Headquartered in New Hartford, N.Y., Utica National Insurance Group consists of 19 companies. Its products include auto, home and specialized markets such as graphic arts, educational, religious institutions and volunteer fire departments, as well as errors and omissions for insurance agents.
This article is part of a Wells Media Team report on mutual insurance company challenges.
Wells Media editors Andrew G. Simpson, Stephanie Jones, Amy O’Connor and Elizabeth Blosfield spoke with top mutual executives for their views on growth and related hard and soft issues.
See related articles:
Direct written premiums grew 6.4 percent in 2015 to $858 million, and the policyholder surplus fund reached $867 million. Rich Creedon, president and CEO of Utica National, who began his tenure as CEO a year ago, shared these reports on navigating various challenges.
“The only growth we’re really interested in is long-term profitable growth. We generally don’t think we’re serving independent agents and policyholders well if we can’t be long-term and stable in the market, so we look for places where we have long-term opportunities.
“We focus on three overarching principles: product, distribution and geography. If you were to draw them as concentric circles on a sheet of paper, that spot in the middle where all three overlap is where we are in terms of our target growth. We’re seeking to distribute products that we’re knowledgeable about, through agents we know well and trust, and do that in territories where we’re familiar with business practices and customer needs.”
Over the last two years or so, Utica National has had a particular focus on growing in the Southeast, Southwest and Midwest. “We’ve had a longstanding presence in those regions, and we would like to continue our growth there.”
Creedon sees opportunities in customer segments as well.
“I think for a mutual company, any opportunity where you can reach your customers more frequently and demonstrate that mutual company difference is an opportunity for growth.”
“Certainly businesses are much more electronically mediated today, and there are more opportunities for loss to occur. For the typical perils we insure, such as bodily injury or property damage, we have a long history of actuarial tables that tell us the frequency and severity of losses. We just don’t have the loss data yet to tell us how to price the risk of things like intellectual property, digital media and content. We have to get better at learning and understanding how policyholders are using electronic commerce in businesses.”