Am Re’s Shevawn Barder on uniting Asia with the US

February 19 2020 by Andrew Tjaardstra

InsuranceAsia News spoke with Shevawn Barder, chief executive of Am Re Syndicate, about how the firm works with Asian clients and why firms are looking to expand their exposure to US markets.

Am Re is a boutique specialist reinsurer provider that works with fronting companies and cedants; it has offices in New York and London.

InsuranceAsia News (IAN): How do you work with Asian (re)insurers and why are they looking to diversify to the US market?

Barder: Am Re works with Asian securities because of their financial strength. These companies are A rated and sovereign. They take a long-term view and look at us as equal partners. As their agents, we are able to sell their top quality security to domestic US insurance companies.

These securities are looking for diversification to their domestic portfolios and by appointing us as their agents in the US, they rely on us to identify and write only the best reinsurance business through our domestic platform.

IAN: Which areas are in most demand for your services in the US?

Barder: Am Re is a programme reinsurer, meaning we underwrite grassroots US domestic specialty reinsurance, on a quota share platform. Am Re underwrites low value, non nat cat and well spread specialty reinsurance.

We write five different classes in the specialty space – this is our niche. Therefore, the appeal for Asian securities is that our portfolio provides diversification with a spread of business both in terms of class and geographically. We adhere to a model of low value combined single limit and have a high level of expertise having traded in this space for 20 years. Simon [Barder], Am Re’s chief underwriting officer, and I are both originally Lloyd’s trained. We also have technical primary underwriters with strong levels of training.

Am Re is recognised and well respected in the market. We have in house analytics with a proprietary database that has been built up over our trading history. We are able to benchmark all business opportunities and stress test them through our underwriting model, and control aggregates and nat cat exposure to keep to a minimum. We have a strong track record of profit and our overheads are controlled and our expense model is very reasonable.

We also have proprietary software that further supports our business model.

We believe that business is relationship driven and in this market our company has to stand out. We provide a high level of service to all our clients. Part of this process is concentrating on communication with all parties in the chain and understanding how to provide value added services. We feel that we bring added value to our securities, the fronting companies and MGAs alike.

IAN: What do you see as the main challenges and opportunities in the global marine market?

Barder: There are several challenges in the global marine market at present. Lloyd’s of London is currently trying to address some of these issues. We specialise in the primary US market, so we don’t play in that space. We are a purely US domestic specialty reinsurance player and don’t compete with Lloyd’s or international market players. That is why our model is so compelling by keeping our rating structure stronger, more robust and our geographic footprint well organised. It is a completely unique model.

IAN: What are the opportunities in cyber reinsurance?

Barder: We currently do not write cyber reinsurance. We would like to have the capacity to write cyber, as it is an expanding area of business that is forward moving. It is a class that will have significant growth in the US. It is quickly becoming a class of insurance that is a regulatory requirement for most businesses. Staying true to our model, we would like to write SME cyber that is low value and grassroots.

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