Regions Leads Insurance Market, Stephens Makes Gains

by Gwen Moritz and Mark Friedman  on Monday, Oct. 12, 2009 12:00 am  

Regions Insurance Inc. - formerly Rebsamen Insurance - was still Arkansas' largest insurance agency by far in 2008.

But No. 2 Stephens Insurance, a sleepy little afterthought in the Stephens financial empire until Marty Rhodes was hired to run it almost five years ago, is closing the gap.

(To view the list of the largest insurance agencies in Arkansas, click here for a PDF or here for the spreadsheet version. To view a list of property and casualty insurance companies, click here for a PDF or here for the spreadsheet.)

Arkansas Business' third annual list of the state's largest insurance agencies ranks 15 agencies around the state based on self-reported premium written in 2008.

Regions Insurance, a subsidiary of Regions Financial Corp. of Birmingham, Ala., reported a decrease in total premium written last year of more than $36 million - but that's only about 4 percent for a company that in 2007 wrote $930 million in premium. More interesting is the split Regions reported between life and health premium and its property and casualty business.

The life and health portion dropped from $300 million in 2007 to $188.7 million in 2008, while the P&C book of business increased from $630 million to $705 million.

Stephens Insurance reported total premium last year of $321 million, an increase of more than 32 percent from 2007. Virtually all of the increase came in P&C lines - up from $26.4 million in 2007 to $104 million in 2008, while life and health was basically flat at $217 million.

Rounding out the list's "big three" agencies in the state is Ramsey Krug Farrell & Lensing, a division of BancorpSouth Insurance Services Inc., which in turn is owned by BancorpSouth Inc. of Tupelo, Miss. Its 2008 premium total was $222 million, up a respectable 3 percent from 2007.

Three of last year's top 15 - Cornerstone Insurance Group and Hagan Newkirk Financial Group, both of Little Rock, and Harold Campbell Co. of Camden - declined to participate or failed to respond to survey requests.

That created room for three Little Rock agencies: No. 12 Risk Services of Arkansas LLC, No. 14 McGhee Insurance Agency and No. 15 The Grace Group Inc.

If Risk Services of Arkansas sounds unfamiliar, that might be because it's new.

"In early 2009 this office split off from the First Arkansas Insurance Group," President Steven Russell said in an e-mail that made clear that it was "a friendly split."



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