About Us

Corporate History 

Stronghold Insurance Company Limited (Stronghold or the Company) was incorporated on 28 September 1962 under the Companies Act 1948 with its Registered Office located at 143 Fenchurch Street, London. With an authorised and issued capital of £500,000, the principal shareholders were Bland Welch & Company Limited, Orion Insurance Company Limited, Hansa Insurance Group, Swiss National Insurance Company Limited and Bernese General Insurance Company Limited.

In October 1970, Accident & Casualty Insurance Company of Winterthur (42.5%), National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford (a member of the CNA Insurance Group of Chicago, USA) (42.5%) and the Montagu Trust Group (15%) acquired the £825,000 share capital of Stronghold.

In March 1973, the three joint owners of Stronghold (Accident & Casualty of Winterthur, National Fire of Hartford (CNA) and the Montagu Trust Group) also purchased The Reinsurance Corporation Limited (RCL). While Stronghold and RCL shared some services, the companies underwrote business separately, each for their own account.

In 1976, Stronghold was purchased by the newly formed Norwich Winterthur Reinsurance Corporation (NWRe), a joint venture between Norwich Union, Winterthur Swiss and Chiyoda Fire and Marine.

From the early 1980’s, Stronghold began to experience an increase in notifications in respect of asbestos-related and environmental pollution claims emanating from the USA arising from policies written in the 1960’s, 1970’s and 1980’s. As a consequence, Stronghold, for all practical purposes, ceased underwriting at the end of 1984 with only limited business being written in 1985 where there had been a contractual obligation in force to renew.

Stronghold has been in solvent run-off since 1985. In 1987, an application was made under Section 11 of the Insurance Companies Act for the withdrawal of the Stronghold licence to write new business.  The licence was withdrawn on the 14 August 1987.

The management of the run-off of Stronghold was handled by NWRe until it also ceased writing new business in 1993. NW Services, subsequently renamed Cavell Management Services Limited, was set up as a service company to handle the run-off of both NWRe and Stronghold.

On 14 April 1997, Stronghold Insurance Company Limited was sold to Stronghold Holdings Limited, a privately owned company. Stronghold took over the handling of the run-off from Cavell Management Services Limited on the 1 July 2003.

Business Written

The underwriting of the Company was directed by Donald Fox and initially it wrote exclusively non-proportional and reinsurance business. Stronghold wrote its first risk on the 31 October 1962.

With effect from 5 July 1965, Stronghold formed an association with Eagle Star to cede a fixed percentage of its casualty facultative book of business to Eagle Star. This Quota Share Agreement enabled Stronghold to operate as a London Market Company Lead.  This arrangement with Eagle Star ceased by 1968.

By 1970, Stronghold made the decision to extend its activities into certain selected areas of proportional treaty business.

For many years Stronghold had provided fronting facilities to companies who were otherwise unable to write certain classes of business. These included Turegum from 1962 to 1969 inclusive, and the R.W. Gibbon & Son Agency Companies.

During the active underwriting life of Stronghold, the Company wrote direct and reinsurance USA Casualty business either by way of Treaty Excess of Loss to the London Market and USA companies, or by way of Surplus Line insurance. As referred to above, asbestos-related, environmental pollution and health hazard (APH) claims emanating from the USA resulted in the decision to place Stronghold into run-off in 1985.

Events leading to the decision to implement a closure plan 

Following the acquisition of the Company in 1997, Stronghold has continued to pay claims reducing the gross reserves from some $500 million to $50 million, with the remaining liabilities being almost exclusively APH. The Company has discounted reserves, but since 2007, when the discount waiver expired, the Company was permitted to continue in run-off by its Regulator, but in breach of the then in force Solvency I requirements.  The Company continued to pay claims as the book of business matured to the point where the residual reserves comprised approximately 60% Direct and 40% Reinsurance.

On 1 January 2016, Solvency II came into effect. Whilst the Company is solvent with net assets of $10.7 million per its audited 2017 Financial Statements, the Company is unable to meet the minimum capital requirements imposed under this legislation and the Company’s shareholders are not able to provide additional capital to rectify this deficiency.

The Company’s Solvency II positions at the last two year ends together with GAAP net assets for comparison are set out below.

US$’000

31.12.2017

31.12.2016

GAAP Net Assets

10,671

9,365

Surplus/(Deficit) in Own Funds

(2,045)

(5,450)

SCR

23,284

26,848

MCR

7,149

8,223

SCR Surplus/(Deficit)

(25,329)

(32,298)

MCR Surplus/(Deficit)

(9,194)

(13,673)

In these circumstances, the regulators in the UK (the Prudential Regulatory Authority (PRA) and Financial Conduct Authority) have asked that the Company produce an exit plan to bring closure to the run-off. The Company determined that it would be in the best interests of policyholders to achieve this closure by implementing a solvent scheme of arrangement with its (re)insureds (referred to in the Scheme as “Scheme Creditors”) as this would maximise the assets available to policyholders.  The proposal to implement a solvent scheme of arrangement has received initial non-objection from the PRA.