AXA XL tops Advisen’s Pacesetter index for fourth consecutive year

CEO: ‘Expect to see more’

By Leslie Jose-Castillo and Chad Hemenway, Advisen

In its first full year as AXA XL the carrier sustained its innovation momentum in 2019 and bagged the top spot in Advisen’s annual Pacesetter index for a fourth straight year.

With 16 new products in 2019, the insurer emerged as the frontrunner among 116 firms that qualified for the 2019 Advisen Pacesetters award, a recognition for product innovation and leadership in the P&C insurance industry.

AXA completed its acquisition of XL Group during the second half of 2018. XL Catlin led the Pacesetter index in 2016 and 2017.

“Even while working hard on integration and helping our brokers and clients maneuver through a more challenging, firming market, our attention to innovation never wavered and we launched 16 new and enhanced offerings,” Greg Hendrick, CEO of AXA XL, told Advisen.

“At AXA XL, we’re intent on being much more than a payer of claims to our clients,” Hendrick continued. “We’re looking to become a partner to them throughout the entire risk management process, and innovation is key to making that transition. In 2019, we’ve already started, having launched pilot programs with clients to test new technology solutions to reduce their risk profile.  We also worked closely with brokers and clients to develop bespoke insurance products that allowed the launch of new business platforms.  Expect to see more in 2020.”

Listening to brokers and clients generates ideas to address risk concerns, Hendrick said.

“We listened to what problems our clients were trying to solve, resulting in bespoke coverages that allowed a company to launch a secure digital wallet and a virtual college counselor platform,” he explained. “Another innovation, the launch of our risk-innovation incubator Cube, will allow us to create even more tailored insurance programs that help solve our clients’ unique business problems.”

Hendrick said innovation has been built into the company’s culture since XL was created to fill business’ liability insurance needs, and this has remained constant through many organizational changes over the years.

“Every colleague is empowered and encouraged to take their ideas of change to the next step,” Hendrick said. “One of AXA’s core values is courage, which is completely aligned with innovation. And as part of AXA, we all have access to even more resources to move our ideas forward.”

With 10 new products introduced and sent to Advisen last year, Beazley jumped from fifth place in 2018 to second place in 2019.

“2019 was a great year for us in terms of innovation. We continued a steady flow of new product launches and extended the reach of existing products globally,” Beazley said in a statement sent to Advisen. “In the first quarter, we launched a parametric-style reputational risk product for global organizations.  We also merged our cyber and executive risk offerings to create Beazley’s cyber & executive risk division (CyEx). We made this move in recognition of the fact that cyber risks now permeate every level of a business – from the factory floor to the corner office and the boardroom. Globally, we launched an affirmative cyber policy covering both operational and information technology exposures for the marine industry – Cyber Defence for Marine.”

Beazley said it is “constantly looking at new or under-served markets for specialty insurance.” For example, last year Beazley “saw an opportunity in the multi-billion e-sports industry and introduced an e-sports offering using our expertise across several insurance lines which has been well received by brokers.”

Chubb (formerly listed as ACE prior to the merger in 2016), another pacesetter since the index began in 2013, ranked third in 2019 with nine new products posted.

Chubb chose not to respond to a request for comment.

The insurers now known as AXA XL and Chubb have dominated the top slots since the Pacesetters recognition began in 2013. Together with Beazley, they posted a combined total of 35 product launches, accounting for 16 percent of the 214 product launches monitored by Advisen in 2019.

Hendrick said AXA XL’s approach to new products is a team effort. Asked how the company keeps up with the rate of change in the industry, he said: “We do it together. Our innovation is very much colleague driven and our success is the result of a great deal of collaboration.  That collaboration happens across business lines and support teams including Accelerate, an internal team created to help us drive innovation internally, and our Digital team that is helping us test and implement new technologies. Our colleagues all contribute, each bringing a different perspective on how we can better serve our clients and brokers.”

Beazley said that innovation and providing solutions for clients is “closely tracked by the executive team, and thus leadership in the area permeates from the very top of the organization.”

“We have recently created an incubation underwriting team to look at finding solutions for previously uninsured risks, and have a very strong product development team that works across the business to assist trading teams in identifying and taking forward new ideas for insurance and risk management,” Beazley added.

Verisk, Everest Insurance, AmWINS, Air Worldwide, Travelers, and Sompo International continued to be part of the top 10.

The Hanover returned to the top 10 after becoming the year’s biggest mover with six new product introductions in 2019 compared to only two entries in 2018. It now shares the fifth spot with Everest Insurance. The firm last made it to the list in 2017, ranking seventh.

Another firm that made a comeback in the list of innovation frontrunners is Berkshire Hathaway, with four entries. Berkshire is a Pacesetter veteran after making it to top 10 for four straight years from 2014 to 2017.

The Pacesetter index is an annual recognition of product innovation in the P&C insurance industry.

Advisen has been recording and publishing new-product announcements since 2008, and began in 2010 ranking the top 10 by the number of press releases we receive from each company. A short history of rankings can be found following this story.

Last year, 116 P&C firms sent at least one new-product announcement to Advisen for inclusion in our monthly Innovation News email newsletter. This is an increase over the 110 companies that did the same in 2018.


Our monthly Innovation News contains descriptions of new commercial insurance product offerings and services sent as press releases to Advisen Editors via [email protected]

Our primary focus is on new offerings that evolve the array of P&C insurance and risk mitigation options available to insureds. We also have a penchant for including new products that represent marketplace responses to new and old problems and perils that impact insureds.

Office moves, website revisions, and the opening of a new location are not included. One-time offerings, research papers for sale, webinars, and products intended for providers instead of insureds, etc. are also usually excluded. However, exceptions occur when we believe our audience will benefit from the announcement. Mergers and acquisitions are also not included.

The decision to include or not include a particular “new product” is strictly an Advisen editorial decision.

Please include contact information when submitting a new-product announcement.

New products jointly submitted by multiple companies, or that refer to multiple companies, are attributed to the first company mentioned.

Material sent to Advisen Editors via [email protected] will be considered for the next monthly edition of Innovation News. There is no charge to submit new-product announcements. The 28th day of each month is the submission deadline for all months except December.

We do not acknowledge receipt of initial submissions nor do we notify senders with a verdict or rationale for material that does not get included. However, if your previously-submitted announcement does not appear in Innovation News, you may appeal via [email protected] for re-consideration, subject to timelines above, and we will make every effort to respond.

We reserve the right to exclude any new-product announcement that is more than two months old. Innovation News is global; however, all submitted material must be in English.


2018 TOP 10 

2. Chubb
2. Willis Towers Watson
5. Everest Re
5. HUB
5. Starr
8. AIR Worldwide
8. Aon
8. Beazley
8. QBE
8. Sompo
8. Travelers
8. Verisk

2017 TOP 10 

1. XL Catlin
2. Chubb
3. Ironshore
4. Allied World
4. Starr
6. Beazley
7. Berkshire Hathaway
7. Markel
9. The Hanover
10. QBE

2016 TOP 10

1. XL Catlin
2. Chubb
3. Ironshore
4. Berkshire Hathaway
5. Aon
6. Beazley
7. QBE
8. Marsh
9. AIG
9. Markel
9. Victor O. Schinnerer

2015 TOP 10 
1. Chubb
2. XL Catlin
3. Ironshore
4. Beazley
5. Aon
6. Berkshire Hathaway
7. AIG
7. Allied World
7. Marsh
10. Argo

2014 TOP 10 
1. ACE
2. XL
3. Ironshore
4. Allied World
5. Aon
6. Argo
7. Berkshire Hathaway
8. AIG
8. Cooper Gay Swett & Crawford
10. Marsh

2013 TOP 10 
1. ACE
2. XL
3. Ironshore
4. Aon
5. Argo Group
6. Allied World
7. Marsh
8. Travelers
9. Willis
10. The Hartford