Posted on 25 Jul 12 by Annie George
In our Backstory feature this week, we’re highlighting Storefront Regional Excess Underwriters, LLC (REU), a full-service excess and surplus lines brokerage, program administrator, and general agent. REU provides its agency partners with carrier access for unusual, difficult to place, and high-hazard risks.
Headquartered in the Southwest, REU has nine offices around the country. The company was formed 13 years ago in New England, and in the last three and half years expanded nationally. In 2011, they created two unique divisions, one of which was for the underwriting and distribution of niche property and casualty Programs. We spoke with Darwin Lucas, president of REU, about the company, its uniqueness in the market and the benefits it delivers to agents and brokers.
“There are several differentiating factors that put us in a position to offer unique solutions to our agency partners,” explained Darwin. “First is our full-service operation which allows us to use multiple approaches to solving our agency partners needs with either our brokerage operations, programs, or contract binding. Second is our unique access to a host of specialty insurance companies, most of which have limited retail and wholesale distribution. Third, is our ability to create, market, and distribute new products and programs with our geographic spread. And finally, the reputation and financial stability of our parent company allows us to be independently entrepreneurial, nimble, and deliver what we promise.”
REU’s program division is an integral part of their current and future plans for growth and expansion (through acquisition). Darwin explained that REU has the ability to build and manage new programs, or, for agents to “bring your own program (BYOP).” They have launched several new programs in the last twelve months, with several others in the pipeline.
When discussing some of REU’s newest programs, Darwin highlighted their Elevator and Liquor Liability programs. Both programs are well serviced with loss control, designated claims personnel, and written through A+15 rated carriers,” said Darwin. The Elevator Program provides General Liability, Property/Inland Marine, and Umbrella solutions for elevator/lift installation, servicing and repair, inspection, and manufacturing and suppliers of these products in all 50 states. “We are fortunate that our carrier has been in this business for a long time and is comfortable with the exposures associated with this industry. Depending on the agent and the location of the risk, workers compensation and auto coverages are also available. The Liquor Liability Programprovides General Liability and Liquor Liability as well as additional coverages for a broad range of eligible classes, including bars, taverns, night clubs, bowling alleys, restaurants, caterers, hotels/motels, golf courses, and special events.
In April, REU added another program after purchasing a group called Outdoorsinsurance.com. They specialize in providing Liability, Property, Equipment and other coverages and services to guides, outfitters, rod & gun clubs, hunting clubs, hunt/lease clubs, and hunting & fishing resorts/lodges. “We are very excited about our programs,” said Darwin.
One Stop Solutions
REU has another new segment called Berkley Solutions, a platform that brings together the diversity, appetites and underwriting creativity of many specialty companies to provide one complete solution for complicated or challenging industry groups. “These include admitted and non-admitted companies,” explained Darwin, There are currently six program solutions, with several others under development. A few of those solutions include the following:
Life Science -- provides insurance for pharmaceutical companies, medical device companies, implant manufacturers, and research institutions and organizations, to name a few. Products include non-admitted General Liability, Products Liability, Clinical Trial Liability, Professional Liability, and Excess Liability as well as admitted Property/Inland Marine, Auto, and Workers Comp.
Mining Industry -- provides insurance for underground mining, surface mining, quarries, sand and gravel pits processing plants, and any related business such as the gravel haulers. The primary coverage desired is the Workers Compensation, but may also include General Liability, Business Auto, and Umbrella.
Community Hospital/Allied Health -- provides coverage for a broad category of healthcare service providers, like pharmacies, laboratories, hospitals and more. Products include professional liability, general liability and umbrellas. The primary coverage desired is the Professional Liability.
Darwin also mentioned that “REU is looking for successful and well-managed excess and surplus lines companies to acquire. We believe that there are many privately held companies owned by “baby boomers” nearing retirement, or their children, interested in capitalization and/or growth and need to maintain their roles and current staff levels. We want people to stay and be part of REU.” At W.R. Berkley Corporation (their parent company) people are valued above the process, and their continuation with REU is a pre-requisite to any potential acquisition.
REU also realizes how much time and effort is involved in mergers and acquisitions and the opportunity cost lost during the process. “Our organization is pretty flat, making the decision process simple, efficient, and expeditious,” explained Darwin.
REU is looking for Managing General Underwriters, Program Administrators and Brokerage operations.