We are a diversified insurance agency, wholesale brokerage, insurance programs and service organization with origins dating from 1939, headquartered in Daytona Beach and Tampa, Florida. We market and sell to our customers insurance products and services, primarily in the property, casualty and employee benefits areas. As an agent and broker, we do not assume underwriting risks. Instead, we provide our customers with quality, non-investment insurance contracts, as well as other targeted, customized risk management products and services.
We are compensated for our services primarily by commissions paid by insurance companies and by fees paid by customers for certain services. The commission is usually a percentage of the premium paid by the insured. Commission rates generally depend upon the type of insurance, the particular insurance company and the nature of the services provided by us. In some cases, a commission is shared with other agents or brokers who have acted jointly with us in a transaction. We may also receive from an insurance company a “profit-sharing contingent commission,” which is a profit-sharing commission based primarily on underwriting results, but may also contain considerations for volume, growth and/or retention. Fee revenues are generated primarily by: (1) our Services Division, which provides insurance-related services, including third-party claims administration and comprehensive medical utilization management services in both the workers’ compensation and all-lines liability arenas, as well as Medicare set-aside services, and (2) our National Programs and Wholesale Brokerage Divisions, which earn fees primarily for the issuing of insurance policies on behalf of insurance carriers. The amount of our revenue from commissions and fees is a function of, among other factors, continued new business production, retention of existing customers, acquisitions and fluctuations in insurance premium rates and insurable exposure units.
Premium pricing within the property and casualty insurance underwriting (risk-bearing) industry has historically been cyclical, displaying a high degree of volatility based on prevailing economic and competitive conditions. From the mid-1980s through 1999, the property and casualty insurance industry experienced a “soft market” during which the underwriting capacity of insurance companies expanded, stimulating an increase in competition and a decrease in premium rates and related commissions. The effect of this softness in rates on our revenues was somewhat offset by our acquisitions and new business production. As a result of increasing “loss ratios” (the comparison of incurred losses plus adjustment expenses against earned premiums) of insurance companies through 1999, premium rates generally increased beginning in the first quarter of 2000 and continuing into 2003. During 2003, the increases in premium rates began to moderate and, in certain lines of insurance, the premium rates decreased. In 2004, as general premium rates continued to moderate, the insurance industry experienced the worst hurricane season since 1992 (when Hurricane Andrew hit south Florida). The insured losses from the 2004 hurricane season were absorbed relatively easily by the insurance industry and the general insurance premium rates continued to soften during 2005.
During the third quarter of 2005, the insurance industry experienced the worst hurricane season ever recorded. As a result of the significant losses incurred by the insurance companies from these hurricanes, the insurance premium rates in 2006 increased on coastal property, primarily in the southeastern region of the United States. In the other regions of the United States, the insurance premium rates, in general, declined during 2006.
In addition to significant insurance pricing declines in Florida, as discussed below, insurance premium rates continued to decline during the 2007 to 2009 period in most of the other U.S. regions. During 2007 and 2008, the home-building industry in southern California, and to a lesser extent Nevada, Arizona and Florida was especially hit hard. We have a wholesale brokerage operation that focuses on placing property and casualty insurance products for that home-building segment and a program operation that places errors and omissions professional liability coverages for title agents. These operations’ revenues were significantly impacted during 2007 through 2009 by these national economic trends.
Although premium insurance rates declined during 2008 and 2009 in most lines of coverages, the rate of declines appeared to be slowing. However, during the second half of 2008 and all of 2009, insurable exposure units, such as sales and payroll expenditures, declined significantly due to the weakening economy, primarily in the southeast and western parts of the United States. For 2010, declining exposure units will most likely continue to have a greater negative impact on our commissions and fees revenues than will declining insurance premium rates.
Our business is divided into four reportable operating segments: (1) the Retail Division; (2) the National Programs Division; (3) the Wholesale Brokerage Division; and (4) the Services Division. The Retail Division provides a broad range of insurance products and services to commercial, public entity, professional and individual customers.
The National Programs Division contains two units: Professional Programs, which provides professional liability and related package products for certain professionals; and Special Programs, which markets targeted products and services to specific industries, trade groups, public entities, and market niches. The Wholesale Brokerage Division markets and sells excess and surplus commercial and personal insurance, and reinsurance, primarily through independent agents and brokers. The Services Division provides clients with third-party claims administration, consulting for the workers’ compensation insurance market, comprehensive medical utilization management services in both workers’ compensation and all-lines liability arenas, and Medicare Secondary Payer statute compliance-related services.