Markel Eyes Expanding Australia Insurance Business Into Energy — Interview

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By Alice Uribe

SYDNEY–The insurance arm of U.S.-based Markel is considering offering coverage to some of Australia’s energy businesses as the industry transitions to renewables, the managing director of the company’s Australian unit said in an interview.

Markel is expanding in Australia, saying last month that it is opening three new offices in the country and plans to introduce new insurance products designed to protect fast-growing technology businesses as the digital economy expands. These include professional indemnity, general liability, and directors and officers liability policies.

Rory Morison, the new managing director in charge of Markel’s Australia arm, said in an interview that the company is also looking at the possibility of offering some businesses coverage for energy risks, viewing the sector as attractive over the long term. Markel currently offers energy products written out of London, Dubai and Singapore.

“We can see the change in mood on a federal and state level over the last few years, and the change in investment that is coming in,” Morison said of the Australian renewables sector. “We feel that aligns with how we want to assist our clients transitioning, and there is risk transfer over time that we’ve got expertise in.”

Australian officials say they are committed to transforming the country into a major player in renewables. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese this week said his government wanted to see the country become a “renewable energy superpower,” as he announced a financing expansion of 2 billion Australian dollars (US$1.26 billion) for critical minerals, which are used in things like wind turbines, rechargeable batteries and solar panels.

Globally, Markel offers a range of energy insurance products to cover things like oil refineries, gas plants and wind farms. The insurer wouldn’t be looking to cover major energy companies that have worldwide coverage, but instead at possible clients in Australia that are the next tier down, executives said.

“If you’ve not got an underwriting team locally in the market, you won’t have as much access to that business,” said Christian Stobbs, Markel’s managing director for Asia Pacific. “Given the commitments of the current government in Australia to grow the renewables sector, it’s clearly something we want to look at over time.”

Write to Alice Uribe at alice.uribe@wsj.com

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