Ask the Expert: Nick Brown, Accelerant’s Chief Underwriting Officer


Nick Brown, Accelerant’s Chief Underwriting Officer for the UK region, has the expertise of over 15 years of combined experience in both insurance and reinsurance.

He began his career at RSA, where he was an underwriter in their UK Commercial Property Portfolio and latterly led the UK & Europe Commercial Construction, Engineering and Renewable Energy Portfolio. After nearly a decade, he joined Swiss Re as a treaty underwriter, reinsuring global insurance companies and Lloyd’s of London with capacity of up to 400 million.

While Nick is intimately familiar with the daily risks of underwriting, his extensive background in portfolio management is what makes his role at Accelerant so remarkable. At Accelerant, he supports Members in achieving their target loss ratios by growing their most profitable business areas, bringing new products into launch, or improving upon areas with weaker performance. He also offers development opportunities for Members, refines internal best practices, tracks emerging risks, conducts underwriting audits, and more.

We spoke to Nick on what contributes to the success of Accelerant’s underwriting team, their upcoming goals, helpful tools, and his predictions for industry trends. Below are the insights he shared with us.

How does Accelerant’s underwriting team define success?

Accelerant’s success is defined by the success of its Members—that they are achieving what they hope to achieve. When a Member is underperforming, our underwriting team works tirelessly to correct the books by understanding what is profitable and what is not, and adjusting the portfolio accordingly.

How does underwriting at Accelerant differ from the rest of the industry?

Accelerant prides itself on its fast-moving culture that prioritizes efficiency without sacrificing quality. Unlike its slower, more bureaucratic counterparts, Accelerant ensures Members have direct access to the decision makers: each member of the underwriting team at Accelerant has 15+ years of experience and manages just 5-7 Members. This close attention from experts guarantees quick turnaround times, unparalleled insights, consistency, and high performance.

The industry standard for new product launches is typically a process that takes up to12 months. Accelerant’s structure accomplishes the same in mere weeks.

We  empower Members to make the day-to-day decisions, while expert underwriters guide the portfolio to stay within target KPIs. This is done through high-level data insights that are unavailable anywhere else in the market, allowing our underwriting team to quickly understand the best course of action for any given opportunity.

Our onboarding process is similarly prompt: What normally takes 12 months in the market (sometimes with a last-minute decision to not onboard at all) instead takes Accelerant anywhere from a weekend to a couple months.

Overall, Accelerant’s support and go-to-market speed is unmatched in the industry.

What tools and techniques does the underwriting team use to achieve this efficiency?

  • Insightful, Accelerant’s proprietary software, allows the team to do a deep dive into a Member’s portfolio—from the most granular trades to the most granular claim—to report back on trends and, therefore, the actions a Member should take.
  • Peril mapping software helps the team determine whether to accept a referral by inputting a location and evaluating the resulting risk score for factors like flooding, crime, arson, etc.

What is your favorite underwriting team success story from this year?

We have a fantastic Member success story that I love to share. It writes commercial business across the UK and Ireland and became an Accelerant Member 5 years ago. Over the period we have helped them grow their book from circa £20m GWP to now over £100m with a loss ratio consistently below 50% year on year. This has been achieved through new product development, reshaping of the portfolio and enhancing the quality of the portfolio.

What goals do you and the team have for the next year?

Accelerant is scaling quickly, and as it does, we are committed to not losing our entrepreneurial, proactive, decision-making culture. We plan to continue the support and ethos we have now for our Members.

What industry trends will have a significant impact on your team and Accelerant in 2024?

Inflation and interest rates are changing—we need to stay on top of it, so they don’t eat into results. Every month, we receive industry papers and insights with economic indicators, and we overlay these with our portfolio to see how these factors impact each sector. We are hoping to begin sharing these with members via webinars with Q&As.

This perspective into what’s happening in the economy and how it impacts our books, and this ability to identify emerging risks, doesn’t exist in other composites—especially not MGAs.

One trend we’re seeing in reinsurance is the push for more exclusionary language in policy wording. For example, in the U.S., the use of PFAS (forever chemicals) are resulting in considerable lawsuits, which will inevitably affect the U.K. and Europe too. This kind of liability is something that will need to keep a close eye on and adjust our policy wordings accordingly.

What will underwriting look like 10 years from now? What are some long-term challenges and opportunities?

Whether people believe it or not, climate change will pose a challenge. The frequency and severity of climate disasters is increasing each year, and it will be interesting to see the ability of the insurance industry to absorb those risks. If the insurance industry isn’t resilient enough, it will need to call on a government to help fill the gap. For example, the U.K. has a flood relief fund to protect people that live in high-flood zones because now, flood claims are happening in areas that historically never experienced flooding.

It will also be important to have reliable models that forecast these risks. Technology will play a major role: Now, you can put in an address and receive a quote based on information in a database. This form of “automated underwriting” will only become more prevalent.

What is the most surprising thing about underwriting that people don’t know?

People don’t realize the kinds of things that are insured: Mariah Carey’s voice is insured, Christiano Ronaldo’s legs are insured, even hole-in-one payouts in golf are insurance payouts. 

That’s underwriting—balancing the premiums and risks.