Business Moves

June 2, 2008

Areté Partners

Ronald J. Leston, broker, financial planner and benefits/retirement consultant, announced the launch of Areté Partners LLC, a Denver-based management and human capital consultancy that will offer insurance brokerage, benefits consulting and financial services to clients in North, Central and South America.

Areté Partners brings together the resources, services and capabilities of three separate organizations. It is the merger of Denver-based Arete; Human Capital Consulting, Diversified Insurance Services of Castle Rock, Colo., and WSF Financial Services of Chicago. According to Leston, Areté’s CEO, the company will be based in Denver, have an office in Chicago, and has plans to open offices in Los Angeles and Mexico City in fall 2008.

Areté will work with organizations of all sizes and industries, both private and publically traded, and offer the following services:

  • Risk services and insurance: commercial insurance policies from a large selection of insurance providers including commercial property insurance, general liability, umbrella excess liability, commercial auto, workers’ compensation, employment practices liability, directors and officers’ liability, errors and omissions liability, international policies, business travel accident, business continuity plans and risk management services.
  • Employee benefits brokerage and consulting, actuarial services, work site health care, pharmacy benefit consulting and audits, health management and wellness solutions, regulatory compliance, benefits administration, employee education and enrollment services, data analytics, organizational communication, association plans, purchasing cooperatives and voluntary benefits.
  • Retirement plan consulting and administration, from operating a retirement plan effectively to maximizing participation and meeting ERISA responsibilities. The company will offer administration and compliance services, consulting and plan design, employee education and communication, access to investment options, tools for ERISA fiduciaries.
  • Global benefit solutions, including assistance with coverage’s and mandates from more than 30 countries, with an emphasis on Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. Global benefits consultants will provide international employee benefits consulting and brokerage services for expatriate employee medical insurance plans, third-country national (TCN) medical insurance plans, global business travel accident insurance, and international group life and disability insurance.
  • Auditing Services to ensure clients’ medical management and claims administrator and pharmacy benefit managers are effectively managing their health care costs. Audit services include medical management, medical, dental and large claim, prescription, eligibility and hospital bill. The company will work directly with providers to increase the recovery of payments for claims that a third-party has reimbursed.
  • Financial services to high net worth individuals that will formulate strategies around issues and concerns, including cash flow and budgeting, estate planning, retirement planning, investment analysis and strategies, and risk management and insurance.

The word areté in English refers to sharp, rugged glacially carved ridgeline leading to a mountain summit. In ancient Greece, areté was the word for the aggregate qualities of superiority, integrity, effectiveness and valor — “reaching your highest potential.”

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Solera National Bank, Allstate

Solera National Bank, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Solera National Bancorp Inc., has announced a a strategic partnership with James Muniz, exclusive agent for Allstate Insurance Co., whereby Allstate will establish a satellite agency office in each of Solera’s existing and future branch locations. The Muniz agency is one of the largest Allstate agencies in Colorado, with more than 5,000 client households. Like Solera National Bank, the Muniz agency and Allstate Insurance Co. serve the mainstream market but also have a significant niche market focus serving Hispanic clients.

According to the companies, the relationship is an opportunity for the bank to continue its community efforts of strategically aligning itself with prominent financial services firms.

Paul M. Ferguson, Solera National Bank CEO, said, “Our relationship with James Muniz and Allstate will allow Solera National Bank to offer our clients comprehensive financial products and services not typically offered by community banks”.

Solera National Bank is a traditional, community commercial bank with a core-competency in servicing and understanding the culturally diverse and dynamic Hispanic market.

Employers Holdings

Reno, Nev.-based Employers Holdings Inc. reported net income for the first quarter in 2008 was $25.5 million, down from the $27.9 million earned in the same period in 2007.

First quarter net premiums earned declined $13.9 million or 15.5 percent to $75.9 million in 2008 from $89.8 million in 2007. The company said the decline was largely due to rate decreases resulting from previously enacted reforms in California. The impact of those rate decreases was partially offset by an overall in force policy count increase of 10.7 percent, Employers said.

The first quarter 2008 combined ratio of 83 percent (89.3 percent before its Loss Portfolio Transfer Agreement) improved from the first quarter 2007 combined ratio of 85.4 percent (90.5 percent before the LPT). The combined ratio improvement was due primarily to lower losses and loss adjustment expense (LAE) partially offset by an increase in the underwriting and other operating expense ratio resulting from lower net earned premiums, the company said.

First quarter underwriting and other operating expense decreased to $21.7 million in 2008 from $23.3 million in 2007, primarily due to reduced consulting fees related to the company’s conversion in the first quarter of last year, a decline in premium taxes and lower general operating expenses.

Commenting on the company’s performance, President and CEO Douglas D. Dirks said, “While our top line is lower first quarter 2008 over first quarter 2007, we continue to see solid increases in our in force policy count. Our growth in California remains strong, and benefits from declining loss trends have continued into the first quarter of this year. We are also making progress in completing our acquisition of AmCOMP Inc., which will provide us with immediate growth in premium and a more diversified earnings base.”

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Insurance Journal West June 2, 2008
June 2, 2008
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