White Mountains Insurance Group 10-K 2010
Documents found in this filing:
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
x ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2009
o TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from to
Commission file number 1-8993
WHITE MOUNTAINS INSURANCE GROUP, LTD.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
Registrants telephone number, including area code: (603) 640-2200
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Exchange Act. Yes o No x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Exchange Act during the preceding 12 months, and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No o
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months. Yes o No o
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of the Registrants knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See definitions of large accelerated filer, accelerated filer, and smaller reporting company in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes o No x
The aggregate market value of voting shares (based on the closing price of those shares listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the consideration received for those shares not listed on a national or regional exchange) held by non-affiliates of the Registrant as of June 30, 2009, was $1,787,727,354.
As of February 25, 2010, 8,843,656 common shares, par value of $1.00 per share, were outstanding (which includes 100,870 restricted common shares that were not vested at such date).
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrants Definitive Proxy Statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) pursuant to Regulation 14A under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act), relating to the Registrants Annual General Meeting of Members scheduled to be held May 26, 2010 are incorporated by reference into Part III of this Form 10-K. With the exception of the portions of the Proxy Statement specifically incorporated herein by reference, the Proxy Statement is not deemed to be filed as part of this Form 10-K.
White Mountains Insurance Group, Ltd. (the Company or the Registrant) is an exempted Bermuda limited liability company whose principal businesses are conducted through its property and casualty insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries and affiliates. Within this report, the term White Mountains is used to refer to one or more entities within the consolidated organization, as the context requires. The Companys headquarters is located at 14 Wesley Street, Hamilton, Bermuda HM 11, its principal executive office is located at 80 South Main Street, Hanover, New Hampshire 03755-2053 and its registered office is located at Clarendon House, 2 Church Street, Hamilton, Bermuda HM 11. White Mountains reportable segments are OneBeacon, White Mountains Re, Esurance and Other Operations.
The OneBeacon segment consists of OneBeacon Insurance Group, Ltd. (OneBeacon Ltd.), an exempted Bermuda limited liability company that owns a family of U.S.-based property and casualty insurance companies (collectively OneBeacon), most of which operate in a multi-company pool. OneBeacon has historically offered a range of specialty, commercial and personal products and services sold primarily through independent agents and brokers. However, OneBeacon recently entered into two transactions that will transform it into a specialty lines company. On December 3, 2009, OneBeacon sold the renewal rights to its non-specialty commercial lines business and, on February 2, 2010, OneBeacon entered into a definitive agreement to sell its personal lines business. During the fourth quarter of 2006, White Mountains sold 27.6 million, or 27.6%, of OneBeacon Ltd.s common shares in an initial public offering (the OneBeacon Offering). As of December 31, 2009 White Mountains owned 75.4% of OneBeacon Ltd.s outstanding common shares.
The White Mountains Re segment consists of White Mountains Re Ltd., an exempted Bermuda limited liability company, and its subsidiaries (collectively, White Mountains Re). White Mountains Re offers reinsurance capacity for property, casualty, accident & health, agriculture, aviation and space, and certain other exposures on a worldwide basis through its subsidiaries, Sirius International Insurance Corporation (WMRe Sirius) and White Mountains Reinsurance Company of America (WMRe America, formerly known as Folksamerica Reinsurance Company). In September 2009, White Mountains Re substantially completed a reorganization of its Bermuda reinsurance operations whereby the in-force business and infrastructure of White Mountains Re Bermuda Ltd. (WMRe Bermuda) was transferred to WMRe Sirius, which established a branch office in Bermuda to maintain the groups presence in the Bermuda market. White Mountains Re also specializes in the acquisition and management of run-off insurance and reinsurance companies both in the United States and internationally, through its White Mountains Re Solutions division. White Mountains Re also includes Scandinavian Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (Scandinavian Re), which is in run-off, and the consolidated results of the Tuckerman Capital II, LP fund (Tuckerman Fund II), which was transferred to White Mountains Re from Other Operations, effective June 30, 2008.
The Esurance segment consists of Esurance Holdings, Inc., its subsidiaries and Answer Financial Inc. (Answer Financial) (collectively, Esurance). Esurance writes personal auto insurance directly to customers online and through select online agents. Esurance generates additional revenues from the placement of shoppers whose policies it does not write with unaffiliated insurance companies. Answer Financial, which White Mountains acquired during 2008, is an independent personal insurance agency that sells insurance online and through call centers for many insurance companies, including Esurance, utilizing a comparison quoting platform.
White Mountains Other Operations segment consists of the Company and its intermediate holding companies, its wholly-owned investment management subsidiary, White Mountains Advisors LLC (WM Advisors), its variable annuity reinsurance business, White Mountains Life Reinsurance (Bermuda) Ltd. (WM Life Re) and its weather risk management business. Both WM Life Re and the weather risk management business are in run-off. The Other Operations segment also includes White Mountains investments in Lightyear Delos Acquisition Corporation (Delos), common shares and warrants to purchase common shares of Symetra Financial Corporation (Symetra) and the consolidated results of the Tuckerman Capital, LP fund (Tuckerman Fund I) and Tuckerman Fund II until its transfer to White Mountains Re, effective June 30, 2008, as well as various other entities not included in other segments. The Other Operations segment also included the International American Group, Inc. (the International American Group) prior to its disposition in October 2008, which included American Centennial Insurance Company and British Insurance Company of Cayman, both of which were in run-off.
White Mountains Operating Principles
White Mountains strives to operate within the spirit of four operating principles. These are:
Underwriting Comes First. An insurance enterprise must respect the fundamentals of insurance. There must be a realistic expectation of underwriting profit on all business written, and demonstrated fulfillment of that expectation over time, with focused attention to the loss ratio and to all the professional insurance disciplines of pricing, underwriting and claims management.
Maintain a Disciplined Balance Sheet. The first concern here is that insurance liabilities must always be fully recognized. Loss reserves and expense reserves must be solid before any other aspect of the business can be solid. Pricing, marketing and underwriting all depend on informed judgment of ultimate loss costs and that can be managed effectively only with a disciplined balance sheet.
Invest for Total Return. Historical insurance accounting has tended to hide unrealized gains and losses in the investment portfolio and over-reward reported investment income (interest and dividends). Regardless of the accounting, White Mountains must invest for the best growth in after-tax value over time. In addition to investing our bond portfolios for total after-tax return, that will also mean prudent investment in a balanced portfolio consistent with leverage and insurance risk considerations.
Think Like Owners. Thinking like owners has a value all its own. There are stakeholders in a business enterprise and doing good work requires more than this quarters profit. But thinking like an owner embraces all that without losing the touchstone of a capitalist enterprise.
OneBeacon, whose United States headquarters are in Canton, Massachusetts, is a property and casualty insurance writer that provides a range of specialty insurance products. With roots dating back to 1831, OneBeacon has been operating for more than 175 years and has relationships with many independent agencies and brokers. At December 31, 2009 and 2008, OneBeacon had $7.5 billion and $7.9 billion of total assets and $1.4 billion and $1.2 billion of OneBeacons shareholders equity. At December 31, 2009 and 2008, White Mountains reported $351 million and $284 million of noncontrolling interest related to its ownership in OneBeacon. OneBeacon wrote approximately $1.9 billion and $2.0 billion in net written premiums in 2009 and 2008.
The following table presents the financial strength ratings assigned to OneBeacons principal insurance operating subsidiaries:
(1) A is the third highest of fifteen financial strength ratings assigned by A.M. Best Company (A.M. Best).
(2) A is the sixth highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings assigned by Standard & Poors (S&P).
(3) A2 is the sixth highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings assigned by Moodys Investor Service (Moodys).
(4) A is the sixth highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings assigned by Fitch Ratings (Fitch).
(5) Placed on Watch Negative on February 2, 2010.
OneBeacon recently entered into two transactions that will transform it into a specialty lines insurance company. OneBeacon expects that the transactions will free up significant capital, increase its financial flexibility and also substantially reduce its catastrophe exposure.
Commercial Lines. On December 3, 2009, OneBeacon sold the renewal rights to approximately $490 million in premiums from its non-specialty commercial lines business to The Hanover Insurance Group (The Hanover). The transaction included small commercial accounts and the non-specialty portion of the middle-market business, beginning with January 1, 2010 effective dates (the Commercial Lines Transaction). As consideration, OneBeacon received $23 million, and will receive an additional 10 percent of premiums renewed in excess of $200 million for the first renewal period. OneBeacon will continue to manage claims from business written prior to the Commercial Lines Transaction and from business written by The Hanover through June 30, 2010. The Hanover will reimburse OneBeacon for expenses incurred to provide the claims administration services.
Personal Lines. On February 2, 2010, OneBeacon entered into a definitive agreement to sell its personal lines business to Tower Group, Inc. (the Personal Lines Transaction). The transaction includes two insurance companies containing the personal lines business, and two attorneys-in-fact managing the reciprocal exchanges that write the personal lines business in New York and New Jersey. Net written premiums for the business being sold total approximately $420 million for the year ended December 31, 2009. As consideration, OneBeacon will receive an amount equal to the statutory surplus in the reciprocal exchanges (approximately $103 million at December 31, 2009, including the par value of the surplus notes issued by the exchanges), the GAAP equity in the insurance companies and attorneys-in-fact (approximately $45 million at December 31, 2009), plus $32.5 million. AutoOne Insurance (AutoOne) is not being sold as part of this transaction. The sale is subject to certain state regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010.
Property and Casualty Insurance Overview
Generally, property and casualty insurance companies write insurance policies in exchange for premiums paid by their customers (the insured). An insurance policy is a contract between the insurance company and the insured where the insurance company agrees to pay for losses suffered by the insured that are covered under the contract. Such contracts often are subject to subsequent legal interpretation by courts, legislative action and arbitration. Property insurance generally covers the financial consequences of accidental losses to the insureds property, such as a home and the personal property in it, or a business building, inventory and equipment. Casualty insurance (often referred to as liability insurance) generally covers the financial consequences of a legal liability of an individual or an organization resulting from negligent acts and omissions causing bodily injury and/or property damage to a third party. Claims on property coverage generally are reported and settled in a relatively short period of time, whereas those on casualty coverage can take years, even decades, to settle.
OneBeacon derives substantially all of its revenues from earned premiums, investment income and net realized and unrealized gains and losses on investment securities. Earned premiums represent premiums received from insureds, which are recognized as revenue over the period of time that insurance coverage is provided (i.e., ratably over the life of the policy). A significant period of time normally elapses between the receipt of insurance premiums and the payment of insurance claims. During this time, OneBeacon invests the premiums, earns investment income and generates net realized and unrealized investment gains and losses on investments.
Insurance companies incur a significant amount of their total expenses from policyholder losses, which are commonly referred to as claims. In settling policyholder losses, various loss adjustment expenses (LAE) are incurred such as insurance adjusters fees and litigation expenses. In addition, insurance companies incur policy acquisition expenses, such as commissions paid to agents and premium taxes, and other expenses related to the underwriting process, including their employees compensation and benefits.
The key measure of relative underwriting performance for an insurance company is the combined ratio. An insurance companys combined ratio under accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (GAAP) is calculated by adding the ratio of incurred loss and LAE to earned premiums (the loss and LAE ratio) and the ratio of policy acquisition and other underwriting expenses to earned premiums (the expense ratio). A combined ratio under 100% indicates that an insurance company is generating an underwriting profit. However, when considering investment income and investment gains or losses, insurance companies operating at a combined ratio of greater than 100% can be profitable.
Lines of Business
OneBeacons business is managed through two underwriting units: (i) specialty lines and (ii) personal lines, nearly all of which is subject to the Personal Lines Transaction. OneBeacons specialty lines businesses are national in scope, while its personal lines have been exclusively available in the eight Northeastern states (the New England states, New York and New Jersey). OneBeacon also has run-off business, which primarily consists of non-specialty commercial lines business which is being transferred to The Hanover, national accounts, certain specialty programs and regional agency business transferred to Liberty Mutual Insurance Group (Liberty Mutual) effective November 1, 2001.
For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, OneBeacons net written premiums by line of business were as follows:
(1) Specialty lines now includes Technology, Financial Services, OneBeacon Specialty Property, and Property and Inland Marine businesses which were excluded from the Commercial Lines Transaction. Prior periods have been reclassified to conform to the current presentation.
(2) Run-off includes non-specialty commercial lines business subject to the Commercial Lines Transaction and other run-off business. Prior periods have been reclassified to conform to the current presentation.
OneBeacons specialty lines are a collection of niche businesses that focus on solving the unique needs of particular customer groups on a national scale. OneBeacons specialty lines businesses provide distinct products and offer tailored coverages and services, managed by teams of market specialists. These businesses maintain stand-alone operations and distribution channels targeting their specific customer groups. OneBeacons specialty lines include several businesses focused on smaller property-casualty insurance segments where particular expertise and relationships with similarly focused distribution partners has resulted historically in strong operating results. These businesses maintain their competitive advantage through a deep knowledge of their respective customers and markets. As a result of entering into the Commercial Lines Transaction, OneBeacons specialty lines now includes Technology, Financial Services, OneBeacon Specialty Property, and Property and Inland Marine businesses, which were formerly included in OneBeacons commercial lines underwriting unit. OneBeacons specialty lines businesses include:
· OneBeacon Professional Insurance (OBPI): OBPI, formerly known as OneBeacon Professional Partners, specializes in professional liability insurance products for an increasingly broad range of industry groups. OBPIs original focus on health-care related liability insurance continues while expansion into non-health-care related liability insurance segments has increased over the last five years. Medical liability insurance for health-care industry segments, including hospitals, physician groups, managed care organizations, long-term care facilities and other non-hospital medical facilities, represents the most significant share of OBPIs business. Additionally, OBPI offers stop loss insurance to certain health-care providers through its provider excess insurance and HMO reinsurance products. Errors and omissions liability insurance coverage is also provided to business segments including design professionals for the construction industry, law firms, in-house counsel, realtors and media organizations. Management liability coverage, specifically directors and officers and employment practices insurance, is offered on a limited basis to some of the business segments noted above. Underwriting, claims and risk control services are managed internally. OBPIs policies are primarily issued on a claims made basis, which covers losses reported during the time period when a liability policy is in effect, regardless of when the event causing the claim actually occurred.
· Collector Cars and Boats: In the second quarter of 2008, OneBeacon began to provide property and casualty insurance solutions through an exclusive partnership with Hagerty Insurance Agency and Hagerty Classic Marine Insurance Agency (Hagerty), the nations premier collector car and classic boat agencies. Hagertys specialty services include collector car and wooden boat insurance, automotive museum insurance, restoration shop insurance, vehicle valuation, financing and roadside assistance, as well as a variety of useful information resources. Its Hagerty Plus community of collector car enthusiasts has over 280,000 members. Hagerty works proactively on hobby advocacy and supports the Collectors Foundation, a nonprofit organization formed by Hagerty and dedicated to the preservation of the hobby.
· International Marine Underwriters (IMU): A leading provider of marine insurance, this business traces its roots back to the early 1900s. IMU coverages include physical damage or loss and general liability for cargo and commercial hull, both at primary and excess levels. IMU also offers coverage for marinas, including a package product with comprehensive property and liability coverage, and yachts, the offerings for which were strengthened by IMUs acquisition in October 2006 of yacht-specialist National Marine Underwriters, Inc., a yacht insurance managing general agency. IMU does not offer offshore energy products. Target customers include ferry operators and charter boats (hull), marina operators and boat dealers (package product) and private-pleasure yachts with hull values of less than $1 million.
· Technology: Technologys customer groups include hardware manufacturers, software companies, and telecommunications service providers. OneBeacons custom @vantage for Technology policies provides coverage for technology customers unique needs including specialized professional liability such as data privacy, communications and errors and omissions liability, both domestically and internationally. Within the Technology segment, OneBeacon also specializes further with a product tailored for medical technology customers available on a claims-made or occurrence basis that also provides protection worldwide. Within this class, OneBeacon targets medical device manufacturers and operations.
· Property and Inland Marine (PIM): The PIM segment provides monoline property and inland marine products. OneBeacons property focus is on the real estate, health-care, education, aviation, municipality and manufacturing sectors, while inland marine targets the construction, transportation and fine arts segments. OneBeacon delivers creative and tailored solutions that fit its customers unique needs through broad coverage forms and specialized risk control and claims handling capabilities.
· A.W.G. Dewar (Dewar): A leading provider of tuition reimbursement insurance since 1930, Dewars product protects both schools and parents from the financial consequences of a students withdrawal or dismissal from school. The tuition refund plan reimburses parents up to 100% of tuition, room and board fees when a student is obliged to leave school due to covered reasons, such as medical or expulsion. Dewar provides customized policies to independent schools and colleges in North America.
· Specialty Accident and Health (A&H): A&H provides accident insurance principally to employer groups, associations and affinity groups. A&Hs products include corporate accident, travel accident and occupational accident coverage, which is primarily targeted to the trucking industry. In the fourth quarter of 2008, A&H launched OneBeacon Services to provide employer and affinity groups with access to a suite of services to help manage todays emerging issues. OneBeacon Services include a discounted prescription drug program, identity theft resolution services and travel assistance services. The A&H group distributes products through independent agents and brokers and selectively markets directly to customers.
· Entertainment Brokers International Insurance Services (EBI): Acquired in the third quarter of 2008, EBI provides specialized commercial insurance products, including professional liability coverages, for the entertainment, sports and leisure industries. EBI continues to operate as a managing agency with a network of 500 independent agents and brokers. EBI also operates a brokerage operation offering excess workers compensation coverages and a high value homeowners product.
· Financial Services: The Financial Services segment commenced operations in October 2005 by targeting a broad range of financial services companies including credit unions, investment advisers, securities broker/dealers, insurance companies and commercial banks. Through its @vantage for Financial Services product, OneBeacon provides customers with broad property and general liability protection. For community banks with under $3 billion in assets, the product may be augmented with specialized professional liability coverages.
· OneBeacon Specialty Property (OBSP): OBSP provides protection against certain damages over and above those covered by primary policies or a large self-insured retention. Target classes include apartments and condominiums, commercial real estate, small-to-medium manufacturing, retail/wholesale and public entity and educational institutions. OBSP targets customers with low catastrophe-exposed risks. OBSP solutions are provided primarily through surplus lines wholesalers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
· OneBeacon Government Risks (OBGR): Formed in March 2007, this group offers property and casualty products for government entities. The products include automobile, property, general liability and professional liability coverages. The professional liability offerings consist of law enforcement, public officials and employment practice coverage. Markets served include cities, towns, townships, counties, transit authorities, government agencies, special districts and pools (groups of public entities). OBGR strategically distributes its products through agents and brokers.
· OneBeacon Energy (OBEG): OBEG began offering property and casualty products in July 2009 to companies engaged in traditional upstream and midstream oil and gas production, storage and distribution and companies who use renewable energy resources to generate power or produce alternative fuels. OBEGs coverages include monoline property, monoline general liability, general liability combined with automobile liability and lead umbrella. All coverages offered are specifically tailored for these markets and risks. OBEG does not offer offshore energy products. Market-leading agents and brokers that specialize in the energy business strategically distribute OBEGs products throughout the United States.
For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, OneBeacons specialty lines net written premiums were as follows:
(1) Specialty lines now includes Technology, Financial Services, OBSP and PIM which were formerly reported in commercial lines. Prior periods have been reclassified to conform to the current presentation.
(2) Other specialty lines includes EBI, A&H, OBGR, OBEG, Dewar, Technology, Financial Services, OBSP and PIM. No individual business included in other specialty lines generated greater than $85 million in annual net written premiums.
OneBeacons personal lines underwriting unit is comprised of traditional personal lines, which is subject to the Personal Lines Transaction, and AutoOne. For the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, personal lines net written premiums were as follows:
(1) Represents elimination between traditional personal lines and AutoOne.
Traditional personal lines:
OneBeacons traditional personal lines provided a comprehensive suite of personal insurance products sold through select independent agents with a focus on eight Northeastern states. OneBeacons personal lines products include:
· Automobile: consists of physical damage and liability coverage. Automobile physical damage insurance covers loss or damage to vehicles from collision, vandalism, fire, theft or other causes. Automobile liability insurance covers bodily injury of others, damage to their property and costs of legal defense resulting from a collision caused by the insured.
· Homeowners: covers losses to an insureds home, including its contents, as a result of weather, fire, theft and other causes, and losses resulting from liability for acts of negligence by the insured or the insureds immediate family. OneBeacon also offers identity theft resolution assistance and identity theft expense reimbursement coverage as part of its homeowners policies.
· Package: consists of customized combination policies offering home and automobile coverage with optional umbrella and boatowners coverage.
Within traditional personal lines, in addition to automobile, homeowners and package policy offerings, OneBeacon also includes management services provided to reciprocals and the consolidation of the reciprocals described below.
· Traditional personal lines excluding reciprocals: To maintain a high degree of flexibility, in 2004 OneBeacon created a highly segmented product suite, called OneChoice. OneChoice is a multi-tiered product suite that enables OneBeacon to offer a broader range of coverages to a full spectrum of customers through more sophisticated pricing models that have a greater statistical correlation between historical loss experience and price than traditional pricing models. This product suite offers both automobile and homeowners coverages as well as package policies such as OneChoice CustomPac, OneBeacons flagship package policy. OneChoice products rely on multiple, objective pricing tiers and rules-based underwriting that enable agents to offer OneBeacon solutions to a broad array of their customers and increase its market penetration. OneBeacon regularly refines its product features and rating plans to optimize target market production. Ease of use is a critical aspect of this business. Investments in technology have provided opportunities for agents to access OneChoice through either OneBeacons web-based proprietary agent portal or through comparative raters.
· Reciprocals: OneBeacon provides management services for a fee to three reciprocal insurance exchanges, which OneBeacon refers to as reciprocals. The reciprocals offer the OneChoice product as described above. OneBeacon created and capitalized these reciprocals by lending them funds in exchange for surplus notes. Reciprocals are policyholder-owned insurance carriers organized as unincorporated associations. OneBeacon has no ownership interest in these reciprocals. As required by GAAP, White Mountains consolidated financial statements reflect the consolidation of these reciprocals. See Note 17Variable Interest Entities of the accompanying consolidated financial statements.
AutoOne is a market leader in assigned risk business in New York. Assigned risk plans provide automobile insurance for individuals unable to secure coverage in the voluntary market. Insurance carriers are obliged to accept future assignments from state assigned risk pools as a condition of maintaining a license to write automobile business in the state. However, carriers may satisfy their assigned risk obligation by buying out of their assignments through an agreement with an approved Assigned Risk Servicing Company or limit their assignments through the purchase and transfer of credits (for example, take-out, territorial and youthful driver credits). AutoOne offers services known as Limited Assignment Distribution (LAD) and Commercial Limited Assignment Distribution (CLAD) and credit programs to insurance carriers. AutoOne provides 28 LAD and CLAD programs in 21 states and the District of Columbia where assigned risk obligations may be assumed by a servicing carrier under a negotiated fee arrangement.
AutoOne also writes voluntary take-out business (policies taken out of the assigned risk pool and written in the voluntary market) by selecting policies from the assigned risk business it has assumed for its clients and from select insurance brokers that replace their clients assigned risk policies with AutoOne policies. AutoOne receives credits for all premiums taken out of the assigned risk plan which it can use either to reduce its future assigned risk obligations or sell to other carriers that can use the credits to reduce their own quota obligations.
Run-off consists of non-specialty commercial lines business included in the Commercial Lines Transaction, as well as national accounts, certain specialty programs and regional agency business transferred to Liberty Mutual effective November 1, 2001.
On December 3, 2009, OneBeacon sold the renewal rights to its non-specialty commercial lines business to The Hanover. The transaction includes small commercial accounts and the non-specialty portion of the middle-market business, beginning with January 1, 2010 effective dates. OneBeacon will continue to manage claims from its non-specialty commercial lines policies written prior to the January 1, 2010 effective date of the Commercial Lines Transaction and from business written by The Hanover through June 30, 2010. The Hanover will reimburse OneBeacon for expenses incurred to provide the claims administration services.
Beginning in 2001, national accounts and certain specialty programs were discontinued. On November 1, 2001, OneBeacon transferred its regional agency business, agents and operations in 42 states and the District of Columbia to Liberty Mutual pursuant to a renewal rights agreement (the Liberty Agreement). The Liberty Agreement pro-rated results so that OneBeacon assumed approximately two-thirds of the operating results from renewals through October 31, 2002 and approximately one-third of the operating results from renewals through October 31, 2003. The renewal rights under the Liberty Agreement expired on October 31, 2003. OneBeacon continues to manage claims from the discontinued national accounts and specialty programs business as well as the claims related to the business that was subject to the Liberty Agreement.
OneBeacons net written premiums are derived solely from business produced in the United States. Business from specialty, personal and run-off lines was produced in the following states:
(1) No individual state is greater than 4% of specialty, personal or run-off net written premiums for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007.
As a result of the Commercial Lines Transaction and the Personal Lines Transaction, OneBeacon expects its geographic premium distribution going forward to be consistent with its historical specialty lines premiums, which were produced in the following states for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007:
(1) Specialty lines now includes Technology, Financial Services, OBSP and PIM which were formerly reported in commercial lines. Prior periods have been reclassified to conform to the current presentation.
(2) No individual state is greater than 4% of specialty net written premiums for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007.
Marketing and Distribution
OneBeacon offers its products through a network comprised of independent agents, regional and national brokers and wholesalers. OneBeacons distribution relationships consist of approximately 3,400 agencies and brokers. In recent years, OneBeacon has expanded its distribution channels to include select managing general agencies (MGAs), either through acquisitions or exclusive relationships. These MGAs focus on a particular customer group with tailored products and services, and related expertise.
OneBeacons specialty lines businesses are managed from locations logistically appropriate to their target markets. OBPI is based in Avon, Connecticut and distributes its products through select national and regional brokers and agents. IMU is headquartered in New York City and operates through ten locations throughout the United States. Its products are distributed through a network of select agencies that specialize in marine business. OneBeacons collector cars and boats business is written through an exclusive MGA relationship with Hagerty. This relationship has an initial term of 5 years and will be up for renewal in the second quarter of 2013. Dewars affiliate, A.W.G. Dewar Agency, which is located in Quincy, Massachusetts, distributes tuition refund products to independent schools and colleges throughout North America. A&H conducts business through independent agents and brokers and selectively markets directly to customers. EBI, an MGA, sells directly and through a network of independent agents through locations in New York City and California. OBGR strategically distributes its products through agents and brokers. OBEG sells through a network of regional agencies and brokers that specialize in the energy industry. Technology, Financial Services, PIM and OBSP are distributed through a network of select independent insurance agencies.
Personal lines products are exclusively available in the eight northeastern states through a network of select independent insurance agencies.
OneBeacon protects the integrity of its franchise value by selectively appointing agents that demonstrate business and geographic profiles that align with its target markets and specialized capabilities. OneBeacon believes in the added value provided by independent insurance agents as they conduct more complete assessments of their clients needs, which result in more appropriate coverages and prudent risk management. OneBeacon also believes that independent agents will continue to be a significant force in overall industry premium.
New York-based AutoOne markets its LAD and CLAD services and New York take-out credits directly to insurance carriers seeking assigned risk solutions. AutoOne generates take-out credits by writing policies from select insurance brokers that were previously in the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP), and sells these credits to insurance companies subject to NYAIP assignments.
Underwriting and Pricing
OneBeacon believes there must be a realistic expectation of attaining an underwriting profit on all the business it writes, as well as a demonstrated fulfillment of that expectation over time. Consistent with OneBeacons underwriting comes first operating principle, adequate pricing is a critical component for achieving an underwriting profit. OneBeacon underwrites its book with a disciplined approach towards pricing its insurance products and is willing to forgo a business opportunity if it believes it is not priced appropriately to the exposure.
OneBeacon uses tiered rating plans in its personal lines, which permits it to offer more tailored price quotes to its customers based on underwriting criteria applicable to each tier. The enhanced accuracy and precision of OneBeacons rate plans enable it to more confidently price its products to the exposure, and thereby permit OneBeacons agency partners to deliver solutions to a broader range of customers.
OneBeacon also actively monitors pricing activity and measures usage of tiers, credits, debits and limits. In addition, OneBeacon regularly updates base rates to achieve targeted returns on capital and attempts to shift writings away from lines and classes where pricing is inadequate. To the extent changes in premium rates, policy forms or other matters are subject to regulatory approval (see REGULATIONUnited States and Risk FactorsRegulation may restrict our ability to operate), OneBeacon proactively monitors its pending regulatory filings to facilitate, to the extent possible, their prompt processing and approval. Lastly, OneBeacon expends considerable effort to measure and verify exposures and insured values.
Property and casualty insurance is highly competitive. OneBeacons competitors include numerous domestic and international insurers, including regional companies, mutual companies, specialty insurance companies, underwriting agencies and diversified financial services companies, some of which have greater financial and marketing resources. The more significant competitive factors for most insurance products OneBeacon offers are price, product terms and conditions, agency and broker relationships and claims service. OneBeacons underwriting principles and dedication to independent distribution partners are unlikely to make it the low-cost provider in most markets. While it is often difficult for insurance companies to differentiate their products, OneBeacon believes that by providing superior specialty products to satisfy well-defined market needs and relying on agents and brokers who value our targeted expertise, superior claims service, and disciplined underwriting, they establish their competitive advantage. The continued existence of carriers operating with lower cost structures places ongoing pressure on OneBeacons pricing and terms and conditions, which may impact its ability to compete.
Effective claims management is a critical factor in achieving satisfactory underwriting results. OneBeacon maintains an experienced staff of appraisers, medical specialists, managers, staff attorneys and field adjusters strategically located throughout its operating territories. OneBeacon also maintains a special investigative unit designed to detect insurance fraud and abuse and support efforts by regulatory bodies and trade associations to curtail fraud.
Claims are separately organized by the respective operations. Through 2009, claims have been organized by specialty, commercial, personal and run-off operations. No change has been made within claims management related to business subject to the Commercial Lines Transaction. This approach allows OneBeacon to better identify and manage claims handling costs. In addition, a shared claims service unit manages costs related to both staff and vendors. OneBeacon has adopted a total claims cost management approach that gives equal importance to controlling claims handling expenses, legal expenses and claims payments, enabling OneBeacon to lower the sum of the three. This approach requires the utilization of a considerable number of conventional metrics to monitor the effectiveness of various programs implemented to lower total loss costs. The metrics are designed to guard against implementation of expense containment programs that will cost OneBeacon more than it expects to save.
OneBeacons claims department utilizes a claims workstation to record reserves, payments and adjuster activity and, with support from expert tools, assists each claim handler in the identification of recovery potential, estimating property damage, evaluating claims and identifying fraud. OneBeacons commitment and performance in fighting insurance fraud has reduced claim costs and aided law enforcement investigations. Under OneBeacons staff counsel program, OneBeacons in-house attorneys defend the majority of new lawsuits, which has resulted in savings when compared to the cost of using outside counsel.
Calendar year reported claims in OneBeacons legacy run-off operations, which excludes business subject to the Commercial Lines Transaction, were 1,400 in 2009 compared to 1,600 in 2008, a 13% reduction, in part due to the lapse of time and the nature of run-off operations. These levels of reported claims are down from 1,800 in 2007, 2,400 in 2006 and 3,400 in 2005. Total open claims for legacy run-off operations were 4,000 at December 31, 2008 compared to 4,600 at December 31, 2008, a 14% reduction, which reflects the success of OneBeacons focus on settling claims from its legacy run-off operations. Total open claims for legacy run-off operations were 5,500 in 2007, 7,300 in 2006 and 10,200 in 2005.
OneBeacon has a reinsurance contract with National Indemnity Company (NICO) to help protect against potential asbestos and environmental (A&E) claims (the NICO Cover). See Reinsurance Protection and Catastrophe Management. NICO has retained a third-party administrator (TPA), Resolute New England (Resolute), formerly Cavell USA, to manage the claims processing for A&E claims reinsured under the NICO Cover. OneBeacons claims department personnel are consulted by NICO and Resolute on major claims. As with all TPAs, claims department personnel continually monitor Resolute to ensure its controls, processes and settlements are appropriate.
Reinsurance Protection and Catastrophe Management
In the ordinary course of its business, OneBeacon purchases reinsurance from high-quality, highly rated, third party reinsurers in order to minimize loss from large risks or catastrophic events.
The timing and size of catastrophe losses are unpredictable and the level of losses experienced in any year could be material to OneBeacons operating results and financial position. Examples of catastrophes include losses caused by earthquakes, wildfires, hurricanes and other types of storms and terrorist acts. The extent of losses caused by catastrophes is a function of the amount and type of insured exposure in an area affected by the event as well as the severity of the event. OneBeacon uses models (primarily AIR Version 11) to estimate the probability of the occurrence of a catastrophic event as well as potential losses under various scenarios. OneBeacon uses this model output in conjunction with other data to manage its exposure to catastrophe losses through individual risk selection and by limiting its concentration of insurance written in catastrophe-prone areas such as coastal regions. In addition, OneBeacon imposes wind deductibles on existing coastal windstorm exposures. OneBeacon believes that its largest single event natural catastrophe exposures are Northeastern United States windstorms and California earthquakes.
OneBeacon seeks to further reduce its potential loss from catastrophe exposures through the purchase of catastrophe reinsurance. Effective July 1, 2009, OneBeacon renewed its property catastrophe reinsurance program through June 30, 2010. The program provides coverage for OneBeacons personal and commercial property business, as well as certain acts of terrorism. Under the program, the first $100 million of losses resulting from any single catastrophe are retained and the next $750 million of losses resulting from the catastrophe are reinsured. Any loss above $850 million would be retained. In the event of a catastrophe, OneBeacons property catastrophe reinsurance program is reinstated for the remainder of the original contract term by paying a reinstatement premium that is based on the percentage of coverage reinstated and the original property catastrophe coverage premium. OneBeacon anticipates that the $850 million limit is sufficient to cover Northeast windstorm losses with a 0.4%-0.5% probability of occurrence (1-in-250-year event to 1-in-200-year event).
Effective January 1, 2009, in an effort to further reduce its property catastrophe exposure in the Northeast, OneBeacon entered into a quota share agreement with a group of reinsurers to cede 30% of its Northeast personal lines homeowners business written through OneBeacon Insurance Company (OBIC) and its subsidiary companies, along with Adirondack Insurance Exchange (Adirondack) and New Jersey Skylands Insurance Association in New York and New Jersey, respectively. The program provides supplemental protection to previously established reinsurance described above. The reinsurers are all rated A (Excellent, the third highest of fifteen financial strength ratings) or better by A.M. Best. Effective January 1, 2010, OneBeacon renewed the quota share agreement.
OneBeacons property catastrophe reinsurance program does not cover personal or commercial property losses resulting from nuclear events or biological, chemical or radiological terrorist attacks or losses resulting from acts of terrorism as defined under the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (the Terrorism Act or TRIA), as amended, committed by an individual or individuals acting on behalf of any foreign person or foreign interest. See Terrorism.
OneBeacons non-specialty commercial lines business that was subject to the Commercial Lines Transaction will run off throughout 2010, reducing OneBeacons overall catastrophe profile. OneBeacon anticipates that the Commercial Lines Transaction will result in a reduction in its exposure to Northeast windstorm losses in 2010. Additionally, OneBeacon anticipates that the Personal Lines Transaction, which is subject to certain regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2010, will also significantly reduce its Northeast windstorm exposures.
OneBeacon also purchases individual property reinsurance coverage for certain risks to reduce large loss volatility. The property-per-risk reinsurance program reinsures losses in excess of $10 million up to $100 million. Individual risk facultative reinsurance may be purchased above $100 million where OneBeacon deems it appropriate. The property-per-risk treaty also provides one limit of reinsurance protection for losses in excess of $10 million up to $100 million on an individual risk basis for terrorism losses. However, nuclear, biological, chemical and radiological terrorist attacks are not covered.
OneBeacon also maintains a casualty reinsurance program that provides protection for individual risk or catastrophe losses involving workers compensation, general liability, automobile liability or umbrella liability in excess of $6 million up to $81 million. Corporate accident losses are covered up to $95 million excess of $35 million. This program provides coverage for terrorism losses but does not provide coverage for losses resulting from nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological terrorist attacks.
In addition, OneBeacon has reinsurance contracts with two reinsurance companies rated AA+ (Very Strong, the second highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings) by Standard & Poors and A++ (Superior, the highest of fifteen financial strength ratings) by A.M. Best. One is the reinsurance cover with NICO, which entitles OneBeacon to recover up to $2.5 billion in ultimate loss and LAE incurred related primarily to claims arising from business written by OneBeacon prior to 1992 for asbestos claims and prior to 1987 for environmental claims, and certain other exposures. As of December 31, 2009, OneBeacon has ceded estimated incurred losses of approximately $2.2 billion to the NICO Cover. Net losses paid totaled $1.2 billion as of December 31, 2009, with $118 million paid in 2009. The other contract is a reinsurance cover with General Reinsurance Corporation (GRC) for up to $570 million of additional losses on all claims arising from accident years 2000 and prior (the GRC Cover). As of December 31, 2009, OneBeacon has ceded estimated incurred losses of $550 million to the GRC Cover. Pursuant to the GRC Cover, OneBeacon is not entitled to recover losses to the full contract limit if such losses are reimbursed by GRC more quickly than anticipated at the time the contract was signed. OneBeacon intends to only seek reimbursement from GRC for claims which result in payment patterns similar to those supporting OneBeacons recoverables recorded pursuant to the GRC Cover. The economic cost of not submitting certain other eligible claims to GRC is primarily the investment spread between the rate credited by GRC and the rate achieved by OneBeacon on its own investments. This cost, if any, is expected to be small.
Reinsurance contracts do not relieve OneBeacon of its obligation to its policyholders. Therefore, collectibility of balances due from reinsurers is critical to OneBeacons financial strength. See Note 4Third Party Reinsurance of the accompanying consolidated financial statements.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, OneBeacon has sought to mitigate the risk associated with any future terrorist attacks by limiting the aggregate insured value of policies in geographic areas with exposure to losses from terrorist attacks. This is accomplished by either limiting the total insured values exposed, or, where applicable, through the use of terrorism exclusions.
In December 2007, the United States government extended the Terrorism Act for seven more years until December 31, 2014. The Terrorism Act, originally enacted in 2002, established a federal backstop for commercial property and casualty losses, including workers compensation, resulting from acts of terrorism by or on behalf of any foreign person or foreign interest. As extended, the law now also covers domestic acts of terrorism. The law limits the industrys aggregate liability by requiring the federal government to share 85% of certified losses once a company meets a specific retention or deductible as determined by its prior years direct written premiums and limits the aggregate liability to be paid by the government and industry without further action by Congress at $100 billion. In exchange for this backstop, primary insurers are required to make coverage available to commercial insureds for losses from acts of terrorism as specified in the Terrorism Act. The following types of coverage are excluded from the program: commercial automobile, burglary and theft, surety, farmowners multi-peril and all professional liability coverage except directors and officers coverage.
OneBeacon estimates its individual retention level for commercial policies subject to the Terrorism Act to be approximately $177 million in 2010, which is based on 2009s net written premiums. The federal government will pay 85% of covered terrorism losses that exceed OneBeacons or the industrys retention levels in 2010, up to a total of $100 billion.
OneBeacons current property and casualty catastrophe reinsurance programs provide coverage for both certified and non-certified events as defined under the Terrorism Act, provided such losses are not the result of a nuclear, biological, chemical or radiological terrorist attack, or for certified acts committed by an individual or individuals acting on behalf of any foreign person or foreign interest. See BusinessReinsurance Protection and Catastrophe Management.
OneBeacon closely monitors and manages its concentration of risk by geographic area. OneBeacons guideline is to control its exposures so that its total maximum expected loss from a likely terrorism event within any half-mile radius in a metropolitan area or around a target risk will not exceed $200 million, or $300 million in all other areas. Reports monitoring OneBeacons terrorism exposures are generated quarterly, and the exposure of potential new business located in areas of existing concentration or that individually present significant exposure is evaluated during the underwriting process. As a result, OneBeacon believes that it has taken appropriate actions to limit its exposure to losses from terrorist attacks and will continue to monitor its terrorism exposure in the future. Nonetheless, risks insured by us, including those covered by the Terrorism Act, remain exposed to terrorist attacks and the possibility remains that losses resulting from future terrorist attacks could prove to be material.
OneBeacon expects that the Commercial Lines Transaction will reduce the terrorism exposure profile as this business runs off throughout 2010.
Loss and Loss Adjustment Expense Reserves
OneBeacon establishes loss and LAE reserves that are estimates of amounts needed to pay claims and related expenses in the future for insured events that have already occurred. The process of estimating reserves involves a considerable degree of judgment by management and, as of any given date, is inherently uncertain. See CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES in Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for a full discussion regarding OneBeacons loss reserving process.
The following information presents (1) OneBeacons reserve development over the preceding eight and a half years and (2) a reconciliation of reserves in accordance with accounting principles and practices prescribed or permitted by insurance authorities (Statutory basis) to such reserves determined in accordance with GAAP, each as prescribed by Securities Act Industry Guide No. 6.
Section I of the table shows the estimated liability that was recorded at the end of each of the indicated years for all current and prior accident year unpaid loss and LAE. The liability represents the estimated amount of loss and LAE for claims that were unpaid at the balance sheet date, including incurred but not reported (IBNR) reserves. In accordance with GAAP, the liability for unpaid loss and LAE is recorded in the balance sheet gross of the effects of reinsurance with an estimate of reinsurance recoverables arising from reinsurance contracts reported separately as an asset. The net balance represents the estimated amount of unpaid loss and LAE outstanding as of the balance sheet date, reduced by estimates of amounts recoverable under reinsurance contracts.
Section II shows the cumulative amount of net loss and LAE paid relating to recorded liabilities as of the end of each succeeding year. Section III shows the re-estimated amount of the previously recorded net liability as of the end of each succeeding year. Estimates of the liability for unpaid loss and LAE are increased or decreased as payments are made and more information regarding individual claims and trends, such as overall frequency (the average number of claims submitted per policy during a given period of time) and severity (the average value of claims submitted per policy during a given period of time) patterns, becomes known. Section IV shows the cumulative net (deficiency)/redundancy representing the aggregate change in the liability from original balance sheet dates and the re-estimated liability through December 31, 2009. Section V shows the re-estimated gross liability and re-estimated reinsurance recoverables through December 31, 2009. Section VI shows the cumulative gross (deficiency)/redundancy representing the aggregate change in the liability from original balance sheet dates and the re-estimated liability through December 31, 2009.
(1) OneBeacon became a wholly-owned subsidiary of White Mountains on June 1, 2001.
(2) Amounts reported in the table do not include adjustments for purchase accounting related to the acquisition of OneBeacon.
The following table reconciles loss and LAE reserves determined on a statutory basis to loss and LAE reserves determined in accordance with GAAP at December 31, as follows:
(1) Represents adjustments made to add back reinsurance recoverables included with the presentation of reserves under statutory accounting.
(2) Represents long-term workers compensation loss and LAE reserve discount recorded in excess of statutorily defined discount.
OneBeacons Intermediate Holding Companies/Financing Activities
OneBeacons intermediate holding companies include OneBeacon U.S. Enterprises Holdings, Inc. (OBEH), formerly Fund American Enterprises Holdings, Inc., and OneBeacon U.S. Holdings, Inc. (OBH), formerly Fund American Companies, Inc., both U.S.-domiciled companies, as well as various intermediate holding companies domiciled in the United States, Gibraltar, Luxembourg and Bermuda.
In May 2003, OBH issued $700 million face value of senior unsecured notes through a public offering, at an issue price of 99.7% (the OBH Senior Notes). The OBH Senior Notes bear an annual interest rate of 5.875%, payable semi-annually in arrears on May 15 and November 15, until maturity in May 2013. During 2008, OneBeacon repurchased $24 million face value of its outstanding OBH Senior Notes for $22 million. During 2009, OneBeacon repurchased $69 million face value of its outstanding OBH Senior Notes for $63 million.
White Mountains provides an irrevocable and unconditional guarantee as to the payment of principal and interest on the OBH Senior Notes. In consideration of this guarantee OneBeacon pays White Mountains a guarantee fee equal to 25 basis points per annum on the outstanding principal amount of the OBH Senior Notes. If White Mountains voting interest in OneBeacon Ltd.s common shares ceases to represent more than 50% of all of OneBeacon Ltd.s voting securities, OneBeacon Ltd. will seek to redeem, exchange or otherwise modify the OBH Senior Notes in order to fully and permanently eliminate White Mountains obligations under the guarantee. In the event that White Mountains guarantee is not eliminated, the guarantee fee will increase over time up to a maximum of 450 basis points.
As part of the financing for White Mountains acquisition of OneBeacon in June 2001, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (Berkshire) invested a total of $300 million in cash, of which (1) $225 million was for the purchase of cumulative non-voting preferred stock of OBH (the Berkshire Preferred Stock), which had a $300 million redemption value; and (2) $75 million was for the purchase of warrants to acquire 1,724,200 common shares of the Company. During 2004, Berkshire exercised its warrants for $294 million in cash. During the fourth quarter of 2008, White Mountains executed an exchange transaction with Berkshire to transfer certain run-off businesses and a substantial amount of cash to Berkshire in exchange for substantially all of the common shares of White Mountains owned by Berkshire (See Other Operations Berkshire Exchange).
Also as part of the financing of the acquisition of OneBeacon, Zenith Insurance Company purchased $20 million in cumulative non-voting preferred stock of OBEH (the Zenith Preferred Stock).
In connection with the OneBeacon Offering, OneBeacon created two irrevocable grantor trusts and funded them with assets sufficient to provide for the remaining dividend and redemption payments for the $20 million Zenith Preferred Stock and the $300 million Berkshire Preferred Stock. Assets held in these trusts were used to redeem the Zenith Preferred Stock in June 2007 and the Berkshire Preferred Stock in May 2008.
White Mountains Re is a global multi-line reinsurance organization that provides reinsurance for property, accident & health, agriculture, aviation and space, casualty, and certain other exposures on a worldwide basis through its subsidiaries, WMRe Sirius and WMRe America. WMRe Sirius, which is the largest reinsurance company domiciled in Scandinavia based on gross written premiums, is a multi-line property and casualty reinsurer that provides reinsurance primarily in Europe, North America and Asia. WMRe America is a multi-line property and casualty reinsurer that provides reinsurance primarily in the United States, Canada, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In September 2009, White Mountains Re substantially completed a reorganization of its reinsurance operations whereby the in-force business of WMRe Bermuda was transferred to WMRe Sirius, which established a branch office in Bermuda to maintain the groups presence in the Bermuda market. During the first quarter of 2010, WMRe Bermuda was contributed to WMRe Sirius and is now in run-off.
White Mountains Re has offices in Belgium, Bermuda, Connecticut, Copenhagen, Hamburg, London, Miami, New York, Singapore, Stockholm, Toronto and Zurich. At December 31, 2009 and 2008, White Mountains Re had $5.6 billion and $6.1 billion of total assets and $1.4 billion and $1.5 billion of shareholders equity. White Mountains Re wrote approximately $807 million and $931 million in net written premiums in 2009 and 2008.
The following table presents the financial strength ratings assigned to WMRe Sirius and WMRe America:
(1) A is the third highest and A- is the fourth highest of fifteen financial strength ratings assigned by A.M. Best.
(2) A- is the seventh highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings assigned by Standard & Poors.
(3) A3 is the seventh highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings assigned by Moodys.
(4) A- is the seventh highest of twenty-one financial strength ratings assigned by Fitch.
White Mountains Re acquired Sirius Insurance Holdings Sweden AB and its subsidiaries from ABB Ltd. on April 16, 2004 for SEK 3.27 billion (approximately $427.5 million). The principal companies acquired were WMRe Sirius, Sirius America Insurance Company (Sirius America), which was subsequently sold in 2006, and Scandinavian Re, a reinsurance company that has been in run-off since 2002.
On January 7, 2008, White Mountains Re acquired Helicon Re Holdings, Ltd. and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Helicon Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (Helicon); a Bermuda-domiciled reinsurance company, for approximately $150 million in cash. White Mountains Re did not acquire any infrastructure or employees. In December 2008, Helicon Re Holdings, Ltd. and Helicon were dissolved.
White Mountains Re has a dedicated group of professionals who have managed several acquisitions of run-off interests in other insurance and reinsurance organizations (See White Mountains Re Solutions).
Reinsurance is an arrangement in which a reinsurance company (the reinsurer) agrees to indemnify an insurance company (the ceding company) for all or a portion of the insurance risks underwritten by the ceding company under one or more insurance policies. Reinsurance can benefit a ceding company in a number of ways, including reducing exposure on individual risks, providing catastrophe protections from large or multiple losses, and assisting in maintaining acceptable capital levels as well as financial and operating leverage ratios. Reinsurance can also provide a ceding company with additional underwriting capacity by permitting it to accept larger risks and underwrite a greater number of risks without a corresponding increase in its capital. Reinsurers may also purchase reinsurance, known as retrocessional reinsurance, to cover their own risks assumed from ceding companies. Reinsurance companies often enter into retrocessional agreements for many of the same reasons that ceding companies enter into reinsurance agreements.
Reinsurance is generally written on a treaty or facultative basis. Treaty reinsurance is an agreement whereby the reinsurer assumes a specified portion or category of risk under all qualifying policies issued by the ceding company during the term of the agreement, usually one year. When underwriting treaty reinsurance, the reinsurer does not evaluate each individual risk and generally accepts the original underwriting decisions made by the ceding company. Treaty reinsurance is typically written on either a proportional or excess of loss basis. A proportional reinsurance treaty is an arrangement whereby a reinsurer assumes a predetermined proportional share of the premiums and losses generated on specified business. An excess of loss treaty is an arrangement whereby a reinsurer assumes losses that exceed a specific retention of loss by the ceding company. Facultative reinsurance, on the other hand, is underwritten on a risk-by-risk basis, which allows the reinsurer to determine pricing for each exposure.
White Mountains Re writes both treaty and facultative reinsurance, as well as primary direct business. The majority of White Mountains Re premiums are derived from excess of loss and proportional reinsurance contracts, which in 2009 amounted to 70% and 17%, respectively, of its total net written premiums, while primary direct business represented 13% of total net written premiums.
A significant period of time normally elapses between the receipt of reinsurance premiums and the payment of reinsurance claims. While premiums are generally paid to the reinsurer upon inception of the underlying coverage, the claims process is delayed and generally begins upon the occurrence of an event causing an insured loss followed by: (1) the reporting of the loss by the insured to its broker or agent; (2) the reporting by the broker or agent to the ceding company; (3) the reporting by the ceding company to its reinsurance intermediary or agent; (4) the reporting by the reinsurance intermediary or agent to the reinsurer; (5) the ceding companys adjustment and payment of the loss; and (6) the payment to the ceding company by the reinsurer. During this time, reinsurers invest the premiums and earn investment income and generate net realized and unrealized investment gains and losses on investments. The period of time between the receipt of premiums and the payment of claims is typically longer for a reinsurer than for a primary insurer.
Classes of Business
The following table shows White Mountains Res net written premiums by class of business for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007:
(1) Primarily consists of marine and credit and bonding business.
White Mountains Re is a leader in the broker market for property treaties written on a proportional and excess of loss basis. In the United States, the domestic focus of the working portfolio centers on significant participations on proportional and excess of loss treaties for carefully chosen partners in the excess & surplus lines segment of the market. The catastrophe portfolio mainly consists of select large national, small regional and standard lines carriers. The international book primarily consists of excess of loss, facultative and proportional treaty business in Europe.
Property Catastrophe Excess
Property catastrophe excess of loss treaties cover losses from catastrophic events. White Mountains Re writes a worldwide portfolio with the largest concentration of exposure in Europe, and seeks to set prices and terms on treaties wherever possible. The current U.S. book has a national account focus supporting the lower and/or middle layers of large capacity programs. The exposures written in the international portfolio are diversified across many countries and regions.
Accident & Health
White Mountains Res accident & health business is composed of three major classes of business. In the largest class of business, White Mountains Re is a surplus lines insurer of international medical expenses written through International Medical Group, which is the agent writing on WMRe Sirius behalf. The second major class of business comprises proportional treaties covering employer medical stop loss for per person (specific) and per employer (aggregate) exposures. The third major class of business comprises medical, health and personal accident coverages written on an excess treaty and facultative basis.
Aviation and Space
Aviation insurance covers loss of or damage to an aircraft and the aircraft operations liability to passengers, cargo and mail as well as to third parties. Additionally, liability arising out of non-aircraft operations such as hangars, airports and aircraft products can be covered. Space insurance covers loss of or damage to a satellite during launch and in orbit.
White Mountains Res casualty treaty division accepts reinsurance submissions for all lines of general casualty and professional liability business. In recent years, the book has been highly concentrated in general casualty lines. While the majority of business has been written on a pro rata basis, in the recent past, the business has shifted to excess of loss covers as primary rates have decreased. The casualty treaty division writes a book of casualty clash and workers compensation catastrophe business. Due to declining casualty premium rates, the overall casualty book of business continued to decrease significantly in 2009, continuing the trend from the recent past, with the expectation that the book could grow again when premium rates and contract terms improve to acceptable levels.
White Mountains Re primarily provides proportional coverage to companies writing U.S. government-sponsored Multi-Peril Crop Insurance (MPCI). White Mountains Res participation is net of the governments stop loss reinsurance protection. White Mountains Re also provides coverage for crop-hail and certain named perils when bundled with MPCI business.
Included in this class is marine, credit and contingency business written by proportional treaty, marine business written on a direct basis, a discontinued marine excess book and the run-off exposures from various acquisitions. White Mountains Res A&E exposures are from the run-off of businesses acquired by WMRe America in the 1990s.
Bermuda Advisory Services
White Mountains Re began its reinsurance advisory business in January 2002, through its Bermuda-based subsidiary, White Mountains Re Underwriting Services, Ltd. (WMRUS). WMRUS provided reinsurance underwriting advice and reinsurance portfolio analysis services to WMRe Sirius and WMRe America through December 31, 2008. In exchange for these services, WMRUS received fee income on the business it referred. On June 30, 2008, WMRe Bermuda commenced underwriting most of the WMRUS referred business previously underwritten by WMRe Sirius and WMRe America. In 2009, as part of reorganization, WMRe Bermudas in-force business was transferred to WMRe Sirius.
White Mountains Re Solutions is a Connecticut-based division of White Mountains Re specializing in the acquisition and management of run-off insurance and reinsurance companies both in the United States and internationally. The White Mountains Re Solutions team is comprised of financial, legal, actuarial and claims professionals experienced in the management and resolution of complex insurance liabilities as well as the structuring of transactions designed to enable owners to exit an insurance business and extract trapped capital. Acquisitions typically involve purchases at a significant discount to book value and undergo an extensive due diligence process. Value to White Mountains Re is derived not only from the discount purchase gain but also from the investment income on insurance float on reserves under management, the settlement of claims below the carried level of reserves and the harvesting of other embedded assets including the value of shell companies and licenses.
Cumulative net income, after tax, related to acquisitions executed by White Mountains Re Solutions from inception through December 31, 2009 exceeds $130 million.
On January 21, 2010, White Mountains Re entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Central National Insurance Company of Omaha (Central National) from Drum Financial Corporation for $5 million in cash. Central National ceased writing business in 1989 and has operated under the control of the Nebraska Department of Insurance since 1990. The transaction, which is subject to necessary regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions, is expected to close during the first quarter of 2010.
Acquisitions managed by the White Mountains Re Solutions team since 2004 include:
· On December 22, 2006, the acquisition of Mutual Service Casualty Insurance Company (Mutual Service), a Minnesota-domiciled, run-off insurer for $34 million in cash. Mutual Service was renamed Stockbridge Insurance Company (Stockbridge) as part of a sponsored demutualization and conversion to a stock company and was formerly affiliated with Illinois-based Country Insurance & Financial Services (Country). As part of the transaction, Country provided Stockbridge with approximately $25 million of reinsurance protection in excess of Stockbridges carried reserves as of September 30, 2006. White Mountains Re did not acquire any infrastructure or employees and managed Stockbridges run-off administration through the use of a TPA under White Mountains Res direction. On October 1, 2007, substantially all of the assets and liabilities of Stockbridge were transferred to WMRe America through a Transfer and Assumption Agreement. During the fourth quarter of 2007, White Mountains Re disposed its 100% ownership interest in Stockbridge to a third party for approximately $26 million.
· On March 31, 2004, the acquisition of the Sierra Insurance Group Companies (the Sierra Group). Subsequent to the acquisition, the Sierra Group companies, which wrote mainly workers compensation business, were placed into run-off and all of the acquired companies run-off claims administration was transferred to TPAs working under White Mountains Res direction. During the fourth quarter of 2008, White Mountains Re sold its 100% remaining ownership interest in the Sierra Group (Commercial Casualty Insurance Company (CCIC)) to Berkshire as part of the Berkshire Exchange (See Other OperationsBerkshire Exchange).
The following table shows White Mountains Res net written premiums by geographic region for the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007:
Marketing and Distribution
White Mountains Re obtains most of its reinsurance submissions from reinsurance intermediaries. Business submissions come from intermediaries that represent the ceding company. The process of placing an intermediary reinsurance program typically begins when a ceding company enlists the aid of a reinsurance intermediary in structuring a reinsurance program. The ceding company and the reinsurance intermediary will often consult with one or more lead reinsurers as to the pricing and contract terms for the reinsurance protection being sought. Once the ceding company has approved the terms quoted by the lead reinsurer, the reinsurance intermediary will offer participation to qualified reinsurers until the program is fully subscribed. White Mountains Re considers both the reinsurance intermediary and the ceding company to be its clients in any placement. White Mountains Re has developed strong business relationships over a long period of time with the management of many of its ceding companies.
White Mountains Re pays ceding companies a ceding commission under most proportional reinsurance treaties and some excess of loss reinsurance treaties. The ceding commission is generally based on the ceding companys cost of acquiring and administering the business being reinsured (e.g., commissions, premium taxes and certain miscellaneous expenses). The ceding commissions paid to ceding companies constitute the majority of White Mountains Res total acquisition costs Additionally, White Mountains Re pays reinsurance intermediaries commissions based on negotiated percentages of the premium they produce by treaty or certificate.
During the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, White Mountains Re received no more than 10% of its gross written premiums from any individual ceding company. During the years ended December 31, 2009, 2008 and 2007, White Mountains Re received approximately 60%, 48% and 59%, respectively, of its gross reinsurance premiums written from three major, third-party reinsurance intermediaries as detailed in the following table:
(1) AON Re acquired Benfield during 2008
Underwriting and Pricing
White Mountains Re maintains a disciplined underwriting strategy which, while considering overall exposure, focuses on writing more business when market terms and conditions are favorable and reducing business volume during soft markets when terms and conditions become less favorable. White Mountains Re offers clients a wide range of reinsurance products across multiple lines of business to satisfy their risk management needs.
White Mountains Re derives its business from a broad spectrum of ceding companies, including national, regional, specialty and excess and surplus lines writers, both in the United States and internationally. White Mountains Res underwriters and pricing actuaries perform reviews of the underwriting, pricing, and general underwriting controls of potential ceding companies before quoting contract terms for its reinsurance products. White Mountains Re prices its products by assessing the desired return on the expected capital needed to write a given contract and on the expected underwriting results of the contract. White Mountains Res pricing indications are based on a number of underwriting factors including historical results, analysis of exposure and estimates of future loss costs, a review of other programs displaying similar exposure characteristics and the ceding companys underwriting and claims experience. Where customary and appropriate, White Mountains Res underwriters, actuaries and claims personnel perform audits to monitor certain ceding companies risk selection and pricing. Additionally, White Mountains Res staff reviews the financial stability and creditworthiness of ceding companies. Such reviews provide important input to support underwriting decisions.
Reinsurers do not have the stringent regulations with respect to contract terms and policy exclusions that are generally imposed on primary insurers. For example, the Terrorism Act is not applicable to reinsurers. As a result, terrorism exclusions on reinsurance contracts are dictated by the marketplace. White Mountains Re evaluates terrorism exposure from its ceding companies and applies exclusions as it deems appropriate and as are permitted by market conditions. Reinsurance on commercial risks written by White Mountains Re subsequent to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 generally contains clauses that exclude acts of terrorism certified under the Terrorism Act. Reinsurance on personal risks written by White Mountains Re subsequent to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 generally contains exclusions related to nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical attacks.
White Mountains Re maintains a staff of experienced reinsurance claim specialists that work closely with reinsurance intermediaries to obtain specific claims information from ceding companies. Where customary and appropriate, White Mountains Res claims staff perform selective on-site claim reviews to assess ceding companies claim handling abilities and reserve techniques. In addition, White Mountains Res claims specialists review loss information provided by ceding companies for adequacy and accuracy. The results of these claim reviews are shared with the underwriters and actuaries to assist them in pricing products and establishing loss reserves.
White Mountains Re also uses TPAs for certain claims, including claims arising from certain of White Mountains Res accident & health business and run-off claims related to certain acquired companies. White Mountains Res claims staff performs on-site claim audits of certain TPAs to ensure the propriety of the controls and processes over claims serviced by the TPAs.
The worldwide reinsurance market is highly competitive. Competition in the worldwide reinsurance market is influenced by a variety of factors, including price charged and other terms and conditions offered, financial strength ratings, prior history and relationships, as well as expertise and the speed at which the company has historically paid claims.
White Mountains Re competes for reinsurance business in the United States, Bermuda, Europe, and other international reinsurance markets with numerous global competitors. White Mountains Res competitors include reinsurance companies and underwriting syndicates at Lloyds of London. Some of the companies that White Mountains Re competes directly with include ACE Limited, Arch Capital Group Ltd., Endurance Specialty Holdings Ltd., Everest Re Group, Ltd., General Reinsurance Corporation, Hannover Ruckversicherung AG, Lloyds of London, Montpelier Re Holdings, Ltd. (Montpelier Re), Munich Re Group, Odyssey Re Holdings Corp., PartnerRe Ltd., Platinum Underwriters Holdings Ltd., Renaissance Re Holdings Ltd., Swiss Re Group, Transatlantic Holdings, Inc. and XL Capital Ltd.
Catastrophe Risk Management
White Mountains Re has exposure to losses caused by hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, winter storms, windstorms, floods, tsunamis, terrorist acts and other catastrophic events. In the normal course of business, White Mountains Re regularly manages its concentration of exposures to catastrophic events, primarily by limiting concentrations of exposure to what it deems acceptable levels and, if necessary, purchasing reinsurance. In addition, White Mountains Re seeks to limit losses that might arise from acts of terrorism in its reinsurance contracts by exclusionary provisions, where applicable. White Mountains Re also uses third-party global catastrophe models as well as its own proprietary models to calculate expected probable maximum loss (PML) from various natural catastrophic scenarios. White Mountains Re believes that its largest natural catastrophic exposures, net of reinsurance and based on a 250-year PML single event scenario, are European winter storms, United States Gulf Coast windstorms (i.e., Florida to Texas), California earthquakes, United States Atlantic Coast windstorms (i.e., Massachusetts to Florida) and, to a lesser extent, Japanese windstorms and earthquakes.
White Mountains Re currently monitors and prices its property catastrophe contracts using third-party software models and internally developed models as well as other methods. For contracts that White Mountains Re determines to have exposure to natural catastrophic perils, it models and assesses the exposure using the results in its underwriting process to ensure that the contracts it writes have an appropriate charge for the exposure.
Catastrophe exposure modeling is inherently uncertain due to process risk (the probability and magnitude of the underlying event, e.g. earthquake) and parameter risk (the probability of making inaccurate model assumptions). In particular, geographic and policy coverage data on the primary policies reinsured by White Mountains Re is essential. Accordingly, White Mountains Res ability to accurately predict its catastrophe exposure is dependent on the quality and accuracy of data obtained from its clients.
Additionally, catastrophe modeling is dependent upon several broad economic and scientific assumptions, such as storm surge (the water that is pushed toward the shore by the force of a windstorm), demand surge (the localized increase in prices of goods and services that often follow a catastrophe) and zone density (the percentage of insured perils that would be affected in a region by a catastrophe). Third party modeling software also does not encompass all territories in which White Mountains Re writes business.
White Mountains Re does not believe that it can rely solely upon catastrophe modeling to measure its exposure to natural catastrophic risk. For example, the losses arising from Hurricane Katrina for both White Mountains Re and the industry were substantially in excess of losses previously predicted by third party models from such an event. This was due to issues such as inadequate storm surge and demand surge assumptions in the models, as well as flooding from levees breaking, which was not fully contemplated in these models. Correspondingly, White Mountains Re also assesses catastrophe risk by monitoring total limits exposed to a catastrophe event in key zones.
The following table provides an estimate of White Mountains Res three largest PML zones at January 31, 2010:
(1) GAAP capital and common equity at December 31, 2009 for White Mountains Re is determined on a legal-entity basis.
(2) New Madrid Fault Line in the Midwestern United States.
During 2007, to better manage its aggregate exposure to very large catastrophic events, White Mountains Re introduced an underwriting limit to the maximum net financial impact (NFI) it would suffer in the worst aggregate loss year modeled in third party software (i.e., the 10,000 year global annual aggregate PML). The calculation of the NFI begins with the 10,000 year global annual aggregate PML and takes account of reinstatement premiums, reinsurance recoverables net of uncollectible balances, and tax benefits. This amount is deducted from White Mountains Res planned legal entity comprehensive net income for the year to arrive at the NFI. The NFI does not include the potential impact of the loss events on White Mountains Res investment portfolio.
For 2010, the NFI limit has been re-set at $700 million, which is approximately 28% and 39% of White Mountains Res total legal entity GAAP capital and common shareholders equity at December 31, 2009, respectively. At January 1, 2010, White Mountains Re believes that it was under the $700 million NFI limit. White Mountains Re also monitors its NFI for global annual aggregate tail value at risk (TVaR) at the 100, 250, 500, and 1,000 year periods. TVaR represents the average loss for the named period through the 10,000 years (e.g. TVaR 250 represents the average loss for the worst forty modeled years).
White Mountains Re monitors gross and net property catastrophe occurrence limits by country and region globally. Occurrence limits for peak zones in Europe, Japan, and the United States are assessed versus modeled catastrophe risk as another measure in understanding total property catastrophe exposure to large events.
Actual losses incurred by White Mountains Re resulting from any particular catastrophic event may be substantially different than modeled losses from such event.
The net after-tax loss table and NFI calculations referenced above reflect a full tax benefit at the applicable statutory rate in each jurisdiction, where applicable. There can be no assurance that a full tax benefit, or existing deferred tax assets, will be totally recoverable in each jurisdiction, or that a full or partial valuation allowance will not have to be applied against these amounts in White Mountains GAAP financial statements.
White Mountains Res reinsurance protection primarily consists of pro-rata and excess of loss protection to cover WMRe Sirius property catastrophe, aviation and credit exposures. These reinsurance protections are designed to increase underwriting capacity, where appropriate, and to reduce potential loss exposure to any large event or frequency of smaller catastrophe events. In addition, in 2009 and 2008, WMRe purchased group excess of loss retrocessional protection for its non-U.S. and non-Japan earthquake-related exposures and in late 2009 and early 2010, industry loss warranties for New Madrid earthquake and Europe wind exposures.
For 2007, the majority of the White Mountains Re reinsurance protection was provided through WMRe Americas quota share retrocessional arrangements with Olympus Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (Olympus) and Helicon. Olympus has been in run-off since December 31, 2007. WMRe America ceded 35% of its 2007 underwriting year property excess of loss business to Olympus and Helicon, with each sharing approximately 55% and 45%, respectively. White Mountains Re received fee income based on premiums ceded to Olympus and Helicon.
White Mountains Res reinsurance recoverable balances due from Olympus are fully collateralized in the form of assets in a trust, funds held and offsetting balances payable for all recoverable amounts recorded as of December 31, 2009. Olympus will continue to be responsible for the payment of losses on exposures that have been ceded to it and will continue to earn premiums related primarily to the run-off of underwriting year 2007 and prior business. White Mountains Re acquired Helicon on January 7, 2008, and its business was subsequently transferred and assumed by WMRe Bermuda in December 2008.
At December 31, 2009, White Mountains Re had $18 million of reinsurance recoverables on paid losses and $579 million of reinsurance recoverables on unpaid losses that will become recoverable if claims are paid in accordance with current reserve estimates. Because retrocessional reinsurance contracts do not relieve White Mountains Re of its obligation to its ceding companies, the collectability of balances due from its retrocessionaires is critical to its financial strength. White Mountains Re monitors the financial strength and ratings of retrocessionaires on an ongoing basis. See Note 4- Third Party Reinsurance to the accompanying consolidated financial statements for a discussion of White Mountains Res top reinsurers.
Loss and Loss Adjustment Expense Reserves
White Mountains Re establishes reserves that are estimates of future amounts needed to pay claims and related expenses for insured events that have already occurred. See CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES in Managements Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for a full discussion regarding White Mountains Res loss reserving process.
The following information presents (1) White Mountains Res reserve development over the preceding ten years and (2) a reconciliation of reserves on a regulatory basis to reserves determined in accordance with GAAP, each as prescribed by Securities Act Industry Guide No. 6.
Section I of the 10 year table shows the estimated liability that was recorded at the end of each of the indicated years for all current and prior accident year unpaid loss and LAE. The liability represents the estimated amount of loss and LAE for claims that were unpaid at the balance sheet date, including IBNR reserves. In accordance with GAAP, the liability for unpaid loss and LAE is recorded in the balance sheet gross of the effects of reinsurance with an estimate of reinsurance recoverables arising from reinsurance contracts reported separately as an asset. The net balance represents the estimated amount of unpaid loss and LAE outstanding as of the balance sheet date, reduced by estimates of amounts recoverable under reinsurance contracts.
Section II shows the cumulative amount of net loss and LAE paid relating to recorded liabilities as of the end of each succeeding year. Section III shows the re-estimated amount of the previously recorded net liability as of the end of each succeeding year. Estimates of the liability for unpaid loss and LAE are increased or decreased as payments are made and more information regarding individual claims and trends, such as overall frequency and severity patterns, becomes known. Section IV shows the cumulative net (deficiency)/redundancy representing the aggregate change in the liability from original balance sheet dates and the re-estimated liability through December 31, 2009. Section V shows the re-estimated gross liability and re-estimated reinsurance recoverables through December 31, 2009. Section VI shows the cumulative gross (deficiency)/redundancy representing the aggregate change in the liability from original balance sheet dates and the re-estimated liability through December 31, 2009.