both with stable outlooks. The agencies cited IGI Europe’s strategic relationship with, and support from, IGI as key factors in their rating decisions, as well as IGI’s balance sheet strength and its track record of strong operating performance. The backing of our parent company is vital for us as we build and grow.