Business Moves

February 21, 2010

OneBeacon, Tower Group

Massachusetts-based OneBeacon Insurance Group has agreed to sell its personal lines business to Tower Group Inc. in a deal that comprises two affiliate insurers and two reciprocal insurance exchanges in New York and New Jersey.

The agreement calls for New York-based Tower to pay $78 million to acquire Massachusetts Homeland Insurance Co. and York Insurance Co. of Maine as well as New Jersey Skylands Management and Adirondack AIF, the attorneys-in-fact for the reciprocal insurers Skylands Insurance Co. and Adirondack Insurance Exchange.

The transaction is valued at around $180 million and is expected to close at the end of the second quarter.

Net written premium for the affected books was approximately $420 million in 2009.

Tower said the combination will create a separate and distinct business segment with annualized premiums written and managed of approximately $700 million. Tower expects to hire the majority of OneBeacon’s personal lines employees and plans to use OneBeacon’s products and systems.

OneBeacon CEO Mike Miller said the transaction “will complete OneBeacon’s transformation into a specialty company. We have had great success with our specialty teams since 2001 and we are excited about our future profitability and growth in those markets.”

OneBeacon will retain all of its specialty lines including the collector car and boat business produced through Hagerty Insurance and the personal lines assigned risk business written through AutoOne.

Miller said the sale will “free up significant capital” and reduce the insurer’s catastrophe exposure.

B&B

B&B Insurance Agency & Bail Bonds has opened in Salisbury, Maryland. Agency Principal LaVerne Marie Boone says the recently established agency offers policies from a several insurers — including Foremost and Travelers — and offers auto, home, boat, recreational vehicles and other coverages. Agency staff includes Vice President Floyd Boone as well as William A. Curtis, an agent.

iPeople

iPeople will launch a new merger and acquisition service for insurance agencies, brokerage firms and managing general agents throughout the United States. iPeople, a Washington, D.C.-based insurance consulting firm, will now assist firms with any details when considering buying, selling or merging with another organization. The company will focus on acquisition targets ranging from Main Street agencies to national brokers.

Great American, Synergy Professional

Great American Insurance Group’s Executive Liability Division (ELD), based in Schaumburg, Ill., appointed Synergy Professional Associates of Kinnelon, N.J., as its national production coordinator for Multi-Employer/Taft-Hartley Plan Fiduciary Liability Insurance.

Great American’s ELD has been providing management liability insurance for more than two decades. Its Multi-Employer Plan Fiduciary Liability Underwriting Unit was organized in 2005 and is focused on addressing the personal liability of management and labor union-appointed fiduciaries of multi-employer trust funds.

United P&C

United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. of Florida is seeking approval to write homeowners insurance in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina and New Jersey.

The company, which opened for business in 1999, currently writes 96,000 homeowners, dwelling fire, and flood policies throughout Florida, and said it expects to be able to offer similar products in the expansion states. It now writes a small amount (7 percent of its premium) of commercial insurance for small businesses.

“We decided that the time was right to explore other markets and potentially expand our geographic footprint,” said Don Cronin, CEO, “and we think United’s products particularly fit the needs of homeowners in these regions of the United States. Our experience in Florida at managing our exposure and adapting to changing market conditions will assist us greatly in our attempts to expand into new markets.”

The St. Petersburg-based company went public in September 2008 when it merged with FMG Acquisition Corp. It distributes it products through independent agency groups.

United Insurance Holdings Corp. conducts business through three subsidiaries: United Property & Casualty Co., a licensed insurer; United Insurance Management, a managing general agency; and Skyway Claims Services, a claims adjusting service.

Since its inception in 1999, United Insurance Holdings Corp. has reported a profit every year, even during the hurricane heavy years of 2004 and 2005. In 2008, it posted net income of $33.4 million.

Greg C. Branch, chairman of the board, is the founder of United. He was previously chairman of Sunz Insurance Co., a Florida domiciled workers’ compensation insurer, and chairman of the board of Summit Southeast, which went public in 1997 and was acquired by Liberty Mutual in 1998.

Donald J. Cronin, named president and CEO in 2002, was previously with United Agents Insurance Co. of Louisiana.

Liberty Mutual

Insurer Liberty Mutual Group says it will spend $300 million to expand its global headquarters in Boston, a move that’s expected to add 600 new full-time jobs for the insurer.

The insurer already has more than 2,500 employees in our Boston headquarters, making it one of the largest private employers in the city.

Liberty Mutual recently acquired the former Salvation Army building and the Benjamin Franklin Smith building, which are located adjacent to the current Liberty Mutual home office campus at 175 Berkeley St.

Edmund F. Kelly, Liberty Mutual Group chairman, president and chief executive officer said, “We thank Mayor (Thomas) Menino, Governor (Deval) Patrick and their staffs for working so hard and creatively with Liberty Mutual to make this investment in Boston and its future economically attractive.”

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