USG Insurance Services Inc. announced Jan. 4 the promotion of Ron Capo to producer/broker commercial lines in Covington. Capo has been with USG since November 2019 as an associate producer/broker. In his new position, Capo will continue building his book of business and agency relationships while assisting in the expansion of USG’s southern territory. Capo’s promotion is the most recent change that USG has implemented in its plan to continue expanding its operations nationally as a leading wholesale brokerage firm. USG has 20-plus offices across the country and represents 300-plus A-rated carriers, both admitted and non-admitted.

Financial Assurance announced Jan. 5 the addition of Laura Donnaway to its staff. Donnaway, a graduate of Loyola University with a degree in history, got her start in the insurance business 32 years ago with Aetna Casualty and Surety. After a two-year stint with Aetna, she joined Alvarez-Donnaway-Passons in 1992 which eventually became Donnaway Insurance. Most recently, Donnaway was president of Donnaway Insurance which sold its book of business to Financial Assurance on Jan. 1. She is a past president of the Independent Insurance Agents of New Orleans and served on the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Louisiana board of directors for six years. Donnaway holds the CIC designation. Her primary responsibilities with Financial Assurance will be sales and mentoring the younger members of the staff.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon announced Jan. 12 his appointment of John Parker Ford as deputy commissioner of public affairs. Ford has been the director of communications for the Louisiana Association of Health Plans and the Texas Association of Health Plans. He started at the Louisiana Department of Insurance in 2020 as executive director of the Louisiana Automobile Theft and Insurance Fraud Prevention Authority and became executive director of the Louisiana Health Care Commission in 2021. Previously, Ford served as a press officer for the Louisiana Department of Health and as the legislative aide to Sen. Sherri Smith Buffington. Ford graduated from Louisiana State University with a bachelor’s degree in mass communication. “John’s wide range of communications experience will be beneficial as he moves into his new role at the department,” said Donelon. “We are fortunate to have someone with John’s background in both the legislative arena and the insurance industry. I am glad to add him to the team.” Ford is moving into the position following the departure of Rebecca Mowbray, who is leaving to become president and CEO of the Bureau of Governmental Research in New Orleans. Ford’s appointment took effect January 17.

RSUI Group Inc. announced Jan. 10 the appointment of Phillip McCrorie to the position of chief executive officer, succeeding David Leonard, who will become executive chairman until he retires from active employment on March 31. The CEO transition was effective Jan. 1. McCrorie has been with RSUI since 2003, first as the firm’s CFO, then as executive vice president, and since July 2019, as RSUI’s president. Andrew Whittington and Lee Sjostrom, along with the human resources, claims and actuarial departments will report to McCrorie. Other leadership changes include the appointment of Whittington as president and chief underwriting officer and Sjostrom as chief operating officer. Sjostrom will retain his executive vice president and chief financial officer titles. Sjostrom joined RSUI in 2003 and has been the CFO since 2012 and executive vice president since July 2019. Whittington has been with RSUI since 2004 and most recently served as executive vice president and property department manager since July 2019.


Homeowners renewing their home insurance policies are finding that premiums are on the rise, the Washington Post reported Dec. 26, citing the Insurance Information Institute. Several factors have pushed home insurance premiums up by an average of four percent to $1,398. Since 2017, rates have increased 11.4 percent on average. Dale Porfilio, III’s chief insurance officer, expects rates will remain high, and could go even higher. The cost of insuring a home can be affected by location, whether or not it was built to withstand natural disasters, the cost of rebuilding after it was destroyed or damaged and the cost of building materials. Despite the increases, experts say regulators are keeping rate increases in check. For example, the Post said, homeowners insurance premiums in California haven’t kept pace with costly claims linked to wildfires.

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon announced Dec. 28 his approval of the National Council on Compensation Insurance’s loss cost filing for a 10.5 percent reduction in workers’ compensation rates. The decrease will take effect May 1. Workers’ compensation rates dropped 25 percent over the last five years; 38 percent over the last ten years, and 57 percent over the past 20 years. “Workers’ compensation rates have been a great success story in our market,” Donelon said. “We’ve seen a strong downward trajectory in rates over the past two decades, including this year’s double-digit decrease. Our workers’ compensation market is thriving, and that’s great news for Louisiana employers.” Founded in 1923, NCCI’s mission is to foster a healthy workers’ compensation system. In support of its mission, NCCI gathers data, analyzes industry trends, and provides objective insurance rate and loss cost recommendations to its 35 member states and the District of Columbia.  NCCI members can adopt the approved rate or use NCCI’s analysis with their own loss experience to make their own rate filing with the Louisiana Department of Insurance. The 2021 Louisiana workers’ compensation insurance market is estimated to total about $850 million in written premium. Louisiana has 249 companies writing workers’ compensation insurance.


UIM Holding Co. and its subsidiary, Universal Fire and Casualty Insurance Co., have merged with Shield Indemnity Inc. to form a new property/casualty-focused holding company, Universal Shield Insurance Group Inc. UFCIC is an admitted insurer and insurtech with a strategic product and technology focus and specialization in underwriting commercial P/C and specialty surety, Universal Shield said in a statement released Jan. 11. Shield Indemnity, which had been focused on general liability, has been restructured as a surplus lines company. The combination will allow UFCIC and Shield Indemnity to offer a range of products and deploy its combined capital through an intercompany pooling arrangement, Universal Shield said. UFCIC’s existing executive leadership team, led by Timm and Richard Klimaszewski, Timm as CEO and Richard as president and chief operating officer, will manage Universal Shield Insurance Group.

Wright National Flood Insurance Company, announced Dec. 29 its agreement to acquire the flood insurance policy book from Westfield Insurance Company. Wright Flood will service, administer and issue flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program for Westfield policyholders and agents. Additionally, Wright will assume the servicing of Westfield’s private flood business. Wright Flood has more than 40 years of experience exclusively in the flood insurance industry. Patricia Templeton-Jones, the president of Wright National Flood Insurance Services, said, “Westfield has provided flood coverage solutions for the past 20 years for its agent partners and policyholders. We look forward to continuing their long history and providing their agents with our experience in the flood insurance industry.” Beginning in early 2022, Wright Flood will manage Westfield’s NFIP flood placements. All new policies and renewals will be issued by Wright National Flood Insurance Company, which is A.M. Best rated as A- (Excellent) for financial strength. For retail agents accessing flood coverage through Westfield, there will be minimal change in the process to continue to provide NFIP flood insurance coverage for policyholders. Wright and Westfield representatives together will be in contact with their agents. Westfield was founded in 1848.

Darag Group announced Jan. 4 that it has entered into a stock purchase agreement and received regulatory approval to buy Nebraska-based property/casualty company Acceptance Insurance Co. The Nebraska entity was immediately merged into a previously acquired Texas entity after receiving the necessary regulatory approvals, Darag said in a statement. The move will provide an immediate increase in surplus to assist with the expansion of the Texas entity across all 50 states and will meet key organizational objectives in North America, the acquirer said. In a September order, the Texas Department of Insurance approved the acquisition of Vesta Insurance Corp., of Dripping Springs, Texas, by Darag North America for $4.5 million. In January 2005, Acceptance Insurance Cos. filed a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, but the company said at the time the move wouldn’t affect assets or operations of its Omaha-based subsidiary, Acceptance Insurance Co. The Council Bluffs, Iowa-based insurance holding company filed for reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Nebraska. Two of Acceptance’s noninsurance company subsidiaries — Acceptance Insurance Services Inc. and American Agrisurance Inc. — filed voluntary petitions for liquidation under Chapter 7 of the Bankruptcy code. Vesta is a domestic property/casualty insurance company in rehabilitation, the TDI order said.

Hallmark Financial Services Inc. said Dec. 23 that it is no longer actively pursuing a separation of its specialty commercial segment and doesn’t intend to proceed with an initial public offering of the business. The insurer’s board of directors will continue to evaluate all actions that may enhance shareholder returns, Hallmark said in a statement. “Hallmark and its subsidiaries are well-positioned to benefit from current conditions in the insurance market, including a continuing favorable pricing environment,” said Mark Schwarz, chairman, president and chief executive officer. The company said current evaluations by its board noted “significant progress achieved over the past 18 months,” including the completion of a loss portfolio transfer transaction and improved underlying operating results for the nine months of 2021. Hallmark has three segments — specialty commercial, standard commercial and personal. In April, Hallmark said it planned an IPO for a non-controlling stake in what would be a new specialty commercial company. It planned to offer an economic ownership stake of about 50 percent in Hallmark Specialty Group while retaining a majority of the combined voting power of Hallmark Specialty shares through its ownership of high-vote common shares, Hallmark said at the time.