Business Moves

August 2, 2010

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual Group has reorganized its commercial property, casualty and specialty lines insurance units as well as claims and loss control services for the insurer’s national accounts and mid-sized business clients. The new distribution and service organization will provide agents and brokers with a single point of entry for accessing commercial lines, the insurer says.

The new distribution and service management group will operate through six new geographic divisions and a major accounts division. “Our geographic divisions feature expertise in national accounts, middle market and field services, offering agents and brokers local decision making and greater responsiveness to help them meet their clients’ wide-ranging needs,” said J. Paul Condrin, president of Liberty Mutual’s Commercial Markets strategic business unit.

Mark A. Butler has been appointed president of the new distribution and service management group.

Hanover Group, ICW Group

Worcester, Mass.-based The Hanover Insurance Group Inc. has closed on an agreement with ICW Group that is designed to enhance The Hanover’s surety capabilities in the West, including Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas and Washington.

Through the arrangement, The Hanover has hired 20 specialized ICW Group surety underwriters and field support staff, enabling the company to build its market presence and field capability in its western expansion states, while helping its agent partners grow their businesses. At the same time, The Hanover said it expects to gain access to a quality book of surety business delivered through approximately 100 independent agents.

Initially, The Hanover expects to write as much as $15 million of ICW Group contract surety business as a result of the agreement.

ICW Group is a privately held, super regional property/casualty insurance organization with underwriting operations targeting workers’ compensation, non-standard private passenger auto and earthquake insurance. The agreement with The Hanover aligns with ICW Group’s strategy to more singularly focus its people, technology, and resources on its core businesses. The transaction also represents an opportunity for ICW to streamline its operations and transition its surety line to a larger surety carrier.

ProSight, NYMAGIC

New York-based specialty insurer NYMAGIC will be acquired by ProSight Specialty Insurance Holdings Inc. The deal is worth approximately $230 million, with stockholders receiving $25.75 per share in cash – a premium of 23.5 percent to NYMAGIC’s closing price the day the sale was announced.

ProSight Specialty Insurance was founded by CEO Joseph Beneducci and a group of senior executives from the P&C industry and is backed by affiliates of TPG Capital and GS Capital Partners.

ProSight aims to create and deliver specialized products through limited, exclusive distribution partners.

NYMAGIC Chairman Robert G. Simses the company’s board “strongly believes that this transaction will create attractive long-term opportunities for our employees, customers and business partners.”

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

Markel, Aspen Holdings (FirstComp)

Specialty insurer Markel Corp., has struck a deal worth at least $135 million to acquire Aspen Holdings, which sells workers’ compensation under the name FirstComp to small businesses in 31 states.

Aspen, which is headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, operates primarily through FirstComp Insurance Co., a Nebraska-domiciled insurance company; FirstComp Underwriters Group, Inc. and FirstComp Insurance Agency Inc., which act as managing general agents; and REX, Inc., which operates as a wholesale intermediary.

Aspen’s subsidiaries underwrite more than $300 million of gross written premium annually. They operate through a network of 9,000 retail agents and employ 500 people in Nebraska, Rhode Island, Nevada, California and Florida.

Following the acquisition, Aspen will continue to operate as a separate business unit, with Luke Yeransian, Aspen’s current CEO, as president. The operating unit will be part of Markel’s specialty admitted segment, headed by Mike Crowley, Markel’s president and co-chief operating officer.

Aspen’s shareholders will receive up-front consideration of approximately $135 million in cash plus certain stock option value, according to Markel.

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and approval of Aspen’s shareholders, and is expected to close before year-end.

The acquisition comes at a time of declining premiums and rising combined ratios for workers’ compensation carriers across the country.

Markel, based in Richmond, Va., plans on using Aspen’s technology platform to offer additional Markel specialty product lines.

Bollinger, David Szerlip

New Jersey-based insurance broker Bollinger Inc. has acquired David Szerlip Associates of Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, a specialist in insurance programs for nonprofits.

The firm’s clients ranged from large, international nonprofits to small start-ups. David Szerlip will continue with Bollinger and serve as senior vice president. He and his staff will relocate to Bollinger’s Short Hills location later this month.

Jack Windolf, chairman and CEO of Bollinger said the acquisition “will help solidify Bollinger’s growing presence in this specialty area.”

Allied Insurance/Ascinsure Specialty

Pittsburgh-based Allied Insurance Brokers has rebranded its wholesale brokerage division as Ascinsure Specialty Risk.

The newly branded wholesale unit will specialize on insurance solutions for crane owners and operators, rental equipment and party goods dealers, scaffolding and inland marine markets.

“Our broker department has always operated independently of our retail side so it just made sense to differentiate them with a unique name and logo,” said President Marty O’Brien.

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Insurance Journal West August 2, 2010
August 2, 2010
Insurance Journal West Magazine

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