Paul Voller, a Managing Director at Price Forbes, started his career at Alexander Howden. He started as a junior broker in 1974, at the tender age of 16, where he worked on all types of US Casualty business including Healthcare. He joined Lloyd Thompson in 1988, concentrating solely on the healthcare industry. He worked at Lloyd Thompson for 31 years through various reiterations through to JLT. In October 2019, following Lloyd Thompsons acquisition by Marsh, he started working at independent broker, Price Forbes, to run their healthcare team.
How has COVID-19 changed your daily life? In the beginning I was fretting. With no access to the office, no way of meeting with clients and underwriters face to face except through videoconferencing, I was concerned we wouldn’t be able to get things done. I love working in London and I love to travel, therefore two major parts of my life have been interrupted. That being said, I am surprised at how good the communication has been between ourselves, underwriters and clients. Other than those three words no one likes to hear “you’re on mute”, the days seem to go by quicker and we are in the groove. Now, I spend the time that I would have been sat on a train, walking our three dogs, and that has a pleasure in itself.
If you had to identify one positive aspect of the situation, what would it be? From a work perspective, I think the collaboration between, and the support of, clients, underwriters and colleagues has been a real confirmation that we’re getting it right. From a personal perspective, I feel fitter and have been able to relax more, even though I’m working at the same level as I was before lockdown and some days even harder. From a World perspective, I’ve witnessed how kind the human race can be if it wants to.
What has been the hardest aspect of the situation for you? Not being able to travel to meet with clients and not being able to meet face to face with colleagues and underwriters. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t miss the commute into London, but I do miss London itself. London is a wonderful place to work and visit and the [re]insurance market environment is unique, no where else like it in the world. I’m lucky.
What are your thought about when normal life will return? I think we’ll get close to normal, but I think we will be better prepared for the next pandemic. I think working habits will change; I can’t see everybody going back to working in the office. In the beginning, it was hard to even think about working from home, but here we still are, 15 weeks later. There are plans at our firm to have more non-client facing colleagues work from home, and have others rotate and come into London when necessary. I don’t think you’ll ever be able to replace the personal interaction that working in Llloyd’s brings, but it can work just as well with measured visits.
Do you believe the pandemic will highlight the importance of captives? I do. The market was already hardening before Covid-19 raised its ugly head, and some markets fear the consequence of what Covid-19 may bring in the way of claims against caregivers and employers. Even though the caregivers have been superhuman during this period, and there are feel good factors surrounding the local hospitals, big claims could follow. With the market in a state of flux it could bring Captives into play more than ever. The ability to assume risk and not rely on reinsurance; if coverage is too restrictive, cost too prohibitive or capacity isn't sufficient, is comforting for those clients that have an adequately funded captive
What advice would you give someone looking to start a captive in 2020? I’d say do it! Make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. It may tempting to form a captive during this hard market for obvious reasons but the captive should be formed with long term objectives in mind. To buy reinsurance in the soft market when rates are low and to retain risk when the cost or terms become prohibitive. Forming a captive just to save premium rarely brings success. I think we and USA Risk Group are lucky, because our clients understand the advantages of forming a captive and have therefore been successful and profitable in doing so.
What are your predictions on the future of the captive insurance market? In recent years, merger and acquisitions between healthcare providers has had a negative effect, by reducing the number of needed captives. We are now seeing more and more insureds exploring the captive vehicle as a way of being able to control their own destiny; I predict a growth in captives. Market capacity is shrinking and with that comes challenges in the completion of towers and resultant restriction in coverage. Co-insuring with markets is a prudent way of maximizing a captives use above the predictable.
Reach out to Paul Voller with any questions at PaulVoller@priceforbes.com