Insurance isn't exactly a product you can store and ship, but it still needs distributors, and that's where USI Holdings comes in. A major US insurance broker, USI Holdings distributes insurance products and provides consulting and administrative services to businesses through 80 offices in some 25 states. It specializes in commercial property/casualty and employee benefits insurance for small and midsized businesses, but also dabbles in wealth management and retirement services. The company's USI Consulting and Univers Workplace Benefits units provide benefits-related consulting and administration. Owned by GS Capital Partners, USI has agreed to be acquired by private equity firm Onex Corporation.
USI Holdings was taken private when it was acquired by GS Capital Partners, a private-equity arm of Goldman Sachs, in a 2007 deal valued at $1.4 billion. The late 2012 acquisition announcement involves Onex purchasing USI for $2.3 billion.
Other specialized units offer insurance and risk management for healthcare facilities (USI Healthcare) and affinity groups such as professional associations (USI Affinity). Though the company provides centralized administrative and financial services to its operating subsidiaries and divisions, it gives them operational control of day-to-day activities to allow for the customization of products and services in targeted geographic and customer markets. By offering a wide range of services, USI Holdings aims to be a one-stop-shop for linked products (insurance, employee benefits, risk management, and asset and financial services) to individual customers.
Since its formation in 1994, the company has grown by buying up more than 100 brokerages and other firms nationwide. Its acquisition appetite was ravenous in its early years, but it's purchasing pace has slowed a bit in recent years as it developed a more selective acquisition strategy, averaging only about one acquisition per year for several years. The firm has also been focused on integrating its acquired businesses and recruiting talented producers and managers for its regional business units.
Beginning in 2010 the company picked up its acquisition pace, starting with the buy of National City Insurance from PNC Financial Services; the acquisition of the employee benefit insurance broker marked USI Holdings' entrance into Kentucky and Missouri (the company also picked up offices in Ohio in the deal). Later in 2010, the company strengthened its operations in the Northwest when it acquired Washington employee benefits firm RA Bench, Rhode Island-based Mastors & Servant Risk Services, and the New Jersey division of Kinloch Holdings.
In 2011 it ramped up its buying spree, making more than half a dozen acquisitions before the close of the year. It expanded its specialty service operations through purchases of several employee benefits specialists including Tricerion Group (Georgia), de la Parte & Associates (Florida), Barros International (New York), Bluff Head Enterprises (New York), and Plumhoff & Associates (Texas), as well as the acquisition of a California-based commercial marine brokerage unit (formerly part of property/casualty firm Venbrook Group). It also expanded its regional brokerage operations through the purchases of New York brokerage firm Amerisc and Ohio brokerage firm First Place Insurance Agency (formerly a unit of First Place Financial). – less