Gryphon Group Holdings Limited, the insurtech start-up that hopes to launch disruptive insurance ventures into established sectors and that raised £180 million, including capital from ILS fund manager Leadenhall Capital Partners, has acquired Guardian Assurance Limited and will operate the protection business it is building under the Guardian brand.
Gryphon launched in June with the goal of designing and building what it called an “insurance challenger” aiming to offer more and better insurance protection to UK families through a technology driven proposition.
Gryphon has now reached an agreement to acquire the two-hundred-year-old insurance company Guardian Assurance Limited and as a result has secured the rights to its trading names as well, taking them from a unit of reinsurer Swiss Re. Guardian, which was originally launched in 1821, will now be the trading name of the new insurtech business that Gryphon is creating.
Gryphon is building a cloud-based protection business, focused on life insurance, critical illness coverage and income protection products, with a mission to generate greater consumer trust and an effortless adviser experience for customers.
ILS and reinsurance linked investment manager Leadenhall, which recently grew its assets under management to $4.5 billion, had invested in Gryphon as it saw the creation of a technology-led, service focussed challenger insurance business as “an exciting proposition.”
Dan Knipe, Life Portfolio Manager at Leadenhall Capital Partners, commented at the time of Gryphon’s launch, “We see strong growth potential for the business as the management team have a deep commitment to their vision and bring significant industry and technology expertise to make it a success.”
The Guardian brand is one that is well-known in insurance circles and the business had been acquired by ReAssure, the life and pensions consolidator brand owned by reinsurance firm Swiss Re, in January 2016.
Guardian Assurance Limited was subsequently renamed to ReAssure Life Limited in June 2016 and its business, including around 900,000 annuity, life insurance and pension policies in the UK and Ireland, was then transferred to ReAssure Limited in December 2016.
The insurer was renamed Guardian Assurance Limited in March 2017 and the trading name has now been sold to Gryphon, which has no impact on the policies already transferred to ReAssure Limited.
Simon Davis, CEO of Gryphon Group Holdings Ltd, commented, “Our ambition is for every family to have protection that they truly believe in. Acquiring the name of Guardian is an extremely important step for us, as it gives us a compelling brand name that fits with our values and goals, just as it did when founded two hundred years ago.
“This name, combined with our culture and fresh approach to technology, will create a really exciting business that can deliver better protection for families across the country. We’re planning to breathe fresh life into the brand with a new look, which will reflect our intention to continuously rethink and reinvent protection for the better.”
Interestingly, Davis was the Chief Risk Officer of Guardian for a couple of years and has worked as a consultant in business operating in the life insurance and life risk transfer space, including some time for Swiss Re’s Admin Re.
In his career he will have seen and worked on numerous transactions that transferred large portfolios of in-force life business, meaning he will have a good idea of what would work on a policy level basis to improve the customers protection and experience.
It is interesting that an insurtech start-up would elect to use a 200-year-old company name, which many clients would not recognise the heritage of. However, if the promise on customer experience can be delivered, along with the right branding and awareness, Guardian could become a household name.
With insurtech set to disrupt established insurance categories, it makes perfect sense for Leadenhall to get behind a company that aims to generate large portfolios of life insurance related risks, an area it operates funds in, hence this aligns strategically with the ILS fund managers mandates.
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