Florida’s United Insurance to Expand Into 7 Northeast, Southeast States

United Property & Casualty Insurance Co. in Florida said it 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, L.C., a managing general agency; and Skyway Claims Services, LLC, a claims adjusting service.

Last week, the company reported it had received approval from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation for rate increases on its Protector homeowner and Guardian dwelling fire products. United’s homeowner policies written or renewed on or after March 15, 2010 will reflect an overall average rate increase of 14.0 percent, while its dwelling fire policies written or renewed on or after April 15, 2010 will reflect an overall average rate increase of 14.7 percent.

The increases are in addition to the 12.7 percent average rate increase on homeowner policies and the 15.0 percent average rate increase on dwelling fire policies, both of which became effective in late 2009, according to the insurer.

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

For the first nine months of 2009, United reported gross written premiums increased to $128.5 million from $106.8 million in the prior year period, primarily resulting from growth in new business and improved policy retention. United reported net income of $5.2 million for the nine months ended Sept. 30, 2009, compared to net income of $26.6 million during the same period 2008.

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 Company of Louisiana.