Former SiriusPoint leader resurfaces at cyber MGA Corvus nine months after exit
No need for a Shark Tank: calling all entrepreneurs
The exponential growth of cyber business is well documented and showing no sign of slowing – but managing general agents (MGAs) could be at a distinct advantage in this area, says Prashanth Gangu fresh from his move to Corvus from SiriusPoint.
Managing general agents (MGAs) are much better equipped writing cyber business – their agility and ability to embrace new technology giving them a distinct advantage over larger carriers, a seasoned industry veteran who recently moved to an MGA from an established carrier, told Intelligent Insurer.
Prashanth Gangu, the former president of insurance & services and chief operating officer of SiriusPoint, in March accepted the role of president at cyber MGA Corvus Insurance. He describes the move as coming after an extensive search for the “right mix of people, technology and good results” – what he calls the “magic sauce” .
Now, he is spearheading a major growth drive at the business, which had a strong year in 2022 with cyber premiums growing by 80%. His goal is to expand the company’s underwriting capabilities and achieve profitable growth. He will direct the efforts of Corvus’ sales, underwriting, actuarial, data science, claims, and risk capital departments.
He believes that even with the most advanced technology and automation within the insurance industry the need for human judgement to assess risk and make decisions will still be essential. Companies that are nimble, able to move quickly with the changing demands of policyholders and brokers, such as MGAs, will be better positioned to succeed than larger organisations.
“The new players in the MGA space are at a distinct advantage to large companies that are generally set up to work on stable lines of business where things don’t change that much," Gangu said. “Cyber is fast evolving, not a place where you can just stand still. You need to be nimble, and almost a new type of company for it.
“The primary attraction for me joining Corvus is that there is a lot of promises in the MGA space and broadly the insurtech sector. The promise of delivering a better policyholder experience and better loss ratios.
“We [at Corvus] are just a group of underwriters that were at some large insurance companies that have come out and said, we just want a nicer home for us to be nimble. I think those are the two ends of the barbell. Corvus is an underwriter led insurance entity, but with a strong influence from technology.”
No black box here
Corvus has its own proprietary scan and risk score that makes the foundation of its underwriting. But Gangu explains: “It’s not a black box. Even with all the automation you ultimately still need a person that can look at the risk and make a judgment call. You also need the brokers and someone they can talk to, not just a machine to interact with that spits out answers.”
Insurance companies of all sizes and types are turning to technology to gain a competitive advantage – in cyber more than many lines. However, Gangu believes that the worth of cyber underwriters is not fully appreciated despite the high demand. Finding underwriters with the knowledge and expertise to apply traditional underwriting principles to the constantly evolving cyber risk landscape is crucial for insurers to stay ahead in this competitive sector, where supply is far lower than the demand.
“Cyber is not a place where you can find underwriters with 30 to 40 years of experience or those who have been writing for generations,” Gangu said. “Cyber has a peculiar need that it’s a fast-moving environment and you need people with an ownership mindset, who are adaptable and willing to lead change, rather than becoming frustrated with things moving fast.”
Policyholder engagement is also just as important as the underwriting aspect, he said. “If you don’t have that engagement with your brokers and your customers where you’re working with them to improve their risk exposure, and they relax, suddenly things can work against you.”
The ‘promise’ of MGAs
Gangu also highlighted that the insurance industry as a whole is facing a generational problem with existing employees aging and new talent not coming in fast enough. As the traditional brokerage model is reaching the end of its track, a new breed of MGAs is beginning to emerge and is drawing a skilled workforce from the larger players in the market.
“It’s been fascinating to see over the last five years the number of MGAs being set up and prospering. In my prior role at SiriusPoint, we looked at probably more than 300 engineers in the last couple of years.
“There’s a huge migration of talent from large insurance companies to MGAs. When large insurers all want to change and want to modernise and what to be more efficient, it just gets really tricky once you get a certain scale and size,” he said.
“MGAs in many ways resemble traditional brokers in their close relationship with customers and focus on distribution, but also have an important role in product design and underwriting for insurance companies,” he added.
Gangu is one of many who view cyber insurance as a major component of property/casualty insurance over the next one or two decades. As cyber insurance continues to grow and become an increasingly attractive option for policyholders, the market is expected to reach between $50 and $100 billion quickly.
Gangu said this is a stark contrast to other insurance markets, where the focus has been on stealing market share and offering incentives for policyholders. Instead, cyber insurance is more focused on creating the most comprehensive and appealing product for policyholders and brokerages, which is what makes cyber exciting and innovative.
“Reinsurance companies have not had a great time in the last decade, however, now is the time for them to start changing the dynamic and making profits,” he said. “There is a huge gap between what reinsurance companies need in terms of rebates to be successful and what they are getting in the market, meaning the market is not sustainable in its current state.”
He added that cyber now has considerable momentum – and is a line no carrier can realistically ignore. “Cyber is a super exciting area. It has the most tailwinds and a big part of change in the market,” Gangu noted. “We’re past the stage where we can just ignore cyber. It is important, it’ll continue to be significantly important for everyone in the market. There is a group of players who are moving fast and trying to solve it, others are playing catch up.
“I’m super excited to be in a place that has sort of the right mousetrap in the right balance between technology and underwriting and more than anything else, good results. I think that’s a strong foundation to build an integrated company in a great environment.”
As for SiriusPoint and its new strategy, Gangu thinks the company is “trying to do things differently” having set off on a very ambitious strategy and feels privileged to be part of that journey.
“The new team has to put their imprint on it and they have made changes to the strategy and the journey is ongoing. The results have been fantastic, especially on the insurance business. I have nothing but fond memories and wish them all the best,” he said.
Corvus Insurance, Prashanth Gangu, Interview, Cyber insurance, MGA, Underwriting, Talent, Insurance, Reinsurance, SiriusPoint, Global