Executive Vice President,
Everest Re Group
At Warp Speed
When Everest Re president
and CEO Dominic Addesso
addressed shareholders at the
end of 2016, he took pride
in pointing out recent hire
As president of Everest Insurance North America, Zaffino
justified the hire by running all out in 2016, standing up nine
business segments and bringing more than 100 products
And his work isn’t done; Everest continues its expansion,
fueling this by hiring more than 300 new colleagues in the
last few years, as it transitions from a company focused on
programs to a broader, global specialty company.
Zaffino, with the new title of executive vice president,
Everest Re Group, is the one leading the transition in Everest
Re’s insurance operations.
“We, as an organization, decided to be much more present,
visible and capable in the broader definition of a specialty
insurer. That included significantly expanding our capabilities
in the direct broker business — both retail and wholesale,”
One of Zaffino’s challenging tasks is bringing together new
hires from more than 70 companies and getting them to sing
from the same songbook. The lyrics involve embracing the
Everest underwriting culture, which — among other things
— means finding the right price for the risk regardless of line,
client or geography.
Historically, Everest Re has had the right underwriting
formula, averaging more than $1 billion in net income from
2012 through 2016. Its combined ratio over that same period
averaged an enviable 87.
But then came the third quarter of 2017 with CAT
losses squeezing more than $100 billion in surplus out of
the insurance markets. Zaffino, like others, knows he’s in a
transitioning market, but Everest Re possesses a robust and
highly rated balance sheet.
Over the past 20-plus years, the company demonstrated its
firm grip on the long view. Zaffino’s task is to build on top of
that formidable foundation, moving quickly to reposition the
face of the insurance operation.
“We’re moving quickly because we see opportunity,”
And where does he see the markets going in 2018?
“Prior to the third quarter CAT activity, we were seeing a
lot of fatigue in certain lines of business,” he said.
“The property lines began to renew at flat pricing,
commercial auto lines were receiving needed rate adjustments,
and pockets of other lines also started to come under increased
“We believe that the general theme of rates adjusting
upward is an accurate statement at this time, but we don’t
believe it will be a linear march. The ultimate outcome will be
sorted out line by line, geography by geography, risk by risk.”
— Dan Reynolds
President, Europe, Allied World
Following an acquisition and a significant reorganization,
Allied World Insurance has entered an exciting new phase,
one that will no doubt be marked by the same robust growth
that has marked its history for the past 16 years.
As the insurer’s new head of European business, Ed
Moresco comes across as confident about the company’s
position in the face of global change and is more than ready
to roll up his sleeves.
“If you look at Allied World as an organization, the term we like to use is that we punch
above our weight class,” said Moresco. “We are quite often pitted against carriers that are
maybe twice the size, three times our size just in terms of premium and market cap.”
The international operation, however, has not yet reached that level, which is where
Moresco will focus his attention for the upcoming year and beyond.
“We’re gaining relevance in the market, but we’re certainly not to the point where we’re
critical to the space,” he said. “So our focus over the next two to three years is really to get to
that point where we are viewed as a critical market.”
To get there amid an environment of global volatility, he said, his operations will remain
focused on the organization’s strength in technical underwriting.
“We’ve lived that mantra and that ethos throughout our growth as an organization,”
he said. “Staying close to the brokers and the clients and staying true to our technical
underwriting will be critical, especially in these uncertain times.” — Michelle Kerr
Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions and
Tax Insurance, Ironshore
Guiding Global Growth in M&A
In the two years since Ironshore established its M&A
and tax insurance unit, the insurer has doubled down on
its effort to become a global leader in the market. The
original 10-person underwriting team is now a 40-person
powerhouse of specialists spread across nine countries.
Gross written premium increased from about $60 million in
2014 to $240 million in 2017 as Ironshore built up business in the U.S., Canada and Latin
Rowan Bamford, Global Head of Mergers & Acquisitions and Tax Insurance, is charged
with extending that growth to emerging markets around the world.
Harnessing global growth without entering unprofitable markets prematurely — while
keeping Ironshore’s product compliant with local laws and regulations — ultimately comes
down to people and patience.
“Recruiting experienced underwriters and regional managers is critical,” Bamford said.
“I have to fully trust that the people reporting to me can quickly adapt to the challenges
inherent in new markets.”
Due diligence is also key. Bamford puts in time on the road, meeting with legal experts to
better understand the unique regulatory and political environments of each target market.
“That helps us understand the nuances of local markets and determine where our product
will work and where it won’t,” he said. “We’re not scared to spend the time doing research,
finding where we should be doing business and who the right people to guide us are.”
While M&A volume will be highest in the U.S., transactions in new territories will
continue in 2018.
“The M&A market is growing at the fastest rate in the U.S., and the tax insurance market
is likely to grow significantly next year. Companies are just as likely to look at prospects
in Mexico City as in Kansas City. Offering our product legally in places where M&A
insurance has never existed before will be both our challenge and our opportunity in 2018,”
Bamford said. — Katie Dwyer