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Products: The Travelers Companies, Inc. (TRV)

Property and Cansualty Insurance Operations(Property and Casualty Insurance)
Business Insurance(Business Insurance)
Bond & Specialty Insurance(Bond & Specialty Insurance)
Personal Insurance(Personal Insurance)

The Travelers Companies, Inc.

The Travelers Companies, Inc. (together with its consolidated subsidiaries, the Company) is a holding company principally engaged, through its subsidiaries, in providing a wide range of commercial and personal property and casualty insurance products and services to businesses, government units, associations and individuals. The Company is incorporated as a general business corporation under the laws of the State of Minnesota and is one of the oldest insurance organizations in the United States, dating back to 1853. The principal executive offices of the Company are located at 485 Lexington Avenue, New York, New York 10017, and its telephone number is (917) 778-6000. The Company also maintains executive offices in Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota. The term “TRV” in this document refers to The Travelers Companies, Inc., the parent holding company excluding subsidiaries.

Property and Cansualty Insurance Operations

The property and casualty insurance industry is highly competitive in the areas of price, service, product offerings, agent relationships and methods of distribution. Distribution methods include the use of independent agents, exclusive agents, direct marketing and/or salaried employees. According to A.M. Best, there are approximately 1,150 property and casualty groups in the United States, comprising approximately 2,600 property and casualty companies. Of those groups, the top 150 accounted for approximately 92% of the consolidated industry’s total net written premiums in 2017. The Company competes with both foreign and domestic insurers. In addition, several property and casualty insurers writing commercial lines of business, including the Company, offer products for alternative forms of risk protection in addition to traditional insurance products. These products include large deductible programs and various forms of self-insurance, some of which utilize captive insurance companies and risk retention groups. The Company’s competitive position in the marketplace is based on many factors, including the following:

  • ability to profitably price business, retain existing customers and obtain new business;

  • premiums charged, contract terms and conditions, products and services offered (including the ability to design customized programs);

  • agent, broker and policyholder relationships;

  • ability to keep pace relative to competitors with changes in technology and information systems;

  • ability to use data and analytics to make decisions;

  • speed of claims payment;

  • ability to provide a positive customer experience;

  • ability to provide products and services in a cost effective manner;

  • ability to provide new products and services to meet changing customer needs;

  • ability to adapt to changes in business models, technology, customer preferences or regulation impacting the markets in which the Company operates;

  • perceived overall financial strength and corresponding ratings assigned by independent rating agencies;

  • reputation, experience and qualifications of employees;

  • geographic scope of business; and

  • local presence.

In addition, the marketplace is affected by the available capacity of the insurance industry, as measured by statutory capital and surplus, and the availability of reinsurance from both traditional sources, such as reinsurance companies and capital markets (through catastrophe bonds), and non-traditional sources, such as hedge funds and pension plans. Industry capacity as measured by statutory capital and surplus expands and contracts primarily in conjunction with profit levels generated by the industry, less amounts returned to shareholders through dividends and share repurchases. Capital raised by debt and equity offerings may also increase statutory capital and surplus.

Pricing and Underwriting

Pricing of the Company’s property and casualty insurance products is generally developed based upon an estimation of expected losses, the expenses associated with producing, issuing and servicing business and managing claims, the time value of money related to the expected loss and expense cash flows, and a reasonable profit margin that considers the capital needed to support the Company’s business. The Company has a disciplined approach to underwriting and risk management that emphasizes product returns and profitable growth over the long-term rather than premium volume or market share. The Company’s insurance subsidiaries are subject to state laws and regulations regarding rate and policy form approvals. The applicable state laws and regulations establish standards in certain lines of business to ensure that rates are not excessive, inadequate, unfairly discriminatory, or used to engage in unfair price competition. The Company’s ability to increase rates and the relative timing of the process are dependent upon each respective state’s requirements, as well as the competitive market environment.

Geographic Distribution

The following table shows the geographic distribution of the Company’s consolidated direct written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018:

Location % of Total
Domestic:  
California 9.8
New York 9.6
Texas 7.9
Pennsylvania 4.5
Florida 4.2
New Jersey 3.9
Illinois 3.8
Georgia 3.5
Massachusetts 3
All other domestic 43.2
Total Domestic 93.4
International:  
Canada 4.5
All other international 2.1
Total International 6.6
Consolidated total 100

 

Catastrophe Exposure

The Company’s property and casualty insurance operations expose it to claims arising out of catastrophes. The Company uses various analyses and methods, including proprietary and third-party computer modeling processes, to continually monitor and analyze underwriting risks of business in natural catastrophe-prone areas and target risk areas for conventional terrorist attacks (defined as attacks other than nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological events). The Company relies, in part, upon these analyses to make underwriting decisions designed to manage its exposure on catastrophe-exposed business. For example, as a result of these analyses, the Company has at various times limited the writing of new property and homeowners business in some markets and has selectively taken underwriting actions on new and existing business. These underwriting actions on new and existing business include tightening underwriting standards, selective price increases and changes to deductibles specific to hurricane-, tornado-, wind- and hail-prone areas. The Company also utilizes reinsurance to manage its aggregate exposures to catastrophes. 

Business Insurance

Business Insurance offers a broad array of property and casualty insurance and insurance-related services to its customers, primarily in the United States, as well as in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil and throughout other parts of the world as a corporate member of Lloyd’s.  Business Insurance is organized as follows:

Domestic

  • Select Accounts provides small businesses with property and casualty insurance products and services, including commercial multi-peril, workers’ compensation, commercial automobile, general liability and commercial property.
  • Middle Market provides mid-sized businesses with property and casualty insurance products and services, including workers’ compensation, general liability, commercial multi-peril, commercial automobile and commercial property, as well as risk management, claims handling and other services. Middle Market generally provides these products to mid-sized businesses through Commercial Accounts, as well as to targeted industries through Construction, Technology, Public Sector Services and Oil & Gas, and additionally, provides mono-line umbrella and excess coverage insurance through Excess Casualty. Middle Market also provides insurance for goods in transit and movable objects, as well as builders’ risk insurance, through Inland Marine; insurance for the marine transportation industry and related services, as well as other businesses involved in international trade, through Ocean Marine; and comprehensive breakdown for equipment, including property and business interruption, through Boiler & Machinery.

  • National Accounts provides large companies with casualty insurance products and services, including workers’ compensation, commercial automobile and general liability, generally utilizing loss-sensitive products, on both a bundled and unbundled basis. National Accounts also includes the Company’s commercial residual market business, which primarily offers workers’ compensation services to the involuntary market.

  • National Property and Other provides traditional and customized commercial property insurance programs to large and mid-sized customers through National Property. National Property and Other also provides insurance coverage for the commercial transportation industry through Northland Transportation, general liability and commercial property policies for small, difficult to place specialty classes of commercial business primarily on an excess and surplus lines basis through Northfield, and tailored property and casualty insurance programs on an admitted basis for customers with common risk characteristics or coverage requirements through National Programs. National Property and Other also serves small to medium-sized agricultural businesses, including farms, ranches, wineries and related operations, through Agribusiness.

International

  • International, through its operations in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, provides property and casualty insurance and risk management services to several customer groups, including, among others, those in the technology, manufacturing and public services industry sectors. International also provides insurance for both the foreign exposures of United States organizations and the United States exposures of foreign organizations through Global Services. At its Lloyd’s syndicate (Syndicate 5000), for which the Company provides 100% of the capital, International underwrites six principal businesses — international marine, retail marine, global property, construction & special risks, energy and aviation.

Business Insurance also includes Simply Business, a leading provider of small business insurance policies primarily in the United Kingdom that was acquired in August 2017, as well as Business Insurance Other, which primarily comprises the Company’s asbestos and environmental liabilities, and the assumed reinsurance and certain other runoff operations.

Principal Markets and Methods of Distribution

Business Insurance markets and distributes its products through approximately 9,800 independent agencies and brokers. Agencies and brokers are serviced by 112 field offices and supported by customer service centers where the Company performs services for agents for a fee and centralized business centers where the Company processes new and renewal business that meet certain underwriting criteria.

Business Insurance builds relationships with well-established, independent insurance agencies and brokers. In selecting new independent agencies and brokers to distribute its products, Business Insurance considers, among other attributes, each agency’s or broker’s financial strength, staff experience and strategic fit with the Company’s operating and marketing plans. Once an agency or broker is appointed, Business Insurance carefully monitors its performance. The majority of products offered in the United States are distributed through independent agents and brokers, many of whom also sell the Company’s Personal Insurance and Bond & Specialty Insurance products. Additionally, several operations may underwrite business with agents that specialize in servicing the needs of certain of the industries served by these operations. Business Insurance continues to make significant investments in enhanced technology to provide real-time interface capabilities with independent agencies and brokers.

Domestic

  • Select Accounts markets and distributes its products and services to small businesses, generally with fewer than 50 employees, through a large network of independent agents and brokers. Products offered by Select Accounts are guaranteed-cost policies, including packaged products covering property and liability exposures.  Each small business risk is independently evaluated via an automated underwriting platform which in turn enables agents to quote, bind and issue a substantial amount of new small business risks in an efficient manner. Risks with more complex characteristics are underwritten with the assistance of Company personnel. Select Accounts has established a strong marketing relationship with its distribution network and has provided this network with defined underwriting policies, a broad array of products and competitive prices.
  • Middle Market markets and distributes its products and services primarily to mid-sized businesses with 50 to 1,000 employees through a large network of independent agents and brokers. The Company offers a full line of products to its Middle Market customers with an emphasis on guaranteed-cost programs. Each account is underwritten based on the unique risk characteristics, loss history and coverage needs of the account. The ability to underwrite at this detailed level allows Middle Market to have a broad risk appetite and a diversified customer base. Within Middle Market, products and services are tailored to certain targeted industry segments of significant size and complexity that require unique underwriting, claim, risk management or other insurance-related products and services.

  • National Accounts markets and distributes its products and services to large companies through a network of national and regional brokers, primarily utilizing loss-sensitive products in connection with a large deductible or self-insured program and, to a lesser extent, a retrospectively rated or a guaranteed-cost insurance policy. National Accounts also provides casualty products and services through retail brokers on an unbundled basis, using third-party administrators for insureds who utilize programs such as collateralized deductibles, captive reinsurers and self-insurance. National Accounts provides insurance-related services, such as risk management services, claims administration, loss control and risk management information services, either in addition to, or in lieu of, pure risk coverage, and generated $242 million of fee income in 2018, excluding commercial residual market business. The commercial residual market business of National Accounts sells claims and policy management services to workers’ compensation pools throughout the United States, and generated $111 million of fee income in 2018. National Accounts services approximately 37% of the total workers’ compensation assigned risk market, making the Company one of the largest servicing carriers in the industry. Workers’ compensation accounted for approximately 69% of sales to National Accounts customers during 2018, based on direct written premiums and fees.

  • National Property and Other markets and distributes its products and services to a wide customer base, providing traditional and customized insurance programs to a broad range of customer sizes through a large network of agents and brokers. National Property and Other also markets and distributes its products through brokers, wholesale agents, program managers and specialized retail agents who operate in certain markets that are not typically served by the Company’s appointed retail agents, or who maintain certain affinity arrangements in specialized market segments. The wholesale excess and surplus lines market, which is characterized by the absence of rate and form regulation, allows for more pricing and coverage flexibility to write certain classes of business. In working with agents or program managers on a brokerage basis, National Property and Other underwrites the business internally and sets the premium level. In working with agents or program managers with delegated underwriting authority, the agents produce and underwrite business subject to pricing and underwriting guidelines that have been specifically designed for each facility or program.

International markets and distributes its products principally through brokers in each of the countries in which it operates. International also writes business at Lloyd’s, where its products are distributed through Lloyd’s wholesale and retail brokers. By virtue of Lloyd’s worldwide licenses, Business Insurance has access to international markets across the world.

Pricing and Underwriting

Business Insurance utilizes underwriting, claims, engineering, actuarial and product development disciplines for particular industries, in conjunction with extensive amounts of proprietary data gathered and analyzed over many years, to facilitate its risk selection process and develop pricing parameters. The Company utilizes both standard industry forms and proprietary forms for the insurance policies it issues.

A portion of business in this segment, particularly in National Accounts and Construction, is written with large deductible insurance policies. Under workers’ compensation insurance contracts with large deductible features, the Company is obligated to pay the claimant the full amount of the claim. The Company is subsequently reimbursed by the contractholder for the deductible amount and is subject to credit risk until such reimbursement is made. At December 31, 2018, contractholder payables on unpaid losses within the deductible layer of large deductible policies and the associated receivables were both approximately $4.78 billion.  Business Insurance also utilizes retrospectively rated policies for another portion of the business, primarily for workers’ compensation coverage.  Although the retrospectively rated feature of the policy substantially reduces insurance risk for the Company, it introduces additional credit risk to the Company. Premiums receivable from holders of retrospectively rated policies totaled approximately $93 million at December 31, 2018.  Significant collateral, primarily letters of credit and, to a lesser extent, cash collateral, trusts or surety bonds, is generally obtained for large deductible plans and/or retrospectively rated policies that provide for deferred collection of deductible recoveries and/or ultimate premiums. The amount of collateral requested is predicated upon the creditworthiness of the customer and the nature of the insured risks.  Business Insurance continually monitors the credit exposure on individual accounts and the adequacy of collateral.

Product Lines

Business Insurance provides the following types of products and services:

Domestic

  • Workers’ Compensation. Provides coverage for employers for specified benefits payable under state or federal law for workplace injuries to employees. There are typically four types of benefits payable under workers’ compensation policies:
  • medical benefits, disability benefits, death benefits and vocational rehabilitation benefits. The Company emphasizes managed care cost containment strategies, which involve employers, employees and care providers in a cooperative effort that focuses on the injured employee’s early return to work and cost-effective quality care. The Company offers the following types of workers’ compensation products:
    • guaranteed-cost insurance products, where the premiums charged will not be adjusted for actual loss experience during the covered period;

    • guaranteed-cost insurance products, where the premiums charged will not be adjusted for actual loss experience during the covered period;

    • service programs, which are generally sold to the Company’s National Accounts customers, where the Company receives fees rather than premiums for providing loss prevention, risk management, and claim and benefit administration services to organizations under service agreements.

The Company also participates in state assigned risk pools as a servicing carrier and pool participant.

  • Commercial Automobile. Provides coverage for businesses against losses incurred from personal bodily injury, bodily injury to third parties, property damage to an insured’s vehicle and property damage to other vehicles and other property resulting from the ownership, maintenance or use of automobiles and trucks in a business.

  • Commercial Property. Provides coverage for loss of or damage to buildings, inventory and equipment from a variety of events, including, among others, hurricanes and other windstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes, hail, wildfires, severe winter weather, floods, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, theft, vandalism, fires, explosions, terrorism and financial loss due to business interruption resulting from covered property damage. Commercial property also includes specialized equipment insurance, which provides coverage for loss or damage resulting from the mechanical breakdown of boilers and machinery, and ocean and inland marine insurance, which provides coverage for goods in transit and unique, one-of-a-kind exposures.

  • General Liability. Provides coverages for businesses against third-party claims arising from accidents occurring on their premises or arising out of their operations, including as a result of injuries sustained from products sold. Coverages may also include directors’ and officers’ liability arising in their official capacities, employment practices liability insurance, fiduciary liability for trustees and sponsors of pension, health and welfare, and other employee benefit plans, errors and omissions insurance for employees, agents, professionals and others arising from acts or failures to act under specified circumstances, cyber liability, as well as umbrella and excess insurance.

  • Commercial Multi-Peril.  Provides a combination of the property and liability coverages described in the foregoing product line descriptions.

International

  • Provides coverage for employers’ liability (similar to workers’ compensation coverage in the United States), public and product liability (the equivalent of general liability), professional indemnity (similar to professional liability coverage), commercial property, commercial automobile, marine, aviation, onshore and offshore energy, construction, terrorism, personal accident and kidnap & ransom. Marine provides coverage for ship hulls, cargoes carried, private yachts, marine-related liability, ports and terminals, and fine art. Aviation provides coverage for worldwide aviation risks including physical damage and liabilities for airline, aerospace, general aviation, aviation war and space risks. Personal accident provides financial protection in the event of death or disablement due to accidental bodily injury, while kidnap & ransom provides financial protection against kidnap, hijack, illegal detention and extortion. While the covered hazards may be similar to those in the U.S. market, the different legal environments can make the product risks and coverage terms potentially very different from those the Company faces in the United States.

Net Retention Policy Per Risk

The following discussion reflects the Company’s retention policy with respect to Business Insurance as of January 1, 2019. For third-party liability, Business Insurance generally limits its net retention, through the use of reinsurance, to a maximum of $16.0 million per insured, per occurrence. For property exposures, Business Insurance generally limits its net retention, through the use of reinsurance, to a maximum amount per risk of $20.0 million per occurrence. Business Insurance generally retains its workers’ compensation exposures. Reinsurance treaties often have aggregate limits or caps which may result in larger net per-risk retentions if the aggregate limits or caps are reached. Business Insurance utilizes facultative reinsurance to provide additional limits capacity or to reduce retentions on an individual risk basis. Business Insurance may also retain amounts greater than those described herein based upon the individual characteristics of the risk.

Competition

The insurance industry is represented in the commercial marketplace by many insurance companies of varying size as well as other entities offering risk alternatives, such as self-insured retentions or captive programs. Market competition works within the insurance regulatory framework to set the price charged for insurance products and the levels of coverage and service provided. A company’s success in the competitive commercial insurance landscape is largely measured by its ability to profitably provide insurance and services, including claims handling and risk control, at prices and terms that retain existing customers and attract new customers.

Domestic

Competitors typically write Select Accounts business through independent agents and, to a lesser extent, regional brokers, and as direct writers. Both national (including international companies doing business in the U.S.) and regional property and casualty insurance companies compete in the Select Accounts market which generally comprises lower-hazard, “Main Street” business customers. Risks are underwritten and priced using standard industry practices and a combination of proprietary and standard industry product offerings. Competition in this market is primarily based on breadth of product offerings, service levels, ease of doing business and price.

Competitors typically write Middle Market business through independent agents and brokers. Several of Middle Market’s operations require unique combinations of industry knowledge, customized coverage, specialized risk control and loss handling services, along with partnerships with agents and brokers that also focus on these markets. Competitors in this market are primarily national property and casualty insurance companies (including international companies doing business in the U.S.) that write most

classes of business using traditional products and pricing, and regional insurance companies. Companies compete based on product offerings, service levels, price and claim and loss prevention services. Efficiency through automation and response time to agent, broker and customer needs is one key to success in this market.

In the National Accounts market, competition is based on price, product offerings, claim and loss prevention services, managed care cost containment, risk management information systems and collateral requirements. National Accounts primarily competes with national property and casualty insurance companies (including international companies doing business in the U.S.), as well as with other underwriters of property and casualty insurance in the alternative risk transfer market, such as self-insurance plans, captives managed by others, and a variety of other risk-financing vehicles and mechanisms. The residual market division competes for state contracts to provide claims and policy management services.

National Property and Other competes in focused target markets. Each of these markets is different and requires unique combinations of industry knowledge, customized coverage, specialized risk control and loss handling services, along with partnerships with agents and brokers that also focus on these markets. Some of these businesses compete with national carriers (including international companies doing business in the U.S.) with similarly dedicated underwriting and marketing groups, whereas others compete with smaller regional companies. Specialized agents and brokers, including wholesale agents and program managers, supplement this focused target market approach. National Property and Other’s competitive strategy typically is based on the application of focused industry knowledge to insurance and risk needs.

International

International competes with numerous international and domestic insurers in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Brazil. Companies compete on the basis of price, product offerings, distribution partnerships and the level of claim and risk management services provided. The Company has developed expertise in various markets in these countries similar to those served in the United States and provides both property and casualty coverage for these markets.

At Lloyd’s, International competes with other syndicates operating in the Lloyd’s market as well as international and domestic insurers in the various markets where the Lloyd’s operation writes business worldwide. Competition is based on price, product and service. The Company focuses on lines it believes it can underwrite profitably with an emphasis on short-tail insurance lines.

Bond & Specialty Insurance

Bond & Specialty Insurance provides surety, fidelity, management liability, professional liability, and other property and casualty coverages and related risk management services to its customers in the United States and certain specialty insurance products in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Brazil, utilizing various degrees of financially based underwriting approaches.  The range of coverages includes performance, payment and commercial surety bonds for construction and general commercial enterprises; fidelity insurance for private companies, not-for-profit organizations and financial institutions; management liability coverages including directors’ and officers’ liability, employment practices liability, fiduciary liability and cyber risk for public corporations, private companies, not-for-profit organizations and financial institutions; professional liability coverage for a variety of professionals including, among others, lawyers and design professionals; and in the United States only, property, workers’ compensation, auto and general liability for financial institutions.

Bond & Specialty Insurance surety business in Brazil and Colombia is conducted through Junto Holding Brasil S.A. (Junto) and Junto Holding Latam S.A. in Brazil. The Company owns 49.5% of both Junto, a market leader in surety coverages in Brazil, and Junto Holding Latam S.A., which owns a majority interest in JMalucelli Travelers Seguros S.A., a Colombian start-up surety provider. These joint venture investments are accounted for using the equity method and are included in “other investments” on the consolidated balance sheet.

Principal Markets and Methods of Distribution

Bond & Specialty Insurance markets and distributes the vast majority of its products in the United States through approximately 5,400 of the same independent agencies and brokers that distribute Business Insurance’s products in the United States. Bond & Specialty Insurance builds relationships with well-established, independent insurance agencies and brokers. In selecting new independent agencies and brokers to distribute its products, Bond & Specialty Insurance considers, among other attributes, each agency’s or broker’s profitability, financial stability, staff experience and strategic fit with its operating and marketing plans. Once an agency or broker is appointed, its ongoing performance is closely monitored. Bond & Specialty Insurance, in conjunction with Business Insurance, continues to make investments in enhanced technology to provide real-time interface capabilities with its independent agencies and brokers.

Pricing and Underwriting

Bond & Specialty Insurance utilizes underwriting, claims, engineering, actuarial and product development disciplines for specific accounts and industries, in conjunction with extensive amounts of proprietary data gathered and analyzed over many years, to facilitate its risk selection process and develop pricing parameters. The Company utilizes both standard industry forms and proprietary forms for the insurance policies it issues.

Product Lines

Bond & Specialty Insurance writes the following types of coverages:

Domestic

  • Fidelity and Surety. Provides fidelity insurance coverage, which protects an insured for loss due to embezzlement or misappropriation of funds by an employee, and surety, which is a three-party agreement whereby the insurer agrees to pay a third party or complete an obligation in response to the default, acts or omissions of an insured. Surety is generally provided for construction performance, legal matters such as appeals, trustees in bankruptcy and probate and other performance bonds.
  • General Liability.

  • Other. Coverages include Property, Workers’ Compensation, Commercial Automobile and Commercial Multi-Peril.

International

  • Fidelity and Surety and certain General Liability products, as well as cyber risk coverages, are provided internationally to various customer groups.

Net Retention Policy Per Risk

The following discussion reflects the Company’s retention policy with respect to Bond & Specialty Insurance as of January 1, 2019. For third party liability, including but not limited to directors’ and officers’ liability, professional liability, employment practices liability, fidelity liability, fiduciary liability and cyber risk liability, Bond & Specialty Insurance generally limits net retentions to $25.0 million per policy. For surety, where limits are often significant, Bond & Specialty Insurance generally retains up to $122.5 million probable maximum loss (PML) per principal, after reinsurance, but may retain higher amounts based on the type of obligation, credit quality and other credit risk factors. Reinsurance treaties often have aggregate limits or caps which may result in larger net per risk retentions if the aggregate limits or caps are reached. Bond & Specialty Insurance utilizes facultative reinsurance to provide additional limits capacity or to reduce retentions on an individual risk basis. Bond & Specialty Insurance may also retain amounts greater than those described herein based upon the individual characteristics of the risk.

Competition

The competitive landscape in which Bond & Specialty Insurance operates is affected by many of the same factors described previously for Business Insurance. Competitors in this market are primarily national property and casualty insurance companies (including international companies doing business in the U.S.) that write most classes of business and, to a lesser extent, regional insurance companies and companies that have developed niche programs for specific industry segments.

Domestic

Bond & Specialty Insurance underwrites and markets its products to all sizes of businesses and other organizations, as well as individuals. The Company believes that its reputation for timely and consistent decision making, a nationwide network of local underwriting, claims and industry experts and strong producer and customer relationships, as well as its ability to offer its customers a full range of products, provides Bond & Specialty Insurance an advantage over many of its competitors and enables it to compete effectively in a complex, dynamic marketplace. The Company believes that the ability of Bond & Specialty Insurance to cross-sell its products to customers of Business Insurance and Personal Insurance provides additional competitive advantages for the Company.

International

International competes with numerous international and domestic insurers in Canada, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil and Colombia. Companies compete on the basis of price, product offerings and the level of claim and risk management services provided. The Company has developed expertise in various markets in these countries similar to those served in the United States and provides certain specialty coverages for these markets.

Personal Insurance

Personal Insurance writes a broad range of property and casualty insurance covering individuals’ personal risks, primarily in the United States, as well as in Canada. The primary products of automobile and homeowners insurance are complemented by a broad suite of related coverages.

Principal Markets and Methods of Distribution

Domestic 

Personal Insurance products are marketed and distributed primarily through approximately 10,200 active independent agencies located throughout the United States, supported by personnel in eight sales regions. In addition, sales and service are provided to customers through five contact centers. While the principal markets for Personal Insurance products continue to be in states along the East Coast, California and Texas, the business continues to expand its geographic presence across the United States.

In selecting new independent agencies to distribute its products, Personal Insurance considers, among other attributes, each agency’s profitability, financial stability, staff experience and strategic fit with its operating and marketing plans. Once an agency is appointed, Personal Insurance carefully monitors its performance.

Agents can access the Company’s agency service portal for a number of resources including customer service, marketing and claims management. In addition, agencies can choose to shift the ongoing service responsibility for Personal Insurance’s customers to one of the Company’s Customer Care Centers, where the Company provides, on behalf of an agency, a comprehensive array of customer service needs, including response to billing and coverage inquiries, and policy changes. Approximately 1,650 agents take advantage of this service alternative, for which they generally pay a fee.

Personal Insurance also markets and distributes its products through additional channels, including corporations that make the Company’s product offerings available to their employees primarily through payroll deductions, consumer associations and affinity groups. Personal Insurance handles the sales and service for these programs either through a sponsoring independent agent or through the Company’s contact center locations. In addition, since 1995, the Company has had a marketing agreement with GEICO to underwrite homeowners business for certain of their auto customers.

The Company also markets its insurance products directly to consumers, largely through online channels. The Company’s direct-to-consumer business continues to grow but still represents modest premium volume for Personal Insurance.

International

International markets and distributes its products principally through approximately 630 brokers located throughout Canada.

Pricing and Underwriting

Personal Insurance has developed a product management methodology that integrates the disciplines of underwriting, claims, actuarial and product development. This approach is designed to maintain high-quality underwriting discipline and pricing segmentation. Proprietary and third-party data accumulated over many years is analyzed and Personal Insurance uses a variety of risk differentiation models to facilitate its pricing segmentation and underwriting. The Company’s product management area establishes underwriting guidelines integrated with its filed pricing and rating plans, which enable Personal Insurance to effectively execute its risk selection and pricing processes.

Domestic

Pricing for personal automobile insurance is driven in large part by changes in the frequency of claims and changes in severity, including inflation in the cost of automobile repairs, medical care and resolution of liability claims. Pricing in the homeowners business is driven in large part by changes in the frequency of claims and changes in severity, including inflation in the cost of building supplies, labor and household possessions. In addition to the normal risks associated with any multiple peril coverage, the profitability and pricing of both homeowners and automobile insurance are affected by the incidence of catastrophes and other weather-related events. Insurers writing personal lines property and casualty policies may be unable to increase prices until some time after the costs associated with coverage have increased, primarily because of state insurance rate regulation. The pace at which an insurer can change rates in response to increased costs depends, in part, on whether the applicable state law requires prior approval of rate increases or notification to the regulator either before or after a rate change is imposed. In states with prior approval laws, rates must be approved by the regulator before being used by the insurer. In states having “file-and-use” laws, the insurer must file rate changes with the regulator, but does not need to wait for approval before using the new rates. A “use-and-file” law requires an insurer to file rates within a period of time after the insurer begins using the new rate. Approximately one-half of the states require prior approval of most rate changes. In addition, changes to methods of marketing and underwriting in some jurisdictions are subject to state-imposed restrictions, which can make it more difficult for an insurer to significantly manage catastrophe exposures.

The Company’s ability or willingness to raise prices, modify underwriting terms or reduce exposure to certain geographies may be limited due to considerations of public policy, the competitive environment, the evolving political environment and/or changes in the general economic climate. The Company also may choose to write business it might not otherwise write in some states for strategic purposes, such as improving access to other commercial or personal underwriting opportunities. In choosing to write business in some states, the Company also considers the costs and benefits of those states’ residual markets and guaranty funds, as well as other property and casualty business the Company writes in those states.

International

Pricing and underwriting for personal automobile and homeowners insurance in Canada is driven in large part by the same factors as in the United States. For personal automobile insurance, all provinces in Canada require prior approval before rates are implemented.

Product Lines

Domestic

The primary coverages in Personal Insurance are personal automobile and homeowners and other insurance sold to individuals.  Personal Insurance had approximately 7.5 million active policies (i.e., policies-in-force) in the United States at December 31, 2018.

Personal Insurance writes the following types of coverages:

  • Personal Automobile provides coverage for liability to others for both bodily injury and property damage, uninsured motorist protection, and for physical damage to an insured’s own vehicle from collision, fire, flood, hail and theft. In addition, many states require policies to provide first-party personal injury protection, frequently referred to as no-fault coverage.

  • Homeowners and Other provides protection against losses to residences and contents from a variety of perils (excluding flooding) as well as coverage for personal liability. The Company writes homeowners insurance for dwellings, condominiums and tenants, and rental properties. The Company also writes coverage for boats and yachts and valuable personal items such as jewelry, and also writes coverages for umbrella liability, identity fraud, and weddings and special events.

International

  • International provides automobile and homeowners and other coverages in Canada (similar to coverages in the United States).  Personal Insurance had approximately 574,000 active policies in Canada at December 31, 2018.

Net Retention Policy Per Risk

The following discussion reflects the Company’s retention policy with respect to Personal Insurance as of January 1, 2019. Personal Insurance generally retains its primary personal auto exposures in their entirety. For personal property insurance, there is an $8.0 million maximum retention per risk, net of reinsurance. Personal Insurance uses facultative reinsurance to provide additional limits capacity or to reduce retentions on an individual risk basis. Personal Insurance issues umbrella policies up to a maximum limit of $10.0 million per risk. Personal Insurance may also retain amounts greater than those described herein based upon the individual characteristics of the risk.

Competition

Domestic

Although national companies (including international companies doing business in the U.S.) write the majority of this business, Personal Insurance also faces competition from many regional and hundreds of local companies. Personal Insurance primarily competes based on breadth of product offerings, price, service (including claims handling), ease and speed of doing business, stability of the insurer and name recognition. Personal Insurance competes for business within each independent agency since these agencies also offer policies of competing companies. At the agency level, competition is primarily based on price, service (including claims handling), the level of automation and the development of long-term relationships with individual agents. Most independent personal insurance agents utilize price comparison rating technology, sometimes referred to as “comparative raters,” as a cost-efficient means of obtaining quotes from multiple companies. Because the use of this technology facilitates the process of generating multiple quotes, the technology has increased price comparison on new business and, increasingly, on renewal business. Personal Insurance also competes with insurance companies that use exclusive agents or salaried employees to sell their products, as well as those that employ direct marketing strategies.

International

Personal Insurance competes with numerous international and domestic insurers in Canada. Companies compete on the basis of price, breadth of product offerings and the level of claim and risk management services provided. The Company has developed expertise in various markets in Canada similar to those served in the United States and provides both automobile and homeowners and other coverages for this market.