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Pioneer loses three more teams as 1.1 passes with capacity shortfalls

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Pioneer Underwriters' North American professional liability (PL), international financial products and environmental liability teams have left the business as the embattled MGA passed 1 January with a raft of teams still lacking paper to write fresh business for 2020, The Insurance Insider can reveal.

Sources said the London-based mobile equipment team's future remains unclear, along with that of Colm Kelly’s Natural Resources team, which has now secured at last some paper.

Financial institutions, international property facultative, marine specialty and US cat reinsurance all had paper in place before Christmas and have been able to continue writing through 1 January.

After no paper was secured to write North American PL into 2020, Patrick Comerford and Clive Moore resigned from Pioneer, and the book will go into run-off. The US-based international financial products team was led by Scott Misson, with Jessica Huhn-Kenzik the most senior member at the US-based environmental unit.

Pioneer is in distress after it was obliged to close down its Lloyd's syndicate late last year, with a succession of line withdrawals reported, and new ones looking inevitable this month.

The business has been up for sale since July, but is yet to find a buyer, although talks continue.

An over-reliance on capital provided by Liberty Mutual through its syndicate left Pioneer highly vulnerable to its withdrawal, and weak historic underwriting performance – along with a contraction of capacity available to support delegated underwriting – has squeezed the business hard.

On 18 December, this title reported that group underwriting director Graeme Rayner, CFO David Foster and COO Simon Gaffney were set to depart. Head of claims Dan Bridges also resigned last month.

In December the firm exited excess and surplus (E&S) property, E&S casualty and renewable energy as it struggled to source the capacity to keep the teams live following the loss of the capacity provided by Syndicate 1980.

Autumn exits included tech/cyber and delegated authority business written out of both London and the US, as Pioneer passed through the Lloyd's business planning process.

At its peak, Pioneer wrote around 20 classes of business.

Pioneer declined to comment for this article. But in November, CEO Andrew McMellin told this publication that the company remained “a viable business” with “good teams and good products”.

At that point the MGA was looking to execute on a £200mn-($262.6mn)-premium 2020 business plan, and said it had 70 percent of the capacity in place.

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