Q&A with David Stevens, Underwriter & Senior Business Developer — Trade Credit at Markel International.  

How did you find yourself working in credit insurance?
Like most, I fell into insurance! While at university I applied and was successful in obtaining an internship at Markel, where I was tasked with assisting the Sarbanes-Oxley testing within the internal audit team. After returning each summer, Christmas and Easter holiday I was offered a position on their graduate scheme.From there I rotated around various divisions until I was taken on a permanent basis by the Trade Credit team and now, over ten years later, I’m still here and enjoying it!

From your experience at Markel, what makes you different from your competitors?
At Markel each underwriter is empowered to make decisions on both a risk and commercial basis. This allows us to build relationships with our clients, be responsive and fully understand their business, so we can tailor solutions to their needs.
In addition, we offer non-cancellable credit and country limits which provide certainty of cover for our clients, especially during periods of economic volatility.

In uncertain economic situations, how are Markel able to offer non-cancellable credit limits?
Our excess of loss product offering supports clients who have strong credit management procedures in place, along with working relationships with their customers. We are able to gain comfort from their market knowledge and expertise within their field while working with them to source the most up to date information.

In an environment of high competition, do you feel a trade credit policy enables growth and stability for clients?
The obvious benefit of a trade credit policy is against the trade debtors, which are usually a significant asset on the balance sheet, so protecting this supports companies stability with their working capital. In addition credit insurance can support bank funding as well helping to reduce the cost of borrowing.
A trade credit policy also allows the client to venture into new markets and build relationships with confidence, knowing they are able to rely on a trusted partner who will be able to provide an insight into all sectors and countries. This will ultimately provide a growth platform for increased turnover and profitability.

How do you see the claims environment over the next 12 months and has there been a recent uptick in any specific sectors?
It’s always difficult to predict the future but after having a benign claims environment throughout the Covid-19 year’s due to the fiscal support from the government, there’s an expectation the claims run rate will return to previous levels following its withdrawal. We are beginning to see macro-economic factors deteriorate, as central banks raise interest rates in an attempt to manage rising inflationary levels, causing a potential downturn in economic activity. We’ve also noticed an uptick in defaults within the construction and hospitality sector, which has been evidenced by the data gathered by the Office for National Statistics.
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