Cobalt Insurance and Capita Managing Agency have received approval from Lloyd’s of London to launch the first Sharia-compliant syndicate of the specialist insurance market. Once it gets full approval, the new Lloyd’s business will be named Cobalt Syndicate 1438, which is the Islamic calendar’s number for the year 2017. Cobalt founder Richard Bishop said the aim of the syndicate was to look to underwrite new business from emerging markets and working with others in Lloyd’s to extend their participation in those markets. Cobalt will start underwriting in the first quarter of 2017 with initial focus on developing a property and specialty-focused book of commercial business from emerging markets in the Middle East, North Africa and Asian regions.
London-based Cobalt Insurance Holdings Ltd. has announced a strategic investment by Armour Group Holdings Ltd., the Bermuda-based diversified insurance group. Financial considerations were not disclosed. The strategy of Armour focuses on niche operations in the re/insurance and asset management sectors. Armour’s operations include underwriting operations, re/insurance companies, asset management companies and specialist service companies. The investment coincides with additions to the board of Cobalt of former Lloyd’s Chairman Max Taylor as chairman, and Sean Dalton of Armour as a non-executive director. John Turner, chairman of Aon Risk Solutions (UK & Americas), and former Brit Insurance Group CFO Andrew Baddeley also join the board in non-executive capacities.
The Islamic countries of South-East Asia represent a rich potential area of growth for insurers, especially those able to offer Sharia-compliant products, Richard Bishop, chief executive officer of Cobalt Underwriting, told SIRC Today. Bishop said that counties such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Pakistan offered a plentiful source of potential business for insurers, especially those familiar with and able to offer Sharia-compliant insurance.
Cobalt Insurance Holdings and its two specialist operations, Cobalt Underwriting Services and Cobalt Advisory Services, were formed in 2012 with the objective of establishing London as a leading global centre for Sharia-compliant insurance capacity.
“When we started we principally focused our efforts on the Middle East as a market,” Bishop said. “We do business in the UK, or inward investment into the UK via Islamic investors, but we wanted to make our product available in the Islamic markets, and the closest Islamic market to the UK is the Middle East. It’s worked quite well for us as a starter market.”