Attached files

file filename
EX-23 - EX-23 - SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP INCsaft-20151231xex23.htm
EX-31.1 - EX-31.1 - SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP INCsaft-20151231ex311c50ad2.htm
EX-31.2 - EX-31.2 - SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP INCsaft-20151231ex312751f16.htm
EX-32.2 - EX-32.2 - SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP INCsaft-20151231ex322f0b077.htm
EX-32.1 - EX-32.1 - SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP INCsaft-20151231ex32169f79d.htm

 

UNITED STATES

SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION

Washington, D.C. 20549

FORM 10‑K

 

 

ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2015

Or

TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934

For the transition period from to

Commission file number 000‑50070

SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP, INC.

(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)

 

 

Delaware
(State or other jurisdiction of
incorporation or organization)

13‑4181699
(I.R.S. Employer Identification No.)

20 Custom House Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02110

(Address of principal executive offices including zip code)

 

(617) 951‑0600

(Registrant’s telephone number, including area code)

 

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:

 

 

Title of each class

Name of each exchange on which registered

Common Shares, $0.01 par value per share

NASDAQ Global Select Market

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a well‑known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes   No 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 of Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes   No 

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   No 

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 Regulations 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   No 

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. 

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 definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “smaller reporting company” in Rule 12b‑2 of the Exchange Act. (Check one):

 

 

 

 

Large accelerated filer 

Accelerated filer 

Non-accelerated filer 

Smaller reporting company 

 

 

(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 Exchange Act). Yes   No 

The aggregate market value of the registrant’s voting and non‑voting common equity (based on the closing sales price on NASDAQ) held by non‑affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2015, was approximately $811,331,905.

As of February 17, 2016 there were 15,092,099 Common Shares with a par value of $0.01 per share outstanding.

Documents Incorporated by Reference

Portions of the registrant’s definitive proxy statement for its Annual Meeting of Shareholders to be held on May 18, 2016, which Safety Insurance Group, Inc. (the “Company”, “we”, “our”, “us”) intends to file within 120 days after its December 31, 2015 year‑end, are incorporated by reference into Part II and Part III hereof.

 

 


 

SAFETY INSURANCE GROUP, INC.

Table of Contents

 

 

 

PART I. 

 

Page

Item 1. 

Business

Item 1A. 

Risk Factors

25 

Item 1B. 

Unresolved Staff Comments

31 

Item 2. 

Properties

31 

Item 3. 

Legal Proceedings

31 

Item 4. 

Mine Safety Disclosures

31 

 

 

 

PART II. 

 

 

Item 5. 

Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities

32 

Item 6. 

Selected Financial Data

34 

Item 7. 

Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

36 

Item 7A. 

Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosures About Market Risk

62 

Item 8. 

Financial Statements and Supplementary Data

63 

Item 9. 

Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure  

92 

Item 9A. 

Controls and Procedures

92 

Item 9B.  

Other Information

93 

 

 

 

PART III. 

 

 

Item 10. 

Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance

94 

Item 11. 

Executive Compensation

94 

Item 12. 

Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related 

 

 

Stockholder Matters

94 

Item 13. 

Certain Relationships and Related Transactions, and Director Independence

94 

Item 14. 

Principal Accounting Fees and Services

94 

 

 

 

PART IV. 

 

 

Item 15.  

Exhibits, Financial Statement Schedules

94 

 

 

 

SIGNATURES 

 

103 

 

 

 

 


 

In this Form 10-K, all dollar amounts are presented in thousands, except average premium, average claim and per claim data, share, and per share data.


PART I.

ITEM 1.    BUSINESS

General

We are a leading provider of private passenger automobile insurance in Massachusetts.  In addition to private passenger automobile insurance (which represented 59.6% of our direct written premiums in 2015), we offer a portfolio of property and casualty insurance products, including commercial automobile, homeowners, dwelling fire, umbrella and business owner policies.  Operating exclusively in Massachusetts and New Hampshire through our insurance company subsidiaries, Safety Insurance Company ("Safety Insurance"), Safety Indemnity Insurance Company ("Safety Indemnity") and Safety Property and Casualty Insurance Company ("Safety P&C") (together referred to as the "Insurance Subsidiaries"), we have established strong relationships with independent insurance agents, who numbered 924 in 1,102 locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire during 2015.  We have used these relationships and our extensive knowledge of the Massachusetts market to become the third largest private passenger automobile carrier, capturing an approximate 10.2% share of the Massachusetts private passenger automobile insurance market, and  the second largest commercial automobile carrier, with an 14.1% share of the Massachusetts commercial automobile insurance market in 2015 according to statistics compiled by Commonwealth Automobile Reinsurers ("CAR").  We are also the fourth largest homeowners insurance carrier in Massachusetts with a 7.2% share of the Massachusetts homeowners insurance market.  In addition, we were also ranked the 45th largest automobile writer in the country according to A.M. Best, based on 2014 direct written premiums.  We were incorporated under the laws of Delaware in 2001, but through our predecessors, we have underwritten insurance in Massachusetts since 1979.

Our Insurance Subsidiaries began writing private passenger automobile and homeowners insurance in New Hampshire during 2008, personal umbrella insurance during 2009, and commercial automobile insurance during 2011.  During the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014, and 2013, the Company wrote $22,731, $18,755, and $13,773 in direct written premiums, respectively, and approximately 24,364, 20,626 and 15,580 policies, respectively, in New Hampshire.

On February 9, 2015, the Insurance Subsidiaries each received a license to begin writing our property and casualty insurance products in the state of Maine. We anticipate that we will begin to write new business in Maine beginning in the first quarter of 2016.

Website Access to Information

The Internet address for our website is www.SafetyInsurance.com.  All of our press releases and United States Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC") reports are available for viewing or download at our website.  These documents are made available on our website as soon as reasonably practicable after each press release is made and SEC report is filed with, or furnished to, the SEC. Copies of any current public information about our company are available without charge upon written, telephone, faxed or e-mailed request to the Office of Investor Relations, Safety Insurance Group, Inc., 20 Custom House Street, Boston, MA 02110, Tel: 877-951-2522, Fax: 617-603-4837, or e-mail: InvestorRelations@SafetyInsurance.com. The materials on our website are not part of this report on Form 10-K nor are they incorporated by reference into this report and the URL above is intended to be an inactive textual reference only.

Our Competitive Strengths

We Have Strong Relationships with Independent Agents.  In 2015, Independent agents accounted for approximately 63.4% of the Massachusetts automobile insurance market measured by direct written premiums as

1


 

compared to approximately 31.3%  nationwide, based on data made available by A.M. Best. For that reason, our strategy is centered around, and we sell exclusively through, a network of independent agents, who numbered 924 in 1,102 locations throughout Massachusetts and New Hampshire during 2015.  In order to support our independent agents and enhance our relationships with them, we:

·

provide our agents with a portfolio of property and casualty insurance products at competitive prices to help our agents address effectively the insurance needs of their clients;

·

provide our agents with a variety of technological resources which enable us to deliver superior service and support to them; and

·

offer our agents competitive commission schedules and profit sharing programs.

Through these measures, we strive to become the preferred provider of the independent agents in our agency network and capture a growing share of the total insurance business written by these agents in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  We must compete with other insurance carriers for the business of independent agents.

We Have a History of Profitable Operations.  In 34 out of 35 years since our inception in 1979, we have been profitable.  The lone year where we did not have profits was 2015 when we were impacted by claims related to the highest recorded snowfall totals in Massachusetts history.  We have achieved our profitability, among other things, by:

·

maintaining a consistent number of private passenger automobile exposures we underwrite, which totaled  471,924 in 2015 compared to 477,238 in 2011;

·

growing our commercial automobile exposures we underwrite, which totaled 68,591 in 2015 compared to 49,150 in 2011;

·

growing our homeowner book of business which had total exposures of 162,703 in 2015 compared to 130,563 in 2011;

·

maintaining a combined ratio that is typically below industry averages (refer to Insurance Ratios under Item 7—Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations for a discussion on insurance ratios);

·

taking advantage of the institutional knowledge our management has amassed during our long operating history in the Massachusetts market;

·

introducing new lines and forms of insurance products;

·

investing in technology to simplify internal processes and enhance our relationships with our agents; and

·

maintaining a high-quality investment portfolio.

We Are a Technological Leader.  We have dedicated significant human and financial resources to the development of advanced information systems.  Our technology efforts have benefited us in two distinct ways.  First, we continue to develop technology that empowers our independent agent customers to make it easier for them to transact business with their clients and with the Insurance Subsidiaries. In our largest business line, private passenger automobile insurance, our agents now submit approximately 99.0% of all applications for new policies or endorsements for existing policies to us electronically through our proprietary information portal, the Agents Virtual Community ("AVC").  Our agents can also submit commercial automobile and homeowners insurance policies electronically over AVC.  Second, our investment in technology has allowed us to re-engineer internal back office processes to provide more efficient service at lower cost.

We Have an Experienced, Committed and Knowledgeable Management Team.  Our senior management team owns approximately 4.9% of the common stock of Safety Insurance Group, Inc. on a fully diluted basis.  Our senior management team has an average of over 29 years of experience with Safety.  The team has demonstrated an ability to operate successfully within the Massachusetts automobile and homeowner insurance markets.

2


 

Our Strategy

To achieve our goal of increasing shareholder value, our strategy is to maintain and develop strong independent agent relationships by providing our agents with a full package of insurance products and information technology services.  We believe this strategy will allow us to:

·

further penetrate the Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Maine private passenger, commercial automobile and homeowners insurance markets;

 

·

implement rates, forms and billing options that allow us to cross-sell homeowners, dwelling fire, and personal umbrella in the personal lines market and business owner policies, commercial property package and commercial umbrella in the commercial lines market in order to capture a larger share of the total Massachusetts property and casualty insurance business written by each of our independent agents; and

 

·

continue to expand our technology to enable independent agents to more easily serve their customers and conduct business with us, thereby strengthening their relationships with us.

Property and Casualty Insurance Market

Introduction.  We are licensed by the Commissioner of Insurance (the "Commissioner") to transact property and casualty insurance in Massachusetts.  All of our Massachusetts business is extensively regulated by the Commissioner.

The Massachusetts Market for Private Passenger Automobile Insurance.  Private passenger automobile insurance is generally considered to be more heavily regulated in Massachusetts than in other states, under what the Massachusetts Commissioner of Insurance calls Managed CompetitionSince 2008, Massachusetts automobile insurance premium rates are strictly regulated under a prior approval rate review process, governed by regulations that set certain terms and conditions that insurers must comply with in establishing their rates.    Certain of the historically unique factors in Massachusetts continue to exist, including compulsory insurance, affinity group marketing, and the prominence of independent agents.

Products

Historically, we have focused on underwriting private passenger automobile insurance, which is written through our subsidiary, Safety Insurance.  In 1989, we formed Safety Indemnity to offer commercial automobile insurance at preferred rates.  Since 1997, we have expanded the breadth of our product line in order for agents to address a greater portion of their clients' insurance needs by selling multiple products. Homeowners, business owners’ policies, personal umbrella, dwelling fire and commercial umbrella insurance are written by Safety Insurance at standard rates, and written by Safety Indemnity at preferred rates.  In December 2006, we formed Safety P&C to offer homeowners and commercial automobile insurance at ultra preferred rates.

3


 

The table below shows our premiums in each of these product lines for the periods indicated and the portions of our total premiums each product line represented.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

Direct Written Premiums

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

2013

 

Private passenger automobile

$

468,187

 

59.6

%

 

$

472,553

 

61.7

%

 

$

467,431

 

63.9

%

Commercial automobile

 

108,013

 

13.8

 

 

 

95,398

 

12.5

 

 

 

86,003

 

11.8

 

Homeowners

 

170,410

 

21.7

 

 

 

161,388

 

21.1

 

 

 

144,925

 

19.8

 

Business owners

 

22,223

 

2.8

 

 

 

20,751

 

2.7

 

 

 

19,688

 

2.7

 

Personal umbrella

 

6,925

 

0.9

 

 

 

6,508

 

0.8

 

 

 

5,927

 

0.8

 

Dwelling fire

 

8,920

 

1.1

 

 

 

8,104

 

1.1

 

 

 

6,811

 

0.9

 

Commercial umbrella

 

1,052

 

0.1

 

 

 

983

 

0.1

 

 

 

895

 

0.1

 

Total

$

785,730

 

100.0

%

 

$

765,685

 

100.0

%

 

$

731,680

 

100.0

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our product lines are as follows:

Private Passenger Automobile (59.6% of 2015 direct written premiums).  Private passenger automobile insurance is our primary product, and we support all Massachusetts policy forms and limits of coverage.  Private passenger automobile policies provide coverage for bodily injury and property damage to others, no-fault personal injury coverage for the insured/insured's car occupants, and physical damage coverage for an insured's own vehicle for collision or other perils.  We have priced our private passenger coverage competitively by offering group discounts since 1995 and we currently offer approximately 95 affinity group discount programs ranging from 3.0% to 8.0% discounts.  Under Massachusetts' Managed Competition regulations, we offer various new discounts including a discount of up to 10.0% when a private passenger policy is issued along with an other than private passenger policy with us, a longevity/renewal credit of up to 4.0% for policyholders who maintain continuous coverage with us, and up to a 7.0% e-Customer discount for policyholders who want electronic policy issuance with one combined bill for all of their policies with us.  We filed and were approved for a Massachusetts private passenger automobile insurance rate increase of 3.8% effective June 1, 2015.    We filed and were approved for a New Hampshire private passenger automobile rate increase of 5.0%, which was effective November 1, 2015.

Commercial Automobile (13.8% of 2015 direct written premiums).  Our commercial automobile program supports all Massachusetts policy forms and limits of coverage including endorsements that broaden coverage over and above that offered on the standard Massachusetts policy forms.  Commercial automobile policies provide coverage for bodily injury and property damage to others, no-fault personal injury coverage, and physical damage coverage for an insured's own vehicle for collision or other perils resulting from the ownership or use of commercial vehicles in a business.  We offer insurance for commercial vehicles used for business purposes such as private passenger-type vehicles, trucks, tractors and trailers, and insure individual vehicles as well as commercial fleets.  Commercial automobile policies are written at a standard rate through Safety Insurance.  We filed and were approved for a Massachusetts commercial automobile insurance rate increase of 3.5% effective February 1, 2015.  We filed and were approved for a New Hampshire commercial automobile insurance rate increase of 7.9% effective August 1, 2015. Qualifying risks eligible for preferred rates are written through Safety Indemnity which offers rates that are 20.0% lower than Safety Insurance.  Qualifying risks eligible for ultra preferred rates are written through Safety P&C which offers rates that are 35.0% lower than Safety Insurance.

Homeowners (21.7% of 2015 direct written premiums).  We offer a broad selection of coverage forms for qualified policyholders.  Homeowners policies provide coverage for losses to a dwelling and its contents from numerous perils, and coverage for liability to others arising from ownership or occupancy.  We write policies on homes, condominiums, and apartments.  We offer loss-free credits of up to 16.0% for eight years of loss-free experience, an account credit of up to 20.0% when a home is written together with an automobile, and up to a 5.0% e-Customer discount for policyholders who want electronic policy issuance with one combined bill for all of their policies with us.  We filed and were approved for a Massachusetts rate increase of 9.1% which was effective November 1, 2015. We filed and were approved for a New Hampshire homeowners rate increase of 7.9%, which was effective November 1, 2015. All forms of homeowners coverage are written at a standard rate through Safety Insurance.  Qualifying risks eligible for

4


 

preferred rates are written through Safety Indemnity which offers rates that are 13.0% lower than Safety Insurance.  Homes with high insured property values are written through Safety P&C. 

Business Owners Policies (2.8% of 2015 direct written premiums).  We serve eligible small and medium sized commercial accounts with a program that covers apartments and residential condominiums; mercantile establishments, including limited cooking restaurants; offices, including office condominiums; processing and services businesses; special trade contractors; and wholesaling businesses.  Business owner policies provide liability and property coverage for many perils, including business interruption from a covered loss.  Equipment breakdown coverage is automatically included, and a wide range of additional coverage is available to qualified customers.  We write policies for business owners at standard rates with qualifying risks eligible for preferred lower rates.

Commercial Package Policies (Included in our Business Owners Policies direct written premiums).  For larger commercial accounts or those clients that require more specialized or tailored coverages, we offer a commercial package policy program that covers a more extensive range of business enterprises.  Commercial package policies provide any combination of property, general liability, crime and inland marine insurance.  Property automatically includes equipment breakdown coverage, and a wide range of additional coverage is available to qualified customers.  We write commercial package policies at standard rates with qualifying risks eligible for preferred lower rates.

Personal Umbrella (0.9% of 2015 direct written premiums).  We offer personal excess liability coverage over and above the limits of individual automobile, watercraft, and homeowner's insurance policies to clients.  We offer an account credit of 10.0% when an umbrella policy is written together with an automobile insurance policy.  We write policies at standard rates with limits of $1,000 to $5,000.

Dwelling Fire (1.1% of 2015 direct written premiums).  We underwrite dwelling fire insurance, which is a limited form of a homeowner's policy for non-owner occupied residences.  We offer superior construction and protective device credits, with an account credit of 5.0% when a dwelling fire policy is issued along with an automobile policy.  We write all forms of dwelling fire coverage at standard rates with qualifying risks eligible for preferred lower rates.

Commercial Umbrella (0.1% of 2015 direct written premiums).  We offer an excess liability product to clients for whom we underwrite both commercial automobile and business owner policies.  The program is directed at commercial automobile risks with private passenger-type automobiles or light and medium trucks.  We write commercial umbrella policies at standard rates with limits ranging from $1,000 to $5,000.

Inland Marine (Included in our Homeowners direct written premiums).  We offer inland marine coverage as an endorsement for all homeowners and business owner policies, and as part of our commercial package policy.  Inland marine provides additional coverage for jewelry, fine arts and other items that a homeowners or business owner policy would limit or not cover.  Scheduled items valued at more than $5 must meet our underwriting guidelines and be appraised.

Watercraft (Included in our Homeowners direct written premiums).  We offer watercraft coverage for small and medium sized pleasure craft with maximum lengths of 32 feet, valued at less than $75 and maximum speed of 39 knots.  We write this coverage as an endorsement to our homeowner's policies.

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedies, the insurance industry is also impacted by terrorism, and we have filed and received approval for a number of terrorism endorsements from the Commissioner, which limit our liability and property exposure according to the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act of 2005, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2007 and the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization of 2014.  See "Reinsurance," discussed below.

5


 

Distribution

We distribute our products exclusively through independent agents, unlike some of our competitors who use multiple distribution channels.  We believe this gives us a competitive advantage with the agents.  With the exception of personal automobile business assigned to us by the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan (“MAIP”) or written through CAR’s commercial automobile Limited Servicing Carrier program, we do not accept business from insurance brokers.  Our voluntary agents have authority pursuant to our voluntary agency agreement to bind our Insurance Subsidiaries for any coverage that is within the scope of their authority.  We reserve the ability under Massachusetts law to cancel any coverage, other than private passenger automobile insurance, within the first 30 days after it is bound.  In total, our independent agents numbered 924 and had 1,102 offices (some agencies have more than one office) and approximately 8,118 customer service representatives during 2015.

Voluntary Agents.  In 2015, we obtained approximately 93.2% of our direct written premiums for automobile insurance and 100% of our direct written premiums for all of our other lines of business through our voluntary agents.  As of December 31, 2015, we had agreements with 749 voluntary agents.  Our voluntary agents are located in all regions of Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

We look for agents with profitable portfolios of business.  To become a voluntary agent for our Company, we generally require that an agency: (i) have been in business for at least five years; (ii) have exhibited a three year private passenger average ratio of losses, excluding loss adjustment expenses, to net earned premiums ("pure loss ratio") of 65.0% or less on the portion of the agent's portfolio that we would underwrite; (iii) make a commitment for us to underwrite at least 300 policies from the agency during the first twelve months after entering an agreement with us; and (iv) offer multiple product lines. Every year, we review the performance of our agents during the prior year.  If an agent fails to meet our profitability standards, we try to work with the agent to improve the profitability of the business it places with us.  We generally terminate contracts each year with a few agencies, which, despite our efforts, have been consistently unable to meet our standards.  Although independent agents usually represent several unrelated insurers, our goal is to be one of the top two insurance companies represented in each of our agencies, as measured by premiums.  No individual agency generated more than 5.0% of our direct written premiums in 2015.

Massachusetts law guarantees that CAR provides motor vehicle insurance coverage to all qualified applicants.  Under MAIP, personal automobile policies are assigned to us for three years, unless the policyholder is offered a voluntary policy by another insurer.  All Massachusetts agents are authorized to submit eligible business to the MAIP for random assignment to a servicing carrier such as Safety Insurance.  We are allocated all private passenger residual market business through the MAIP.

 

CAR runs a reinsurance pool for ceded commercial automobile policies through a Limited Servicing Carrier Program ("LSC"). CAR has approved Safety and three other servicing carriers to process ceded commercial automobile insurance.  Approximately $140,000 of ceded premium is spread equitably among the four servicing carriers.  Subject to the Commissioner's review, CAR sets the premium rates for commercial automobile policies reinsured through CAR and this reinsurance pool can generate an underwriting result that is a profit or deficit based upon CAR's rate level.  This underwriting result is allocated among every Massachusetts commercial automobile insurance company, including us, based on a company's commercial automobile voluntary market share.

CAR also runs a reinsurance pool for Taxi, Limousine and Car Service risks (the "Taxi/Limo Program").  CAR approved Safety as one of the two servicing carriers for this program beginning January 1, 2011 for a five-year term.  Approximately $10,000 of ceded premium was spread equitably between the two servicing carriers.

We are assigned independent agents by CAR who can submit commercial business to us in the LSC and Taxi/Limo Program, and we classify those agents as commercial LSC producers. 

6


 

The table below shows our direct written exposures in each of our product lines for the periods indicated and the change in exposures for each product line.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

Line of Business

Exposures

 

Change

 

Exposures

 

Change

 

Exposures

 

Change

 

Private passenger automobile:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voluntary agents

462,917

 

-1.8

%

471,546

 

1.1

%

466,209

 

0.9

%

 

MAIP

9,007

 

4.6

 

8,611

 

-10.4

 

9,615

 

-36.4

 

 

Total private passenger automobile

471,924

 

-1.7

 

480,157

 

0.9

 

475,824

 

0.3

 

Commercial automobile:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Voluntary agents

60,995

 

4.2

 

58,550

 

6.6

 

54,934

 

11.2

 

 

LSC Producers

7,596

 

20.6

 

6,299

 

-1.8

 

6,411

 

9.1

 

 

Total commercial automobile

68,591

 

5.8

 

64,849

 

5.7

 

61,345

 

10.9

 

Other:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Homeowners

162,703

 

2.4

 

158,942

 

7.5

 

147,882

 

5.7

 

Business owners

10,166

 

4.4

 

9,739

 

3.8

 

9,384

 

9.5

 

Personal umbrella

24,083

 

2.6

 

23,483

 

9.0

 

21,551

 

7.9

 

Dwelling fire

7,381

 

4.0

 

7,095

 

12.6

 

6,302

 

6.6

 

Commercial umbrella

690

 

3.0

 

670

 

2.8

 

652

 

11.5

 

 

Total other

205,023

 

2.6

 

199,929

 

7.6

 

185,771

 

6.2

 

 

Total

745,538

 

0.1

 

744,935

 

3.0

 

722,940

 

2.2

 

Total voluntary agents

728,935

 

-0.2

 

730,025

 

3.3

 

706,914

 

3.0

 

 

Our total written exposures increased by 0.1% for the year ended December 31, 2015.   Our commercial automobile exposures increased by 5.8% in 2015 due to additional exposures from voluntary agents. Our other than auto exposures increased by 2.6% in 2015 primarily as a result of our voluntary agents' efforts to sell multiple products to their clients and our pricing strategy of offering account discounts to policyholders who insure both their home and automobile with us.  In 2015, 55.8% of the private passenger automobile exposures we insure had an other than private passenger policy with us, compared to 55.4% and 52.4% in 2014 and 2013, respectively.  In addition, 81.8% of our homeowners’ policyholders had a matching automobile policy with us in 2015 compared to 83.2% in 2014 and 83.6% in 2013.

 

Marketing

 

We view the independent agent as our customer and business partner.  As a result, a component of our marketing efforts focuses on developing interdependent relationships with leading Massachusetts and New Hampshire agents that write profitable business and positioning ourselves as the preferred insurance carrier of those agents, thereby receiving a larger portion of each agent's aggregate business.  Our principal marketing strategies to agents are:

 

·

to offer a range of products, which we believe enables our agents to meet the insurance needs of their clients, and overcomes the agents resistance to placing their clients' private passenger and commercial automobile, homeowners, commercial property  and other coverage’s with different insurers;

·

to price our products competitively, including offering discounts when and where appropriate for safer drivers for our personal automobile products, loss-free credits for our homeowner products and also offering account discounts for policyholders that have more than one policy with us;

·

to design, price and market our products to our agents for their customers to place all their insurance with us;

·

to offer agents competitive commissions, with incentives for placing their more profitable business with us; and

·

to provide a level of support and service that enhances the agent's ability to do business with its clients and with us.

We have a comprehensive branding campaign using a variety of radio, television, internet and print advertisements.

7


 

Commission Schedule and Profit Sharing Plan.  We have several programs designed to attract profitable new business from agents by paying them competitive commissions. We recognize our top performing agents by making them members of either our Chairman's Elite, Chairman's, President's, Executive's or Preferred Agent's Club.  In 2015, members of these Clubs received a commission of up to 18.0% of premiums for each new private passenger auto policy, up to 22.0% of premiums for each new homeowner policy, up to 20.0% for each new commercial auto policy and up to 22.0% for each new commercial property policy.

Further, we have a competitive agency incentive commission program under which we pay agents up to 7.5% of premiums based on the loss ratio on their business.

Service and Support.  We believe that the level and quality of service and support we provide helps differentiate us from other insurers.  We have made a significant investment in information technology designed to facilitate our agents' business.  Our AVC website helps agents manage their work efficiently.  We provide a substantial amount of information online that agents need to serve their customers, such as information about the status of new policies, bill payments and claims.  Providing this type of content reduces the number of customer calls we receive and empowers the agent's customer service representatives by enabling them to respond to customers' inquiries while the customer is on the telephone.  Finally, we believe that the knowledge and experience of our employees enhances the quality of support we provide.

        

Underwriting

Our underwriting department is responsible for a number of key decisions affecting the profitability of our business, including:

·

pricing of our private passenger automobile, commercial automobile, homeowners, dwelling fire, personal umbrella, business owners, commercial umbrella and commercial package products;

·

developing new products, coverages, forms and discounts, as well as  expansion into new states;

·

determining underwriting guidelines for all our products; and

·

evaluating whether to accept transfers of a portion of an existing or potential new agent's portfolio from another insurer.

Pricing.  Subject to the Commissioner's review, we set rates for our private passenger business using industry loss cost data, our own loss experience, residual market deficits, catastrophe modeling and prices charged by our competitors in the Massachusetts market.  Additionally subject to the Commissioner's review, Commonwealth Automobile Reinsurers (“CAR”) establishes the rates for personal automobile policies assigned to carriers through the Massachusetts Automobile Insurance Plan (“MAIP”).  In accordance with Massachusetts law, insurers may only charge MAIP policyholders the lower of the CAR/MAIP rate or the company's competitive voluntary market rate.  We offer group discounts to private passenger auto policyholder who are members of 95 affinity groups.  In general, we target affinity groups with a mature and stable membership base along with favorable driving records, offering between a 3.0% and 8.0% discount (with 4.7% being the average discount offered).

Subject to the Commissioner's review, CAR sets the premium rates for commercial automobile policies reinsured through the CAR residual market pool.  We set rates for voluntary commercial automobile policies that are not reinsured through CAR, and for all other insurance lines we offer, including homeowners, dwelling fire, personal umbrella, commercial umbrella, commercial package policies and business owner policies.  All of these rates are subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Insurance.  In each line of business, we base our rates on our own loss experience, residual market deficits, catastrophe modeling, industry loss cost data and prices charged by our competitors in the Massachusetts market.  We have three pricing segments for most products, utilizing Safety Insurance for standard rates, Safety Indemnity for preferred rates and Safety Property and Casualty for ultra preferred rates.

8


 

CAR Reinsurance Pool.  CAR operates a reinsurance pool for commercial automobile policies and we are one of four approved servicing carriers.  CAR also operates a reinsurance pool for taxi/limousine/car service commercial automobile policies, and we are one of two servicing carriers that service these policies for CAR.  All commercial automobile business and taxi/limousine/car service business that is not written in the voluntary market in Massachusetts is apportioned to one of these servicing carriers who handle that business on behalf of CAR.  Every Massachusetts commercial automobile insurer must bear a portion of the losses of the total commercial reinsurance pool that is serviced by the approved servicing carriers.

Bulk Policy Transfers and New Voluntary Agents.  From time to time, we receive proposals from an existing voluntary agent to transfer a portfolio of the agent's business from another insurer to us.  Our underwriters model the profitability of these portfolios before we accept these transfers.  Among other things, we usually require that the private passenger portion of the portfolio have a pure loss ratio of 65.0% or less on the portion of the agent's portfolio that we would underwrite.  In addition, we require any new voluntary agent to commit to transfer a portfolio to us consisting of at least 300 policies.

Policy Processing and Rate Pursuit.  Our underwriting department assists in processing policy applications, endorsements, renewals and cancellations.  Our proprietary software, Safety Express, provides our agents with new business and endorsement entry, real-time policy issuance for personal lines, immediate printing of declarations pages in agents' offices, policy downloads to most major agency management systems and data imports from Boston Software's WinRater (Massachusetts) and Vertafore's PL Rater (New Hampshire).

In personal lines, our agents now submit approximately 99% of all applications for new policies or endorsements for existing policies through Safety Express.

Our rate pursuit team aggressively monitors all insurance transactions to make sure we receive the correct premium for the risk insured.  We accomplish this by verifying pricing criteria, such as proper classification of drivers, the make, model, and age of insured vehicles, and the availability of discounts.  We verify that operators are properly listed and classified, assignment of operators to vehicles, vehicle garaging, vehicle pre-inspection requirements, and in some cases the validity of discounts.  In our homeowners and dwelling fire lines, our team has completed a project to update the replacement costs for each dwelling.  We use third-party software to assist in these appraisal efforts.

 

Product Management.  The Product Management area is responsible for the overall review and updating of our products.  The department maintains an annual schedule where each line of business is reviewed and benchmarked with our major competitors.   Product offerings, discounts, rate levels and underwriting guidelines are reviewed and updates are performed as required.  The department is also responsible for the updating of producer material such as rate and rule manuals, and underwriting guidelines as well as promotional materials.  In conjunction with the underwriting operations area, the department works with third party vendors that assist with risk information gathering and rate pursuit for in force policies.   The area also provides product training and general marketplace education for the organization.

 

Legal and Regulatory Compliance.  The Legal and Regulatory Compliance department provides general legal and compliance support to all business units within the company.  The department monitors legal and regulatory changes affecting the company and provides guidance on how to comply with those changes.  The department reviews business unit operations to identify and address compliance vulnerabilities.  It serves as the primary liaison for company regulators on regulatory matters, including complaints, inquiries, data requests and the like.  The department also provides general legal support to all areas of the company, including the review of contracts and legal agreements with vendors and consultants. Legal and Regulatory Compliance additionally is responsible for the rate and form filing function at the company, across all states and lines of business.

 

9


 

Technology

 

The focuses of our information technology (IT) efforts are:

 

·

to support the strategic goals, objectives and business needs of the Company by aligning our IT annual goals with those of the business assuring that IT resources are being utilized efficiently;

·

to constantly re-engineer internal processes to allow more efficient operations, resulting in lower operating costs;

·

to make it easier for independent agents to transact business with us; and

·

to enable agents to efficiently provide their clients with a high level of service.

We believe that our technology initiatives have increased revenue and decreased costs.  For example, these initiatives have allowed us to reduce the number of call-center transactions which we perform, and to transfer many manual processing functions from our internal operations to our independent agents.  We also believe that these initiatives have contributed to overall increases in productivity.

Internal Applications (Intranet)

Our employees access our proprietary applications through our corporate intranet.  Our intranet applications streamline internal processes and improve overall operational efficiencies in areas including:

Claims.  Our claims workload management application allows our claims and subrogation adjusters to better manage injury claims.  Subrogation refers to the process by which we are reimbursed by other insurers for claims costs we incur due to the fault of their insureds.  The use of this application has reduced the time it takes for us to respond to and settle casualty claims, which we believe helps reduce the total amount of our claims expense.

The automated adjuster assignment system categorizes our new claims by severity and assigns them to the appropriate adjuster responsible for investigation.  Once assigned, the integrated workload management tools facilitate the work of promptly assigning appraisers, investigating liability, issuing checks and receiving subrogation receipts.

The RadicalGlass.com application allows our claims department to contain glass costs by increasing the windshield repair to replacement ratio.  For every windshield that is repaired rather than replaced there is an average savings of approximately $316 per windshield claim.

Our first VIP Claims Center was introduced during 2006 to provide increased service levels to our independent insurance agents and their clients.  We currently operate three VIP Claims Centers which use a network of rental car centers and auto body repair shops to provide a higher level of service to the clients of the independent insurance agents while reducing costs, such as rental expense, through reduced cycle times.

Billing.  Proprietary billing systems, integrated with the systems of our print and lock-box vendors, expedite the processing and collection of premium receipts and finance charges from agents and policyholders.  We believe the sophistication of our direct bill system helps us to limit our bad debt expense.  Our bad debt expense as a percentage of direct written premiums was 0.1% in both 2015 and 2014.

External Applications

Our Agent Technology offerings are centralized within our agency portal and feature PowerDesk and Safety Express.  PowerDesk is a web based application that allows for billing inquiry, agent payments on behalf of their policyholders, policy inquiry and claims inquiry.  Safety Express provides agents with new business and endorsement entry, real time policy issuance for personal lines, immediate printing of declarations pages in agents' offices, policy

10


 

downloads to most major agency management systems and data imports from Boston Software's WinRater (Massachusetts) and Vertafore's PL Rater (New Hampshire). In addition, we provide our agents with commission and claims download for all lines of business, Transformation Station and Transact Now Inquires, e-Claims online claims reporting, e-View daily transaction reports and e-Docs online electronic document file cabinet. 

 

We also provide electronic billing (eBill), online bill pay (including credit and debit cards), online declarations pages, billing inquiry, claims inquiry, auto and homeowners claims first notice of loss, online auto insurance cards, and bill pay reminder alerts to our agent's policyholders through our public website, SafetyInsurance.com.  We have also updated our telephone system to provide a voice activated phone directory, automated billing inquiry and payments, and call center screen pop-up technology. 

 

We also provide policyholders mobile technology through our Safety Mobile App for iPhone and Android devices.  Safety Mobile provides consumers with access to their agent information, bill pay capabilities, the ability to report an automobile or homeowners claim and access to their insurance card, among other features.

 

Claims

Because of the unique differences between the management of casualty claims and property claims, we use separate departments for each of these types of claims.

Casualty Claims

We have adopted stringent claims settlement procedures, which include guidelines that establish settlement ranges for soft tissue injuries, which constituted approximately 70% of our bodily injury claims in 2015.  If we are unable to settle these claims within our pricing guidelines, we explore other cost effective options including alternative disputes resolutions and/or litigation. We believe that these procedures result in providing our adjusting staff with a uniform approach to negotiation.

We believe an important component of handling claims efficiently is prompt investigation and settlement.  We find that faster claims settlements often result in less expensive claims settlements.  Our E-Claim reporting system is an online product that reduces the time it takes for agents to notify our adjusters about claims, thereby enabling us to contact third-party claimants and other witnesses quickly. Our insureds are able to report claims directly by phone, web or mobile application.  In addition, we utilize an after- hours reporting vendor to ensure that new claims can be reported 24 hours per day and 365 days per year.

We believe that early notification results in our adjusters conducting prompt investigations of claims and compiling more accurate information about those claims.  Our claims workload management software also assists our adjusters in handling claims quickly.

We believe the structure of our casualty claims unit allows us to respond quickly to claimants anywhere in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  Comprising 120 people, the department is organized into distinct claim units that contain loss costs on injury claims.  Field adjusters are located geographically for prompt response to claims, with our litigation unit focused on managing loss costs and litigation expenses for serious injury claims.

Additionally, we utilize a special unit to investigate fraud in connection with casualty claims.  This special unit has seven dedicated employees including five field investigators.  In cases where adjusters suspect fraud in connection with a claim, we deploy this special unit to conduct investigations.  We deny payment to claimants in cases in which we have succeeded in accumulating sufficient evidence of fraud.

11


 

Property Claims

Our property claims unit handles property claims arising in our private passenger and commercial automobile, homeowners and other insurance lines.  Process automation has streamlined our property claims function.  Many of our property claims are now handled by our agents through AVC using our Power Desk software application.  As agents receive calls from claimants, Power Desk permits the agent to immediately send information related to the claim directly to us and to an independent appraiser selected by the agent to value the claim.  Once we receive this information, an automated system redirects the claim to the appropriate internal adjuster responsible for investigating the claim to determine liability.  Upon determination of liability, the system automatically begins the process of seeking a subrogation recovery from another insurer, if liable.  We believe this process results in a shorter time period from when the claimant first contacts the agent to when the claimant receives a claim payment, while enabling our agents to build credibility with their clients by responding to claims in a timely and efficient manner.  We benefit from decreased labor expenses from the need for fewer employees to handle the reduced property claims call volume.

Another important factor in keeping our overall property claims costs low is collecting subrogation recoveries.  We track the amounts we pay out in claims costs and identify cases in which we believe we can reclaim some or all of those costs through the use of our automated workload management tools.

 

Reserves

Significant periods of time can elapse between the occurrence of an insured loss, the reporting of the loss to the insurer and the insurer's payment of that loss.  To recognize liabilities for unpaid losses, insurers establish reserves as balance sheet liabilities representing estimates of amounts needed to pay reported and unreported losses and the expenses associated with investigating and paying the losses, or loss adjustment expenses.  Every quarter, we review and establish our reserves.  Regulations promulgated by the Commissioner require us to annually obtain a certification from either a qualified actuary or an approved loss reserve specialist who may be one of our employees that our loss and loss adjustment expenses reserves are reasonable.

When a claim is reported, claims personnel establish a "case reserve" for the estimated amount of the ultimate payment.  The amount of the reserve is primarily based upon an evaluation of the type of claim involved, the circumstances surrounding each claim and the policy provisions relating to the loss.  The estimate reflects informed judgment of such personnel based on general insurance reserving practices and on the experience and knowledge of the claims person.  During the loss adjustment period, these estimates are revised as deemed necessary by our claims department based on subsequent developments and periodic reviews of the cases.

In accordance with industry practice, we also maintain reserves for estimated losses incurred but not yet reported.  Incurred but not yet reported reserves are determined in accordance with commonly accepted actuarial reserving techniques on the basis of our historical information and experience. We make adjustments to incurred but not yet reported reserves quarterly to take into account changes in the volume of business written, claims frequency and severity, our mix of business, claims processing and other items that can be expected to affect our liability for losses and loss adjustment expenses over time.

When reviewing reserves, we analyze historical data and estimate the impact of various loss development factors, such as our historical loss experience and that of the industry, legislative enactments, judicial decisions, legal developments in imposition of damages, and changes and trends in general economic conditions, including the effects of inflation.  There is no precise method, however, for evaluating the impact of any specific factor on the adequacy of reserves, because the eventual development of reserves is affected by many factors.  After taking into account all relevant factors, management believes that our provision for unpaid losses and loss adjustment expenses at December 31, 2015 is adequate to cover the ultimate net cost of losses and claims incurred as of that date.

Management determines its loss and loss adjustment expense ("LAE") reserves estimates based upon the analysis of the Company's actuaries.  Management has established a process for the Company's actuaries to follow in establishing reasonable reserves.  The process consists of meeting with our claims department, establishing ultimate

12


 

incurred losses by using development models accepted by the actuarial community, and reviewing the analysis with management.  The Company's estimate for loss and LAE reserves, net of the effect of ceded reinsurance, ranges from a low of $446,368 to a high of $495,541 as of December 31, 2015.  The Company's net loss and LAE reserves, based on our actuaries' best estimate, were set at $485,716 as of December 31, 2015.  The ultimate liability may be greater or less than reserves carried at the balance sheet date.  Establishment of appropriate reserves is an inherently uncertain process, and there can be no certainty that currently established reserves will prove adequate in light of subsequent actual experience.  To the extent that reserves are inadequate and are strengthened, the amount of such increase is treated as a charge to earnings in the period that the deficiency is recognized.  To the extent that reserves are redundant and are released, the amount of the release is a credit to earnings in the period the redundancy is recognized.  We do not discount any of our reserves.

The following table presents development information on changes in the reserves for losses and LAE of our Insurance Subsidiaries for each year in the three year period ended December 31, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Year Ended December 31, 

 

    

2015

    

2014

 

 

2013

Reserves for losses and LAE at beginning of year

 

$

482,012

 

$

455,014

 

$

423,842

Less receivable from reinsurers related to unpaid losses and LAE

 

 

(61,245)

 

 

(60,346)

 

 

(52,185)

Net reserves for losses and LAE at beginning of year

 

 

420,767

 

 

394,668

 

 

371,657

Incurred losses and LAE, related to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current year

 

 

642,882

 

 

513,734

 

 

476,638

Prior years

 

 

(30,313)

 

 

(37,368)

 

 

(28,889)

Total incurred losses and LAE

 

 

612,569

 

 

476,366

 

 

447,749

Paid losses and LAE related to:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Current year

 

 

415,256

 

 

316,979

 

 

299,882

Prior years

 

 

132,364

 

 

133,288

 

 

124,856

Total paid losses and LAE

 

 

547,620

 

 

450,267

 

 

424,738

Net reserves for losses and LAE at end of period

 

 

485,716

 

 

420,767

 

 

394,668

Plus receivable from reinsurers related to unpaid losses and LAE

 

 

68,261

 

 

61,245

 

 

60,346

Reserves for losses and LAE at end of period

 

$

553,977

 

$

482,012

 

$

455,014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the end of each period, the reserves were re-estimated for all prior accident years. Our prior year reserves decreased by $30,313, $37,368, and $28,889 for the years ended 2015, 2014, and 2013, respectively. The decreases in prior year reserves in 2015 resulted from re-estimations of prior year’s ultimate loss and LAE liabilities and are primarily composed of reductions of $18,644 in our retained automobile reserves and $7,964 in our retained homeowner’s reserves.  The decreases in prior year reserves in 2014 resulted from re-estimations of prior year’s ultimate loss and LAE liabilities and is primarily composed of reductions of $23,272 in our retained automobile reserves and $8,804 in our retained homeowner reserves. The decrease in prior year reserves during 2013 is primarily composed of reductions of $23,938 in our retained automobile reserves and $4,740 in our retained homeowners reserves. It is not appropriate to extrapolate future favorable or unfavorable development of reserves from this past experience.

Our private passenger automobile line of business prior year reserves decreased by $14,411 for the year ended December 31, 2015, primarily due to improved retained private passenger results of $12,716 for  the accident years 2009 through 2013. Our private passenger automobile line of business prior year reserves decreased by $20,815 for the year ended December 31, 2014, primarily due to improved retained private passenger results of $17,789 for accident years 2007 through 2012. Our private passenger automobile line of business reserves decreased by $21,090 for the year ended December 31, 2013, primarily due to improved retained private passenger results of $18,116 for accident years 2007 through 2012.  The improved retained private passenger results were primarily due to fewer incurred but not yet reported claims than previously estimated and better than previously estimated severity on the Company’s established bodily injury and property damage case reserves. Our homeowners line of business prior year reserves decreased by $7,255 for the year ended December 31, 2015, primarily due to improved retained homeowner results of $7,354 for the years 2010 through 2013.

13


 

The following table represents the development of reserves, net of reinsurance, for calendar years 2005 through 2015.  The top line of the table shows the reserves at the balance sheet date for each of the indicated years.  This represents the estimated amounts of losses and loss adjustment expenses for claims arising in all years that were unpaid at the balance sheet date, including losses that had been incurred but not yet reported to us.  The upper portion of the table shows the cumulative amounts paid as of the end of each successive year with respect to those claims.  The lower portion of the table shows the re-estimated amount of the previously recorded reserves based on experience as of the end of each succeeding year, including cumulative payments made since the end of the respective year. The estimate changes as more information becomes known about the payments, frequency and severity of claims for individual years.  Favorable loss development, shown as a cumulative redundancy in the table, exists when the original reserve estimate is greater than the re-estimated reserves at December 31, 2015.

Information with respect to the cumulative development of gross reserves (that is, without deduction for reinsurance ceded) also appears at the bottom portion of the table.

In evaluating the information in the table, it should be noted that each amount entered incorporates the effects of all changes in amounts entered for prior periods.  Thus, if the 2012 estimate for a previously incurred loss was $150 and the loss was reserved at $100 in 2008, the $50 deficiency (later estimate minus original estimate) would be included in the cumulative (redundancy) deficiency in each of the years 2008-2012 shown in the table. It should further be noted that the table does not present accident or policy year development data. In addition, conditions and trends that have affected the development of liability in the past may not necessarily recur in the future. Accordingly, it is not appropriate to extrapolate future redundancies or deficiencies from the table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of and for the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

2012

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

Reserves for losses and

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LAE originally estimated: 

 

$
485,716

 

$
420,767

 

$
394,668

 

$
371,657

 

$
352,098

 

$
351,244

 

$
374,832

 

$
391,070

 

$
393,430

 

$
370,980

 

$
370,166

Cumulative amounts paid as of: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year later

 

 

 

132,363

 

133,288

 

124,855

 

130,204

 

128,854

 

130,960

 

126,858

 

142,259

 

122,806

 

133,213

Two years later

 

 

 

 

 

178,411

 

175,822

 

181,739

 

176,774

 

183,061

 

189,897

 

195,798

 

183,457

 

187,231

Three years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

199,741

 

211,578

 

205,171

 

211,182

 

217,695

 

234,359

 

212,331

 

221,390

Four years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

223,941

 

219,310

 

224,831

 

233,160

 

248,560

 

233,438

 

234,705

Five years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

224,354

 

232,177

 

239,553

 

254,915

 

240,275

 

244,454

Six years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

233,853

 

241,587

 

257,362

 

242,298

 

247,299

Seven years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

241,999

 

257,889

 

243,120

 

247,983

Eight years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

258,173

 

243,270

 

248,206

Nine years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

243,505

 

248,272

Ten years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

248,391

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of and for the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

2012

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

Reserves re-estimated as of: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One year later

 

 

 

$
390,454

 

$
357,300

 

$
342,767

 

$
334,788

 

$
314,561

 

$
326,676

 

$
347,004

 

$
357,492

 

$
340,189

 

$
327,419

Two years later

 

 

 

 

 

328,182

 

308,028

 

309,096

 

293,480

 

294,696

 

307,918

 

325,317

 

311,972

 

310,614

Three years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

283,592

 

282,441

 

273,332

 

279,542

 

282,565

 

297,224

 

287,875

 

289,109

Four years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

268,759

 

254,652

 

264,697

 

271,693

 

281,068

 

269,446

 

274,840

Five years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

245,869

 

252,249

 

261,845

 

274,179

 

258,506

 

264,408

Six years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

247,023

 

254,308

 

268,596

 

253,919

 

258,055

Seven years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

250,760

 

263,797

 

251,304

 

254,812

Eight years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

261,319

 

248,031

 

252,818

Nine years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

246,317

 

250,876

Ten years later

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

249,571

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cumulative

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(redundancy) deficiency 2015

 

 

 

(30,313)

 

(66,486)

 

(88,065)

 

(83,339)

 

(105,375)

 

(127,809)

 

(140,310)

 

(132,111)

 

(124,663)

 

(120,595)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of and for the Year Ended December 31,

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

 

2012

 

2011

 

2010

 

2009

 

2008

 

2007

 

2006

 

2005

Gross liability-end of year

 

$
553,977

 

$
482,012

 

$
455,014

 

$
423,842

 

$
403,872

 

$
404,391

 

$
439,706

 

$
467,559

 

$
477,720

 

$
449,444

 

$
450,716

Reinsurance recoverables

 

68,261

 

61,245

 

60,346

 

52,185

 

51,774

 

53,147

 

64,874

 

76,489

 

84,290

 

78,464

 

80,550

Net liability-end of year

 

485,716

 

420,767

 

394,668

 

371,657

 

352,098

 

351,244

 

374,832

 

391,070

 

393,430

 

370,980

 

370,166

Gross estimated liability-latest

 

 

 

447,321

 

378,967

 

326,765

 

309,231

 

284,591

 

290,609

 

298,267

 

312,961

 

295,121

 

299,270

Reinsurance recoverables-latest

 

 

 

56,867

 

50,785

 

43,173

 

40,472

 

38,722

 

43,586

 

47,507

 

51,642

 

48,804

 

49,699

Net estimated liability-latest

 

 

 

390,454

 

328,182

 

283,592

 

268,759

 

245,869

 

247,023

 

250,760

 

261,319

 

246,317

 

249,571

 

As the table shows, our net reserves grew at a faster rate than our gross reserves over the ten-year period.  As we have grown, we have been able to retain a greater percentage of our direct business.  Additionally, in the past we conducted substantial business as a servicing carrier for other insurers, in which we would service the residual market automobile insurance business assigned to other carriers for a fee.  All business generated through this program was ceded to the other carriers.  As we reduced the amount of our servicing carrier business, our proportion of reinsurance ceded diminished.

14


 

The table also shows that we have substantially benefited in the current and prior years from releasing redundant reserves.  In the years ended December 31, 2015, 2014, and 2013 we decreased loss reserves related to prior years by $30,313, $37,368 and $28,889, respectively.  Reserves and development are discussed further in Item 7—Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations, Executive Summary and Overview.

As a result of our focus on core business lines since our founding in 1979, we believe we have no exposure to asbestos or environmental pollution liabilities.

 


Reinsurance

 

Reinsurance involves an insurance company transferring (ceding) a portion of its exposure on insurance underwritten by it to another insurer (reinsurer).  The reinsurer assumes a portion of the exposure in return for a share of the premium.  Reinsurance does not legally discharge an insurance company from its primary liability for the full amount of the policies, but it does make the reinsurer liable to the company for the reinsured portion of any loss realized.

We reinsure with other insurance companies a portion of our potential liability under the policies we have underwritten, thereby protecting us against an unexpectedly large loss or a catastrophic occurrence that could produce large losses, primarily in our homeowners line of business.   We are selective in choosing our reinsurers, seeking only those companies that we consider to be financially stable and adequately capitalized.  In an effort to minimize exposure to the insolvency of a reinsurer, we continually evaluate and review the financial condition of our reinsurers.  Swiss Re, our primary reinsurer, maintains an A.M. Best rating of "A+" (Excellent). Most of our other reinsurers have an A.M. Best rating of “A+” (Excellent) or “A” (Excellent).

We maintain reinsurance coverage to help lessen the effect of losses from catastrophic events, maintaining coverage that during 2015 protected us in the event of a "115-year storm" (that is, a storm of a severity expected to occur once in a 115-year period).  We use various software products to measure our exposure to catastrophe losses and the probable maximum loss to us for catastrophe losses such as hurricanes.  The models include estimates for our share of the catastrophe losses generated in the residual market for property insurance by the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association ("FAIR Plan").  In 2015, we purchased three layers of excess catastrophe reinsurance providing $515,000 of coverage for property losses in excess of $50,000 up to a maximum of $565,000.  Our reinsurers’ co-participation is 65.0% of $100,000 for the 1st layer, 80.0% of $280,000 for the 2nd layer, and 80.0% of $135,000 for the 3rd layer.

For 2016, we have increased our reinsurance coverage by buying a 4th layer at the top end of the reinsuance program.  We purchased four layers of excess catastrophe reinsurance providing $615,000 of coverage for property losses in excess of $50,000 up to a maximum of $665,000.  Our reinsurers’ co-participation is 65.0% of $100,000 for the 1st layer, 80.0% of $280,000 for the 2nd layer, 80.0% of $135,000 for the 3rd layer and 80% of $100,000 for the 4th layer. As a result of the changes to the models, and our revised reinsurance program, our catastrophe reinsurance in 2016 protects us in the event of a “133-year storm” (that is, a storm of a severity expected to occur once in a 133-year period). 

We also have casualty excess of loss reinsurance for large casualty losses occurring in our automobile, homeowners, dwelling fire, business owners, and commercial package lines of business in excess of $2,000 up to a maximum of $10,000.  We have property excess of loss reinsurance coverage for large property losses, with coverage in excess of $2,000 up to a maximum of $20,000, for our homeowners, business owners, and commercial package policies.  In addition, we have liability excess of loss reinsurance for umbrella large losses in excess of $1,000 up to a maximum of $10,000.  We also have various reinsurance agreements with Hartford Steam Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company, of which the primary contract is a quota share agreement under which we cede 100% of the premiums and losses for the equipment breakdown coverage under our business owner policies and commercial package policies.

15


 

In the wake of the September 11, 2001 tragedies, reinsurers began to exclude coverage for claims in connection with any act of terrorism.  Our reinsurance program excludes coverage for acts of terrorism, except for fire or collapse losses as a result of terrorism, under homeowners, dwelling fire, private passenger automobile and commercial automobile policies.

The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 ("TRIA") was signed into law on November 26, 2002, and expired December 31, 2005.  The Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act of 2005 was signed into law on December 22, 2005, and expired December 31, 2007.  The Terrorism Risk Insurance Extension Act of 2007 ("TRIEA") was signed into law on December 26, 2007 which reauthorized TRIA for seven years, expanded the definition of an "Act of Terrorism" while expanding the private sector role and reducing the federal share of compensation for insured losses under the program.  TRIA expired on December 31, 2014, but on January 12, 2015 Congress reauthorized TRIA retroactive to January 1, 2015 with the program now lasting through 2020.  The intent of this legislation is to provide federal assistance to the insurance industry for the needs of commercial insurance policyholders with the potential exposure for losses due to acts of terrorism.  The TRIEA provides reinsurance for certified acts of terrorism.

In addition to the above mentioned reinsurance programs and as described in more detail above under The Massachusetts Property and Casualty Insurance Market, we are a participant in CAR, a state-established body that runs the residual market reinsurance programs for commercial automobile insurance in Massachusetts under which premiums, expenses, losses and loss adjustment expenses on ceded business are shared by all insurers writing automobile insurance in Massachusetts.  We also participate in the FAIR Plan in which premiums, expenses, losses and loss adjustment expenses on homeowners business that cannot be placed in the voluntary market are shared by all insurers writing homeowners insurance in Massachusetts.  The FAIR Plan’s exposure to catastrophe losses increased and as a result, the FAIR Plan decided to buy reinsurance to reduce their exposure to catastrophe losses.  On July 1, 2015, the FAIR Plan purchased $1,325,000 of catastrophe reinsurance for property losses with retention of $100,000. 

 

For the year ended December 31, 2015, our total expected reinsurance recovery from reinsurers under our catastrophe reinsurance program related to the 2015 snow event as discussed in the Recent Trends and Event section is $67,934.  Amounts recoverable from reinsurers are billed to the reinsurer as claims are paid by the Company.  At December 31, 2015, the reinsurance recoverable on paid and unpaid loss and loss adjustment expenses related to the 2015 snow event is $39,553. 

 

On December 15, 2015, the Company filed for arbitration with a reinsurer in regards to the reinsurance recoverable resulting from the 2015 winter storm losses that are admissible under our contract.  The total amount of recoverable in dispute, which is based on our total incurred loss, is $22,838.  No provision for collectability has been recorded in the financial statements as we believe the recoverable is valid and will be recovered.

At December 31, 2015, we also had $70,812 due from CAR comprising of loss and loss adjustment expense reserves, unearned premiums and reinsurance recoverables.

On March 10, 2005, our Board of Directors (the “Board”) adopted a resolution that prohibits Safety from purchasing finite reinsurance (reinsurance that transfers only a relatively finite or limited amount of risk to the reinsurer) without approval by the Board.  To date, the Company has never purchased a finite reinsurance contract.

Competition

The property and casualty insurance business is highly competitive and many of our competitors have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do.  We compete with both large national writers and smaller regional companies.  Our competitors include companies which, like us, serve the independent agency market, as well as companies which sell insurance directly to customers. Direct writers may have certain competitive advantages over agency writers, including increased name recognition, loyalty of the customer base to the insurer rather than to an independent agency and potentially, lower cost structures.  A material reduction in the amount of business independent agents sell would adversely affect us.  Further, we and others compete on the basis of the commissions and other cash and non-cash incentives provided to agents.  Although historically, a number of national insurers that are much larger

16


 

than we are have chosen not to compete in a material way in the Massachusetts private passenger automobile market, if one or more of these companies decided to aggressively enter the market it could have a material adverse effect on us.  The Commissioner announced that Managed Competition reforms were, in part, designed to make Massachusetts more appealing to these companies.  Since then, new companies have entered the market including Progressive Insurance Company, Peerless  and Safeco (subsidiaries of Liberty Mutual), AIG, Vermont Mutual, Preferred Mutual, IDS, Occidental, GEICO, Harleysville, Foremost and Allstate (including their subsidiary Esurance).  These companies include some that would be able to sustain significant losses in order to acquire market share, as well as others which use distribution methods that compete with the independent agent channel.  There can be no assurance that we will be able to compete effectively against these companies in the future.

Our principal competitors within the Massachusetts private passenger automobile insurance market are  Commerce Insurance Company, Liberty Mutual (including Peerless) and Arbella Insurance Group, which held 25.7%, 11.5% and 10.0% market shares based on automobile exposures, respectively, in 2015 according to CAR.


Employees

 

At December 31, 2015, we employed 622 employees.  Our employees are not covered by any collective bargaining agreement.  Management considers our relationship with our employees to be good.


Investments

Investment income is an important source of revenue for us and the return on our investment portfolio has a material effect on our net earnings.  Our investment objective is to focus on maximizing total returns while investing conservatively.  We maintain a high-quality investment portfolio consistent with our established investment policy.  As of December 31, 2015, our portfolio of fixed maturity investments was comprised principally of investment grade corporate fixed maturity securities, U.S. government and agency securities, and asset-backed securities.  The portion of our non-investment grade portfolio of fixed maturity investments is primarily comprised of variable rate secured and senior bank loans and high yield bonds. We have no exposure to European sovereign debt.

According to our investment guidelines, no more than 2.0% of our portfolio may be invested in the securities of any one issuer (excluding U.S. government-backed securities).  This one issuer must be rated "A" or above by Moody's.  In addition, no more than 0.5% of our portfolio may be invested in securities of any one issuer rated "Baa," or the lowest investment grade assigned by Moody's.  Of the less than 10.0% of our portfolio invested in senior bank loans and high yield bonds at December 31, 2015, no more than 5.0% may be invested in the securities of any one issuer, no more than 10.0% may be invested in any issuers total outstanding debt issue, and a maximum of 10.0% may be invested in securities unrated or rated "B-" or below by Moody's.  We continually monitor the mix of taxable and tax-exempt securities in an attempt to maximize our total after-tax return.  Since 1986, we have utilized the services of a third-party investment manager.

17


 

The following table reflects the composition of our investment portfolio as of December 31, 2015 and 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

2015

 

2014

 

 

Estimated

 

% of

 

 

Estimated

 

% of

 

 

Fair Value

 

Portfolio

 

 

Fair Value

 

Portfolio

U.S. Treasury Securities

$

1,801

 

0.2

%

 

$

1,506

 

0.1

%

Obligations of states and political subdivisions

 

397,922

 

32.9

 

 

 

460,325

 

36.6

 

Residential mortgage-backed securities (1)

 

241,456

 

20.0

 

 

 

207,683

 

16.5

 

Commercial mortgage-backed securities

 

28,663

 

2.4

 

 

 

34,438

 

2.7

 

Other asset-backed securities

 

23,931

 

2.0

 

 

 

10,250

 

0.8

 

Corporate and other securities

 

387,864

 

31.9

 

 

 

421,249

 

33.7

 

 

Subtotal, fixed maturity securities

 

1,081,637

 

89.4

 

 

 

1,135,451

 

90.4

 

Equity securities (2)

 

110,204

 

9.1

 

 

 

109,153

 

8.7

 

Other invested assets

 

17,602

 

1.5

 

 

 

11,657

 

0.9

 

 

 

$

1,209,443

 

100.0

%

 

$

1,256,261

 

100.0

%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(1) Residential mortgage-backed securities consists primarily of obligations of U.S. Government agencies including collateralized mortgage obligations and mortgage-backed securities guaranteed and/or insured by the following issuers: Government National Mortgage Association (GNMA), Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (FHLMC), Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA) and the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB).

(2) Equity securities include interests in mutual funds held to fund the Company's executive deferred compensation plan.

 

The principal risks inherent in holding mortgage-backed securities and other pass-through securities are prepayment and extension risks, which affect the timing of when cash flows will be received.  When interest rates decline, mortgages underlying mortgage-backed securities tend to be prepaid more rapidly than anticipated, causing early repayments.  When interest rates rise, the underlying mortgages tend to be prepaid at a slower rate than anticipated, causing the principal repayments to be extended.  Although early prepayments may result in acceleration of income from recognition of any unamortized discount, the proceeds typically are reinvested at a lower current yield, resulting in a net reduction of future investment income.  In addition, in the current market environment, such investments can also contain liquidity risks.

The Company invests in bank loans which are primarily investments in senior secured floating rate loans that banks have made to corporations.  The loans are generally priced at an interest rate spread over the floating rate feature; this asset class provides protection against rising interest rates.  However, this asset class is subject to default risk since these investments are typically below investment grade.

Equity risk is the risk that we will incur economic losses due to adverse changes in equity prices. Our exposure to changes in equity prices results from our holdings of common stock and mutual funds held to fund the executive deferred compensation plan. We continuously evaluate market conditions and we expect in the future to purchase additional equity securities. We principally manage equity price risk through industry and issuer diversification and asset allocation techniques.

The following table reflects our investment results for each year in the three-year period ended December 31, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years Ended December 31,

 

2015

 

2014

 

2013

Average cash and invested securities (at cost)

$

1,213,718

 

 

$

1,220,033

 

 

$

1,175,414

 

Net investment income (1)

$

40,534

 

 

$

42,303

 

 

$

43,054

 

Net effective yield (2)

 

3.3

%

 

 

3.5

%

 

 

3.7

%

 


(1) After investment expenses, excluding realized investment gains or losses.

(2) Net investment income for the period divided by average invested securities and cash for the same period.

18


 

As of December 31, 2015, our portfolio of fixed maturity investments was comprised principally of investment grade corporate fixed maturity securities, U.S. government and agency securities, and asset-backed securities.  The portion of our non-investment grade portfolio of fixed maturity investments is primarily comprised of variable rate secured, senior bank loans and high yield bonds. We have no exposure to European sovereign debt.

The composition of our fixed income security portfolio by Moody's rating is presented in the following table.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31,

 

 

 

 

2015

 

 

2014

 

 

    

Estimated

    

    

 

 

Estimated

 

 

    

 

 

Fair Value

 

Percent

 

 

Fair Value

 

Percent

 

U.S. Treasury securities and obligations of U.S. Government agencies

 

$

243,562

 

22.5%

 

$

210,020

 

18.5%

 

Aaa/Aa

 

 

391,839

 

36.2%

 

 

463,871

 

40.9%

 

A

 

 

219,580

 

20.3%

 

 

219,319

 

19.3%

 

Baa

 

 

110,386

 

10.2%

 

 

108,149

 

9.5%

 

Ba

 

 

39,835

 

3.7%

 

 

42,784

 

3.8%

 

B

 

 

61,189

 

5.7%

 

 

64,773

 

5.7%

 

Caa

 

 

10,252

 

1.0%

 

 

8,121

 

0.7%

 

C

 

 

21

 

0.0%

 

 

 -

 

0.0%

 

D

 

 

303

 

0.0%

 

 

 -

 

0.0%

 

Not rated

 

 

4,670

 

0.4%

 

 

18,414

 

1.6%

 

Total 

 

$

1,081,637

 

100.0%

 

$

1,135,451

 

100%

 

 

Ratings are generally assigned upon the issuance of the securities and are subject to revision on the basis of ongoing evaluations. Ratings in the table are as of the date indicated.

Moody's rating system utilizes nine symbols to indicate the relative investment quality of a rated bond. “Aaa” rated bonds are judged to be of the best quality and are considered to carry the smallest degree of investment risk. “Aa” rated bonds are also judged to be of high quality by all standards. Together with “Aaa” bonds, these bonds comprise what are generally known as high grade bonds. Bonds rated “A” possess many favorable investment attributes and are considered to be upper medium grade obligations. “Baa” rated bonds are considered as medium grade obligations; they are neither highly protected nor poorly secured. Bonds rated “Ba” or lower (those rated “B”, “Caa”,  “C” and “D”) are considered to be too speculative to be of investment quality.

The Securities Valuation Office of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (the "SVO") evaluates all public and private bonds purchased as investments by insurance companies. The SVO assigns one of six investment categories to each security it reviews. Category 1 is the highest quality rating and Category 6 is the lowest. Categories 1 and 2 are the equivalent of investment grade debt as defined by rating agencies such as Standard & Poor's Ratings Services and Moody's, while Categories 3-6 are the equivalent of below investment grade securities. SVO ratings are reviewed at least annually. At December 31, 2015, 79.4% of our available for sale fixed maturity investments were rated Category 1 and 10.2% were rated Category 2, the two highest ratings assigned by the SVO.

19


 

The following table indicates the composition of our fixed income security portfolio (at carrying value) by time to maturity as of December 31, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As of December 31, 2015

 

    

Estimated

    

 

 

 

Fair Value

 

Percent

Due in one year or less

 

$

51,336

 

 

4.7%

Due after one year through five years

 

 

269,405

 

 

24.9%

Due after five years through ten years

 

 

165,061

 

 

15.3%

Due after ten years through twenty years

 

 

297,754

 

 

27.5%

Due after twenty years

 

 

4,029

 

 

0.4%

Asset-backed securities (1)

 

 

294,052

 

 

27.2%

Totals

 

$

1,081,637

 

 

100.0%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


(1) Actual maturities of asset-backed securities may differ from contractual maturities because borrowers may have the right to call or prepay obligations with or without call or prepayment penalties.  Prepayment rates are influenced by a number of factors that cannot be predicted with certainty, including: the relative sensitivity of the underlying mortgages or other collateral to changes in interest rates; a variety of economic, geographic and other factors; and the repayment priority of the securities in the overall securitization structures.

 

Ratings

 

A.M. Best, which rates insurance companies based on factors of concern to policyholders, currently assigns Safety Insurance an "A (Excellent)" rating.  Our "A" rating was reaffirmed by A.M. Best on April 13, 2015.  Such rating is the third highest rating of 13 ratings that A.M. Best assigns to solvent insurance companies, which currently range from "A++ (Superior)" to "D (Very Vulnerable)."  Publications of A.M. Best indicate that the "A" rating is assigned to those companies that in A.M. Best's opinion have a strong ability to meet their obligations to policyholders over a long period of time. In evaluating a company's financial and operating performance, A.M. Best reviews the Company's profitability, leverage and liquidity, as well as its book of business, the adequacy and soundness of its reinsurance, the quality and estimated fair value of its assets, the adequacy of its loss reserves, the adequacy of its surplus, its capital structure, the experience and competence of its management and its market presence.  A.M. Best's ratings reflect its opinion of an insurance company's financial strength, operating performance and ability to meet its obligations to policyholders and are not evaluations directed to purchasers of an insurance company's securities.

 

In assigning Safety Insurance's rating, A.M. Best recognized its solid risk-adjusted capitalization, conservative operating strategy, and long-standing agency relationships. A.M. Best also noted among our positive attributes our favorable investment leverage, our disciplined underwriting approach, and our expertise in the closely managed Massachusetts automobile insurance market, where rates, until recently, were historically established by the Commissioner.  A.M. Best cited other factors that partially offset these positive attributes, including our concentration of business in the Massachusetts private passenger automobile market which exposes our business to regulatory actions.

 

Supervision and Regulation

 

Introduction.  Our principal operations are conducted through the Insurance Subsidiaries which are subject to comprehensive regulation by the Division of Insurance, of which the Commissioner is the senior official.  The Commissioner is appointed by the Governor.  We are subject to the authority of the Commissioner in many areas of our business under Massachusetts law, including:

 

·

our licenses to transact insurance;

·

the premium rates and policy forms we may use;

·

our financial condition including the adequacy of our reserves and provisions for unearned premium;

·

the solvency standards that we must maintain;

20


 

·

the type and size of investments we may make;

·

the prescribed or permitted statutory accounting practices we must use; and

·

the nature of the transactions we may engage in with our affiliates.

In addition, the Commissioner periodically conducts a financial examination of all licensees domiciled in Massachusetts.  We were most recently examined for the five-year period ending December 31, 2013.  The Division had no material findings as a result of this examination.

 

Insurance Holding Company Regulation.  Our principal operating subsidiaries are insurance companies, and therefore we are subject to certain laws in Massachusetts regulating insurance holding company systems.  These laws require that we file a registration statement with the Commissioner that discloses the identity, financial condition, capital structure and ownership of each entity within our corporate structure and any transactions among the members of our holding company system. In some instances, we must provide prior notice to the Commissioner for material transactions between our insurance company subsidiaries and other affiliates in our holding company system.  These holding company statutes also require, among other things, prior approval of the payment of extraordinary dividends or distributions and any acquisition of a domestic insurer and that we file an annual Enterprise Risk Management report with the Commissioner.

 

Insurance Regulation Concerning Dividends.  We rely on dividends from the Insurance Subsidiaries for our cash requirements.  The insurance holding company law of Massachusetts requires notice to the Commissioner of any dividend to the shareholders of an insurance company.  The Insurance Subsidiaries may not make an "extraordinary dividend" until thirty days after the Commissioner has received notice of the intended dividend and has not objected in such time.  As historically administered by the Commissioner, this provision requires the prior approval by the Commissioner of an extraordinary dividend.  An extraordinary dividend is defined as any dividend or distribution that, together with other distributions made within the preceding twelve months exceeds the greater of 10.0% of the insurer's surplus as of the preceding December 31, or the insurer's net income for the twelve-month period ending the preceding December 31, in each case determined in accordance with statutory accounting practices. Under Massachusetts law, an insurer may pay cash dividends only from its unassigned funds, also known as its earned surplus, and the insurer's remaining surplus must be both reasonable in relation to its outstanding liabilities and adequate to its financial needs.  At December 31, 2015, the statutory surplus of Safety Insurance was $571,038 and its net loss for 2015 was $12,209.  A maximum of $57,104 will be available during 2016 for such dividends without prior approval of the Commissioner.

 

Acquisition of Control of a Massachusetts Domiciled Insurance Company.  Massachusetts law requires advance approval by the Commissioner of any change in control of an insurance company that is domiciled in Massachusetts.  That law presumes that control exists where any person, directly or indirectly, owns, controls, holds the power to vote or holds proxies representing 10.0% or more of our outstanding voting stock.  Even persons who do not acquire beneficial ownership of more than 10.0% of the outstanding shares of our common stock may be deemed to have acquired control if the Commissioner determines that control exists in fact.  Any purchaser of shares of common stock representing 10.0% or more of the voting power of our capital stock will be presumed to have acquired control of the Insurance Subsidiaries unless, following application by that purchaser the Commissioner determines that the acquisition does not constitute a change of control or is otherwise not subject to regulatory review.  These requirements may deter, delay or prevent transactions affecting the control of or the ownership of our common stock, including transactions that could be advantageous to our stockholders.

 

Protection Against Insurer Insolvency.  Massachusetts law requires that insurers licensed to do business in Massachusetts participate in the Massachusetts Insurers Insolvency Fund ("Insolvency Fund").  The Insolvency Fund must pay any claim up to $300 of a policyholder of an insolvent insurer if the claim existed prior to the declaration of insolvency or arose within sixty days after the declaration of insolvency.  Members of the Insolvency Fund are assessed the amount the Insolvency Fund deems necessary to pay its obligations and expenses in connection with handling covered claims.  Subject to certain exceptions, assessments are made in the proportion that each member's net written premiums for the prior calendar year for all property and casualty lines bore to the corresponding net written premiums for Insolvency Fund members for the same period.  As a matter of Massachusetts law, insurance rates and premiums include amounts to recoup any amounts paid by insurers for the costs of the Insolvency Fund.  By statute, no insurer in Massachusetts may be assessed in any year an amount greater than two percent of that insurer's direct written premium

21


 

for the calendar year prior to the assessment.  We account for allocations from the Insolvency Fund as underwriting expenses.  CAR also assesses its members as a result of insurer insolvencies.  Because CAR is not able to recover an insolvent company's share of the net CAR losses from the Insolvency Fund, CAR must increase each of its member's shares of the deficit in order to compensate for the insolvent carrier's inability to pay its deficit assessment.  It is anticipated that there will be future assessments from time to time relating to various insolvencies.

 

The Insurance Regulatory Information System.  The Insurance Regulatory Information System ("IRIS") was developed to help state regulators identify companies that may require special financial attention. IRIS consists of a statistical phase and an analytical phase whereby financial examiners review annual statements and financial ratios.  The statistical phase consists of 13 key financial ratios based on year-end data that are generated annually from the database of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners ("NAIC").  Each ratio has an established "usual range" of results.  These ratios assist state insurance departments in executing their statutory mandate to oversee the financial condition of insurance companies.

 

A ratio result falling outside the usual range of IRIS ratios is not considered a failing result; rather, unusual values are viewed as part of the regulatory early monitoring system. Furthermore, in some years, it may not be unusual for financially sound companies to have several ratios with results outside the usual ranges.  Generally, an insurance company will become subject to regulatory scrutiny if it falls outside the usual ranges of four or more of the ratios.  In 2015, 2014, and 2013 all our ratios for all our Insurance Subsidiaries were within the normal range.

 

Risk-Based Capital Requirements.  The NAIC has adopted a formula and model law to implement risk-based capital requirements for most property and casualty insurance companies, which are designed to determine minimum capital requirements and to raise the level of protection that statutory surplus provides for policyholder obligations.  The risk-based capital formula for property and casualty insurance companies measures three major areas of risk facing property and casualty insurers:

 

·

underwriting, which encompasses the risk of adverse loss developments and inadequate pricing;

 

·

declines in asset values arising from market and/or credit risk; and

 

·

off-balance sheet risk arising from adverse experience from non-controlled assets, guarantees for affiliates or other contingent liabilities and reserve and premium growth.

 

Under Massachusetts law, insurers having less total adjusted capital than that required by the risk-based capital calculation will be subject to varying degrees of regulatory action, depending on the level of capital inadequacy.

 

The risk-based capital law provides for four levels of regulatory action. The extent of regulatory intervention and action increases as the level of total adjusted capital to risk-based capital falls.  The first level, the company action level, as defined by the NAIC, requires an insurer to submit a plan of corrective actions to the Commissioner if total adjusted capital falls below 200% of the risk-based capital amount. The regulatory action level, as defined by the NAIC requires an insurer to submit a plan containing corrective actions and requires the Commissioner to perform an examination or other analysis and issue a corrective order if total adjusted capital falls below 150.0% of the risk-based capital amount. The authorized control level, as defined by the NAIC, authorizes the Commissioner to take whatever regulatory actions he or she considers necessary to protect the best interest of the policyholders and creditors of the insurer which may include the actions necessary to cause the insurer to be placed under regulatory control, i.e., rehabilitation or liquidation, if total adjusted capital falls below 100.0% of the risk-based capital amount. The fourth action level is the mandatory control level, as defined by the NAIC, which requires the Commissioner to place the insurer under regulatory control if total adjusted capital falls below 70.0% of the risk-based capital amount.

 

The formulas have not been designed to differentiate among adequately capitalized companies that operate with higher levels of capital.  Therefore, it is inappropriate and ineffective to use the formulas to rate or to rank these companies.  At December 31, 2015, our Insurance Subsidiaries had total adjusted capital in excess of amounts requiring company or regulatory action at any prescribed risk-based capital action level.

 

22


 

Regulation of Private Passenger Automobile Insurance in Massachusetts.  Our principal line of business is Massachusetts private passenger automobile insurance.  Automobile insurance in Massachusetts is regulated under what the Commissioner terms "managed competition", which subjects automobile insurance rates to generally stricter standards that apply in many other states.   Certain of the historically unique factors, also apply in Massachusetts, including compulsory insurance, affinity group marketing, and the prominence of independent agents.

 

Market Conduct Regulation. Our sales and rating practices are subject to regulation by both the Commissioner and the Massachusetts Attorney General, pursuant to M.G.L. c. 93A. Among other requirements, the premiums we charge must comply with our filed rating plans, which must satisfy Massachusetts law.  The Commissioner has the power to conduct examinations to review our market conduct and the Attorney General can investigate our market conduct through the use of Civil Investigative Demands.

 

Executive Officers and Directors

 

On  January 4, 2016, the Company  announced that David F. Brussard, current President and Chief Executive Officer of Safety Insurance will retire effective March 31, 2016.  The Board of Directors appointed George M. Murphy, current Vice President of Marketing, as the new President and CEO, effective April 1, 2016.  Mr. Brussard will remain as Non-Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors of Safety Insurance Group, Inc. 

 

On February 23, 2016, Mr. Murphy was appointed to the Company’s Board of Directors and to the Investment Committee of the Board of Directors, effective April 1, 2016.  Additionally, John P. Drago, 49, was appointed the Company’s Vice President of Marketing effective April 1, 2016. 

 

The table below sets forth certain information concerning our directors and executive officers as of the date of this annual report.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years

 

 

 

 

Employed

Name

Age (1)

Position

 

by Safety

David F. Brussard

64

President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board

 

40

William J. Begley, Jr.

61

Vice President, Chief Financial Officer and Secretary

 

30

James D. Berry  

56

Vice President - Underwriting

 

33

George M. Murphy 

49

Vice President - Marketing 

 

27

Paul J. Narciso

52

Vice President - Claims

 

25

David E. Krupa

55

Vice President - Claims Operations

 

33

Stephen A. Varga

48

Vice President - Management Information Systems

 

23

Ann M. McKeown

49

Vice President - Insurance Operations

 

26

A. Richard Caputo, Jr.

50

Director

 

-

Frederic H. Lindeberg

75

Director

 

-

Peter J. Manning

77

Director

 

-

David K. McKown

78

Director

 

-

___________________

 

 

 

 

(1) As of February 25, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

David F. Brussard was appointed Chairman of the Board in March 2004 and President and Chief Executive Officer ("CEO") in June 2001.  Mr. Brussard has served as a Director of the Company since October 2001.  Since January 1999, Mr. Brussard has been the CEO and President of the Insurance Subsidiaries.  Previously, Mr. Brussard served as Executive Vice President of the Insurance Subsidiaries from 1985 to 1999 and as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the Insurance Subsidiaries from 1979 to 1999.  Mr. Brussard has been employed by one or more of our subsidiaries for over 40 years.  Mr. Brussard is also Chairman of the Governing Committee and a member of the Budget Committee, Executive Committee and Nominating Committee of the Automobile Insurers Bureau of Massachusetts. Mr. Brussard is also on the Board of Trustees of the Insurance Library Association of Boston.

William J. Begley, Jr. was appointed Chief Financial Officer, Vice President and Secretary of the Company on March 4, 2002.  Since January 1999, Mr. Begley has been the Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer of the Insurance Subsidiaries.  Previously, Mr. Begley served as Assistant Controller of the Insurance Subsidiaries from 1985 to 1987, as Controller from 1987 to 1990 and as Assistant Vice President/Controller from 1990 to 1999.  Mr. Begley has been

23


 

employed by the Insurance Subsidiaries for over 30 years.  Mr. Begley also serves on the Audit Committee and Investment Committee of Guaranty Fund Management Services, and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Insurers Insolvency Fund.

James D. Berry, CPCU, was appointed Vice President of Underwriting of the Company in July 2015, and was named as Secretary of the Insurance Subsidiaries at that time. Prior to that, he served as the Vice President of Insurance Operations since October 1, 2005.  Mr. Berry has been employed by the Insurance Subsidiaries for over 34 years and has directed the Company's Massachusetts Private Passenger line of business since 2001.  Mr. Berry is on the Board of Directors of the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association (FAIR Plan). He has served on several committees of Commonwealth Auto Reinsurers (“CAR”) including Market Review and Defaulted Brokers, Mr. Berry has represented Safety on the Computer Sciences Corporation Series II and Exceed advisory councils. He also is a member of the Lexis-Nexis Telematics Leadership Panel.

George M. Murphy, CPCU, was appointed Vice President of Marketing on October 1, 2005. Mr. Murphy was appointed as a member of the Board of directors in February 2016, and will replace Mr. Brussard as President and Chief Executive Officer as of April 1, 2016.  Mr. Murphy has been employed by the Insurance Subsidiaries for over 27 years and most recently served as Director of Marketing.

Paul J. Narciso was appointed Vice President of Casualty Claims of the Company on August 5, 2013.  Mr. Narciso has held various adjusting and claims management positions with the Company since 1990.  Mr. Narciso has 28 years of claim experience having worked at two national carriers prior to joining Safety.  He currently serves on the Governing Board of the Massachusetts Insurance Fraud Bureau.

David E. Krupa, CPCU, was appointed Vice President of Property Claims of the Company on March 4, 2002.  Mr. Krupa has served as Vice President of Claims of the Insurance Subsidiaries since July 1990 and has been employed by the Insurance Subsidiaries for over 33 years.  Mr. Krupa was first employed by the Company in 1982 and held a series of management positions in the Claims Department before being appointed Vice President in 1990.  Mr. Krupa has served on the Auto Damage Appraisers Licensing Board of Massachusetts and on several claims committees both at the Automobile Insurers Bureau of Massachusetts and CAR.

Stephen A. Varga was appointed Vice President of Management Information Systems of the Company on August 6, 2014. Mr. Varga has held various information technology positions with the Company since 1992 and most recently served as Senior Director of MIS.

Ann M. McKeown was appointed Vice President of Insurance Operations of the Company on July 1, 2015.  Ms. McKeown has been employed by the Insurance Subsidiaries for over 26 years wherein she has held management positions in the Underwriting, Information Technology, and Insurance Operations departments. Ms. McKeown has served on the MAIP Steering and Operations Committees of CAR. 

 A. Richard Caputo, Jr. has served as a director of the Company since June 2001.  Mr. Caputo is Co-CEO and Managing Partner of The Jordan Company, a private investment firm, which he has been associated with since 1990.  Mr. Caputo is also a director of various privately held companies.

Frederic H. Lindeberg has served as a director of the Company since August 2004.  Mr. Lindeberg has had a consulting practice providing taxation, management and investment counsel since 1991, focusing on finance, real estate, manufacturing and retail industries.  Mr. Lindeberg retired in 1991 as Partner-In-Charge of various KPMG tax offices, after 24 years of service where he provided both accounting and tax counsel to various clients. Mr. Lindeberg is an attorney and certified public accountant.  Mr. Lindeberg was formerly an adjunct professor at Penn State Graduate School of Business. Mr. Lindeberg is currently a director of TAL International Group, Inc.

Peter J. Manning has served as a director of the Company since September 2003.  Mr. Manning retired in 2003, as Vice Chairman Strategic Business Development of FleetBoston Financial, after 32 years with FleetBoston Financial

24


 

Corporation (formerly BankBoston) where he also held the positions of Comptroller and Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.  Mr. Manning started his career with Coopers & Lybrand in 1962 prior to his 1972 employment with BankBoston.  He currently is a director of the Blue Hills Bank and the non-profit Campaign for Catholic Schools.

 

         David K. McKown has served as director of the Company since November 2002. Mr. McKown has been a Senior Advisor to Eaton Vance Management since 2000, focusing on business origination in real estate and asset-based loans.  Mr. McKown retired in March 2000 having served as a Group Executive with BankBoston since 1993, where he focused on acquisitions and high-yield bank debt financings. Mr. McKown has been in the banking industry for 52 years, worked for BankBoston for over 32 years and had previously been the head of BankBoston's real estate department, corporate finance department, and a managing director of BankBoston's private equity unit.  Mr. McKown is currently a director of Global Partners L.P., Newcastle Investment Corp., and various privately held companies.

 

ITEM 1A.    RISK FACTORS

An investment in our common stock involves a number of risks. Any of the risks described below could result in a significant or material adverse effect on our results of operations or financial condition, and a corresponding decline in the market price of our common stock.

Because we are primarily a private passenger automobile insurance carrier, our business may be adversely affected by conditions in this industry.

Approximately 59.6% of our direct written premiums for the year ended December 31, 2015, were generated from private passenger automobile insurance policies. As a result of our focus on that line of business, negative developments in the economic, competitive or regulatory conditions affecting the private passenger automobile insurance industry could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial condition. In addition, these developments would have a disproportionate effect on us, compared to insurers which conduct operations in multiple business lines.

Because we write insurance principally in Massachusetts, our business may be adversely affected by conditions in Massachusetts, including the impact of additional competitors.

Almost all of our direct written premiums are currently generated in Massachusetts. Our revenues and profitability are therefore subject to prevailing regulatory, economic, demographic, competitive and other conditions in Massachusetts. Changes in any of these conditions could make it more costly or difficult for us to conduct our business. The Massachusetts market has seen an increased level of competition due to prior changes in regulatory conditions.  To date, we have not had a significant decrease in our private passenger automobile insurance business. However, further competition and adverse results could include loss of market share, decreased revenue, and/or increased costs.

We have exposure to claims related to severe weather conditions, which may result in an increase in claims frequency and severity.

We are subject to claims arising out of severe weather conditions, such as rainstorms, snowstorms and icestorms, that may have a significant effect on our results of operations and financial condition. The incidence and severity of weather conditions are inherently unpredictable. There is generally an increase in claims frequency and severity under the private passenger automobile insurance we write when severe weather occurs because a higher incidence of vehicular accidents and other insured losses tend to occur as a result of severe weather conditions. In addition, we have exposure to an increase in claims frequency and severity under the homeowners and other property insurance we write because property damage may result from severe weather conditions.

Because some of our insureds live near the Massachusetts coastline, we also have a potential exposure to losses from hurricanes and major coastal storms such as Nor'easters.  Although we purchase catastrophe reinsurance to limit

25


 

our exposure to natural catastrophes, in the event of a major catastrophe resulting in property losses to us in excess of $565,000 our losses would exceed the limits of this reinsurance in addition to losses from our co-participation retention of a portion of the risk up to $565,000.

Climate change may adversely impact our results of operations.

There are concerns that the increase in weather-related catastrophes and other losses incurred by the industry in recent years may be indicative of changing weather patterns. This change in weather patterns could lead to higher overall losses which we may not be able to recover, particularly in light of the current competitive environment, and higher reinsurance costs. Climate change could also have an impact on issuers of securities in which we invest, resulting in realized and unrealized losses in future periods which could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations and/or financial position.

There is uncertainty involved in the availability of reinsurance and the collectability of reinsurance recoverable.

 The Company reinsures a portion of its potential losses on the policies it issues to mitigate the volatility of the losses on its financial condition and results of operations. The availability and cost of reinsurance is subject to market conditions, which are outside of the Company’s control. From time to time, market conditions have limited, and in some cases, prevented insurers from obtaining the types and amounts of reinsurance that they consider adequate for their business needs. As a result, the Company may not be able to successfully purchase reinsurance and transfer a portion of the Company’s risk through reinsurance arrangements. In addition, as is customary, the Company initially pays all claims and seeks to recover the reinsured losses from its reinsurers. Although the Company reports as assets the amount of claims paid which the Company expects to recover from reinsurers, no assurance can be given that the Company will be able to collect from its reinsurers. If the amounts actually recoverable under the Company’s reinsurance treaties are ultimately determined to be less than the amount it has reported as recoverable, the Company may incur a loss during the period in which that determination is made.

If we are not able to attract and retain independent agents, it could adversely affect our business.

We market our insurance solely through independent agents. We must compete with other insurance carriers for the business of independent agents. Some of our competitors offer a larger variety of products, lower prices for insurance coverage or higher commissions. While we believe that the commissions and services we provide to our agents are competitive with other insurers, changes in commissions, services or products offered by our competitors could make it harder for us to attract and retain independent agents to sell our insurance products.

Established competitors with greater resources may make it difficult for us to market our products effectively and offer our products at a profit.

The property and casualty insurance business is highly competitive and many of our competitors have substantially greater financial and other resources than we do. We compete with both large national writers and smaller regional companies. Further, our competitors include other companies which, like us, serve the independent agency market, as well as companies which sell insurance directly to customers. Direct writers may have certain competitive advantages over agency writers, including increased name recognition, loyalty of the customer base to the insurer rather than to an independent agency and, potentially, lower cost structures. A material reduction in the amount of business independent agents sell would directly and negatively affect our profitability and our ability to compete with insurers that do not rely solely on the independent agency market to sell their products. Further, our Company and others compete on the basis of the commissions and other cash and non-cash incentives provided to agents. Although a number of national insurers that are much larger than we are do not currently compete in a material way in the Massachusetts personal auto market, if one or more of these companies decided to aggressively enter the market it could reduce our share of the Massachusetts market and thereby have a material adverse effect on us. These companies include some that would be able to sustain significant losses in order to acquire market share, as well as others which use distribution methods that compete with the independent agent channel. Progressive Corporation, GEICO and Allstate, large insurers that market

26


 

directly to policyholders rather than through agents, along with other carriers have entered the Massachusetts private passenger automobile insurance market.

As a holding company, Safety Insurance Group, Inc. is dependent on the results of operations of the Safety Insurance Company.  

Safety Insurance Group, Inc. is a company and a legal entity separate and distinct from Safety Insurance Company, our principal operating subsidiary. As a holding company without significant operations of its own, the principal sources of Safety Insurance Group, Inc.'s funds are dividends and other distributions from Safety Insurance Company. Our rights to participate in any distribution of assets of Safety Insurance Company are subject to prior claims of policyholders, creditors and preferred shareholders, if any, of Safety Insurance Company (except to the extent that our rights, if any, as a creditor are recognized). Consequently, our ability to pay debts, expenses and cash dividends to our shareholders may be limited. The ability of Safety Insurance Company to pay dividends is subject to limits under Massachusetts insurance law. Further, the ability of Safety Insurance Group, Inc. to pay dividends, and our subsidiaries' ability to incur indebtedness or to use the proceeds of equity offerings, will be subject to limits under our revolving credit facility.

We are subject to comprehensive regulation by Massachusetts and our ability to earn profits may be restricted by these regulations.

General Regulation.    We are subject to regulation by government agencies in Massachusetts, and we must obtain prior approval for certain corporate actions. We must comply with regulations involving: