W.R. Berkley Launches Virginia-Based E&S Unit

April 30, 2010

Connecticut-based insurer W. R. Berkley Corp. reported a $119 million profit in the first quarter and announced plans to open an excess and surplus (E&S) underwriting company in Virginia.

Net premiums written were $984 million, down from $1.023 billion in the year-ago period.

William R. Berkley, chairman and chief executive officer, said: “We continue to be pleased with our results, especially given the current competitive environment. Our insurance rates remain generally flat, and the pace of the decline in our written premiums has slowed over the past twelve months. We were able to selectively increase prices, although the overall insurance market momentum has not yet turned positive. We are maintaining underwriting discipline and continue to obtain adequately priced business with customers who value the strengths of our enterprise.”

The company’s combined ratio was 94.1, up slightly from the 93.7 combined ratio in the same quarter last year.

Catastrophe and weather-related losses for the quarter were $23 million, up from $9 million in the first quarter 2009.

“As we strive to adjust our business for the current and future environment, we have added operating units and entered new lines of business,” CEO Berkley said.

Versus Launched

Among them, the newly formed, Richmond, Virginia-based Verus Underwriting Managers, which will provide property and casualty excess and surplus lines coverage and underwrite on behalf of W. R. Berkley Corp.

Dale H. Pilkington has been named president of Verus. Pilkington has more than 30 years of experience in the commercial insurance industry, with a primary focus on excess and surplus lines.

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