Category Archives: Insurance

General Star Launches Allied Health and Churches & Schools Programs

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

General Star Management Company has announced the debut of the Allied Health and Churches & Schools Programs. The programs will be offered through Promont Insurance Advisors, the program administrator. Together, they will provide eligible risks with customized insurance solutions. The programs will be written on a non-admitted basis.

Promont Insurance Advisors is a Chicago-based, industry-leading, specialized underwriting organization with a focus on Home Healthcare providers and Churches.

Coverage will be written by General Star Indemnity Company, rated A++ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company, and carries an AA+ Insurance Financial Strength Rating from Standard & Poor’s Corporation. General Star is a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Reinsurance Corporation, a member of the Berkshire Hathaway family of companies.

“This partnership is another exciting piece of our strategic commitment to providing insureds with the best possible coverage and care,” stated Jeff Longbons, President of Promont Insurance Advisors. “A critical element to the partnership is our ability to expand the product offerings of two very important pieces of Promont’s portfolio: Allied Health and Churches & Schools Programs. In addition to possessing financial stability, General Star is a stalwart player in the Managing General Agency and Program Administration space. They understand how to help Promont continue to improve our industry-leading response time and service levels.”

“We are excited to partner with Promont to provide coverage on a customized basis for allied health risks as well as insureds in the churches and schools marketplace,” said Scott Ginsberg, VP and Program Underwriting Executive for General Star. “Promont has a nationwide reputation as a professional program administrator, with in-depth industry expertise. We are delighted to add that skill to the equation.”

General Star President and CEO Martin Hacala said he is eager to expand General Star’s program offerings via this recent collaboration with Promont. “Their specialized knowledge of the business is a terrific advantage. I have great confidence in the ability of the program to rapidly achieve its potential. Allied Health and Churches & Schools will have the comfort of a very secure insurer ready to deliver the protection they need.”

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Vanderbilt Mortgage Acquires Silverton Mortgage

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

While Warren Buffett may be unable to find a reasonably priced, multi-billion-dollar acquisition. Berkshire’s subsidiaries continue to make what Buffett refers to as “bolt-on” acquisitions.

These acquisitions add on to Berkshire’s existing businesses, expanding their reach and scope of operations.

The latest acquisition came recently when Berkshire’s Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance, a financier of manufactured and modular homes, acquired Silverton Mortgage.

Silverton Mortgage has 22 locations and is licensed in Alabama, Colorado, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Founded in 1998, Silverton Mortgage grew from a one-person shop to a top residential mortgage lender with 170 employees, and is one of the nation’s fastest growing financial companies.

Despite the acquisition by Vanderbilt, Silverton Mortgage will be retaining its name, leadership, employees and corporate identity following the transaction.

Expansion is also in the works. It is also anticipated that, because of this transaction, Silverton Mortgage will expand its footprint and increase its access to capital to develop an expanded line of products and services for its clients. There will be no lapses in service for borrowers currently working with the company.

“While we were not actively looking to be acquired, we are grateful for this opportunity to expand our services, both in terms of geographic footprint and loan product offerings, while keeping our identity and the great people that have built our culture of unparalleled service to our customers and communities,” said Josh Moffitt, who will stay on as the president and CEO of Silverton Mortgage. “This is a unique opportunity to keep what makes Silverton special, while also improving the service and lives of our customers and employees.”

Vanderbilt Mortgage services over 200,000 loans and also offers financing for eScore energy efficient home improvements.

Bolt-On Acquisitions Continue to Power Berkshire’s Growth

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Adding More Than 1,400 Employees in Indianapolis

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Insurer GEICO plans to add more than 1,400 new associates–including hundreds of IT professionals–as the company grows its operations in Greater Indianapolis.

The company’s office, at 101 W. 103rd St. in Carmel, will nearly double in size after an expansion that will add an additional 104,000 square-feet.

With the larger space, GEICO Indianapolis will add IT and claims positions to its existing sales, service and emergency roadside operations.

The GEICO Greater Indianapolis office brought more than 250 jobs to the area when it opened in the summer of 2013. Over the years, the office has more than quadrupled its workforce to more than 1,100 associates to become one of the area’s largest employers.

“The support of this thriving community and our growing customer base in Indiana have made this expansion possible,” said Lona J. Montgomery, general manager of the Indianapolis office. “We are excited to bring on new associates to help us continue to offer excellent service to our customers across the state.”

Nearly 350 IT and claims positions will be added this year, with the others slated to be added over the next five years.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire’s Insurance Losses from Hurricane Season ran to $3 Billion

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Last fall’s spate of three mega-catastrophe hurricanes that hit the U.S. has led to billion dollar losses for Berkshire Hathaway’s insurance companies.

“We currently estimate Berkshire’s losses from the three hurricanes to be $3 billion (or about $2 billion after tax),” Warren Buffett stated in his annual letter to shareholders. “If both that estimate and my industry estimate of $100 billion are close to accurate, our share of the industry loss was about 3%. I believe that percentage is also what we may reasonably expect to be our share of losses in future American mega-cats.”

Despite the scale of the disasters, Buffett noted that the impact on Berkshire was minor, with it reducing Berkshire’s GAAP net worth by less than 1%.

He went on to note that other reinsurers “suffered losses in net worth ranging from 7% to more than 15%.”

Buffett wrote that a mega-catastrophe hurricane that caused $400 billion in damage, which the company estimates has a 2% probability annually, would see Berkshire incurring losses in the $12 billion range.

A loss of that magnitude would in no way jeopardize the conglomerate, as it is below the annual income generated by Berkshire’s non-insurance activities.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Opens Office in Dubai

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company has received its insurance license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority and established an office in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), while naming Alessandro Cerase as its Senior Executive Officer (SEO) and Neeraj Yadvendu as deputy SEO and Head of Third Party Lines for the Middle East.

In addition, Alessandro will be leading First Party Lines for BHSI’s broader Asia Middle East region, which includes BHSI’s other regional hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore as well as its operations in Malaysia and Macau.

“We are excited to expand BHSI’s footprint in this region which will service those markets in the Middle East and beyond who seek (re)insurance support in the DIFC. The strategic location of Dubai as well as the stability and efficiency of the DIFC make it an ideal hub for BHSI to support economic growth in the region. Our operation in the DIFC will bring BHSI’s financial strength, and underwriting and claims excellence to the region.” said Marc Breuil, President of Asia Middle East, BHSI. “We are excited to be able to serve customers and brokers in the region under the experienced leadership of Alessandro and Neeraj.”

BHSI will provide a suite of specialty and commercial (re)insurance products to its network of brokers and ceding companies with a focus on construction, energy, property, marine, casualty and executive and professional lines.

Alessandro comes to BHSI with 20 years of global experience spanning both the engineering and underwriting sides of the insurance business. He was most recently Global Head of Energy and Engineered Risk at AIG. He holds a master’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Universita’ degli Studi di Roma.

Neeraj joins BHSI after two decades in the insurance industry, most recently as Regional Head of Casualty and Financial Lines at AXA Asia. He received his master’s degree in Business Administration from India’s University of Pune, and his bachelor’s degree from City College, Calcutta University.

2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Ajit Jain Not Only Helps Run Berkshire, He Owns Berkshire

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Newly appointed Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Ajit Jain not only oversees all of Berkshire’s insurance operations, he has a significant stake in the conglomerate.

Berkshire’s regulatory filing this past Thursday revealed that Jain has roughly $109 million in Berkshire stock.

Jain owns $21.7 million of Berkshire stock, and also indirectly owns $87.5 million of Berkshire stock held by his wife, a family non-profit foundation and two family trusts.

The filing makes clear that Jain needs to not only stay in Warren Buffett’s good graces, he definitely need to be good to his wife.

2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

General Star Launches Online Individual Real Estate Appraisers with Norman-Spencer

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway’s General Star Management Company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Reinsurance Corporation, has launched an online Individual Real Estate Appraisers Program. General Star will partner with Norman-Spencer Agency, Inc., the program administrator.

“In October, General Star partnered with Norman-Spencer to provide coverage for real estate agents and brokers. We are excited to expand this collaboration to include an online platform for individual real estate appraisers. General Star has a long history of insuring real estate appraisers and we are happy to continue that tradition,” said Tom Gersch, Vice President and General Star Programs Unit Manager.

In commenting further upon the program, General Star President and CEO Marty Hacala stated, “General Star is fortunate to partner with Norman-Spencer. They are an established and knowledgeable program administrator. We will be working together to address the changing and developing needs of real estate appraisers.”

The online Appraisers Program provides specialized Errors and Omission coverages designed specifically for the unique needs of individual real estate appraisers. They can choose a range of limits from $300,000/$600,000 to $1 million/$2 million. There is no deductible. Additional services include a toll-free hotline for risk management and pre-claim assistance.

The online individual Real Estate Appraisers Program will be written on an admitted basis by General Star National Insurance Company which is rated A++ (Superior) by A.M. Best Company and carries an AA+ Insurance Financial Strength Rating from Standard & Poor’s Corporation.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Greg Abel and Ajit Jain Join Berkshire Board

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

In a move that clearly foreshadows the next generation of Berkshire Hathaway leadership, Berkshire’s Board of Directors voted to increase the number of directors comprising the entire Board of Directors from twelve to fourteen. After making that move, Gregory E. Abel and Ajit Jain were then elected to serve as Directors to fill the resulting vacancies on the Board of Directors.

In connection with their election to the Board of Directors, Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s Chairman and CEO, appointed Mr. Abel to be Berkshire Hathaway’s Vice Chairman – Non-Insurance Business Operations and Mr. Jain to be its Vice Chairman – Insurance Operations.

Mr. Abel joined Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company in 1992 and currently serves as its Chairman and CEO. Mr. Jain joined the Berkshire Hathaway Insurance Group in 1986 and currently serves as Executive Vice President of National Indemnity Company with overall responsibility for leading Berkshire’s reinsurance operations.

In March 2016, Buffett appointed Abel to the Board of Kraft Heinz, a move that showed his confidence in the 55-year-old manager.

For the time being, Buffett and Munger will continue in their existing positions, including being responsible for significant capital allocation decisions and investment activities.

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Ranked 7th Among Global Insurers

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway has been ranked as the number seven insurer among the top ten list of global insurers. Berkshire climbed three notches from last year’s ranking.

The ranking of the world’s largest global insurance companies by non-banking assets was released by A.M. Best in the Jan. 1, 2018, issue of BestWeek.

The top 10 global insurers ranked by 2016 non-banking assets are:

1. MetLife Inc., United States
2. AXA S.A., France
3. Allianz SE, Germany
4. Prudential Financial Inc., United States
5. Japan Post Insurance Co., Ltd., Japan
6. Nippon Life Insurance Company, Japan
7. Berkshire Hathaway Inc., United States
8. Prudential plc, United Kingdom
9. Legal & General Group plc, United Kingdom
10. Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A., Italy

© 2018 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company Offers Professional First Financial Institution Professional Indemnity Insurance in Asia

(BRK.A), (BRK.B)

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company (BHSI) has introduced Professional First Financial Institution Professional Indemnity (FIPI) Insurance in Asia.

“Financial institutions are seeing an increase in both the frequency and severity of professional indemnity claims.” said Scotland Walsh-Riddle, Head of Executive & Professional Lines at BHSI Hong Kong. “To respond to their needs, we’re introducing comprehensive and customizable protection to address the exposures FI professionals face now.”

The new BHSI policy is designed to cover a range of claims, from allegations of failure to disclose information, to misleading financial advice and breach of contracts. It combines coverage for civil liability, pre-investigations, mitigation expenses, bail bond costs, court attendance, loss of documents, and more.

“Financial institutions deliver diverse services to their customers,” said Edwin Sim, Assistant Vice President of Executive & Professional Lines at BHSI Singapore. “Hence, we have set out to provide them with the peace of mind that comes with broad FIPI coverage. Through clearly articulated wording, BHSI Asia’s FIPI insurance policy will provide our customers with the security of coverage backed by unmatched financial strength.”

The policy is designed for medium to large financial institutions, including securities dealers, regional banks, insurance companies, reinsurance companies, diversified institutions, and financial technology (FinTech) and corporate advisory firms.

© 2017 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.