Introducing Dan Callow, IQUW's Lead Underwriter for Political Violence & War

At IQUW, we’re bringing together the most experienced underwriters in the market with unique data and intelligent automation capabilities to build a different type of multi-line insurance provider.

Dan Callow, our Lead Underwriter for Political Violence & War, has spent years underwriting complex and unpredictable Political Violence risks on both sides of the Atlantic. We asked him about the challenges of protecting clients operating in highly volatile regions, and why joining IQUW was an opportunity he couldn’t turn down…

Political Violence is a unique class of insurance. How did you get started in this area?

I began applying for jobs after university while working at a soccer camp in the US. This brought me into contact with an insurance recruiter, and by the time I was back in the UK, I had a couple of underwriting assistant interviews lined up. I didn’t know anyone in insurance or have any knowledge of the Lloyd’s market, but my first interview went well, and within weeks I was getting started in Talbot’s Terrorism, War and Marine division.

As my career developed, I got the chance to join our new US office on a six-month secondment. I went over in 2009 and ended up staying more than six years! It was a great opportunity to build out our US Terrorism & Political Violence (PV) book.

Our Group CEO Peter Bilsby is also formerly of Talbot. How important was Peter in shaping your decision to join IQUW?

I spoke to Peter about the opportunity in late 2020. What struck me mainly was the calibre of people he was looking to hire. While I knew some of them personally, many others I knew by reputation as some of the most skilled and experienced underwriters in the business.

For me, joining IQUW represented a different type of challenge. At Talbot, we already led a huge amount of business, whereas this role would allow our team to build something from scratch.

What does a typical week in your role look like?

When I began the role, we worked from home, so it was quite an unusual way to start a new company. For the last three months, however, I’ve been in the office three times a week on average, which has been a fantastic experience, giving everyone a chance to get to know one another.

Before lockdown, I was someone who spent most of the week at the Lloyd’s box seeing brokers. Post pandemic I expect to see more of a hybrid solution to negotiating with brokers and placing business, but I still expect Lloyd’s to play an important role.

Can you tell us a bit more about Political Violence & War and how you’re going about building the IQUW book?

All of our products are sold via Lloyd’s brokers, so that’s our primary audience for building the book.

Under our Political Violence product, we cover a wide range of threats, from property damage caused by terrorism or civil unrest to denial of access or loss of attraction. The product covers most occupancies you can think of – from banks and shopping centres to hotels and real estate. Strikes and civil commotion is a big focus area for us right now. The recent events in South Africa, last year’s riots in the US and Colombia, and the 2019 protests in Chile all evidence a global trend of increased civil unrest.

In addition, our War product class is designed for Aviation and Marine, insuring fleets and their cargo against war perils.

Some threats can have a long-term, nationwide impact. How do you go about managing IQUW’s overall exposure to these threats?

Our goal is to be a global player and to closely manage and monitor our aggregation around each peril. If it’s terrorism, this will mean we’re willing to write a certain amount of exposure within a pre-defined blast zone. For strikes and riots, we may decide on a city-wide level. For war, it’s based on a country level.

We’re setting out our principles based on many years of experience underwriting this risk and a strong understanding of how to spread the exposure effectively.

And how do you monitor and assess the risk as situations evolve?

We use analysis companies to get up-to-date information on what’s happening in every country in the world. We use many news feeds, a lot of reporting, different data sets, and we have aggregation tools to capture all the data we receive.

What sort of criteria will determine whether you write certain risks or turn them down?

First and foremost, we want to team up with clients who take risk management seriously.

So we’ll look at things like their crisis preparedness and management systems, whether they have proper security protocols in place, whether their buildings are built with bomb protection in mind – anything that suggests a clear focus on keeping people safe. In these instances, we know that our clients will react quickly to any emerging threat and that the resultant losses will probably be significantly lower.

What makes IQUW different to other Political Violence & War insurers?

Despite recent trends such as the rise in civil commotion cases, there’s still a huge amount of capacity in this market. So our focus is on providing a different way of doing things.

Not only are our underwriters hugely experienced and used to leading this type of business, but with the latest technology and pricing tools, we can work more efficiently and quicker than ever before. For example, with every broker submission in this product class, there are sanction checks, aggregate checks, wording checks, and many other processes to get through before we can get to underwriting. We’re building systems to automatically complete these checks so our underwriters can focus specifically on the risk itself. This will improve turnaround times to brokers and ultimately improve efficiencies.

We’ll also be looking to underwrite Political Violence & War risks to complement decisions made elsewhere in IQUW. The reality is that perils such as terrorism are always an exclusion across most types of commercial insurance. By combining our team’s expertise with the other IQUW classes, we’re able to write these exclusions back in, in a way that works for both parties.

What are your main priorities for the year ahead?

We’re on a big drive to educate the market about our offering – both through the Lloyd’s brokers and directly to clients. The prospective client base is so broad within these product classes that awareness ranges significantly. Some clients will be S&P 250 businesses, but we could equally be selling to the owner of a single office block or block of apartments.

Ultimately, we want to work closely with the brokers to make sure we’re selling the right products and the right level of protection to each client. For example, a client might approach us about buying a terrorism policy, when in fact, they’d be better served by a full Political Violence policy that covers every eventuality.

Finally, what do you want IQUW to be known for in the market?

Over the next 12-24 months, I want us to be considered a go-to provider for Political Violence & War peril. It can be a morbid subject for businesses to contemplate, but without protection, the picture is far worse. We’re here to help them get back up and running as quickly as possible after a major incident.

We have lead capabilities, we can offer the most up-to-date coverages, and brokers can get an answer from us faster than the competition.

Dan Callow PV and War
Callow PV & War