Business Moves

AIM, Quincy Mutual

A.I.M. Mutual Insurance Cos. and Quincy Mutual Group will join forces to create the Commercial Solutions Underwriting Alliance, a business arrangement designed to meet the commercial lines product needs of small to medium-sized employers in Massachusetts

A.I.M. is a specialty insurer focused on workers’ comp in The Bay State, while Quincy Mutual has a specialty in commercial auto, property and liability.

“Together, we’re able to offer an enhanced, complete commercial lines program,” said K. Douglas Briggs, president and CEO of Quincy Mutual.

John Myers, president and CEO of A.I.M. Mutual said that the arrangement “allows us to retain and generate business by capitalizing on the product strengths and distribution systems of each other.”

Among the features of the Alliance is an account credit for companion policies purchased through the Alliance.

Casco, Ohio Mutual

Ohio Mutual Insurance Group has reached an agreement to acquire N.E. Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary Casco Indemnity Co., a property and casualty insurer based Saco, Maine.

The transaction is expected to close by year’s end.

Ohio Mutual President and CEO Jim Kennedy said the acquisition is the “largest and first out-of-state acquisition in the company’s 109-year history.”

N.E. Corp. is a holding company jointly owned by the Hingham Group, headquartered in Hingham, Mass., and Phenix Mutual Fire Insurance Co., headquartered in Concord, N.H.

Casco Indemnity was formed in 1985 by a consortium of seven New England insurers, and currently offers commercial auto, personal auto, and personal umbrella insurance in six states – Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and South Carolina – through a network of 140 independent agents.

The company had $17.4 million in direct written premium in 2009, reported a statutory surplus of $8.8 million at the end of 2009, and currently holds a “B+” rating from A.M. Best Co. The company currently has 23 associates.

The deal is subject to regulator approval in Maine and Ohio.

First Niagra, Summit

New York-based First Niagara Risk Management has acquired Summit Insurance Group and Summit Benefits, both of Pennsylvania, for an undisclosed sum.

The two businesses, founded by Rennie Rodriguez and Kevin McAdams, will adopt the First Niagara brand immediately, the company said.

First Niagara Risk Management is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Niagara Bank in Buffalo.

Summit Insurance Group, which offers risk management, employee benefits consulting and investment services, is based in Broomall.

First Niagara has recently targeted Pennsylvania for its expansion plans. In August, the firm acquired RTI Insurance Services, Inc. and Three Rivers Financial Services Inc., both in western Pennsylvania.

First Niagara Risk Management CEO Joseph Teresi said the recent acquisitions show the company is “moving forward with our strategic plan to build our organization throughout our footprint.”

Rodriguez and McAdams, who founded Summit in 1997, will assume leadership positions for First Niagara Risk Management in the eastern Pennsylvania region.

Liberty Mutual, Videocon

Boston-based insurer Liberty Mutual Group has created a partnership Videocon Industries Ltd. to launch a property casualty insurance joint venture company in India to provide personal and commercial insurance products through a range of distribution channels.

The two companies intend to begin the licensing application process for the new company before the end of the year.

Liberty Mutual Chairman and CEO Edmund F. Kelly said that “India’s rapidly growing economy and expanding middle class, demonstrated by per capita GDP growth of more than 150 percent over the past 10 years, means that ever more Indians will be buying insurance to protect their property and possessions.” He called the company “a superb partner and we look forward to working with them… (they’re) the perfect complement to Liberty Mutual’s insurance capabilities and experience in emerging markets.”

Liberty Mutual said that, under the proposed agreement, it would initially hold up to a 26 percent stake in the new company through a subsidiary, while Videocon will hold at least 74 percent.

When allowed to do so under applicable Indian law, the Liberty Mutual Group subsidiary will have the option to raise its stake in the joint venture.

Upon approval by Indian regulators, the company will provide multi-line insurance underwriting capabilities to various distribution channels, with an emphasis on personal insurance products such as Motor, Health, Home and Personal Accident protection.

“India’s growth demands Liberty Mutual’s presence,” said David H. Long, Liberty Mutual’s president. “We have ambitious plans to develop a professional, service oriented general insurance business. With Videocon, we have a partner who shares our vision. Together, we will build a premiere company worthy of the Indian consumer’s trust and respect.”

Ambac

Ambac Financial Group Inc., which was the second-largest U.S. bond insurer before suffering huge losses on risky mortgages, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The filing cements Ambac’s decline from a company that once guaranteed payments on more than $550 billion of debt, and helped state and local governments nationwide lower their borrowing costs.

The N. Y.-based company had warned that a bankruptcy filing was possible by year-end if it failed to agree with bondholders on a plan to restructure $1.62 billion of debt. In a statement Ambac said it was unable to raise needed capital and failed to agree with senior bondholders on a plan to conduct a “prepackaged” bankruptcy, which would have allowed for a speedy restructuring. (Reuters)