Amwins Group Inc, the largest independent wholesale distributor of specialty insurance products. announced March 5 that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Worldwide Facilities, the fourth largest wholesale broker in the U.S. Worldwide broadens the specialty capabilities of Amwins and expands its footprint, especially on the west coast. “The acquisition is a watershed moment, not just for Amwins, but the specialty distribution space,” said Scott M. Purviance, chief executive officer of Amwins. The combined firm will have more than 1,025 employee shareholders owning 43 percent of the business. Expected to close in April 2021, the Worldwide team, led by Davis Moore, will join the Amwins leadership team. Amwins previously acquired 50 companies, and the combined firm will have more than 6,151 employees in over 155 offices across the U.S., and place in excess of $24 billion in premium annually. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Headquartered in Chicago, Hub International Limited announced March 9 that it has acquired the assets of Louisiana-based The Juban Insurance Group. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Located in Baton Rouge, The Juban Insurance Group is an independent insurance agency specializing in business and personal insurance. Juban’s expertise in commercial auto and real estate supports Hub’s specialty practices by complementing and strengthening Hub’s existing capabilities. Phillip Juban, president of The Juban Insurance Group, along with his team, will join Hub Gulf South. The Juban Insurance Group is the newest addition to expand Hub’s services in Louisiana and the Gulf South region.
Higginbotham, an independent insurance and financial services firm based in Fort Worth, Texas, announced March 3 that it has partnered with Mike Knotts, an insurance agency owner and broker in Bossier City, to establish its first brick-and-mortar in Louisiana. Knotts, who opened his first agency in 1996, leads a team of 20 commercial insurance and employee benefits professionals with expertise in managing group captive insurance programs focused primarily in the transportation industry. The union adds a ninth state to Higginbotham’s footprint and gives the firm specialty expertise in group captive insurance, an alternative to self-insurance whereby a parent group or group of businesses creates an insurance company to provide coverage for itself. This strategy avoids the use of traditional insurance carriers and affords the ability to insure difficult risks and increase cash flow. Knotts and his team will operate as Higginbotham and make the captive insurance service available companywide under the name Higginbotham Risk Strategies. Higginbotham named Knotts a managing director, and he will continue leading the Bossier City team.
Steve Menzies, chairman of Applied Underwriters, announced Feb. 22 that Centauri Insurance has acquired the renewal rights to approximately 16,700 policies across Alabama, Louisiana, and South Carolina from Gulfstream Property and Casualty Insurance Company and Gulfstream Select Insurance Company (collectively, Gulfstream). The transaction is expected to diversify Centauri’s presence as it expands to further scale the efficiency of its operations. Regulatory approvals were required in all three states. According to Jamie Sahara, president of Applied Underwriters and leader of the company’s corporate development efforts, the renewals are strategically positioned geographically and include commercial and personal lines of business. Ron “Nate” Natherson, president of Gulfstream, stated, “We are very pleased that we can enter into this arrangement with Centauri as it provides our insureds and agency partners the ability to renew their business with a highly respected insurer who will deliver quality service to them.
National General Insurance announced recently that Darren King has been named business development manager for the state of Louisiana, where he will handle National General’s homeowners and flood markets. Previously, King was a marketing representative for Progressive Insurance Company, calling on independent agents in Louisiana for the past 14 years. In his new position, King will support the overall effort to expand National General’s homeowners and flood footprint in Louisiana, continuing to focus on independent agents throughout the state. King can be reached at 225-226-5037 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
LUBA Workers’ Comp announced Feb. 25 that the 30-year-old regional casualty insurance company recently received an A- (Excellent) rating with a stable outlook from AM Best Company for the 17th consecutive year. Founded in 1991, LUBA is based in Baton Rouge and operates in seven states: Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Tennessee. The previously announced acquisition of Florida-based FHM Insurance Services brings LUBA into an additional six states. LUBA’s A- (Excellent) rating is a testament to its strong operating performance, dependable claims handling practices, long-term stability and financial fortitude. Carrying an A- (Excellent) rating since 2003 speaks to LUBA’s reputation as a trusted insurance carrier. LUBA has an expansive network of independent agency partners, covers more than 157,000 workers and writes in excess of $80 million in premium. “We are proud that this rating reflects our sound business practices and dedication to delivering genuine dependability to the agents we work with and the employers we serve,” said David Bondy, LUBA founder and chief executive officer. “This has been a tough year for many businesses, and we’ve always taken seriously the trust they put in us.”
AM Best has removed from under review with positive implications and upgraded the financial strength rating to A+ (Superior) from A- (Excellent) of insurance subsidiaries of National General Holdings Corp. The outlook is stable. The rating action considers National General’s inclusion in an intercompany reinsurance treaty, which consists of affiliated insurance entities within the Allstate organization. This agreement became effective Jan. 4, 2021. The 23 subsidiaries of National General Holdings affected by the rating upgrade include National General Insurance Company, Imperial Fire and Casualty Insurance Company, Direct General Insurance Company and Integon Casualty Insurance Company, according to AM Best. Headqartered in New York City, National General serves a wide range of customer segments through a network of approximately 42,300 independent agents for property and casualty products, according to a statement by Allstate announcing its acquisition of National General, formerly GMAC Insurance Group.
AM Best announced March 4 that it has revised the outlooks to negative from stable and affirmed the financial strength rating of A (Excellent) of the operating subsidiaries of James River Group Holdings, Ltd. JRG Holdings is domiciled in Pembroke, Bermuda, while its subsidiaries are based in Pembroke; Richmond, Virginia, and Raleigh, North Carolina. The revised outlook follows the announcement of adverse reserve development within the commercial auto line in JRG Holdings’ excess and surplus segment and to a lesser extent the group’s casualty reinsurance segment. Notably, the reserve development within the commercial auto line involves a sizable account that has been placed in runoff. AM Best expressed its concern with the group’s balance sheet strength, given the recurring nature of the reserve development for the group’s commercial auto line account. AM Best’s view is that long-term mitigation of the impact of this account is necessary to demonstrate stability in the group’s reserves and consistent risk-adjusted capital levels. The revised outlook and financial strength rating apply to the following subsidiaries of James River Group Holdings, Ltd.: James River Insurance Company, James River Casualty Company, Falls Lake National Insurance Company, Stonewood Insurance Company, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, JRG Reinsurance Company Ltd. and Carolina Re Ltd.
DeRidder-headquartered Amerisafe Inc. announced Feb. 24 that its net income fell more than 16 percent for the fourth quarter of 2020 due to factors such as a soft workers’ compensation market and natural disasters. “A global pandemic, natural disasters and a recession, coupled with a soft workers’ compensation market, made 2020 a unique challenge,” President and Chief Executive Officer G. Janelle Frost said. The workers’ compensation insurer reported net income of $28.5 million for the quarter, down from $34.0 million a year ago. The net combined ratio rose to 70.4 percent from 59.6 percent in the year-ago period. Gross premiums written in the quarter fell by 10.8 percent. Net investment income for the quarter decreased 10.0 percent to $7.2 million from $8.0 million in the fourth quarter of 2019, which Amerisafe said was due to lower interest rates on fixed income securities. Frost said the company was able to meet the challenges of 2020 and the fourth quarter through its “employees’ dedication to service” and a strong foundation built over “years of discipline in underwriting and claims management.” Favorable case development from prior accident years helped drive a 33.9 percent hike in Amerisafe’s net income in the second quarter of 2020.
The number of litigation funders active in the U.S. market grew from 41 in 2019 to 46 in 2020, according to Westfleet Advisors, a litigation brokerage firm. Despite the economic slowdown in 2020, litigation funding increased by six percent, Westfleet stated in its second annual report. Even though litigation funding has been a relatively opaque industry, Westfleet began surveying litigation financing in 2019. Litigation funding provides capital in exchange for a portion of any recovery. The 46 active funders executed 312 new U.S. litigation finance deals in total, committing $2.17 billion. For 2020, the average dollar value of the transactions Westfleet analyzed was $7.8 million. Single matter deals averaged $4.5 million, while portfolio transactions averaged $12.8 million. Only about five percent of applications for funding were closed, according to Westfleet. The number of dedicated litigation funding firms remains small, with most being privately held, although hedge funds and ad hoc investors play a somewhat increased role, according to Westfleet. Obtaining information was difficult in that 2020 was an unusual year, and Westfleet has drawn some criticism from industry insiders, with some large funders refusing to participate in surveys, suggesting Westfleet’s results are biased by its role as a broker.
As approved by Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon, the annual loss cost filing of the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) reduces workers’ compensation rates 4.1 percent, effective May 1. The rate reduction continues the downward trend of seven of the last eight years. Rates have had a cumulative drop of 25 percent over the last five years. Donelon announced the rate reduction on March 10. “For years we’ve seen these rates come down due to competition in the market, improved workplace safety and better risk management practices. In a time where many small businesses are struggling, I’m glad that workers’ compensation insurance can be a line in their budgets that is decreasing,” he said.
FEMA says the NFIP has closed 87 percent of the 1,227 claims submitted and paid more than $45 million. Hurricane Laura struck Southwest Louisiana on Aug. 27, 2020, as a Category 4 storm. The Louisiana Department of Insurance said the parishes of Calcasieu, Rapides, Beauregard, Ouachita, and Vernon had the most claims of all kinds from the storm. The department reported in late January 2021 that as of Dec. 31, 2020, insurers had closed 77 percent of non-NFIP claims from Hurricane Laura, 59 percent of which were closed with payment. Total paid losses, plus reserves, on reported claims from all surveyed lines of insurance for Hurricane Laura at the end of 2020 came to $6.6 billion; that figure does not include NFIP claims, the department said.