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Main Florida property insurers paid out extreme government compensation packages, dividends for years | Property Insurance coverage Protection Regulation Weblog

Be aware: This visitor put up was ready by Kevin Connor for the American Policyholder Affiliation.

For years, property insurance coverage firms in Florida paid out extreme government compensation packages and inventory dividends, basically transferring income into insiders’ pockets as a substitute of getting ready for future years of hostile underwriting experiences as most insurers do.

Now these similar firms are pointing to the price of fraud and litigation as causes for losses and fee will increase which appear to be a technique to divert consideration away from the impression of mismanagement and company greed. Some proceed to pay out beneficiant money dividends to shareholders whilst they file for substantial fee hikes, cease writing insurance policies in elements of the state, or look to withdraw from the Florida markets altogether.

To compound the issue, a number of Florida insurers have failed, and data as to why has not been launched to the general public. Whereas the Florida Division of Monetary Providers is required to launch findings on why insurers failed, nobody appears to have the ability to get copies of those stories. Florida regulation requires the division to launch preliminary findings inside 4 months of being appointed as receiver and likewise a complete report as soon as proceedings have accomplished. One of many few ultimate stories obtainable on householders insurance coverage firms is relating to the failure of Sunshine State Insurance coverage Firm in 2014. The corporate reported that attributable to an “accounting error,” it didn’t have the required reserves and was positioned into receivership. Sunshine State was later discovered to have shifted thousands and thousands of {dollars} in funds to its mother or father firm and subsidiaries, in addition to giant government bonuses whereas the corporate was on the verge of insolvency. An fascinating part of the required insolvency stories is that the division is required to do an evaluation of the effectiveness of the Workplace of Insurance coverage Regulation’s oversight of insurance coverage firms which have later failed. Some have speculated that that is the explanation why these stories seem like suppressed.

Little consideration has been paid to this facet of Florida’s insurance coverage market: Insurance coverage executives lined their pockets for years as a substitute of working the businesses responsibly and increase enough reserves and at the moment are pointing the finger at shoppers, legal professionals, and roofers. We have now seen questionable statistics usually repeated to assist this concept, however nobody has produced validation or verification.

Regulatory oversight is meant to guard in opposition to insurance coverage firms being aggressively stripped of money and reserves, akin to by limits on dividends. Florida’s regulators seem to have been inadequate in maintaining insurance coverage firms from being run like private piggy banks or having funds in years when losses had been low.

The next are three examples of insurance coverage firms that at present write a major proportion of house owners insurance coverage insurance policies in Florida and have paid out extreme compensation packages and dividend funds.

These firms are highlighted partly as a result of they’re publicly traded, which implies that their compensation packages and dividend funds are disclosed and, partly, as a result of their payouts have been extreme.

The under should not complete analyses of the compensation and different enterprise practices of those firms or these of the business as a complete. They’re meant to supply a window into a number of the methods by which high insurance coverage executives in Florida have stripped money out of their firms with no eye towards long-term viability.

I. Heritage Insurance coverage: Former chairman raked in $27 million in compensation and cashed in on $19 million in inventory in a single yr, averaged practically $10 million per yr in compensation

Heritage Insurance coverage is a comparatively new property insurance coverage firm that was based in 2012 and had its preliminary public providing in 2014. After an preliminary interval of fast progress, thanks largely to a sweetheart cope with the state of Florida and years with out main storms, the corporate has been experiencing important losses over the previous two years, not too long ago stopped writing insurance policies in Florida, and is making an attempt to depart the market. A current Tampa Bay Enterprise Journal headline says all of it: “Heritage Insurance coverage can’t exit Florida’s property market shortly sufficient as losses mount.”1

Earlier than these losses started mounting, the corporate paid outlandish sums to its high government – former chairman, chief funding officer, and co-founder Bruce Lucas.

Between 2013 to 2020, the corporate paid Lucas $78 million in compensation, a median of practically $10 million per yr, together with $27.2 million in 2015. That is greater than the CEOs of AllState, Progressive, and Vacationers made in 2021, all of that are a lot, a lot bigger than Heritage. The smallest of those firms by way of market capitalization, Allstate, at present has a market cap 800 instances bigger than Heritage Insurance coverage ($35 billion in comparison with $43 million). Even on the top of Heritage’s inventory worth, in 2015, Allstate’s market cap was 40 instances bigger than Heritage and paid its CEO half as a lot.

A lot of the compensation paid to Lucas was within the type of money – about $58 million of the $78 million whole, or 75%. This can be a comparatively giant money proportion for an government compensation bundle. It additionally implies that Lucas was capable of strip a substantial amount of wealth out of the corporate earlier than its inventory worth declined since he was not paid within the type of inventory.

Desk I: Bruce Lucas Compensation from Heritage Insurance coverage, 2013-20202

Moreover, Lucas bought substantial preliminary Heritage shareholdings the yr after the corporate’s IPO. Over the course of 2015, Lucas bought practically $19 million price of inventory, greater than half of his whole holdings on the time. The inventory worth on the time averaged $22 and hit its all-time peak throughout this era. It’s at present buying and selling at $1.65. If Lucas had held onto his stake relatively than promoting it, it might be price simply $1.4 million, 93% lower than what he bought it for in 2015.

Lucas’s $27 million compensation bundle in 2015 made headlines, partly as a result of the corporate requested a 15% fee hike in 2016.3 However Lucas was capable of promote the $19 million in present shareholdings quietly (and in accordance with a plan agreed upon with the corporate in March 2015 to keep away from insider buying and selling fees4). The inventory he bought was mainly paid again to him, once more, by the corporate, as a part of the $27 million pay bundle: he bought 850,000 shares from March by July of 2015 and obtained 750,000 shares from the corporate in November 2015.

Desk II: Bruce Lucas’ $19 million in Heritage inventory gross sales (2015)5

Lucas stepped down with impeccable timing in November 2020, simply as storm-related losses started selecting up. Since he stepped down, the corporate has reported seven straight quarters of losses, together with a $48 million loss within the third quarter of 2022.6 The corporate’s inventory worth is down about 85% since he left the corporate.

Assist from the state of Florida was key to Heritage’s progress in its early years. In 2013, when Heritage was nonetheless a startup and Lucas was nonetheless Heritage CEO, Heritage was capable of purchase $52 million in insurance policies from Residents in an uncommon deal that didn’t undergo the usual approval course of. Florida lawmakers questioned whether or not the corporate had obtained favorable remedy attributable to its $110,000 in contributions to then-Governor Rick Scott.7

In a current podcast interview, Lucas described how essential this was for the corporate’s progress and subsequent preliminary public providing: “We had plenty of issues taking place that had been very constructive. We had Residents Insurance coverage, which is the state-run insurer, had 1.5 million insurance policies they usually’d allow you to come and simply cherry decide no matter you needed, proper? Simply take it out. So you possibly can immediately get a whole lot of thousands and thousands in income…”8

In the identical interview, Lucas bragged that “by each metric, whenever you take a look at Heritage, it was an absolute residence run,” and that it booked a revenue yearly he was chairman, together with $500 million in pre-tax income.9

Lucas didn’t deal with the mounting losses the corporate has skilled since his departure.

Lucas had been a chapter legal professional for Enron and a hedge fund supervisor previous to founding Heritage. He’s now the CEO of Slide, an insurance coverage know-how startup. The businesses have a proper partnership, which Lucas known as “phenomenal” in the identical podcast cited above. He cited it as a vital purpose Slide was capable of elevate $105 million in a Sequence A fundraising spherical.10

Florida regulators awarded Slide Insurance coverage $400 million in insurance policies from St. Johns Insurance coverage after that firm went bancrupt earlier this yr. The transfer got here below hearth to the purpose the place business insiders spoke out in opposition to it publicly, arguing that the corporate had obtained a sweetheart deal.11 Slide and Heritage gave a mixed $190,000 to Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis in 2022.

Regardless of its present woes, Heritage had till not too long ago continued to pay a considerable dividend of $0.06 per share per quarter, or $0.24 per yr. This quantities to almost $7 million a yr and a dividend yield of roughly 15% (which means that 15% of its market capitalization was paid out as dividends on a yearly foundation). The corporate elected to not make a dividend fee in August 2022.

Lucas made far more cash than different high executives at Heritage throughout his time there, although they nonetheless obtained substantial pay packages. Richard Widdicombe, President and CEO throughout Lucas’s time as chairman and chief funding officer, made $7.6 million in 2015, and routinely made $3 million per yr, a lot of it paid in money.

II. United Property & Casualty / United Insurance coverage Holdings Corp: $10 million in dividends every year, together with $4 million in dividends to CEO

United Property and Casualty, the principle working subsidiary of United Insurance coverage Holdings, is at present within the strategy of withdrawing from and winding down its enterprise in Florida, Louisiana, and Texas. Its inventory is now buying and selling at simply $0.33 per share, down from $22 in 2018 and a excessive of $27 in 2015. Current press stories counsel that Hurricane Ian has pushed it to the brink of failure.12

UPC’s mother or father United Insurance coverage Holdings Corp., continued to pay a $0.06/share quarterly dividend, greater than $10 million a yr, whilst its inventory worth slid dramatically. It lastly stopped declaring dividend funds within the second quarter of 2022.13 Its present market capitalization, $13.85 million, will not be far more than its dividend funds in 2021, $10.3 million.

United Insurance coverage CEO Daniel Peed is paid a comparatively low wage (he made $180,600 in 2021),14 however he owns 40% of the corporate’s widespread inventory. Because of this the corporate has been paying him $4.2 million per yr in money since 2017, when the corporate was fashioned out of a merger. He doesn’t seem like reinvesting that within the firm by buying extra inventory.

Greg Department, a longtime director and former chairman, additionally has a large stake within the firm and is making about $550k a yr in dividend funds. Department was once non-executive chairman and CEO of a predecessor firm and had a really beneficiant compensation bundle when he served in that position.

The under desk reveals estimated United Insurance coverage Holdings dividend funds to Peed, Department, and all administrators and officers as a bunch. Notably, the corporate is majority-owned by administrators and officers. Funds to executives and administrators are estimated based mostly on the variety of shares they personal in line with the proxy assertion for that yr.

Desk III: United Insurance coverage Holdings Dividend Funds, 2017-202115

Peed solely turned CEO in 2020 however had joined the corporate as vice chairman in 2017 when United and the corporate he had been operating/owned largely, American Coastal, went by a merger. Peed had remained CEO of one other firm, AmRisc, which is partially a subsidiary of Truist (previously BB&T), and offers underwriting companies to American Coastal. Peed additionally owned practically 8% of AmRisc. Till not too long ago, United paid AmRisc commissions of about $100 million a yr.16 Peed stepped down as AmRisc CEO in December 2018 and divested his stake. UIHC continues to depend upon AmRisc (significantly for industrial residential) for underwriting/agent companies. Peed’s insider relationship with AmRisc raises questions of profit-shifting, although additional evaluation is required.

III. Common Property & Casualty / Common Insurance coverage Holdings: Huge pay packages of $14-$25 million for its former CEO, $25 million in dividends every year

Common Insurance coverage Holdings’ important working subsidiary, Common Property & Casualty, is Florida’s largest property insurance coverage provider. The corporate’s monetary situation has declined considerably over the previous yr: it posted a lack of $48 million within the fourth quarter of 2021, year-over-year decreases in internet earnings within the first two quarters of 2022, and a internet lack of $72 million for the third quarter of 2022.17 Its third-quarter loss was pushed by an estimated lack of $1 billion ensuing from injury attributable to Hurricane Ian.

Common’s inventory is now buying and selling at $10.99 per share, down 40% from its January 2022 inventory worth and down 77% from its 2018 peak of $48.55.

Govt compensation packages at Common had been extraordinarily inflated for a few years. Its former CEO, Sean Downes, obtained annual compensation packages that reached as excessive as $25 million (in 2015), totaled $107 million, and averaged $13.7 million throughout his time as CEO. Downes has continued to obtain compensation in 2020 and 2021 in his position as government chairman. A lot of this compensation was paid in money, together with $17 million in wage and $38 million in non-equity compensation.

As mentioned above within the part on Heritage and Bruce Lucas, these compensation quantities are increased than CEOs at giant insurance coverage firms which might be many instances the dimensions of Common.

The desk under reveals Downes’ compensation packages for his years as CEO (2013-2019) and government chairman (2020 and 2021).

Desk IV: Sean Downes’ Compensation as Chairman and CEO and Govt Chairman, 2013-202118

Notably, Downes took over as CEO in 2013 after its prior CEO, Bradley Meier, stepped down. That yr, the corporate had been fined for a variety of important violations, together with improper delays and denials.19 Meier’s compensation packages additionally bumped into the thousands and thousands.

The present CEO of Common is Stephen Donaghy. Donaghy’s compensation packages as CEO have been considerably decrease than Downes, however are nonetheless important, together with $3.3 million in 2020 and $3.5 million in 2021.

Very similar to Lucas, Downes bought a considerable quantity of Common inventory through the years, together with over a million shares from 2013-2018, throughout a interval when few main storms hit Florida, and Common inventory was surging. Downes cashed in on an estimated $19 million price of inventory throughout that interval and has bought an estimated $29 million price of inventory since 2007.

The under desk reveals these estimated figures. The worth of inventory bought is calculated by utilizing an estimated inventory worth for every given yr, which is the common of the excessive and low inventory worth for that yr. Figuring out the precise worth of Downes’ inventory gross sales on the time of the sale is feasible however would require discovering the value for every of the 77 transactions.

Moreover, the desk under solely captures gross sales of inventory – another sorts of disposals of inventory, together with presents, had been excluded for the aim of simplicity. A extra complete evaluation would seemingly produce a better whole.

Desk V: Sean Downes Inventory Gross sales and Estimated Worth, 2007-2022***20

Notably, Common additionally pays a considerable dividend every year, about $25 million every year. These funds have totaled practically $208 million since 2013, the yr Downes turned CEO. Downes himself has been paid an estimated $14.4 million in dividends since 2013 – between $1 and $2 million per yr. Administrators and officers as a bunch have been paid an estimated $24.4 million.

Regardless of its present monetary woes, Common continues to pay its dividend and has proven no indicators of suspending its dividend fee.

Desk VI: Common Insurance coverage Holdings Dividend Funds, 2013-202121

2 Sources: Proxy statements for Heritage Insurance coverage obtainable on EDGAR:
4 See footnote 1 for a proof of the plan:
5 Sources: Kind 4s filed by Bruce Lucas in 2015, obtainable on EDGAR:
15 Supply: Proxy statements for United Insurance coverage Holdings Corp filed with the SEC and obtainable right here:
Be aware: Dividend funds to Peed, Department, and executives and administrators as a bunch are estimated based mostly on the variety of shares they personal in line with the proxy assertion.
* It’s tough to estimate dividend funds to Peed in 2017, because it was the yr of the merger.
18 Supply: Proxy statements for Common Insurance coverage Holdings Corp filed with the SEC and obtainable right here:
20 Supply: Insider transactions for Sean Downes, obtainable right here:
*** Be aware that worth is estimated by utilizing an estimated inventory worth for every given yr, which is the common of the excessive and low inventory worth for that yr. Figuring out the precise worth of the inventory gross sales would require going by the 77 Kind 4s that these gross sales are reported on to seek out the sale worth for every transaction. Downes’ Kind 4s can be found right here:
21 Supply: Proxy statements and 10-k’s for Common Insurance coverage Holdings Corp filed with the SEC and obtainable right here:
Be aware: Dividend funds to Downes and executives and administrators as a bunch are estimated based mostly on the variety of shares they personal as reported in that yr’s proxy assertion.



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