Catlin speaks out on insurance in new book

  • Industry leader: Stephen Catlin has drawn on his 40 years of experience in the industry to provide insights on the property/casualty insurance business in his book Risk & Reward. It includes his journey transforming Catlin Group from a two-person agency into a global insurer

A new book by Stephen Catlin, one of the Bermuda insurance industry’s best known leaders, hits bookstores today.

In it the founder and former chief executive officer of Catlin Group Ltd provides unique insights into the inner workings of the commercial property/casualty insurance industry.

The book is titled Risk & Reward and is co-authored by James Burcke, former head of corporate affairs at Catlin Group.

Mr Catlin stepped down as deputy chairman of XL Catlin in May, and will retire from the company at the end of the year.

For the book he has drawn on his more than 40 years of experience as an underwriter and insurance company executive to discuss some of the more important practices and concepts underlying the insurance business.

Risk & Reward traces his entrepreneurial journey in transforming Catlin Group from a two-person Lloyd’s of London underwriting agency to a global insurer that employed 2,500 people in 25 countries and underwrote $6 billion in annual premium volume when it was acquired by XL in 2015.

He also shares his thoughts regarding Lloyd’s, including its turbulent history over the past 40 years, its role in today’s global insurance industry and its prospects.

Mr Catlin gives candid views regarding:

• Basic insurance industry practices, including underwriting, claims management, reinsurance protection, reserving and insurer-broker relationships, and how they could be improved.

• Major challenges facing the insurance industry today, including the growth of cyber exposures and the industry’s failure to address critical problems relating to processing, data and transactional costs.

• Key management principles, including leadership, talent management, brand-building and the need to develop a cohesive corporate culture.

Mr Catlin stresses that while the property/casualty insurance is fundamentally important to the worldwide economy, insurers and brokers do a particularly poor job of communicating the value of their products.

He said: “One of my theories is that the insurance industry has been poor — really, really poor — at communicating what it does, how it does it, and how insurance can add value for people and businesses.

“In my view, we have probably been the worst communicators and lobbyists in the financial services sector.”

He notes that the way in which insurers have traditionally operated could impede their ability to face future challenges.

“If the insurance industry is to remain relevant to society over the next 20 or 25 years, it must embrace the new risks to which society will be exposed,” he said.

“We must be at the forefront of understanding those risks and finding solutions to mitigate them. The big obstacle, however, is that insurers’ thinking tends to focus on what has happened in the past rather than on what might happen in the future.”

The book is aimed at a wide readership, from those who work in the insurance industry to those who know little about insurance.

There is a foreword by Nikolaus von Bomhard, the recently retired chairman of the board of management of Munich Re, and an afterword by Mike McGavick, chief executive officer of XL Group Ltd.

Mr McGavick writes: “In RRisk & Reward, Stephen Catlin has given us the gift of his insights into the insurance and reinsurance marketplaces, his key ideas about leading complex businesses, and has even peered into the future of the sector and shared what he has foreseen. That substance alone is a full reward for the reader’s risk of purchase and time spent.”

The book is published by Iskaboo Publishing Ltd, a British-based independent publisher specialising in producing in-depth, detailed reports on insurance-related issues.

In Bermuda, the book will be available from Bermuda Bookstore, on Queen Street, and possibly elsewhere. It can also be ordered from Amazon websites, or directly from Iskaboo at

An E-reader version is also available.