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Zurich’s Got ZEST for the E&S World

Featuring Patrick Daley, Executive VP, Alternative Programs, Zurich

Posted on 03 Mar 10

We spoke with Patrick Daley, Executive Vice President, Alternative Programs, Zurich, at the Peak Performance Insurance Ski Conference in January in Beaver Creek, Colorado, about Zurich in North America's E&S Team (ZEST) program. Zurich was a key sponsor of the conference and Patrick was one of our principal speakers.

Patrick joined Zurich in 2007, after working at Swiss Re where he was vice president and regional underwriting manager at the Chicago office. He is a 20-year industry veteran and has extensive experience working with structured programs with primary and reinsurance brokers as well as with insurance carriers on a direct basis.

ZEST, located in Omaha, Nebraska, began in 2008 after Zurich decided to capitalize on its experience in the Property E&S market and expand its opportunity in this world. “We’ve expanded in this market through various distribution channels,” says Patrick. “One avenue included broadening our underwriting guidelines for existing program administrators (PAs), which opened up new opportunities for them. We also appointed new PA partners who brought with them specific expertise in the E&S world. And we hired an underwriting manager and underwriters to form an internal facility that would be complementary to what we have been doing through the program administrator channel.” ZEST’s internal underwriting talent is led by Jim Runyan who runs the facility and has been in the Property E&S market for 25 years.

ZEST’s internal underwriting facility works with 20 wholesale brokers located in 36 offices across the United States, writing both Cat and Non-Cat E&S and has up to $25 million capacity per risk. The facility uses Steadfast paper, a non-admitted Zurich Company, and does not compete against Zurich PAs. “For example,” says Patrick, “we refer wholesale brokers to Arrowhead, its program business administrator in San Diego for California earthquake risks, or to AmRisc for wind cover for risks on the Gulf Coast.”

ZEST’s goal is to be recognized as the premier underwriter of CAT and E&S business, driven by a platform of providing industry-leading capacity and underwriting experience, a commitment to service excellence, financial strength*, market presence stability, claims expertise, and breadth of distribution network. “The financial strength that Zurich in North America has is critical, as a great deal of E&S is CAT-exposed so you want to make sure you can meet those financial obligations,” says Patrick.

Whether through primary or excess programs, ZEST provides property insurance products, capacity, and services through its unique distribution network of PAs and wholesale brokers tailored to meet the specific and ever-changing financial risk exposures facing customers. “We build value for the organization through the strength of our relationships with our distribution network and by consistently producing stable operating results,” says Patrick.

Agency retailers can access PAs through Zurich’s, which includes programs beyond the E&S market. A simple registration process provides the retailer with an ID and you can access information on about 45 programs through the site, including earthquake coverage from Arrowhead and coverage for condos and luxury apartments in Florida through Sigma. To access the Web site, go to or click HERE.

“We saw the opportunity to expand into a segment in which we had a smaller footprint,” says Patrick. “We are very excited about ZEST and the people behind it including our program administrators. We have a lot of experience…and are open for business.”

For more information about Zurich's programs business, contact Jim Runyan by email at

*For information about the ratings of Zurich American Insurance Company, access the ratings section on For more complete financial information about the Zurich Financial Services Group and ratings for Zurich Insurance Company Ltd., access