James River Group Holdings Ltd   (JRVR)
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James River Group Holdings Ltd

Business Description

James River Group Holdings, Ltd. is a Bermuda-based insurance holding company. We own and operate a group of specialty insurance and reinsurance companies founded by members of our management team. Approximately 73% of our group-wide gross written premiums originated from the U.S. excess and surplus (“E&S”) lines market. Substantially all of our business is casualty insurance and reinsurance, we derived 98% of our group-wide gross written premiums from casualty insurance and reinsurance. Our objective is to generate compelling returns on tangible equity, while limiting underwriting and investment volatility. We seek to accomplish this by consistently earning profits from insurance and reinsurance underwriting while managing our capital opportunistically. Our group includes three specialty property-casualty insurance and reinsurance segments: Excess and Surplus Lines, Specialty Admitted Insurance and Casualty Reinsurance. In all of our segments, we tend to focus on accounts associated with small or medium-sized businesses.

We write very little property or catastrophe insurance and no property catastrophe reinsurance. For the year ended December 31, 2015, property insurance and reinsurance represented 2% of our gross written premiums. When we do write property insurance, we buy reinsurance to significantly mitigate our risk. We have structured our reinsurance arrangements so that our estimated net pre-tax loss from a 1/1000 year probable maximum loss event is no more than $10.0 million on a group-wide basis.

The Excess and Surplus Lines segment offers E&S commercial lines liability and property insurance in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia through James River Insurance Company (“James River Insurance”) and its wholly-owned subsidiary, James River Casualty Company (“James River Casualty”). James River Insurance and James River Casualty are both non-admitted carriers. Non-admitted carriers writing in the E&S market are not bound by most of the rate and form regulations imposed on standard market companies, allowing them flexibility to change the coverage terms offered and the rate charged without the time constraints and financial costs associated with the filing of such changes with state regulators. The average account in this segment generated annual gross written premiums of approximately $19,000. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment distributes primarily through wholesale insurance brokers. Members of our management team have participated in this market for over three decades and have long-standing relationships with the wholesale agents who place E&S lines accounts.

The Specialty Admitted Insurance segment focuses on niche classes within the standard insurance markets, such as workers’ compensation coverage for residential contractors, light manufacturing operations, transportation workers and healthcare workers in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. This segment has admitted licenses in 48 states and the District of Columbia. While this segment has historically focused on workers’ compensation business, we are growing our fronting business and our other commercial lines through our program business. We believe we can earn substantial fees in our program and fronting business by writing policies and then transferring all or a substantial portion of the underwriting risk position to other capital providers that pay us a fee for fronting or ceding the business to them. The Specialty Admitted Insurance segment accepts applications for insurance from a variety of sources, including independent retail agents, program administrators and managing general agents (“MGAs”).

The Casualty Reinsurance segment consists of JRG Reinsurance Company, Ltd. (“JRG Re”), our Bermuda domiciled reinsurance subsidiary, which provides proportional and working layer casualty reinsurance to third parties and to our U.S.-based insurance subsidiaries. The Casualty Reinsurance segment’s underwriting results only include the results of reinsurance written with unaffiliated companies and does not include the premiums and losses ceded under our internal quota share arrangement described below, which are captured in our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments, respectively. Typically, we structure our reinsurance contracts (also known as treaties) as quota share arrangements, with loss mitigating features, such as commissions that adjust based on underwriting results. We frequently include risk mitigating features in our excess working layer treaties, which allows the ceding company to capture a greater percentage of the profits should the business prove more profitable than expected, while providing us with additional premiums should the business incur higher than expected losses. We believe these structures best align our interests with the interests of our cedents. Treaties with loss mitigation features including sliding scale ceding commissions represented 86% of the gross premiums written by our Casualty Reinsurance segment during 2015. We typically do not assume large individual risks in our Casualty Reinsurance segment, nor do we write property catastrophe reinsurance. Two of the three largest unaffiliated accounts written by JRG Re during 2015 were ceded from E&S carriers. The Casualty Reinsurance segment distributes through traditional reinsurance brokers.


We believe our approach to our business will help us achieve our goal of generating compelling returns on tangible equity while limiting volatility in our financial results. This approach involves the following:
Generate Consistent Underwriting Profits. We seek to make underwriting profits each and every year. We attempt to find ways to grow in markets that we believe to be profitable, but are less concerned about growth than maintaining profitability in our underwriting activities (without regard to investment income). Accordingly, we are willing to reduce the premiums we write when we cannot achieve the pricing and contract terms we believe are necessary to meet our financial goals.
Maintain a Strong Balance Sheet. Balance sheet integrity is key to our long-term success. In order to maintain balance sheet integrity, we seek to estimate the amount of future obligations, especially reserves for losses and loss adjustment expenses, in a consistent and appropriate fashion.

Focus on Specialty Insurance Markets. By focusing on specialty markets in which our underwriters have particular expertise and in which we have fewer competitors than in standard markets, we have greater flexibility to price and structure our products in accordance with our underwriting strategy. We believe underwriting profitability can best be achieved through restricting our risk taking on insurance and reinsurance to niches where, because of our expertise, we can distinguish ourselves in the underwriting and pricing process.

Use Timely and Accurate Data. We design our internal processing and data collection systems to provide our management team with accurate and relevant information in real-time. Our data warehouse collects premium, commission and claims data, including detailed information regarding policy price, terms, conditions and the nature of the insured’s business. This data allows us to analyze trends in our business, including results by individual agent or broker, underwriter and class of business and expand or contract our operations quickly in response to market conditions. We rely on our information technology systems in this process. Additionally, the claims staff also contributes to our underwriting operations through its communication of claims information to our underwriters.

Proven and Strong Management Team Whose Financial Interests are Aligned with Shareholders. Our Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, J. Adam Abram, has a history of forming and managing profitable specialty insurance companies. Mr. Abram was the founder of Front Royal Group in 1992, which was sold to Argo Group International Holdings Limited (Nasdaq: AGII) in August 2001. In 2002, Mr. Abram formed James River Group, our predecessor company, which enjoyed strong underwriting profits until it was sold to James River Group Holdings, Ltd. in December 2007. Mr. Abram has also founded and run successful businesses in the banking and commercial real estate sectors.

Our President and Chief Operating Officer, Robert P. Myron, who has served in various capacities with our group since 2010, has a history of working in a senior management capacity in the insurance and reinsurance industries in both the United States and Bermuda. Mr. Myron has significant experience working in finance, underwriting and operations of several different insurance and reinsurance companies over the course of his career.
Our Chief Financial Officer, Gregg Davis, has been with our group and its predecessors since 1992 and was the Chief Financial Officer of Front Royal Group, working alongside Mr. Abram for almost two decades.


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