The keen competition for relevancy and market share among the wholesale brokers was further sharpened by the acquisition in April of the life and property-casualty operations of Roseland, N.J.-based Crump Group Inc. by Winston-Salem, N.C.-based BB&T Corp.
BB&T counts BB&T Insurance as a subsidiary, which in-turn counts its subsidiary CRC Insurance Services, a wholesaler that placed $2.15 billion in premiums in 2010, according to the company.
BB&T paid $570 million in cash to close the deal, in the process buying Crump, which had premium volume of $1.38 billion in 2010. The merged brokerages will operate from 55 offices across the country, incorporate 1,700 employees and have 370 producers.
The purchase of Crump creates a network that will operate largely out of offices in the East and West coasts, as well as the Southeast. BB&T and Crump both have offices in or around Chicago.
The BB&T/Crump marriage occurs at a time when big retail brokerages are reducing the number of wholesale brokers they do business with due to the soft market.
In early 2011, Chicago-based Wells Fargo Insurance Services knocked 10 wholesalers off of the list that it was using, reducing that number by 33 percent. Aon also revealed in 2011 that it had cut the number of wholesalers it uses to two.
Arthur J. Gallagher in 2010 and 2011, slashed the number of wholesale brokers it uses from 80 to 20, according to company statements.
The BB&T/Crump union follows the 2010 merger of Charlotte, N.C.-based AmWINS Group Inc. with Colemont Insurance Brokers, based in Dallas. That merger created a company that will do about $4.8 billion in premiums annually.
CRC Insurance Services recorded $2.15 billion in premium volume in 2010. Adding that to Crump's $1.38 billion in premium volume creates an operation with $3.43 billion in premium volume, not quite as large as the AmWINS-Colemont powerhouse.
AmWINS is known as an excess and surplus lines broker with deep relationships in Bermuda and London markets.
Before the Crump purchase, BB&T Insurance described itself as the sixth largest insurance broker in the U.S. and the seventh largest internationally. In addition to CRC Insurance Services, the company houses managing general agent Southern Cross TAPCO Underwriters and managing general underwriter AMRisc LLP.
Crump executives John Howard and Dave Obenauer will join BB&T and have responsibility for the BB&T wholesale insurance channel. Tom Curtin will continue as CEO and co-chairman of the combined CRC/Crump brokerage operation and Ron Helveston will be president of that operation.
-- By Dan Reynolds
May 1, 2012
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