Hiscox USA CEO on ‘Great Market Opportunity’

“I remember going to a restaurant once a year, I never went on holiday, and in my childhood I never went to university because we couldn’t afford it,” said Creech, who grew up in the UK.

“I guess I got into insurance because that was my opportunity at the time.”

Creech landed a job at Barclays at 18 and hasn’t looked back since. He has now been with Hiscox for 26 years and has been Chief Executive Officer of Hiscox USA since May 2021. He has also served on the Board of Directors of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association since 2022.

The leader has been at various times responsible for driving the insurer’s digital commercial insurance business in the UK and US.

Remove insurance “stigma”

There are “really strong business interests” in bringing in different perspectives, says Kerridge, who believes his background helped him establish the values ​​that will allow him to succeed.

“I come from a background where we’re not rich, and I think that’s actually a good thing because it shapes you as an adult, don’t take things for granted, have values, and all those things – hard work and Work hard,” Creech said.

While the son of a butcher and a housewife may have gotten into insurance to some extent, it has historically been viewed by some as the less attractive cousin of banking, he told Reuters. Insurance business He believes the industry has become a more attractive destination for talent looking to develop their careers there “with purpose”.

“then [around 30 years ago]there’s always been a bit of a stigma with insurance, and if you’re not into proper banking, this is a place you go in,” Kerridge said.

“I often reflect on how different it is now; with the use of data and technology, insurance is almost an exciting place to be in now, and it’s a great place to build a career.”

Diversity of thought may be something Kerridge is “passionate about,” but it’s that diversity of experience early in his career that has helped him become a more versatile and successful leader. Kerridge’s work spans marketing, operations, underwriting and broker-facing business development, and hails “spider webbing” — or trying to fill different roles — as key to building versatility.

rise of the internet

It was the growth of the Internet that propelled Kerridge to new heights at Hiscox in the late 1990s.

“The internet came, people started using it, we had dial-up modems – look back at it [dial up] It was actually really painful — but that’s when it started,” Creech said.

Kerridge was drawn to a meeting with Bronek Masojada, then managing director of the Hiscox Group, and asked to make a proposal on how businesses could get the most out of the Internet.

At a lunch three months later — a meeting Kerridge says he still vividly remembers — he was immediately given the green light to move forward with the direct-to-consumer Internet proposal.

“Have [Masojada] I have two questions…the first one is, “Do you want to do it and get it up and running?” The second question is, “How much seed funding do you need?”

“Actually, over lunch, we agreed that I would do it, and he gave me £1m in seed money to get it going.”

Thus was born Hiscox’s digital push in the UK, which Kerridge describes as “the real insurtech, even before insurtech existed” – launched in 1999.

Hiscox takes over US

Ten years later, at another lunch with then-CEO Masojada, the plan for Hiscox USA was launched. Given the UK’s status as a relatively small territory, and its then-maturity from a digital e-commerce perspective, the big question is where Hiscox can adopt its formula next.

What turned out to be a two-week trip to the US had some surprising results for Kerridge, who was then working in the insurer’s UK digital business. Two things struck him, the US market seemed to be about “seven years” behind the UK at the time.

“The first is that no one is doing small commerce online,” Creech said. “I mean, I couldn’t believe it, and I was trying to make sure I wasn’t missing anything.”

Second is the regulatory environment for market entry, which is “very heavy compared to the UK 13 years ago”.

Build a digital business of 600,000 insurance policies

According to Kerridge, when Hiscox USA launched in 2010, it was the first small business insurer to offer digital advice to small businesses.

“To this day, I still feel the pain that this little-known international company came in and built a domestic giant in the digital space,” he said.

“We sit here today with over 600,000 policies implemented on this digital platform, and when other operators hear this, they’re like ‘oh my god, it’s unbelievable scale in a relatively short period of time’ .”

While the digital business is – perhaps unsurprisingly – close to Kerridge’s core, global insurer Hiscox is also expanding its presence in areas such as kidnap and ransom, terrorism, media, entertainment and some of the “more traditional businesses we’re doing”. The U.S. business is known around the world,” Kerridge said.

So, what’s next for Hiscox USA and Kerridge?

With Hiscox USA covering approximately 600,000 of the 32 million small businesses in the United States, there is still plenty of opportunity to grow.

“I think when I eventually retire, my legacy will be a long way away, which is that I’m leaving a business that has a very strong reputation in the market because it’s important to us, but it’s several times the size it is today, So billions of dollars instead of billions, but also very profitable,” Kerridge said.

Kevin Kerridge, CEO of Hiscox USA, said:

Building a Uniquely American Business…

“We’re just a normal American business, we don’t see ourselves as a global business, and what we do here is very domestic. We’re here to build America’s leading small business insurer, and that’s what we want to do.”

His greatest achievement…

“I really enjoyed my time at Hiscox, whether I was CEO or before. I still wake up at 4 every morning looking forward to going to work, so I think about the little things. What excites me is that I really Feel like my greatest achievement is yet to come. You know [we’ve built] A billion dollar business in the US today with over 600,000 policyholders. It feels like we’re just getting started. “

Feel the “energy feedback” of brokerage business…

“We’ve made some decisions around our appetites, getting out of some of the bigger ventures, over $100 million in revenue, and — beyond the areas of expertise of several global franchises like kidnap and ransom and terrorism — really focusing on the hip or Brokerage of smaller insureds. It was very profitable and we felt we were right to win there. To do this, we spent 18 months repositioning the business. Completed last May.

“Since May, our underwriting teams in these regions … have been on the front foot to re-engage and rebuild with brokers and get back to the earnings growth agenda. It’s going well and you can feel the energy in the business.”

Lessons from Robert Hiscox [former Hiscox chair]…

“When I was in London, I had the honor of reporting to Robert Hiscox for a few years, and he always said two things to me. One of them was, ‘I’ll forgive you for losing money occasionally, but never let I’m in a position where I’m going to be discredited”. That’s always stuck with me. The other is ‘quantity is vanity, profit is sanity’.”

Offers an “arm on the shoulder”…

“I remember the time I joined Hiscox, I was looking to other people for hope and reassurance, sometimes with an arm around my shoulder. It happened out of the blue, I don’t know when, but you look back and say: ‘Blimey, I Now that’s the guy.I’m the one other people go to for comfort and hope when they’re having trouble, and for some guidance.

“[I was recently asked by someone] I would give them advice on what would work for me, and I would say to them, two things that I’m always looking for in people working in this industry.

“One person comes to work every day with a good attitude. Another person goes to work and makes a difference. If you do those two things, you get noticed and doors are open because who doesn’t want a business on their team People with these two characteristics?”

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