April 5, 2023

Leading on Healthcare: In Conversation with Alex Clark

Insights London Market

In conversation with Alex Clark, Senior Healthcare Underwriter, we discuss the opportunities in the sector, how Arch is positioning itself in the market, and how his broking background influences his underwriting approach.

What specific areas of the Healthcare market are you focused on?

Our primary focus is US hospitals, which represents around 80% of our healthcare book. As a lead market, while we prefer to write primary or high-excess layers, we will consider any layer on a particular tower, which is a unique selling point for our brokers.

Our portfolio also includes other types of healthcare, including senior living, rehabilitation, as well as physicians’ excess.

Where are you seeing the most opportunities for growth?

The reopening of courts post-pandemic has sparked an increase in the frequency and severity of claims, with some carriers in our market making tough decisions to either reduce their capacity or reassess their appetite. These decisions are creating additional opportunities for us.

Further, the continued M&A activity we’re seeing between healthcare systems is also creating new underwriting opportunities.

While Arch continues to focus on core US business, we’re also looking to grow our presence in other territories, such as Australia.

What are the most pressing issues currently facing your brokers and clients?

Organisations are experiencing financial challenges resulting from factors including labour-cost inflation, supply-chain issues and increased settlement/verdict values.

Compounding this, investment returns have been eroded while support from the US Department of the Treasury through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act has largely been withdrawn, adding to balance-sheet pressures.

Healthcare providers are looking at where they can make savings – including focusing on securing best possible coverage terms.

How does Arch look to differentiate its offering in the market?

While some insurers have been retrenching from the market or reducing capacity, Arch is growing its book and investing in our underwriting and claims handling.

We believe we are well positioned to meet client needs, combining diligent and creative underwriting with excellent claims management. We seek to build long-term relationships with our brokers and clients, who we value as partners.

What made you move from broking to underwriting?

As a child I enjoyed puzzles and would often dismantle and rebuild toys much to my parents’ frustration! But, that characteristic of breaking something down, building it back up, and coming to a meaningful conclusion really lends itself to underwriting.

In 2014, I worked with a colleague on establishing a binding authority covering medical malpractice. Shortly after, I was granted authority to write on behalf of various Lloyd’s underwriters, albeit within very strict parameters, which really sparked my underwriting interest.

So, when the opportunity to join James Barrett (Head of Healthcare) and the Arch Healthcare team arose, it was an easy decision.

“We believe we are well positioned to meet client needs, combining diligent and creative underwriting with excellent claims management. We seek to build long-term relationships with our brokers and clients, who we value as partners.”

How has your previous experience as a broker influenced your underwriting approach?

As a broker, the main challenge was managing expectations while maintaining communication between our clients and insurers. Insurance is a relationship business where effective communication is key, and I think bringing that broker perspective to the insurer/insured relationship has made me a better underwriter.

I believe I have a proactive approach, ensuring our brokers are kept updated as early as possible. Brokers play a key role in bringing products to potential insureds, but ultimately our responsibility as underwriters is to represent the London Market in the best possible way. Simple things like punctuality and being prepared for client meetings are important to maintaining Arch’s reputation and that of the wider market.

What three words would you use to describe the Arch Healthcare team?

Professional – our brokers rank us at the top of the pack for our preparedness and service, which is a real point of pride.

Collaborative – we openly discuss risks across teams and with senior executives, and our claims specialists are heavily involved in our day-to-day underwriting, including in broker meetings.

Innovative – as a lead carrier quoting terms, we look closely at expiring structures, break them down, and develop creative solutions for our clients.

What drew you to the insurance industry and Arch?

Insurance offers a fulfilling career, and if you are driven and ambitious, you can flourish. The face-to-face trading also makes it a uniquely social industry.

When I met James Barrett, I quickly knew he was someone I respected, trusted and would value working for. When the opportunity to join Arch arose, I was impressed by its financial strength and ambition, and I wanted to be part of that.

Arch continues to grow at an impressive rate and has hired some tremendous talent. We also recently joined the S&P 500 which I believe sends a strong message to our clients.

What would your dream job outside of insurance be?

I’ve always had a keen interest in aviation, stemming from the various stories I heard from my Grandparents, who were both in the RAF. So, it’s no surprise I wanted to be an RAF fighter pilot!