Insight Report: Specialty Insurance – Key Trends and Opportunities in the Market

Date: 2015-09

“A challenging property and casualty market, along with weakening profitability, led to the growth of the specialty insurance market, which is becoming increasingly global in nature with specialty carriers trending in similar lines and facing common issues. The global outlook for specialty insurance is positive for 2014–2018.

The US is the largest market for specialty insurance
Specialty insurance includes high-hazard insurance, non-standard general insurance, niche market segments, bespoke underwriting, and excess and surplus lines insurance. As there is no standard definition for specialty insurance, estimating the market size is complicated. The global market size for specialty insurance, in terms of gross written premium, was estimated to be in the range of US$140–180 billion in 2013. The US is the largest specialty insurance market, contributing more than 50% of the overall gross written premium in 2013.

Market capacity for cyber-liability insurance is growing rapidly
Growing rates of cybercrime and data breaches have increased demand for insurance protection against cyber-attacks. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in June 2014, total global losses due to cybercrime stood at US$445 billion in 2013. The cyber liability market is a growing opportunity for specialty carriers. In 2013, the market capacity for the US cyber liability insurance was estimated at US$1 billion, and is expected to cross US$2 billion by the end of 2014. Other than the US, European economies are the key markets for cyber-liability insurance. Although the European cyber-liability market is relatively small at present, it is growing at an annual average rate of 50%.

Superior underwriting profits driving growth
Specialty insurance is a high-risk, high-return market characterized by underwriting profitability. The underwriting cycles for specialty insurance products are currently in a difficult market phase, resulting in higher underwriting profits for insurers. On average, specialty carriers across the world generate strong underwriting profitability in comparison to property and casualty insurers. However, their exposures to catastrophic risks led to record losses in 2011 as a result of the earthquake in Japan and the Thai floods.

Lack of underwriting talent the biggest obstacle to growth
The success of specialty carriers depends on the pool of underwriting and actuarial talent. High risk levels and the complex nature of specialty products require expert knowledge for profitable underwriting, and sourcing and retaining qualified professionals has become a fundamental problem for specialty insurers across the world. This is expected to result in significant wage inflation over 2014–2018. To address this issue, insurers are focusing on developing in-house talent through internal programs. Many specialty insurers depend on syndicates of underwriting experts such as Lloyd’s.”

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