Business Moves

July 23, 2007

Willis, InsuranceNoodle

Willis Group Holdings Limited, the global insurance broker, has acquired Chicago-based InsuranceNoodle, an Internet distributor of U.S. small business insurance. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

InsuranceNoodle offers Willis a proprietary Web-based technology platform for online application and quoting from multiple carriers for a variety of commercial insurance products.

InsuranceNoodle’s technology will provide a foundation for Willis Small Commercial to pursue the small business insurance market, according to the firms.

Willis is also getting an electronically linked managing general agency, Noodle Specialty Brokers, which is also designed for the small business market.

InsuranceNoodle says it currently works with more than 2,500 active agencies across the country.

Joe Plumeri, Willis chairman and CEO, said InsuranceNoodle, with its technology and relationships with insurance carriers and agents across the country, offers “a greatly improved, lower-cost way to reach and service this key market in the U.S.”

“Small business is a big business growth opportunity for Willis,” Plumeri said.

Don Urbanciz, InsuranceNoodle holding company CEO, who will become North American CEO for Willis Small Commercial, said he sees the alignment leading to more product and service offerings and deepened access to carriers.

Andrea Paris, who prior to the transaction was promoted to lead the centralization of Willis’ small commercial business, continues in that role and will assist the InsuranceNoodle management team in integrating its business model into the company.

Farmers, Bristol West

Los Angeles-based Farmers Insurance Group has completed its acquisition of non-standard auto insurer, Bristol West Holdings Inc., based in Davie, Fla.

Farmers officials described the acquisition as a “great fit” that will enable the company with its overall business growth. Bristol West has been providing nonstandard, private passenger auto insurance to Florida residents since 1973. Since that time, it has grown to provide liability and physical damage insurance as well, operating in 26 states.

Hales & Co., WFG Capital Advisors

Hales & Co. Inc. in New York, an investment banking firm specializing in the insurance industry, has acquired the insurance financial firm, WFG Capital Advisors LP of Harrisburg, Pa.

Founded in 1973, Hales is one of the oldest firms providing mergers and acquisitions and corporate finance advice to insurance agents, brokers, insurance companies, and related financial services businesses. Since 2005, the firm reports it has completed over $1.0 billion of transactions in the insurance industry.

WFG, founded in 1996, is a national financial advisory firm focused on mergers and acquisitions and strategic consulting for the insurance industry.

Rob Lieblein, president and CEO of WFG, will join the Hales organization.

Hales has offices in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Hartford.

Catlin, Kentucky

Catlin Group Limited has established an equine underwriting unit in Lexington, Kentucky.

The Lexington office will be staffed by a four-member equine underwriting team, headed by Sheila Gott. Gott has 36 years of experience in the equine insurance industry, most recently with XL Insurance where she served as managing underwriter for six years.

Gott and her team will underwrite various classes of equine business, consisting primarily of Mortality, Named Perils, Theft, Prospective Foal, Barrenness, Stallion AS&D, Stallion First Season Infertility, Stallion Availability, Stallion Loss of Income and Major Medical-Surgical coverages.

Gott was formerly vice president and managing underwriter of XL Insurance, where her responsibilities included development, implementation and management of pricing tools and methodologies, rate change management, oversight of internal audit and training of technical staff. Prior to joining XL Insurance, she worked for Great American Insurance Co. as a claims adjuster and held various management positions for Old Colony Insurance Service.

Lanier Upshaw

Lakeland, Fla.-based insurance agency Lanier Upshaw has created a practice group tailored to meet the private insurance needs of high net worth clientele in Florida. The group, named Private Risk Management, will insure high value items such as primary and secondary residences; vehicles including automobiles, RVs, boats, airplanes and yachts; and other items such as jewelry, fine art and collectibles. In addition to possessions, Lanier Upshaw’s Private Risk Management provides coverage for excess liability, kidnap and ransom, identity theft and more.

U.S. Risk, Boston Insurance Brokerage

U.S. Risk Insurance Group Inc., a managing general agency and surplus lines wholesaler headquartered in Dallas, has expanded into New England by acquiring Boston Insurance Brokerage Inc. in Boston.

Boston Insurance Brokerage ( is a wholesale property and casualty broker with a production base of more than 800 producers in New England and estimated premiums of $40 million. The company has five divisions: Property, Casualty, Healthcare, Workers’ Compensation and Executive & Professional Liability.

Boston Insurance Brokerage will become a subsidiary of U.S. Risk Brokers, the division of U.S. Risk that offers wholesale excess and surplus lines.

Gordon Bewick, president of Boston Insurance Brokerage, and his staff will stay on at Boston Insurance Brokerage, retaining that trade name for a least a year. Financial terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

U. S. Risk Insurance Group Inc.’s affiliate companies include U.S. Risk Underwriters, U.S. Risk Brokers, Lighthouse Underwriters, LLC, Professional Claims Managers, Omnisure Consulting Group, NCG Professional Risks Ltd. (London), and NovaPro Risk Solutions LP.

From This Issue

Insurance Journal West July 23, 2007
July 23, 2007
Insurance Journal West Magazine

2007 Excess, Surplus and Specialty Markets Directory, Vol. II; 2nd Quarter Market Survey

Skip to toolbar