State Auto Realigns Units, Announces Leadership Hires, Changes

August 25, 2015

State Auto Financial Corp. today announced changes to the company’s leadership and a redefining of the company’s key business units.

The changes were announced by Mike LaRocco, who took over as president and CEO in May.

Kim Garland has been tapped to head Personal Lines. Garland has joined the company as senior vice president, standard lines, and will be responsible for all personal lines business, including farm and ranch, as well as small commercial business. He’ll also be managing director of State Auto Labs, a newly formed small incubator/research and development unit.

Garland was most recently chief product officer of AIG’s consumer division. He previously helped lead the restructuring of United Guaranty, AIG’s mortgage insurance company, as its COO and later CEO. He also managed the personal auto business at Safeco and started Safeco’s innovation company, Open Seas Solutions.

Commercial Lines will be led by Jessica Buss, who is senior vice president, specialty lines. She will add middle market and large commercial business to her responsibilities. Buss joined State Auto in 2009 through its acquisition of the Rockhill Insurance Group, where she was chief operations officer (COO) and chief financial officer (CFO). She previously served as CFO of Citizens Property Insurance Corp. She is a Certified Public Accountant who spent five years in public accounting with Thomas, Howell, Ferguson and Arthur Andersen, specializing in insurance services.

To lead information technology and corporate strategy, Greg Tacchetti will join State Auto as senior vice president and chief information and strategy officer. Tacchetti was an owner, founder and CEO of AssureStart, a company that sells small business insurance online. He was chief administrative officer of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. and Allianz of America, and held a senior management role with Safeco, where he was senior vice president of property/casualty financial operations. Prior to joining Safeco, Tacchetti was Northeast operations director at GEICO.

Steve Hunckler will become senior vice president and chief administration/services officer. His responsibilities will include field service, customer service, call centers, agency operations, purchasing and facilities. Hunckler currently serves as State Auto’s senior vice president and chief claims officer. Hunckler joined State Auto in 2009 after serving as executive vice president and chief claims officer at Balboa Insurance in Irvine, Calif. He has been in P/C claims with senior management roles at CNA, Travelers, AIG and Zurich American.

Paul Stachura will join State Auto as senior vice president and chief claims and loss control officer. Stachura is currently chief claims and loss control officer at QBE North America. He held the same role at Fireman’s Fund Insurance and was senior vice president of international claims and European zone claims at Chubb Corp.

LaRocco in Charge

“With these changes, I’m confident we’re building an organization that’s aligned and focused on our goal to grow profitably in every line and win in the marketplace,” said LaRocco.

Michael LaRocco
Michael LaRocco

On May 8, LaRocco assumed the duties of Robert P. Restrepo Jr., who is staying on as chairman of the companies until his retirement on Dec. 31.

LaRocco has served as president and chief operating officer at Safeco Insurance Companies, and president and CEO of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. Before joining State Auto, he was president and CEO of AssureStart, a Seattle-based technology startup selling small business insurance online.

State Auto Financial Co., headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, is a super regional property/casualty insurance holding company that does business in 33 states. The State Auto Group includes State Automobile Mutual, State Auto Property & Casualty, State Auto Ohio, State Auto Wisconsin, Milbank, Meridian Security, Patrons Mutual, Rockhill Insurance, Plaza Insurance, American Compensation and Bloomington Compensation.

Financials

On July 30, State Auto Financial released its second quarter results showing net income of $2.7 million for the quarter versus net income of $3.0 million, or $0.07 per diluted share, for the second quarter of 2014. but an overall operating loss.

The combined ratio for the second quarter 2015 was 106.1 versus 107.3 for the second quarter of 2014. Catastrophe losses during the second quarter 2015 accounted for 11.4 points of the 72.1 total loss ratio points, or $35.5 million, versus 7.9 points of the total 71.0 loss ratio points, or $21.2 million, for the same period in 2014.

Net written premium for the second quarter of 2015 increased 15.0 percent over the same period in 2014

For the first six months of 2015, the company had net income of $27.4 million, compared to net income of $30.1 million, for the same 2014 period.

The combined ratio for the first six months of 2015 was 100.3 compared to 103.2 for the same 2014 period.
Net written premium year to date 2015 increased 15.3 percent compared to the same 2014 period.

LaRocco called the second quarter of 2015 “particularly disappointing” as personal and commercial auto non-cat loss ratios deteriorated, reflecting changes in expected severity and ultimate claim counts.

He outlined his plan for going forward: “Our highest priorities are reducing expenses and reversing declines in production, which will lead to profitable growth. A significant factor in that effort is the work we’re doing to become a more nimble, responsive and ultimately more profitable company. We’ll improve product design and segmentation and strengthen our data analysis capabilities, making us a more relevant competitor. We’ll implement a technology plan that makes us easier to do business with and supports profitable growth. And our goals, compensation and culture will be aligned with where we’re going.”

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