SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, DC 20549
FOR ANNUAL AND TRANSITIONAL REPORTS PURSUANT TO
SECTIONS 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2018
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Commission file number 001-36777
JAMES RIVER GROUP HOLDINGS, LTD.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
(State of Incorporation)
(IRS Employer Identification No.)
Wellesley House, 2nd Floor
90 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, Bermuda
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (441) 278-4580
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Common Shares, par value $0.0002 per share
(Title of Class)
NASDAQ Global Select Market
(Name of Exchange on which Registered)
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark if the Registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Act. Yes ¨ No x
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports) and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes x No ¨
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” “smaller reporting company,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large accelerated filer x
Accelerated filer o
Non-accelerated filer o
Smaller reporting company o
Emerging Growth Company o
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ¨
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act). Yes ¨ No x
The aggregate market value of the Registrant’s common shares held by non-affiliates of the Registrant as of June 30, 2018, computed by reference to the closing sales price on the NASDAQ Global Select Market on that date, was approximately $1,143,957,071.
The number of the Registrant’s common shares outstanding was 30,067,545 as of February 25, 2019.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE:
Portions of the James River Group Holdings, Ltd. Proxy Statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the year covered by this Form 10-K with respect to the 2019 Annual General Meeting of Shareholders are incorporated by reference into Part III hereof.
Unless the context indicates or suggests otherwise, references in this Annual Report on Form 10-K to “the Company,” “we,” “us” and “our” refer to James River Group Holdings, Ltd. and its consolidated subsidiaries.
SPECIAL NOTE REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K (“Annual Report”) contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. These statements may be identified by the fact that they do not relate strictly to historical or current facts. In some cases, forward-looking statements may be identified by the use of words such as “anticipates,” “estimates,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans”, “seeks” and “believes,” and similar expressions or future or conditional verbs such as “will,” “should,” “would,” “may” and “could.” These forward-looking statements include, among others, statements relating to our future financial performance, our business prospects and strategy, anticipated financial position, liquidity and capital needs and other similar matters. These forward-looking statements are based on management’s current expectations and assumptions about future events, which are inherently subject to uncertainties, risks and changes in circumstances that are difficult to predict.
Our actual results may differ materially from those expressed in, or implied by, the forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report as a result of various factors, many of which are beyond our control, including, among others:
the inherent uncertainty of estimating reserves and the possibility that incurred losses may be greater than our loss and loss adjustment expense reserves;
inaccurate estimates and judgments in our risk management may expose us to greater risks than intended;
the potential loss of key members of our management team or key employees and our ability to attract and retain personnel;
adverse economic factors resulting in the sale of fewer policies than expected or an increase in the frequency or severity of claims, or both;
a decline in our financial strength rating resulting in a reduction of new or renewal business;
reliance on a select group of brokers and agents for a significant portion of our business and the impact of our potential failure to maintain such relationships;
reliance on a select group of customers for a significant portion of our business and the impact of our potential failure to maintain such relationships;
losses resulting from reinsurance counterparties failing to pay us on reinsurance claims, insurance companies with whom we have a fronting arrangement failing to pay us for claims, or an insured group of companies with whom we have an indemnification arrangement failing to perform their reimbursement obligations;
changes in laws or government regulation, including tax or insurance law and regulations;
the ongoing effect of Public Law No. 115-97, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which may have a significant effect on us including, among other things, by potentially increasing our tax rate, as well as on our shareholders;
in the event we do not qualify for the insurance company exception to the passive foreign investment company (“PFIC”) rules and are therefore considered a PFIC, there could be material adverse tax consequences to an investor that is subject to U.S. federal income taxation;
the Company or any of its foreign subsidiaries becoming subject to U.S. federal income taxation;
a failure of any of the loss limitations or exclusions we utilize to shield us from unanticipated financial losses or legal exposures, or other liabilities;
losses from catastrophic events which substantially exceed our expectations and/or exceed the amount of reinsurance we have purchased to protect us from such events;
potential effects on our business of emerging claim and coverage issues;
exposure to credit risk, interest rate risk and other market risk in our investment portfolio;
our ability to obtain reinsurance coverage at prices and on terms that allow us to transfer risk and adequately protect our company against financial loss;
the potential impact of internal or external fraud, operational errors, systems malfunctions or cyber security incidents;
our ability to manage our growth effectively;
inadequacy of premiums we charge to compensate us for our losses incurred;
failure to maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended (“Sarbanes-Oxley”);
changes in our financial condition, regulations or other factors that may restrict our subsidiaries’ ability to pay us dividends; and
other risks and uncertainties discussed under “Risk Factors” and elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Accordingly, you should read this Annual Report completely and with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from what we expect.
Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date of this Annual Report. Except as expressly required under federal securities laws and the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”), we do not have any obligation, and do not undertake, to update any forward-looking statements to reflect events or circumstances arising after the date of this Annual Report, whether as a result of new information or future events or otherwise. You should not place undue reliance on the forward-looking statements included in this Annual Report or that may be made elsewhere from time to time by us, or on our behalf. All forward-looking statements attributable to us are expressly qualified by these cautionary statements.
James River Group Holdings, Ltd. is a Bermuda-based holding company. We own and operate a group of specialty insurance and reinsurance companies. For the year ended December 31, 2018, approximately 67.6% 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, and for the year ended December 31, 2018, we derived 98.5% 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 and generating meaningful risk-adjusted investment returns, 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.
We write very little property or catastrophe insurance and no property catastrophe reinsurance. For the year ended December 31, 2018, property insurance and reinsurance represented 1.5% 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 modeled net pre-tax loss from a 1/1000 year probable maximum loss ("PML") event is no more than $10.0 million on a group-wide basis.
We report our business in four segments: Excess and Surplus Lines, Specialty Admitted Insurance, Casualty Reinsurance and Corporate and Other.
The Excess and Surplus Lines segment sells 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. In 2018, the average account in this segment (excluding commercial auto policies) generated annual gross written premiums of approximately $20,000. 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 brokers who place E&S lines accounts. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment produced 56.3% of our gross written premiums and 74.9% of our net written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018.
The Specialty Admitted Insurance segment has two areas of focus. We write a select book of workers’ compensation coverage for building trades, healthcare employees and light manufacturing, among other light to medium hazard risks in select Southeastern and Eastern U.S. states, as well as fronting business which has become a significant element of our revenues and profits in this segment. Starting in 2017, we have de-emphasized the program business, as we believe fronting offers better risk adjusted return potential. In our fronting business, we retain a small percentage of the risk, generally 10% or less, and seek to earn fee income by allowing other carriers and producers to access our licensure, ratings, and underwriting and claims expertise. In our program business, our historic net retention was more than 10%. 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 Specialty Admitted Insurance segment produced 32.1% of our gross written premiums and 7.3% of our net written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018.
The Casualty Reinsurance segment provides proportional and working layer casualty reinsurance to third parties and to our U.S.-based insurance subsidiaries. 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 working layer excess of loss treaties, such as paid reinstatements, which allow the ceding company to capture a greater percentage of the profits should the business prove more profitable than expected, or alternatively, 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. On a premium volume basis, treaties with loss mitigation features including sliding scale ceding commissions represented 81.7% of the gross premiums written by our Casualty Reinsurance segment during 2018. We typically do not assume large individual risks in our Casualty Reinsurance segment, nor do we write property catastrophe reinsurance. Most of the policies assumed by our Casualty Reinsurance segment have a $1.0 million per occurrence limit, and we typically assume only a portion of that exposure. We believe this structure reduces volatility in our underwriting results. We do not assume stand-alone third-party property business at our Casualty Reinsurance segment, but we do have a small amount of assumed business with ancillary property exposure. 83.7% of premiums written by our Casualty Reinsurance segment during 2018 were general liability accounts assumed from E&S carriers. The Casualty Reinsurance segment distributes through
reinsurance brokers and produced 11.6% of our gross written premiums and 17.8% of our net written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018.
The Casualty Reinsurance segment writes business through two entities, JRG Reinsurance Company Ltd ("JRG Re") and Carolina Re Ltd ("Carolina Re"). Through December 31, 2017, we had intercompany reinsurance agreements under which we ceded 70% of the net written premiums of our U.S. subsidiaries (after taking into account third-party reinsurance) to JRG Re. Effective January 1, 2018, we generally discontinued ceding 70% of our U.S.-written premiums to JRG Re and instead ceded 70% of our U.S.-written premiums to Carolina Re. This business is ceded under proportional, or quota-share, reinsurance treaties that provide for an arm’s length ceding commission. We exclude the effects of intercompany reinsurance agreements from the presentation of our segment results, consistent with the way we manage the Company. At December 31, 2018, 54.9% of our cash and invested assets were held at JRG Re, which benefits from a favorable operating environment, including an absence of corporate income or investment taxes.
On December 22, 2017, the United States enacted Public Law No. 115-97, informally titled the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (the “Tax Act”). The Tax Act significantly changed the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended (the “Code”), including by reducing the U.S. corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% and imposing a base erosion and anti-abuse tax (“BEAT”). In response to the Tax Act, we made changes to our structure in 2018 to minimize the impact of BEAT that included the formation of Carolina Re, a Bermuda-domiciled, wholly-owned subsidiary of James River Group, Inc. Carolina Re is a Class 3A reinsurer and made an irrevocable election to be taxed as a U.S. domestic corporation under Section 953(d) of the Code effective January 1, 2018. Carolina Re also entered into a stop loss reinsurance agreement with JRG Re.
The Corporate and Other segment consists of the management and treasury activities of our holding companies and interest expense associated with our debt.
In 2018, our operating subsidiaries wrote $1,166.8 million of gross written premiums, allocated by segment and underlying market as follows:
Gross Written Premiums by Segment
Gross Written Premiums
December 31, 2018
% of Total
Excess and Surplus Lines segment
Specialty Admitted Insurance segment
Casualty Reinsurance segment
Gross Written Premiums by Market
The A.M. Best Company (“A.M. Best”) financial strength rating for our group’s regulated insurance subsidiaries is “A” (Excellent). This rating reflects A.M. Best’s evaluation of our insurance subsidiaries’ financial strength, operating performance and ability to meet obligations to policyholders and is not an evaluation directed towards the protection of investors.
The financial strength ratings assigned by A.M. Best have an impact on the willingness of brokers and agents to submit applications for insurance and reinsurance to our regulated subsidiaries and on the risk profiles of the submissions for insurance that our subsidiaries receive. The “A” (Excellent) ratings assigned to our insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries are consistent with our business plans and we believe allow our subsidiaries to actively pursue relationships with the agents and brokers identified in their marketing plans.
In 2002, a group of experienced insurance executives with a history of starting and operating profitable specialty insurance operations created James River Group, Inc. (“James River Group”). James River Group was listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market (symbol: JRVR) in 2005 and consistently produced attractive underwriting results. James River Group had two insurance company subsidiaries, James River Insurance and Stonewood Insurance Company (“Stonewood Insurance”). Both of these subsidiaries as well as James River Group remain subsidiaries of ours.
In 2007, James River Group’s management team decided to enhance James River Group’s long-term profitability by combining the earnings power of James River Group with the efficiency of an affiliated Bermuda domiciled reinsurer. A group of investors led by affiliates of D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P., a global investment and technology firm, acquired James River Group, at which point it ceased trading as a public company. Simultaneously, the investors and management founded and capitalized JRG Re, and we began the process of building our present company.
In December 2014, we completed an initial public offering of our common shares (the “IPO”). Affiliates of D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. and another institutional investor and its affiliate sold all of the common shares in the IPO. Neither the Company nor any of its management or other shareholders sold shares in the IPO. D.E. Shaw & Co., L.P. sold its shares in our Company in a series of secondary offerings in 2016, 2017 and 2018 and no longer owns any of our shares.
Our Competitive Strengths
We believe we have the following competitive strengths:
Proven and Strong Management Team Whose Financial Interests are Aligned with Shareholders. Our Chief Executive 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 operations, finance and underwriting of several different insurance and reinsurance companies over the course of his career. Our Chief Financial Officer, Sarah C. Doran, joined our group in January 2017. She has significant experience with capital markets and corporate development related to the insurance and financial services industry. Ms. Doran has a history of working in a senior capacity in finance and advisory both within the insurance and reinsurance industry and for various investment banks.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of our Excess and Surplus Lines segment, Richard Schmitzer, who has been with our group since July 2009, has a history of working in a senior management capacity in the E&S lines industry. Mr. Schmitzer has significant experience working in underwriting and operations of several different insurance companies over the course of his career.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, Terry McCafferty, has extensive experience as an insurance underwriter, operator and executive, and has deep experience and industry knowledge to continue to build out our business initiatives in the fronting and specialty admitted risk business.
The President and Chief Executive Officer of our Casualty Reinsurance segment, Daniel Heinlein, has significant experience as a broker and underwriter of specialty reinsurance risks, particularly in the small account market where we concentrate.
The Non-Executive Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors (the “Board”), J. Adam Abram, has a history of forming and managing profitable specialty insurance companies. He was a founder of the Company and a predecessor company, and he remains highly engaged as a key strategic contributor.
All members of our executive management and senior management have equity grants that we believe help align their interests with those of our long-term shareholders.
Broad Underwriting Expertise. We strive to be innovative in tailoring our products to provide solutions for our distribution partners and insureds, and we are willing to entertain insuring many types of risk classifications. As a result, we believe we are a “go to” market for a wide variety of risks. We are able to structure solutions for our insureds and the wholesale brokers with whom we work because of our deep technical expertise and experience in the niches and specialties we underwrite.
Emphasis on Lowering Volatility. We earn our profits by taking underwriting and investment risk. We underwrite many classes of insurance and invest in many types of assets. We actively seek to avoid underwriting business or making investments that expose us to an unacceptably high risk of large losses. We believe we have minimal exposure to material property risks and did not have material losses from property risks during 2018.
We seek to limit our catastrophic underwriting exposure in all areas, but in particular to property risks and catastrophic events. Our U.S. primary companies purchase reinsurance from unaffiliated reinsurers to reduce our net exposure to any one risk or occurrence. In addition, our policy forms and pricing are subject to regular formal analysis to ensure we are insuring the types of risks we intend and that we are being appropriately compensated for taking on those risks. When we write reinsurance, we seek to avoid catastrophic risks and contractually limit the amount of exposure we have on any one risk or occurrence. We prefer to structure our assumed reinsurance treaties as proportional or quota share reinsurance, which is generally less volatile than excess of loss or catastrophe reinsurance. We believe this structure aligns our interests with those of the ceding company.
Meaningful Risk Adjusted Investment Returns. We seek to generate meaningful contributions to company profitability from our investment portfolio. We attempt to follow a diversified strategy that emphasizes the preservation of our invested
assets, provides adequate liquidity for the prompt payment of claims and produces attractive results for our shareholders. Within that context, we seek to improve risk-adjusted returns in our investment portfolio by allocating a portion of our portfolio to investments where we take measured risks based upon detailed knowledge of certain niche asset classes. Investment grade fixed maturity securities make up the majority of our investment portfolio, and we are comfortable allocating a portion of our assets to non-traditional investments. Our non-traditional investments have generally not included a meaningful allocation to listed common equities. We consider non-traditional investments to include investments that are (1) unrated bond or fixed income securities, (2) non-listed equities or (3) investments that generally have less liquidity than rated bond or fixed income securities or listed equities. Non-traditional investments represented 19.9% of our total invested assets at December 31, 2018, consisting of syndicated bank loans (15.6%) and other invested assets (4.3%) that include interests in limited liability companies that invest in renewable energy opportunities, limited partnerships that invest in debt or equity securities, notes receivable for renewable energy projects, and a private debt security. While we are willing to make investments in non-traditional types of investments, we seek to avoid asset classes and investments that we do not understand. The weighted average credit rating of our portfolio of fixed maturity securities, bank loans and redeemable preferred stocks as of December 31, 2018 was “A”. At December 31, 2018, the average duration of our investment portfolio was 3.4 years.
Talented Underwriters and Operating Leadership. The managers of our 15 underwriting divisions have an average of over 25 years of industry experience, substantial subject matter expertise and deep technical knowledge. They have been successful and profitable underwriters for us in the specialty casualty insurance and reinsurance sectors. Our segment presidents all have extensive backgrounds and histories working in management capacities in specialty casualty insurance and reinsurance.
Robust Technology and Data Capture. We seek to ground our underwriting decisions in reliable historical data and technical evaluation of risks. Our underwriters utilize intuitive systems and differentiated technologies, many of which are proprietary. We have implemented processes to capture extensive data on our book of business, before, during and after the underwriting analysis and decision. We use the data we collect to inform and, we believe, improve our judgment about similar risks as we refine our underwriting criteria. We use the data we collect in regular formal review processes for each of our lines of business and significant reinsurance treaties.
Focus on Small and Medium-Sized Casualty Niche and Specialty Business. We believe that small and medium-sized casualty accounts, in niche areas where we focus, are consistently among the most attractive subsets of the property-casualty insurance and reinsurance market. We think the unique characteristics of the risks within these markets require each account to be individually underwritten in an efficient manner.
Many carriers have chosen either to reject business that requires individual underwriting or have attempted to automate the underwriting of this highly variable business. While we use technology to greatly reduce the cost of individually underwriting these accounts in our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments, we continue to have our underwriters make individual judgments regarding the underwriting and pricing of accounts. Our experience leads us to believe this approach is more likely to produce consistent results over time and across markets. In addition, while we believe that the insurance and reinsurance industry is generally overcapitalized at this time, we are currently achieving attractive, moderately increasing rates in our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments, which two segments combined represented 88.4% of our gross written premiums and 82.2% of our net written premiums for the twelve months ended December 31, 2018. We believe that there are compelling opportunities for measured but profitable growth in many sectors of the insurance markets we target.
Active Claims Management. Our U.S.-based primary insurance companies actively manage claims as part of keeping losses and loss adjustment expenses low. We attempt to investigate thoroughly and settle promptly all covered claims, which we generally accomplish through direct contact with the insured and other affected parties. We have historically been able to close approximately 95% of claims within five years, and as of December 31, 2018, our reserves for claims incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) were 61.5% of our total net loss reserves.
Efficient Operating Platform. We have what we believe to be a sector leading expense ratio, as we carefully manage personnel and all other costs throughout our group while growing our business. For the year ended December 31, 2018, our expense ratio was 23%. Additionally, our Bermuda domicile and operations provide for capital flexibility and an efficient tax structure. At December 31, 2018, 54.9% of our cash and invested assets were held at JRG Re, which benefits from a favorable operating environment, including an absence of corporate income or investment taxes.
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. From December 31, 2007 through December 31, 2018, we have experienced $106.0 million of cumulative net favorable reserve development.
Earn a Meaningful Contribution from Investments. We seek to earn a meaningful contribution to our overall returns from our investment portfolio activities each year. We attempt to balance the preservation of assets, liquidity needs and mitigation of volatility with returns across our portfolio. We believe our diversified portfolio and ability to source investment opportunities positions us well to generate returns while balancing the importance of maintaining a strong balance sheet.
Focus on Specialty Insurance Markets and Fee Income. 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. We also believe that we can achieve attractive returns on capital through the growth of our fronting business, as we carefully manage credit and collateral to generate attractive fee income, while generally utilizing less capital than in our highly underwritten businesses.
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. We collect 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.
Respond Rapidly to Market Opportunities and Challenges. We plan to grow our business to take advantage of opportunities in markets in which we believe we can use our expertise to generate consistent underwriting profits. We seek to measure rates monthly and react quickly to changes in the rates or terms the market will accept. For the year ended December 31, 2018, our Excess and Surplus Lines segment gross written premiums increased by 23.8% over the same period in 2017. In this favorable pricing environment, we have taken steps to grow and are increasing gross written premiums across most underwriting divisions in this segment. In 2018, our growth was focused in our Commercial Auto, General Casualty, Excess Casualty, Allied Health, Energy, Life Sciences, Small Business, Environmental, and Excess Property divisions within our Excess and Surplus Lines segment. During the same period, we felt rates and terms and conditions were generally less adequate for risks submitted to our Manufacturers & Contractors, Professional Liability, and Medical Professionals divisions, and we reduced our writings in those divisions. This very specific evaluation of each risk or class of risks is a hallmark of our underwriting.
When market conditions have been challenging, or when actual experience has not been as favorable as we anticipated, we have tried to act quickly to evaluate our situation and to make course corrections in order to protect our profits and preserve tangible equity. Our actions have included reducing our writings when margins tightened and exiting lines or classes of business when we believed the risk of continuing in a line outweighed the potential rewards from underwriting. We do not hesitate to increase loss estimates when we determine that it is appropriate.
Manage Capital Actively. We seek to make “both sides” of our balance sheet generate better than average risk-adjusted returns. We invest and manage our capital with a goal of consistently increasing tangible equity for our shareholders and generating attractive returns on tangible equity. We intend to expand our premium volume and capital base to take advantage of opportunities to earn an underwriting profit or to reduce our premium volume and capital base if attractive underwriting opportunities are not available. We expect to finance our future operations with a combination of debt and equity and do not intend to raise or retain more capital than we believe we can profitably deploy in a reasonable time frame. We may not, however, always be able to raise capital when needed. We declared dividends to our shareholders of $36.3 million ($1.20 per share) during 2018, $50.7 million ($1.70 per share including a $0.50 per share special dividend) in 2017 and $66.3 million ($2.25 per share including a $1.35 per share special dividend) in 2016. While we have declared a special dividend in the past, we continue to find what we believe are attractive opportunities to earn a compelling return on our capital in the businesses that we target and therefore did not declare a special dividend in 2018. Our ratings from A.M. Best are very important to us, as are our relationships with our regulators, and maintaining them in good order is a principal consideration in our decisions regarding capital management.
The chart below displays our corporate structure as of December 31, 2018 as it pertains to our holding and operating subsidiaries.
Excess and Surplus Lines Segment
We report our U.S.-based E&S lines of business in our Excess and Surplus Lines segment. We underwrite non-admitted business through our subsidiaries, James River Insurance Company and James River Casualty Company, from offices in Richmond, Virginia; Scottsdale, Arizona; and Atlanta, Georgia. James River Insurance is our largest subsidiary as measured by gross written premiums (56.3% of consolidated gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018 came from our Excess and Surplus Lines segment) and has been engaged in E&S insurance for 16 years. James River Insurance has had a consistent record of underwriting profits since its second year of operation. We added James River Casualty in 2009 to give us the ability to write E&S risks in Ohio.
E&S lines insurance focuses on insureds that generally cannot purchase insurance from standard lines insurers typically due to perceived risk related to their businesses. Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment underwrites property-casualty insurance on an E&S lines basis in all states and the District of Columbia. Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment distributes its policies through a network of authorized independent wholesale brokers throughout the United States. In 2018, our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s gross written premiums grew by 23.8% over 2017 through the growth of our commercial auto division (with a focus on transportation network companies), as well as across a number of other divisions. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment produced an average combined ratio of 86.7% from 2010 through 2018.
Companies that underwrite on an E&S lines basis operate under a different regulatory structure than standard market carriers. E&S lines carriers are generally permitted to craft the terms of the insurance contract to suit the particular risk they are assuming. Also, E&S lines carriers are, for the most part, free of rate regulation. In contrast, standard market carriers are generally required to use approved insurance forms and to charge rates that have been authorized by or filed with state insurance departments. However, as E&S carriers, our insurance subsidiaries in the Excess and Surplus Lines segment are not backed by any state’s guarantee fund, and in most states these subsidiaries may only write coverage for an insured after they have been denied coverage by the standard market and signed declarations stating that the insured is aware that it will not have access to any state guarantee funds should these subsidiaries be unable to satisfy their obligations.
Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment writes policies for a wide range of businesses and does not write personal lines insurance. Applications for insurance are presented to us by authorized wholesale brokers who are typically engaged by retail agents after their clients have been rejected by standard markets.
In late 2017, the Excess and Surplus Lines segment started a binding contract unit (as part of our Small Business underwriting division) where limited authority for underwriting is delegated to a select group of agents on a limited number of General Liability classes through a company designed online portal.
All claims for business written by the Excess and Surplus Lines segment are managed by its internal claims department although we use independent adjusters for inspection and payment of certain claims.
The chart below identifies the Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s divisions and sets forth the amount of gross written premiums by each division.
Gross Written Premiums
Year Ended December 31,
Manufacturers and Contractors
Sports and Entertainment
Commercial Auto underwrites primarily the hired and non-owned auto liability exposures for a variety of industry segments including package delivery services, food delivery services and livery service organizations, and has developed a particular niche for insuring organizations' operating networks connecting independent contractors with customers (transportation network companies and similar usage-based networks). One insured (Rasier LLC and its affiliates) produced $294.3 million of gross written premiums, representing 44.8% of the Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s gross written premiums and 25.2% of our consolidated gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018. The head underwriter in this division has 31 years of experience. Limits assumed are retained by the Company, in some cases subject to self-insured retentions of the insureds.
Manufacturers and Contractors writes primary general liability coverage for a variety of classes, including manufacturers of consumer, commercial, and industrial products and general and trade contractors. Typically, we issue a $1.0 million per occurrence limit in this division and we retain the entire $1.0 million limit. The individual overseeing this division has 35 years of industry experience.
Excess Casualty underwrites excess liability coverage for a variety of risk classes including manufacturers, contractors, distributors and transportation risks. Typically, we provide between $1.0 million and $10.0 million per occurrence limits above a $1.0 million attachment point. Of this amount, we retain up to $1.0 million of exposure per occurrence and cede the balance to our reinsurers. We write excess liability coverage above our own primary policies, as well as policies issued by third parties. When we write above others’ policies, we are selective regarding underlying carriers, focusing on the nature of the business, the financial strength of the carrier, their pricing and their claims handling capabilities. The underwriter who heads this division has 35 years of industry experience.
General Casualty writes primary liability coverage on businesses exposed to premises liability type claims including real estate, mercantile and retail operations, apartments and condominiums, daycare facilities, hotels and motels, restaurants, bars, taverns and schools. The head underwriter in this division has 31 years of experience. Typically, we write $1.0 million per occurrence in limits, and we retain the entire $1.0 million limit.
Energy writes risks engaged in the business of energy production, distribution or mining, and the manufacture of equipment used in the energy business segment. Examples of classes underwritten by this division include oil and gas exploration companies, oil or gas well drillers, oilfield consultants, oil or gas lease operators, oil well servicing companies, oil or gas pipeline construction companies, fireworks manufacturing, mining-related risks, utilities, and utility contractors. We provide policy limits up to $11.0 million, with typical limits between $1.0 million and $5.0 million per occurrence, retaining up
to $1.0 million in limit net on either a primary or excess basis. The underwriter leading this division has 47 years of experience in the business.
Allied Health underwrites casualty insurance for allied health and social service types of risks, such as long-term care facilities, independent living apartments, group homes, half-way houses and shelters, drug rehabilitation, home health care and medical staffing enterprises. We provide policy limits up to $11.0 million, with typical limits between $1.0 million and $5.0 million per occurrence, retaining up to $1.0 million in limit net. The underwriter responsible for this unit has 25 years of experience in the business. Approximately 89% of the premiums written by our Allied Health division from inception through 2018 have been written on a claims made and reported form. We believe this policy form significantly reduces our long-term exposure in this complicated class of business.
Excess Property writes property risks providing limits in various layers above the primary coverage layer for a variety of classes, including apartments, condominiums, resorts, shopping centers, offices and general commercial properties. Typical per risk limits offered range from $5.0 million to $30.0 million on a gross basis, and a maximum of $5.0 million on a net of reinsurance basis. The average net per risk limit is approximately $2.5 million as of December 31, 2018. We retain up to the first $5.0 million in any one event or catastrophe. The underwriter leading our Excess Property division has 33 years of experience in the industry.
Life Sciences underwrites general liability, products liability and/or professional liability coverage for manufacturers, distributors and developers of biologics (antibodies & vaccines used for the prevention of disease), nutraceuticals (health, nutrition and herbal supplements), human clinical trials, pharmaceuticals (mainly generics and over-the-counters) and medical devices. This division also writes a book of various types of business engaged in the medical and adult-use cannabis industry. We provide policy limits up to $11.0 million, with typical limits between $1.0 million and $5.0 million per occurrence, retaining up to $1.0 million in limit net. The underwriter at the head of this division has 35 years of experience in the industry.
Small Business concentrates on accounts with annual primary liability insurance premiums of less than $10,000. For these smaller risks, we limit flexibility in coverage options and pricing to facilitate quick turnaround and efficient processing. We generally write $1.0 million per occurrence limits and retain the entire amount. The underwriter leading this division has 25 years of industry experience.
Environmental underwrites contractors’ pollution liability, products pollution liability, site specific pollution liability and consultant’s professional liability coverage on a stand-alone basis and in conjunction with the general liability coverage. The underwriter heading our Environmental division has 47 years of experience in the business. Typically, we write environmental coverage for contractors who are not engaged in environmental remediation work on an occurrence form. We provide policy limits up to $11.0 million, with typical limits between $1.0 million and $5.0 million per occurrence, retaining up to $1.0 million in limit net on a primary or excess basis.
Professional Liability writes professional liability coverage for accountants, architects, engineers, lawyers and certain other professions. We provide policy limits up to $11.0 million, with typical limits between $1.0 million and $5.0 million per occurrence, retaining up to $1.0 million in limit net. The individual who directs our professional liability division has 25 years of industry experience. All of our professional liability coverage is written on a claims made and reported basis.
Sports and Entertainment underwrites primary liability coverage for sports and entertainment related risks, including special events, family entertainment centers, tourist attractions, health clubs and sport teams, leagues and complexes. Typical limits offered are up to $1.0 million per occurrence, and we retain the entire $1.0 million limit. The underwriter at the head of this division has 31 years of experience in the industry.
Medical Professionals underwrites non-standard physicians’ professional liability for individuals or small groups. Our healthcare business is a mix of both surgical and non-surgical classes. We typically provide between $1.0 million and $3.0 million per occurrence limits and retain up to $1.0 million of exposure per occurrence and cede the balance to our reinsurers. All of the policies written by this division have been issued on a claims-made and reported basis. The underwriter leading this division has 25 years of experience.
The following table identifies the top ten producing states by amount of gross written premium for our Excess and Surplus Lines segment for the year ended December 31, 2018 and the amount of gross written premium produced by such states for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014. The table also shows the percentage of each states’ gross written premium to total gross written premium in the Excess and Surplus Lines segment for the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016.
All other states
Marketing and Distribution
The Excess and Surplus Lines segment distributes its products through a select group of licensed E&S lines brokers that we believe can produce reasonable volumes of quality business for James River Insurance consistently. These brokers procure policies for their clients from us as well as from other insurance companies. At December 31, 2018, the segment had authorized 117 broker groups to work with us. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment generally makes broker authorizations by brokerage office and underwriting division. With the exception of one hired and non-owned auto program (combined premiums of approximately $8.0 million for 2018) the Excess and Surplus Lines segment does not grant its brokers underwriting or claims authority. In late 2017, we introduced a Binding Contract division where limited authority for underwriting is delegated to a select group of agents for a limited group of General Liability classes through a company designed online portal.
Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment selects its brokers based upon management’s review of the experience, knowledge and business plan of each broker. While many of our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s brokers have more than one office, we evaluate each office as if it were a separate entity. Often, our Excess and Surplus Lines segment authorizes some but not all offices owned by a brokerage for specialized lines of business. Brokers must be able to demonstrate an ability to competently produce both the quality and quantity of business that we seek. Brokers unable to produce consistently profitable business, or who produce unacceptably low volumes of business, may be terminated. Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s underwriters regularly visit with brokers in their offices to discuss the products that we offer and the needs of the brokers. We believe the personal relationships we foster with individual brokers and our ability to respond to a wide variety of risks placed by these brokers make us an important market for them.
Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s two largest brokers produced $439.7 million of gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018, representing approximately 67.0% of the Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s gross written premiums for 2018. The two largest brokers produced $358.3 million (BB&T Insurance Services represented 30.7% of consolidated gross written premiums) and $81.4 million of gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018, respectively. One insured (Rasier LLC and its affiliates) produced $294.3 million of gross written premiums (representing 25.2% of our consolidated gross written premiums) and $13.9 million of fee income for the year ended December 31, 2018.
In 2018 and 2017, our Excess and Surplus Lines segment paid an average commission to producers of 9.6% and 10.9%, respectively, of gross written premiums.
Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s staff includes over 165 individuals directly employed in underwriting policies as of December 31, 2018. We are very selective about the policies we bind. Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment binds approximately 3% of new submissions and one out of every six new quotes. We realize all excess and surplus lines applications
have already been rejected by the standard market. If our underwriters cannot reasonably expect to bind coverage at the combination of premiums and coverage that meet our standards, they are encouraged to quickly move on to another prospective opportunity. For the year ended December 31, 2018, we received approximately 222,000 submissions (new and renewal, excluding commercial auto policies), quoted over 51,000 policies and bound over 15,000 policies.
When we accept risk in our Excess and Surplus Lines segment, we are careful to establish terms that are suited to the risk and the pricing. As an excess and surplus lines writer, we use our freedom of rate and form to make it possible to take on risks that have already been rejected by admitted carriers who have determined they cannot insure these risks on approved forms at filed rates.
We attempt to craft policies that offer affordable protection to our insureds by tailoring coverage in ways that make potential losses more predictable and are intended to reduce claims costs. For example, we frequently use a “punitive damages exclusion” and “defense inside the limits” endorsements, intended to prevent excessive defense costs; “assault and battery” exclusions or sub limits that are less than the full policy limits which allows us to quantify and limit our losses more precisely than in policies without the exclusion; and “classification limitation” and “specified location” endorsements that limit coverage to known exposures and locations. We have no material exposure to asbestos, lead paint, silica, mold, or nuclear, biological, or chemical terrorism.
We design our internal processing and data collection systems to provide our management team with accurate and relevant information in real-time. We collect 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 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.
We believe that effective management of claims settlement and any associated litigation avoids delays and associated additional costs.
Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s claims department consists of over 330 claims professionals as of December 31, 2018 with significant claims experience in the property-casualty industry.
Our excess and surplus lines business generally results in claims from premises/operations liability, professional liability, hired and non-owned auto liability, auto physical damage, first party property losses and products liability. We believe the key to effective claims management is timely and thorough claims investigation. We seek to complete all investigations and adjust reserves appropriately as soon as is practicable after the receipt of a claim. We seek to manage the number of claims per adjuster to allow adjusters sufficient time to investigate and resolve claims. Senior management reviews each case above a specified amount at least quarterly to evaluate whether the key issues in the case are being considered and to monitor case reserve levels. We keep the settlement authority of front-line adjusters low to ensure the practice of having two or more members of the department participate in the decision as to whether to settle or defend. In addition, cases with unusual damage, liability or policy interpretation issues are subjected to peer reviews. Members of the underwriting staff participate in this process. Prior to any scheduled mediation or trial involving a claim, claims personnel conduct further peer review to make sure all issues and exposures have been adequately analyzed.
Our claims staff also contributes to our underwriting operations through communication of claims information to our underwriters. The Senior Vice President and Chief Claims Officer heads our forms committee, which reviews and develops all policy forms and exclusions, and is also a member of the underwriting review committee.
Approximately 95% of all claims received are closed within five years in the Excess and Surplus Lines segment.
The calendar year net loss ratios for the Excess and Surplus Lines segment for the last ten years were:
The 2018 and 2017 calendar year loss ratios for the Excess and Surplus Lines segment were impacted by adverse reserve development of $20.7 million and $38.7 million, respectively, in the commercial auto line of business. The adverse development was primarily related to the 2016 contract year with one insured.
Specialty Admitted Insurance Segment
The Falls Lake Insurance Companies (“Falls Lake”) comprise our other U.S. insurance segment, Specialty Admitted Insurance. Falls Lake consists of Falls Lake National Insurance Company (an Ohio domiciled company, licensed in 48 states and the District of Columbia and registered as a surplus lines company in California), and its subsidiaries Stonewood Insurance Company (a North Carolina domiciled company) and Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company (a California domiciled company). The Specialty Admitted Insurance segment produced 32.1% of consolidated gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Our plan is to continue to use our broad licensure and significant management expertise to earn substantial fee income as well as underwriting profits. The Specialty Admitted Insurance segment consists of:
Individual risk workers’ compensation business, underwritten by our staff and generated by appointed agents in North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, New Jersey, Missouri, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Alabama, Connecticut and Mississippi, produce 14.8% of 2018 gross written premiums in this segment, (13.9% in 2017, 21.7% in 2016, 39.5% in 2015 and 50.7% in 2014); and
Fronting and program business written through selected MGAs, insurance carriers, and other producers which represented 85.2% of 2018 gross written premiums in this segment, (86.1% in 2017, 78.3% in 2016, 60.5% in 2015 and 49.3% in 2014).
Traditional Workers’ Compensation Business
Our individual risk workers’ compensation business, produced through a distribution channel comprised of appointed independent retail agents and a limited number of appointed wholesale brokers, remains a regionally focused effort in select Southeastern and Eastern U.S. states. For the year ended December 31, 2018, approximately 49% of our retail produced workers’ compensation direct written premiums were in North Carolina, 16% were in Virginia, 13% were in South Carolina, and 11% were in Georgia. Building trades represented approximately 28% of the direct premiums in force in our retail produced workers’ compensation book in 2018. Other significant industry groups include healthcare employees (16%), goods and services (15%), manufacturing (11%), specialty transportation (11%) and agriculture (6%). We view our retail produced workers’ compensation business as a core competency and seek to make consistent underwriting profits from it. We recognize the cyclical nature of this line and are prepared to contract the business rapidly when rates decline, or the regulatory or economic environment makes it difficult to contain costs.
Fronting & Program Business
In our fronting business we issue insurance policies for another insurance company which may not have the licensure, product suite or rating to serve its desired market, or for a program supported by reinsurance or alternative capital provider(s). We generally retain 10% or less of the underwriting risk in our fronting business. The issuance of our policy makes us contractually responsible to the insured in the event they experience a covered loss. We enter into these arrangements selectively with counterparties which have significant experience and market presence in their desired segment of property-casualty, workers compensation or automobile business. Underwriting, claims and financial performance is subject to regular review by our staff, and we hold appropriate collateral to manage counterparty credit risk. We specifically grant limited authority for underwriting and claims administration and employ a rigorous review process to ensure the authority is
appropriately used within the terms of our contract, and that collateral held by us is appropriate as determined by our personnel. We charge fees as a percentage of gross written premiums for issuing these policies. We establish fronting opportunities through a variety of sources, including direct carrier relationships, MGAs and reinsurance brokers.
Due to our broad licensure and product filings, we are positioned to support this business on a broad basis throughout the U.S. Because of the limited capital allocation required to support it, we believe the fronting business represents an efficient use of capital, and we continued to expand this business in 2018. One fronting program (Atlas General Insurance Services) produced $201.7 million of gross written premiums in 2018 representing 17.3% of consolidated gross written premiums and 53.9% of the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment's gross written premiums.
Our objective over time is to utilize the combination of fee income and underwriting profits from our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment to leverage our capital and enhance returns on tangible equity. Additionally, we expect that this fee income, which was $14.8 million in 2018 and $11.3 million in 2017, will be increasingly material in future periods and provide us with a steady revenue stream.
In a program arrangement, we give selected MGAs authority to act on our behalf to produce, underwrite and administer policies that meet our strict underwriting and pricing guidelines. We enter into these arrangements selectively with agents who have significant experience and market presence in specialty classes of property-casualty and automobile risks. Underwriting, claims and financial performance is subject to regular review by our staff. We only work with MGAs who permit us to actively engage with them through a combination of onsite and offsite resources to facilitate our real-time supervision of their work. We specifically grant limited authority for underwriting and claims administration and employ a rigorous review process to ensure the authority is appropriately used.
We focus our coverage on casualty risks in our program business, although some property insurance is written. We seek to limit our risk generally through reinsurance either on a proportional or excess of loss basis, or sometimes both. For initial claims oversight and administration, we generally outsource frequency layer claims management to third-party administrators for the first $50,000 of a claim, and then provide supervisory control above this amount.
Under the terms of these program agreements, we pay fixed commissions with a profit contingency. In addition, we typically build in a “margin” between the commission we earn from our reinsurers and the commissions paid to the MGAs. This spread enhances our net underwriting returns and profitability. Our program business is distributed primarily through MGAs and program managers.
Excluding our Atlas program, we have seven active fronting arrangements as of December 31, 2018. During 2018, these arrangements represented 25.6% of the segment’s gross written premium.
Casualty Reinsurance Segment
We report our business of writing reinsurance for third party insurance companies in our Casualty Reinsurance segment (representing 11.6% of consolidated gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018). We participate in the reinsurance business through our Bermuda domiciled reinsurance subsidiary, JRG Re, which is a Class 3B reinsurer. JRG Re provides proportional and working layer treaty reinsurance to third parties and, through December 31, 2017, also to our U.S.-based insurance subsidiaries. For purposes of management evaluation, this segment’s underwriting results only include premiums ceded by, and losses incurred with respect to, business assumed from unaffiliated companies and does not include premiums and losses ceded under the internal reinsurance arrangements. In response to the Tax Act, we made changes to our structure in 2018 that included the formation of Carolina Re, a Bermuda-domiciled, wholly-owned subsidiary of James River Group, Inc. Carolina Re is a Class 3A reinsurer and made an irrevocable election to be taxed as a U.S. domestic corporation under Section 953(d) of the Code effective January 1, 2018. We generally discontinued ceding 70% of our U.S.-written premiums to JRG Re and instead ceded 70% of our U.S.-written premiums to Carolina Re as of January 1, 2018. Carolina Re also entered into a stop loss reinsurance agreement with JRG Re.
During the year ended December 31, 2018, our Casualty Reinsurance segment had underwriting income of $5.1 million as a stand-alone entity. We underwrote $135.9 million in gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018, 97.3% of which consisted of E&S risks. Of those third-party premiums written by JRG Re, 85.8% was for general liability and 8.4% was for non-medical professional liability, with the balance primarily related to excess casualty and commercial auto coverages. We typically structure our reinsurance treaties as quota share arrangements with loss and risk mitigating features that align our interest with that of the ceding companies. On a premium volume basis, treaties with loss mitigation features including sliding scale ceding commissions represented 81.7% of the third-party gross written premiums during 2018 and treaties written as “proportional” arrangements represented 96.9%. We purchase very little retrocessional coverage in this segment. Almost all of the segment’s premiums are for casualty lines of business. The Casualty Reinsurance segment writes virtually no reinsurance designed to respond specifically to natural catastrophes.
The Casualty Reinsurance segment’s two largest brokers generated $54.0 million and $42.3 million, respectively, representing 70.9% of the segment’s gross written premiums in the year ended December 31, 2018. The Casualty Reinsurance
segment’s three largest relationships with unaffiliated ceding companies generated $126.3 million ($83.4 million, $22.1 million, and $20.8 million, respectively) representing 10.8% of consolidated gross written premiums and 92.9% of the Casualty Reinsurance segment's gross written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2018.
Underwriting profits and investment income earned by JRG Re are exempt from U.S. taxation. We do, however, pay a 1% U.S. Federal excise tax on premiums ceded to JRG Re. At December 31, 2018, JRG Re cash and invested assets made up 54.9% of our total cash and invested assets.
Corporate and Other Segment
Our President and Chief Executive Officer, our Chief Financial Officer and other holding company employees are part of the Corporate and Other segment. This is where we set and direct strategy for the group as a whole as well as high level objectives for each of the three operating segments. We make all capital management, capital allocation, treasury functions, information technology and group wide risk management decisions in this segment. Our decisions at this level also include reinsurance purchasing.
Purchase of Reinsurance
We routinely purchase reinsurance for our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments and, less frequently purchase retrocessional coverage for our Casualty Reinsurance segment. The purchase of reinsurance reduces volatility by limiting our exposure to large losses and provides capacity for growth. In a reinsurance transaction, an insurance company transfers, or cedes, all or part of its exposure in return for a portion of the premium. In a retrocession transaction, a reinsurer transfers, or cedes, all or part of its exposure in return for a portion of the premium. Our companies remain legally responsible for the entire obligation to policyholders and ceding companies, irrespective of any reinsurance or retrocession coverage we may purchase. Typically, we pay claims from our own funds and then seek reimbursement from the reinsurer or retrocessionaire, as applicable. There is credit exposure with respect to losses ceded to the extent that any reinsurer or retrocessionaire is unable or unwilling to meet the obligations ceded by us under reinsurance or retrocessional treaties. The ability to collect on reinsurance or retrocessional reinsurance is subject to many factors, including the solvency of the counterparty and their interpretation of contract language and other factors. We currently have no disputes with any reinsurer or retrocessionaire, and we are not aware of any credit quality issues with any of our reinsurers or retrocessionaires at December 31, 2018.
Purchased Property Reinsurance
Our focus on return on tangible equity leads us to avoid lines of business that we know are exposed to high degrees of volatility. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment writes a limited book of excess property risks (approximately $17.0 million direct written premiums in 2018). The risks assumed in this book are geographically dispersed and significantly reinsured to limit losses. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment may retain up to $5.0 million per risk on our excess property book; however, the average retained amount per risk is approximately $2.5 million. In our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, we focus on casualty business, but we do write a limited amount of property insurance, principally through our fronting and programs business. The focus in our Casualty Reinsurance segment is also primarily casualty business, but we do have a relatively small amount of assumed business with property exposure.
In our Excess and Surplus Lines segment, we purchased a surplus share reinsurance treaty specifically designed to cover property risks. The surplus share treaty along with facultative reinsurance helps ensure that our net retained limit per risk will be $5.0 million or less. Additionally, we purchased catastrophe reinsurance of $40.0 million in excess of a $5.0 million retention for the group that is intended to cover the 1 in 1,000 year modeled aggregate PML on the segment’s excess property book. We buy such high limits because we believe the property catastrophe models are less accurate when applied to small books of business like ours than when applied to larger portfolios. Where the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment incurs incidental property risks in its program book of business, the segment has purchased coverage for $4.0 million in excess of $1.0 million per occurrence, in addition to the protection provided under the corporate $40.0 million in excess of $5.0 million catastrophe treaty. This is also intended to cover the 1 in 1,000 year modeled aggregate PML on any property exposures the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment assumes. In our Casualty Reinsurance segment, we believe that our maximum loss from a catastrophic event is approximately $2.0 million and, as a result, we do not currently purchase retrocessional reinsurance coverage for property-catastrophe risks. In the aggregate, we believe our pre-tax group-wide PML from a 1 in 1,000 year catastrophic event is approximately $10.0 million, inclusive of reinstatement premiums payable.
Purchased Casualty Reinsurance
In our Excess and Surplus Lines segment, there are five divisions where we only write $1.0 million per occurrence limits (Commercial Auto, Manufacturers and Contractors, General Casualty, Small Business and Sports and Entertainment), and therefore, we do not purchase any specific reinsurance for these policies. In the other divisions, where we issue policies with larger limits, we purchase reinsurance in excess of $1.0 million per occurrence.
In our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, there are two distinct reinsurance strategies. For individual risk workers' compensation, we purchase $29.4 million excess of $600,000 per occurrence; and, effective October 1, 2017, we also purchased a 50% quota share coverage of the primary $600,000. For our fronting and program business, we purchase proportional reinsurance and excess of loss reinsurance to limit our exposure to no more than $500,000 per occurrence.
For both our Excess and Surplus Lines segment and our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, we purchase a clash and contingency reinsurance treaty that covers all casualty business for $10.0 million in excess of $2.0 million per occurrence. This coverage is intended to respond in a situation where we have multiple insured losses from the same event.
In our Casualty Reinsurance segment, we currently do not purchase any material retrocessional reinsurance. In prior periods, we have purchased proportional and excess of loss retrocessional coverage for particular situations related to specific treaties, but have only done so on a limited basis.
For 2018, our top ten reinsurers represented 79.4% of our total ceded reinsurance recoverables, and all of these reinsurance recoverables were from reinsurers with an A.M. Best rating of “A-” (Excellent) or better or are collateralized with letters of credit or by a trust agreement. The following table sets forth our ten most significant reinsurers by amount of reinsurance recoverables on unpaid losses and the amount of reinsurance recoverables pertaining to each such reinsurer as well as its A.M. Best rating as of December 31, 2018:
Recoverable as of
December 31, 2018
A.M. Best Rating
December 31, 2018
Swiss Reinsurance America Corporation
Berkley Insurance Company
Safety National Casualty
North Carolina Reinsurance Facility
Munich Reinsurance America
Endurance Assurance Corporation
Donegal Mutual Insurance Company
Cincinnati Insurance Company
American European Insurance Company
Partner Reinsurance Company Limited
Top 10 Total
These reinsurers are unrated, or below “A-”. All material reinsurance recoverables from these reinsurers are collateralized.
Amounts Recoverable from an Indemnifying Party
The Company is a party to a set of insurance contracts with an insured group of companies under which the Company pays losses and loss adjustment expenses on the contract. The Company has indemnity agreements with this group of insured parties (non-insurance entities) and is contractually entitled to receive reimbursement for a significant portion of the losses and loss adjustment expenses paid on behalf of the insured parties and other expenses incurred by the Company. The insured parties are required to collateralize all amounts currently due to the Company and to provide additional collateral sufficient to cover the amounts that may be recoverable under the indemnity agreements, including among other things case loss and loss adjustment expense reserves, IBNR loss and loss adjustment expense reserves, extra contractual obligations and excess of policy limits liabilities. This collateral is currently provided through a collateral trust arrangement established in favor of the Company by a captive insurance company affiliate of the insured group. At December 31, 2018, the cash equivalent collateral held in the
collateral trust arrangement was approximately $1,099.2 million, which exceeds the amount of claims receivable and unpaid reported losses and loss adjustment expenses outstanding. The Company has ongoing exposure to estimated losses and expenses on these contracts growing at a faster pace than growth in our collateral balances. In addition, we have credit exposure if our estimates of future losses and loss adjustment expenses and other amounts recoverable, which are the basis for establishing collateral balances, are lower than actual amounts paid or payable. The amount of our credit exposure in any of these instances could be material. To mitigate these risks, we closely and frequently monitor our exposure compared to our collateral held, and we request additional collateral when our analysis indicates that we have uncollateralized exposure.
We seek to establish reserves that will adequately meet our obligations. We have seven credentialed actuaries on staff, and we engage independent actuarial consultants to review our decisions regarding reserves twice a year.
We maintain reserves for specific claims incurred and reported, reserves for claims incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) and reserves for uncollectible reinsurance when appropriate. Our ultimate liability may be greater or less than current reserves. In the insurance industry, there is always the risk that reserves may prove inadequate. We continually monitor reserves using new information on reported claims and a variety of statistical techniques and adjust our estimates as necessary as experience develops or new information becomes known. Such adjustments (referred to as reserve development) are included in current operations. Anticipated inflation is reflected implicitly in the reserving process through analysis of cost trends and the review of historical development. We do not discount our reserves for losses and loss adjustment expenses to reflect estimated present value.
When setting our reserves, we use a blend of actuarial techniques that are chosen to reflect the nature of the lines of insurance we underwrite. We seek to be consistent and transparent in establishing our reserves.
In many cases, several years may elapse between the occurrence of an insured loss, the reporting of the loss and our eventual payment of the loss. We establish loss and loss adjustment expense reserves for the ultimate payment of all losses and loss adjustment expenses incurred. We estimate the reserve for losses and loss adjustment expenses using individual case-basis valuations of reported claims. We also use statistical analyses to estimate the cost of losses that have been incurred but not reported to us. These estimates are based on historical information and on estimates of future trends that may affect the frequency of claims and changes in the average cost of claims that may arise in the future. We also consider various factors such as:
Loss emergence and insured reporting patterns;
Underlying policy terms and conditions;
Business and exposure mix;
Trends in claim frequency and severity;
Emerging economic and social trends;
Changes in the regulatory and litigation environments; and
Discussions with third-party actuarial consultants.
The procedures we use to estimate loss reserves assume that past experience, adjusted for the effects of current developments and anticipated trends, is an appropriate basis for predicting future events. It also assumes that adequate historical or other data exists upon which to make these judgments. These estimates are by their nature subjective and imprecise, and ultimate losses and loss adjustment expenses may vary from established reserves.
Our Reserve Committee consists of our Chief Actuary, Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, and Chief Accounting Officer. Additionally, the presidents and chief actuaries of each of our three insurance segments assist in the evaluation of reserves in their respective segments. The Reserve Committee meets quarterly to review the actuarial recommendations made by each chief actuary and uses its best judgment to determine the best estimate to be recorded for the reserve for losses and loss adjustment expenses on our quarterly balance sheet.
The following table reflects our reserve development by segment during the calendar years 2018 to 2009 individually and in aggregate.
Includes $20.7 million of adverse development in the commercial auto line of business that was primarily related to the 2016 contract year with one insured, partially offset by $5.7 million of favorable development from other divisions.
Includes $38.7 million of adverse development in the commercial auto line of business that was primarily related to the 2016 contract year with one insured, partially offset by $18.6 million of favorable development from other divisions primarily from the 2014 through 2016 accident years.
Includes $10.0 million of favorable development from the 2015 accident year, $10.7 million from the 2014 accident year and $4.5 million from the 2013 accident year.
Includes $17.3 million and $10.5 million of favorable development from the 2014 and 2013 accident year, respectively.
Includes $7.9 million of favorable development from the 2011 accident year, $4.2 million from the 2007 accident year and $5.0 million from the 2009 accident year.
Includes $11.8 million of favorable development from the 2009 accident year, $7.3 million of favorable development from the 2007 accident year and $5.8 million of favorable development from the 2008 accident year.
Includes $8.0 million of favorable development from the 2009 accident year, $4.3 million of favorable development from the 2008 accident year and $4.1 million of favorable development from the 2007 accident year.
Includes $9.0 million of adverse development on assumed crop business almost entirely from the 2011 accident year and $7.6 million of adverse development on other assumed business.
Among the indicators of reserve strength that we monitor closely are the number of claims outstanding from a given year and the amount of IBNR reserves held on our balance sheet for claims that have been incurred but not yet reported to us. As a general rule, every known claim has a specific case reserve established against it which management believes is adequate to resolve the claim and pay attendant expenses based on information available at the time.
A significant portion of reported claims from prior policy years were closed at December 31, 2018. The table below sets forth the percentage of claims closed by policy year for our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments for the policy years indicated.
Percentage of Claims Closed at December 31, 2018
Another indicator of reserve strength that we monitor closely is the percentage of our gross and net loss reserves that are comprised of IBNR reserves. The table below sets forth our IBNR, total gross reserves and the percentage that IBNR represents of the total gross reserves, in each case by segment and in the aggregate, at December 31, 2018. The percentage that IBNR represents of total gross reserves at December 31, 2018 is 62.4%.
Gross Reserves at December 31, 2018
% of Total
Excess and Surplus Lines
Specialty Admitted Insurance
The table below sets forth our IBNR, total net reserves and the percentage that IBNR represents of the total net reserves, in each case by segment and in the aggregate, at December 31, 2018. The percentage that IBNR represents of total net reserves at December 31, 2018 is 61.5%.
Net Reserves at December 31, 2018
% of Total
Excess and Surplus Lines
Specialty Admitted Insurance
We attempt to generate better than market average risk-adjusted returns in our investment portfolio by taking measured risks based upon detailed knowledge of certain niche asset classes. While we are willing to make investments in non-traditional types of investments, we avoid risks that we do not understand well, as well as structures or situations we think could cause
substantial loss of capital. The vast majority of our investment portfolio is managed by third party, independent investment managers.
The majority of our investment portfolio is invested in what we refer to as our Core Portfolio of investment grade fixed income securities. This portfolio provides predictable income with low risk of principal loss. We seek to augment the return on the Core Portfolio by investing in bank loans, higher yielding securities and private investments. We designed these strategies to improve our investment return and are focused on opportunistic investing in areas where we believe our management, directors or employees have expertise or understanding of the risk and return of the investment.
Our strategy is designed to earn higher returns than an investment grade fixed income approach alone while maintaining a high average portfolio credit rating and investing in asset classes and allocations that are consistent with the insurance regulatory and rating agency framework within which we operate. We generally focus on securities that provide some current income.
As a result of affiliated and third party reinsurance contracts, we have been able to grow our asset base at JRG Reinsurance Company Ltd, which is domiciled in Bermuda and is not subject to U.S. corporate taxation. At December 31, 2018, 54.9% of our cash and invested assets were held at JRG Re.
The prolonged low interest rate environment made it difficult for insurance companies to earn attractive returns on capital because of reduced investment income. If sustained, recent increases in interest rates will slowly improve investment income from fixed income investments. Our premium growth has allowed us to build our asset base. Cash and invested assets now represent 3.8 times our tangible equity.
A summary of our investment portfolio at December 31, 2018 is as follows:
December 31, 2018
% of Carrying
($ in thousands)
Less cash and cash equivalents in Core and Bank Loans
Total Invested Assets
We have generally managed our overall portfolio to a duration of 3 to 5 years. At December 31, 2018, the average duration of our investment portfolio was 3.4 years.
The Core Portfolio consists of cash and investment grade fixed income securities. Our objective in the Core Portfolio is to earn attractive risk-adjusted returns with a low risk of loss of principal. We use a third-party manager to manage the Core Portfolio.
The Bank Loan portfolio primarily consists of investments in participations in syndicated bank loans, but may also include a small allocation of bonds. Bank loans in our portfolio are generally senior secured loans with an average credit quality of “B” as of December 31, 2018 and floating interest rates based on spreads over LIBOR. We believe bank loans are an attractive asset class because (1) floating-rate loans help to reduce our risk of loss in the event of rising interest rates, (2) the loans are generally senior secured, (3) the asset class has a history of relatively high recovery rates in the event of default, (4) the portfolio provides an attractive yield and (5) the maturities of the loans are relatively short (average of 5 years). We invest in this asset class by owning individual loan participations that are carried at amortized cost less any loan loss allowance. We have over nine years of experience in investing in this asset class through a third-party manager.
Incremental Yield Portfolio
The Incremental Yield Portfolio consists of investments in low investment grade and below investment grade bonds, preferred stocks, dividend paying common equities and exchange traded funds. The average credit quality of the fixed income securities in this portfolio as of December 31, 2018 is BBB. We generally invest in fixed income securities where we believe
that risk of default is low relative to the potential yield on the securities. We own preferred stocks, generally in the financial services industry. In some instances, we will purchase common equity securities and exchange traded funds. However, these purchases are generally used as an effective means to get access to a high yielding asset class. As of December 31, 2018, only $9.5 million of the Incremental Yield Portfolio is invested in common equities and exchange traded funds.
Private Investment Portfolio
We make selective investments in private debt or equity securities in areas where we see significant opportunity or attractive risk and return characteristics. We focus on investments where we believe we have an understanding of the risk and opportunity and have the ability to monitor them closely. At December 31, 2018, we held 11 private investments with a total carrying value of $73.6 million. Our portfolio consists of investments in wind and solar energy, banking, small cap equities, loans of middle market private equity sponsored companies, equity tranches of collateralized loan obligations (CLOs), and tranches of distressed home loans. We are opportunistic in our private investment strategy and our portfolio may grow or shrink based on the opportunities available to us. Despite being only 4.3% of our portfolio, we believe our Private Investment Portfolio has added meaningful returns to our tangible equity. Our Private Investment strategy has significant risk and not all investments are successful. As a result, we intentionally keep this portfolio as a small portion of the overall investment portfolio.
Our recent total returns on our portfolio are as follows:
Trailing 3 years
Total returns are calculated as the realized or unrealized gain or loss of an asset plus interest and dividends paid while the asset is held.
We consider a portion of our investment portfolio to be invested in non-traditional investments. We consider non-traditional investments to include investments that are (1) not rated bond or fixed income securities (2) non-listed equities or (3) investments that generally have less liquidity than rated bond or fixed income securities or listed equities. Non-traditional investments held at December 31, 2018 and their respective percentage of our total invested assets at such date consist of syndicated bank loans (15.6%), interests in limited liability companies that invest in renewable energy opportunities (1.8%), limited partnerships that invest in debt or equity securities (1.7%), notes receivable for renewable energy projects (0.5%), and a private debt security (0.3%). We will continue to actively review opportunities to invest in non-traditional assets and may invest in additional non-traditional assets in the future.
Our invested assets totaled $1,677.8 million as of December 31, 2018. The weighted average credit rating of our portfolio of fixed maturity securities, bank loans and redeemable preferred stocks as of December 31, 2018 was “A”. We have intentionally maintained a cautious interest rate risk position by having an average duration of 3.4 years at December 31, 2018. This compares to an average duration at December 31, 2017 of 3.5 years. Based on the current duration of 3.4 years, a 1.0% increase in interest rates would result in a pre-tax decline in the market value of our portfolio of approximately $55.1 million.
Insurance Cycle Management and Growth
The insurance and reinsurance business is cyclical in nature, with “hard” and “soft” cycles. Hard markets occur when insurance underwriters limit their exposure in a line of business or across their entire portfolio. When underwriters exercise restraint, insurance buyers are forced to pay more to induce underwriters to cover their risks. A hard market can also be created by economic expansions when capital committed to backing insurance policies does not grow as fast as the demand for insurance. There is generally a correlation between interest rates and the willingness of insurance companies to commit their capital to writing insurance. When fixed income yields are low, insurance companies need to raise insurance prices to improve underwriting results in order to offset loss of investment income.
We are currently in a growth phase for our U.S. primary operations. In both our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments, we are experiencing growth in premiums driven by stable rates as well as increases in policy count and exposures. The table below shows the changes in gross written premiums we have experienced in our operating segments from 2016 through 2018.
Gross Written Premiums
($ in thousands)
Excess and Surplus Lines
Specialty Admitted Insurance
In years prior to those presented, the business written at our U.S. primary operations has, at times, been subject to “soft” market conditions, reflected both in price decreases and reduced underlying exposures. The recession in the United States from 2008 to 2010 was a significant driver of these soft market conditions.
Our Excess and Surplus Lines segment is the most sensitive to hard and soft markets. We have, therefore, sought to diversify this business by geography, line of business and revenue stream. From 2006 to 2010, we reduced the gross written premiums in this business from $249.1 million to $116.1 million, or 53.4%. While we have been growing this business and achieving increasing or stable rates for several periods through December 31, 2018, there will likely be periods in the future where our growth moderates, stagnates or turns negative.
The Excess and Surplus Lines segment has historically been able to make an underwriting profit regardless of the state of the underwriting cycle. This segment's weighted average combined ratio for 2010 through 2018 is 86.7%.
Traditionally, admitted insurance lines have been very susceptible to market cycles. We believe this trend is continuing. We seek to isolate ourselves from these trends in our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment by writing lines of business we believe are slightly less competitive, by prudently purchasing reinsurance and by being willing to dramatically reduce our writings when market conditions warrant.
A material portion of the profitability we seek to achieve from our fronting business will come from fee income that is generated via policies that are issued by our insurance companies and then mostly or wholly reinsured to third parties. Because we earn substantial fees from underwriting business on which we retain little or no insurance risk, this business can be profitable to us even in soft market conditions. We have $319.1 million of gross written premiums for fronting and program business for 2018 ($30.5 million on a net basis), and we expect our fee income will continue to grow in future periods and provide us with a steady revenue stream that will be relatively insulated from conditions in the admitted insurance market.
In the Casualty Reinsurance segment, we have the ability to manage the cycle by growing or shrinking our business according to market conditions and the corresponding prices and terms being offered for the assumption of specific risks. We have a small team of nine people in Bermuda who underwrite and administer the business written by JRG Re in Bermuda. Accordingly, our overhead is low and does not necessitate us growing this business from its current size.
We compete in a variety of markets against a variety of competitors depending on the nature of the risk and coverage being underwritten. The competition for any one account may range from large international firms to smaller regional companies in the domiciles in which we operate. To remain competitive, our strategy includes, among other measures: (1) focusing on rate adequacy and underwriting discipline, (2) leveraging our distribution network, (3) controlling expenses, (4) maintaining financial strength and issuer credit ratings and (5) providing quality services to agents and policyholders.
Excess and Surplus Lines
Competition within the E&S lines marketplace comes from a wide range of carriers. In addition to mature E&S companies that operate nationwide, there is competition from carriers formed in recent years. The Excess and Surplus Lines segment may also compete with national and regional carriers from the standard market willing to underwrite selected accounts on an admitted basis. Competitors in this segment include ACE Westchester Specialty Group, Admiral Insurance Company (W. R. Berkley Corporation), AmRisc Insurance Company (BB&T - Branch Banking & Trust Company), Apollo Syndicate, Arrowhead General Insurance Agency, Inc., Axis Insurance Company (Axis Capital Holdings Limited), Beazley Group (Lloyd’s), Brit Insurance (Lloyd’s), Colony Specialty Insurance Company (Argo Group International Holdings, Ltd.), Evanston Insurance Company (Markel Corporation), First Mercury Insurance Company (Fairfax Financial Holdings, Ltd.), Gemini Insurance Company (W. R. Berkley Corporation), Hiscox Insurance Company (Lloyd’s), Houston Casualty Company (a subsidiary of Tokio Marine HCC), Integrity Insurance, Kinsale Capital Group, Landmark American Insurance Company (RSUI Group - Alleghany Corporation), Lexington Insurance Company (American International Group, Inc.), Markel Corporation, Mt. Hawley Insurance Company (RLI Corp.), Navigators Insurance Company, OneBeacon (Intact Financial Corporation), RLI Corp., RSUI Group, Inc. (Alleghany Corporation), Scottsdale Insurance Company (Nationwide Mutual Group), Starr Insurance Company (C.V. Starr & Company), United Specialty Insurance Company, Ventus Risk Management (utilizing XL Catlin
Insurance Company paper - hedge fund and private investors for capital), and other large national and multi-national insurance carriers.
Specialty Admitted Insurance
Due to the diverse nature of the products offered by the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, competition comes from various sources. The majority of the competition for our workers’ compensation business comes from regional companies or regional subsidiaries of national carriers in the domiciles in which they operate. National carriers tend to compete for fronting and program accounts along all product lines. Competitors in our workers’ compensation business include Builders Mutual Insurance Company, Accident Fund Insurance Company of America, W. R. Berkley Corporation, American Interstate Insurance Company (AMERISAFE, Inc.), and Amtrust Group. Competition for our fronting business includes State National (now part of Markel), Argo Group, Clear Blue, Spinnaker, Trisura, Red Point, Equity Insurance Company, Worth Insurance, Amtrust, and various Texas based county mutual insurance companies.
The reinsurance industry is highly competitive. We expect to compete with major reinsurers, most of which are well-established, have a significant operating history and strong financial strength ratings and have developed long-standing client relationships. Competitors in this segment include AXA XL, Hamilton Re, MS Amlin, Odyssey Re, Sompo International Re, Tokio Millenium Re, Transatlantic Re, and various LLoyd's syndicates.
Bermuda Insurance Regulation
The Insurance Act 1978 and related rules and regulations (the “Insurance Act”), which regulates the insurance business of both Carolina Re and JRG Re, provides that no person shall carry on insurance business in or from within Bermuda unless registered as an insurer under the Insurance Act by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (the “BMA”). The BMA, in deciding whether to grant registration, has broad discretion to act as it thinks fit in the public interest. The BMA is required by the Insurance Act to determine whether the applicant is a fit and proper body to be engaged in the insurance business and, in particular, whether it has, or has available to it, adequate knowledge and expertise. The registration of an applicant as an insurer is subject to its complying with the terms of its registration and such other conditions as the BMA may impose at any time.
It is not necessary that the insurance company be incorporated in Bermuda. A foreign corporation may obtain a permit under the Companies Act of Bermuda, 1981 (the “Companies Act”) to carry on business in Bermuda and then be registered as an insurer in Bermuda under the Insurance Act.
The Insurance Act does not distinguish between insurers and reinsurers; companies are registered (licensed) under the Insurance Act as “insurers” (although in certain circumstances a condition to registration may be imposed to the effect that the company may carry on only reinsurance business). The Insurance Act uses the defined term “insurance business” to include reinsurance business.
The Insurance Act also grants to the BMA powers to supervise, investigate and intervene in the affairs of insurance companies.
An Insurance Advisory Committee appointed by the Bermuda Minister of Finance advises the BMA on matters connected with the discharge of the BMA’s functions and subcommittees thereof supervise, investigate and review the law and practice of insurance in Bermuda, including reviews of accounting and administrative procedures.
The Insurance Act imposes solvency and liquidity standards on Bermuda insurance companies, as well as auditing and reporting requirements.
Certain significant aspects of the Bermuda insurance regulatory framework applicable to Class 3A insurers and/or Class 3B insurers are set forth below.
Classification of Insurers
The Insurance Act distinguishes between insurers carrying on long-term business, insurers carrying on general business and insurers carrying on special purpose business. There are six classifications of insurers carrying on general business, ranging from Class 1 insurers (pure captives) to Class 4 insurers (large commercial underwriters). Carolina Re is licensed as a Class 3A insurer and JRG Re is licensed as a Class 3B insurer and each is regulated as such under the Insurance Act.
Minimum Paid-Up Share Capital
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each required to maintain fully paid up share capital of at least $120,000.
Principal Representative and Principal Office
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each required to maintain a principal office and to appoint and maintain a principal representative in Bermuda. For the purposes of the Insurance Act, the principal office of Carolina Re and JRG Re is located at Wellesley House, 2nd Floor, 90 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, HM 08, Bermuda. Carolina Re’s and JRG Re’s principal representative is Helen Gillis, the Chief Financial Officer of JRG Re.
Without a reason acceptable to the BMA, an insurer may not terminate the appointment of its principal representative, and the principal representative may not cease to act as such, unless 30 days’ prior notice in writing to the BMA is given of the intention to do so.
It is the duty of the principal representative to forthwith notify the BMA where the principal representative reaches the view that there is a likelihood of the insurer (for which the principal representative acts) becoming insolvent, or on it coming to the knowledge of the principal representative, or the principal representative has reasonable grounds for believing, that a reportable “event” has occurred. Examples of a reportable “event” include a failure by the insurer to comply substantially with a condition imposed upon it by the BMA relating to a solvency margin or a liquidity or other ratio, a significant loss reasonably likely to cause the insurer to fail to comply with its enhanced capital requirement (discussed below) and the occurrence of a material change (as such term is defined under the Insurance Act) in its business operations.
Within 14 days of such notification to the BMA, the principal representative must furnish the BMA with a written report setting out all the particulars of the case that are available to the principal representative.
Where there has been a significant loss which is reasonably likely to cause the insurer to fail to comply with its enhanced capital requirement, the principal representative must also furnish the BMA with a capital and solvency return reflecting an enhanced capital requirement prepared using post-loss data. The principal representative must provide this within 45 days of notifying the BMA regarding the loss.
Furthermore, where a notification has been made to the BMA regarding a material change, the principal representative has 30 days from the date of such notification to furnish the BMA with unaudited interim statutory financial statements in relation to such period as the BMA may require, together with a general business solvency certificate in respect of those statements.
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer shall each maintain its head office in Bermuda. In determining whether the insurer satisfies this requirement, the BMA shall consider, inter alia, the following factors: (i) where the underwriting, risk management and operational decision making of the insurer occurs; (ii) whether the presence of senior executives who are responsible for, and involved in, the decision making related to the insurance business of the insurer are located in Bermuda; and (iii) where meetings of the board of directors of the insurer occur. In making its determination, the BMA may also have regard to (a) the location where management of the insurer meets to effect policy decisions of the insurer; (b) the residence of the officers, insurance managers or employees of the insurer; and (c) the residence of one or more directors of the insurer in Bermuda. This provision does not apply to an insurer that has a permit to conduct business in Bermuda under the Companies Act or the Non-Resident Insurance Undertakings Act 1967.
Loss Reserve Specialist
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each required to appoint an individual approved by the BMA to be its loss reserve specialist. In order to qualify as an approved loss reserve specialist, the applicant must be an individual qualified to provide an opinion in accordance with the requirements of the Insurance Act and the BMA must be satisfied that the individual is fit and proper to hold such an appointment.
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each required to submit annually an opinion of its approved loss reserve specialist with its capital and solvency return in respect of its total general business insurance technical provisions (i.e. the aggregate of its net premium provisions, net loss and loss expense provisions and risk margin, as each is reported in the insurer’s statutory economic balance sheet). The loss reserve specialist’s opinion must state, among other things, whether or not the aggregate amount of technical provisions shown in the statutory economic balance sheet as at the end of the relevant financial year (i) meets the requirements of the Insurance Act and (ii) makes reasonable provision for the total technical provisions of the insurer under the terms of its insurance contracts and agreements.
Annual Financial Statements
A Class 3A insurer and Class 3B insurer are each required to prepare and submit to the BMA, on an annual basis, audited financial statements which have been prepared under generally accepted accounting principles or international financial reporting standards (“GAAP financial statements”) and audited statutory financial statements.
The Insurance Act prescribes rules for the preparation and substance of statutory financial statements (which include, in statutory form, a balance sheet, an income statement, a statement of capital and surplus and notes thereto). The statutory
financial statements include detailed information and analysis regarding premiums, claims, reinsurance and investments of the insurer.
The insurer’s annual GAAP financial statements, and the auditor’s report thereon, and the statutory financial statements are required to be filed with the BMA within four months from the end of the relevant financial year (unless specifically extended with the approval of the BMA). The statutory financial statements do not form a part of the public records maintained by the BMA but the GAAP financial statements are available for public inspection.
Declaration of Compliance
At the time of filing its statutory financial statements, a Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each also required to deliver to the BMA a declaration of compliance, in such form and with such content as may be prescribed by the BMA, declaring whether or not the insurer has, with respect to the preceding financial year (i) complied with all requirements of the minimum criteria applicable to it, (ii) complied with the minimum margin of solvency as at its financial year end, (iii) complied with the applicable enhanced capital requirements as at its financial year end, (iv) complied with applicable conditions, directions and restrictions imposed on, or approvals granted to, the insurer and (v) complied with the minimum liquidity ratio for general business as at its financial year end. The declaration of compliance is required to be signed by two directors of the insurer, and if the insurer has failed to comply with any of the requirements referenced in (i) through (v) above or observe any limitations, restrictions or conditions imposed upon the issuance of its license, if applicable, the insurer will be required to provide the BMA with particulars of such failure in writing. A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer shall be liable to a civil penalty by way of a fine for failure to comply with a duty imposed on it in connection with the delivery of the declaration of compliance.
Annual Statutory Financial Return and Annual Capital and Solvency Return
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each required to file with the BMA a statutory financial return no later than four months after its financial year end (unless specifically extended with the approval of the BMA).
The statutory financial return of an insurer shall consist of (i) an insurer information sheet, (ii) an auditor’s report, (iii) the statutory financial statements and (iv) notes to the statutory financial statements.
The insurer information sheet shall state, among other matters, (i) whether the general purpose financial statements of the insurer for the relevant year have been audited and an unqualified opinion issued, (ii) the minimum margin of solvency applying to the insurer and whether such margin was met, (iii) whether or not the minimum liquidity ratio applying to the insurer for the relevant year was met and (iv) whether or not the insurer has complied with every condition attached to its certificate of registration. The insurer information sheet shall state if any of the questions identified in items (ii), (iii) or (iv) above is answered in the negative, whether or not the insurer has taken corrective action in any case and, where the insurer has taken such action, describe the action in an attached statement.
The directors are required to certify whether the minimum solvency margin has been met, and the independent approved auditor is required to state whether in its opinion it was reasonable for the directors to make this certification.
Where an insurer’s accounts have been audited for any purpose other than compliance with the Insurance Act, a statement to that effect must be filed with the statutory financial return.
In addition, each year the insurer is required to file with the BMA a capital and solvency return along with its annual statutory financial return. The prescribed form of capital and solvency return comprises the insurer’s Bermuda Solvency Capital Requirement (“BSCR”) model or an approved internal capital model in lieu thereof, together with such schedules as prescribed by the Insurance (Prudential Standards) (Class 3A Solvency Requirement) Rules 2011 for Class 3A insurers and the Insurance (Prudential Standards) (Class 4 and 3B Solvency Requirement) Rules 2008 for Class 3B insurers, respectively, as each are amended from time to time.
Neither the statutory financial return nor the capital and solvency return is available for public inspection.
Quarterly Financial Return
A Class 3B insurer, not otherwise subject to group supervision, is required to prepare and file quarterly financial returns with the BMA on or before the last day of the months of May, August and November of each year. The quarterly financial returns consist of (i) quarterly unaudited financial statements for each financial quarter (which must minimally include a balance sheet and income statement and must also be recent and not reflect a financial position that exceeds two months), (ii) a list and details of material intra-group transactions that the Class 3B insurer is a party to and the Class 3B insurer’s risk concentrations that have materialized since the most recent quarterly or annual financial returns, details surrounding all intra-group reinsurance and retrocession arrangements and other intra-group risk transfer insurance business arrangements that have materialized since the most recent quarterly or annual financial returns and (iii) details of the ten largest exposures to
unaffiliated counterparties and any other unaffiliated counterparty exposures exceeding 10% of the Class 3B insurer’s statutory capital and surplus.
Pursuant to recent amendments to the Insurance Act, all commercial insurers and insurance groups are required to prepare and file with the BMA, and also publish on their web site, a financial condition report. The BMA has discretion to approve modifications and exemptions to the public disclosure rules on application by the insurer if, among other things, the BMA is satisfied that the disclosure of certain information will result in a competitive disadvantage or compromise confidentiality obligations of the insurer.
Independent Approved Auditor
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer must each appoint an independent auditor who will audit and report on the insurer’s GAAP financial statements and statutory financial statements, each of which are required to be filed annually with the BMA. The auditor must be approved by the BMA as the independent auditor of the insurer. If the insurer fails to appoint an approved auditor or at any time fails to fill a vacancy for such auditor, the BMA may appoint an approved auditor for the insurer and shall fix the remuneration to be paid to the approved auditor within 14 days, if not agreed sooner by the insurer and the auditor.
No Class 3A insurer or Class 3B insurer may engage in non-insurance business unless that non-insurance business is ancillary to its core business. Non-insurance business means any business other than insurance business and includes carrying on investment business, managing an investment fund as operator, carrying on business as a fund administrator, carrying on banking business, underwriting debt or securities or otherwise engaging in investment banking, engaging in commercial or industrial activities and carrying on the business of management, sales or leasing of real property.
Minimum Liquidity Ratio
The Insurance Act provides a minimum liquidity ratio for general business insurers. A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer engaged in general business is required to maintain the value of its relevant assets at not less than 75% of the amount of its relevant liabilities. Relevant assets include cash and time deposits, quoted investments, unquoted bonds and debentures, first liens on real estate, investment income due and accrued, accounts and premiums receivable, reinsurance balances receivable, funds held by ceding reinsurers and any other assets which the BMA, on application in any particular case made to it with reasons, accepts in that case.
There are certain categories of assets which, unless specifically permitted by the BMA, do not automatically qualify as relevant assets, such as unquoted equity securities, investments in and advances to affiliates and real estate and collateral loans.
The relevant liabilities are total general business insurance reserves and total other liabilities less deferred income taxes and letters of credit, guarantees and other instruments.
Minimum Solvency Margin and Enhanced Capital Requirements
The Insurance Act provides that the value of the statutory assets of an insurer must exceed the value of its statutory liabilities by an amount greater than its prescribed minimum solvency margin (“MSM”).
The MSM that must be maintained by a Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer with respect to its general business is the greater of (i) $1,000,000, (ii) 20% of the first $6,000,000 of net premiums written (but if the net premiums written are in excess of $6,000,000, the figure is $1,200,000 plus 15% of net premiums written in excess of $6,000,000) or (iii) 15% of the aggregate of net loss and loss expense provisions and other insurance reserves or (iv) 25% of the ECR (as defined below) as reported at the end of the relevant year.
Class 3A insurers and Class 3B insurers are also required to maintain available statutory economic capital and surplus at a level equal to or in excess of its enhanced capital requirement (“ECR”) which is established by reference to either the BSCR model or an approved internal capital model.
The BSCR model is a risk-based capital model which provides a method for determining an insurer’s capital requirements (statutory economic capital and surplus) by taking into account the risk characteristics of different aspects of the insurer’s business. The BSCR formula establishes capital requirements for ten categories of risk: fixed income investment risk, equity investment risk, interest rate/liquidity risk, currency risk, concentration risk, premium risk, reserve risk, credit risk, catastrophe risk and operational risk. For each category, the capital requirement is determined by applying factors to asset, premium, reserve, creditor, probable maximum loss and operation items, with higher factors applied to items with greater underlying risk and lower factors for less risky items.
While not specifically referred to in the Insurance Act (or required thereunder), the BMA has also established a target capital level (“TCL”) for each Class 3A insurer and Class 3B insurer equal to 120% of its ECR. The TCL serves as an early warning tool for the BMA, and failure to maintain statutory capital at least equal to the TCL will likely result in increased regulatory oversight.
Any insurer which at any time fails to meet its MSM requirements must, upon becoming aware of such failure, immediately notify the BMA and, within 14 days thereafter, file a written report with the BMA containing particulars of the circumstances that gave rise to the failure and setting out its plan detailing specific actions to be taken and the expected timeframe in which the insurer intends to rectify the failure.
Any insurer which at any time fails to meet its applicable enhanced capital requirement shall, upon becoming aware of that failure or of having reason to believe that such a failure has occurred, immediately notify the BMA in writing and within 14 days of such notification file with the BMA a written report containing particulars of the circumstances leading to the failure, and a plan detailing the manner, specific actions to be taken and time within which the insurer intends to rectify the failure, and within 45 days of becoming aware of that failure or of having reason to believe that such a failure has occurred, furnish the BMA with (i) unaudited statutory economic balance sheets and unaudited interim statutory financial statements prepared in accordance with GAAP covering such period as the BMA may require; (ii) the opinion of a loss reserve specialist in relation to the total general business insurance technical provisions as set out in the economic balance sheet, where applicable; (iii) a general business solvency certificate in respect of the financial statements; and (iv) a capital and solvency return reflecting an enhanced capital requirement prepared using post failure data where applicable.
To enable the BMA to better assess the quality of an insurer’s capital resources, a Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each required to disclose the makeup of its capital in accordance with the recently introduced “3-tiered eligible capital system”. Under this system, all of the insurer’s capital instruments will be classified as either basic or ancillary capital which in turn will be classified into one of three tiers based on their “loss absorbency” characteristics. Highest quality capital will be classified Tier 1 Capital, and lesser quality capital will be classified as either Tier 2 Capital or Tier 3 Capital. Under this regime, up to certain specified percentages of Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital may be used to support the insurer’s MSM, ECR and TCL.
The characteristics of the capital instruments that must be satisfied to qualify as Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital are set out in the Insurance (Eligible Capital) Rules 2012, and amendments thereto. Under these rules, Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 Capital may, until January 1, 2026, include capital instruments that do not satisfy the requirement that the instrument be non-redeemable or settled only with the issuance of an instrument of equal or higher quality upon a breach, or if it would cause a breach, of the ECR.
Where the BMA has previously approved the use of certain instruments for capital purposes, the BMA’s consent will need to be obtained if such instruments are to remain eligible for use in satisfying the MSM and the ECR.
Code of Conduct
The Insurance Code of Conduct (the “Insurance Code”) prescribes the duties, standards, procedures and sound business principles that must be complied with by all insurers registered under the Insurance Act. The BMA will assess an insurer’s compliance with the Insurance Code in a proportional manner relative to the nature, scale and complexity of its business. Failure to comply with the requirements of the Insurance Code will be taken into account by the BMA in determining whether an insurer is conducting its business in a sound and prudent manner as prescribed by the Insurance Act, may result in the BMA exercising its powers of intervention and investigation (see below) and will be a factor in calculating the operational risk charge under the insurer’s BSCR or approved internal model.
Restrictions on Dividends and Distributions
A Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer are each prohibited from declaring or paying a dividend if it is in breach of its MSM, ECR or minimum liquidity ratio or if the declaration or payment of such dividend would cause such a breach. Where an insurer fails to meet its MSM or minimum liquidity ratio on the last day of any financial year, it will be prohibited from declaring or paying any dividends during the next financial year without the approval of the BMA.
In addition, a Class 3A insurer and a Class 3B insurer is prohibited from declaring or paying in any financial year dividends of more than 25% of its total statutory capital and surplus (as shown on its previous financial year’s statutory balance sheet), unless it files (at least seven days before payment of such dividends) with the BMA an affidavit signed by at least two directors (one of whom must be a Bermuda resident director if any of the insurer’s directors are resident in Bermuda) and the principal representative stating that it will continue to meet its solvency margin and minimum liquidity ratio. Where such an affidavit is filed, it shall be available for public inspection at the offices of the BMA.
Reduction of Capital
No Class 3A insurer or Class 3B insurer may reduce its total statutory capital by 15% or more, as set out in its previous year’s financial statements, unless it has received the prior approval of the BMA. Total statutory capital consists of the insurer’s paid in share capital, its contributed surplus (sometimes called additional paid in capital) and any other fixed capital designated by the BMA as statutory capital (such as letters of credit).
A Class 3A insurer or Class 3B insurer seeking to reduce its respective statutory capital by 15% or more, as set out in its previous year’s financial statements, is also required to submit an affidavit signed by at least two directors (one of whom must be a Bermuda-resident director if any of the insurer’s directors are resident in Bermuda) and the principal representative stating that the proposed reduction will not cause it to fail its relevant margins and such other information as the BMA may require. Where such an affidavit is filed, it shall be available for public inspection at the offices of the BMA.
On July 30, 2018, the Insurance Amendment (No. 2) Act 2018 amended the Insurance Act to provide for the prior payment of policyholders’ liabilities ahead of general unsecured creditors in the event of the liquidation or winding up of an insurer. The amendments provide inter alia that, subject to the prior payment of preferential debts under the Employment Act 2000 and the Companies Act, the insurance debts of an insurer must be paid in priority to all other unsecured debts of the insurer. Insurance debt is defined as a debt to which an insurer is or may become liable pursuant to an insurance contract, excluding debts owed to an insurer under an insurance contract where the insurer is the person insured. Insurance contract is defined as any contract of insurance, capital redemption contract or a contract that has been recorded as insurance business in the financial statements of the insurer pursuant to the Insurance Accounts 1981 or the Insurance Account Rules 2016, as applicable. The provisions became effective on January 1, 2019.
Fit and Proper Controller
The BMA maintains supervision over the controllers of all registered insurers in Bermuda.
A controller includes (i) the managing director of the registered insurer or its parent company, (ii) the chief executive of the registered insurer or of its parent company, (iii) a shareholder controller, and (iv) any person in accordance with whose directions or instructions the directors of the registered insurer or of its parent company are accustomed to act.
The definition of shareholder controller is set out in the Insurance Act, but generally refers to (i) a person who holds 10% or more of the shares carrying rights to vote at a shareholders’ meeting of the registered insurer or its parent company, (ii) a person who is entitled to exercise 10% or more of the voting power at any shareholders’ meeting of such registered insurer or its parent company, or (iii) a person who is able to exercise significant influence over the management of the registered insurer or its parent company by virtue of its shareholding or its entitlement to exercise, or control the exercise of, the voting power at any shareholders’ meeting.
A shareholder controller that owns 10% or more, but less than 20% of the shares as described above is defined as a 10% shareholder controller. A shareholder controller that owns 20% or more, but less than 33% of the shares as described above is defined as a 20% shareholder controller. A shareholder controller that owns 33% or more but less than 50% of the shares as described above is defined as a 33% shareholder controller. A shareholder controller that owns 50% or more of the shares as described above is defined as a 50% shareholder controller.
As the shares of Carolina Re’s and JRG Re’s parent company are traded on a recognized stock exchange, a person who becomes a 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% shareholder controller of the insurer, shall, within 45 days, notify the BMA in writing that he or she has become such a controller. In addition, a person who is a shareholder controller of Carolina Re or JRG Re must serve on the BMA a notice in writing that he or she has reduced or disposed of his or her holding in the insurer where the proportion of voting rights in the insurer held by him or her will have reached or has fallen below 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% as the case may be, not later than 45 days after such disposal.
Any person who contravenes the Insurance Act by failing to give notice or knowingly becomes a controller of any description before the required 45 days has elapsed is guilty of an offence and liable to a fine of $25,000 on summary conviction.
The BMA may file a notice of objection to any person who has become a controller of any description where it appears that such person is not or is no longer, a fit and proper person to be a controller of the registered insurer. Before issuing a notice of objection, the BMA is required to serve upon the person concerned a preliminary written notice stating the BMA’s intention to issue formal notice of objection. Upon receipt of the preliminary written notice, the person served may, within 28 days, file written representations with the BMA, which shall be taken into account by the BMA in making their final determination. Any person who continues to be a controller of any description after having received a notice of objection shall be guilty of an
offense and shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine of $25,000 (and a continuing fine of $500 per day for each day that the offense is continuing) or, if convicted on indictment, to a fine of $100,000 and/or two years in prison.
Notification by Registered Person of Change of Controllers and Officers
All registered insurers are required to give written notice to the BMA of the fact that a person has become, or ceased to be, a controller or officer of the insurer within 45 days of becoming aware of such fact. An officer in relation to a registered insurer means a director, chief executive or senior executive performing duties of underwriting, actuarial, risk management, compliance, internal audit, finance or investment matters.
Notification of Material Changes
All registered insurers are required to give notice to the BMA of their intention to effect a material change within the meaning of the Insurance Act. For the purposes of the Insurance Act, the following changes are material: (i) the transfer or acquisition of insurance business being part of a scheme falling under Section 25 of the Insurance Act or Section 99 of the Companies Act, (ii) the amalgamation with or acquisition of another firm, (iii) engaging in unrelated business that is retail business, (iv) the acquisition of a controlling interest in an undertaking that is engaged in non-insurance business which offers services and products to persons who are not affiliates of the insurer, (v) outsourcing all or substantially all of the company’s actuarial, risk management compliance or internal audit functions, (vi) outsourcing all or a material part of an insurer’s underwriting activity, (vii) the transfer other than by way of reinsurance of all or substantially all of a line of business, (viii) expansion into a material new line of business, (ix) the sale of an insurer, and (x) outsourcing of an officer role.
No registered insurer shall take any steps to give effect to a material change unless it has first served notice on the BMA that it intends to effect such material change, and before the end of 30 days, either the BMA has notified such company in writing that it has no objection to such change or that period has lapsed without the BMA having issued a notice of objection.
Before issuing a notice of objection, the BMA is required to serve upon the person concerned a preliminary written notice stating the BMA’s intention to issue a formal notice of objection. Upon receipt of the preliminary written notice, the person served may, within 28 days, file written representations with the BMA which shall be taken into account by the BMA in making their final determination.
The BMA may, in respect of an insurance group, determine whether it is appropriate for it to act as its group supervisor. An insurance group is defined as a group of companies that conducts insurance business. The BMA may make such determination where it ascertains that (i) the group is headed by a “specified insurer” (that is to say, it is headed by either a Class 3A, Class 3B or Class 4 general business insurer or a Class C, Class D or Class E long term insurer or another class of insurer designated by order of the BMA); or (ii) where the insurance group is not headed by a “specified insurer”, where it is headed by a parent company which is incorporated in Bermuda or (iii) where the parent company of the group is not a Bermuda company, in circumstances where the BMA is satisfied that the insurance group is directed and managed from Bermuda or the insurer with the largest balance sheet total is a specified insurer.
Where the BMA determines that it should act as the group supervisor, it shall designate a specified insurer that is a member of the insurance group to be the designated insurer (the “Designated Insurer”) and it shall give to the Designated Insurer and other applicable insurance regulatory authority written notice of its intention to act as group supervisor. Before the BMA makes a final determination whether or not to act as group supervisor, it shall take into account any written representations made by the Designated Insurer submitted within such period as is specified in the notice.
The BMA may exclude any company that is a member of an insurance group from group supervision on the application of the Designated Insurer, or on its own initiative, provided the BMA is satisfied that (i) the company is situated in a country or territory where there are legal impediments to cooperation and exchange of information, (ii) the financial operations of the company have a negligible impact on insurance group operations or (iii) the inclusion of the company would be inappropriate with respect to the objectives of group supervision.
The BMA may, on its own initiative or on the application of the relevant Designated Insurer, include within group supervision a company that is a member of the group that is not on the Register of Group Particulars (described below) if it is satisfied the financial operations of the company in question may have a material impact on the insurance group’s operations and its inclusion would be appropriate having regard to the objectives of group supervision.
Once the BMA has been designated as group supervisor, the Designated Insurer must ensure that the insurance group of which it is a member appoints (i) an individual approved by the BMA who is qualified as a group actuary to provide an opinion on the insurance group’s insurance technical provisions in accordance with the requirements of Schedule XIV “Group Statutory Economic Balance Sheet” of the Insurance (Prudential Standards) (Insurance Group Solvency Requirement) Rules 2011 and (ii) an auditor approved by the BMA to audit the financial statements of the group.
Pursuant to its powers under the Insurance Act, the BMA will maintain a register of particulars for every insurance group (the “Register of Group Particulars”) for which it acts as the group supervisor, detailing the names and addresses of (i) the Designated Insurer; (ii) each member company of the insurance group falling within the scope of group supervision; (iii) the principal representative of the insurance group in Bermuda; (iv) other competent authorities supervising other member companies of the insurance group; and (v) the insurance group auditors. The Designated Insurer must immediately notify the BMA of any changes to the above details entered on the Register of Group Particulars.
As group supervisor, the BMA will perform a number of supervisory functions including (i) coordinating the gathering and dissemination of relevant or essential information for going concerns and emergency situations, including the dissemination of information which is of importance for the supervisory task of other competent authorities; (ii) carrying out supervisory reviews and assessments of the insurance group; (iii) carrying out assessments of the insurance group’s compliance with the rules on solvency, risk concentration, intra-group transactions and good governance procedures; (iv) planning and coordinating through regular meetings held at least annually (or by other appropriate means) with other competent authorities, supervisory activities in respect of the insurance group, both as a going concern and in emergency situations; (v) coordinating enforcement actions that may need to be taken against the insurance group or any of its members; and (vi) planning and coordinating meetings of colleges of supervisors in order to facilitate the carrying out of the functions described above.
The BMA may, for the purposes of group supervision, make rules applying to Designated Insurers which take into account any activities of the insurance group of which they are members or of other members of the insurance group. Such rules may make provision for the assessment of the financial situation of the insurance group; the solvency position of the insurance group (including the imposition of prudential standards in relation to enhanced capital requirements, capital and solvency returns, insurance reserves and eligible capital that must be complied with by the Designated Insurers); the system of governance and risk management of the insurance group; intra-group transactions and risk concentrations; and supervisory reporting and disclosure in respect of the insurance group.
Supervision, Investigation, Intervention and Disclosure
The BMA may, by notice in writing served on a registered person or a designated insurer, require the registered person or designated insurer to provide such information and/or documentation as the BMA may reasonably require with respect to matters that are likely to be material to the performance of its supervisory functions under the Insurance Act. In addition, it may require such person’s auditor, underwriter, accountant or any other person with relevant professional skill of such registered person or designated insurer to prepare a report on any aspect pertaining thereto. In the case of a report, the person so appointed shall immediately give the BMA written notice of any fact or matter of which he becomes aware or which indicates to him that any condition attaching to his registration under the Insurance Act is not or has not, or may not be or may not have, been fulfilled and that such matters are likely to be material to the performance of its functions under the Insurance Act. If it appears to the BMA to be desirable in the interests of the clients of a registered person or relevant insurance group, the BMA may also exercise these powers in relation to subsidiaries, parent companies and other affiliates of the registered person or designated insurer.
If the BMA deems it necessary to protect the interests of the policyholders or potential policyholders of an insurer or insurance group, it may appoint one or more competent persons to investigate and report on the nature, conduct or state of the insurer’s or the insurance group’s business, or any aspect thereof, or the ownership or control of the insurer or insurance group. If the person so appointed thinks it necessary for the purposes of the investigation, such person may also investigate the business of any person who is or has been, at any relevant time, a member of the insurance group or of a partnership of which the person being investigated is a member. In this regard, it shall be the duty of every person who is or was a controller, officer, employee, agent, banker, auditor, accountant, barrister and attorney or insurance manager to produce to the person appointed such documentation as the appointed person may reasonably require for purposes of the investigation, and to attend and answer questions relevant to the investigation and to otherwise provide such assistance as may be necessary in connection therewith.
Where the BMA suspects that a person has failed to properly register under the Insurance Act or that a registered person or designated insurer has failed to comply with a requirement of the Insurance Act or that a person is not, or is no longer, a fit and proper person to perform functions in relation to a regulated activity, it may, by notice in writing, carry out an investigation into such person (or any other person connected thereto). In connection therewith, the BMA may require every person who is or was a controller, officer, employee, agent, banker, auditor, accountant, barrister and attorney or insurance manager to make a report and produce such documents in his care, custody and control and to attend before the BMA to answer questions relevant to the BMA’s investigation and to take such actions as the BMA may direct. The BMA may also enter any premises for the purposes of carrying out its investigation and may petition the court for a warrant if it believes a person has failed to comply with a notice served on him, there are reasonable grounds for suspecting the information or documentation produced in response to such notice is incomplete, or that its directions will not be complied with or that any relevant documents would be removed, tampered with or destroyed.
If it appears to the BMA that the business of the registered insurer is being conducted in a way that there is a significant risk of the insurer becoming insolvent or being unable to meet its obligations to policyholders, or that the insurer is in breach of the Insurance Act or any conditions imposed upon its registration, or the minimum criteria stipulated in the Insurance Act is not or has not been fulfilled in respect of a registered insurer, or that a person has become a controller without providing the BMA with the appropriate notice or in contravention of a notice of objection, or the registered insurer is in breach of its ECR, or that a designated insurer is in breach of any provision of the Insurance Act or the regulations or rules applicable to it, the BMA may issue such directions as it deems desirable for safeguarding the interests of policyholders or potential policyholders of the insurer or the insurance group. The BMA may, among other things, direct an insurer, for itself and in its capacity as designated insurer of the insurance group of which it is a member, (i) not to take on any new insurance business, (ii) not to vary any insurance contract if the effect would be to increase the insurer’s liabilities, (iii) not to make certain investments, (iv) to realize certain investments, (v) to maintain in or transfer to the custody of a specified bank, certain assets, (vi) not to declare or pay any dividends or other distributions or to restrict the making of such payments, (vii) to limit its premium income, (viii) not to enter into specified transactions with any specified person or persons of a specified class, (ix) to provide such written particulars relating to the financial circumstances of the insurer as the BMA thinks fit, (x) as an individual insurer only, and not in its capacity as designated insurer, to obtain the opinion of a loss reserve specialist and submit it to the BMA, and/or (xi) to remove a controller or officer.
The BMA has the power to assist other regulatory authorities, including foreign insurance regulatory authorities, with their investigations involving insurance and reinsurance companies in Bermuda if it is satisfied that the assistance being requested is in connection with the discharge of regulatory responsibilities and that such cooperation is in the public interest. The grounds for disclosure by the BMA to a foreign regulatory authority without consent of the insurer are limited and the Insurance Act provides for sanctions for breach of the statutory duty of confidentiality.
Cancellation of Insurer’s Registration
An insurer’s registration may be cancelled by the BMA at the request of the insurer or on certain grounds specified in the Insurance Act. Failure by the insurer to comply with its obligations under the Insurance Act, or if the BMA believes that the insurer has not been carrying on business in accordance with sound insurance principles, would be examples of such grounds.
Certain Other Bermuda Law Considerations
Corporate Bermuda Law Considerations
Although James River Group Holdings, Ltd. is incorporated in Bermuda, it is designated as a non-resident for Bermuda exchange control purposes by the BMA. Pursuant to its non-resident status, James River Group Holdings, Ltd. may engage in transactions in currencies other than the Bermuda dollar, and there are no restrictions on its ability to transfer funds (other than funds denominated in Bermuda dollars) in and out of Bermuda or to pay dividends to non-residents who are holders of its common shares in currencies other than the Bermuda dollar.
In accordance with Bermuda law, share certificates are issued only in the names of companies, partnerships or individuals. In the case of an applicant acting in a special capacity (for example, as an executor or trustee), certificates may, at the request of the applicant, record the capacity in which the applicant is acting. Notwithstanding the recording of any such special capacity, we are not bound to investigate or see to the execution of any such trust. We will take no notice of any trust applicable to any of our common shares whether or not we have notice of such trust.
Each of James River Group Holdings, Ltd., Carolina Re and JRG Re is incorporated in Bermuda as an “exempted company.” Under Bermuda law, exempted companies are companies formed for the purpose of conducting business outside Bermuda from a principal place of business in Bermuda. As a result, they are exempt from Bermuda laws restricting the percentage of share capital that may be held by non-Bermudians. However, exempted companies may not participate in certain business transactions, including: (i) the acquisition or holding of land in Bermuda except that required for their business and held by way of lease or tenancy for a term not exceeding 50 years or, with the consent of the Minister of Finance granted in his discretion by way of lease or tenancy for a term not exceeding 21 years in order to provide accommodation or recreational facilities for its officers and employees, (ii) the taking of mortgages on land in Bermuda to secure an amount in excess of B.D.$50,000 without the consent of the Minister of Finance, (iii) the acquisition of any bonds or debentures secured by any land in Bermuda, other than certain types of Bermuda government securities or securities issued by Bermuda public authorities, or (iv) the carrying on of business of any kind in Bermuda, except in furtherance of business carried on outside Bermuda or under license granted by the Minister of Finance . Generally, it is not permitted without a special license granted by the Minister of Finance to insure Bermuda domestic risks or risks of persons of, in or based in Bermuda. Each of Carolina Re and JRG Re is a licensed insurer in Bermuda, and so it may carry on activities from Bermuda that are related to and in support of its insurance business.
Each of James River Group Holdings, Ltd., Carolina Re and JRG Re must comply with the provisions of the Companies Act regulating the payment of dividends and making distributions from contributed surplus. A company may not declare or pay
a dividend, or make a distribution out of contributed surplus, if there are reasonable grounds for believing that (i) it is, or would after the payment be, unable to pay its liabilities as they become due, or (ii) the realizable value of the assets would thereby be less than its liabilities. In addition, certain provisions of the Insurance Act will limit our ability to pay dividends.
Under the Companies Act, where a Bermuda company issues shares at a premium (that is, for a price above the par value), whether for cash or otherwise, a sum equal to the aggregate amount or value of the premium on those shares must be transferred to an account called “the share premium account.” The provisions of the Companies Act relating to the reduction of the share capital of a company apply as if the share premium account were paid up share capital of that company, except for certain matters such as: (i) paying up unissued shares to be issued to members as fully paid bonus shares, (ii) writing off the preliminary expenses of the company or the expenses of, or the commission paid or discount allowed on any issue of shares or debentures of the company, or (iii) providing for the premiums payable on redemption of shares or of any debentures of the company. The paid up share capital may not be reduced if, on the date the reduction is to be effected, there are reasonable grounds for believing that the company is, or after the reduction would be, unable to pay its liabilities as they become due. See “- Restrictions on Dividends and Distributions”.
Securities may be offered or sold in Bermuda only in compliance with the provisions of the Investment Business Act 2003 and the Exchange Control Act 1972 and related regulations of Bermuda which regulate the sale of securities in Bermuda. In addition, the permission of the BMA is required under the provisions of the Exchange Control Act 1972 and related regulations for all issuances and transfers of shares of Bermuda companies to or from a non-resident of Bermuda for exchange control purposes, other than in cases where the BMA has granted a general permission. The BMA, in its notice to the public dated June 1, 2005, has granted a general permission for the issue and subsequent transfer of any securities of a Bermuda company from and/or to a non-resident of Bermuda for exchange control purposes for so long as any “equity securities” of the company (which would include our common shares) are listed on an “Appointed Stock Exchange” (which would include the NASDAQ Stock Market). In granting the general permission, the BMA accepts no responsibility for our financial soundness or the correctness of any of the statements made or opinions expressed herein.
We have received consent from the BMA to issue, grant, create, sell and transfer freely any of our shares, stock, bonds, notes (other than promissory notes), debentures, debenture stock, units under a unit trust scheme, shares in an oil royalty, options, warrants, coupons, rights and depository receipts to and among persons who are either resident or non-resident of Bermuda for exchange control purposes.
Bermuda Work Permit Considerations
Under Bermuda law, non-Bermudians (other than spouses of Bermudians and individuals holding permanent resident’s certificates) may not engage in any gainful occupation in Bermuda without the appropriate government standard work permit.
Standard work permits can be obtained for a one-, two-, three-, four- or five-year period. Where a standard work permit is being applied for, it is a requirement that the job must be advertised for three days (within an eight-day period) in the local newspaper in addition to the Bermuda Government Job Board. Should no Bermudian (or spouse of a Bermudian or holder of a permanent resident’s certificate) meet the minimum standards as stipulated in the advertisements, the employer may then apply for a standard work permit for the non-Bermudian. Employers must complete a Recruitment Disclosure Form and provide information, including the qualifications of all applicants. The Department of Immigration will compare the qualifications and experience of any Bermudian applicants (or spouse of a Bermudian or holder of a permanent resident’s certificate) to that stipulated in the advertisements and to the non-Bermudian to be satisfied that the role could not have been filled by a Bermudian (or spouse of a Bermudian or holder of a permanent resident’s certificate). In addition to the advertising, there are also many other documents that are required prior to the Department of Immigration making its decision.
If the position for which the standard work permit is being applied is that of a Chief Executive Officer or other chief officer post, the Minister of Home Affairs will waive the requirement to advertise the job and on occasion may waive the requirement to advertise for other senior executive positions.
If an employer wishes to change an employee’s job title, provided that the job description, duties, remuneration and benefits remain unchanged, the employer does not need to advertise or obtain the permission of the Minister of Home Affairs to do this, but it must inform the Department of Immigration and pay the necessary fee after the change has occurred.
If an employer wishes to promote an employee currently on a work permit from his current job to another within the same business, the permission of the Minister of Home Affairs must first be obtained. The employer will need to provide evidence of internal recruitment efforts and consideration of internal Bermudian candidates.
A temporary work permit can take up to 10 working days to process and a standard work permit can take up to four weeks to process.
U.S. Insurance Regulation
Our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are subject to extensive regulation and supervision by their state of domicile, as well as those states in which they do business. The purpose of such regulation and supervision is primarily to provide safeguards for policyholders, rather than to protect the interests of shareholders. The insurance laws of the various states establish regulatory agencies with broad administrative powers, including the power to grant or revoke operating licenses and regulate trade practices, investments, premium rates, deposits of securities, the form and content of financial statements and insurance policies, dividend limitations, cancellation and non-renewal of policies, accounting practices and the maintenance of specified reserves and capital for the protection of policyholders.
The payment of dividends by our subsidiaries to us is limited by statute. In general, the laws and regulations applicable to our domestic insurance subsidiaries limit the aggregate amount of dividends or other distributions that they may declare or pay within any 12 month period without advance regulatory approval. In Ohio, the domiciliary state of James River Insurance and Falls Lake National Insurance Company (formerly Stonewood National Insurance Company) (“Falls Lake National”), the limitation is the greater of statutory net income for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of the earned surplus of each of the companies without obtaining regulatory approvals. In North Carolina, the domiciliary state of Stonewood Insurance, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income excluding realized capital gains for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of unassigned surplus without obtaining regulatory approval. In Virginia, the domiciliary state of James River Casualty Company, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income excluding realized capital gains of the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of unassigned surplus without obtaining regulatory approval. In California, the domiciliary state of Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of unassigned surplus without obtaining regulatory approval. Moreover, as a condition to obtaining its license in California, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company provided a commitment to the California Department of Insurance that it would not pay any shareholder dividends for a five-year period commencing January 1, 2016. In addition, insurance regulators have broad powers to prevent reduction of statutory surplus to inadequate levels and could refuse to permit the payment of dividends calculated under any applicable formula.
Premium rate regulation varies greatly among jurisdictions and lines of insurance. In most states in which our subsidiaries write insurance, premium rates for the various lines of insurance are subject to either prior approval or limited review upon implementation. States require rates for property-casualty insurance that are adequate, not excessive, and not unfairly discriminatory.
Our insurance subsidiaries are required to file quarterly and annual reports with the appropriate regulatory agency in its state of domicile and with The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (“NAIC”) based on applicable statutory regulations, which differ from U.S. generally accepted accounting principles. Their business and accounts are subject to examination by such agencies at any time.
Many jurisdictions have laws and regulations that limit an insurer’s ability to withdraw from a particular market. For example, states may limit an insurer’s ability to cancel or non-renew policies. Furthermore, certain states prohibit an insurer from withdrawing one or more lines of business from the states, except pursuant to a plan approved by the state insurance department. Laws and regulations that limit cancellation and non-renewal and that subject program withdrawals to prior approval requirements may restrict our ability to exit unprofitable marketplaces in a timely manner.
State laws governing insurance holding companies and insurance companies require an insurance holding company and their insurance subsidiaries to register with the insurance department authority, to file certain reports disclosing information, including but not limited to capital structure, ownership, management, and financial condition. Such holding company laws also impose standards and filing requirements on certain transactions between related companies, which include, among other requirements, that all transactions be fair and reasonable, that an insurer’s surplus as regards policyholders be reasonable and adequate in relation to its liabilities and that expenses and payments be allocated to the appropriate party in accordance with customary accounting practices. These transactions between related companies include transfers of assets, loans, reinsurance agreements, service agreements, certain dividend payments by the insurance companies and certain other material transactions and modifications to such transactions. In 2012, the NAIC adopted significant changes to the insurance holding company act and regulations (the “NAIC Amendments”). The NAIC Amendments, when adopted by the various states, are designed to respond to perceived gaps in the regulation of insurance holding company systems in the United States. One of the major changes is a requirement that an insurance holding company system’s ultimate controlling person submit annually to its lead state insurance regulator an “enterprise risk report” that identifies activities, circumstances or events involving one or more affiliates of an insurer that, if not remedied properly, are likely to have a material adverse effect upon the financial condition or
liquidity of the insurer or its insurance holding company system as a whole. Other changes include (i) requiring a controlling person to submit prior notice to its domiciliary insurance regulator of its divestiture of control, (ii) having detailed minimum requirements for cost sharing and management agreements between an insurer and its affiliates and (iii) expanding the types of agreements between an insurer and its affiliates to be filed with its domiciliary insurance regulator. The NAIC Amendments must be adopted by a state legislature and such state’s insurance regulator in order to be effective in that state. Each of California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, the states in which our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are domiciled, include this enterprise risk report. In addition, in 2012, the NAIC adopted the Risk Management and Own Risk and Solvency Assessment Model Act (the “ORSA Model Act”). The ORSA Model Act, when adopted by the various states, will require an insurance holding company system’s Chief Risk Officer to submit at least annually to its lead state insurance regulator an Own Risk and Solvency Assessment Summary Report (“ORSA”). The ORSA is a confidential internal assessment, appropriate to the nature, scale and complexity of an insurer, of the material and relevant risks identified by the insurer associated with an insurer’s current business plan and the sufficiency of capital resources to support those risks. The ORSA Model Act must be adopted by a state legislature in order to be effective in that state. Each of California, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, the states in which our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are domiciled, adopted and require an ORSA filing.
The insurance holding company laws and regulations of the states in which our insurance companies are domiciled also generally require that before a person can acquire direct or indirect control of an insurer domiciled in the state, and in some cases prior to divesting its control, prior written approval must be obtained from the insurer’s domiciliary state insurance regulator. In addition to insurance holding company laws and regulations, under the organizational permit issued by the California Department of Insurance to Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, as a new insurer, was required to enter into an agreement with Falls Lake National restricting the transfer of Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company’s shares (the “Agreement Restricting Shares”) for a five-year period commencing January 1, 2016. Specifically, under the agreement, the restriction on share transfer is released automatically without further approval or consent by the California Department of Insurance, or any other party, at the following respective times: 5% at the end of the first year of the 5-year restriction period; an additional 5% at the end of the second year; an additional 10% at the end of the third year; an additional 20% at the end of the fourth year; and the remainder at the end of the fifth year. Therefore, under the organizational permit and the Agreement Restricting Shares, Falls Lake National’s ability to directly or indirectly transfer the shares of Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company to anyone without the prior written approval of the California Department of Insurance is limited. These laws and the similar conditions applicable to Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company’s shares may discourage potential acquisition proposals and may delay, deter or prevent an investment in or a change of control involving us, or one or more of our regulated subsidiaries, including transactions that our management and some or all of our shareholders might consider desirable. Pursuant to applicable laws and regulations, “control” over an insurer is generally presumed to exist if any person, directly or indirectly, owns, controls, holds the power to vote or holds proxies representing, 10 percent or more of the voting securities of that insurer. Indirect ownership includes ownership of the Company’s common shares.
Under state insurance guaranty fund laws, insurance companies doing business in a state can be assessed for certain obligations of insolvent insurance companies to such insolvent companies’ policyholders and claimants. Maximum assessments allowed in any one year generally vary between one percent and two percent of annual premiums written in that state, but it is possible that caps on such assessments could be raised if there are numerous or large insolvencies. In most states, guaranty fund assessments are recoverable either through future policy surcharges or offsets to state premium tax liabilities.
The admitted market is subject to more state regulation than the E&S market, particularly with regard to rate and form filing requirements, restrictions on the ability to exit lines of business, premium tax payments and membership in various state associations, such as guaranty funds. Some states have deregulated their commercial insurance markets. We cannot predict the effect that further deregulation would have on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The state insurance regulators utilize a risk-based capital model to help assess the capital and surplus adequacy of insurance companies in relation to investment and insurance risks and identify insurers that are in, or are perceived as approaching, financial difficulty. This model establishes minimum capital needs based on the risks applicable to the operations of the individual insurer. The risk-based capital requirements for property-casualty insurance companies measure three major areas of risk: asset risk, credit risk and underwriting risk. Under risk-based capital requirements, regulatory compliance is determined by the ratio of a company’s total adjusted capital, as defined by the NAIC, to its company action level risk-based capital. Companies having less statutory surplus than required by the risk-based capital requirements are subject to varying degrees of regulatory scrutiny and intervention, depending on the severity of the inadequacy. At December 31, 2018, the Company’s U.S.-based insurance subsidiaries had total adjusted statutory capital of $241.7 million, which is in excess of the minimum risk-based capital requirement.
In response to the growing threat of cyber-attacks in the insurance industry, certain jurisdictions have begun to consider new cybersecurity measures, including the adoption of cybersecurity laws and regulations which, among other things, would require insurance companies to establish and maintain a cybersecurity program and implement and maintain cybersecurity policies and procedures. On October 24, 2017, the NAIC adopted its Insurance Data Security Model Law, intended to serve as
model legislation for states to enact in order to govern cybersecurity and data protection practices of insurers, insurance agents, and other licensed entities registered under state insurance laws. The New York Department of Financial Services issued new regulations governing cybersecurity requirements for financial services companies, which became effective on March 1, 2017. Ohio’s governor signed Substitute Senate Bill 273 (“SSB 273”) on December 19, 2018, which adopted cybersecurity requirements in Ohio that are similar to the NAIC Insurance Data Security Model Law. SSB 273 will become effective in early 2019. We are currently monitoring whether the other states in which we conduct business adopt the NAIC’s Insurance Data Security Model Law.
From time to time, states consider and/or enact laws that may alter or increase state authority to regulate insurance companies and insurance holding companies. States also consider and/or enact laws that impact the competitive environment and marketplace for property-casualty insurance. Changes in legislation or regulations and actions by regulators, including changes in administrative and enforcement policies, could require operational modifications from time to time. We cannot predict the effect that such changes or actions would have on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The U.S. federal government generally has not directly regulated the insurance industry except for certain areas of the market, such as insurance for flood, nuclear and terrorism risks. However, the U.S. federal government has undertaken initiatives or considered legislation in several areas that may impact the insurance industry, including tort reform, corporate governance and the taxation of reinsurance companies. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (the “Dodd-Frank Act”) established the Federal Insurance Office which is authorized to study, monitor and report to Congress on the insurance industry and to recommend that the Financial Stability Oversight Council (“FSOC”) designate an insurer as an entity posing risks to the U.S. financial stability in the event of the insurer’s material financial distress or failure. In December 2013, the Federal Insurance Office issued a report on alternatives to modernize and improve the system of insurance regulation in the United States, including by increasing national uniformity through either a federal charter or effective action by the states. Additionally, the Dodd-Frank Act streamlined E&S placements, the payment of E&S taxes, the regulation of credit for reinsurance, and simplified the process for insurers to become an eligible E&S insurer in the U.S. In addition, legislation has been introduced from time to time that, if enacted, could result in the U.S. federal government assuming a more direct role in the regulation of the insurance industry, including federal licensing in addition to or in lieu of state licensing and reinsurance for natural catastrophes. Changes to federal legislation and administrative policies in several areas, including changes in federal taxation, can also significantly impact the insurance industry and us.
On January 12, 2015, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 and its successors, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act of 2005 and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 (collectively, the “Terrorism Acts”), were extended until 2020. Under the Terrorism Acts, commercial property and casualty insurers, in exchange for making terrorism insurance available, may be entitled to be reimbursed by the federal government for a portion of their aggregate losses. As required by the Terrorism Acts, we offer policyholders in specific lines of commercial insurance the option to elect terrorism coverage.
In order for a loss to be covered under the Terrorism Acts, the loss must meet the aggregate industry loss minimum and must be the result of an act of terrorism as certified by the Secretary of the Treasury. Beginning in 2016, insurers participating in the Terrorism Acts are required to provide information regarding insurance coverage for terrorism losses, including: (i) lines of business with exposure to such losses, (ii) premiums earned on such coverage, (iii) geographical location of exposures, (iv) pricing of such coverage, (v) the take-up rate for such coverage, and (vi) the amount of private reinsurance for acts of terrorism purchased.
For each of the years ended December 31, 2018, 2017 and 2016, 100% of our gross written premiums and net earned premiums were generated from policies issued to U.S.-based insureds.
As of December 31, 2018, we had 750 employees located in the United States and Bermuda. All of our employees are full time. Our employees are not subject to any collective bargaining agreement and we are not aware of any current efforts to implement such an agreement. We believe we have good working relations with our employees.
We hold U.S. federal service mark registration of our corporate logo and several other company trademark registrations with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Such registrations protect our intellectual property from confusingly similar use. We monitor our trademarks and service marks and protect them from unauthorized use.
We use licensed and proprietary systems and technologies in our underwriting. The licenses have terms that expire at various times through 2028. We believe that we can utilize other available systems and technologies in the event that the licenses are not renewed upon their expiration.
We file annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K and other information with the SEC. The SEC maintains an Internet web site that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers, including us, that file electronically with the SEC. The address of that site is http://www.sec.gov. Our annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q and current reports on Form 8-K and other information filed by us with the SEC are available, without charge, on our Internet web site, http://www.jrgh.net, as soon as reasonably practicable after they are filed electronically with the SEC. Copies are also available, without charge, by writing to us at James River Group Holdings, Ltd., Wellesley House, 2nd Floor, 90 Pitts Bay Road, Pembroke, HM 08, Bermuda. The information on our web site is not a part of this Annual Report.
You should carefully consider the following risks, together with the cautionary statement under the caption “Special Note Regarding Forward-Looking Statements” above and the other information included in this Annual Report. The risks described below are not the only ones we face. Additional risks that are currently unknown to us or that we currently consider immaterial may also impair our business or materially adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations. If any of the following risks actually occurs, our business, financial condition or results of operation could be materially adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Business and Industry
Our actual incurred losses may be greater than our loss and loss adjustment expense reserves, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Our financial condition and results of operations depend upon our ability to assess accurately the potential losses and loss adjustment expenses under the terms of the insurance policies or reinsurance contracts we underwrite. Reserves do not represent an exact calculation of liability. Rather, reserves represent an estimate of what we expect the ultimate settlement and administration of claims will cost us, and our ultimate liability may be greater or less than current reserves. These estimates are based on our assessment of facts and circumstances then known, as well as estimates of future trends in claim severity, claim frequency, judicial theories of liability and other factors. These variables are affected by both internal and external events that could increase our exposure to losses, including changes in actuarial projections, claims handling procedures, inflation, climate change, economic and judicial trends, and legislative changes. We continually monitor reserves using new information on reported claims and a variety of statistical techniques.
In the insurance and reinsurance industry, there is always the risk that reserves may prove inadequate, and actual results always differ from our reserve estimates. It is possible for insurance and reinsurance companies to underestimate the cost of claims. Our estimates could prove to be low, and this underestimation could have a material adverse effect on our financial strength.
Among the uncertainties we encounter in establishing our reserves for losses and related expenses in connection with our insurance businesses are:
When we write “occurrence” policies in our Excess and Surplus Lines segment, we are obligated to pay covered claims, up to the contractually agreed amount, for any covered loss that occurs while the policy is in force. Losses can emerge many years after a policy has lapsed. Accordingly, our first notice of a claim or group of claims may arise many years after a policy has lapsed. Approximately 93% of our net casualty loss reserves in this segment are associated with “occurrence form” policies at December 31, 2018.
Even when a claim is received (irrespective of whether the policy is a “claims made” or “occurrence” basis form), it may take considerable time to fully appreciate the extent of the covered loss suffered by the insured and, consequently, estimates of loss associated with specific claims can increase over time.
New theories of liability are enforced retroactively from time to time by courts. See also “The effect of emerging claim and coverage issues on our business is uncertain” risk factor herein.
Volatility in the financial markets, economic events and other external factors may result in an increase in the number of claims and the severity of the claims reported. In addition, elevated inflationary conditions could, among other things, cause loss costs to increase.
If claims became more frequent, even if we had no liability for those claims, the cost of evaluating these potential claims could escalate beyond the amount of the reserves we have established. As we enter new lines of business, or as a result of new theories of claims, we may encounter an increase in claims frequency and greater claims handling costs than we had anticipated.
We regularly enter new lines of insurance, and as a consequence, we sometimes have to make estimates of future losses for risk classes with which we do not have a great deal of experience. This lack of experience may contribute to making errors of judgment when establishing reserves.
In addition, reinsurance reserve estimates are typically subject to greater uncertainty than insurance reserve estimates, primarily due to reliance on the original underwriting decisions made by the ceding company. As a result, we are subject to the risk that our ceding companies may not have adequately evaluated the risks reinsured by us and the premiums ceded may not adequately compensate us for the risks we assume. Other factors resulting in additional uncertainty in establishing reinsurance reserves include:
The increased lapse of time from the occurrence of an event to the reporting of the claim and the ultimate resolution or settlement of the claim.
The diversity of development patterns among different types of reinsurance treaties.
The necessary reliance on the ceding company for information regarding claims.
If any of our insurance or reinsurance reserves should prove to be inadequate for the reasons discussed above, or for any other reason, we will be required to increase reserves, resulting in a reduction in our net income and shareholders’ equity in the period in which the deficiency is identified. Future loss experience substantially in excess of established reserves would also have a material adverse effect on future earnings and liquidity and financial rating, which would affect our ability to attract business and could affect our ability to retain or hire qualified personnel.
Our risk management is based on estimates and judgments that are subject to significant uncertainties.
Our approach to risk management relies on subjective variables that entail significant uncertainties. For example, we rely heavily on estimates of probable maximum losses for certain events that are generated by computer-run models. In addition, we rely on historical data and scenarios in managing credit and interest rate risks in our investment portfolio. These estimates, models, data and scenarios may not produce accurate predictions and consequently, we could incur losses both in the risks we underwrite and to the value of our investment portfolio.
Small changes in assumptions, which depend heavily on our judgment and foresight, can have a significant impact on the modeled outputs. Although we believe that these probabilistic measures provide a meaningful indicator of the relative risk of certain events and changes to our business over time, these measures do not predict our actual exposure to, nor guarantee our successful management of, future losses that could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to retain key management and employees or recruit other qualified personnel, we may be materially adversely affected.
We believe that our future success depends, in large part, on our ability to retain our experienced management team and key employees. For instance, our specialty insurance operations require the services of a number of highly experienced employees, including underwriters, to source quality business and analyze and manage our risk exposure. There can be no assurance that we can attract and retain the necessary employees to conduct our business activities on a timely basis or at all. Our competitors may offer more favorable compensation arrangements to our key management or employees to incentivize them to leave our Company. Furthermore, our competitors may make it more difficult for us to hire their personnel by offering excessive compensation arrangements to certain employees to induce them not to leave their current employment and bringing litigation against employees who do leave (and possibly us as well) to join us. Although we have employment agreements with all of our executive officers, we do not have employment agreements with our senior underwriters or claims personnel. We do not have key person insurance on the lives of any of our key management personnel. Our inability to attract and retain qualified personnel and the loss of services of key personnel could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
Adverse economic factors, including recession, inflation, periods of high unemployment or lower economic activity could result in the sale of fewer policies than expected or an increase in frequency or severity of claims and premium defaults or both, which, in turn, could affect our growth and profitability.
Factors such as business revenue, economic conditions, the volatility and strength of the capital markets and inflation can all affect the business and economic environment. These same factors affect our ability to generate revenue and profits. In an economic downturn that is characterized by higher unemployment, declining spending and reduced corporate revenues, the demand for insurance products is adversely affected, which directly affects our premium levels and profitability. Negative economic factors may also affect our ability to receive the appropriate rate for the risk we insure with our policyholders and may adversely affect the number of policies we can write, including with respect to our opportunities to underwrite profitable business. In an economic downturn, our customers may have less need for insurance coverage, cancel existing insurance policies, modify their coverage, self-insure their risks, or not renew with us. Existing policyholders may exaggerate or even falsify claims to obtain higher claims payments. These outcomes would reduce our underwriting profit to the extent these factors are not reflected in the rates we charge.
We underwrite a significant portion of our insurance in (i) the Excess and Surplus Lines segment in California, New York, Florida, Texas, and Illinois, (ii) the individual risk workers’ compensation business of the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia, and (iii) the fronting and program business of the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment in California, Michigan, North Carolina, New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Any economic downturn in any such state could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations.
A decline in our financial strength rating may result in a reduction of new or renewal business.
Companies, insurers and reinsurance brokers use ratings from independent ratings agencies as an important means of assessing the financial strength and quality of reinsurers. A.M. Best has assigned a financial strength rating of “A” (Excellent), which is the third highest of 15 ratings that A.M. Best issues, to each of James River Insurance, James River Casualty, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty, Falls Lake National, Stonewood Insurance and JRG Re. A.M. Best assigns ratings that are intended to provide an independent opinion of an insurance or reinsurance company’s ability to meet its obligations to policyholders and such ratings are not an evaluation directed to investors. A.M. Best periodically reviews our rating and may revise it downward or revoke it at its sole discretion based primarily on its analysis of our balance sheet strength (including capital adequacy and loss and loss adjustment expense reserve adequacy), operating performance and business profile. Factors that could affect such an analysis include but are not limited to:
if we change our business practices from our organizational business plan in a manner that no longer supports our A.M. Best’s rating;
if unfavorable financial, regulatory or market trends affect us, including excess market capacity;
if our losses exceed our loss reserves;
if we have unresolved issues with government regulators;
if we are unable to retain our senior management or other key personnel;
if our investment portfolio incurs significant losses; or
if A.M. Best alters its capital adequacy assessment methodology in a manner that would adversely affect our rating.
These and other factors could result in a downgrade of our rating. A downgrade of our rating could cause our current and future brokers and agents, retail brokers and insureds to choose other, more highly-rated competitors. A downgrade of this rating could also increase the cost or reduce the availability of reinsurance to us, increase collateral required for our assumed reinsurance business, or trigger termination of assumed and/or ceded reinsurance contracts.
In addition, in view of the earnings and capital pressures recently experienced by many financial institutions, including insurance companies, it is possible that rating organizations will heighten the level of scrutiny that they apply to such institutions, will increase the frequency and scope of their credit reviews, will request additional information from the companies that they rate and may increase the capital and other requirements employed in the rating organizations’ models for maintenance of certain ratings levels. It is possible that such reviews of us may result in adverse ratings consequences, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations. A downgrade below “A-” or withdrawal of any rating could severely limit or prevent us from writing new and renewal insurance or reinsurance contracts. See also “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations—Ratings.”
We distribute products through a select group of brokers and agents, several of which account for a significant portion of our business, and there can be no assurance that such relationships will continue, or if they do continue, that the relationship will be on favorable terms to us. In addition, reliance on brokers and agents subjects us to their credit risk.
We distribute our products through a select group of brokers and agents. In 2018:
the Excess and Surplus Lines segment conducted business with two brokers that produced an aggregate of $439.7 million in gross written premiums, or 67.0% of that segment’s gross written premiums for the year;
the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment conducted business with one agency that produced $201.7 million in gross written premiums, representing 53.9% of that segment’s gross written premiums for the year; and
the Casualty Reinsurance segment conducted business with two brokers that generated $96.4 million of gross written premiums, or 70.9% of that segment’s gross written premiums for the year.
We cannot assure you that the relationship with any of these brokers will continue. Even if the relationships do continue, they may not be on terms that are profitable for us. The termination of a relationship with one or more significant brokers or agents could result in lower direct written premiums and could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations or business prospects.
There is a continuing trend toward consolidation among retail and wholesale brokers and agents. As brokers and agents consolidate and competition among them declines, they may seek and receive higher commissions. Increases in commission expense could reduce our underwriting profit.
Certain premiums from policyholders, where the business is produced by brokers or agents, are collected directly by the brokers or agents and forwarded to our insurance subsidiaries. In certain jurisdictions, when the insured pays its policy premium to brokers or agents for payment on behalf of our insurance subsidiaries, the premiums might be considered to have been paid under applicable insurance laws and regulations. Accordingly, the insured would no longer be liable to us for those amounts, whether or not we have actually received the premiums from that broker or agent. Consequently, we assume a degree of credit risk associated with brokers and agents. Where necessary, we review the financial condition of potential new brokers and agents before we agree to transact business with them. Although failures by brokers and agents to remit premiums have not been material to date, there may be instances where brokers and agents collect premiums but do not remit them to us and we may be required under applicable law to provide the coverage set forth in the policy despite the absence of premiums.
Because the possibility of these events depends in large part upon the financial condition and internal operations of our brokers and agents (which in most cases is not public information), we are not able to quantify the exposure presented by this risk. If we are unable to collect premiums from brokers and agents in the future, underwriting profits may decline and our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We rely on a select group of customers for a significant portion of our business, and the loss of any of these customers, or a material reduction in business with any of these customers, would materially adversely affect our rate of growth, results of operations and financial condition.
Our two largest customers accounted for approximately $294.3 million (Rasier LLC and its affiliates) and $201.7 million (Atlas General Insurance Services) of our gross written premium in 2018, representing 25.2% and 17.3% of our gross written premiums in 2018, respectively. No other insured generated 10.0% or more of consolidated gross written premiums for 2018. The loss of any of these customers, or a significant reduction in the amount of business that we conduct with such customers, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations.
We are subject to credit risk with regard to our reinsurance counterparties, insurance companies with which we have a fronting arrangement and an indemnification arrangement we have with an insured group of companies.
Although reinsurance makes the assuming reinsurer liable to us to the extent of the risk ceded, we are not relieved of our primary liability to our insureds as the direct insurer. At December 31, 2018, reinsurance recoverables on unpaid losses from our three largest reinsurers was $243.6 million in the aggregate and represented 52.1% of the total balance. Additionally, prepaid reinsurance premiums ceded to three reinsurers at December 31, 2018 was $53.7 million in the aggregate, or 47.8% of the total balance of prepaid reinsurance premiums. At December 31, 2018, all of our material reinsurance recoverable amounts are from companies with A.M. Best ratings of “A-” or better or are collateralized by the reinsurer, but we cannot be sure that our reinsurers will pay all reinsurance claims on a timely basis or at all. For example, reinsurers may default in their financial obligations to us as the result of insolvency, lack of liquidity, operational failure, fraud, asserted defenses based on agreement wordings or the principle of utmost good faith, asserted deficiencies in the documentation of agreements or for other reasons. The failure of a reinsurer to pay us does not lessen our contractual obligations to insureds. If a reinsurer fails to pay the expected portion of a claim or claims, our net losses might increase substantially and materially adversely affect our financial condition. Any disputes with reinsurers regarding coverage under reinsurance contracts could be time-consuming, costly and uncertain of success.
Downgrades to the credit ratings of our reinsurance counterparties may result in the reduction of rating agency capital credit provided by those reinsurance contracts and could, therefore, result in a downgrade of our own credit ratings. In addition, under the reinsurance regulations, in many states where our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are domiciled, certain reinsurers are required to collateralize their obligations to us and to the extent they do not do so, our ability for regulators to recognize this reinsurance will be impaired. We evaluate each reinsurance claim based on the facts of the case, historical experience with the reinsurer on similar claims and existing case law and include any amounts deemed uncollectible from the reinsurer in our reserve for uncollectible reinsurance. See also “Business—Purchase of Reinsurance.”
Similarly, in our fronting business, which we conduct through our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, we are primarily liable to the insureds because we have issued the policies. While we customarily require a collateral trust arrangement to secure the obligations of the insurance entity for which we are fronting, we do not obtain collateral in every instance and in situations where we do obtain collateral for the obligations of the other insurance entity, it is possible that the collateral could be insufficient to cover all claims, either as a result of a decline in the value of the collateral, an increase in the obligation being collateralized, or a failure of management to monitor the adequacy of the collateral held. In that event, we would be contractually entitled to recovery from the entity for which we are fronting, but it is possible that, for any of a variety of reasons, the other party could default in its obligations. See also “Business — Business Segments—Specialty Admitted Insurance Segment—Fronting & Program Business.”
In addition, we are exposed to credit risk relating to a set of insurance contracts with an insured group of companies under which the Company pays losses and loss adjustment expenses on the contracts. The insured group of companies are contractually obligated to reimburse us for a significant portion of the losses and loss adjustment expenses paid on behalf of the
insured parties. This reimbursement obligation is supported by collateral posted for our benefit, which cash equivalent collateral had a balance of approximately $1,099.2 million as of December 31, 2018. If the insured group of companies fails to reimburse us, and the collateral posted for our benefit to support the insured group of companies' reimbursement obligations is insufficient, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected. See "Business — Purchase of Reinsurance — Amounts Recoverable from an Indemnifying Party."
The failure of any of the loss limitations or exclusions we employ, or changes in other claims or coverage issues, could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
Although we seek to mitigate our loss exposure through a variety of methods, the future is inherently unpredictable. It is difficult to predict the timing, frequency and severity of losses with statistical certainty. It is not possible to completely eliminate our exposure to unforecasted or unpredictable events and, to the extent that losses from such risks occur, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
For instance, various provisions of our policies, such as limitations or exclusions from coverage or choice of forum, which have been negotiated to limit our risks, may not be enforceable in the manner we intend. At the present time, we employ a variety of endorsements to our policies that limit exposure to known risks.
In addition, we design our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s policy terms to manage our exposure to expanding theories of legal liability like those which have given rise to claims for lead paint, asbestos, mold, construction defects and environmental matters. Many of the policies we issue also include conditions requiring the prompt reporting of claims to us and entitle us to decline coverage in the event of a violation of that condition. Also, many of our policies limit the period during which a policyholder may bring a claim under the policy, which in many cases is shorter than the statutory period under which such claims can be brought against our policyholders. While these exclusions and limitations help us assess and reduce our loss exposure and help eliminate known exposures to certain risks, it is possible that a court or regulatory authority could nullify or void an exclusion or legislation could be enacted modifying or barring the use of such endorsements and limitations. These types of governmental actions could result in higher than anticipated losses and loss adjustment expenses, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations. In some instances, these changes may not become apparent until sometime after we have issued insurance policies that are affected by the changes. As a result, the full extent of liability under our insurance contracts may not be known for many years after a contract is issued.
We have exposure to losses arising from unpredictable natural disasters, terrorist acts, and other catastrophic events. Claims from these events could reduce our earnings and cause volatility in our results of operations.
We have exposure to losses arising from unpredictable natural disasters, terrorist acts, and other catastrophic events. Natural disasters, terrorist acts, and other catastrophes can cause losses in a variety of our property-casualty lines and generally result in an increase in the number of claims filed as well as the amount of compensation sought by claimants.
The incidence and severity of catastrophes and terrorist acts are inherently unpredictable. The extent of losses from catastrophes is a function of the frequency of loss events, the total amount of insured exposure in the area affected by each event and the severity of the events. Claims from catastrophic events could exceed our amount of reinsurance purchased to protect us from such events, reduce our earnings and cash flows, cause volatility in our results of operations and cash flows for any fiscal period or materially impact our financial condition.
Changing climate conditions may increase the frequency and severity of catastrophic events and thereby adversely affect our financial condition and results.
Over the past several years, changing weather patterns and climatic conditions, such as global warming, appear to have contributed to the unpredictability, frequency and severity of natural disasters and created additional uncertainty as to future trends and exposures. There is a growing scientific consensus that global warming and other climate changes are increasing the frequency and severity of catastrophic weather events, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms, floods and other natural disasters. Such changes make it more difficult for us to predict and model catastrophic events, reducing our ability to accurately price our exposure to such events and mitigate our risks. Any increase in the frequency or severity of natural disasters may adversely affect our financial condition and results.
We may have exposure to losses from terrorism for which we are required by law to provide coverage regarding such losses.
U.S. insurers are required by state and federal law to offer coverage for terrorism in certain commercial lines, including workers’ compensation. As discussed under “Business—Regulation—U.S. Insurance Regulation—Federal Regulation,” the Terrorism Acts require commercial property and casualty insurance companies to offer coverage for acts of terrorism, whether foreign or domestic, and established a federal assistance program through the end of 2020 to help cover claims related to future terrorism-related losses. The impact of any terrorist act is unpredictable, and the ultimate impact on us would depend upon the nature, extent, location and timing of such an act.
The effect of emerging claim and coverage issues on our business is uncertain.
As industry practices and legal, judicial, social and other environmental conditions change, unexpected and unintended issues related to claims and coverage may emerge. These issues may materially adversely affect our business by either broadening coverage beyond our underwriting intent or by increasing the number or size of claims. In some instances, these changes may not become apparent until sometime after we have issued insurance or reinsurance contracts that are affected by the changes. As a result, the full extent of liability under our insurance or reinsurance contracts may not be known for many years after a contract is issued.
Three examples of unanticipated risks that affected the insurance industry are:
Asbestos liability applied to manufacturers of products and contractors who installed those products;
Apportionment of liability for settlement assigned to subcontractors who may have been involved in mundane tasks (such as installing sheetrock in a home); and
Court decisions, such as the 1995 Montrose decision in California, that read policy exclusions narrowly so as to expand coverage, thereby requiring insurers to create and write new exclusions.
Our investment portfolio is subject to significant market and credit risks, which could result in a material adverse impact on our financial condition or results of operations.
Our results of operations depend, in part, on the performance of our investment portfolio. We seek to hold a diversified portfolio of investments that is managed by professional investment advisory management firms in accordance with our investment policy and periodically reviewed by our Investment Committee. However, our investments are subject to general economic conditions and market risks as well as risks inherent to particular securities.
Our primary market risk exposures are to changes in interest rates and equity prices. See Item 7A, “Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk.” In recent years, interest rates have been at or near historic lows. A protracted low interest rate environment would continue to place pressure on net investment income, particularly related to fixed income securities and short-term investments, which, in turn, may materially adversely affect our operating results. Future increases in interest rates could cause the values of our fixed income securities portfolios to decline, with the magnitude of the decline depending on the duration of our portfolio and the amount by which interest rates increase. Some fixed income securities have call or prepayment options, which represent possible reinvestment risk in declining rate environments. Other fixed income securities such as mortgage-backed and asset-backed securities carry prepayment risk or, in a rising interest rate environment, may not pre-pay as quickly as expected. In addition, individual securities in our fixed income securities portfolio are subject to credit risk and default. Downgrades in the credit ratings of fixed maturities can have a significant negative effect on the market valuation of such securities.
The severe downturn in the public debt and equity markets beginning in 2008 resulted in significant realized and unrealized losses in our investment portfolio. In the event of another financial crisis, we could incur substantial realized and unrealized investment losses in future periods, which would have a material adverse impact on our financial condition, results of operations, debt and financial strength ratings, insurance subsidiaries’ capital liquidity and ability to access capital markets.
The value of our investment portfolio is subject to the risk that certain investments may default or become impaired due to deterioration in the financial condition of one or more issuers of the securities held, or due to deterioration in the financial condition of an insurer that guarantees an issuer’s payments of such investments. Such defaults and impairments could reduce our net investment income and result in realized investment losses.
We hold investments in actively-traded syndicated bank loans (15.6% of the carrying value of our invested assets as of December 31, 2018). Most of these loans are issued to sub-investment grade borrowers. While this class of investment has been profitable for us, a severe downturn in the markets could materially adversely affect the value of these investments, including the possibility that we would suffer substantial losses on this portfolio. As of December 31, 2018, the fair value of our investments in actively traded syndicated bank loans was $250.7 million.
As of December 31, 2018, we held equity investments of $29.8 million in non-public limited liability companies that have invested in renewable energy investments. These investments were sponsored and are managed by an entity for which two of our directors serve as officers. We invested in the equity of these projects because we anticipate earning attractive risk-adjusted returns from these investments. However, our investments in these projects are illiquid and the ultimate results from these investments may be unknown for some time.
We also invest in marketable equity securities. These securities are carried on the balance sheet at fair market value and are subject to potential losses and declines in market value. Our invested assets also include interests in limited partnerships and privately held debt investments totaling $42.5 million at December 31, 2018. These investments were designed to provide diversification of risk and enhance the return on the overall portfolio. However, these investments entail substantial risks and
are generally illiquid. Our investment portfolio is subject to increased valuation uncertainties when investment markets are illiquid. The valuation of investments is more subjective when markets are illiquid, thereby increasing the risk that the estimated fair value (i.e., the carrying amount) does not reflect prices at which actual transactions would occur.
Risks for all types of securities are managed through application of our investment policy, which establishes investment parameters that include (but are not limited to) maximum percentages of investment in certain types of securities and minimum levels of credit quality, which we believe are within guidelines established by the NAIC, BMA and various state insurance departments, as applicable.
Although we seek to preserve our capital, we cannot be certain that our investment objectives will be achieved, and results may vary substantially over time. In addition, although we seek to employ investment strategies that are not correlated with our insurance and reinsurance exposures, losses in our investment portfolio may occur at the same time as underwriting losses and, therefore, exacerbate the adverse effect of the losses on us.
We may become subject to additional government or market regulation which may have a material adverse impact on our business.
Market disruptions like those experienced during the credit-driven financial market collapse in 2008, as well as the dramatic increase in the capital allocated to alternative asset management during recent years, have led to increased governmental as well as self-regulatory scrutiny of the insurance industry in general. In addition, certain legislation proposing greater regulation of the industry is periodically considered by governing bodies of some jurisdictions as well as the U.S. federal government, and the credit-driven equity market collapse may increase the likelihood that some increased regulation of the industry is mandated.
Because we are a Bermuda company, we are subject to changes in Bermuda law and regulation that may have a material adverse impact on our operations, including through the imposition of tax liability or increased regulatory supervision. In addition, we will be exposed to any changes in the political environment in Bermuda.
Our business could be materially adversely affected by changes in state laws, including those relating to asset and reserve valuation requirements, surplus requirements, limitations on investments and dividends, enterprise risk and risk-based capital requirements and, at the federal level, by laws and regulations that may affect certain aspects of the insurance industry, including proposals for preemptive federal regulation. The U.S. federal government generally has not directly regulated the insurance industry except for certain areas of the market, such as insurance for flood, nuclear and terrorism risks. However, the U.S. federal government has undertaken initiatives or considered legislation in several areas that may affect the insurance industry, including tort reform, corporate governance and the taxation of reinsurance companies. The Dodd-Frank Act also established the Federal Insurance Office, which is authorized to study, monitor and report to Congress on the insurance industry and to recommend that the FSOC designate an insurer as an entity posing risks to U.S. financial stability in the event of the insurer’s material financial distress or failure. In December 2013, the Federal Insurance Office issued a report on alternatives to modernize and improve the system of insurance regulation in the United States, including increasing national uniformity through either a federal charter or effective action by the states. Any additional regulations established as a result of the Dodd-Frank Act or actions in response to the Federal Insurance Office Report could increase our costs of compliance or lead to disciplinary action. In addition, legislation has been introduced from time to time that, if enacted, could result in the U.S. federal government assuming a more direct role in the regulation of the insurance industry, including federal licensing in addition to or in lieu of state licensing and reinsurance for natural catastrophes. We are unable to predict whether any legislation will be enacted or any regulations will be adopted, or the effect that any such developments could have on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The Bermuda insurance and reinsurance regulatory framework has become subject to increased scrutiny in many jurisdictions. The BMA sought “regulatory equivalency” which enables Bermuda’s commercial insurers to transact business with the European Union on a “level playing field”. In connection with its initial efforts to achieve equivalency under Solvency II, the BMA implemented and imposed additional requirements on the companies it regulates, such as JRG Re and Carolina Re. On November 26, 2015, via delegated act, the European Commission granted Bermuda’s commercial insurers full equivalence in all areas of Solvency II for an indefinite period of time. The European Commission’s act was reviewed and approved by the European Parliament and Council. On March 4, 2016, the delegated act was published in the official journal of the European Union. The grant of full equivalence came into force on March 24, 2016 and applies from January 1, 2016.
Additionally, the regulatory environment surrounding information security and privacy is increasingly demanding. We are subject to numerous U.S. federal and state laws governing the protection of personal and confidential information of our clients and employees. We are subject to the New York Department of Financial Services’ Cybersecurity Regulations, which came into effect on March 1, 2017. In addition, the NAIC adopted an Insurance Data Security Model Law on October 24, 2017, which would require licensed insurance entities to comply with detailed information security requirements. To date, Ohio and South Carolina have adopted the Insurance Data and Security Model Law. It is not yet known whether, and to what extent, other state legislatures or insurance regulators where we operate will enact the Insurance Data Security Model Law in whole or
in part, or in a modified form. Such enactments, especially if inconsistent between states or with existing laws and regulations, could raise compliance costs or increase the risk of noncompliance, with the attendant risk of being subject to regulatory enforcement actions and penalties, as well as reputational harm. Any such events could potentially have an adverse impact on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
It is impossible to predict what, if any, changes in the regulations applicable to us, the markets in which we operate, trade and invest or the counterparties with which we do business may be instituted in the future. Any such regulation could have a material adverse impact on our business.
We are subject to extensive regulation, which may materially adversely affect our ability to achieve our business objectives. In addition, if we fail to comply with these regulations, we may be subject to penalties, including fines and suspensions, which may materially adversely affect our financial condition and results of operations.
Our admitted insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries are subject to extensive regulation, primarily by California (the domiciliary state for Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company), Ohio (the domiciliary state for James River Insurance and Falls Lake National), North Carolina (the domiciliary state for Stonewood Insurance), Virginia (the domiciliary state for James River Casualty), Bermuda (the domicile of JRG Re and Carolina Re), and to a lesser degree, the other jurisdictions in the United States in which we operate. Most insurance regulations are designed to protect the interests of insurance policyholders, as opposed to the interests of shareholders. These regulations generally are administered by a department of insurance in each state and, in the case of JRG Re and Carolina Re, the BMA in Bermuda, and relate to, among other things, authorizations to write certain lines of business, capital and surplus requirements, reserve requirements, rate and form approvals, investment and underwriting limitations, affiliate transactions, dividend limitations, cancellation and non-renewal of policies, changes in control, solvency, receipt of reinsurance credit, accounting principles and a variety of other financial and non-financial aspects of our business. These laws and regulations are regularly re-examined and any changes in these laws and regulations or new laws or interpretations thereof may be more restrictive, could make it more expensive to conduct business or otherwise materially adversely affect our financial condition or operations. State insurance departments and the BMA also conduct periodic examinations of the affairs of insurance companies and reinsurance companies and require the filing of annual and other reports relating to financial condition, holding company issues and other matters. These regulatory requirements may impose timing and expense or other constraints that could materially adversely affect our ability to achieve some or all of our business objectives.
In addition, regulatory authorities have broad discretion to deny or revoke licenses for various reasons, including the violation of regulations. For example, an insurer’s registration may be cancelled by the BMA on certain grounds specified in the Insurance Act, including failure by the insurer to comply with its obligations under the Insurance Act, or if the BMA believes that the insurer has not been carrying on business in accordance with sound insurance principles. In some instances, where there is uncertainty as to applicability, we follow practices based on our interpretations of regulations or practices that we believe are generally followed by the industry. These practices may turn out to be different from the interpretations of regulatory authorities. If we do not have the requisite licenses and approvals or do not comply with applicable regulatory requirements, insurance regulatory authorities could preclude or temporarily suspend us from carrying on some or all of our activities or otherwise penalize us. This could materially adversely affect our ability to operate our business.
The admitted market is subject to more state regulation than the E&S market, particularly with regard to rate and form filing requirements, restrictions on the ability to exit lines of business, premium tax payments and membership in various state associations, such as guaranty funds. Some states have deregulated their commercial insurance markets. We cannot predict the effect that further deregulation would have on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
The NAIC has developed a system to test the adequacy of statutory capital of U.S.-based insurers, known as risk-based capital or “RBC,” that many states have adopted. This system establishes the minimum amount of risk-based capital necessary for an insurer to support its overall business operations. It identifies property-casualty insurers that may be inadequately capitalized by looking at certain inherent risks of each insurer’s assets and liabilities and its mix of net written premiums. Insurers falling below a calculated threshold may be subject to varying degrees of regulatory action, including supervision, rehabilitation or liquidation. Failure to maintain adequate risk-based capital at the required levels could materially adversely affect the ability of our insurance subsidiaries to maintain regulatory authority to conduct their business. See “Business—U.S. Insurance Regulation—State Regulation.”
In addition, the various state insurance regulators have increased their focus on risks within an insurer’s holding company system that may pose enterprise risk to the insurer. In 2012, the NAIC adopted the NAIC Amendments. The NAIC Amendments, when adopted by the various states, are designed to respond to perceived gaps in the regulation of insurance holding company systems in the United States. One of the major changes is a requirement that an insurance holding company system’s ultimate controlling person submit annually to its lead state insurance regulator an “enterprise risk report” that identifies activities, circumstances or events involving one or more affiliates of an insurer that, if not remedied properly, are likely to have a material adverse effect upon the financial condition or liquidity of the insurer or its insurance holding company
system as a whole. Other changes include (i) requiring a controlling person to submit prior notice to its domiciliary insurance regulator of a divestiture of control, (ii) having detailed minimum requirements for cost sharing and management agreements between an insurer and its affiliates and (iii) expanding the types of agreements between an insurer and its affiliates to be filed with its domiciliary insurance regulator. The NAIC Amendments must be adopted by a state legislature and such state’s insurance regulator in order to be effective in that state. Each of California, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, the states in which our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are domiciled, include this enterprise risk report requirement.
In 2012, the NAIC also adopted the ORSA Model Act. The ORSA Model Act, when adopted by the various states, will require an insurance holding company system’s Chief Risk Officer to submit annually to its lead state insurance regulator an ORSA. The ORSA is a confidential internal assessment appropriate to the nature, scale and complexity of an insurer of the material and relevant risks identified by the insurer associated with an insurer’s current business plan and the sufficiency of capital resources to support those risks. The ORSA Model Act must be adopted by a state legislature in order to be effective in that state. Each of California, North Carolina, Ohio and Virginia, the states in which our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are domiciled, adopted and require an ORSA filing.
We cannot predict with certainty the effect any enacted, proposed or future state or federal regulation or NAIC initiative may have on the conduct of our business. Furthermore, there can be no assurance that the regulatory requirements applicable to our business will not become more stringent in the future or result in materially higher cost than current requirements. Changes in regulation of our business may materially reduce our profitability, limit our growth or otherwise materially adversely affect our operations.
We may be unable to obtain reinsurance coverage at reasonable prices or on terms that provide us adequate protection.
We purchase reinsurance in many of our lines of business to help manage our exposure to insurance and reinsurance risks that we underwrite and to reduce volatility in our results. In addition, JRG Re has managed its risk through retrocession arrangements with third-party reinsurers. A retrocession is a practice whereby a reinsurer cedes risk to one or more other reinsurers.
The availability and cost of reinsurance are subject to prevailing market conditions, both in terms of price and available capacity, each of which can affect our business volume and profitability. The availability of reasonably affordable reinsurance is a critical element of our business plan. One important way we utilize reinsurance is to reduce volatility in claims payments by limiting our exposure to losses from large risks. Another way we use reinsurance is to purchase substantial protection against concentrated losses when we enter new markets. As a result, our ability to manage volatility and avoid significant losses, expand into new markets or grow by offering insurance to new kinds of enterprises may be limited by the unavailability of reasonably priced reinsurance. We may not be able to obtain reinsurance on acceptable terms or from entities with satisfactory creditworthiness. In such event, if we are unwilling to accept the terms or credit risk of potential reinsurers, we would have to reduce the level of our underwriting commitments, which would reduce our revenues.
Many reinsurance companies have begun to exclude certain coverages from, or alter terms in, the reinsurance contracts we enter into with them. Some exclusions relate to risks that we cannot in turn exclude from the policies we write due to business or regulatory constraints. In addition, reinsurers are imposing terms, such as lower per occurrence and aggregate limits, on direct insurers that do not wholly cover the risks written by these direct insurers. As a result, we, like other direct insurance companies, write insurance policies which to some extent do not have the benefit of reinsurance protection. These gaps in reinsurance protection expose us to greater risk and greater potential losses. For example, certain reinsurers have excluded coverage for terrorist acts or priced such coverage at unreasonably high rates. Many direct insurers, including us, have written policies without terrorist act exclusions and in many cases we cannot exclude terrorist acts because of regulatory constraints. We may, therefore, be exposed to potential losses as a result of terrorist acts. See also “Business—Purchase of Reinsurance.”
We, or agents we have appointed, may act based on inaccurate or incomplete information regarding the accounts we underwrite, or such agents may exceed their authority or commit fraud when binding policies on our behalf.
We, and our MGAs and other agents who have the ability to bind our policies, rely on information provided by insureds or their representatives when underwriting insurance policies. While we may make inquiries to validate or supplement the information provided, we may make underwriting decisions based on incorrect or incomplete information. It is possible that we will misunderstand the nature or extent of the activities or facilities and the corresponding extent of the risks that we insure because of our reliance on inadequate or inaccurate information.
In addition, in the Specialty Admitted Insurance segment, MGAs and other agents have the authority to bind policies on our behalf. If any such agents exceed their authority or engage in fraudulent activities, our financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
We rely on our systems and employees, and those of certain third-party vendors and service providers in conducting our operations, and certain failures, including internal or external fraud, operational errors, systems malfunctions, or cyber-security incidents, could materially adversely affect our operations.
We are exposed to many types of operational risk, including the risk of fraud by employees and outsiders, clerical and recordkeeping errors and computer or telecommunications systems malfunctions. Our business depends on our ability to process a large number of increasingly complex transactions. If any of our operational, accounting, or other data processing systems fail or have other significant shortcomings, we could be materially adversely affected. Similarly, we depend on our employees and could be materially adversely affected if one or more of our employees causes a significant operational breakdown or failure, either as a result of human error, intentional sabotage or fraudulent manipulation of our operations or systems.
Third parties with whom we do business, including vendors that provide services or security solutions for our operations, could also be sources of operational and information security risk to us, including from breakdowns, failures, or capacity constraints of their own systems or employees. Any of these occurrences could diminish our ability to operate our business, or cause financial loss, potential liability to insureds, inability to secure insurance, reputational damage or regulatory intervention, which could materially adversely affect us.
We rely on our multiple proprietary operating systems as well as operating systems of third-party providers to issue policies, pay claims, run modeling functions and complete various internal processes. We may be subject to disruptions of such operating systems arising from events that are wholly or partially beyond our control, which may include, for example, electrical or telecommunications outages, natural or man-made disasters, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, floods or tornados, or events arising from criminal or terrorist acts. Such disruptions may give rise to losses in service to insureds and loss or liability to us. In addition, there is the risk that our controls and procedures as well as our business continuity, disaster recovery and data security systems prove to be inadequate. The computer systems and network systems we and others use could be vulnerable to unforeseen problems. These problems may arise in both our internally developed systems and the systems of third-party service providers. In addition, our computer systems and network infrastructure present security risks and could be susceptible to hacking, computer viruses, data breaches, or ransomware attacks. Any such failure could affect our operations and could materially adversely affect our results of operations by requiring us to expend significant resources to correct the defect, as well as by exposing us to litigation or losses not covered by insurance. Although we have business continuity plans and other safeguards in place, our business operations may be materially adversely affected by significant and widespread disruption to our physical infrastructure or operating systems and those of third-party service providers that support our business.
Our operations rely on the secure processing, transmission and storage of confidential information in our computer systems and networks. Our technologies, systems and networks may become the target of cyber-attacks or information security breaches that could result in the unauthorized release, gathering, monitoring, misuse, loss or destruction of our or our insureds’ or reinsured’s confidential, proprietary and other information, or otherwise disrupt our or our insureds’, reinsured’s or other third parties’ business operations, which in turn may result in legal claims, regulatory scrutiny and liability, reputational damage, the incurrence of costs to eliminate or mitigate further exposure and the loss of customers. Although to date we have not experienced any material losses relating to cyber-attacks or other information security breaches, there can be no assurance that we will not suffer such losses in the future. While we make efforts to maintain the security and integrity of our information technology networks and related systems, and we have implemented various measures and an incident response protocol to manage the risk of, or respond to, a security breach or disruption, there can be no assurance that our security efforts and measures will be effective or that attempted security breaches or disruptions would not be successful or damaging. Our risk and exposure to these matters remains heightened because of, among other things, the evolving nature of these threats and the outsourcing of some of our business operations. As a result, cyber-security and the continued development and enhancement of our controls, processes and practices designed to protect our systems, computers, software, data and networks from attack, damage or unauthorized access remain a priority. As cyber-threats continue to evolve, we may be required to expend significant additional resources to continue to modify or enhance our protective measures or to investigate and remediate any information security vulnerabilities.
Disruptions or failures in the physical infrastructure or operating systems that support our business and customers, or cyber-attacks or security breaches of the networks, systems or devices that our customers use to access our products and services could result in customer attrition, regulatory fines, penalties or intervention, reputational damage, reimbursement or other compensation costs, and/or additional compliance costs, any of which could materially adversely affect our financial condition or results of operations.
We may not be able to manage our growth effectively.
We intend to grow our business in the future, which could require additional capital, systems development and skilled personnel. We cannot assure you that we will be able to meet our capital needs, expand and maintain our systems and our internal controls effectively, allocate our human resources optimally, identify and hire qualified employees or incorporate
effectively the components of any businesses we may acquire in our effort to achieve growth. The failure to manage our growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to underwrite risks accurately and charge competitive yet profitable rates to our policyholders, our business, financial condition and results of operations will be materially adversely affected.
In general, the premiums for our insurance policies are established at the time a policy is issued and, therefore, before all of our underlying costs are known. Like other insurance companies, we rely on estimates and assumptions in setting our premium rates. Establishing adequate premium rates is necessary, together with investment income, to generate sufficient revenue to offset losses, loss adjustment expenses and other underwriting costs and to earn a profit. If we do not accurately assess the risks that we assume, we may not charge adequate premiums to cover our losses and expenses, which would materially adversely affect our results of operations and our profitability. Alternatively, we could set our premiums too high, which could reduce our competitiveness and lead to lower revenues.
Pricing involves the acquisition and analysis of historical loss data and the projection of future trends, loss costs and expenses, and inflation trends, among other factors, for each of our products in multiple risk tiers and many different markets. In order to accurately price our policies, we:
collect and properly analyze a substantial volume of data from our insureds;
develop, test and apply appropriate actuarial projections and rating formulas;
closely monitor and timely recognize changes in trends; and
project both frequency and severity of our insureds’ losses with reasonable accuracy.
We seek to implement our pricing accurately in accordance with our assumptions. Our ability to undertake these efforts successfully and, as a result, accurately price our policies, is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, including:
insufficient or unreliable data;
incorrect or incomplete analysis of available data;
uncertainties generally inherent in estimates and assumptions;
our failure to implement appropriate actuarial projections and rating formulas or other pricing methodologies;
regulatory constraints on rate increases;
our failure to accurately estimate investment yields and the duration of our liability for loss and loss adjustment expenses; and
unanticipated court decisions, legislation or regulatory action.
The insurance and reinsurance business is historically cyclical, and we may experience periods with excess underwriting capacity and unfavorable premium rates, which could materially adversely affect our business.
Historically, insurers and reinsurers have experienced significant fluctuations in operating results due to competition, frequency and severity of catastrophic events, levels of capacity, adverse trends in litigation, regulatory constraints, general economic conditions and other factors. We have experienced these types of fluctuations during our Company’s short history. The supply of insurance and reinsurance is related to prevailing prices, the level of insured losses and the level of capital available to the industry that, in turn, may fluctuate in response to changes in rates of return on investments being earned in the insurance and reinsurance industry. As a result, the insurance and reinsurance business historically has been a cyclical industry characterized by periods of intense price competition due to excessive underwriting capacity as well as periods when shortages of capacity increased premium levels. Demand for insurance and reinsurance depends on numerous factors, including the frequency and severity of catastrophic events, levels of capacity, the introduction of new capital providers, general economic conditions and underwriting results of primary insurers. All of these factors fluctuate and may contribute to price declines generally in the insurance and reinsurance industry.
We cannot predict with certainty whether market conditions will improve, remain constant or deteriorate. Negative market conditions may impair our ability to underwrite insurance and reinsurance at rates we consider appropriate and commensurate relative to the risk assumed. If we cannot underwrite insurance or reinsurance at appropriate rates, our ability to transact business will be materially adversely affected. Any of these factors could lead to a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Our reinsurance business is subject to loss settlements made by ceding companies and fronting carriers, which could materially adversely affect our performance.
Where JRG Re enters into assumed reinsurance contracts with third parties, all loss settlements made by the ceding company will be unconditionally binding upon us, provided they are within the terms of the underlying policies and within the terms of the relevant contract. While we believe the ceding companies will settle such claims in good faith, we are bound to accept the claims settlements agreed to by the ceding companies. Under the underlying policies, each ceding company typically bears the burden of proving that a contractual exclusion applies to a loss, and there may be circumstances where the facts of a loss are insufficient to support the application of an exclusion. In such circumstances, we assume such losses under the reinsured policies, which could materially adversely affect our performance.
Our operating results have in the past varied from quarter to quarter and may not be indicative of our long-term prospects.
Our operating results are subject to fluctuation and have historically varied from quarter to quarter. We expect our quarterly results to continue to fluctuate in the future due to a number of factors, including the general economic conditions in the markets where we operate, the frequency of occurrence or severity of catastrophic or other insured events, fluctuating interest rates, claims exceeding our loss reserves, competition in our industry, deviations from expected renewal rates of our existing policies and contracts, adverse investment performance and the cost of reinsurance and retrocessional coverage.
In particular, we seek to underwrite products and make investments to achieve favorable returns on tangible equity over the long term. In addition, our opportunistic nature and focus on long-term growth in tangible equity may result in fluctuations in total premiums written from period to period as we concentrate on underwriting contracts that we believe will generate better long-term, rather than short-term, results. Accordingly, our short-term results of operations may not be indicative of our long-term prospects.
We could be forced to sell investments to meet our liquidity requirements.
We invest the premiums we receive from our insureds and ceding companies until they are needed to pay policyholder claims or until they are recognized as profits. Consequently, we seek to manage the duration of our investment portfolio based on the duration of our loss and loss adjustment expense reserves to ensure sufficient liquidity and avoid having to liquidate securities to fund claims. Risks such as inadequate loss and loss adjustment reserves or unfavorable trends in litigation could potentially result in the need to sell investments to fund these liabilities. Such sales could result in significant realized losses depending on the conditions of the general market, interest rates and credit issues with individual securities.
Our associates could take excessive risks, which could negatively affect our financial condition and business.
As an insurance enterprise, we are in the business of binding certain risks. The associates who conduct our business, including executive officers and other members of management, underwriters, sales managers, investment professionals, product managers, sales agents, and other associates, as well as MGAs, do so in part by making decisions and choices that involve exposing us to risk. These include decisions such as setting underwriting guidelines and standards, product design and pricing, determining which business opportunities to pursue and other decisions. We endeavor, in the design and implementation of our compensation programs and practices, to avoid giving our associates incentives to take excessive risks. Associates may, however, take such risks regardless of the structure of our compensation programs and practices. Similarly, although we employ controls and procedures designed to monitor associates’ business decisions and prevent us from taking excessive risks, these controls and procedures may not be effective. If our associates take excessive risks, the impact of those risks could have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and business operations.
We may require additional capital in the future, which may not be available or available only on unfavorable terms.
Our future capital requirements depend on many factors, including our ability to write new and renewal business successfully and to establish premium rates and reserves at levels sufficient to cover losses. Our ability to underwrite depends largely upon the expected quality of our claims paying process and our perceived financial strength as estimated by potential insureds, brokers, other intermediaries and independent rating agencies. To the extent that our existing capital is insufficient to fund our future operating requirements, cover claim losses, or satisfy ratings agencies in order to maintain a satisfactory rating, we may need to raise additional capital in the future through offerings of debt or equity securities or otherwise to:
fund liquidity needs caused by underwriting or investment losses;
replace capital lost in the event of significant reinsurance losses or adverse reserve developments;
satisfy letters of credit or guarantee bond requirements that may be imposed by our clients or by regulators;
meet rating agency or regulatory capital requirements; or
respond to competitive pressures.
Any equity or debt financing, if available at all, may be on terms that are unfavorable to us. Further, any additional capital raised through the sale of equity could dilute shareholders' ownership interest in the Company and would likely cause the value of our shares to decline. Additional capital raised through the issuance of debt would most likely result in creditors having rights, preferences and privileges senior or otherwise superior to those of the holders of our shares and may limit our flexibility in operating our business and make it more difficult to obtain capital in the future. Disruptions, uncertainty, or volatility in the capital and credit markets may also limit our access to capital required to operate our business. If we are not able to obtain adequate capital, or obtain it on favorable terms, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
If we are unable to keep pace with the technological advancements in the insurance industry, our ability to compete effectively could be impaired.
We are committed to developing and maintaining information technology systems that will allow our insurance subsidiaries to compete effectively. There can be no assurance that the development of current technology for future use will not result in our being competitively disadvantaged, especially with those carriers that have greater resources. If we are unable to keep pace with the advancements being made in technology, our ability to compete with other insurance companies who have advanced technological capabilities will be negatively affected. Further, if we are unable to effectively execute and update or replace our key legacy technology systems as they become obsolete or as emerging technology renders them competitively inefficient, our competitive position and our cost structure could be adversely affected.
We operate in a highly competitive environment and we may not continue to be able to compete effectively against larger or more well-established business rivals.
We face competition from other specialty insurance companies, standard insurance companies and underwriting agencies, as well as from diversified financial services companies that are larger than we are and that have greater financial, marketing and other resources than we do. Some of these competitors also have longer experience and more market recognition than we do in certain lines of business. In addition, it may be difficult or prohibitively expensive for us to implement technology systems and processes that are competitive with the systems and processes of these larger companies.
In particular, competition in the insurance and reinsurance industry is based on many factors, including price of coverage, the general reputation and perceived financial strength of the company, relationships with brokers, terms and conditions of products offered, ratings assigned by independent rating agencies, speed of claims payment and reputation, and the experience and reputation of the members of our underwriting team in the particular lines of insurance and reinsurance we seek to underwrite. See “Business—Competition.”
A number of new, proposed or potential legislative or industry developments could further increase competition in our industry. These developments include:
An increase in capital-raising by companies in our lines of business, which could result in new entrants to our markets and an excess of capital in the industry;
The deregulation of commercial insurance lines in certain states and the possibility of federal regulatory reform of the insurance industry, which could increase competition from standard carriers for our E&S lines of insurance business; and
Changing practices facilitated by the Internet may lead to greater competition in the insurance business. Among the possible changes are shifts in the way in which commercial insurance is purchased, which could affect both admitted and E&S lines.
We currently depend largely on the wholesale distribution model for our Excess and Surplus Lines segment’s premiums. If the wholesale distribution model were to be significantly altered by changes in the way E&S lines risks are marketed, including, without limitation, through use of the Internet, it could have a material adverse effect on our premiums, underwriting results and profits.
There is no assurance that we will be able to continue to compete successfully in the insurance or reinsurance markets. Increased competition in these markets could result in a change in the supply and/or demand for insurance or reinsurance, affect our ability to price our products at risk-adequate rates, affect our ability to retain business with existing customers, or underwrite new business on favorable terms. If this increased competition so limits our ability to transact business, our operating results could be materially adversely affected.
If actual renewals of our existing contracts do not meet expectations, our premiums written in future years and our future results of operations could be materially adversely affected.
Most of our contracts are written for a one-year term. In our financial forecasting process, we make assumptions about the renewal of our prior year’s contracts. The insurance and reinsurance industries have historically been cyclical businesses with intense competition, often based on price. If actual renewals do not meet expectations or if we choose not to write a renewal because of pricing conditions, our premiums written in future years and our future operations would be materially adversely affected.
We may change our underwriting guidelines or our strategy without shareholder approval.
Our management has the authority to change our underwriting guidelines or our strategy without notice to our shareholders and without shareholder approval. As a result, we may make fundamental changes to our operations without shareholder approval, which could result in our pursuing a strategy or implementing underwriting guidelines that may be materially different from the strategy or underwriting guidelines described in the section titled “Business” or elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Litigation and legal proceedings against our subsidiaries could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and/or results of operations.
As an insurance and reinsurance holding company, our subsidiaries are named as defendants in various legal actions in the ordinary course of business. We believe that the outcome of presently pending matters, individually and in the aggregate, will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position. However, the outcomes of lawsuits cannot be predicted and, if determined adversely, could require us to pay significant damage amounts or to change aspects of our operations, which could have a material adverse effect on our financial results.
Changes in accounting practices and future pronouncements may materially affect our reported financial results.
Developments in accounting practices may require us to incur considerable additional expenses to comply, particularly if we are required to prepare information relating to prior periods for comparative purposes or to apply the new requirements retroactively. The impact of changes in current accounting practices and future pronouncements cannot be predicted but may affect the calculation of net income, shareholders’ equity and other relevant financial statement line items.
Further, our U.S. insurance subsidiaries are required to comply with statutory accounting principles (“SAP”). SAP and various components of SAP (such as actuarial reserving methodology) are subject to constant review by the NAIC and its task forces and committees, as well as state insurance departments, in an effort to address emerging issues and otherwise improve financial reporting. Various proposals are pending before committees and task forces of the NAIC, some of which, if enacted, could have negative effects on insurance industry participants. The NAIC continuously examines existing laws and regulations in the United States. We cannot predict whether or in what form such reforms will be enacted and, if so, whether the enacted reforms will positively or negatively affect us.
In addition, the NAIC Accounting Practices and Procedures manual provides that state insurance departments may permit insurance companies domiciled in their jurisdiction to depart from SAP by granting them permitted accounting practices. We cannot predict whether or when the insurance departments of the states of domicile of our competitors may permit them to utilize advantageous accounting practices that depart from SAP, the use of which may not be permitted by the insurance departments of the states of domicile of our U.S. insurance subsidiaries. Further, we cannot assure that future changes to SAP or components of SAP or the grant of permitted accounting practices to our competitors will not have a negative impact on us.
Our ability to implement our business strategy could be delayed or adversely affected by Bermuda employment restrictions relating to the ability to obtain and retain work permits for key employees in Bermuda.
Under Bermuda law, non-Bermudians (other than spouses of Bermudians and holders of permanent residents’ certificates) may not engage in any gainful occupation in Bermuda without a valid government work permit. A work permit may be granted or renewed upon showing that, after proper public advertisement, no Bermudian, spouse of a Bermudian or a holder of a permanent resident’s certificate who meets the minimum standards reasonably required by the employer has applied for the job. A work permit is issued with an expiry date (up to five years) and no assurances can be given that any work permit will be issued or, if issued, renewed upon the expiration of the relevant term. If work permits are not obtained or are not renewed for our key employees (other than our Chief Executive Officer, who holds Bermudian and United States citizenship and therefore is not required to have a work permit in Bermuda or in any other jurisdiction in which we operate), we would lose their services, which could materially affect our business.
If California, North Carolina, Ohio, or Virginia significantly increase the assessments our insurance companies are required to pay, our financial condition and results of operations will suffer.
Our insurance companies are subject to assessments in California (the domiciliary state for Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company), North Carolina (the domiciliary state for Stonewood Insurance), Ohio (the domiciliary state for James River Insurance and Falls Lake National) and Virginia (the domiciliary state for James River Casualty), for various purposes, including the provision of funds necessary to fund the operations of the various insurance departments and the state funds that pay covered claims under certain policies written by impaired, insolvent or failed insurance companies. These assessments are generally set based on an insurer’s percentage of the total premiums written in the insurer’s state within a particular line of business. As our U.S.-based insurance subsidiaries grow, our share of any assessments may increase. We cannot predict with certainty the amount of future assessments because they depend on factors outside our control, such as insolvencies of other insurance companies. Significant assessments could result in higher than expected operating expenses and have a material adverse effect on our financial condition or results of operations.
Our use of third-party claims administrators in certain lines of business may result in higher losses and loss adjustment expenses.
Historically, our Excess and Surplus Lines and Specialty Admitted Insurance segments handled all claims using employed staff. As we have entered new lines of business, we now use third-party claims administrators and contract employees to administer claims subject to the supervision of our employed staff. It is possible that these contract employees and third-party claims administrators may achieve less desirable results on claims than has historically been the case for our internal staff, which could result in significantly higher losses and loss adjustment expenses in those lines of business.
Risks Related to Taxation
The ongoing effect of the 2017 Tax Act may have a significant impact on the Company.
The Tax Act, enacted on December 22, 2017, introduced significant changes to the Code. The Tax Act contains provisions that reduce the highest marginal U.S. corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%, impose a BEAT on income of a U.S. corporation determined without regard to certain otherwise deductible payments made to certain foreign affiliates (including premium or other consideration paid or accrued to a related foreign reinsurance company for reinsurance), and accelerates taxable income with respect to certain controlled foreign corporations. These provisions could materially affect us or our shareholders. The Tax Act also includes provisions that could materially affect our shareholders as a result of provisions that broaden the definition of United States shareholder for purposes of the controlled foreign corporation (“CFC”) rules and make it more difficult for a foreign insurance company to avoid being treated as a PFIC.
There is significant uncertainty regarding how these and other provisions of the Tax Act will be interpreted, and guidance may not be forthcoming. The ultimate impact of the Tax Act may differ from the Company’s description below due to changes in interpretations, as well as additional regulatory guidance that may be issued. Any changes to, clarifications of, or guidance under the Tax Act could add significant expense and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations. Given the complexity of the Tax Act you are strongly encouraged to consult your own tax advisor regarding its potential impact on the U.S. federal income tax consequences to you in light of your particular circumstances.
Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax. The Tax Act’s BEAT provision imposes a minimum tax on “applicable taxpayers,” which are generally corporations that are part of a group with at least $500 million of applicable annual gross receipts and that make certain payments to related foreign persons, including payments that are deductible for U.S. tax purposes, payments to purchase depreciable or amortizable property, and reinsurance payments. BEAT subjects the “modified taxable income” of an applicable taxpayer to tax at a rate of 10% in 2019-2025, and 12.5% in 2026 and thereafter. In general, modified taxable income is calculated by adding back to a taxpayer’s regular taxable income the amount of certain “base erosion tax benefits” with respect to certain payments to foreign affiliates, as well as the “base erosion percentage” of any net operating loss deductions. BEAT applies only to the extent it exceeds a taxpayer’s regular corporate income tax liability (determined without regard to certain tax credits).
In response to the Tax Act, we made changes to our structure in 2018 to minimize the impact of BEAT that included the formation of Carolina Re, a Bermuda-domiciled, wholly owned subsidiary of James River Group, Inc. Carolina Re is a Class 3A reinsurer that made an election to be taxed as a U.S. domestic corporation under Section 953(d) of the Code, effective January 1, 2018. In addition, as of January 1, 2018, we generally discontinued ceding 70% of our U.S.-written premiums to JRG Re and instead ceded 70% of our U.S.-written premiums to Carolina Re. Carolina Re also entered into a stop loss reinsurance agreement with JRG Re. As a result of these changes, we will not be subject to BEAT in 2019 if we have sufficient regular U.S. income tax liability compared to the BEAT liability. The applicability of BEAT depends on a number of factors, and absent regulations and other detailed guidance, it is uncertain whether we will be subject to BEAT in future periods.
U.S. persons who own our shares may be subject to U.S. federal income taxation on our undistributed earnings and may recognize ordinary income upon disposition of shares.
If we are considered a PFIC as defined in Section 1297(a) of the Code for U.S. federal income tax purposes, a U.S. person who owns any of our shares could be subject to adverse tax consequences, including becoming subject to a greater tax liability than might otherwise apply and to tax on amounts in advance of when tax would otherwise be imposed, in which case your investment could be materially adversely affected. We believe that we are not and have not been, and currently do not expect to become, a PFIC for U.S. federal income tax purposes. Our belief that we are not and have not been a PFIC is based, in part, on the fact that the PFIC rules include provisions intended to provide an exception for qualifying insurance companies (“QIC”) actively engaged in the conduct of an insurance business. Generally, a QIC is a company (i) that would be subject to tax under special provisions related to insurance companies if the company was a U.S. entity, and (ii) the applicable insurance liabilities of which constitute more than 25% of its total assets as reported on the company’s applicable financial statement. We believe that we are a QIC, however the scope of this exception is not entirely clear, especially in its application to holding companies indirectly engaged in an insurance business, and there are no administrative pronouncements, judicial decisions or current regulations that provide guidance as to the application of the PFIC rules to insurance companies. New regulations or pronouncements interpreting or clarifying these rules may be forthcoming. We cannot predict what impact, if any, such guidance would have on an investor that is subject to U.S. federal income taxation. As a result, we cannot assure you that we, or one of our subsidiaries, will not be deemed a PFIC by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (the “IRS”). If we, or one of our subsidiaries, were considered a PFIC, it could have material adverse tax consequences for an investor that is subject to U.S. federal income taxation.
A non-U.S. corporation generally will be classified as a CFC if U.S. persons, each of whom owns, directly, indirectly, or constructively, at least 10% of the voting power or value of such corporation’s stock (“U.S. 10% Shareholders”), own in the aggregate more than 50% of the voting power or value of the stock of such corporation. The Tax Act eliminated the prohibition on “downward attribution” from non-U.S. persons to U.S. persons under the CFC constructive ownership rules. As a result, our U.S. subsidiaries are deemed to own all of the stock of our non-U.S. subsidiaries (other than James River Group Holdings UK Limited (“James River UK”)) for purposes of classifying those non-U.S. subsidiaries as CFCs. The legislative history under the Tax Act indicates that this change to the CFC constructive ownership rules was not intended to cause our non-U.S. subsidiaries to be treated as CFCs with respect to a 10% U.S. Shareholder that is not related to our U.S. subsidiary. However, it is not clear whether the IRS or a court would interpret the change made by the Tax Act in a manner consistent with such indicated intent.
Under these rules, if a foreign corporation is a CFC, each U.S. 10% Shareholder who owns directly or indirectly shares of the CFC on the last day of the CFC’s taxable year must annually include in its taxable income its pro rata share of the CFC’s “subpart F income,” even if no distributions are made. Subpart F income typically includes “foreign personal holding company income” (such as interest, dividends and other types of passive income), as well as insurance and reinsurance income (including underwriting and investment income). In general (subject to the special rules applicable to “related person insurance income” described below), for purposes of taking into account insurance income, a foreign insurance company will be treated as a CFC if U.S. 10% Shareholders collectively own more than 25% of the voting power or value of the company’s shares at any point during any year. We cannot assure you that we are not and will not become a CFC. If you are a U.S. person, we strongly urge you to consult your own tax advisor concerning the CFC rules.
Related Person Insurance Income. If (i) our gross income attributable to insurance or reinsurance policies pursuant to which the direct or indirect insureds are our direct or indirect U.S. shareholders or persons related to such U.S. shareholders equals or exceeds 20% of our gross insurance income in any taxable year; and (ii) direct or indirect insureds and persons related to such insureds own directly or indirectly 20% or more of the voting power or value of our shares (together, the “RPII Test”), a U.S. person who owns any of our shares directly or indirectly on the last day of such taxable year would most likely be required to include its allocable share of our related person insurance income for such taxable year in its income, even if no distributions are made. We do not believe that the 20% gross insurance income threshold has been, or will be, met. However, we cannot assure you that this will continue to be the case. Consequently, we cannot assure you that a person who is a direct or indirect U.S. shareholder will not be required to include amounts in its income in respect of related person insurance income in any taxable year.
Dispositions of Our Shares. If a U.S. shareholder is treated as disposing of shares in a CFC of which it is a U.S. 10% Shareholder, or of shares in a foreign insurance corporation that has related person insurance income and in which U.S. persons collectively own 25% or more of the voting power or value of the company’s shares, any gain from the disposition will generally be treated as a dividend to the extent of the U.S. shareholder’s portion of the corporation’s undistributed earnings and profits, as the case may be, that were accumulated during the period that the U.S. shareholder owned the shares. In addition, the shareholder will be required to comply with certain reporting requirements, regardless of the amount of shares owned by the direct or indirect U.S. shareholder.
The Company, JRG Re and James River Group Holdings UK Limited may be subject to U.S. federal income taxation.
The Company and JRG Re are each incorporated under the laws of Bermuda and James River UK is incorporated under the laws of England and Wales. Carolina Re is incorporated under the laws of Bermuda, but will be taxed as a U.S. domestic corporation as a result of an election under Section 953(d) of the Code. In general, a corporation organized under the laws of a foreign country or U.S. possession is subject to U.S. federal income tax on its net income only if it is considered as engaged in a U.S. trade or business. We believe that the activities of each of the Company’s non-U.S. holding companies and JRG Re, as contemplated, will not cause them to be treated as engaging in a U.S. trade or business and as such, will not be subject to current U.S. federal income taxation on their net income. However, there are no definitive standards provided by the Code, regulations or court decisions as to the specific activities that constitute being engaged in the conduct of a trade or business within the United States, and any such determination is essentially factual in nature and must be made annually. The IRS could successfully assert that our non-U.S. holding companies or JRG Re (or both) are engaged in a trade or business in the United States or, under the applicable income tax treaty, are engaged in a trade or business in the United States through a permanent establishment, and thus are subject to current U.S. federal income taxation. If our non-U.S. holding companies or JRG Re were deemed to be engaged in a trade or business in the United States (or, under the applicable income tax treaty, were deemed to be so engaged through a permanent establishment), our non-U.S. holding companies or JRG Re, as applicable, would become subject to U.S. federal income tax on income “effectively connected” (or treated as effectively connected) with the U.S. trade or business and would become subject to the “branch profits” tax on earnings and profits that are both effectively connected with the U.S. trade or business and deemed repatriated out of the United States. Any such federal tax liability could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
U.S. tax-exempt organizations who own our shares may recognize unrelated business taxable income.
A U.S. tax-exempt organization may recognize unrelated business taxable income if a portion of our subpart F insurance income is allocated to it. In general, subpart F insurance income will be allocated to a tax-exempt organization owning (or treated as owning) our shares if we are a CFC as discussed above and it is a U.S. 10% Shareholder or we earn related person insurance income and we satisfy the RPII Test. We cannot assure you that U.S. persons holding our shares (directly or indirectly) will not be allocated subpart F insurance income. U.S. tax-exempt organizations should consult their own tax advisors regarding the risk of recognizing unrelated business taxable income as a result of their ownership of our shares.
We may become subject to U.S. withholding and information reporting requirements under the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (“FATCA”) provisions.
The FATCA provisions of the Code generally impose a 30% withholding tax regime with respect to (i) certain U.S. source income (including interest and dividends) (“withholdable payments”) and (ii) “passthru payments” (generally, withholdable payments and payments that are attributable to withholdable payments) made by foreign financial institutions (“FFIs”). Under proposed regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury on December 13, 2018, on which taxpayers may rely until final regulations are issued, withholdable payments do not include gross proceeds from the sale or other disposition of property that can produce U.S. source interest or dividends. As a general matter, FATCA was designed to require U.S. persons’ direct and indirect ownership of certain non-U.S. accounts and non-U.S. entities to be reported to the IRS. The application of the FATCA withholding rules were phased in beginning July 1, 2014, with withholding on foreign passthru payments made by FFIs taking effect after the date of publication of final regulations defining the term foreign passthru payment.
The United States has entered into intergovernmental agreements between the United States and Bermuda and between the United States and the United Kingdom (the “IGAs”), which potentially modify the FATCA withholding regime described above with respect to us and our common shares. There can be no certainty as to whether we, Carolina Re or JRG Re will be treated as a FFI under FATCA. We strongly urge you to consult your own tax advisor regarding the potential impact of FATCA, the IGAs and any non-U.S. legislation implementing FATCA.
Changes in U.S. tax laws may be retroactive and could subject us and/or U.S. persons who own our shares to U.S. income taxation.
Apart from enactment of the Tax Act, other legislative proposals or administrative or judicial developments could also result in an increase in the amount of U.S. tax payable by us or by an owner of our shares or reduce the attractiveness of our products. Any such developments could materially adversely affect our results of operations.
The Tax Act, other tax laws and interpretations thereof, including with respect to whether a company is engaged in a U.S. trade or business, is a CFC, has related party insurance income, is a PFIC, or is subject to BEAT, are subject to change, possibly on a retroactive basis. There are currently only proposed regulations regarding the RPII Test and the application of the PFIC rules to an insurance company. New regulations or pronouncements interpreting or clarifying such rules may be forthcoming from the IRS or the U.S. Department of the Treasury. We are not able to predict if, when or in what form such guidance will be provided and whether such guidance will have a retroactive effect.
If reinsurance premiums paid by our U.S. subsidiaries to Carolina Re or JRG Re do not reflect arm’s-length terms, the IRS could seek to recharacterize the payments in a way that is unfavorable to us.
The IRS is permitted to reallocate or recharacterize income, deductions or certain other items, and to make any other adjustment, to reflect the proper amount, source or character of the taxable income in respect of payments among related parties to reflect an arm’s-length transaction. We have in place intercompany loans from our U.S. subsidiaries to our parent company and have intercompany reinsurance agreements among consolidated entities. We believe the terms of these transactions are appropriate and reflect arm’s-length terms and are consistent with all applicable rules and regulations. It is possible, however, that the U.S. Department of the Treasury or the IRS may review our intercompany agreements and successfully assert, under Sections 482 or 845 of the Code, that they are not on an arm’s-length basis and that as a result, we owe taxes on account of past or future periods.
Reduced tax rates for qualified dividend income may not be available in the future.
We believe that the dividends paid on our common shares should qualify as “qualified dividend income” as long as the common shares are listed on a national securities exchange and we are not a PFIC. Qualified dividend income received by non-corporate U.S. persons is generally eligible for long-term capital gain rates. While the Tax Act did not modify these rules, there has been proposed legislation before the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that would exclude shareholders of certain foreign corporations from this advantageous tax treatment. If such legislation were to become law, non-corporate U.S. persons would no longer qualify for the reduced tax rate on the dividends paid by us.
Our non-U.K. companies may be subject to U.K. tax that may have a material adverse effect on our operating results.
We intend to operate in such a manner so that none of our companies other than our intermediate holding company incorporated in the United Kingdom should be resident in the U.K. for tax purposes or have a permanent establishment in the U.K. Accordingly, we expect that none of our companies other than James River UK should be subject to U.K. taxation. However, since applicable law and regulations do not conclusively define the activities that constitute conducting business in the U.K. through a permanent establishment, the U.K. HM Revenue & Customs might contend successfully that one or more of our other companies is conducting business in the U.K. through a permanent establishment in the U.K., and therefore such entities could become subject to U.K. taxation.
We may become subject to taxes in Bermuda after March 31, 2035, which may have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and your investment.
The Bermuda Minister of Finance, under the Exempted Undertakings Tax Protection Act 1966 of Bermuda, as amended, has given us an assurance that if any legislation is enacted in Bermuda that would impose tax computed on profits or income, or computed on any capital asset, gain or appreciation, or any tax in the nature of estate duty or inheritance tax, then the imposition of any such tax will not be applicable to us or any of our operations, shares, debentures or other obligations until March 31, 2035, except insofar as such tax applies to persons ordinarily resident in Bermuda or to any taxes payable by us in respect of real property owned or leased by us in Bermuda. We cannot assure you that we will not be subject to any Bermuda tax after March 31, 2035.
Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Shares
The price of our common shares may fluctuate significantly and you could lose all or part of your investment.
Volatility in the market price of our common shares may prevent you from being able to sell your common shares at or above the price you paid for your common shares. The market price for our common shares could fluctuate significantly for various reasons, including, without limitation:
our operating and financial performance and prospects;
our quarterly or annual earnings or earnings estimates, or those of other companies in our industry;
failure to meet external expectations or management guidance;
the loss of one or more individually large clients, and its impact on our growth rate, profitability and financial condition;
exposure to capital market risks related to changes in interest rates, realized investment losses, credit spreads, equity prices, foreign exchange rates and performance of insurance-linked investments;
our creditworthiness, financial condition, performance and prospects;
termination of payment of dividends on our common shares, or payment of a reduced amount of dividends;
actual or anticipated growth rates relative to our competitors;
perceptions of the investment opportunity associated with our common shares relative to other investment alternatives;
speculation by the investment community regarding our business;
future announcements concerning our business or our competitors’ businesses;
the public’s reaction to our press releases, other public announcements and filings with the SEC;
changes in accounting standards, policies, guidance, interpretations or principles;
market and industry perception of our success, or lack thereof, in pursuing our strategy;
strategic actions by us or our competitors, such as acquisitions, restructurings, significant contracts or joint ventures;
catastrophes that are perceived by investors as impacting the insurance and reinsurance market in general;
changes in laws or government regulation, including tax or insurance laws and regulations;
potential characterization of us as a PFIC;
general market, economic and political conditions;
changes in conditions or trends in our industry, geographies or customers;
arrival and departure of key personnel;
the number of common shares that are publicly traded;
the offering and issuance of common shares by us, or sales of common shares by our directors or executive officers; and
adverse resolution of litigation against us.
In addition, stock markets, including the NASDAQ Stock Market (the market on which our common shares are traded), have experienced price and volume fluctuations that have affected and continue to affect the market prices of equity securities issued by many companies, including companies in our industry. In the past, some companies that have had volatile market prices for their securities have been subject to class action or derivative lawsuits. The filing of a lawsuit against us, regardless of the outcome, could have a negative effect on our business, as it could result in substantial legal costs and a diversion of management’s attention and resources.
As a result of the factors described above, shareholders may not be able to resell their common shares at or above their purchase price or may not be able to resell them at all. These market and industry factors may materially reduce the market price of our common shares, regardless of our operating performance.
If securities or industry analysts do not continue to publish research or publish misleading or unfavorable research about our business, our common share price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common shares depends in part on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. If one or more of these analysts downgrades our shares or publishes misleading or unfavorable research about our business, our share price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our Company or fails to publish reports on us regularly, demand for our shares could decrease, which could cause our share price or trading volume to decline.
Failure to maintain effective internal controls in accordance with Sarbanes-Oxley could have a material adverse effect on our business and common share price.
As a public company with SEC reporting obligations, we are required to document and test our internal control procedures to satisfy the requirements of Section 404(b) of Sarbanes-Oxley, which require annual assessments by management of the effectiveness of our internal control over financial reporting.
During the course of our assessment, we may identify deficiencies that we are unable to remediate in a timely manner. Testing and maintaining our internal control over financial reporting may also divert management’s attention from other matters that are important to the operation of our business. We may not be able to conclude on an ongoing basis that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404(b) of Sarbanes-Oxley. If we conclude that our internal control over financial reporting is not effective, we cannot be certain as to the timing of completion of our evaluation, testing and remediation actions or its effect on our operations. Moreover, any material weaknesses or other deficiencies in our internal control over financial reporting may impede our ability to file timely and accurate reports with the SEC. Any of the above could cause investors to lose confidence in our reported financial information or our common share listing on the NASDAQ Stock Market to be suspended or terminated, which could have a negative effect on the trading price of our common shares.
Our bye-laws permit non-employee members of our board of directors and their affiliates to compete with us, which may result in conflicts of interest.
Our bye-laws provide that members of our board of directors (other than those who are our officers, managers or employees) and their affiliates do not have any duty to (i) communicate or present to the Company any investment or business opportunity or prospective transaction or arrangement in which the Company may have any interest or expectancy or (ii) refrain from engaging, directly or indirectly, in the same business activities or similar business activities or lines of business in which we operate. Bryan Martin and David Zwillinger, each a Class I director of the Company, are officers of D. E. Shaw & Co., L.P. and its affiliates (collectively, “D. E. Shaw”). D. E. Shaw is a global investment and technology development firm, which among other things, is in the business of making investments in companies. Our bye-laws will not restrict our non-employee directors, or their affiliates, including D. E. Shaw, from acquiring and holding interests in businesses that compete directly or indirectly with us. For example, D. E. Shaw is currently engaged in the reinsurance business. Our non-employee directors and their affiliates, including D. E. Shaw, may also pursue acquisition opportunities that may be complementary to our business and, as a result, those acquisition opportunities may not be available to us. These potential conflicts of interest could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations or prospects if we are unable to pursue attractive corporate opportunities because they are allocated by our non-employee directors to themselves or their affiliates instead of being presented to us.
We depend upon dividends and distributions from our subsidiaries, and we may be unable to distribute dividends to our shareholders to the extent we do not receive dividends from our subsidiaries.
We are a holding company that has no substantial operations of our own and, accordingly, we rely primarily on cash dividends or distributions from our operating subsidiaries to pay our operating expenses and any dividends that we may pay to shareholders. The payment of dividends by our insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries is limited under the laws and regulations of its applicable domicile. These regulations stipulate the maximum amount of annual dividends or other distributions available to shareholders without prior approval of the relevant regulatory authorities. As a result of such regulations, we may not be able to pay our operating expenses as they become due and our payment of future dividends to shareholders may be limited.
The payment of dividends by our subsidiaries to us is limited by statute. In general, the laws and regulations applicable to our U.S. insurance subsidiaries limit the aggregate amount of dividends or other distributions that they may declare or pay within any 12 month period without advance regulatory approval. In Ohio, the domiciliary state of Falls Lake National and James River Insurance, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of earned surplus of each of the companies, without obtaining regulatory approval. In North Carolina, the domiciliary state of Stonewood
Insurance, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income excluding realized capital gains for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of unassigned surplus without obtaining regulatory approval. In Virginia, the domiciliary state of James River Casualty, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income excluding realized capital gains for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of unassigned surplus without obtaining regulatory approval. In California, the domiciliary state of Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, this limitation is the greater of statutory net income for the preceding calendar year or 10% of the statutory surplus at the end of the preceding calendar year, provided that such dividends may only be paid out of unassigned surplus without obtaining regulatory approval. Moreover, as a condition to obtaining its license in California, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company provided a commitment to the California Department of Insurance that it would not pay any shareholder dividends for a five-year period commencing January 1, 2016 without prior written approval. In addition, insurance regulators have broad powers to prevent reduction of statutory surplus to inadequate levels and could refuse to permit the payment of dividends calculated under any applicable formula. See “Business—Regulation—U.S. Insurance Regulation—State Regulation” for more information. In addition, dividends paid by our U.S. subsidiaries to our U.K. holding company are subject to a 5% withholding tax by the IRS. Under U.K. domestic law, no withholding tax is applied to dividends paid by U.K. tax resident companies.
JRG Re, which is domiciled in Bermuda, is registered as a Class 3B insurer under the Insurance Act. The Insurance Act, the conditions listed in the insurance license and the applicable approvals issued by the BMA provide that JRG Re is required to maintain a minimum statutory solvency margin of $103.1 million as of December 31, 2018. See “Business—Regulation—Bermuda Insurance Regulation—Minimum Solvency Margin and Enhanced Capital Requirements” for more information. A Class 3B insurer is prohibited from declaring or paying a dividend if it fails to meet, before or after declaration or payment of such dividend, its: (i) requirements under the Companies Act, (ii) minimum solvency margin, (iii) enhanced capital requirement or (iv) minimum liquidity ratio. If a Class 3B insurer fails to meet its minimum solvency margin or minimum liquidity ratio on the last day of any financial year, it is prohibited from declaring or paying any dividends during the next financial year without the approval of the BMA. In addition, JRG Re, as a Class 3B insurer, is prohibited from declaring or paying in any financial year dividends of more than 25% of its total statutory capital and surplus (as shown on its previous financial year’s statutory balance sheet) unless it files (at least seven days before payment of such dividends) with the BMA an affidavit signed by at least 2 directors (one of whom must be a Bermuda resident director if any of the insurer’s directors are resident in Bermuda) and the principal representative stating that it will continue to meet its solvency margin and minimum liquidity ratio. Where such an affidavit is filed, it shall be available for public inspection at the offices of the BMA. See “Business— Regulation—Bermuda Insurance Regulation—Restrictions on Dividends and Distributions” for more information.
The inability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends or make distributions to us, including as a result of regulatory or other restrictions, may prevent us from paying our expenses or paying dividends to our shareholders.
We cannot assure you that we will declare or pay dividends on our common shares in the future.
We have paid dividends to our shareholders in each quarter since the first quarter of 2015, which was the first full quarter after completion of our IPO. The declaration, payment and amount of future dividends is subject to the discretion of our board of directors. Our board of directors may take into account a variety of factors when determining whether to declare any future dividends, including (1) our financial condition, liquidity, results of operations (including our ability to generate cash flow in excess of expenses and our expected or actual net income), retained earnings and collateral and capital requirements, (2) general business conditions, (3) legal, tax and regulatory limitations, (4) contractual prohibitions and other restrictions, (5) the effect of a dividend or dividends upon our financial strength ratings and (6) any other factors that our board of directors deems relevant. See “Item 5. Market For Registrant’s Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases Of Equity Securities - Dividends.” We cannot assure you that we will continue to pay dividends in the future, or that the amount of any such dividend will not decline from prior dividends we have paid.
Dividends paid by our U.S. subsidiaries to James River UK may not be eligible for benefits under the U.S.-U.K. income tax treaty.
Under U.S. federal income tax law, dividends paid by a U.S. corporation to a non-U.S. shareholder are generally subject to a 30% withholding tax, unless reduced by treaty. The income tax treaty between the United Kingdom and the United States (the “U.K. Treaty”) reduces the rate of withholding tax on certain dividends to 5%. Were the IRS to contend successfully that James River UK is not eligible for benefits under the U.K. Treaty, any dividends paid by James River Group, Inc., our U.S. holding company, to James River UK would be subject to the 30% withholding tax. Such a result would substantially reduce the amount of dividends that our shareholder may receive.
Future sales of our common shares, or the possibility of such sales, may cause the trading price of our common shares to decline and could impair our ability to raise capital through subsequent equity offerings.
Future sales of substantial amounts of our common shares in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, could cause the market price of our common shares to decline and impair our ability to raise capital through the sale of additional shares.
In the future, we may issue additional common shares or other equity or debt securities convertible into common shares in connection with a financing, acquisition or employee arrangement or otherwise. Any of these issuances could result in substantial dilution to our existing shareholders and could cause the trading price of our common shares to decline.
Our bye-laws and provisions of Bermuda law may impede or discourage a change of control transaction, which could deprive our investors of the opportunity to receive a premium for their shares.
Our bye-laws and provisions of Bermuda law to which we are subject contain provisions that could discourage, delay or prevent “change of control” transactions or changes in our board of directors and management that certain shareholders may view as beneficial or advantageous. These provisions include, among others:
the total voting power of any U.S. person owning more than 9.5% of our common shares will be reduced to 9.5% of the total voting power of our common shares, excluding shareholders that held more than 9.5% of our common shares on the day of completion of our IPO;
our board of directors has the authority to issue preferred shares without shareholder approval, which could be used to dilute the ownership of a potential hostile acquirer;
our shareholders may only remove directors for cause;
there are advance notice requirements for shareholders with respect to director nominations and actions to be taken at annual meetings; and
under Bermuda law, for so long as JRG Re and Carolina Re are registered under the Insurance Act, the BMA may object to a person holding more than 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% of our common shares if it appears to the BMA that the person is not or is no longer fit and proper to be such a holder (See “— There are regulatory limitations on the ownership and transfer of our common shares.”).
The foregoing factors could impede a merger, takeover or other business combination, which could reduce the market value of our shares.
We may repurchase your common shares without your consent.
Under our bye-laws and subject to Bermuda law, we have the option, but not the obligation, to require a shareholder, other than shareholders holding more than 9.5% of our common shares on the day of completion of our IPO, to sell to us at fair market value the minimum number of common shares which is necessary to avoid or cure any adverse tax consequences or materially adverse legal or regulatory treatment to us, our subsidiaries or our shareholders, if our board of directors reasonably determines, in good faith, that failure to exercise this option would result in such adverse consequences or treatment.
Bermuda law differs from the laws in effect in the United States and may afford less protection to holders of our shares.
We are organized under the laws of Bermuda. As a result, our corporate affairs are governed by the Companies Act, which differs in some material respects from laws typically applicable to U.S. corporations and shareholders, including the provisions relating to interested directors, amalgamations, mergers and acquisitions, takeovers, shareholder lawsuits and indemnification of directors. Generally, the duties of directors and officers of a Bermuda company are owed to the company only. Shareholders of Bermuda companies typically do not have rights to take action against directors or officers of the company and may only do so in limited circumstances. Class actions are not available under Bermuda law. The circumstances in which derivative actions may be available under Bermuda law are substantially more proscribed and less clear than they would be to shareholders of U.S. corporations. The Bermuda courts, however, would ordinarily be expected to permit a shareholder to commence an action in the name of a company to remedy a wrong to the company where the act complained of is alleged to be beyond the corporate power of the company or illegal, or would result in the violation of the company’s memorandum of association or bye-laws. Furthermore, consideration would be given by a Bermuda court to acts that are alleged to constitute a fraud against minority shareholders or, for instance, where an act requires the approval of a greater percentage of the company’s shareholders than that which actually approved it.
When the affairs of a company are being conducted in a manner that is oppressive or prejudicial to the interests of some shareholders, one or more shareholders may apply to the Supreme Court of Bermuda, which may make such order as it sees fit, including an order regulating the conduct of the company’s affairs in the future or ordering the purchase of the shares of any shareholders by other shareholders or by the company. Additionally, under our bye-laws and as permitted by Bermuda law,
each shareholder has waived any claim or right of action against our directors or officers for any action taken by directors or officers in the performance of their duties, except for actions involving fraud or dishonesty. In addition, the rights of holders of our common shares and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Bermuda law are not as clearly established as under statutes or judicial precedent in existence in jurisdictions in the United States, particularly the State of Delaware. Therefore, holders of our common shares may have more difficulty protecting their interests than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a jurisdiction within the United States.
There are regulatory limitations on the ownership and transfer of our common shares.
Common shares may be offered or sold in Bermuda only in compliance with the provisions of the Investment Business Act 2003 and the Exchange Control Act 1972 and related regulations of Bermuda, which regulate the sale of securities in Bermuda. In addition, the permission of the BMA is required under the provisions of the Exchange Control Act 1972 and related regulations for all issuances and transfers of shares of Bermuda companies to or from a non-resident of Bermuda for exchange control purposes, other than where the BMA has granted a general permission. The BMA, in its notice to the public dated June 1, 2005 has granted a general permission for the issue and subsequent transfer of any securities of a Bermuda company from and/or to a non-resident of Bermuda for exchange control purposes for so long as any “equity securities” of such company are listed on an appointed stock exchange, which includes the NASDAQ Stock Market. This general permission will apply to our common shares, but would cease to apply if we were to cease to be listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market.
In connection with the IPO, we received consent from the BMA to issue and transfer freely any of our shares, options, warrants, depository receipts, rights loan notes, debt instruments or other securities to and among persons who are either residents or non-residents of Bermuda for exchange control purposes.
The Insurance Act requires that where the shares of the registered insurer, or the shares of its parent company, are traded on a recognized stock exchange, and a person becomes a 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% shareholder controller of the insurer, that person shall, within 45 days, notify the BMA in writing that he has become such a controller. In addition, a person who is a shareholder controller of an insurer whose shares or the shares of its parent company (if any) are traded on a recognized stock exchange must serve on the BMA a notice in writing that he has reduced or disposed of his holding in the insurer where the proportion of voting rights in the insurer held by him will have reached or has fallen below 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% as the case may be, not later than 45 days after such disposal. This requirement will apply to us as long as our shares are listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market or another stock exchange recognized by the BMA. The BMA may, by written notice, object to a person holding 10%, 20%, 33% or 50% of our common shares if it appears to the BMA that the person is not fit and proper to be such a holder. The BMA may require the holder to reduce its shareholding in us and may direct, among other things, that the voting rights attaching to its shares shall not be exercisable. A person that does not comply with such a notice or direction from the BMA will be guilty of an offense.
JRG Re and Carolina Re are also required to notify the BMA in writing in the event any person has become or has ceased to be a controller or an officer of it (an officer includes a director, chief executive or senior executive performing duties of underwriting, actuarial, risk management, compliance, internal audit, finance or investment matters).
Except in connection with the settlement of trades or transactions entered into through the facilities of the NASDAQ Stock Market, our board of directors may generally require any shareholder or any person proposing to acquire our common shares to provide the information required under our bye-laws. If any such shareholder or proposed acquiror does not provide such information, or if our board of directors has reason to believe that any certification or other information provided pursuant to any such request is inaccurate or incomplete, our board of directors may decline to register any transfer or to effect any issuance or purchase of our common shares to which such request is related.
In addition, the insurance holding company laws and regulations of the states in which our insurance companies are domiciled generally require that, before a person can acquire direct or indirect control of an insurer domiciled in the state, and in some cases prior to divesting its control, prior written approval must be obtained from the insurer’s domiciliary state insurance regulator. In addition to insurance holding company laws and regulations, under the Organizational Permit issued by the California Department of Insurance to Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company, as a new insurer, was required to enter into an agreement with Falls Lake National restricting the transfer of Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company’s shares for a five-year period commencing January 1, 2016. Specifically, under the agreement, the restriction on share transfer is released automatically without further approval or consent by the California Department of Insurance, or any other party, at the following respective times: 5% at the end of the first year of the 5-year restriction period; an additional 5% at the end of the second year; an additional 10% at the end of the third year; an additional 20% at the end of the fourth year; and the remainder at the end of the fifth year. Therefore, under the Organizational Permit and the Agreement Restricting Shares, Falls Lake National’s ability to directly or indirectly transfer the shares of Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company to anyone without the prior written approval of the California Department of Insurance is limited. These laws and the similar conditions applicable to Falls Lake Fire and Casualty Company’s shares may discourage potential acquisition proposals and may delay, deter or prevent an investment in or a change of control involving us, or one or more of our regulated
subsidiaries, including transactions that our management and some or all of shareholders might consider desirable. Pursuant to applicable laws and regulations, “control” over an insurer is generally presumed to exist if any person, directly or indirectly, owns, controls, holds the power to vote or holds proxies representing, 10% or more of the voting securities of that reinsurer or insurer. Indirect ownership includes ownership of the Company’s common shares.
UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
We lease office space in Bermuda, where our principal executive office is located and our casualty reinsurance segment is based. We also lease offices in (1) Chapel Hill, North Carolina, where our U.S. holding company, James River Group is based, (2) Raleigh, North Carolina, Santa Margarita, California, Princeton, New Jersey, and Saratoga Springs, New York where we conduct business in our Specialty Admitted Insurance segment and (3) Richmond, Virginia, Scottsdale, Arizona and Atlanta, Georgia for the conduct of business in our Excess and Surplus Lines segment. We believe that our facilities are adequate for our current needs and that suitable additional or substitute space will be available as needed.
We are party to legal proceedings which arise in the ordinary course of business. We believe that the outcome of such matters, individually and in the aggregate, will not have a material adverse effect on our consolidated financial position, results of operations or cash flows.
MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURE
MARKET FOR REGISTRANT’S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our common shares began trading on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol “JRVR” on December 12, 2014. Prior to that time, there was no public market for our common shares. As of February 25, 2019, there were approximately 8 holders of record of our common shares.
We paid dividends of $0.30 per share in each quarter of 2018 and 2017. We also paid a special dividend of $0.50 per share in the fourth quarter of 2017. We paid dividends of $0.20 per share in each of the first three quarters of 2016 and, in the fourth quarter, a $0.30 per share dividend plus a special dividend of $1.35 per share.
We are a holding company that has no substantial operations of our own, and we rely primarily on cash dividends or distributions from our subsidiaries to pay our operating expenses and dividends to shareholders. The payment of dividends by our insurance and reinsurance subsidiaries is limited under the laws and regulations of their respective domicile. These regulations stipulate the maximum amount of annual dividends or other distributions available to shareholders without prior approval of the relevant regulatory authorities. Additionally, dividends from our U.S. subsidiaries to our U.K. intermediate holding company are generally subject to a 5% withholding tax by the IRS. Under U.K. domestic law, no withholding tax is applied to dividends paid by U.K. tax resident companies. As a result of such regulations, or a change in applicable tax law, we may not be able to pay our operating expenses as they become due and our payment of future dividends to shareholders may be limited. See “Risk Factors — Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Shares—We depend upon dividends and distributions from our subsidiaries, and we may be unable to distribute dividends to our shareholders to the extent we do not receive dividends from our subsidiaries,” and “—Dividends paid by our U.S. subsidiaries to James River UK may not be eligible for benefits under the U.S.-U.K. income tax treaty.”
The declaration, payment and amount of future dividends is subject to the discretion of our board of directors. Our board of directors will give consideration to various risks and uncertainties, including those discussed under the headings “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations” and elsewhere in this Annual Report when determining whether to declare and pay dividends, as well as the amount thereof. Our board of directors may take into account a variety of factors when determining whether to declare any future dividends, including (1) our financial condition, liquidity, results of operations (including our ability to generate cash flow in excess of expenses and our expected or actual net income), retained earnings and collateral and capital requirements, (2) general business conditions, (3) legal, tax and regulatory limitations, (4) contractual prohibitions and other restrictions, (5) the effect of a dividend or dividends upon our financial strength ratings and (6) any other factors that our board of directors deems relevant.
The graph below compares the cumulative total shareholder return of our common shares relative to the cumulative total returns of the Russell 2000 index and a selected peer group of seven companies that includes Amerisafe Inc., Argo Group International Holdings Ltd, Kinsale Capital Group Inc., Markel Corp, Navigators Group Inc., RLI Corp and W. R. Berkley Corp. The companies in the peer group are weighted by market capitalization. The calculation of cumulative total shareholder return assumes an initial investment of $100 and the reinvestment of all dividends, if any, for the period from December 12, 2014 (the date of our initial public offering) through December 31, 2018. Such returns are based on historical results and are not intended to suggest future performance.
James River Group Holdings, Ltd.
The performance graph and related information shall not be deemed “soliciting material” or to be “filed” with the SEC for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, or the Exchange Act, or otherwise subject to the liabilities under that Section, and shall not be deemed to be incorporated by reference into any future filing under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act, except to the extent that we specifically incorporate it by reference into such filing.
SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following tables present selected historical financial information of James River Group Holdings, Ltd. derived from our consolidated balance sheets as of December 31, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015 and 2014, and the related consolidated statements of income and comprehensive income, changes in shareholders’ equity and cash flows for each of the five years in the period ended December 31, 2018, which have been audited by Ernst & Young LLP.
You should read this selected financial data along with the consolidated financial statements and accompanying notes included elsewhere in this Annual Report, as well as the section of this Annual Report titled “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations.”
Year Ended December 31,
($ in thousands, except for per share data)
Gross written premiums(1)
Ceded written premiums(2)
Net written premiums
Net earned premiums
Net investment income
Net realized investment (losses) gains
Losses and loss adjustment expenses
Other operating expenses
Amortization of intangible assets
Income before income tax expense
Income tax expense
Adjusted net operating income(4)