“You have to focus on what you’re good at and what your customers
think you’re good at. If the market is doing well and we’re not, that’s
“If the market isn’t doing well, then you need to decide if that
market is ever going to turn—and if it’s not, why are we bothering
there when there are other areas where we can be focusing our
energies and creating more value for our customers?” he says.
Devil in the detail
The key to success in this market, as Benchimol and Arora underline,
“It is easy for a reinsurer to say it wants to be more agile, the
difficult thing is executing on that,” Arora explains. “How we do that
is by having a clear vision, disciplined risk management and a strong
Arora feels that there is rapid change in the reinsurance market
at the moment, and that it requires a different style of reinsurer to
be successful in the future as standards are being raised across the
board in how companies interact with clients. He reiterates that
AXIS Re has already invested in key metrics to meet those changing
Both executives underline the fact that increased access to data has
given companies a more granular view of their own performance,
allowing them to better analyse where they are profitable and where
they are not.
This means companies can respond to mis-pricings in risk in
individual lines, rather than repricing all businesses because of
challenges in specific areas—such as a couple of bad hurricane
According to Benchimol, the personal lines and life insurance lines
have done a good job of analysing the data that is available and have
been adjusting their business accordingly. Specialty lines are now
starting to catch up.
However, as he points out, the speciality market can learn from
the mistakes made in the past by personal lines and life insurance,
allowing them to avoid those errors and focus on the path ahead
—a path that leads to the same message that he and Arora underline
all the way through their comments: that for AXIS, now is its
in technology, analytics and digital, and we’ve invested in talent,
bringing in some great people,” he says.
As a result, Benchimol believes, AXIS is in a good place in London
for the future.
Growing AXIS Re
He’s particularly proud of where the company is with regard to
reinsurance. He acknowledges that, historically, AXIS Re has been
a respected broker market participant, certainly making the top 15.
However, he says, under Steve Arora’s leadership the company has
focused its efforts and raised its ambitions.
Arora became chief executive officer of AXIS Re in October 2017.
He says that although AXIS Re remains just outside the top 10 global
reinsurers, the company is focused on breaking into that group.
“We are repositioning ourselves to be more client-centric, because
this business is all about how you interact with your clients,” says
“For example, we are very proud of our claims performance.
Globally, on average, we make our payments in five business days,
and that increases customer satisfaction.”
AXIS is pushing this ambition forward against a backdrop of what
some have described as the early stages of a hard market—potentially
meaning that a good period for AXIS Re lies ahead. Benchimol,
however, is sceptical about this—he believes selecting the right lines
and being tough on price is as important as ever.
“This is not a hard market,” he says. “You have to select your spots—
you have to know what to write. Thinking about markets in terms
of being ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ is no longer useful. This is an underwriter’s
market, a disciplined market, a correcting market.”
Despite this, Benchimol and Arora are both optimistic that AXIS as
a whole can benefit from the present state of the market—as well as
the overall big picture.
As Benchimol puts it: “This is a new era for reinsurance, these are
tough times, but also exciting times.
“There is a lot of economic volatility, driven by geopolitical risk
and by protection gaps, climate risk, changing client portfolios and
advances in technology. Our job is to be more responsive to all those
“We have invested in technology, analytics and digital, and
we’ve invested in talent, bringing in some great people.”