Selective Insurance Group is trying to be more accepting -- without becoming indiscriminate. Since the early 1990s, the property/casualty insurance holding company has been expanding its service area beyond its native New Jersey to reach the entire eastern US seaboard and much of the Midwest. Commercial policies sold by its seven subsidiaries include workers' compensation and commercial automobile, property, and liability insurance. Personal lines include homeowners and automobile insurance. The company also offers federal flood insurance administration services and some excess and surplus insurance. Some 1,000 independent agencies market Selective Insurance products.
The company targets small and midsized businesses and government entities; in 2011 commercial lines accounted for 80% of net premiums written. Personal lines brought in 18% and and excess and surplus (E&S) products brought in the slim remainder. (E&S insurance covers more unusual risks than standard insurance.) Selective has invested in technology to speed up the process of writing new business.
While New Jersey still accounts for 25% of Selective Insurance's net written premiums, it writes business in 22 states and intends to become a "super-regional" insurer. By doing business in a wider geographic range, the company hopes to spread out its catastrophic risk exposure. It maintains its headquarters in New Jersey and regional branch offices in five other states.
Following an initial drop in revenues during the early days of the recession, and the sale of its human resources business, Selective Insurance has remained stable with modest (2%) revenue growth amounting to $1,597 million in 2011. Hurricane Irene and more than 20 other storms in 2011 brought catastrophe losses of $118.8 million and pulled Selective Insurance's net income down 70% from 2010 to $19.9 million.
Selective is hoping to build up its portfolio of personal and commercial E&S insurance products. To meet that goal, in 2011 the company bought up the renewal rights to a block of E&S products from Alterra Capital and Montpelier U.S. Insurance Company, the E&S business of Montpelier Re. – less