The Burns and Wilcox Louisiana office was recently recognized as one of the Offices of the Year. Louisiana Managing Director, Bonnie Steen, CPCU, AINS, CIC said, “Our experienced staff and broad market access along with excellent agency relationships allows us to continue to earn this prestigious recognition.” The award was presented at the Kaufman Leadership Meeting held virtually in October. The Louisiana office includes the Metairie, Baton Rouge and Monroe offices. This award has been presented to the Louisiana office for multiple years in a row.


The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute announced Dec. 14 that Dr. Robert Hartwig, clinical associate professor of finance and director of the Risk and Uncertainty Management Center at the University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, will deliver the keynote address at WCRI’s 38th Annual Workers’ Compensation Issues and Research Conference to be held March 16–17 in Boston, Massachusetts. Hartwig will discuss the current and future impacts of disruptions (such as wage and medical inflation, labor shortages, and remote work) caused by Covid-19 on state workers’ compensation systems. Prior to joining the Darla Moore School of Business, Hartwig was president and economist for the Insurance Information Institute in New York and in prior positions worked for Swiss Re, the National Council on Compensation Insurance and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. His research focuses on insurance markets and structures, risk management, pandemic risk, risk-bearing capital market instruments, the financing of technology risks, and venture capital in insurance markets. The WCRI conference two-day program highlights the institute’s latest research findings while drawing upon the diverse perspectives of workers’ compensation experts and policymakers from across the country.


The leader of the wreck ring that stalked truckers with dangerous freeway collisions in New Orleans topped the Coalition Against Insurance Fraud’s 2021 Insurance Fraud Hall of Shame. Busy freeways stretching around New Orleans were frightening ordeals for truckers passing through town. Damian Labeaud led a sprawling crime ring that maneuvered innocent big rig drivers into at least 40 sideswipes and collisions. Labeaud packed cars with passengers like motorized sardine cans. Then he and his cohorts staged the freeway crashes, claiming the innocent truckers were at fault. The passengers were unharmed, yet lied that they had painful neck and back whiplash injuries. Many passengers were ghosts. They weren’t even in the cars, yet claimed they were hurt, according to the coalition. Labeaud feasted on the truckers’ insurers with millions of dollars in dummied-up injury claims. Whiplash is a hard-to-prove soft-tissue injury. Unlike broken bones that can easily show up in X-rays, whiplash is easy to fake and hard for insurers to medically dispute.


Hub International Limited announced Dec. 8 that it has acquired the insurance brokerage assets of Gregory Benefits and Consulting LLC. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Located in Lake Charles, Gregory Benefits and Consulting provides employers and individuals with employee benefits solutions. Rich and John Gregory and the entire Gregory Benefits and Consulting team will join Hub Gulf South. “We are excited to welcome Gregory Benefits and Consulting to Hub,” said Shaun Norris, president of Hub Gulf South. “Their employee benefits experience will provide added depth to our existing capabilities and establish our presence in Southwest Louisiana.” Rich Gregory expects to have the opportunity to broaden his agency’s service offering to clients.


Stonetrust Workers’ Compensation President and CEO Michael G. Dileo announced that the company is writing workers’ compensation coverage in Kansas and Alabama, effective Jan. 1. “Our focus is to continue providing great service to our loyal agents, their policyholders and their injured employees. We are also currently working on plans to enter Iowa and Georgia by the end of 2022,” Dileo said. Stonetrust is headquartered in Baton Rouge, and operates in 10 states including Louisiana, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, Missouri, and Tennessee as well as Kansas and Alabama. Stonetrust specializes in statutory workers’ compensation insurance for employers large and small, with a concentration in healthcare, construction, wholesale, retail, manufacturing, and other service-related businesses.

VYRD Insurance Co., a new insurer serving homeowners in Florida, announced Dec. 13 in a news release the launch of a joint venture between SiriusPoint Ltd., a specialty insurer and reinsurer, and insurtech company Bolttech. VYRD said it will use cutting-edge technology to bring solutions to customers in Florida where demand for homeowners insurance capacity outpaces supply. VYRD, based in St. Petersburg, is the first Florida-domiciled property and casualty company licensed in the state in three years. The company was licensed Nov. 30 and expects to take 42,000 policies from Florida’s Citizens Property Insurance Co., with the first takeout set for February. Led by CEO David Howard, VYRD’s leadership team brings more than 75 years of experience insuring homes in Florida and the Gulf Coast, VYRD said. Howard previously led Lighthouse Property Insurance Co. Among the 150 carriers that Bolt serves as a technology partner for, 19 are Florida homeowners insurers, another 13 offer condo coverage in Florida, and 12 offer Florida auto. VYRD is partnering with more than a dozen companies based in Florida or with deep roots in the Sunshine State to provide services, including actuarial rate development, underwriting, policy and claims administration, and inspections, the company said.


Catastrophe modeling firm Karen Clark and Co. said Dec. 14 it expects insured losses of about $3 billion from the swarm of tornadoes and severe convective storms that caused destruction in parts of the United States this month. The estimates for storms between Dec. 9 and Dec. 12 include the swarm of tornadoes that tore a 200-mile path through six states in the Midwest and South, demolishing homes, leveling businesses and setting off a scramble to find survivors beneath the rubble. The barrage of tornadoes killed at least 74 people in Kentucky, officials said Dec. 13. The powerful twisters, which weather forecasters say are unusual in cooler months, destroyed a candle factory and the fire and police stations in a small town in Kentucky, ripped through a nursing home in neighboring Missouri, and killed at least six workers at an Amazon warehouse in Illinois. KCC’s estimate includes the privately insured damage to residential, commercial, and industrial properties and automobiles.