Business Moves

July 2, 2007

Commerce West, Stonewood Agency

The Commerce Group Inc.’s California-based subsidiary, Commerce West Insurance Co., has entered into a general agency agreement with Stonewood Insurance Services Inc. of Rancho Cordova, Calif., which promises to bring the insurer up to $170 million in California private passenger automobile insurance in the next three years.

Commerce West anticipates writing $20 million in premiums during the first 12 months, $50 million during the next year and $100 million in year three of the relationship. Stonewood will be responsible for the sale of Commerce West’s Nation Safe, Protection and Select auto insurance policies through its retail distribution network throughout California.

“Through this relationship, we will continue to build a more geographically diverse business,” said Gerald Fels, president and chairman of the board of The Commerce Group Inc., which is based in Webster, Mass.

In addition to providing sales support, Stonewood will provide Commerce West with administrative and other services, including billing, customer service, policy processing and management services.

Commerce West is a California-domiciled property/casualty insurance company, which had $56.1 million in direct written premiums in 2006. Commerce West primarily writes personal auto insurance in California.

The Commerce Group Inc.’s property/ casualty insurance subsidiaries include The Commerce Insurance Co. and Citation Insurance Co. in Massachusetts, Commerce West Insurance Co. in California, American Commerce Insurance Co. in Ohio, and State-Wide Insurance Co. in New York.

Stonewood is a general agency that focuses on private passenger automobile insurance throughout California.

Millennium Corporate Solutions, Golden Pacific

Millennium Corporate Solutions of Irvine, Calif., and Golden Pacific Insurance Services Inc. of Monrovia, Calif., have merged. According to Sergio D. Bechara, chairman of MCS, the GPIS office will relocate its operations to a new MCS office in Glendale, Calif. Fritz Mutter, GPIS founder, will be managing partner of MCS’ Los Angeles operation.

According to Steve Saporito, MCS COO, the consolidation of its Pasadena, Calif., employees and the GPIS Monrovia operation into the Glendale location will help the company to reach its growth goals in the Los Angeles region.

Edgewood Partners Insurance Center

Trident IV L.P., a private equity fund managed by Stone Point Capital, announced that it, along with John G. Hahn and Dan R. Francis, have committed to invest up to $100 million to form Edgewood Partners Insurance Center, a new retail property/casualty and employee benefits insurance brokerage firm in California.

The firm will have a structure that provides key employees, producers, acquired principals and executive management the opportunity to hold equity ownership stakes in the firm, the investors said.

Edgewood Partners will be led in partnership by John G. Hahn and Dan R. Francis, who have more than 50 years of combined industry experience. Hahn built Tri-City Brokerage, an independent wholesale brokerage, before its sale to BISYS. He was scheduled to leave his position as president of BISYS Commercial Insurance Services on June 30, 2007. Francis spent the past 10 years in executive positions, most recently as CEO of ABD Insurance Services Inc., a subsidiary of Greater Bay Bank Corp.

Edgewood Partners expected to close its initial platform acquisition by June 30 and begin operations throughout California immediately thereafter. Charles A. Davis, the CEO of Stone Point Capital, said, “We believe there is a unique opportunity in the brokerage space in California to build a retail operation that aligns the interests of shareholders with those of producers and management.”

Stone Point Capital is a global private equity firm that manages the Trident Funds.

Employers Holdings

Reno, Nev.-based Employers Holdings Inc. announced that insurance rating bureau A.M. Best has affirmed its financial strength rating of “A-” and assigned issuer credit ratings of “a-” to Employers Insurance Group and its two pooled property/casualty operating subsidiaries, Employers Insurance Co. of Nevada and Employers Compensation Insurance Co. Concurrently, A.M. Best has assigned an ICR of “bbb-” to Employers Holdings Inc. The outlook for all ratings is positive.

Francis L. Dean & Associates

Francis L. Dean & Associates, a national underwriting facility specializing in sports and entertainment, has opened two offices: one in El Segundo, Calif., and the other in Ocala, Fla. The two offices will be managed by underwriters who relocated from the company’s headquarters in Wheaton, Ill. Alyson Norrbohm has relocated to California, and Breda Dean has moved to Florida. The company said additional staff members have moved from Illinois to staff the two new offices.

Topics California

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Insurance Journal West July 2, 2007
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