James Daykin

"A leader needs to be at the top of its game”

Newly appointed Marine and Energy Liability Line Underwriter, James Daykin, highlights his commitment to market leadership and emphasises the importance of expertise, service, empathy, consistency, and adaptability. 

What does it mean to be a market leader in marine and energy liability?

A market leader needs to be at the top of its game for each of the phases of when a risk comes to market.

It means having teams of experts who have a deeper technical understanding than the other players and who are empowered to make important decisions. Customers want to be confident that the underwriter setting their terms and conditions fully understands the sectors in which these customers operate. 

A leader needs to understand a customer’s needs. Insurance is cyclical and so too are many of the businesses that our customers operate in, but those cycles don’t necessarily overlap. A longstanding customer with a good loss record may be feeling the pinch, and a leader needs to understand that insurance is such a significant spend that if we had a very dogged one-size-fits-all approach we could be the reason that it doesn’t grow or even goes out of business. It’s important we have empathy with the customer, listen and understand their needs and design a policy that fits their needs.

A market leader must also consistently provide great service. Many markets think that their service starts when they receive the submission and ends when they put their line down on the slip. But a good leader needs to serve a customer’s changing needs throughout a policy’s duration. A leader must respond quickly, otherwise you may delay a deal that could be crucial to the customer’s future. It may sell an operation, or buy one, start a new subsidiary, or sign a contract that means that its insurance needs change from when they originally took out the policy. So, we need to be on hand in case brokers need us to make a mid-term adjustment in a hurry. That's partly why we’re so keen to be at our Box at Lloyd’s.

Finally, being a good leader involves providing a quality claims-handling service. We effectively sell a promise to pay, and many companies choose Lloyd’s because they expect their claims to be handled quickly, efficiently, and fairly. A leader ensures that that service is delivered. They depend on us, so it’s essential that we service their business quickly and fairly.  

What are the most important elements of underwriting when dealing with customers and brokers?

The first word that springs to mind is consistency. Customers and brokers want to know that you will remain consistent, whether that’s your participation on a particular placement, or how you support a customer that encounters a problem. If they know they can depend on you then you build trust and develop a long-term relationship with them that can stand the test of time and weather the market cycles.

Over the past 20 years there have been a lot of new regulatory controls, such as contract certainty and the standardised MRC slip format. So, it’s in everyone’s best interests to ensure policies avoid ambiguity, and brokers should have the confidence that the leader is capable and willing to assist them. 

It’s also important that you’re willing to develop your risk appetite. The marine and energy sector is changing rapidly, and our customers are investing in new technology or operating in parts of the world that are new to them. So, we need to be open to meet their evolving needs.

Since the pandemic, companies have been under pressure from the global economic headwinds, growing regulatory scrutiny and staff shortages, so brokers have increasingly sought our advice on how best to structure their liability tower. We’re happy to discuss their needs and work with them to find the best solution, whether it’s the need to adjust for a reduction in underlying limit, reduce expenditure or tailor coverage to fill in the gaps created by other insurances.

How do you see underwriting evolving over the next five years? 

We will continue to see further strides taken in how we can better capture data and then use it to price and model risk more accurately. Underwriters are becoming more adept at making the most of this being a traditional class with plenty of historic data that we can use to understand loss frequency and severity much better, to help us to innovate further and enhance our products and services.

There will also be a greater focus on policy wordings to ensure that our products remain relevant given the significant change in what our customers do.

Why should brokers and their customers choose Hiscox?

We want to develop deep, long-term relationships with both our brokers and customers. We really wish to get to know and understand how their businesses operate, as this deeper knowledge will enable us to prepare to underwrite tomorrow’s emerging risks. 

We put a big emphasis on trading face-to-face with brokers, so that we’re on hand when people need us most. Hiscox has well-established products and one of the broadest marine and energy liability risk appetites within Lloyd's. Combine that with our well-resourced, expert claims team and we're in an excellent position to meet our customers’ needs.