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Hartford Financial to Buy Foremost Small Commercial Lines

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The Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. HIG has entered into an agreement to acquire Foremost Insurance branded small commercial lines business from Farmers Insurance Exchange, a California-based reciprocal insurer owned by its policyholders. Terms of the transaction were left undisclosed.

Hartford Financial is taking over the renewal rights on $200 million in small commercial lines premium sold through about 5,000 independent agents and brokers. The to-be-sold business contains three primary lines of businesses namely business owner’s policy for property, general liability and umbrella; commercial auto and workers’ compensation, all underwritten by Foremost Insurance Group.

Why Foremost Insurance

Grand Rapids, MI-domiciled Foremost Insurance has been a leader in specialty insurance for mobile homes, motor homes, travel trailers and specialty dwellings since 1952. The company entered the commercial lines business in 2013 with the buyout of Zurich Small Business program. The deal with Hartford Financial marks its exit from the commercial lines business. Foremost Insurance has agreed to sell its Commercial Lines business to concentrate on its Personal Lines one.

However, Farmers Insurance Exchange, the parent company of Foremost Insurance will continue to write commercial lines accounts under the Farmers brand with its exclusive agents.

Benefit to Hartford Financial

Connecticut-based Hartford Financial is one of the major multi-line insurance and investment companies in the United States, providing investment products, group life and group disability insurance, property and casualty (P&C) insurance and mutual funds in the United States.

The company’s Commercial Lines segment is a major contributor (47%) to its revenue base and has been a strong performer over the past many years.

Management believes that this buyout would further strengthen Hartford Financial’s leading position in the small business market along with providing an opportunity to expand its distribution network.

Inorganic Growth

Hartford Financial has always been taking up inorganic growth strategies to bolster its foothold in the existing markets as well as widen its base in the new markets. The company’s acquisitions also aim at improving its different lines of businesses.

In October 2017, the company inked a deal to acquire Aetna Inc’s AET U.S. group life and disability business to deepen and enhance its Group Benefits distribution capabilities and accelerate its technology strategy.

Share Price Performance

The company’s growth strategies have helped retain its shareholders’ confidence in the stock. In a year’s time, the shares have gained about 11%, outperforming the industry’s gain of 5.2%.

 

Zacks Rank and Stocks to Consider

Hartford Financial carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

Investors can look at two better-ranked stocks from the insurance space, which are Cigna Corporation CI and MGIC Investment Corporation MTG, both carrying a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy).

Cigna delivered positive surprises in all the last four quarters with an average beat of 13.6%.

MGIC Investment pulled off positive surprises in each of the trailing four quarters with an average beat of 35.1%

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Cigna Corporation (CI) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc. (The) (HIG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
MGIC Investment Corporation (MTG) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
Aetna Inc. (AET) : Free Stock Analysis Report
 
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