Axis Re eyes cyber as part of wider specialty growth

Attracted to firming conditions in the cyber market and supported by its “strong” insurance franchise, Axis Re will start writing cyber business following a recent change of strategy, its CEO Ann Haugh has said.

During the Monte Carlo Rendez-Vous, the CEO of Axis’ reinsurance operations told The Insurer TV the business is focused on growing through specialty lines as part of its change of strategy.

After announcing in June that it was exiting property reinsurance business, Axis Re has turned to other parts of the market, including cyber reinsurance.

“I think we’ll start to do more cyber, we have a great strong insurance franchise on the cyber side, but we see firming conditions in that space,” Haugh said.

Market conditions in cyber have favoured (re)insurers over the past year, driven by an imbalance between supply and demand that has pushed rates up.

The transition to being a specialty reinsurer has focused on casualty, specialty lines, accident and health and global credit, Haugh explained.

“We see tremendous opportunity in those markets to grow. We’ve been a market leader in our casualty and professional lines, general liability, workers’ comp and auto business. We also provide important and relevant capacity to agriculture, marine and aviation,” Haugh added.

Ann Haugh, CEO at Axis Re

Haugh’s remarks echo those of Axis Capital’s group CEO Albert Benchimol in an earlier interview with The Insurer, in which he explained the exit from property reinsurance would not damage client relationships.

More than three-quarters of the $2.1bn premium in force comes from customers where property cat makes up less than 10 percent of the relationship, Benchimol said.

Property exit

Haugh took over Axis Re after the departure of Steve Arora, with a brief to pivot the reinsurer towards a specialty focus.

Addressing the property exit, she said: “It’s not a comment on the property market, but our own focus as an organisation.

“We couldn’t find the right intersection between a size portfolio that was small enough to be in line with our appetite for volatility, but large enough to be the best in expertise, the modelling and analytics capabilities,” continued Haugh.

Axis Re’s new CEO said she likes to see challenges as opportunities – and there are plenty of them in the current (re)insurance market landscape.

“The market has been incredibly complex, and the demands from our clients and their needs are growing. A multitude of exposure trends are increasing, rising interest rates, rising social and economic inflation, geopolitical pressures and even a war for talent,” Haugh said.


In July Axis Re appointed a new head of global credit, Michael Silas, who also noted the uncertainty and complexity in the market, with many risks associated with Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine, for example.

Haugh said she also sees opportunity in mortgage credit as part of the recent shift.

“I think it’s also been an opportunity for us to provide a clear risk appetite, and a clear vision to our partners, our brokers and our clients, as well as to our team internally,” she said.

“I’m proud of the underwriters and all of those that work with us at Axis Re in terms of their expertise, and how they led us through this transition. I’m excited for the future and optimistic,” Haugh added.

She summed up the new strategy across Axis Re: “For us, it’s about smart growth, disciplined growth, using data analytics to inform the best underwriting decisions, and partnering with our clients to be able to be meaningful solutions providers to them.”

Watch Ann Haugh’s full interview with The Insurer TV, speaking from the balcony of our pop-up studio suite in the Hôtel de Paris. Click for more about:

  • Axis Re’s specialty focus
  • ESG opportunities
  • The firming market