Insurance holding company AmTrust Financial Services likes a mix of businesses on its plate. Its subsidiaries offer a range of commercial property/casualty insurance products for small and midsized customers, including workers' compensation products, auto and general liability, and extended service and warranty coverage of consumer and commercial goods. It also provides a small amount of personal auto reinsurance. It operates in Bermuda, Ireland, the UK, and the US and distributes its products through brokers, agents, and claims administrators. The company's customers include restaurants, retail stores, physicians' offices, auto and consumer electronics manufacturers, and trucking operations.
Historically, AmTrust's premium revenue was fairly evenly split among three segments: Small Commercial Business, Specialty Risk and Extended Warranty, and Specialty Middle Market Business. In 2010 it added a Personal Lines Reinsurance segment when it acquired a minority stake in GMAC Insurance Personal Lines, the former US consumer property/casualty insurance business of GMAC (now known as Ally Financial). That stake gave the company access to writing 10% of the reinsurance on GMAC's US personal auto insurance. While that business only accounts for a small portion of AmTrust's premiums, it gave it access to a distribution network of more than 10,000 independent agents and helped to diversify the company's revenue streams.
AmTrust reported 2011 revenue of nearly $1.4 billion, up more than a third from the previous year. The company saw strong double-digit growth across all segments, including nearly 50% growth in its largest segment (specialty risk and extended warranty) because of a new reinsurance program for the company's European medical liability business, among other factors. AmTrust's newest and smallest segment (personal lines reinsurance) nearly doubled from the previous year as 2011 was the first full year of results. It also benefitted from the 2011 acquisition of business from Majestic Insurance Company.
Net income in 2011 was up nearly 20% to $170 million.
Key to AmTrust's overall business strategy is keeping its portfolio diversified by both business line and geography. For example, in 2012 the company expanded its six-year strategic partnership with CNH Capital by establishing a long-term licensing and service agreement with the company and acquiring its affiliate agencies CNH Capital Insurance Agency and CNH Capital Canada Insurance Agency. The companies will collaborate to expand CNH Capital's offering of equipment extended service contracts and other insurance products to equipment dealers in the US and Canada including CNH-affiliated companies Case, New Holland, and Kobelco.
Mergers and Acquisitions
The company has been able to expand its product offerings and geographic reach through acquisitions of smaller competitors, though it approaches its purchases with a conservative eye, avoiding huge financial investments. To diversify its product offerings, the company has made investments in a range of businesses including a 60% stake in Tiger Capital, which acquires life settlement contracts, and an 80% stake in Risk Services, a captive management provider, during 2010.
In other instances, the company simply acquires the renewal rights to blocks of policies issued by other companies. It acquired the renewal rights to Unitrin's Business Insurance unit in 2008, and picked up a block of workers' compensation policies from Majestic Insurance Company in 2011. In early 2012, AmTrust added coverage for community banks when it acquired renewal rights to the in-force policies of Oklahoma-based BancInsure.
The company took a larger bite out of the warranty business through the purchase of Warrantech in 2010. AmTrust previously held a minority stake in Warrantech; it made the third-party warranty administration company a wholly owned subsidiary by purchasing the 73% interest held by H.I.G. Capital through a $35 million cash and debt transaction. AmTrust will expand further in the warranty market through the purchase of UK-based Car Car Plan, which it agreed to acquire from Ally Financial for $70 million in 2012.
Chairman Michael Karfunkel and his brother George each hold about 25% of AmTrust; Michael's son-in-law, CEO Barry Zyskind, holds 10%. – less
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