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Unlike many who stumble into the insurance industry ‘by accident,’ Joe Moylan set his sights on a career in insurance right from the start. Now, as Northeast Regional Underwriting Leader for AXA XL’s North America Property team, Joe puts his 40 years of underwriting experience to work for some of AXA XL’s largest property clients based in a very populated part of the country. See why he still thinks he made the right career choice.

Why an insurance career?

Moylan: Why not an insurance career? Even then I saw that the industry had a lot of potential. I went to Baruch College here in New York City which at that time already had an insurance degree program. It was one of the first insurance degree programs.

After graduating college, I admittedly hung out at the beach for a month but then decided -- it was time to get this career started. I took the A train down to William H. McGee & Co., now part of AGCS Marine Insurance Company. I walked in looking for a job and they hired me as an inland marine underwriter.

Since then, my career path has taken me to positions with AIG, Travelers, Home Insurance, Zurich, Axis Capital and now here. I have to say one of my most interesting underwriting positions was when I was at Travelers in the early 1980s and served as a property underwriter at the New York Insurance Exchange. My guess is that many in the industry today have never heard of the Exchange, but back then, it was at the time was the #1 job that a property underwriter could get.

Many probably haven’t heard of it. What was the New York Insurance Exchange?

The Exchange was set up to operate like Lloyd’s as a centralized marketplace for the brokering and underwriting. It was established in 1980. Brokers, approved by the Exchange as members or associates, could place business with the Exchange’s underwriting members or syndicates. All business was to be processed through the Exchange facility. The Exchange only lasted about seven years, ceasing operation in 1987. Its rapid growth and the soft market conditions of the time are said to have contributed to its demise. However, given the variety and complexity of risks that went through the Exchange at the time, it was certainly a good training ground, a learning experience for an underwriter like me. There’s been some discussions since to establish another Exchange, but nothing has gotten off the ground.

It must have prepared you well for underwriting complex property risks. Now as head of AXA XL’s Northeast region in Property, what kinds of property risks do you see?

A good mix, like most of our regions. Given major cities like New York and Boston are within the region, we do underwrite plenty of real estate portfolios, insuring high rise office and apartment buildings, hotels, and the like. This region has a high concentration of pharmaceutical companies, so we see quite a few pharma property risks. We also see a lot of financial institutions, hospitals and servicing type businesses.

Does insuring properties in major metropolitan areas pose any special challenges or considerations?

No challenge that we aren’t well-equipped to handle. One consideration is the accumulation of high value properties in metropolitan areas like NYC AXA XL’s significant capacity is a plus for these property risks. But when insuring these properties, we do have to keep a careful eye on our aggregate exposure.

Of course, terrorism and political violence events in every corner of the world are prompting businesses worldwide to take a hard look at the risk that terrorism poses to their property and operations. Property owners in major cities have a piqued concern.

 

...terrorism and political violence events in every corner of the world are prompting businesses worldwide to take a hard look at the risk that terrorism poses to their property and operations.

While property damage from a domestic terrorism event would be addressed by the government pool established by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), there are certain parameters that must be met to collect. That’s why some clients choose to address their concerns with standalone terrorism policy, specialty coverage that is offered by another AXA XL business line. That’s another plus about working with a diverse carrier who can tap into their network of specialty and multiline coverages. Our clients have more opportunity to address their coverage concerns, address potential gaps, and consolidate their coverage with one carrier.

And TRIPRIA does not address damage resulting outside the US. To address these concerns for our clients, we enhanced our  Platinum Property insurance program making available a new terrorism and political violence insurance option for international locations. It offers our clients’ protection should one of their overseas operations be affected in such an incident.

So you help clients in the Northeast address their global property insurance needs without leaving the Northeast? 

Yes. Given AXA XL’s global network, we’re able  to help clients build a global property insurance program either as a front, providing coverage for other companies or through fronting arrangements that we arrange. We’re able to provide coverage in more than 200 countries. There are very few carriers with this kind of geographic reach. It’s a growing area of opportunity for us as companies continue to extend their footprints in new geographies. And for me, it’s another opportunity. Like my time spent on the New York Insurance Exchange, I see some very interesting and complex property risks, and collaborate with a global team to build and structure the right property protection. Opportunities like this just reinforce that I made the right career choice when I chose insurance. 

 

For brokers and risk managers interested in enlisting Joe’s 40+ years of property underwriting experience to address complex commercial property risks, contact him at  joseph.moylan@axaxl.com

 
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