SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended:
COMMISSION FILE NUMBER:
December 31, 2014
ATLAS FINANCIAL HOLDINGS, INC.
(EXACT NAME OF REGISTRANT AS SPECIFIED IN ITS CHARTER)
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)
150 NW POINT BOULEVARD
Elk Grove Village, IL
(Address of principal executive offices)
Registrant’s telephone number, including area code: (847) 472-6700
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
TITLE OF EACH CLASS:
NAME OF EACH EXCHANGE ON WHICH REGISTERED:
Common, $0.003 par value per share
Nasdaq Stock Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes Â No þ
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Act. Yes Â No þ
Indicate by check mark whether the Registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the Registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes þ No Â
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate Web site, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files). Yes þ No Â
Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of Registrant’s knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. þ
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, or a smaller reporting company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
Large Accelerated Filer Â Accelerated Filer þ
Non-Accelerated Filer Â Smaller Reporting Company Â
(do not check if a smaller reporting company)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes Â No þ
There were 11,778,993 shares of the Registrant's common stock outstanding as of March 5, 2015, of which 11,646,130 are ordinary common shares and 132,863 are restricted shares. As of the last business day of the Registrant’s most recently completed second fiscal quarter, the aggregate market value of the Registrant's common equity held by non-affiliates of the Registrant was approximately $136.6 million (based upon the closing sale price of the Registrant’s common shares on June 30, 2014).
For purposes of the foregoing calculation only, which is required by Form 10-K, the Registrant has included in the shares owned by affiliates those shares owned by directors and officers of the Registrant, and such inclusion shall not be construed as an admission that any such person is an affiliate for any purpose.
* * *
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Portions of the Registrant’s Definitive Proxy Statement for its 2015 Annual Meeting of Stockholders are incorporated by reference into Part III of this report.
ATLAS FINANCIAL HOLDINGS, INC.
INDEX TO ANNUAL REPORT ON FORM 10-K
December 31, 2014
Item 1. BUSINESS
Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc. ("Atlas" or "We" or "the Company") is a financial services holding company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our core business is the underwriting of commercial automobile insurance policies, focusing on the “light” commercial automobile sector, which is carried out through our insurance subsidiaries, American Country Insurance Company, or American Country, American Service Insurance Company, Inc., or American Service, and Gateway Insurance Company, or Gateway, which collectively we refer to as our “insurance subsidiaries”. This insurance sector includes taxi cabs, non-emergency para-transit, limousine, livery and business auto. Our goal is to be the preferred specialty commercial transportation insurer in any geographic area where our value proposition delivers benefit to all stakeholders.
We were originally formed as JJR VI, a Canadian capital pool company, on December 21, 2009 under the laws of Ontario, Canada. On December 31, 2010, we completed a reverse merger wherein American Service and American Country, in exchange for the consideration set out below, were transferred to us by Kingsway America Inc. ("KAI"), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kingsway Financial Services Inc. ("KFSI") a Canadian public company whose shares are traded on the Toronto and New York Stock Exchanges. Prior to the transaction, American Service and American Country were wholly owned subsidiaries of KAI. American Country commenced operations in 1979. With roots dating back to 1925 selling insurance for taxi cabs, American Country is one of the oldest insurers of taxi and livery businesses in the United States. In 1983, American Service began as a non-standard personal and commercial auto insurer writing business in the Chicago, Illinois area.
On December 31, 2010, following the reverse merger transaction described immediately hereafter, we filed a Certificate of Registration by Way of Continuation in the Cayman Islands to re-domesticate as a Cayman Islands company. In addition, on December 30, 2010 we filed a Certificate of Incorporation on Change of Name to change our name to Atlas Financial Holdings, Inc. Our current organization is a result of a reverse merger transaction involving the following companies:
JJR VI, sponsored by JJR Capital, a Toronto based merchant bank;
American Insurance Acquisition Inc., or American Acquisition, a corporation formed under the laws of Delaware as a wholly owned subsidiary of KAI; and
Atlas Acquisition Corp., a Delaware corporation wholly-owned by JJR VI and formed for the purpose of merging with and into American Acquisition.
In connection with the reverse merger transaction, KAI transferred 100% of the capital stock of each of American Service and American Country to American Acquisition (another wholly owed subsidiary of KAI) in exchange for C$35.1 million of common shares and $18.0 million of preferred shares of American Acquisition and promissory notes worth C$7.7 million, aggregating C$60.8 million. In addition, American Acquisition raised C$8.0 million through a private placement offering of subscription receipts to qualified investors in both the United States and Canada at a price of C$6.00 per subscription receipt.
KAI received 4,601,621 restricted voting common shares of our company, which we refer to as “restricted voting shares”, then valued at $27.8 million, along with 18,000,000 non-voting preferred shares of our company, then valued at $18.0 million, and C$8.0 million cash for total consideration of C$60.8 million in exchange for 100% of the outstanding shares of American Acquisition and full payment of certain promissory notes. Investors in the American Acquisition private placement offering of subscription receipts received 1,327,834 of our ordinary common shares, which we refer to as “ordinary shares”, plus warrants to purchase one ordinary share of our company for each subscription receipt at C$6.00 at any time until December 31, 2013. Every 10 common shares of JJR VI held by the shareholders of JJR VI immediately prior to the reverse merger were, upon consummation of the merger, consolidated into one ordinary share of JJR VI. Upon re-domestication in the Cayman Islands, these consolidated shares were then exchanged on a one-for-one basis for our ordinary shares.
In connection with the acquisition of American Service and American Country, we streamlined the operations of the insurance subsidiaries to focus on the “light” commercial automobile lines of business we believe will produce favorable underwriting results. During 2011 and 2012, we disposed of non-core assets and placed into run-off certain non-core lines of business previously written by the insurance subsidiaries. Since disposing of these non-core assets and lines of business, our sole focus has been the underwriting of specialty commercial insurance for users of "light" vehicles in the United States.
On December 7, 2012, a shareholder meeting was held where a one-for-three reverse stock split was unanimously approved. When the reverse stock split took effect on January 29, 2013, it decreased the authorized and outstanding ordinary shares and restricted voting shares at a ratio of one-for-three. The primary objective of the reverse stock split was to increase the per share price of Atlas' ordinary shares to meet certain listing requirements of the NASDAQ Capital Market. Unless otherwise noted, all historical share and per share values in this Annual Report on Form 10-K reflect the one-for-three reverse stock split.
On January 2, 2013 we acquired Camelot Services, Inc., or Camelot Services, a privately owned insurance holding company, and its sole subsidiary, Gateway, from Hendricks Holding Company, Inc., or Hendricks, an unaffiliated third party. This transaction was contractually deemed effective as of January 1, 2013. Gateway provides specialized commercial insurance products, including commercial automobile insurance to niche markets such as taxi, black car and sedan service owners and operators.
Gateway is a St. Louis, Missouri-based insurance company that was writing approximately $10.0 million of annual taxi and limousine net written premium in states deemed favorable to Atlas at the time of our acquisition. Gateway is an admitted carrier in 46 states plus the District of Columbia. Atlas' acquisition of Gateway expanded our distribution channel for core commercial automobile lines to a total of 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Under the terms of the stock purchase agreement, the purchase price equaled the adjusted book value of Camelot Services at December 31, 2012, subject to certain pre and post-closing adjustments, including, among others, claim development between the signing of the stock purchase agreement and December 31, 2012. Additional consideration, principally in the form of preferred shares, may be paid to the seller, or returned to us by the seller, depending upon, among other things, the future development of Gateway’s actual loss reserves for certain lines of business and the utilization of certain deferred tax assets over time. Gateway also wrote contractor's workers’ compensation insurance, which we ceased writing as part of the transaction. An indemnity reinsurance agreement was entered into pursuant to which 100% of Gateway’s workers’ compensation business was ceded to a third party captive reinsurer funded by the seller as part of the transaction.
The total purchase price for all of Camelot Services’ outstanding shares was $14.3 million, consisting of a combination of cash and Atlas preferred shares. Consideration consisted of a $6.0 million dividend paid by Gateway immediately prior to the closing, $2.0 million of Atlas preferred shares (consisting of a total of 2,000,000 preferred shares) and $6.3 million in cash. We have contractual protections to offset up to $2.0 million of future adverse reserve development. We have also agreed to provide the sellers up to $2.0 million in additional consideration in the event of favorable reserve development.
On February 11, 2013, an aggregate of 4,125,000 Atlas ordinary shares were offered in Atlas' initial public offering in the United States. 1,500,000 ordinary shares were offered by Atlas and 2,625,000 ordinary shares were sold by KAI at a price of $5.85 per share. Atlas also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an aggregate of 618,750 additional shares at the public offering price of $5.85 per share to cover over-allotments, if any. On March 11, 2013, the underwriters exercised this option and purchased an additional 451,500 shares. After underwriting and other expenses, total proceeds of $9.8 million were realized on the issuance of the shares. Since that time, Atlas' shares have traded on the NASDAQ under the symbol "AFH." The principal purposes of the initial offering in the United States were to create a public market in the United States for Atlas' ordinary shares and thereby enable future access to the public equity markets in the United States by Atlas and its shareholders, and to obtain additional capital.
On June 5, 2013, Atlas delisted from the Toronto Stock Exchange.
On August 1, 2013, Atlas used the net proceeds from the U.S. initial public offering to partially fund the repurchase of 18,000,000 of its outstanding preferred shares owned by KAI for $16.2 million. These preferred shares had accrued dividends on a cumulative basis at a rate of $0.045 per share per year (4.5%) and were convertible into 2,286,000 common shares at the option of the holder after December 31, 2015.
On May 13, 2014, an aggregate of 2,000,000 Atlas ordinary shares were offered in a subsequent public offering in the United States at a price of $12.50 per share. Atlas also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an aggregate of 300,000 additional shares at the public offering price of $12.50 per share to cover over-allotments, if any. On May 27, 2014, the underwriters exercised this option and purchased an additional 161,000 shares. After underwriting and other expenses, total proceeds of $25.0 million were realized on the issuance of the shares. A portion of the net proceeds from the offering will be used to support the acquisition of Anchor Holdings Group, Inc. and its affiliated entities as described further below.
During the fourth quarter of 2014, Camelot Services was merged into American Acquisition.
As described further below, on October 17, 2014, we entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Anchor Holdings Group, Inc., a privately owned insurance holding company, and its wholly owned subsidiary, Global Liberty Insurance Company of New York, along with its affiliated entities, Anchor Group Management, Plainview Premium Finance Company, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary Plainview Premium Finance Company of California, Inc., or collectively "Global Liberty", from an unaffiliated third party. We anticipate consummating the transaction in the first quarter of 2015 (having received regulatory approval on March 4, 2015). Global Liberty provides specialized commercial insurance products, including commercial automobile insurance to niche markets such as taxi, black car and sedan service owners and operators primarily in the New York market.
Substantially all of our premiums written are in “light” commercial automobile lines of business. In the year ended December 31, 2014, gross premium written from commercial automobile was $119.5 million, representing a 35.0% increase relative to the year ended December 31, 2013. As a percentage of the insurance subsidiaries’ overall book of business, commercial auto gross premium written represented 97.6% of gross premium written in the year ended December 31, 2014 compared to 95.2% during the year ended December 31, 2013.
We are committed to the “light” commercial automobile and related lines of business. Our current geographic footprint focuses on 40 states and the District of Columbia. Together, our insurance subsidiaries are licensed to write property and casualty, or P&C, insurance in 49 states plus the District of Columbia in the United States.
The address of our registered office is Cricket Square, Hutchins Drive, PO Box 2681, Grand Cayman, KY1-1111, Cayman Islands. Our operating headquarters are located at 150 Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, Illinois 60007, USA. We maintain a website at http://www.atlas-fin.com. Information on our website or any other website does not constitute a part of this annual report on Form 10-K.
Our core business is the underwriting of commercial automobile insurance policies, focusing on the “light” commercial automobile sector. The “light” commercial automobile policies we underwrite provide coverage for light weight commercial vehicles typically with the minimum limits prescribed by statute, municipal or other regulatory requirements. The majority of our policyholders are individual owners or small fleet operators.
The “light” commercial automobile sector is a subset of the historically profitable commercial automobile insurance industry segment. Commercial automobile insurance has outperformed the overall P&C industry generally over the past ten years based on data compiled by SNL Financial. The data compiled by SNL Financial also indicates that for 2013 the total market for commercial automobile liability insurance was approximately $24 billion. The size of the commercial automobile insurance market can be affected significantly by many factors, such as the total number of vehicles insured, the underwriting capacity and underwriting criteria of automobile insurance carriers and general economic conditions. Historically, the commercial automobile insurance market has been characterized by periods of excess capacity and price competition followed by periods of reduced underwriting capacity and higher premium rates.
We believe that there is a positive correlation between the economy and commercial automobile insurance in general. However, operators of “light” commercial automobiles may be less likely than other business segments within the commercial automobile insurance market to take vehicles out of service as their businesses and business reputations rely heavily on availability. With respect to certain business lines such as the taxi line, there are also other factors such as the cost and limited supply of medallions which may discourage a policyholder from taking vehicles out of service in the face of reduced demand for the use of the vehicle.
Acquisition of Global Liberty
Global Liberty is a New York-based insurance company that was writing approximately $40.0 million of annual taxi and limousine net written premium in markets deemed favorable to Atlas at the time of our acquisition. Global Liberty is an admitted carrier in 13 states plus the District of Columbia. Atlas' acquisition of Global Liberty will expand our distribution channel for core commercial automobile lines and provides valuable infrastructure in the large New York market.
Under the terms of the stock purchase agreement, the purchase price will equal the combined book value of Global Liberty at December 31, 2014, subject to certain pre and post-closing adjustments, including, among others, claim development between the signing of the stock purchase agreement and December 31, 2014. Additional consideration, principally in the form of preferred shares, may be paid to the seller, or returned to us by the seller, depending upon, among other things, the future development of Global Liberty’s actual loss reserves for certain lines of business and the utilization of certain deferred tax assets over time. Global Liberty also wrote homeowners insurance in the northeast, which has been placed into run-off prior to the transaction.
The total purchase price for the combined entities of Global Liberty will be approximately $24.7 million, consisting of a combination of cash and Atlas preferred shares. Consideration will consist of approximately $20.7 million in cash and $4.0 million of Atlas preferred shares (consisting of a total of 4,000,000 preferred shares). We will have contractual protections to offset up to $4.0 million of future adverse reserve development.
The values of certain assets and liabilities acquired are preliminary in nature and are subject to adjustment as additional information is obtained, including, but not limited to, valuation of separately identifiable intangibles, fixed assets, etc.. These valuations are to be finalized within one year of the close of the acquisition. When valuations are finalized, any changes to the preliminary valuation of assets acquired or liabilities assumed may result in adjustments to separately identifiable intangibles or goodwill.
Our value proposition is driven by our competitive strengths, which include the following:
Focus on niche commercial insurance business. We target niche markets that support adequate pricing and believe we are able to adapt to changing market needs ahead of our competitors through our strategic commitment and operating scale. We develop and deliver superior specialty commercial automobile insurance products priced to meet our customers’ needs and strive to generate consistent underwriting profit for our insurance subsidiaries. We have experienced a favorable trend in loss ratios attributable to the increased composition of commercial automobile written premium as a percentage of our insurance subsidiaries' total written premium coupled with our ability to increase pricing and manage claims effectively.
There are a limited number of competitors specializing in these lines of business. Management believes a strong value proposition is very important to attract new business and can result in desirable retention levels as policies renew on an annual basis. There are also a relatively limited number of agents who specialize in these lines of business. As a result, strategic relationships with independent retail agents are important to ensure efficient distribution.
Strong market presence with recognized brands and long-standing distribution relationships. American Country, American Service and Gateway have a long heritage as insurers of taxi, livery and para-transit businesses. All of our insurance subsidiaries have strong brand recognition and long-standing distribution relationships in target markets. Through regular interaction with our independent retail agents, we strive to thoroughly understand each of the markets we serve in order to deliver strategically priced products to attractive market share at the right time. Our insurance subsidiaries are currently licensed in more states than those in which we have currently elected to do business and we routinely re-evaluate all markets to assess future potential opportunities and risks.
Sophisticated underwriting and claims handling expertise. Atlas has extensive experience and expertise with respect to underwriting and claims management in our specialty area of insurance. Our well-developed underwriting and claims infrastructure includes an extensive data repository, proprietary technologies, deep market knowledge and established market relationships. Analysis of the substantial data available through our operating companies drives our product and pricing decisions. We believe our underwriting and claims handling expertise provides enhanced risk selection, high quality service to our customers and greater control over claims expenses. We are committed to maintaining this underwriting and claims handling expertise as a core competency as our volume of business increases.
Scalable operations positioned for growth. Significant progress has been made in aligning our organization's infrastructure cost base to our expected revenue going forward. The core functions of our insurance subsidiaries were integrated into a common operating platform. We believe that our insurance subsidiaries are well-positioned to continue approaching proportionate market share of approximately 20% in all of the markets in which we operate with better than industry level profitability from the efficient operating infrastructure established subsequent to Atlas' acquisition of the companies.
Experienced management team. We have a talented and experienced management team who have decades of experience in the property and casualty insurance industry. Our senior management team has worked in the property and casualty industry for an average of 24 years and with the insurance subsidiaries, directly or indirectly, for an average of 13 years.
Our goal is to be the preferred specialty commercial transportation insurer in any geographic area where our value proposition delivers benefit to all stakeholders.
We develop and deliver superior specialty insurance products priced to meet our customers’ needs and generate consistent underwriting profit for our insurance subsidiaries. These products are distributed to the insured through independent retail agents utilizing our company’s operating platform.
We seek to achieve our vision and mission through the design, sophisticated pricing and efficient delivery of specialty transportation insurance and risk management products. Through constant interaction with our retail producers, we strive to thoroughly understand each of the markets we serve in order to deliver strategically priced products to attractive markets at the right time. Analysis of the substantial data available through our operating companies drives our product and pricing decisions. We focus on our key strengths and seek to expand our geographic footprint and products only to the extent these activities support our vision and mission. We target niche markets that support adequate pricing and believe we are able to adapt to changing market needs ahead of our competitors through our strategic commitment and increasing scale.
Over the past four years, through infrastructure re-organization, dispositions and by placing certain lines of business into run-off, the insurance subsidiaries have streamlined operations to focus on the lines of business we believe will leverage our core competencies and produce favorable underwriting results. Significant progress has been made in aligning the organization's infrastructure cost base to our expected revenue stream going forward. The core functions of the insurance subsidiaries were integrated into a common, best practice based, operating platform. Management believes that our insurance subsidiaries are well-positioned to return to the volume of premium they wrote in the recent past and continue to grow to proportionate market share of approximately 20% in all of the markets in which we operate with better than industry level profitability. Our insurance subsidiaries have a long heritage with respect to their continuing lines of business and will benefit from the efficient operating infrastructure currently in place. Through its insurance subsidiaries, Atlas actively wrote business in 40 states and the District of Columbia during 2014 utilizing our well developed underwriting and claim methodology.
We believe that the most significant opportunities going forward are: (i) continued re-energizing of distribution channels with the objective of recapturing business generated prior to 2009, (ii) building business in previously untapped geographic markets to the extent that they meet our specific criteria where our insurance subsidiaries are licensed, but not active prior to Atlas' acquisition of these subsidiaries, and (iii) opportunistically acquiring books of business or similar insurance companies, provided market conditions support this activity. Primary potential risks related to these activities include: (i) insurance market conditions becoming or remaining “soft” for a sustained period of time, (ii) not being able to achieve the expected support from distribution partners, and (iii) the insurance subsidiaries not successfully maintaining appropriate ratings from A.M. Best.
We seek to deploy our capital to maximize the return for our shareholders, either by investing in growing our operations or by pursuing other capital initiatives, depending upon insurance and capital market conditions. We focus on our key strengths and seek to expand our geographic footprint and products only to the extent these activities support our vision and mission. We will identify and prioritize market expansion opportunities based on the comparative strength of our value proposition relative to competitors, the market opportunity and the legal and regulatory environment.
We intend to continue to grow profitably by undertaking the following:
Re-establish legacy distribution relationships. We continue to build upon relationships with independent retail agents that have been our insurance subsidiaries’ distribution partners in the past. We seek to develop and maintain strategic distribution relationships with a relatively small number of independent retail agents with substantial market presence in each state in which we currently operate. We expect to continue to increase the distribution of our core products in the states where we are actively writing insurance and re-capture insurance premium historically written by the insurance subsidiaries.
Expand our market presence. We are committed to continuing to diversify by leveraging our experience, historical data and market research to expand our business in previously untapped markets to the extent incremental markets meet our criteria. Utilizing our established brands and market relationships, we have made significant inroads in new states where we had no active business in recent years. We will continue to expand into additional states or product lines where we are licensed, but not currently active, to the extent that our market expansion criteria is met in a given state.
Acquire complementary books of business and insurance companies. We plan to opportunistically pursue acquisitions of complementary books of business and insurance companies provided market conditions support this activity. We will evaluate each acquisition opportunity based on its expected economic contribution to our results and support of our market
expansion initiatives. Our more recent acquisitions of Gateway and Global Liberty are consistent with this aspect of our strategy.
Currently, we distribute insurance only in the United States. Through our insurance subsidiaries, we are licensed to write P&C insurance in 49 states plus the District of Columbia in the United States. The following table reflects, in percentages, the principal geographic distribution of gross premiums written for the year ended December 31, 2014. No other jurisdiction accounted for more than 5%.
Distribution of Gross Premium Written by Jurisdiction
The diagram below outlines the states where we are focused on actively writing new insurance policies and where we believe the comparative strength of our value proposition, the market opportunity, and the legal and regulatory environment are favorable (states darkened in the below diagram). The diagram below also reflects the states where we are actively writing new insurance policies.
Gateway historically issued commercial automobile insurance policies in the state of Florida. We do not plan to actively write insurance for new policyholders in Florida through our insurance subsidiaries and followed the required regulatory procedures to withdraw from that state in 2013.
Independent retail agents are recruited by us directly utilizing marketing efforts targeting the specialty niche upon which we focus. Interested agents are evaluated based on their experience, expertise and ethical dealing. Typically, our Company enters into
distribution relationships with approximately one out of every ten agents seeking an agency contract. We do not provide exclusive territories to our independent retail agents, nor do we expect to be their only insurance market. We are generally interested in acting as one of a relatively small number of insurance partners with whom our independent retail agents place business and are also careful not to oversaturate the distribution channel in any given geographic market. This helps to ensure that we are able to receive the maximum number of submissions for underwriting evaluation without unnecessary downstream pressure from agents to write business that does not fit our underwriting model. Agents receive commission as a percentage of premiums (generally 10%) as their primary compensation from us. Larger agents may also be eligible for profit sharing based on the growth and underwriting profitability related to their book of business with us. The quality of business presented and written by each independent retail agent is evaluated regularly by our underwriters and is also reviewed quarterly by senior management. Key metrics for evaluation include overall accuracy and adequacy of underwriting information, performance relative to agreed commitments, support with respect to claims presented by their customers (as applicable) and overall underwriting profitability of the agent’s book of business. While we rely on our independent retail agents for distribution and customer support, underwriting and claim handling responsibilities are retained by us. Many of our agents have had direct relationships with our insurance subsidiaries for a number of years.
Our P&C insurance business is seasonal in nature. Our ability to generate written premium is also impacted by the timing of policy effective periods in the states in which we operate while our net premiums earned generally follow a relatively smooth trend from quarter to quarter. Also, our gross premiums written are impacted by certain common renewal dates in larger metropolitan markets for the light commercial risks that represent our core lines of business. For example, January 1st and March 1st are common taxi cab renewal dates in Illinois and New York, respectively. Additionally, we implemented our New York “excess taxi program” in the third quarter of 2012, which has an annual renewal date in the third quarter. Net underwriting income is driven mainly by the timing and nature of claims, which can vary widely.
The insurance industry is price competitive in all markets in which the insurance subsidiaries operate. Our Company strives to employ disciplined underwriting practices with the objective of rejecting under priced risks.
Our Company competes on a number of factors such as distribution strength, pricing, agency relationships, policy support, claim service, and market reputation. In our core commercial automobile lines, the primary offerings are policies at the minimum prescribed limits in each state, as established by statutory, municipal and other regulations. We believe our Company differentiates itself from many larger companies competing for this specialty business by exclusively focusing on these lines of insurance. We believe our exclusive focus results in the deployment of underwriting and claims professionals who are more familiar with issues common in specialty commercial automobile lines, and provides the customer better service.
Our competitors generally fall into two categories. The first is made up of large generalist insurers who often sell their products to our niche through intermediaries such as managing general agents or wholesalers. The second consists primarily of smaller local insurance companies. These smaller companies may focus primarily on one or more of our niche markets. Or, as is typical in the majority of geographic areas where we compete, they have a broader focus, often writing a significant amount of non-standard lines of business.
To compete successfully in the specialty commercial insurance industry, we rely on our ability to: identify markets that are most likely to produce an underwriting profit; operate with a disciplined underwriting approach; offer diversified products and geographic platforms; practice effective claims management; reserve appropriately for unpaid claims; strive for cost containment through economies of scale where deemed appropriate; and, provide services and competitive commissions to our independent agents.
We are subject to extensive regulation, particularly at the state level. The method, extent and substance of such regulation varies by state, but generally has its source in statutes and regulations which establish standards and requirements for conducting the business of insurance and that delegate regulatory authority to state insurance regulatory agencies. Insurance companies can also be subject to so-called “desk drawer rules” of state insurance regulators, which are regulatory rules or best practices that have not been codified or formally adopted through regulatory proceedings. In general, such regulation is intended for the protection of those who purchase or use insurance products issued by our insurance subsidiaries, not the holders of securities issued by us. These laws and regulations have a significant impact on our business and relate to a wide variety of matters including accounting methods, agent and company licensure, claims procedures, corporate governance, examinations, investing practices, policy forms, pricing, trade practices, reserve adequacy and underwriting standards.
In recent years, the state insurance regulatory framework has come under increased federal scrutiny. Most recently, pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Regulatory Reform Act of 2010, the Federal Insurance Office was formed for the purpose of, among other things, examining and evaluating the effectiveness of the current insurance and reinsurance regulatory framework. In addition, state legislators and insurance regulators continue to examine the appropriate nature and scope of state insurance regulation.
Many state laws require insurers to file insurance policy forms and/or insurance premium rates and underwriting rules with state insurance regulators. In some states, such rates, forms and/or rules must be approved prior to use. While these requirements vary from state to state, generally speaking, regulators review premium rates to ensure they are not excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory.
As a result, the speed with which an insurer can change prices in response to competition or increased costs depends, in part, on whether the premium rate laws and regulations (i) require prior approval of the premium rates to be charged, (ii) permit the insurer to file and use the forms, rates and rules immediately, subject to further review, or (iii) permit the insurer to immediately use the forms, rates and/or rules and to subsequently file them with the regulator. When state laws and regulations significantly restrict both underwriting and pricing, it can become more difficult for an insurer to make adjustments quickly in response to changes which could affect profitability.
Insurance companies are required to report their financial condition and results of operations in accordance with statutory accounting principles prescribed or permitted by state insurance laws and regulations and the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (the “NAIC”). As a result, industry data is available that enables comparisons between insurance companies, including competitors who are not subject to the requirement to prepare financial statements in conformity with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States of America ("U.S. GAAP"). We frequently use industry publications containing statutory financial information to assess our competitive position. State insurance laws and regulations also prescribe the form and content of statutory financial statements, require the performance of periodic financial examinations of insurers, establish standards for the types and amounts of investments insurers may hold and require minimum capital and surplus levels. Additional requirements include risk-based capital (“RBC”) rules, thresholds intended to enable state insurance regulators to assess the level of risk inherent in an insurance company’s business and consider items such as asset risk, credit risk, underwriting risk and other business risks relevant to its operations. In accordance with RBC formulas, a company’s RBC requirements are calculated and compared to its total adjusted capital to determine whether regulatory intervention is warranted. At December 31, 2014, the total adjusted capital of each of our insurance subsidiaries exceeded the minimum levels required under RBC requirements.
It is difficult to predict what specific measures at the state or federal level will be adopted or what effect any such measures would have on us or our insurance subsidiaries.
As of December 31, 2014, we had 118 full-time employees, 101 of whom work at the corporate headquarters in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, 10 of whom work in St. Louis, 5 of whom work in New York and 2 of whom work remotely. The acquisition of Global Liberty will add approximately 65 additional employees to our organization.
Item 1A. RISK FACTORS
You should read the following risk factors carefully in connection with evaluating our business and the forward-looking information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Any of the following risks could materially and adversely affect our business, operating results, financial condition and the actual outcome of matters as to which forward-looking statements are made in this Annual Report on Form 10-K. While we believe we have identified and discussed below the key risk factors affecting our business, there may be additional risks and uncertainties that are not presently known or that are not currently believed to be significant that may adversely affect our business, operating results or financial condition in the future.
The insurance subsidiaries’ provisions for unpaid claims may be inadequate, which would result in a reduction in our net income and might adversely affect our financial condition.
Our success depends upon our ability to accurately assess and price the risks covered by the insurance policies that we write. We establish reserves to cover our estimated liability for the payment of losses and expenses related to the administration of claims incurred on the insurance policies we write. Establishing an appropriate level of reserves is an inherently uncertain process. Our provisions for unpaid claims do not represent an exact calculation of actual liability, but are estimates involving actuarial and statistical projections at a given point in time of what we expect to be the cost of the ultimate settlement and administration of known and unknown claims. The process for establishing the provision for unpaid claims reflects the uncertainties and significant judgmental factors inherent in estimating future results of both known and unknown claims and as such, the process is inherently
complex and imprecise. We utilize a third party actuarial firm to assist us in estimating the provision for unpaid claims. These estimates are based upon various factors, including:
actuarial and statistical projections of the cost of settlement and administration of claims reflecting facts and circumstances then known;
historical claims information;
assessments of currently available data;
estimates of future trends in claims severity and frequency;
judicial theories of liability;
economic factors such as inflation;
estimates and assumptions regarding judicial and legislative trends, and actions such as class action lawsuits and judicial interpretation of coverages or policy exclusions; and
the level of insurance fraud.
Most or all of these factors are not directly quantifiable, particularly on a prospective basis, and the effects of these and unforeseen factors could negatively impact our ability to accurately assess the risks of the policies that we write. In addition, there may be significant reporting lags between the occurrence of the insured event and the time it is actually reported to the insurer and additional lags between the time of reporting and final settlement of claims. Unfavorable development in any of these factors could cause the level of reserves to be inadequate. The following factors may have a substantial impact on future claims incurred:
the amounts of claims payments;
the expenses that the insurance subsidiaries incur in resolving claims;
legislative and judicial developments; and
changes in economic conditions, including inflation.
As time passes and more information about the claims becomes known, the estimates are adjusted upward or downward to reflect this additional information. Because of the elements of uncertainty encompassed in this estimation process, and the extended time it can take to settle many of the more substantial claims, several years of experience may be required before a meaningful comparison can be made between actual losses and the original provision for unpaid claims. The development of the provision for unpaid claims is shown by the difference between estimates of claims as of the initial year end and the re-estimated liability at each subsequent year end. Favorable development (reserve redundancy) means that the original claims estimates were higher than subsequently determined or re-estimated. Unfavorable development (reserve deficiency) means that the original claims estimates were lower than subsequently determined or re-estimated.
For example, in 2010, a detailed review of claim payment and reserving practices was performed, which led to significant changes in both practices, increasing ultimate loss estimates and accelerating claim payments. We recorded a total of $5.3 million in unfavorable reserve development in 2010 related to claims incurred during prior periods. Our review continued into 2011 and Atlas recorded a $1.8 million adjustment to further strengthen its reserves for claims related to policies issued while the insurance subsidiaries were under previous ownership in years preceding 2010. Although we have not recorded any further adverse development since that time, we cannot guarantee that we will not have additional unfavorable reserve developments in the future. In addition, we may in the future acquire other insurance companies. We cannot guarantee that the provisions for unpaid claims of the companies that we acquire are or will be adequate. Government regulators could require that we increase reserves if they determine that provisions for unpaid claims are understated. Increases to the provision for unpaid claims cause a reduction in our insurance subsidiaries’ surplus which could cause a downgrading of our insurance subsidiaries’ ratings. Any such downgrade could, in turn, adversely affect their ability to sell insurance policies.
For the companies that we acquire or will acquire, the provisions for unpaid claims may be inadequate at the time of purchase, which would result in a reduction in our net income and might adversely affect our financial condition.
We became or will become responsible for the historical loss reserves established by the acquired company's management upon completion of acquisitions. While the stock purchase agreement provides for certain protections in this regard, there can be no assurances they will be sufficient to offset any adverse development to the acquired company's historical loss reserves. Any unfavorable development in an acquired company's reserves would reduce our net income and have an adverse effect on our financial position to the extent it exceeds the protections provided for in the stock purchase agreement related to each acquisition.
Our success depends on our ability to accurately price the risks we underwrite.
Our results of operations and financial condition depend on our ability to underwrite and set premium rates accurately for a wide variety of risks. Adequate rates are necessary to generate premiums sufficient to pay losses, loss settlement expenses and
underwriting expenses and to earn a profit. To price our products accurately, we must collect and properly analyze a substantial amount of data; develop, test and apply appropriate pricing techniques; closely monitor and timely recognize changes in trends; and project both severity and frequency of losses with reasonable accuracy. Our ability to undertake these efforts successfully, and as a result price our products accurately, is subject to a number of risks and uncertainties, some of which are outside our control, including:
the availability of sufficient reliable data and our ability to properly analyze available data;
the uncertainties that inherently characterize estimates and assumptions;
underlying trends or changes affecting risk and loss costs;
our selection and application of appropriate pricing techniques; and
changes in applicable legal liability standards and in the civil litigation system generally.
Consequently, we could under price risks, which would adversely affect our profit margins, or we could over price risks, which could reduce our sales volume and competitiveness. In either case, our profitability could be materially and adversely affected.
Our insurance subsidiaries rely on independent agents and other producers to bind insurance policies on and to collect premiums from our policyholders, which exposes us to risks that our producers fail to meet their obligations to us.
Our insurance subsidiaries market and distribute automobile insurance products through a network of independent agents and other producers in the United States. We rely, and will continue to rely, heavily on these producers to attract new business. Independent producers generally have the ability to bind insurance policies and collect premiums on our behalf, actions over which we have a limited ability to exercise preventative control. In the event that an independent agent exceeds their authority by binding us on a risk that does not comply with our underwriting guidelines, we may be at risk for that policy until we effect a cancellation. Any improper use of such authority may result in losses that could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. In addition, in accordance with industry practice, policyholders often pay the premiums for their policies to producers for payment to us. These premiums may be considered paid when received by the producer and thereafter the customer is no longer liable to us for those amounts, whether or not we have actually received these premium payments from the producer. Consequently, we assume a degree of risk associated with our reliance on independent agents in connection with the settlement of insurance premium balances.
Our insurance subsidiaries may be unable to mitigate their risk or increase their underwriting capacity through reinsurance arrangements, which could adversely affect our business, financial condition and results of operations. If reinsurance rates rise significantly or reinsurance becomes unavailable or reinsurers are unable to pay our claims, we may be adversely affected.
In order to reduce underwriting risk and increase underwriting capacity, our insurance subsidiaries transfer portions of our insurance risk to other insurers through reinsurance contracts. We generally purchase reinsurance from third parties in order to reduce our liability on individual risks. Reinsurance does not relieve us of our primary liability to our insurance subsidiaries’ insureds. During the year ended December 31, 2014, we had ceded premium written of $11.0 million to our reinsurers. The availability, cost and structure of reinsurance protection are subject to prevailing market conditions that are outside of our control and which may affect our level of business and profitability. Our ability to provide insurance at competitive premium rates and coverage limits on a continuing basis depends in part upon the extent to which we can obtain adequate reinsurance in amounts and at rates that will not adversely affect our competitive position. There are no assurances that we will be able to maintain our current reinsurance facilities, which generally are subject to annual renewal. If we are unable to renew any of these facilities upon their expiration or to obtain other reinsurance facilities in adequate amounts and at favorable rates, we may need to modify our underwriting practices or reduce our underwriting commitments, which could adversely affect our results of operations.
Our insurance subsidiaries are subject to credit risk with respect to the obligations of reinsurers and certain of our insureds. The inability of our risk sharing partners to meet their obligations could adversely affect our profitability.
Although the reinsurers are liable to us to the extent of risk ceded to them, we remain ultimately liable to policyholders on all risks, even those reinsured. As a result, ceded reinsurance arrangements do not limit our ultimate obligations to policyholders to pay claims. We are subject to credit risks with respect to the financial strength of our reinsurers. We are also subject to the risk that their reinsurers may dispute their obligations to pay our claims. As a result, we may not recover sufficient amounts for claims that we submit to reinsurers, if at all. As of December 31, 2014, we had an aggregate of $20.7 million of reinsurance recoverables, of which $8.9 million were unsecured. In addition, our reinsurance agreements are subject to specified limits and we would not have reinsurance coverage to the extent that those limits are exceeded.
Effective immediately after the close of the Gateway transaction, we entered into a reinsurance agreement with a third party reinsurer, which covers all in-force premium and loss reserves for Gateway’s workers’ compensation program. Along with the
reserves, any go-forward premium written for the workers’ compensation program will be ceded in its entirety to this third party reinsurer under the terms of this reinsurance agreement. While Gateway will remain liable to its insureds, we expect to have no net exposure to any losses related to this workers’ compensation business subsequent to the effective date of the acquisition, provided the reinsurer continues to make payments to us and otherwise complies with the terms of this reinsurance agreement, although no assurances thereof can be given.
With respect to insurance programs, the insurance subsidiaries are subject to credit risk with respect to the payment of claims and on the portion of risk exposure either ceded to captives established by their clients or deductibles retained by their clients. No assurance can be given regarding the future ability of these entities to meet their obligations. The inability of our risk sharing partners to meet their obligations could adversely affect our profitability.
The exclusions and limitations in our policies may not be enforceable.
Many of the policies we issue include exclusions or other conditions that define and limit coverage, which exclusions and conditions are designed to manage our exposure to certain types of risks and expanding theories of legal liability. In addition, many of our policies limit the period during which a policyholder may bring a claim under the policy, which period in many cases is shorter than the statutory period under which these claims can be brought by our policyholders. While these exclusions and limitations help us assess and control our loss exposure, it is possible that a court or regulatory authority could nullify or void an exclusion or limitation, or legislation could be enacted modifying or barring the use of these exclusions and limitations. This could result in higher than anticipated losses and claims handling expenses by extending coverage beyond our underwriting intent or increasing the number or size of claims, which could have a material adverse effect on our operating results. In some instances, these changes may not become apparent until some time after we have issued the insurance policies that are affected by the changes. As a result, the full extent of liability under our insurance contracts may not be known for many years after a policy is issued.
The occurrence of severe catastrophic events may have a material adverse effect on our financial results and financial condition.
Although our business strategy generally precludes us from writing significant amounts of catastrophe exposed business, most property and casualty insurance contains some exposure to catastrophic loss. We have only limited exposure to natural and man-made disasters, such as hurricane, typhoon, windstorm, flood, earthquake, acts of war, acts of terrorism and political instability. While we carefully manage our aggregate exposure to catastrophes, modeling errors and the incidence and severity of catastrophes, such as hurricanes, windstorms and large-scale terrorist attacks are inherently unpredictable, and our losses from catastrophes could be substantial. In addition, it is possible we may experience an unusual frequency of smaller losses in a particular period. In either case, the consequences could be substantial volatility in our financial condition or results of operations for any fiscal quarter or year, which could have a material adverse effect on our ability to write new business. These losses could deplete our shareholders’ equity. Increases in the values and geographic concentrations of insured property and the effects of inflation have resulted in increased severity of industry losses from catastrophic events in recent years and we expect that those factors will increase the severity of catastrophe losses in the future. It is also possible that catastrophic losses could have an impact on our investment portfolio.
The risk models we use to quantify catastrophe exposures and risk accumulations may prove inadequate in predicting all outcomes from potential catastrophe events.
We rely on widely accepted and industry-recognized catastrophe risk modeling, primarily in conjunction with our reinsurance partners, to help us quantify our aggregate exposure to any one event. As with any model of physical systems, particularly those with low frequencies of occurrence and potentially high severity of outcomes, the accuracy of the model’s predictions is largely dependent on the accuracy and quality of the data provided in the underwriting process and the judgments of our employees and other industry professionals. These models do not anticipate all potential perils or events that could result in a catastrophic loss to us. Furthermore, it is often difficult for models to anticipate and incorporate events that have not been experienced during or as a result of prior catastrophes. Accordingly, it is possible for us to be subject to events or contingencies that have not been anticipated by our catastrophe risk models and which could have a material adverse effect on our reserves and results of operations.
We are a holding company dependent on the results of operations of our subsidiaries and their ability to pay dividends and other distributions to us.
Atlas is a holding company with no significant operations of its own and a legal entity separate and distinct from our insurance subsidiaries. As a result, our only sources of income are dividends and other distributions from our insurance subsidiaries. We will
be limited by the earnings of those subsidiaries, and the distribution or other payment of such earnings to it in the form of dividends, loans, advances or the reimbursement of expenses. The payment of dividends, the making of loans and advances or the reimbursement of expenses by our insurance subsidiaries is contingent upon the earnings of those subsidiaries and is subject to various business considerations and various statutory and regulatory restrictions imposed by the insurance laws of the domiciliary jurisdiction of such subsidiaries. In the states of domicile of American Service, American Country, Gateway and Global Liberty, dividends may only be paid out of earned surplus and cannot be paid when the surplus of the company fails to meet minimum requirements or when payment of the dividend or distribution would reduce its surplus to less than the minimum amount. The state insurance regulator must be notified in advance of the payment of an extraordinary dividend and be given the opportunity to disapprove any such dividend. Prior to entering into any loan or certain other agreements between one or more of our insurance subsidiaries and Atlas or our other affiliates, advance notice must be provided to the state insurance regulator and the insurance regulator has the opportunity to disapprove such loan or agreement. Additionally, insurance regulators have broad powers to prevent reduction of statutory capital and surplus to inadequate levels and could refuse to permit the payment of dividends calculated under any applicable formula. As a result, we may not be able to receive dividends or other distributions from our insurance subsidiaries at times and in amounts necessary to meet our operating needs, to pay dividends to shareholders or to pay corporate expenses. The inability of our insurance subsidiaries to pay dividends or make other distributions could have a material adverse effect on our business and financial condition.
Our insurance subsidiaries are subject to minimum capital and surplus requirements. Failure to meet these requirements may subject us to regulatory action.
Atlas' insurance subsidiaries are subject to minimum capital and surplus requirements imposed under laws of the states in which the companies are domiciled as well as in the states where we conduct business. Any failure by one of our insurance subsidiaries to meet minimum capital and surplus requirements imposed by applicable state law may subject it to corrective action, which may include requiring adoption of a comprehensive financial plan, revocation of its license to sell insurance products or placing the subsidiary under state regulatory control. Any new minimum capital and surplus requirements adopted in the future may require us to increase the capital and surplus of our insurance company subsidiaries, which we may not be able to do.
We are subject to assessments and other surcharges from state guaranty funds, and mandatory state insurance facilities, which may reduce our profitability.
Virtually all states require insurers licensed to do business therein to bear a portion of contingent and incurred claim handling expenses and the unfunded amount of “covered” claim and unearned premium obligations of impaired or insolvent insurance companies, either up to the policy's limit, the applicable guaranty fund covered claim obligation cap, or 100% of statutorily defined workers' compensation benefits, subject to applicable deductibles. These obligations are funded by assessments, made on a retrospective, prospective or pre-funded basis, which are levied by guaranty associations within the state, up to prescribed limits (typically 2% of “net direct written premium”), on all member insurers in the state on the basis of the proportionate share of the premiums written by member insurers in certain covered lines of business in which the impaired, insolvent or failed insurer was engaged. Accordingly, the total amount of assessments levied on us by the states in which we are licensed to write insurance may increase as we increase our premiums written. In addition, as a condition to the ability to conduct business in certain states (and within the jurisdiction of some local governments), insurance companies are subject to or required to participate in various premium or loss based insurance-related assessments, including mandatory (a/k/a “involuntary”) insurance pools, underwriting associations, workers' compensation second-injury funds, reinsurance funds and other state insurance facilities. Although we may be entitled to take premium tax credit (or offsets), recover policy surcharges or include assessments in future premium rate structures for payments we make under these facilities, the effect of these assessments and insurance-related arrangements, or changes in them, could reduce our profitability in any given period or limit our ability to grow our business.
Market fluctuations, changes in interest rates or a need to generate liquidity could have significant and negative effects on our investment portfolio. We may not be able to realize our investment objectives, which could significantly reduce our net income.
We depend on income from our securities portfolio for a substantial portion of our earnings. Investment returns are an important part of our overall profitability. A significant decline in investment yields in the securities portfolio or an impairment of securities owned could have a material adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition. We currently maintain and intend to continue to maintain a securities portfolio comprised primarily of fixed income securities. As of December 31, 2014, our investment portfolio was primarily invested in fixed income securities. We cannot predict which industry sectors in which we maintain investments may suffer losses as a result of potential declines in commercial and economic activity, or how any such decline might impact the ability of companies within the affected industry sectors to pay interest or principal on their securities and cannot predict how or to what extent the value of any underlying collateral might be affected. Accordingly, adverse fluctuations in the fixed income or equity markets could adversely impact profitability, financial condition or cash flows. If we are forced to sell portfolio securities that have unrealized losses for liquidity purposes rather than holding them to maturity or recovery, we
would realize investment losses on those securities when that determination was made. We could also experience a loss of principal in fixed and non-fixed income investments.
Our ability to achieve our investment objectives is affected by general economic conditions that are beyond our control. General economic conditions can adversely affect the markets for interest rate sensitive securities, including the extent and timing of investor participation in such markets, the level and volatility of interest rates and, consequently, the value of fixed maturity securities. U.S. and global markets have been experiencing volatility since mid-2007. Initiatives taken by the U.S. and foreign governments have helped to stabilize the financial markets and restore liquidity to the banking system and credit markets. In addition, markets in the United States and around the world experienced volatility in 2011 due, in part, to sovereign debt downgrades. Although economic conditions and financial markets have somewhat stabilized, if market conditions were to deteriorate, our investment portfolio could be adversely affected.
Difficult conditions in the economy generally may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and statement of financial position and these conditions may not improve in the near future.
Current market conditions and the instability in the global financial markets present additional risks and uncertainties for our business. In particular, deterioration in the public debt markets could lead to additional investment losses and an erosion of capital as a result of a reduction in the fair value of investment securities. The severe downturn in the public debt and equity markets, reflecting uncertainties associated with the mortgage crisis, worsening economic conditions, widening of credit spreads, bankruptcies and government intervention in large financial institutions, created significant unrealized losses in our securities portfolio at certain stages in 2009.
Economic uncertainty has recently been exacerbated by the increased potential for default by one or more European sovereign debt issuers, the potential partial or complete dissolution of the Eurozone and its common currency and the negative impact of such events on global financial institutions and capital markets generally. Actions or inactions of European governments may impact these actual or perceived risks. In the U.S. during 2011, one rating agency downgraded the U.S.’s long-term debt credit rating from AAA. Future actions or inactions of the United States government, including a shutdown of the federal government, could increase the actual or perceived risk that the U.S. may not ultimately pay its obligations when due and may disrupt financial markets.
Atlas’ portfolio is managed by an SEC registered investment advisor specializing in the management of insurance company portfolios. We and our investment manager consider these issues in connection with current asset allocation decisions with the object of avoiding them going forward. However, depending on market conditions going forward, we could again incur substantial realized and additional unrealized losses in future periods, which could have an adverse impact on the results of operations and financial condition. There can be no assurance that the current market conditions will improve in the near future. We could also experience a reduction in capital in the insurance subsidiaries below levels required by the regulators in the jurisdictions in which we operate. Certain trust accounts for the benefit of related companies and third parties have been established with collateral on deposit under the terms and conditions of the relevant trust agreements. The value of collateral could fall below the levels required under these agreements, putting the subsidiary or subsidiaries in breach of the agreement.
We may not have access to capital in the future.
We may need new or additional financing in the future to conduct our operations or expand our business. However, we may be unable to raise capital on favorable terms, or at all, including as a result of disruptions, uncertainty and volatility in the global credit markets, or due to any sustained weakness in the general economic conditions and/or financial markets in the United States or globally. From time to time, we may rely on access to financial markets as a source of liquidity for operations, acquisitions and general corporate purposes.
The limited public float and trading volume for our shares may have an adverse impact on the share price or make it difficult to liquidate.
Our securities are held by a relatively small number of shareholders. Future sales of substantial amounts of our shares in the public market, or the perception that these sales could occur, may adversely impact the market price of our shares and our shares could be difficult to liquidate.
Our business depends upon key employees, and if we are unable to retain the services of these key employees or to attract and retain additional qualified personnel, our business may suffer.
Our operations depend, to a great extent, upon the ability of executive management and other key employees to implement our business strategy and our ability to attract and retain additional qualified personnel in the future. The loss of the services of any of our key employees, or the inability to identify, hire and retain other highly qualified personnel in the future could adversely affect the quality and profitability of our business operations. In addition, we must forecast volume and other factors in changing business environments with reasonable accuracy and adjust our hiring and employment levels accordingly. Our failure to recognize the need for such adjustments, or our failure or inability to react appropriately on a timely basis, could lead to over-staffing (which could adversely affect our cost structure) or under-staffing (which could impair our ability to service current product lines and new lines of business). In either event, our financial results and customer relationships could be adversely affected.
We are subject to comprehensive regulation, and our results may be unfavorably impacted by these regulations.
As a holding company which owns insurance companies domiciled in the United States, we and our insurance subsidiaries are subject to comprehensive laws, regulations and rules. These laws, regulations and rules generally delegate regulatory, supervisory and administrative powers to state insurance regulators. Insurance regulations are generally designed to protect policyholders rather than shareholders, and are related to matters including but not limited to:
RBC ratio and solvency requirements;
restrictions on the amount, type, nature, quality and quantity of securities and other investments in which insurers may invest;
the maintenance of adequate reserves for unearned premiums and unpaid, and incurred but not reported, claims;
restrictions on the types of terms that can be included in insurance policies;
standards for accounting;
claims settlement practices;
the examination of insurance companies by regulatory authorities, including periodic financial and market conduct examinations;
requirements to comply with medical privacy laws as a result of our administration of Gateway's run-off and American Country's transportation workers' compensation business;
the licensing of insurers and their agents;
limitations on dividends and transactions with affiliates;
approval of certain reinsurance transactions;
ability to enter and exit certain insurance markets, cancel policies or non-renew policies; and
Such laws, regulations and rules increase our legal and financial compliance costs and make some activities more time-consuming and costly. Any failure to monitor and address any internal control issues could adversely impact operating results. In addition, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. A deficiency in internal control exists when the design or operation of a control does not allow management or employees, in the normal course of performing their assigned functions, to prevent or detect and correct misstatements on a timely basis. A significant deficiency is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control that is less severe than a material weakness, yet important enough to merit attention by those charged with governance. A material weakness is a deficiency, or combination of deficiencies, in internal control, such that there is a reasonable possibility that a material misstatement of the entity's financial statements will not be prevented, or detected and corrected on a timely basis. Following the reverse merger on December 31, 2010 wherein the insurance subsidiaries were transferred to us by KAI, no deficiencies or material weaknesses have been identified.
State insurance departments conduct periodic examinations of the affairs of insurance companies and require filing of annual and other reports relating to the financial condition of insurance companies, holding company issues and other matters. Our business depends on compliance with applicable laws, regulations and rules and our ability to maintain valid licenses and approvals for our operations. Regulatory authorities may deny or revoke licenses for various reasons, including violations of laws, regulations and rules. Changes in the level of regulation of the insurance industry or changes in laws, regulations and rules themselves or interpretations thereof by regulatory authorities could have a material adverse effect on our operations. Because we are subject to insurance laws, regulations and rules of many jurisdictions that are administered by different regulatory and governmental authorities, there is also a risk that one authority's interpretation of a legal or regulatory issue may conflict with another authority's interpretation of the same issue. Insurance companies are also subject to “desk drawer rules” of state insurance regulators, which
are regulatory rules that have not been codified or formally adopted through regulatory proceedings. In addition, we could face individual, group and class-action lawsuits by our policyholders and others for alleged violations of certain state laws, regulations and rules. Each of these regulatory risks could have an adverse effect on our profitability.
As a result of our administration of Gateway's run-off and American Country's transportation workers' compensation business, we are required to comply with state and federal laws governing the collection, transmission, security and privacy of health information that require significant compliance costs, and any failure to comply with these laws could result in material criminal and civil penalties. These laws and rules are subject to administrative interpretation and many are derived from the privacy provisions in the Federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act of 2002. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, which, among other things, protects consumers from the unauthorized dissemination of certain personal information, and various state laws and regulations addressing privacy issues, require us to maintain appropriate procedures for managing and protecting certain personal information of our customers and to fully disclose our privacy practices to our customers. Given the complexity of these privacy regulations, the possibility that the regulations may change, and the fact that the regulations are subject to changing and potentially conflicting interpretation, our ability to maintain compliance with the privacy requirements of state and federal law is uncertain and the costs of compliance are significant.
In addition, Gateway has exited the workers' compensation line of business across the country and also exited the Florida market for all lines of business. Most states have adopted either statutes or regulations or have issued bulletins or informal rules that regulate the anticipated withdrawal of a product, line or sub-line of insurance business from the insurance marketplace in their state. While what constitutes a “withdrawal” or its equivalent under each state's statutory or regulatory scheme varies, Gateway will be subject to regulatory requirements in connection with its withdrawal, including, but not limited to, making notice and/or plan filings with the applicable insurance regulator in certain states and possibly requiring the prior approval of the applicable state regulator. A failure by Gateway to comply with and satisfy these regulatory requirements in connection with its planned withdrawals could lead to regulatory fines, cause a distraction for management requiring us to continue to administer Gateway's workers' compensation business for longer than anticipated and could result in Gateway continuing to write undesirable commercial automobile business in Florida, which could have an adverse impact on our reserves, results of operations and financial condition.
It is not possible to predict the future impact of changing federal and state regulation on our operations, and there can be no assurance that laws enacted in the future will not be more restrictive than existing laws, regulations and rules. New or more restrictive laws, regulations and rules, including changes in current tax or other regulatory interpretations could make it more expensive for us to conduct our businesses, restrict or reduce the premiums our insurance subsidiaries are able to charge or otherwise change the way we do business. In addition, economic and financial market turmoil or other conditions, circumstances or events may result in U.S. federal oversight of the insurance industry in general.
Our business is subject to risks related to litigation and regulatory actions.
We may, from time to time, be subject to a variety of legal and regulatory actions relating to our current and past business operations, including, but not limited to:
disputes over coverage or claims adjudication, including claims alleging that we or our insurance subsidiaries have acted in bad faith in the administration of claims by our policyholders;
disputes regarding sales practices, disclosure, policy issuance and cancellation, premium refunds, licensing, regulatory compliance and compensation arrangements;
limitations on the conduct of our business;
disputes with our agents, producers or network providers over compensation or the termination of our contracts with such agents, producers or network providers, including any alleged claim that they may make against us in connection with a dispute whether in the scope of their agreements or otherwise;
disputes with taxing authorities regarding tax liabilities; and
disputes relating to certain businesses acquired or disposed of by us.
As insurance industry practices and regulatory, judicial and industry conditions change, unexpected and unintended issues related to pricing, claims, coverage and business practices may emerge. Plaintiffs often target P&C insurers in purported class action litigation relating to claims handling and insurance sales practices. The resolution and implications of new underwriting, claims and coverage issues could have a negative effect on our business by extending coverage beyond our underwriting intent, increasing the size of claims or otherwise requiring us to change our practices. The effects of unforeseen emerging claim and coverage issues could negatively impact revenues, results of operations and reputation. Current and future court decisions and legislative activity may increase our exposure to these or other types of claims. Multi-party or class action claims may present additional exposure to substantial economic, non-economic or punitive damage awards. An unfavorable result with respect to even one of these claims, if it resulted in a significant damage award or a judicial ruling that was otherwise detrimental, could create a precedent that could
have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. This risk of potential liability may make reasonable settlements of claims more difficult to obtain. We cannot determine with any certainty what new theories of recovery may evolve or what their impact may be on our business.
We have been and may be subject to governmental or administrative investigations and proceedings. Our insurance subsidiaries have been subject to numerous inquiries related to the substantial ownership interest in us held by KAI in the past. As of this document’s filing date, KAI’s ownership is below 10% and they are no longer considered an ultimate controlling party from a statutory perspective. We remain subject to regulatory action, restrictions or heightened compliance or reporting requirements in certain states, including Connecticut and Texas. Texas accounts for 6.0% of our net premiums earned to date in 2014. Prior to Atlas' acquisition of American Country, the Connecticut insurance commissioner issued an order prohibiting American Country from writing new policies, limiting it to only renewing existing policies in that state. Currently, the insurance subsidiaries do not write any business in Connecticut, but may seek approval to write business in this state at some point in the future. In 2009, the Texas Department of Insurance indicated to the insurance subsidiaries that it was considering revoking their certificates of authority to write insurance business in Texas. Following discussions with management of the subsidiaries’ former owner, KFSI, the insurance subsidiaries were allowed to retain their licenses, in part, in anticipation of a planned spin-off of the insurance subsidiaries outside of KFSI and subject to their maintenance of a statutory deposit in Texas. If we are not able to successfully comply with or lift the heightened compliance or disclosure requirements applicable in one or more of these states or any new requirements that a state may impose in the future, we may not be able to expand our operations in such state in accordance with our growth strategy or we could be subject to additional regulatory requirements that could impose a material burden on our expansion strategy or limit or prohibit our ability to write new and renewal insurance policies in such state. Any such limitation or prohibition could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial conditions and on our ability to execute our strategy in the future. The result of these inquiries could lead to additional requirements, restrictions or limitations being placed on us or our insurance subsidiaries, any of which could increase our costs of regulatory compliance and could have an adverse effect on our ability to operate our business. As a general matter, we cannot predict the outcome of regulatory investigations, proceedings and reviews, and cannot guarantee that such investigations, proceedings or reviews or related litigation or changes in operating policies and practices would not materially and adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, we have experienced difficulties with our relationships with regulatory bodies in various jurisdictions, and if such difficulties arise in the future, they could have a material adverse effect on our ability to do business in that jurisdiction.
Our business could be adversely affected as a result of changing political, regulatory, economic or other influences.
The insurance industry is subject to changing political, economic and regulatory influences. These influences affect the practices and operation of insurance and reinsurance organizations. Legislatures in the United States and other jurisdictions have periodically considered programs to reform or amend their respective insurance and reinsurance regulatory systems. Recently, the insurance and reinsurance regulatory framework has been subject to increased scrutiny in many jurisdictions. Changes in current insurance laws, regulations and rules may result in increased governmental involvement in or supervision of the insurance industry or may otherwise change the business and economic environment in which insurance industry participants operate. Historically, the automobile insurance industry has been under pressure from time to time from regulators, legislators or special interest groups to reduce, freeze or set rates at levels that are not necessarily related to underlying costs or risks, including initiatives to reduce automobile and other commercial line insurance rates. These changes may limit the ability of our insurance subsidiaries to price automobile insurance adequately and could require us to discontinue unprofitable product lines, make unplanned modifications of our products and services, or result in delays or cancellations of sales of our products and services.
Failure to maintain the security of personal data and the availability of critical systems may result in lost business, reputational damage, and legal costs and regulatory fines.
Our insurance subsidiaries obtain and store vast amounts of personal data that can present significant risks to the Company and its customers and employees. Various laws and regulations govern the use and storage of such data, including, but not limited to, social security numbers, credit card and banking data. The Company's data systems are vulnerable to security breaches due to the sophistication of cyber-attacks, viruses, malware, hackers and other external hazards, as well as inadvertent errors, equipment and system failures, and employee misconduct. The Company also relies on the ability of its business partners to maintain secure systems and processes that comply with legal requirements and protect personal data. These risks and regulatory requirements related to personal data security expose the Company to potential data loss, damage to our reputation and cause us to incur compliance and litigation costs. In the event of non-compliance with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, an information security standard for organizations that handle cardholder information for the major debit, credit, prepaid, e-purse, ATM and point-of-sale cards, such organizations could prevent our subsidiaries from collecting premium payments from customers by way of such cards and impose significant fines on our subsidiaries.
The Company's business operations rely on the continuous availability of its computer systems. In addition to disruptions caused by cyber-attacks or other data breaches, such systems may be adversely affected by natural and man-made catastrophes. The Company's failure to maintain business continuity in the wake of such events may prevent the timely completion of critical processes across its operations, including, but not limited to, insurance policy administration, claims processing, billing and payroll. These failures could result in significant loss of business, fines and litigation.
Our geographic concentration ties our performance to the business, economic, regulatory and other conditions of certain states.
Some jurisdictions (including, most notably New York, Illinois, Michigan, California, and Minnesota) generate a more significant percentage of our total premiums than others. Our revenues and profitability are subject to the prevailing regulatory, legal, economic, political, demographic, competitive, weather and other conditions in the principal states in which we do business. Changes in any of these conditions could make it less attractive for us to do business in such states and would have a more pronounced effect on us compared to companies that are more geographically diversified. In addition, our exposure to severe losses from localized perils, such as earthquakes, hurricanes, tropical storms, tornadoes, wind, ice storms, hail, fires, terrorism, riots and explosions, is increased in those areas where we have written significant numbers of P&C insurance policies. Given our geographic concentration, negative publicity regarding our products and services could have a material adverse effect on our business and operations, as could other regional factors impacting the local economies in that market.
In order to operate in a profitable manner, we need to maintain or increase our current level of earned premiums. We may experience difficulty in managing historic and future growth, which could adversely affect our results of operations and financial condition.
We believe that, given our fixed costs associated with underwriting and administering our insurance operations, our insurance subsidiaries must generate annual net earned premiums in excess of approximately $50 million in order to achieve our targeted levels of profitability. In order to maintain and increase this level of earned premiums, we intend to expand geographically and increase our market share via our expanded distribution network. Continued growth could impose significant demands on management, including the need to identify, recruit, maintain and integrate additional employees. Growth may also place a strain on management systems and operational and financial resources, and such systems, procedures and internal controls may not be adequate to support operations as they expand.
The integration and management of acquired books of business, acquired businesses and other growth initiatives involve numerous risks that could adversely affect our profitability, and are contingent on many factors, including:
expanding our financial, operational and management information systems;
managing our relationships with independent agents, brokers, and legacy program managers, including maintaining adequate controls;
expanding our executive management and the infrastructure required to effectively control our growth;
maintaining ratings for certain of our insurance subsidiaries;
increasing the statutory capital of our insurance subsidiaries to support growth in written premiums;
accurately setting claims provisions for new business where historical underwriting experience may not be available;
obtaining regulatory approval for appropriate premium rates where applicable; and
obtaining the required regulatory approvals to offer additional insurance products or to expand into additional states or other jurisdictions.
Our failure to grow our earned premiums or to manage our growth effectively could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition or results of operations.
A significant portion of our products in the New York City market are distributed by a single agent, and any decrease in the amount of our products distributed by this agent, or under performance of the book of business controlled by this agent, could adversely impact our business.
In the third quarter of 2012, we implemented our New York “excess taxi program” with a single agent writing business in the New York City market, which is a business arrangement to provide excess coverage above the levels of risk retained by the insured. This excess taxi program has an annual renewal date in the third quarter with a twelve month term and was renewed in the third quarters of both 2013 and 2014. This agent was responsible for approximately 10.6% of our gross premium written for the year
ended December 31, 2014. We do not have an exclusive relationship with this agent, and there can be no assurance that this relationship will continue in the future. If this agent reduces its marketing of our products or moves some or all of its business to another carrier, then our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected. In addition, due in part to our limited experience with this program, and with the New York City market in general, it is uncertain whether policies issued pursuant to this program will be profitable. For example, if risks associated with these clients differ from those reflected in our underwriting policies, then our business, financial condition and results of operations would be adversely affected.
Engaging in acquisitions involves risks, and if we are unable to effectively manage these risks, our business may be materially harmed.
Acquisitions of similar insurance providers, such as Gateway and Global Liberty, are expected to be a material component of our growth strategy, subject to availability of suitable opportunities and market conditions. From time to time, we may engage in discussions concerning acquisition opportunities and, as a result of such discussions, may enter into acquisition transactions. Upon the announcement of an acquisition, our share price may fall depending on numerous factors, including but not limited to, the intended target, the size of the acquisition, the purchase price and the potential dilution to existing shareholders. It is also possible that an acquisition could dilute earnings per share. Acquisitions entail numerous risks, including the following:
difficulties in the integration of the acquired business;
assumption of unknown material liabilities, including deficient provisions for unpaid claims;
diversion of management’s attention from other business concerns;
failure to achieve financial or operating objectives; and
potential loss of policyholders or key employees of acquired companies.
We may be unable to integrate or profitably operate any business, operations, personnel, services or products we may acquire in the future, which may result in our inability to realize expected revenue increases, cost savings, increases in geographic or product presence, and other projected benefits from the acquisition. Integration may result in the loss of key employees, disruption to our existing businesses or the business of the acquired company, or otherwise harm our ability to retain customers and employees or achieve the anticipated benefits of the acquisition. Time and resources spent on integration may also impair our ability to grow our existing businesses. Also, the negative effect of any financial commitments required by regulatory authorities or rating agencies in acquisitions or business combinations may be greater than expected, specifically the integration of Global Liberty infrastructure which includes its 65 employees.
Provisions in our organizational documents, corporate laws and the insurance laws of Illinois, Missouri, New York and other states could impede an attempt to replace or remove management or directors or prevent or delay a merger or sale, which could diminish the value of our shares.
Our Memorandum of Association, Articles of Association and Code of Regulations and the corporate laws and the insurance laws of various states contain provisions that could impede an attempt to replace or remove management or directors or prevent the sale of the insurance subsidiaries that shareholders might consider to be in their best interests. These provisions include, among others:
requiring a vote of holders of 5% of the ordinary shares to call a special meeting of shareholders;
requiring a two-thirds vote to amend the Articles of Association;
requiring the affirmative vote of a majority of the voting power of shares represented at a special meeting of shareholders; and
statutory requirements prohibiting a merger, consolidation, combination or majority share acquisition between insurance subsidiaries and an interested shareholder or an affiliate of an interested shareholder without regulatory approval.
These provisions may prevent shareholders from receiving the benefit of any premium over the market price of our shares offered by a bidder in a potential takeover, and may adversely affect the prevailing market price of our shares if they are viewed as discouraging takeover attempts.
In addition, insurance regulatory provisions may delay, defer or prevent a takeover attempt that shareholders may consider in their best interest. For example, under applicable state statutes, subject to limited exceptions, no person or entity may, directly or indirectly, acquire control of a domestic insurer without the prior approval of the state insurance regulator. Under the insurance laws, “control” (including the terms “controlling,” “controlled by” and “under common control with”) is generally defined to include acquisition of a certain percentage or more of an insurer’s voting securities (such as 10% or more under Illinois and Missouri law). These requirements would require a potential bidder to obtain prior approval from the insurance departments of
the states in which the insurance subsidiaries are domiciled and commercially domiciled and may require pre-acquisition notification in other states. Obtaining these approvals could result in material delays or deter any such transaction. Regulatory requirements could make a potential acquisition of our company more difficult and may prevent shareholders from receiving the benefit from any premium over the market price of our shares offered by a bidder in a takeover context. Even in the absence of a takeover attempt, the existence of these provisions may adversely affect the prevailing market price of our shares if they are viewed as discouraging takeover attempts in the future.
Market and Competition Risks
Because the insurance subsidiaries are commercial automobile insurers, conditions in that industry could adversely affect their business.
The majority of the gross premiums written by our insurance subsidiaries are generated from commercial automobile insurance policies. Adverse developments in the market for commercial automobile insurance, including those which could result from potential declines in commercial and economic activity, could cause our results of operations to suffer. The commercial automobile insurance industry is cyclical. Historically, the industry has been characterized by periods of price competition and excess capacity followed by periods of higher premium rates and shortages of underwriting capacity. These fluctuations in the business cycle have negatively impacted and could continue to negatively impact the revenues of our company. The results of the insurance subsidiaries, and in turn, us, may also be affected by risks, to the extent they are covered by the insurance policies we issue, that impact the commercial automobile industry related to severe weather conditions, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and tsunamis, as well as explosions, terrorist attacks and riots. The insurance subsidiaries’ commercial automobile insurance business may also be affected by cost trends that negatively impact profitability, such as a continuing economic downturn, inflation in vehicle repair costs, vehicle replacement parts costs, used vehicle prices, fuel costs and medical care costs. Increased costs related to the handling and litigation of claims may also negatively impact profitability. Legacy business previously written by us also includes private passenger auto, surety and other P&C insurance business. Adverse developments relative to previously written or current business could have a negative impact on our results.
The insurance and related businesses in which we operate may be subject to periodic negative publicity which may negatively impact our financial results.
The products and services of the insurance subsidiaries are ultimately distributed to individual and business customers. From time to time, consumer advocacy groups or the media may focus attention on insurance products and services, thereby subjecting the industry to periodic negative publicity. We also may be negatively impacted if participants in one or more of our markets engage in practices resulting in increased public attention to our business. Negative publicity may also result in increased regulation and legislative scrutiny of practices in the P&C insurance industry as well as increased litigation. These factors may further increase our costs of doing business and adversely affect our profitability by impeding our ability to market our products and services, requiring us to change our products or services or by increasing the regulatory burdens under which we operate.
The highly competitive environment in which we operate could have an adverse effect on our business, results of operations and financial condition.
The commercial automobile insurance business is highly competitive and, except for regulatory considerations, there are relatively few barriers to entry. Many of our competitors are substantially larger and may enjoy better name recognition, substantially greater financial resources, higher ratings by rating agencies, broader and more diversified product lines and more widespread agency relationships than us. Our underwriting profits could be adversely impacted if new entrants or existing competitors try to compete with our products, services and programs or offer similar or better products at or below our prices. Insurers in our markets generally compete on the basis of price, consumer recognition, coverages offered, claims handling, financial stability, customer service and geographic coverage. Although pricing is influenced to some degree by that of our competitors, it is not in our best interest to compete solely on price, and we may from time to time experience a loss of market share during periods of intense price competition. Our business could be adversely impacted by the loss of business to competitors offering competitive insurance products at lower prices. This competition could affect our ability to attract and retain profitable business. Pricing sophistication and related underwriting and marketing programs use a number of risk evaluation factors. For auto insurance, these factors can include but are not limited to vehicle make, model and year; driver age; territory; years licensed; loss history; years insured with prior carrier; prior liability limits; prior lapse in coverage; and insurance scoring based on credit report information. We believe our pricing model will generate future underwriting profits, however past performance is not a perfect indicator of future driver performance.
If we are not able to attract and retain independent agents and brokers, our revenues could be negatively affected.
We market and distribute our insurance programs exclusively through independent insurance agents and specialty insurance brokers. As a result, our business depends in large part on the marketing efforts of these agents and brokers and on our ability to offer insurance products and services that meet the requirements of the agents, the brokers and their customers. However, these agents and brokers are not obligated to sell or promote our products and many sell or promote competitors’ insurance products in addition to our products. Some of our competitors have higher financial strength ratings, offer a larger variety of products, set lower prices for insurance coverage and/or offer higher commissions than we do. Therefore, we may not be able to continue to attract and retain independent agents and brokers to sell our insurance products. The failure or inability of independent agents and brokers to market our insurance products successfully could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
If we are unable to maintain our claims-paying ratings, our ability to write insurance and to compete with other insurance companies may be adversely impacted. A decline in rating could adversely affect our position in the insurance market, make it more difficult to market our insurance products and cause our premiums and earnings to decrease.
Financial ratings are an important factor influencing the competitive position of insurance companies. Third party rating agencies assess and rate the claims-paying ability of insurers and reinsurers based upon criteria that they have established. Periodically these rating agencies evaluate the business to confirm that it continues to meet the criteria of the ratings previously assigned. Financial strength ratings are an important factor in establishing the competitive position of insurance companies and may be expected to have an effect on an insurance company’s premiums. The insurance subsidiaries are rated by A.M. Best, which issues independent opinions of an insurer’s financial strength and its ability to meet policyholder obligations. A.M. Best ratings range from “A++” (Superior) to “F” (In Liquidation), with a total of 16 separate rating categories. The objective of A.M. Best’s rating system is to provide potential policyholders and other interested parties an opinion of an insurer’s financial strength and ability to meet ongoing obligations, including paying claims.
On October 23, 2014, A.M. Best placed the current financial strength ratings of "B" "Stable" for American Country, American Service and Gateway under review with negative implications. Also on October 23, 2014, A.M. Best placed the current financial strength rating of Global Liberty of "B+" "Stable" under review with negative implications. These rating actions followed the announcement that Atlas had entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Global Liberty. As described by A.M.Best, the negative implications reflect the inherent risk associated with integrating Global Liberty into Atlas' ongoing operations and the uncertainties associated with Global Liberty's recent results. The ratings will remain under review pending the close of the transaction and discussions with management regarding the impact that the transaction will have on Global Liberty's and Atlas' current operating companies. There is a risk that A.M. Best will not maintain these ratings in the future. If the insurance subsidiaries’ ratings are reduced by A.M. Best, their competitive position in the insurance industry could suffer and it could be more difficult to market their insurance products. A downgrade could result in a significant reduction in the number of insurance contracts written by the subsidiaries and in a substantial loss of business to other competitors with higher ratings, causing premiums and earnings to decrease. Rating agencies evaluate insurance companies based on financial strength and the ability to pay claims, factors that may be more relevant to policyholders than to investors. Financial strength ratings by rating agencies are not ratings of securities or recommendations to buy, hold or sell any security and should not be relied upon as such.
Our ability to generate written premiums is impacted by seasonality which may cause fluctuations in our operating results and to our stock price.
The P&C insurance business is seasonal in nature. Our ability to generate written premium is also impacted by the timing of policy effective periods in the states in which we operate while our net premiums earned generally follow a relatively smooth trend from quarter to quarter. Also, our gross premiums written are impacted by certain common renewal dates in larger metropolitan markets for the light commercial risks that represent our core lines of business. For example, January 1st and March 1st are common taxi cab renewal dates in Illinois and New York, respectively. Additionally, we implemented our New York “excess taxi program” in the third quarter of 2012, which has an annual renewal date in the third quarter. Net underwriting income is driven mainly by the timing and nature of claims, which can vary widely. As a result of this seasonality, investors may not be able to predict our annual operating results based on a quarter-to-quarter comparison of our operating results. Additionally, this seasonality may cause fluctuations in our stock price. We believe seasonality will have an ongoing impact on our business.
U.S. Tax Risks
If our company were not to be treated as a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, certain tax inefficiencies would result and certain adverse tax rules would apply.
Pursuant to certain “expatriation” provisions of the U.S. Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended, the reverse merger agreement relating to the reverse merger transaction described below provides that the parties intend to treat our company as a U.S. corporation
for U.S. federal income tax purposes. The expatriation provisions are complex, are largely unsettled and subject to differing interpretations, and are subject to change, perhaps retroactively. If our company were not to be treated as a U.S. corporation for U.S. federal income tax purposes, certain tax inefficiencies and adverse tax consequences and reporting requirements would result for both our company and the recipients and holders of stock in our company, including that dividend distributions from our insurance subsidiaries to us would be subject to 30% U.S. withholding tax, with no available reduction and that members of the consolidated group may not be permitted to file a consolidated U.S. tax return resulting in the acceleration of cash tax outflow and potential permanent loss of tax benefits associated with net operating loss carryforwards that could have otherwise been utilized.
Our use of losses may be subject to limitations and the tax liability of our company may be increased.
Our ability to utilize the net operating loss carryforwards ("NOLs") is subject to the rules of Section 382 of the Internal Revenue Code ("IRC"). Section 382 generally restricts the use of NOLs after an “ownership change.” An ownership change occurs if, among other things, the stockholders (or specified groups of stockholders) who own or have owned, directly or indirectly, five percent (5%) or more of our common stock or are otherwise treated as five percent (5%) stockholders under Section 382 and the regulations promulgated thereunder increase their aggregate percentage ownership of our stock by more than 50 percentage points over the lowest percentage of the stock owned by these stockholders over a three-year rolling period. In the event of an ownership change, Section 382 imposes an annual limitation on the amount of taxable income a corporation may offset with NOL carryforwards. This annual limitation is generally equal to the product of the value of our stock on the date of the ownership change, multiplied by the long-term tax-exempt rate published monthly by the Internal Revenue Service. Any unused annual limitation may be carried over to later years until the applicable expiration date for the respective NOL carryforwards.
The rules of Section 382 are complex and subject to varying interpretations. Because of our numerous equity issuances, which have included the issuance of various classes of convertible securities and warrants, uncertainty existed as to whether we may have undergone an ownership change in the past or will undergo one as a result of our recent U.S. public offering. Based upon management's assessment, it was determined that at the date of the U.S. public offering there was not an "ownership change" as defined by Section 382. However, on July 22, 2013, as a result of shareholder activity, a "triggering event" as determined under IRC Section 382 was reached. As a result, under IRC Section 382, the use of the Company's net operating loss and other carryforwards will be limited as a result of this "ownership change” for tax purposes, which is defined as a cumulative change of more than 50% during any three-year period by shareholders of the Company's shares.
Following this triggering event, the Company estimates that it will retain total tax effected federal net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $14.2 million as of December 31, 2014. Book value per common share was unaffected by this event as the amount of lost net deferred tax assets were offset by a corresponding decrease in the valuation allowance that was already held against the majority of these assets.
Atlas has the following total net operating loss carryforwards at December 31, 2014:
Net Operating Loss Carryforward by Expiry (in ‘000s)
Year of Occurrence
Year of Expiration
Further limitations on the utilization of losses may apply because of the “dual consolidated loss” rules, which will also require our company to recapture into income the amount of any such utilized losses in certain circumstances. As a result of the application of these rules, the future tax liability of our company and our insurance subsidiaries could be significantly increased. In addition, taxable income may also be recognized by our company or our insurance subsidiaries in connection with the 2010 reverse merger transaction.
We do not anticipate paying any cash dividends for the foreseeable future.
We currently intend to retain our future earnings, if any, for the foreseeable future, for working capital and other general corporate purposes. We do not intend to pay any dividends to holders of our ordinary shares. As a result, capital appreciation in the price of
our ordinary shares, if any, will be your only source of gain on an investment in our ordinary shares. We have never declared or paid cash dividends on our common stock since Atlas' inception in 2010. Any future determination to pay dividends on our common stock will be at the discretion of our board of directors, subject to applicable laws, and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, general business conditions, and other factors that our board of directors considers relevant. In addition, the insurance laws and regulations governing our insurance subsidiaries contain restrictions on the ability to pay dividends, or to make other distributions to us, which may limit our ability to pay dividends to our common shareholders.
Holders of our preferred shares are entitled to dividends on a cumulative basis whether or not declared by our board of directors, at a rate of $0.045 per preferred share per year, which must be paid or declared and set apart before any dividend may be paid on our ordinary shares. We declared and paid $2.1 million of preferred dividends during 2013 on the preferred shares held by KAI. All of the preferred shares held by KAI were repurchased on August 1, 2013, and therefore, no additional dividends will accrue on the KAI preferred shares, however, dividends on the remaining 2,000,000 outstanding preferred shares will continue to accrue dividends at the rate indicated above.
Risks Related to Our Recent Initial Public Offering in the United States
The requirements of being a United States public company may strain our resources and divert management’s attention.
As a United States public company, we are subject to the reporting requirements of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (which we refer to herein as the Exchange Act), the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Dodd-Frank Act, the listing requirements of the NASDAQ Stock Market and other applicable securities rules and regulations. Compliance with these rules and regulations increase our legal and financial compliance costs, make some activities more difficult, time-consuming or costly and increase demand on our systems and resources, which may increase after we are no longer an “emerging growth company.” The Exchange Act requires, among other things, that we file annual, quarterly and current reports with respect to our business and operating results. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires, among other things, that we maintain effective disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting. In order to maintain and, if required, improve our disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting to meet this standard, significant resources and management oversight may be required. As a result, management’s attention may be diverted from other business concerns, which could adversely affect our business and operating results. We may need to hire more employees in the future or engage outside consultants to comply with these requirements, which will increase our costs and expenses.
In addition, changing laws, regulations and standards in the United States relating to corporate governance and public disclosure are creating uncertainty for public companies, increasing legal and financial compliance costs and making some activities more time consuming. These laws, regulations and standards are subject to varying interpretations, in many cases due to their lack of specificity, and, as a result, their application in practice may evolve over time as new guidance is provided by regulatory and governing bodies. This could result in continuing uncertainty regarding compliance matters and higher costs necessitated by ongoing revisions to disclosure and governance practices. We intend to invest resources to comply with evolving laws, regulations and standards, and this investment may result in increased general and administrative expenses and a diversion of management’s time and attention from revenue-generating activities to compliance activities. If our efforts to comply with new laws, regulations and standards differ from the activities intended by regulatory or governing bodies due to ambiguities related to their application and practice, regulatory authorities may initiate legal proceedings against us and our business and operating results may be adversely affected.
For as long as we remain an “emerging growth company” as defined in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act of 2012 (which we refer to herein as the JOBS Act), we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies,” including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with the auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a non-binding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We may take advantage of these reporting exemptions until we are no longer an “emerging growth company.”
We will remain an “emerging growth company” for up to five years from our U.S. initial public offering, although we will cease to be an “emerging growth company” before that time if we meet certain criteria.
As a result of disclosure of information in this Form 10-K and in filings required of a public company in the United States, our business, results of operations, cash flows and financial condition will become more visible, which may result in threatened or actual litigation, including by competitors and other third parties. If such claims are successful, our business and operating results could be adversely affected, and even if the claims do not result in litigation or are resolved in our favor, these claims, and the
time and resources necessary to resolve them, could divert the resources of our management and adversely affect our business and operating results.
We are an “emerging growth company” and we cannot be certain if the reduced disclosure requirements applicable to emerging growth companies will make our ordinary shares less attractive to investors.
We are an “emerging growth company,” as defined in the JOBS Act, and we may take advantage of certain exemptions from various reporting requirements that are applicable to other public companies that are not “emerging growth companies” including, but not limited to, not being required to comply with auditor attestation requirements of Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, reduced disclosure obligations regarding executive compensation in our periodic reports and proxy statements, and exemptions from the requirements of holding a non-binding advisory vote on executive compensation and shareholder approval of any golden parachute payments not previously approved. We cannot predict if investors will find our ordinary shares less attractive because we may rely on these exemptions. If some investors find our ordinary shares less attractive as a result, there may be a less active trading market for these shares and our stock price may be more volatile.
Section 107 of the JOBS Act provides that an “emerging growth company” can take advantage of an extended transaction period for complying with new or revised accounting standards. However, we are choosing to “opt out” of such extended transition period, and as a result, we will comply with new or revised accounting standards on the relevant dates on which adoption of such standards is required for non-emerging growth companies. Our decision to opt out of the extended transition period for complying with new or revised accounting standards is irrevocable.
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Our corporate headquarters is located at 150 Northwest Point Boulevard, Elk Grove Village, Illinois 60007, USA. The facility consists of one office building totaling 176,844 net rentable square feet of office space on 7.2 acres. We are leasing approximately 30,600 square feet for a term of 60 months that began May 22, 2012, unless terminated or extended pursuant to the lease agreement. We are paying an annual rent equal to approximately $696,000, or approximately $58,000 per month, with a nominal annual escalation beginning on the first anniversary date of the lease agreement. We believe the facility is suitable and adequate for our current business needs. Prior to the expiration of the aforementioned lease, we will explore alternatives to meet our future needs.
We own two properties in Alabama, which together comprise approximately 50 acres of land. These properties are currently held for sale.
Upon completion of the Gateway acquisition, we assumed a lease for 12,937 square feet of office space in St. Louis, Missouri which is effective through February 2016. We currently pay a monthly rent equal to approximately $29,000. Some of the expenses related to the lease are shared with the former parent of Camelot Services.
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
In connection with our operations, we are, from time to time, named as defendants in actions for damages and costs allegedly sustained by the plaintiffs. While it is not possible to estimate the outcome of the various proceedings at this time, such actions have generally been resolved with minimal damages or expense in excess of amounts provided and our company does not believe that it will incur any significant additional loss or expense in connection with such actions. The Company does not believe there is any litigation pending or threatened against it that, individually or in aggregate, may reasonably be expected to have a material adverse effect on the Company.
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
As of December 31, 2014, there were approximately 2,280 shareholders of record of our ordinary shares and one shareholder of record of our restricted voting shares (all of which convert to ordinary shares upon the sale of such shares by the sole shareholder, KAI, or its subsidiaries). Our ordinary shares have been listed on the NASDAQ under the symbol “AFH” since February 12, 2013 and were previously listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange - Venture ("TSXV") under the same symbol beginning January 6, 2011. On June 5, 2013, the Company delisted from the TSXV. As of March 5, 2015, there were 11,646,130 ordinary common shares and 132,863 restricted shares outstanding.
Set forth below are the high and low listing prices of the ordinary shares during 2013, 2014 and the first quarter of 2015, through March 5, 2015 according to the TSXV and the NASDAQ, assuming retroactive application of the one-for-three reverse stock split :
Summary of Share Prices
First Quarter (through March 5, 2015)
Since our ordinary shares began trading on the NASDAQ on February 12, 2013, the high closing price was $18.10 and the low closing price was $5.85.
During 2013, we declared and paid $2.1 million of dividends related to the KAI preferred shares. Also during 2013, we repurchased 18,000,000 of preferred shares from KAI at 90% of face value and paid all accrued dividends on these shares prior to the repurchase date of August 1, 2013. The cumulative amount of dividends to which the remaining preferred shareholder is entitled upon liquidation (or sooner, if we declare dividends) was $184,000 as of December 31, 2014.
Due to insurance regulations there are restrictions on our insurance subsidiaries that currently materially limit the Company's ability to pay dividends. We did not pay any dividends to our common shareholders during 2013, 2014 or to date in 2015 and have no current plans to pay dividends to our common shareholders.
During the quarter ended December 31, 2013, Atlas issued 1,191,409 ordinary shares pursuant to the exchange of warrants and options for aggregate cash consideration of $6.4 million. These ordinary shares were issued in reliance on exemptions from registration under Section 4(2) of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended (the “Securities Act”), and the rules and regulations promulgated thereunder, and Regulation S promulgated under the Securities Act. In light of the manner of the sale and information obtained by the Company from the investors in connection with these transactions, Atlas believes it may rely on these exemptions.
On May 13, 2014, an aggregate of 2,000,000 Atlas ordinary shares were offered in a subsequent public offering in the United States at a price of $12.50 per share. Atlas also granted the underwriters an option to purchase up to an aggregate of 300,000 additional shares at the public offering price of $12.50 per share to cover over-allotments, if any. On May 27, 2014, the underwriters exercised this option and purchased an additional 161,000 shares. After underwriting and other expenses, total proceeds of $25.0 million were realized on the issuance of the shares. A portion of the net proceeds from the offering will be used to support the acquisition of Anchor Holdings Group, Inc. and its affiliated entities.
Equity Compensation Plan Information
The following table provides information regarding the number of shares of common stock to be issued upon exercise of outstanding options, warrants and rights under the Company's equity compensation plans and the weighted average exercise price and number of shares of common stock remaining available for issuance under those plans as of December 31, 2014.
Number of securities to be issued upon exercise of outstanding options, warrants & rights (a) 2
Weighted average exercise price of outstanding options, warrants and rights (b) 3
Number of securities remaining available for future issuance under equity compensation plans (excluding securities reflected in column (a)) 4
Equity compensation plans approved by security holders 1
1 The Company has no equity compensation plans that were not approved by its security holders.
2 Summation of 399,623 shares outstanding under the March 18, 2010, January 18, 2011, January 11, 2013 and the March 6, 2014 equity compensation plans
3 Average price not computed due to currency differences
4 Equal to the remainder allowable according to the 2013 Equity Incentive Plan (10% of issued and outstanding ordinary shares)
Item 7. Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A) of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Application of Critical Accounting Estimates
MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
(All amounts in US dollars, except for amounts preceded by “C” as Canadian dollars, share and per share amounts)
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and related notes that appear elsewhere in this document. In addition to historical consolidated financial information, the following discussion contains forward-looking statements that may include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to estimates of future expenses, revenue and profitability; trends affecting financial condition, cash flows and results of operations; the availability and terms of additional capital; dependence on key suppliers and other strategic partners; industry trends and the competitive and regulatory environment; the successful integration of future acquisitions; the impact of losing one or more senior executives or failing to attract additional key personnel; and other factors referenced in this document. Our actual results could differ materially from those discussed in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements contained herein are made as of the date of this filing and we disclaim any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or results, or otherwise. Factors that could cause or contribute to these differences include those discussed below and elsewhere, particularly in “Risk Factors.”
In this discussion and analysis, the term “common share” refers to the summation of restricted voting shares and ordinary shares when used to describe loss or book value per common share.
This report contains “forward-looking statements,” within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, which may include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to estimates of future expenses, revenue and profitability; trends affecting financial condition and results of operations; the availability and terms of additional capital; dependence on key suppliers, and other strategic partners; industry trends and the competitive and regulatory environment; the impact of losing one or more senior executives or failing to attract additional key personnel; and other factors referenced in this report.
Often, but not always, forward-looking statements can be identified by the use of words such as “plans”, “expects”, “is expected”, “budget”, “scheduled”, “estimates”, “forecasts”, “intends”, “anticipates”, or “believes” or variations (including negative variations) of such words and phrases, or state that certain actions, events or results “may”, “could”, “would”, “might” or “will” be taken, occur or be achieved. Forward-looking statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors which may cause the actual results, performance or achievements of Atlas to be materially different from any future results, performance or achievements expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements. Such factors include, among others, general business, economic, competitive, political, regulatory and social uncertainties.
Although Atlas has attempted to identify important factors that could cause actual actions, events or results to differ materially from those described in forward-looking statements, there may be other factors that cause actions, events or results to differ from those anticipated, estimated or intended. Forward-looking statements contained herein are made as of the date of this report and Atlas disclaims any obligation to update any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or results, or otherwise. There can be no assurance that forward-looking statements will prove to be accurate, as actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such statements. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking statements due to the inherent uncertainty in them.
We are a financial services holding company incorporated under the laws of the Cayman Islands. Our core business is the underwriting of commercial automobile insurance policies, focusing on the “light” commercial automobile sector, which is carried out through our insurance subsidiaries. This sector includes taxi cabs, non-emergency para-transit, limousine, livery and business auto. Our goal is to always be the preferred specialty commercial transportation insurer in any geographic areas where our value proposition delivers benefit to all stakeholders. We are licensed to write property and casualty, or P&C, insurance in 49 states plus the District of Columbia in the United States. The insurance subsidiaries distribute their products through a network of independent retail agents, and actively wrote insurance in 40 states and the District of Columbia during 2014.
Our core business is the underwriting of commercial automobile insurance policies, focusing on the “light” commercial automobile sector. Over the past four years, we have disposed of non-core assets, consolidated infrastructure and placed into run-off certain non-core lines of business previously written by the insurance subsidiaries. Our focus going forward is the underwriting of commercial automobile insurance in the U.S. Substantially all of our new premiums written are in “light” commercial automobile lines of business.
Our primary target market is made up of small to mid-size taxi, limousine and non-emergency para-transit operators. The “light” commercial automobile policies we underwrite provide coverage for lightweight commercial vehicles typically with the minimum
limits prescribed by statute, municipal or other regulatory requirements. The majority of our policyholders are individual owners or small fleet operators. In certain jurisdictions like Illinois, Nevada and New York, we have also been successful working with larger operators who retain a meaningful amount of their own risk of loss through higher retentions, self-insurance or self-funded captive insurance entity arrangements. In these cases, we provide support in the areas of day to day policy administration and claims handling consistent with the value proposition we offer to all of our insureds, generally on a fee for service basis. We may also provide excess coverage above the levels of risk retained by the insureds where a better than average loss ratio is expected. Through these arrangements, we are able to effectively utilize the significant specialized operating infrastructure we maintain to generate revenue from business segments that may otherwise be more price sensitive in the current market environment.
The “light” commercial automobile sector is a subset of the historically profitable commercial automobile insurance industry segment. Commercial automobile insurance has outperformed the overall P&C industry generally over the past ten years based on data compiled by SNL Financial. The data compiled by SNL Financial also indicates that for 2013 the total market for commercial automobile liability insurance was approximately $24 billion. The size of the commercial automobile insurance market can be affected significantly by many factors, such as the underwriting capacity and underwriting criteria of automobile insurance carriers and general economic conditions. Historically, the commercial automobile insurance market has been characterized by periods of excess underwriting capacity and increased price competition followed by periods of reduced capacity and higher premium rates.
We believe that there is a positive correlation between the economy and commercial automobile insurance in general. Operators of “light” commercial automobiles may be less likely than other business segments within the commercial automobile insurance market to take vehicles out of service as their businesses and business reputations rely heavily on availability. With respect to certain business lines such as the taxi line, there are also other factors such as the cost and limited supply of medallions which may discourage a policyholder from taking vehicles out of service in the face of reduced demand for the use of the vehicle.
Our surety program primarily consists of U.S. Customs bonds. We engage a former affiliate, Avalon Risk Management, to help coordinate customer service and claim handling for the surety bonds written. This non-core program is 100% reinsured to an unrelated third party and is being transitioned to another carrier. No new premium will be written in connection with this program in 2015.
The other line of business is comprised of Gateway's truck and workers' compensation programs (currently in run off), American Services' non-standard personal lines business (currently in run off ), Atlas' workers' compensation related to taxi, other liability and assigned risk business.
The Gateway truck and workers' compensation programs were put into run-off during 2012. The truck program had little earned premium during 2012 and the workers' compensation program is 100% reinsured retrospectively and prospectively to an unrelated third party.
Non-standard automobile insurance is principally provided to individuals who do not qualify for standard automobile insurance coverage because of their payment history, driving record, place of residence, age, vehicle type or other factors. Such drivers typically represent higher than normal risks and pay higher insurance rates for comparable coverage.
Consistent with Atlas’ focus on commercial automobile insurance, Atlas has transitioned away from the non-standard auto line. Our insurance subsidiaries ceased writing new and renewal policies of this type in 2011 and earned premium discontinued in 2012, allowing surplus and resources to be devoted to the expected growth of the commercial automobile business.
We derive our revenues primarily from premiums from our insurance policies and income from our investment portfolio. Our underwriting approach is to price our products to generate consistent underwriting profit for the insurance companies we own. As with all P&C insurance companies, the impact of price changes is reflected in our financial results over time. Price changes on our in-force policies occur as they are renewed. This cycle generally takes twelve months for our entire book of business and up to an additional twelve months to earn a full year of premium at the renewal rate.
We approach investment and capital management with the intention of supporting insurance operations by providing a stable source of income to supplement underwriting income. The goals of our investment policy are to protect capital while optimizing investment income and capital appreciation and maintaining appropriate liquidity. We follow a formal investment policy and the Board of Directors reviews the portfolio performance at least quarterly for compliance with the established guidelines. The Investment Committee of the Board of Directors provides interim guidance and analysis with respect to asset allocation, as deemed appropriate.
Net claims incurred expenses are a function of the amount and type of insurance contracts we write and of the loss experience of the underlying risks. We record net claims incurred based on an actuarial analysis of the estimated losses we expect to be reported on contracts written. We seek to establish case reserves at the maximum probable exposure based on our historical claims experience. Our ability to estimate net claims incurred accurately at the time of pricing our contracts is a critical factor in determining our profitability. The amount reported under net claims incurred in any period includes payments in the period net of the change in the value of the reserves for net claims incurred between the beginning and the end of the period.
Commissions and other underwriting expenses consist principally of brokerage and agent commissions and to a lesser extent premium taxes. The brokerage and agent commissions are reduced by ceding commissions received from assuming reinsurers that represent a percentage of the premiums on insurance policies and reinsurance contracts written and vary depending upon the amount and types of contracts written.
Other operating and general expenses consist primarily of personnel expenses (including salaries, benefits and certain costs associated with awards under our equity compensation plans, such as stock compensation expense) and other general operating expenses. Because a portion of our personnel expenses are relatively fixed in nature, increased writings will improve our operating scale and will lead to reduced operating expense ratios.
II. CONSOLIDATED PERFORMANCE
2014 Full Year Financial Performance Summary (comparisons to 2013 unless otherwise noted):
Gross premium written increased by 31.6% from the prior year to $122.4 million, with an increase of 35.0% related to core lines of business
We actively marketed our core products in 40 states and the District of Columbia during the year
The combined ratio improved by 3.7 percentage points to 90.7% on a full year basis and was 88.4% in the fourth quarter
Underwriting results improved by $5.2 million
Operating income was $12.2 million or $1.08 diluted earnings per common share, an improvement of $6.1 million or $0.52 diluted earnings per common share from the prior year
Operating income was $4.0 million or $0.33 diluted earnings per common share in the fourth quarter of 2014
The Company reduced its valuation allowance for deferred tax assets by $9.4 million, or $0.83 diluted earnings per common share for the full year of 2014
Net income for the full year was $17.7 million, compared to net income of $6.2 million in the prior year
Diluted earnings per common share was $1.56, inclusive of the reduction of the valuation allowance for deferred tax assets
Book value per diluted common share at December 31, 2014 was $9.08, compared to $6.54 at December 31, 2013
The following financial data is derived from Atlas’ consolidated financial statements for the for the years ended December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2013.
Selected Financial Information ($ in '000s except per share amounts)
December 31, 2014
December 31, 2013
Gross premium written
Net premium earned
Losses on claims
Other underwriting expenses
Underwriting expenses related to the integration of acquisitions
Net underwriting income
Net investment income
Income from operating activities, before tax
Less: Legal/professional fees incurred related to acquisitions
Add: Realized gains and other income
Income before tax
Income tax (benefit) expense
Key Financial Ratios:
Acquisition cost ratio
Other underwriting expense ratio
Return on equity
Return on common equity
Operating income per common share, diluted
Earnings per common share, diluted
Book value per common share
Operating income is an internal performance measure used in the management of the Company's operations. It represents after-tax operational results excluding, as applicable, net realized gains or losses, net impairment charges recognized in earnings and
other items. These amounts are more heavily influenced by market opportunities and other external factors. Operating income should not be viewed as a substitute for U.S. GAAP net income.
2014 compared to 2013:
Atlas’ combined ratio for the year ended December 31, 2014 was 90.7%, compared to 94.4% for the year ended December 31, 2013.
We achieved substantial premium growth primarily through organic vertical expansion of core lines of business written in our target markets. There was an increase in gross premium written related to core commercial lines of 35.0% for the year ended December 31, 2014 as compared to the year ended December 31, 2013. When excluding our excess taxi program, which experienced a modest increase in gross premium written, for the year ended December 31, 2014, gross premium written on our traditional core lines increased by 40.6% as compared to the prior year. The pricing activity and claims initiatives were the primary drivers for loss ratio improvement in 2014. The overall loss ratio for the year ended December 31, 2014 improved to 62.3% as compared to 63.9% in the year ended December 31, 2013.
Atlas generated net investment income of $3.1 million and $2.1 million for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, as well as $382,000 and $529,000 of realized gains, respectively. This resulted in an overall annualized investment yield of 2.2% for the year ended December 31, 2014, an improvement of 0.1% over 2013.
Overall, Atlas generated net income of $17.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2014. After taking the dilutive impact of the convertible preferred shares and stock options, diluted earnings per common share in the year ended December 31, 2014 was $1.56. This compares to net income of $6.2 million or diluted earnings per common share of $0.74 for the year ended December 31, 2013.
As part of our on-going analysis of deferred tax assets, management has assessed both positive and negative evidence according to guidance provided by the Financial Accounting Standards Board ("FASB"). Based on this guidance we have determined that it is more likely than not that the Company will be able to fully utilize its deferred tax assets ("DTAs"). As such, it has evaluated its valuation allowance and determined that all DTAs net of deferred tax liabilities ("DTLs") are available to offset income in all future periods. This conclusion is based upon management’s evaluation of the new information it has analyzed and not from management’s new evaluation or new interpretation of information that was available in a previous financial reporting period. Accordingly, the Company has recorded an entry in its year-end closing process commensurate with this conclusion. This resulted in a book value increase of $9.4 million or $0.81 per diluted common share.
III. APPLICATION OF CRITICAL ACCOUNTING ESTIMATES
The preparation of financial statements in conformity with U.S. GAAP requires management to adopt accounting policies and make estimates and assumptions that affect amounts reported in the consolidated financial statements. The most critical estimates include those used in determining:
Fair value and impairment of financial assets;
Deferred policy acquisition costs recoverability;
Reserve for property-liability insurance claims and claims expense estimation; and
Deferred tax asset valuation.
In making these determinations, management makes subjective and complex judgments that frequently require estimates about matters that are inherently uncertain. Many of these policies, estimates and related judgments are common in the insurance and financial services industries; others are specific to our businesses and operations. It is reasonably likely that changes in these items could occur from period to period and result in a material impact on our consolidated financial statements.
A brief summary of each of these critical accounting estimates follows. For a more detailed discussion of the effect of these estimates on our consolidated financial statements, and the judgments and assumptions related to these estimates, see the referenced sections of this document. For a complete summary of our significant accounting policies, see the notes to the consolidated financial statements.
Fair values of financial instruments - Atlas has used the following methods and assumptions in estimating its fair value disclosures:
Fair values for marketable bonds and equity securities are based on quoted market prices, when available. If quoted market prices are not available, fair values are based on quoted market prices of comparable instruments or values obtained from independent pricing services through a bank trustee.
Atlas' fixed income portfolio is managed by a SEC registered investment advisor specializing in the management of insurance company portfolios. Management works directly with them to ensure that Atlas benefits from their expertise and also evaluates investments as well as specific positions independently using internal resources. Atlas' investment advisor has a team of credit analysts for all investment grade fixed income sectors. The investment process begins with an independent analyst review of each
security's credit worthiness using both quantitative tools and qualitative review. At the issuer level, this includes reviews of past financial data, trends in financial stability, projections for the future, reliability of the management team in place, market data (credit spread, equity prices, trends in this data for the issuer and the issuer's industry). Reviews also consider industry trends and the macro-economic environment. This analysis is continuous, integrating new information as it becomes available. As of December 31, 2014, this process did not generate any significant difference in the rating assessment between Atlas' review and the rating agencies.
Atlas employs specific control processes to determine the reasonableness of the fair value of its financial assets. These processes are designed to supplement those performed by our external portfolio manager to ensure that the values received from them are accurately recorded and that the data inputs and the valuation techniques utilized are appropriate, consistently applied, and that the assumptions are reasonable and consistent with the objective of determining fair value. For example, on a continuing basis, Atlas assesses the reasonableness of individual security values which have stale prices or whose changes exceed certain thresholds as compared to previous values received from our external portfolio manager or to expected prices. The portfolio is reviewed routinely for transaction volumes, new issuances, any changes in spreads, as well as the overall movement of interest rates along the yield curve to determine if sufficient activity and liquidity exists to provide a credible source for market valuations. When fair value determinations are expected to be more variable, they are validated through reviews by members of management or the Board of Directors who have relevant expertise and who are independent of those charged with executing investment transactions.
Impairment of financial assets - Atlas assesses, on a quarterly basis, whether there is objective evidence that a financial asset or group of financial assets is impaired. An investment is considered impaired when the fair value of the investment is less than its cost or amortized cost. When an investment is impaired, the Company must make a determination as to whether the impairment is other-than-temporary.
Under U.S. GAAP, with respect to an investment in an impaired debt security, other-than temporary impairment (OTTI) occurs if (a) there is intent to sell the debt security, (b) it is more likely than not it will be required to sell the debt security before its anticipated recovery, or (c) it is probable that all amounts due will be unable to be collected such that the entire cost basis of the security will not be recovered. If Atlas intends to sell the debt security, or will more likely than not be required to sell the debt security before the anticipated recovery, a loss in the entire amount of the impairment is reflected in net realized gains (losses) on investments in the consolidated statements of income and comprehensive income. If Atlas determines that it is probable it will be unable to collect all amounts and Atlas has no intent to sell the debt security, a credit loss is recognized in net realized gains (losses) on investments in the consolidated statements of income and comprehensive income to the extent that the fair value is less than the amortized cost basis; any difference between fair value and the new amortized cost basis (net of the credit loss) is reflected in accumulated other comprehensive income (losses), net of applicable income taxes.
For equity securities, the Company evaluates its ability to retain its investment in the issuer for a period of time sufficient to allow for any anticipated recovery in fair value. Evidence considered to determine anticipated recovery are analysts' reports on the near-term prospects of the issuer and the financial condition of the issuer or the industry, in addition to the length and extent of the market value decline. If OTTI is identified, the equity security is adjusted to fair value through a charge to earnings. See Note 5 of the Consolidated Financial Statements for further discussion of the other-than-temporary impairment on equity securities.
Deferred policy acquisition costs - Atlas defers brokers’ commissions, premium taxes and other underwriting costs directly relating to the successful acquisition of premiums written to the extent they are considered recoverable. These costs are then expensed as the related premiums are earned. The method followed in determining the deferred policy acquisition costs limits the deferral to its realizable value by giving consideration to estimated future claims and expenses to be incurred as premiums are earned. Changes in estimates, if any, are recorded in the accounting period in which they are determined. Anticipated investment income is included in determining the realizable value of the deferred policy acquisition costs. Atlas’ deferred policy acquisition costs are reported net of deferred ceding commissions.
Valuation of deferred tax assets - Deferred taxes are recognized using the asset and liability method of accounting. Under this method the future tax consequences attributable to temporary differences in the tax basis of assets, liabilities and items recognized directly in equity and the financial reporting basis of such items are recognized in the financial statements by recording deferred tax liabilities or deferred tax assets.
Deferred tax assets related to the carry-forward of unused tax losses and credits and those arising from temporary differences are recognized only to the extent that it is probable that future taxable income will be available against which they can be utilized. Deferred tax assets and liabilities are measured using enacted tax rates expected to apply to taxable income in the years in which those temporary differences are expected to be recovered or settled. The effect on future tax assets and liabilities of a change in tax rates is recognized in income in the period that includes the date of enactment or substantive enactment.
In assessing the need for a valuation allowance, Atlas considers both positive and negative evidence related to the likelihood of realization of the deferred tax assets. If, based on the weight of available evidence, it is more likely than not the deferred tax assets will not be realized or if it is deemed premature to conclude that these assets will be realized in the near future, a valuation allowance is recorded.
Claims liabilities - The provision for unpaid claims represent the estimated liabilities for reported claims, plus those incurred but not yet reported and the related estimated loss adjustment expenses. Unpaid claims expenses are determined using case-basis evaluations and statistical analyses, including insurance industry loss data, and represent estimates of the ultimate cost of all claims incurred. Although considerable variability is inherent in such estimates, management believes that the liability for unpaid claims is adequate. The estimates are continually reviewed and adjusted as necessary; such adjustments are included in current operations and are accounted for as changes in estimates.
IV. OPERATING RESULTS
Year ended December 31, 2014 compared to year ended December 31, 2013:
Gross Premium Written
The following table summarizes gross premium written by line of business.
Gross Premium Written by Line of Business ($ in '000s)
Year Ended December 31,
For the year ended December 31, 2014, gross premium written was $122.4 million compared to $93.1 million in the year ended December 31, 2013, representing a 31.6% increase. The increase relative to the year ended December 31, 2013 is due primarily to the substantial growth of the core commercial auto business. During 2012, we implemented a new business arrangement in New York to provide excess coverage above the levels of risk retained by the insured. Total gross premium written related to this program, which renews in the third quarter, was $13.0 million and $12.8 million for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively, and is included in the "commercial automobile" line of business. Below we will refer to the arrangement as the "excess taxi program" where it is relevant to explain certain distinctions.
In the year ended December 31, 2014, gross premium written from commercial automobile was $119.5 million, representing a 35.0% increase relative to the year ended December 31, 2013. This substantial increase is primarily the result of the planned expansion of the commercial auto business. Removing the impact of the excess taxi program, our traditional commercial automobile gross premium written was $106.5 million, an increase of 40.6% versus the year ended December 31, 2013. Gross premium written attributable to the Gateway acquisition and subsequent organic growth related to that subsidiary in 2014, was approximately $17.3 million and $12.6 million for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. As a percentage of the insurance subsidiaries’ overall book of business, commercial auto gross premium written represented 97.6% of gross, and 99.6% of net, premium written in the year ended December 31, 2014 compared to 95.2% and 105.9%, respectively, during the year ended December 31, 2013.
Commercial automobile insurance has outperformed the overall P&C industry generally over the past ten years based on data compiled by SNL. Each of the specialty business lines on which Atlas’ strategy is focused is a subset of this industry segment.
Gross Premium Written by State ($ in '000s)
Year Ended December 31,
As illustrated by the table above, 23.7% of Atlas’ gross premium written year ended December 31, 2014 came from New York and 55.8% came from the five states currently producing the most premium volume, as compared to 57.2% in the year ended December 31, 2013. Our commitment to expanding geographically resulted in 23 states with more than $1 million in written premium in 2014 compared to 19 in 2013.
Ceded Premium Written
Ceded premium written is equal to premium ceded under the terms of Atlas’ inforce reinsurance treaties. Ceded premium written decreased 12.5% to $11.0 million for the year ended December 31, 2014 compared with $12.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. The primary driver of the decrease in ceded premium written relates to the run off of non-core lines of business that are
heavily reinsured. The percentage of premium ceded is driven by the business mix within our total premium base. As of July 1, 2014, Atlas implemented a quota share reinsurance agreement for its commercial auto and general liability lines of business which provides the Company with financial flexibility to manage expected growth and the timing of potential future capital raising activities. With the exception of this quota share reinsurance agreement, all of our reinsurance partners have remained consistent since 2013.
Net Premium Written
Net premium written is equal to gross premium written less the ceded premium written under the terms of Atlas’ inforce reinsurance treaties. Net premium written increased 38.4% to $111.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2014 compared with $80.5 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. These changes are attributed to the combined effects of the issues cited in the ‘Gross Premium Written’ and ‘Ceded Premium Written’ sections above.
Net Premium Earned
Premiums are earned ratably over the term of the underlying policy. Net premium earned was $98.1 million in the year ended December 31, 2014, a 37.5% increase compared with $71.3 million in the year ended December 31, 2013. The increase in net premiums earned is attributable to the combined effects of the issues cited in the ‘Gross Premium Written’ and ‘Ceded Premium Written’ sections above.
The loss ratio relating to the claims incurred in the year ended December 31, 2014 was 62.3% compared to 63.9% in the year ended December 31, 2013. Loss ratios improved in the year ended December 31, 2014 relative to prior periods primarily due to the increased percentage of commercial auto, which has historically had a better overall underwriting result, relative to total written premium. In both years, the excess taxi program contributed significantly to favorable loss results in the year as we expect better than average claim experience from this program. We believe that our extensive experience and expertise with respect to underwriting and claims management in all our commercial lines will allow us to continue this decreasing trend since we expect 100% of net premium earned to be related to core lines of business moving forward. The Company is committed to retain this claim handling expertise as a core competency as the volume of business increases.
Acquisition costs represent commissions and taxes incurred on net premium earned. Acquisition costs were $14.0 million in the year ended December 31, 2014 or 14.3% of net premium earned, as compared to 14.5% in the year ended December 31, 2013. We expect acquisition cost ratios to remain relatively consistent with the 2014 ratio going forward.
Other Underwriting Expenses
The other underwriting expense ratio was 14.1% in the year ended December 31, 2014 compared to 16.0% in the year ended December 31, 2013. We expect our underwriting expense ratio to continue trending lower as a result of the growth of our core lines and our increasing operational scale. Approximately 1.0% of the full year 2013 other underwriting expense ratio was attributed to Gateway integration costs. There were no Gateway related integration costs in 2014.
The other underwriting expense ratio in 2014 excludes $694,000 in transaction costs incurred in conjunction with the acquisition of Global Liberty. The other underwriting expense ratio in 2013 excludes $406,000 in transaction costs incurred in conjunction with the acquisition of Gateway.
Net Investment Income
Net investment income consists of the interest income and net realized gains or losses that are created by the Company's invested assets net of expenses associated with managing the portfolio. The table below compares the net investment results for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013.
Investment Results ($ in '000s)
Year Ended December 31,
Average securities at cost
Net investment income
Percent earned on average investments
Net realized gains
Total investment income
Total realized yield
Investment income (excluding net realized gains) net of investment expenses increased by 45.3% to $3.1 million in the year ended December 31, 2014, compared to $2.1 million in the year ended December 31, 2013. These amounts are primarily comprised of interest income. This increase is primarily due to higher return on certain securities in our investment portfolio.
Net realized investment gains in the year ended December 31, 2014 were $382,000 compared to $529,000 in the year ended December 31, 2013. The difference is the result of management's decision not to sell fixed income securities due to unfavorable market conditions.
The annualized realized yield on invested assets (including net realized gains of $382,000) in the year ended December 31, 2014 increased to 2.2% as compared with 2.1% in the year ended December 31, 2013. This increase is attributable to interest rates and the mix of securities on hand.
Atlas recorded other income in the year ended December 31, 2014 of $2,000 compared to other income of $13,000 for the year ended December 31, 2013. Other income was primarily comprised of miscellaneous balances recovered.
Underwriting profitability, as opposed to overall profitability or net earnings, is measured by the combined ratio. The combined ratio is the sum of the loss and loss adjustment expense (LAE) ratio, the acquisition cost ratio and the underwriting expense ratio. Atlas’ combined ratio for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013 are summarized in the table below. The underwriting income is attributable to the factors described in the ‘Claims Incurred’, ‘Acquisition Costs’, and ‘Other Underwriting Expenses’ sections above.
Combined Ratios ($ in '000s)
Year Ended December 31,
Net premium earned
Underwriting expenses 1
1 - Underwriting expenses are the combination of claims incurred, acquisition costs, and other underwriting expenses and, for 2013, does include the Gateway integration costs. However, underwriting expenses does not include the transaction costs incurred in conjunction with the acquisitions mentioned in the 'Other Underwriting Expenses' section' above.
Our combined ratio improvement in 2014 is attributed to the combined effects of the issues cited in the ‘Claims Incurred’, ‘Acquisition Costs’, 'Other Underwriting Expenses' and 'Net Premium Earned' sections above.
Income before Income Taxes
Atlas generated pre-tax income of $11.9 million in the year ended December 31, 2014, compared to pre-tax income of $6.3 million in year ended December 31, 2013.
Income Tax Benefit
Atlas recognized $5.8 million of tax benefit in the year ended December 31, 2014, and recognized $72,000 of tax expense for the year ended December 31, 2013. The following table reconciles the statutory U.S. Federal tax rate of 34.0% to the actual effective tax rate for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013:
Tax Rate Reconciliation ($ in '000s)
Expected income tax expense at statutory rate
Change in valuation allowance
State tax (net of federal benefit)
Tax net operating loss limitation write-down (excluding valuation allowance)
Upon the transaction forming Atlas on December 31, 2010, a yearly limitation as required by U.S. tax law Section 382 that applies to changes in ownership on the future utilization of Atlas’ net operating loss carryforwards was calculated. The insurance subsidiaries’ prior parent retained those tax assets previously attributed to the insurance subsidiaries which could not be utilized by Atlas as a result of this limitation. As a result, Atlas’ ability to recognize future tax benefits associated with a portion of its deferred tax assets generated during prior years have been permanently limited to the amount determined under U.S. tax law
Section 382. The result is a maximum expected net deferred tax asset, which Atlas has available after the merger and believed more-likely-than-not to be utilized in the future, after consideration of valuation allowance.
As part of our on-going analysis of deferred tax assets, management has assessed both positive and negative evidence according to guidance provided by the FASB. Based on this guidance we have determined that it is more likely than not that the Company will be able to fully utilize its deferred tax assets as a result of the overwhelming positive evidence and the lack of negative evidence. As such, it has evaluated its valuation allowance and determined that all DTAs net of DTLs are available to offset income in all future periods. This conclusion is based upon management’s evaluation of the new information it has analyzed and not from management’s new evaluation or new interpretation of information that was available in a previous financial reporting period. Accordingly, the Company has recorded an entry in its year-end closing process commensurate with this conclusion. This resulted in a book value increase of $9.4 million or $0.81 per diluted common share for the year ended December 31, 2014.
Net Income and Earnings per Common Share
Atlas' net income was $17.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2014 versus net income of $6.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2013. After taking the impact of the liquidation preference of the preferred shares into consideration and the discount generated as a result of the repurchase of 18,000,000 preferred shares, the diluted earnings per common share for the year ended December 31, 2014 was $1.56 versus diluted earnings per common share of $0.74 for the year ended December 31, 2013.
For the year ended December 31, 2014, there were 10,937,181 weighted average common shares outstanding used to compute basic earnings per common share and 11,341,588 were used for the diluted earnings per common share computation. For the year ended December 31, 2013, there were 8,007,458 weighted average common shares outstanding used to compute basic earnings per common share and 10,840,868 used for the diluted earnings per common share computation.
V. FINANCIAL CONDITION
Consolidated Statements of Financial Condition
($ in '000s, except for share and per share data)
Investments, available for sale
Fixed income securities, at fair value (amortized cost $126,701 and $130,751)
Equity securities, at fair value (cost $2,220 and $258)
Cash and cash equivalents
Accrued investment income
Accounts receivable and other assets (net of allowance of $560 and $776)
Reinsurance recoverables on amounts paid
Reinsurance recoverables on amounts unpaid
Prepaid reinsurance premiums
Deferred policy acquisition costs
Deferred tax asset, net
Software and office equipment, net
Assets held for sale
Due to reinsurers and other insurers
Other liabilities and accrued expenses
Preferred shares, par value per share $0.001, 100,000,000 shares authorized, 2,000,000 shares issued and outstanding at December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2013. Liquidation value $1.00 per share
Ordinary voting common shares, par value per share $0.003, 266,666,667 shares authorized, 11,638,723 shares issued and outstanding at December 31, 2014 and 9,291,871 shares issued and outstanding at December 31, 2013
Restricted voting common shares, par value per share $0.003, 33,333,334 shares authorized, 132,863 shares issued and outstanding at December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2013
Additional paid-in capital
Accumulated other comprehensive income (loss), net of tax
Total Shareholders’ Equity
Total Liabilities and Shareholders’ Equity
Investments Overview and Strategy
Atlas aligns its securities portfolio to support the liabilities and operating cash needs of the insurance subsidiaries, to preserve capital and to generate investment returns. Atlas invests predominantly in corporate and government bonds with a portion of the portfolio in relatively short durations that correlate with the payout patterns of Atlas’ claims liabilities. A third-party investment management firm manages Atlas’ investment portfolio pursuant to the Company’s investment policies and guidelines as approved by its Board of Directors. Atlas monitors the third-party investment manager’s performance and its compliance with both its mandate and Atlas’ investment policies and guidelines. In 2013, the Board of Directors established an Investment Committee to provide further analysis and guidance in connection with the company's investment activities.
Atlas’ investment guidelines stress the preservation of capital, market liquidity to support payment of liabilities and the diversification of risk. With respect to fixed income securities, Atlas generally purchases securities with the expectation of holding them to their maturities; however, the securities are available for sale if liquidity needs arise.
Atlas held securities with a fair value of $143.4 million at December 31, 2014, which was primarily comprised of fixed income securities. The securities held by the insurance subsidiaries must comply with applicable regulations that prescribe the type, quality and concentration of securities. These regulations in the various jurisdictions in which the insurance subsidiaries are domiciled permit investments in government, state, municipal and corporate bonds, preferred and common equities, and other high quality investments, within specified limits and subject to certain qualifications.
The amortized cost, gross unrealized gains and losses and fair value for Atlas’ investments in fixed maturities, equity, and other investments by type and sector are as follows (all amounts in '000s):
December 31, 2014
Gross Unrealized Gains
Gross Unrealized Losses
Mortgage backed - agency
Mortgage backed - commercial
Total Mortgage Backed
Other asset backed
Total Fixed Income
December 31, 2013
Gross Unrealized Gains
Gross Unrealized Losses
Mortgage backed - agency
Mortgage backed - commercial
Total Mortgage Backed
Other asset backed
Total Fixed Income
Liquidity and Cash Flow Risk
The following table summarizes the fair value by contractual maturities of the fixed income securities portfolio, excluding cash and cash equivalents, at the dates indicated.
Fair Value of Fixed Income Securities by Contractual Maturity Date ($ in '000s)
At December 31,
Due in less than one year
Due in one through five years
Due after five through ten years
Due after ten years
At December 31, 2014, 44.3% of the fixed income securities, including treasury bills, bankers’ acceptances, government bonds and corporate bonds had contractual maturities of five years or less. Actual maturities may differ from contractual maturities because certain issuers have the right to call or prepay obligations with or without call or prepayment penalties. Atlas holds cash and high grade short-term assets which, along with fixed income security maturities, management believes are sufficient for the payment of claims on a timely basis. In the event that additional cash is required to meet obligations to policyholders, Atlas believes that high quality securities portfolio provides us with sufficient liquidity. With a weighted contractual duration of 4.2 years, changes in interest rates will have a modest market value impact on the Atlas portfolio relative to longer duration portfolios. Atlas can and typically does hold bonds to maturity by matching duration with the anticipated liquidity needs.
Market risk is the risk that Atlas will incur losses due to adverse changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates or equity prices. Having disposed of a majority of its asset backed securities, its primary market risk exposure in the fixed income securities portfolio is to changes in interest rates. Because Atlas’ securities portfolio is comprised of primarily fixed income securities that are usually held to maturity, periodic changes in interest rate levels generally impact its financial results to the extent that the securities in its available for sale portfolio are recorded at market value. During periods of rising interest rates, the market value of the existing fixed income securities will generally decrease and realized gains on fixed income securities will likely be reduced. The reverse is true during periods of declining interest rates.
Credit risk is defined as the risk of financial loss due to failure of the other party to a financial instrument to discharge an obligation. Atlas is exposed to credit risk principally through its investments and balances receivable from policyholders and reinsurers. It monitors concentration and credit quality risk through policies designed to limit and monitor its exposure to individual issuers or related groups (with the exception of U.S. government bonds) as well as through ongoing review of the credit ratings of issuers in the securities portfolio. Credit exposure to any one individual policyholder is not material. The Company's policies, however, are distributed by agents who may manage cash collection on its behalf pursuant to the terms of their agency agreement. Atlas has policies to evaluate the financial condition of its reinsurers and monitors concentrations of credit risk arising from similar geographic regions, activities, or economic characteristics of the reinsurers to minimize its exposure to significant losses from reinsurers’ insolvency.
The following table summarizes the composition of the fair value of the fixed income securities portfolio (excluding the bond which has been classified in Level 3 within the fair value hierarchy in 2013), excluding cash and cash equivalents, as of the dates indicated, by ratings assigned by Fitch, S&P or Moody’s Investors Service. The fixed income securities portfolio consists of predominantly very high quality securities in corporate and government bonds with 87.4% rated ‘A’ or better at December 31, 2014 compared to 88.3% at December 31, 2013.
Credit Ratings of Fixed Income Securities Portfolio ($ in '000s)
At December 31,
% of Total
% of Total
Atlas recognizes losses on securities for which a decline in market value was deemed to be other-than-temporary. Management performs a quarterly analysis of the securities holdings to determine if declines in market value are other-than-temporary. Atlas did not recognize any charges that were considered other-than-temporary for the year ended December 31, 2014 and recognized charges of $311,000 for securities impairments for the year ended December 31, 2013.
The length of time securities may be held in an unrealized loss position may vary based on the opinion of the appointed investment manager and their respective analyses related to valuation and to the various credit risks that may prevent us from recapturing the principal investment. In cases of securities with a maturity date where the appointed investment manager determines that there is little or no risk of default prior to the maturity of a holding, Atlas would elect to hold the security in an unrealized loss position until the price recovers or the security matures. In situations where facts emerge that might increase the risk associated with recapture of principal, Atlas may elect to sell securities at a loss. Atlas had no material gross unrealized losses in its portfolio at December 31, 2014 or at December 31, 2013.
Estimated impact of changes in interest rates and securities prices
For Atlas’ available-for-sale fixed income securities held at December 31, 2014, a 100 basis point increase in interest rates on such held fixed income securities would have increased net investment income and income before taxes by approximately $100,000. Conversely, a 100 basis point decrease in interest rates on such held fixed income securities would decrease net investment income and income before taxes by $102,000.
A 100 basis point increase would have also decreased other comprehensive income by approximately $4.6 million due to “mark-to-market” requirements; however, holding investments to maturity would mitigate this impact. Conversely, a 100 basis point decrease would increase other comprehensive income by the same amount. The impacts described here are approximately linear to the change in interest rates.
Due from Reinsurers and Other Insurers
Atlas purchases reinsurance from third parties in order to reduce its liability on individual risks and its exposure to large losses. Reinsurance is coverage purchased by one insurance company from another for part of the risk originally underwritten by the purchasing (ceding) insurance company. The practice of ceding insurance to reinsurers allows an insurance company to reduce its exposure to loss by size, geographic area, and type of risk or on a particular policy. An effect of ceding insurance is to permit an insurance company to write additional insurance for risks in greater number or in larger amounts than it would otherwise insure independently, based on its statutory capital, risk tolerance and other factors.
Atlas generally purchases reinsurance to limit net exposure to a maximum amount on any one loss of $500,000 with respect to commercial automobile liability claims. Atlas also purchases reinsurance to protect against awards in excess of its policy limits. Atlas continually evaluates and adjusts its reinsurance needs based on business volume, mix, and supply levels. As a result, the Company has entered into a quota share reinsurance contract with Swiss Reinsurance America Corporation ("Swiss Re"), a highly accredited global reinsurer. Our initial cession is 5% of subject written premiums which can be increased at our election should we want to utilize it as a means of deleveraging. This new facility gives us flexibility in terms of the timing and approach to potential future capital raising activities in light of anticipated increased operating leverage.
Reinsurance ceded does not relieve Atlas of its ultimate liability to its insured in the event that any reinsurer is unable to meet their obligations under its reinsurance contracts. Therefore, Atlas enters into reinsurance contracts with only those reinsurers deemed to have sufficient financial resources to provide the requested coverage. Reinsurance treaties are generally subject to cancellation by the reinsurers or Atlas on the anniversary date and are subject to renegotiation annually. Atlas regularly evaluates the financial condition of its reinsurers and monitors the concentrations of credit risk to minimize its exposure to significant losses as a result of the insolvency of a reinsurer. Atlas believes that the amounts it has recorded as reinsurance recoverables are appropriately established. Estimating amounts of reinsurance recoverables, however, is subject to various uncertainties and the amounts ultimately recoverable may vary from amounts currently recorded. Atlas had $20.7 million recoverable from third party reinsurers (exclusive of amounts prepaid) and other insurers at December 31, 2014 as compared to $19.1 million at December 31, 2013.
Estimating amounts of reinsurance recoverables is also impacted by the uncertainties involved in the establishment of provisions for unpaid claims. As underlying reserves potentially develop, the amounts ultimately recoverable may vary from amounts currently recorded. Atlas’ reinsurance recoverables are generally unsecured. Atlas regularly evaluates its reinsurers, and the respective amounts recoverable, and an allowance for uncollectible reinsurance is provided for, if needed.
Atlas’ largest reinsurance partners are Great American Insurance Company (“Great American”), a subsidiary of American Financial Group, Inc., General Reinsurance Corporation ("Gen Re"), a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc., Swiss Re and White Rock Insurance (SAC) Ltd. Great American has a financial strength rating of A+ from Standard & Poor’s, Gen Re has a financial strength rating of Aa1 from Moody’s, Swiss Re has a financial strength rating of Aa3 from Moody's, and White Rock is unrated. The White Rock balances are specifically related to the Gateway workers' compensation program that was exited during 2013 and are fully secured by a letter-of-credit.
Deferred Tax Asset
Components of Deferred Tax (in '000s)
At December 31,
Deferred tax assets:
Unpaid claims and unearned premiums
Total gross deferred tax assets
Deferred tax liabilities:
Deferred policy acquisition costs
Total gross deferred tax liabilities
Net deferred tax assets
Atlas established a valuation allowance of approximately $0 and $9.4 million for its gross future deferred tax assets at December 31, 2014 and at December 31, 2013, respectively. Based on Atlas’ expectations of future taxable income, its ability to change its investment strategy, as well as reversing gross future tax liabilities, management believes it is more likely than not that Atlas will fully realize the net future tax assets. The Company, therefore, has released its remaining valuation allowance at December 31, 2014.
On July 22, 2013, as a result of shareholder activity, a "triggering event" as determined under Internal Revenue Code ("IRC") Section 382 was reached. As a result, under IRC Section 382, the use of the Company's net operating loss and other carry-forwards will be limited as a result of this "ownership change” for tax purposes, which is defined as a cumulative change of more than 50% during any three-year period by shareholders of the Company's shares.
Following this triggering event, the Company estimates that it will retain total tax effected federal net operating loss carryforwards of approximately $14.2 million at December 31, 2014.
Atlas has the following total net operating loss carryforwards at December 31, 2014:
Net Operating Loss Carryforward by Expiry ($ in '000s)
Year of Occurrence
Year of Expiration
Assets Held for Sale
On May 22, 2012, Atlas closed the sale of the headquarters building to 150 Northwest Point, LLC, a Delaware limited liability company. Atlas recognized a gain on the sale of this property of $213,000, which will be deferred and recognized over the 5 year lease term. Atlas recognized $43,000 as an offset to rent expense for both the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013. Total rental expense recognized on the headquarters building was $707,000 and $699,000 for the years ended December 31, 2014 and 2013, respectively. There are two properties located in Alabama which are for sale. These properties are listed for sale for amounts greater than carried values.
The table below shows the amounts of total case reserves and incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) claims provision at December 31, 2014 and at December 31, 2013. The provision for unpaid claims increased by 1.0% to $102.4 million at December 31, 2014 compared to $101.4 million at December 31, 2013. During the year ended December 31, 2014, case reserves decreased by 18.2% compared to December 31, 2013, while IBNR reserves increased by 56.3% generally due to the consolidation of its reserve balances and the increase in premiums earned in our core commercial lines of business.
Provision for Unpaid Claims by Type - Gross of Reinsurance ($ in '000s)
At December 31,
Provision for Unpaid Claims by Line of Business – Gross of Reinsurance ($ in '000s)
At December 31,
Commercial auto liability and auto physical damage
Provision for Unpaid Claims by Line of Business - Net of Reinsurance Recoverables ($ in '000s)
At December 31,
Commercial auto liability and auto physical damage
The other line of business is comprised of Atlas’ surety business, Gateway's truck and workers' compensation programs, Atlas' non-standard personal lines business, Atlas' workers' compensation related to taxi, other liability and assigned risk business.
Our surety program primarily consists of U.S. Customs bonds. We engage a former affiliate, Avalon Risk Management, to help coordinate customer service and claim handling for the surety bonds written. This non-core program is 100% reinsured to an unrelated third party and is being transitioned to another carrier. No new premium will be written in connection with this program in 2015.
Our non-standard personal lines business was fully transitioned from the Company during 2012.
The Gateway truck and workers' compensation programs were put into run-off during 2012. The workers' compensation program is 100% reinsured retrospectively and prospectively to an unrelated third party.
Claims liabilities - The changes in the provision for unpaid claims, net of amounts recoverable from reinsurers, for the years ended December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2013 were as follows ($ in '000's):
For the year ended December 31,
Unpaid claims, beginning of period
Less: reinsurance recoverable
Net beginning unpaid claims reserves
Net reserves acquired
Loss portfolio transfer
Incurred related to:
Paid related to:
Net unpaid claims, end of period
Add: reinsurance recoverable
Unpaid claims, end of period
The process of establishing the estimated provision for unpaid claims is complex and imprecise, as it relies on the judgment and opinions of a large number of individuals, on historical precedent and trends, on prevailing legal, economic, social and regulatory trends and on expectations as to future developments. The process of determining the provision necessarily involves risks that the actual results will deviate, perhaps substantially, from the best estimates made. The change to the provision for unpaid claims is consistent with the changes in written premium. However, because the establishment of reserves is an inherently uncertain process involving estimates, current provisions may not be sufficient. Adjustments to reserves, both positive and negative, are reflected quarterly in the statement of income as estimates are updated.
The financial statements are presented on a calendar year basis for all data. Claims payments and changes in reserves, however, may be made on accidents that occurred in prior years, not solely on business that is currently insured. Calendar year losses consist of payments and reserve changes that have been recorded in the financial statements during the applicable reporting period, without regard to the period in which the accident occurred. Calendar year results do not change after the end of the applicable reporting period, even as new claim information develops. Accident year losses consist of payments and reserve changes that are assigned to the period in which the accident occurred. Accident year results will change over time as the estimates of losses change due to payments and reserve changes for all accidents that occurred during that period.
The table below summarizes the changes over time in the provision for unpaid loss and loss adjustment expenses. The first section of the table shows the provision for unpaid loss and loss adjustment expenses recorded at the balance sheet date for each of the indicated years. The original provision for each year is presented on a gross basis as well as net of estimated reinsurance recoverable on unpaid loss and loss adjustment expenses.The second section displays the cumulative amount of payments made through the end of each subsequent year with respect to each original provision. The third section presents the re-estimation over subsequent years of each year’s original net liability for unpaid loss and loss adjustment expenses as more information becomes known and
trends become more apparent. The final section compares the latest re-estimation to the original estimate for each year presented in the table on both a gross and net basis.
The development of the provision for unpaid loss and loss adjustment expenses is shown by the difference between the original estimates and the re-estimated liabilities at each subsequent year-end. The re-estimated liabilities at each year-end are based on actual payments in full or partial settlement of claims plus re-estimates of the payments required for claims still open or IBNR claims. Favorable development (redundancy) means that the original estimated provision was higher than subsequently re-estimated. Unfavorable development (deficiency) means that the original estimated provision was lower than subsequently re-estimated. The cumulative development represents the aggregate change in the estimates over all prior years.
Provision for Unpaid Claims, Net of Recoveries from Reinsurers as of December 31, 2014
($ in ‘000s)
Gross reserves for unpaid claims and claims expenses
Less: Reinsurance recoverable on unpaid claims and claims expenses
Reserve for unpaid claims and claims expenses, net
Cumulative paid on originally established reserve as of:
One year later
Two years later
Three years later
Four years later
Five years later
Six years later
Seven years later
Eight years later
Nine years later
Ten years later
Unpaid claims as of:
One year later
Two years later
Three years later
Four years later
Five years later
Six years later
Seven years later
Eight years later
Nine years later
Ten years later
Re-estimated liability as of:
One year later
Two years later
Three years later
Four years later
Five years later
Six years later
Seven years later
Eight years later
Nine years later
Ten years later
Loss portfolio transfer:
As of December 31, 2014:
Cumulative (redundancy) deficiency
Cumulative (redundancy) deficiency as a % of reserves originally established- net
Re-estimated liability- gross
Less: Re-established reinsurance recoverable
Re-estimated provision- net
Cumulative (redundancy) deficiency– gross
(1) Includes Gateway reserves acquired as of January 1, 2013
(2) Negative payment as of one year later results from the commutation of reinsured reserves by Kingsway Re.
Off-balance sheet arrangements
As of December 31, 2014, Atlas has the following cash obligations related to its operating leases:
Operating Lease Commitments (in '000s)
2019 & Beyond
The table below identifies changes in shareholders’ equity for the years ended December 31, 2014 and December 31, 2013:
Changes in Shareholders' Equity
Ordinary Common Shares
Restricted Common Shares
Additional Paid-in Capital
Accumulated Other Comprehensive Income (Loss)
Balance December 31, 2012
Proceeds from U.S. initial public offering, net of offering costs
Issuance of preferred shares
Other comprehensive loss
Repurchase of preferred shares
Preferred dividends declared and paid
Balance December 31, 2013