The Intelligent Quarterly from the publishers of The Insurance Insider

Winter 2017 / 2018

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Legacy 2017

At the moment, it feels like few things in life are a safe bet.

The bookies will have certainly felt the pinch over the past 12 months after being stung by decisions and events that have confounded the expectations of many.

Apparently, if you had put a tenner on a Donald Trump victory, the UK leaving the EU and Leicester City winning the Premier League last year, you would have taken home £30mn.

2017 seems to be continuing in a similar vein - as I am writing this, the British newspapers are trying to make sense of Prime Minister Theresa May's shock decision to call a snap election in June.

And while it seems highly unlikely Swansea City will finish above the relegation zone this season, a fan can dream - stranger things have happened recently.

These turbulent times are as troubling for legacy companies as they are for any other part of the (re)insurance industry. There is still enormous uncertainty over how Brexit will alter the fundamentals of run-off business.

Little has been said on how Part VII transfers will be affected, and concerns are mounting that the legacy market will get pushed to the back of the queue once the UK regulators receive a fresh wave of applications post-Brexit.

Meanwhile, the macro-environment is unpredictable at best, as investors try to interpret the whims of newly installed governments and forthcoming election results.

All this comes amid increased competition for legacy acquirers, in the face of a growing contingent of third party capital hungry for run-off.

But despite all this change, legacy carriers must be stoic.

When a live carrier sells its legacy portfolio to a run-off specialist, it is essentially contracting out its reputation for paying claims.

The seller needs to be certain its business partner will not only remain solvent, but also handle its customers with due care and respect - no matter what external factors may be plaguing the business.

It's a huge amount of trust to put in a third party, to, quite literally, ensure your "legacy" lives on. And from the acquirer's standpoint, it can be a hard sell.

But now is the time when legacy companies can really prove their mettle.

As live companies draw up plans on how to tackle this increasingly challenging operating environment, legacy companies have a perfect platform to demonstrate the value of their services in terms of capital management.

The chance to liberate capital to gain a little more flexibility in times such as these is an opportunity that many surely cannot refuse. What's more, run-off specialists can assure they will be there to provide a solution when a bolt from the blue has caused a back book to turn a bit ugly.

To continue with the gambling theme, legacy companies have this window of opportunity to show that they are, indeed, a safe bet - especially when the odds are stacked against you.

To view the 2016 legacy survey please click here.

Catrin Shi,

Editor, Legacy

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