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Issues & Answers Special Advertising Section:
 March 2022

Issues & Answers: Innovation Is Key at Nationwide

John Lopes, Executive Vice President, Programs & Alternative Ventures for Nationwide E&S/S, said that during his long career he’s only seen a handful of new products that have scaled to a mainstream program. “It’s more about innovation—taking an existing product and modifying it for new exposures that are coming in and increasingly better analysis of data,” he said. Following are excerpts from an interview.

John Lopes
Executive Vice President, Programs and Alternative Ventures
Nationwide E&S/S

“We feel very strongly in the program model that we’re here for more than just providing capital and financial rating.”

At a Glance

  • Fortune 100 company
  • AM Best Rated A+ (Superior) FSC XV
  • A top five domestic specialty (Excess & Surplus) commercial lines insurer

What prompted you to branch out into these new opportunities?

One of the great things about working for a company like Nationwide is we get approached on opportunities from a number of areas. We take a look at them, and there are very few that we act on. But two made sense to us for a variety of reasons. The first, Geneva Re, came from RSG, one of our largest distribution partners. They wanted to share risk on a large portfolio of program business while leveraging their in-house expertise. The other opportunity was N2G, a multinational opportunity in partnership with Generali. When you take two very large carriers with household names and stellar paper, we thought it made sense to partner together to provide those solutions across the globe.

How are things such as data mining, telematics, blockchain and other technologies playing out in the program’s market?

From our standpoint, we embrace technology in both directions. Externally, a lot of that work is being done within the insurtech space and with our program managers. Many of them are sophisticated and they’re investing in their businesses, which is something we expect of our partners. Within Nationwide, we also have tremendous capabilities, with numerous resources working on those same elements. We feel very strongly in the program model that we’re here for more than just providing capital and financial rating. We believe that we need to be a value-add provider, so our job is to make our program managers as profitable as they can be, just as their job is to make sure we’re making a profit. Technology is an integral part of that alignment.

How do new entrants in insurtechs influence the kind of opportunities you consider?

We value what they bring to the table. If you go back 10 years ago, a lot of people would have used the term insurtech along with the word disrupter. At the Nationwide level, we have a Ventures group that makes investments in this space. We work very closely with them. There are a lot of smart, creative people out there who are adding value by being able to do risk management and analysis while improving the customer experience in terms of ease and efficiency of doing business. Our experience is that insurtechs have been very helpful with new program opportunities while enhancing what we can do today—which is really what we want as we move into the future.