Chief executive Derek Coles lays out expansion plans following purchase and hire of five-strong underwriting team

Ryan Direct Group is planning to expand in commercial lines following its purchase of AmTrust Underwriting’s £3.5m SME commercial combined book and hiring its five SME underwriters.

The book is relatively small compared with RDG’s total gross written premium of around £150m. But it gives the company a bigger footprint in commercial, which currently only makes up between 5% and 10% of its business, and provides scope for further expansion.

Speaking to Insurance Times after the deal was announced, RDG chief executive Derek Coles said: “We are looking to provide a broader footprint of market services on the MGA side of our activities, of which SME is one that people have asked us for over the years more and more.

The acquisition also gives RDG access to a new set of brokers with small business clients, Coles added.

The current AmTrust commercial combined book, which RDG aims to retain 100% of, is heavily biased towards metal and woodwork manufacturing business.

Coles said: “Clearly there is room to extend that into print, plastics, contractors and a number of other manufacturing-focused trades.”

AmTrust’s Lloyd’s unit will continue to provide capacity to the business that is transferring to RDG, but Coles said the company may seek additional capacity to support RDG’s expanded underwriting appetite.  

RDG could also start offering SME third-party claims administration on the back of the deal.

Coles said: “If we build our capability and skill set there, just as we have with our other businesses, there is no reason why we wouldn’t act as a TPA for SME activities for other organisations that want a book to be run off or want to have a back-office run by somebody else.”

Coles said the AmTrust book acquisition fits well with life MGA Lutine Assurance Services, which Ryan Direct Group retained after its parent Ryan Specialty sold Lloyd’s insurer Jubilee to Dutch insurer ANV.

Lutine specialises in providing group life to micro-SMEs, which could provide opportunities to offer these clients commercial insurance, Coles said.

The five underwriters joining RDG from AmTrust are Andrew Clark, Steve Swinburne, Terri Din, Andrea Cleary and Kerry Banks.