Topsail Re readying for January 1 debut (Insurance Insider)
Topsail Re readying for 1.1 debut
25 October 2018
A new Cayman Islands-domiciled privately held reinsurer called Topsail Re is readying itself to begin writing business at the 1 January renewal.
The new platform will be led by industry veteran David Johnson. He was most recently with JLT Re where he served as a member of the firm’s North America executive committee and executive vice president.
Aside from the Cayman Islands business, parent company Topsail Holdings is in the process of launching a Greensboro, North Carolina-based underwriting services arm which will market on behalf of Topsail Re.
The new venture may well start writing business later this year, but Johnson told The Insurance Insider the main target is ensuring it is ready to take on risks at the 1 January renewal.
Topsail Re’s target markets are regional insurers and mutuals – the same sectors Johnson focused on during his career. Auto quota share will also form part of the Topsail offering.
“Even though most reinsurers that are like us want to have a handful of heavy, chunky deals, we’re actually going to focus on writing business that fits our underwriting appetite regardless of size and needs a partner in the long term,” Johnson said.
“We recognise that we’re unrated - at least in the early years. We’re not specifically looking to trade with the ‘big guys’, but we want to make a difference. We want to help our brokers and clients with expertise and capital. We don’t have huge boards to get things approved. We’ll do the work, see if it fits and then give an answer to the client.”
It is unknown how much capital is sitting behind Topsail Re.
A US tax-paying entity, Topsail is supported with seed capital from ultra-high net worth backers, Johnson said.
Johnson is the only active reinsurance industry individual who has provided capital to the new business. The platform will be able to call on its major backers for more capital if needed.
Johnson will lead the new business, with the former president and chief operating officer of Axiom Re supported by fellow co-founder David Lee, a former two-time NBA All Star who played for the San Antonio Spurs and the Golden State Warriors. Lee has most recently been working with private equity firm Social Capital Corporation.
While Johnson will lead the business, he will be joined at Topsail by two Axiom Re alumni.
Robert Harnatkiewicz will also make the move to Topsail from JLT Re. Harnatkiewicz is a 28-year industry veteran who has worked for both Axiom Re and Munich Re.
Jacqueline May is the fourth addition to the team, coming to Topsail from Beach Re. May’s 25-year career has seen her at companies such as Axiom Re, Aon Re and Willis Re.
According to Johnson, the Cayman Islands was chosen as Topsail’s domicile because of its convenience and favourable regulatory regime.
“The Cayman Islands is very popular for captive insurance companies, and it’s also easier for us to get there than Bermuda,” he said.
“The reality is that from a cost-benefit perspective, Cayman is the right place for this organisation. The regulatory environment is respected and the infrastructure is there.”