United Insurance Holdings Corp., parent company of one of Florida’s largest property insurers – and one that has seen heavy losses in the last two years – announced that its board of directors is now exploring a range of options to raise capital, including the sale of the company or merger with another.
Other options include “subsidiary divestiture, formation of a new Florida-domiciled reciprocal exchange, as well as the sale of equity, surplus notes or other financing or strategic transactions,” UPC Insurance said in a news release posted Wednesday.
The company also said it has retained Insurance Advisory Partners, an investment banking and consulting firm as its financial advisor, and Debevoise & Plimpton, an international law firm, as its legal counsel to assist in the review process.
The announcements fueled speculation that the insurer, which until recently held more than 180,000 policies in Florida, is in worse financial shape than expected, despite significant steps that company leaders have taken in the last year. A sale or merger could bring millions of dollars in fresh capital, similar to the restructuring measures followed by Florida-based FedNat Insurance Co. in May.
FedNat, after large storm losses in Louisiana, agreed to a restructuring consent order with Florida regulators, moving thousands of policies to a subsidiary, Monarch National Insurance. Hale Partnership Capital Management then took a majority stake in Monarch and invested $15 million into it.
The publicly traded UPC reported a $33 million loss for the first quarter of 2022, on the heels of $60 million in negative net income for 2021 and $95 million in losses for the year before, thanks in part to big weather damage in Louisiana. UPC’s combined ratio topped 120 last year, down slightly from the previous year, but considerably higher than in 2017.
In the last nine months, the St. Petersburg-based insurer has undertaken some major efforts to stem the losses. In December, UPC agreed to sell its personal lines in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina to HCI Group Inc. In January, UPC stopped writing new homeowner business in Florida while asking for a rate increase for some types of policies.
In April, the company said it was merging two subsidiaries, Journey Insurance Co. and American Coastal, and would distribute much of Journey’s capital to other subsidiaries.
In June, Wright National Flood Insurance said it will take over UPC’s flood insurance book of business.
UPC company officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday evening and Thursday morning. The company’s news release notes that it was founded in 1999 and continues to write some policies in Florida, Louisiana, New York and Texas. It also wrote in Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, but renewal rights there have been sold and all premiums and losses are ceded, the company said.
The Thursday news release suggested that further details about a potential sale may not be available anytime soon.
“There can be no assurance that this process will result in the company pursuing a particular transaction and the company does not intend to disclose further developments unless and until it determines that further disclosure is appropriate or necessary,” UPC said.
United Insurance Holdings stock was selling for $1.37 a share Thursday morning, up slightly from the day before, but considerably lower than a year ago.
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