The Hanover Insurance Group Inc. is making some organizational changes as it implements what its CEO calls its “go-forward business strategy, Hanover 2021,” focused on growing responsibly, managing volatility and generating strong returns for shareholders.
Joseph M. Zubretsky, president and chief executive officer of The Hanover, told shareholders at the company’s investor day that successful execution of the company’s strategy would result in increases in revenue and book value per share and generate top-quartile returns on equity over the next five years.
As part of this strategy, the company’s small commercial, middle market and personal lines businesses will be combined into one division. This division, which has been named Hanover Agency Markets, will provide the agencies representing the company with products and services that enable them to meet their customers’ needs.
John C. Roche will serve as president of Hanover Agency Markets. In this new role, Roche will lead efforts to grow business written through the company’s agents. Hanover Agency Markets will enhance existing offerings, selectively expand its risk appetite, pursue new customer segments and grow its presence in underpenetrated geographic markets. Roche most recently served as president of commercial lines.
The company plans to expand its specialty business, leveraging its existing capabilities in the U.S. and internationally. The Hanover will manage its domestic specialty business as a separate division. A search is underway for a head of domestic specialty following the September resignation of Andrew S. Robinson, president of specialty insurance. The business will report to Zubretsky in the interim.
The company’s international specialty business, written through Chaucer, a Lloyd’s syndicate that writes large, complex global risks in major insurance and reinsurance classes, will be headed by John Fowle, as was announced earlier. Fowle has more than 25 years of London market underwriting experience and has held leadership roles at Chaucer since 2002, including chief underwriting officer and active underwriter of Chaucer’s main syndicate, 1084.
The Hanover also is forming a separate innovation unit to identify emerging customer segments, leverage data and analytics, and help its agents grow. Richard W. Lavey will serve as chief growth innovation officer. He most recently served as president of personal lines and chief marketing officer.
Mark L. Berthiaume will serve as chief technology innovation officer. He will be responsible for digital platforms for the company’s partners and customers, predictive analytics and other services. He most recently held the position of chief information and administration officer.
All other members of the executive leadership team remain in place in their current roles. They include Christine Bilotti-Peterson, chief human resources officer; J. Kendall Huber, general counsel and assistant secretary; Mark Keim, corporate development and strategy; Ann K. Tripp, chief investment officer; and Mark J. Welzenbach, chief claims officer.
“The future of our marketplace will continue to be highly competitive and dynamic,” Zubretsky said. “We believe our company, together with our distribution partners, is uniquely positioned to thrive and that Hanover 2021 will drive profitable growth in our business and consistent returns for our shareholders.”
Earlier this month, The Hanover reported a net loss of $13.5 million, or $0.32 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2016. This compared to net income of $77.6 million, or $1.76 per diluted share, in the prior-year quarter. Operating loss was $19.7 million, or $0.46 per diluted share, for the fourth quarter of 2016 compared to operating income of $80.3 million, or $1.82 per diluted share, in the prior-year quarter.
Net income for full-year 2016 was $155.1 million, or $3.59 per diluted share. This compared to net income of $331.5 million, or $7.40 per diluted share, for full-year 2015. Operating income was $184.4 million, or $4.27 per diluted share, in 2016 compared to operating income of $280.0 million, or $6.25 per diluted share, in 2015.
The company strengthened domestic prior-year loss and loss adjustment expense reserves by $174.1 million before taxes in the fourth quarter
Zubretsky said a reserve review conducted during the fourth quarter confirmed that the reserve development was related to business issues it has already addressed.
“Our underlying performance during the quarter and full year—including the underlying quality of growth, strong retention, and underwriting and pricing discipline—reaffirms our confidence in the foundation on which we are building our company,” he said of those results.
“We have every reason to be optimistic about our current book of business and momentum,” said Jeffrey Farber, executive vice president and chief financial officer.
Excluding catastrophe losses, commercial and personal lines reported full-year current accident-year combined ratios of 92.5 and 88.8, respectively, or 91.1 for domestic lines combined, an improvement of 1.7 points over 2015.