Old Republic International keeps pace with changing financial times. With more than 100 subsidiaries across North America, Old Republic International's primary operations are conducted through the Old Republic General Insurance division, which offers commercial liability and property/casualty insurance (mostly commercial trucking, workers' compensation, and general liability policies). In addition, the company's Title Insurance group specializes in, naturally, issuing title insurance to property owners and lenders. Its Old Republic National Title subsidiary is one of the US's oldest and largest title insurance companies, with offices throughout the US.
While Old Republic does sell some of its property/casualty and specialty products directly, it relies on independent agencies, brokers, and financial institutions to distribute the majority. Commercial property/casualty policies account for more than half of the company's sales. Title insurance accounts for some 30% of revenues, while the smaller mortgage guaranty business (currently in runoff) brings in about 10% of sales. The company also maintains a small life and health insurance business.
The mortgage guaranty division stopped actively writing and selling new policies in 2011 when a waiver allowing it to operate with reduced capital requirements expired. The division, which failed to recover from the collapse of the residential real estate market in 2008, is operating under the supervision of the North Carolina Department of Insurance. It is servicing its existing mortgage guaranty policies on a "runoff" basis. In 2012 Old Republic made a strategic decision to recapitalize its business by combining its mortgage guaranty and consumer credit indemnity lines as a first step in preparing its Republic Financial Indemnity Group (RFIG) for a partial leveraged buyout, to be followed by its spin-off to its shareholders. Certain shareholders objected to the plan, however, and the company quickly withdrew its registration statement for the spin-off.
In response to the souring real estate market, Old Republic has been increasing its focus on its commercial liability and property/casualty operations. In 2010 the company strengthened the general insurance division by acquiring commercial insurance provider PMA Capital through a stock-and-debt merger transaction worth some $365 million. The acquisition expanded and diversified Old Republic's general insurance business and allows for greater future growth opportunities and operational synergies.
Increased sales in the general insurance segment and the title insurance segment (which actually benefitted from the real estate crisis due to a decrease in competition in the title insurance sector) have allowed Old Republic's annual revenues to climb in recent years, including a 13% increase in 2011 to some $4.6 billion.
The company's net income dropped that year when it posted a loss of some $140 million (largely tied to the troubled mortgage guaranty division); however, the company's public filings clearly state that it looks at its business in five-to-10-year intervals and therefore isn't bothered by the ups and downs in shorter cycles. The health of its general insurance business and the fact that it carries very little debt make it easier to take that view. – less