Ward Group Identifies 2009 Ward’s 50 Top Performing Insurance Companies

Jul 9th, 2009 | By Hot News Reporter | Category: Insurance Today

(BUSINESS WIRE) – The list of Ward’s 50 top performing insurance companies was released by Ward Group, an operational consulting firm and leading provider of benchmarking and best practices services to the insurance industry.

Annually, Ward Group analyzes the financial performance of over 3,100 property-casualty insurance companies and over 800 life-health insurance companies domiciled in the United States and identifies the top performers in each segment. This group is called the Ward’s 50 for the year. Each Ward’s 50 company has passed all safety and consistency screens and achieved superior performance over the five years analyzed. The Ward’s 50 property-casualty group of insurance companies produced a 14.4% return on average equity from 2004 to 2008 compared to 9.9% for the property-casualty industry overall. The Ward’s 50 life-health group of insurance companies produced a 13.5% return on average equity from 2004 to 2008 compared to 6.4% for the life-health industry overall.
The past 18 months have been a volatile period for the insurance industry affecting companies in many different ways. “Volatility in the investment portfolios, economy and competitive landscape has forced companies to evaluate many of their business strategies,” explains Jeff Rieder, President of Ward Group. “In selecting the Ward’s 50, we identify companies that pass financial stability requirements and measure their ability to grow while maintaining strong capital positions and underwriting results.”

Safety and Consistency Tests

Insurance companies are evaluated and must pass minimum thresholds to be considered for the Ward’s 50 designation. Each company must pass the following primary safety and consistency tests:

Surplus and premiums of at least $50 million for each of the five years analyzed
Net income in at least four of the last five years (property-casualty)
Adjusted net income in at least 4 of the last 5 years. (life-health)
Risk-based capital ratio of at least 100% (property-casualty) or 150% (life-health) for each of the five years analyzed
Compound annual growth in premiums between -10% and +40%

Performance Measurements

Companies that pass the safety and consistency tests are measured and scored on the following elements:

Five year average Return on Average Equity
Five year average Return on Average Assets
Five year average Return on Total Revenue
Five year growth in Revenue
Five year improvement in Surplus to Written Premium (property-casualty)
Five year average Combined Ratio (property-casualty)
Five year growth in Surplus (life-health)

Managing Growth and Profitability

An important objective of the Ward’s 50 is to compare their performance as a group with the rest of the industry. Compared to the industry as a whole, the benchmarks set by the Ward’s 50 life-health group of companies were nearly three times more for total surplus growth and two times more for premium income growth. The Ward’s 50 property-casualty group compared seven points lower for the five year combined ratio and two times greater for surplus growth than the industry average. Net premiums written grew 10.1% compared to the industry’s 1.8%. “The results for the Ward’s 50 benchmarks indicate that companies are able to grow the business profitably in changing market conditions,” Mr. Rieder observed.

Although the largest risks for insurance companies are losses resulting from the investment portfolio and claims, it is important for companies to stay focused on managing the ongoing risk that exists within the day to day operations. Ward Group’s research consistently finds top performing companies operate with fewer resources without deteriorating the customer experience. “Top performers understand that efficient operations result in pricing advantages passed on to the consumer and keep the customer at the center of every key business decision.” In 2008, expenses relative to revenue were 5.5% lower for the Ward’s 50 property-casualty group of companies and 8.5% lower for the Ward’s 50 life-health group.

The Ward’s 50 benchmarks are helpful tools to compare an insurance company’s financial results to the top performers in the industry. Comparisons based on benchmarks set by the Ward’s 50 group of companies are included in the Ward’s Results books, an insurance industry financial reference series. Ward’s 50 benchmark group comparisons for individual companies are also available on-line at www.wardinc.com.

About Ward Group®

Ward Group is a consulting firm specializing in the insurance industry and the leading provider of industry benchmarking and best practices services, with expertise in staffing level analysis and expense management. We help companies measure results, optimize performance and be more profitable.

2009 Ward’s 50 Top Performers – Life-Health Companies
(listed alphabetically)

Aetna Life Insurance Company
American Family Life Insurance Company
American Fidelity Assurance Company
American Republic Insurance Company
Amica Life Insurance Company
Anthem Blue Cross Life & Health Insurance Co.
Auto-Owners Life Insurance Company
Baltimore Life Insurance Company
Berkshire Life Insurance Company of America
BlueCross BlueShield of Kansas
Centurion Life Insurance Company
Farm Bureau Life Insurance Company of MI
Federated Life Insurance Company
Fidelity Investments Life Insurance Company
Fidelity Security Life Insurance Company
General Re Life Insurance Corporation
Gerber Life Insurance Company
Health Net Life Insurance Company
HM Life Insurance Company
Homesteaders Life Company
HumanaDental Insurance Company
Liberty National Life Insurance Company
Metropolitan Life Insurance Company
Midland National Life Insurance Company
National Guardian Life Insurance Company
National Life Insurance Company
New York Life Insurance Company
Ohio National Life Insurance Company
Ozark National Life Insurance Company
Pacific Guardian Life Insurance Company
Pekin Life Insurance Company
Physicians Mutual Insurance Company
Reliance Standard Life Insurance Company
Sentry Life Insurance Company
Shelter Life Insurance Company
Southern Farm Bureau Life Insurance Co.
Standard Insurance Company
State Farm Life Insurance Company
Symetra Life Insurance Company
Tennessee Farmers Life Insurance Company
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
United Healthcare Insurance Company
United Life Insurance Company
Unum Life Insurance Company of America
USAA Life Insurance Company
USAble Life Insurance Company
Western & Southern Life Insurance Company

2009 Ward’s 50 Top Performers – Property-Casualty Companies
(listed alphabetically)

American Modern Insurance Group
Assurant Group
Auto-Owners Insurance Group*
Balboa Insurance Company
Bear River Mutual Insurance Company
Brethren Mutual Insurance Company
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company
Capital Insurance Group
Central Insurance Companies
Chubb Group
Cincinnati Insurance Group*
The Commerce Group, Inc.
The Doctors Company
Donegal Insurance Group
Erie Insurance Group
Farmers Mutual Insurance of Nebraska
Federated Mutual Group
Fireman’s Fund Insurance Group
First Insurance Company of Hawaii, LTD
FM Global
Great American Insurance Companies
Hastings Mutual Insurance Company
HCC Insurance Holdings Group
ICW Group Insurance Companies
Island Insurance Companies Group
Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Corporation
Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insur. Co.
North Star Mutual Insurance Company
Ohio Mutual Insurance Group
Old Republic Insurance Group
Philadelphia Insurance Companies
Progressive Casualty Insurance Company
RLI Insurance Group*
Rural Mutual Insurance Company
Safety Insurance Group
Selective Insurance Company of America
Shelter Insurance Group
Tennessee Farmers Mutual Insurance Co.
Travelers Insurance Group
United Fire & Casualty Group
USAA Group*
Utica National Insurance Group
Vermont Mutual Insurance Company
Virginia Farm Bureau
W.R. Berkley Corporation Group
Western National Insurance Group
*19-year recipient (1991-2009)


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