Spotlight on casualty: a conversation with BHSI’s Mathias Neumann

Mathias Neumann, head of casualty at Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance in Germany, discusses the state of the local casualty insurance market and what insureds in today’s market value most.

How would you describe the state of the casualty market in Germany as we move into 2022?
While some industries and market segments are facing significant challenges, most are navigating an only slightly hardening casualty market, with modest premium increases. There are some exceptions, including automotive suppliers, pharmaceutical and chemical companies, which are seeing more substantial premium increases and less capacity available – leading to more co-insurers on these programmes. The mid-market remains a soft market.

At the same time, companies are still suffering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, including severe supply chain challenges and surging energy costs. It’s an extremely challenging time.

What casualty products does BHSI offer today?
We offer both primary and excess casualty lines, including general and products Liability, EIL, EDL, recall (automotive and non-automotive), and CAR/EAR. Our primary targets are large and corporate risks in manufacturing and distribution, construction, and energy and energy-related sectors. With our global network, we are able to provide companies with locally issued policies in 170 countries – and we are seeing a growing number of requests now to lead multinational casualty programmes.

Tell us about BHSI’s casualty team and your growth in Germany.
We have been steadily expanding both our team and our casualty portfolio. Our underwriters are highly experienced and well known in the local market. Customers know we are not just a capacity provider but here to problem-solve and provide them with unique solutions – tailored to both their exposures and their geographic footprint.

As companies navigate a challenging market, we are here to help. If we do not participate on a programme, we try to find a way to step into it and add value. If we already participate, we try to find alternative solutions (such as higher deductibles/SIR) to lessen the premium increase or to increase our limit where it fits our appetite.

With this solutions-oriented underwriting approach, we have nearly doubled our casualty portfolio in 2021, and we continue to expand our team.   

What are companies looking for in the casualty market now – and how does BHSI deliver it?
Especially as they see capacity shrinking, companies are prioritising continuity and certainty. And when we at BHSI say we are committed to being a long-term partner, they trust that we mean it. They know we have the financial strength and the deep knowledge of casualty risks to deliver long-term solutions and the multinational capabilities to adapt their programme as their business strategies change and they move in (or out) of territories over time.

In addition, from day one, customers understand our ‘Claims is Our Product’ philosophy – which ensures that everyone is on the same page, clear on how coverage will respond in the event of a claim, and also on how claims will be handled in terms of choosing counsel, etc. They understand that this philosophy means that when a claim occurs, our predisposition is to find a way to cover it for them, just as when we underwrite, our predisposition is to find a way to say ‘yes, we can tailor that coverage for you’. All of this translates to certainty.

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