Regions Still Dominates Insurance Agencies in Arkansas

Flat was the new up for insurance agencies in Arkansas in 2009.

The overall market for property and casualty insurance in the state dipped almost 2 percent last year to $6.71 billion. Independent insurance agencies writing P&C and life and health insurance typically reported slight decreases in premium, although a few registered small increases.

(To see the list of the largest insurance agencies in Arkansas, click here. For the list of the largest property & casualty insurance companies, click here. A spreadsheet version of the list is also available here.)

Arkansas Business' annual list of the state's largest insurance agencies - always incomplete because it depends on direct participation by the agencies - this year includes 18 agencies reporting 2009 premium ranging from $884 million to $13 million.

Steve Standridge Insurance Inc. of Mount Ida, which crumbled in early 2010 after allegations of wrongdoing by its namesake owner, probably should have ranked about third on the list based on information on file with the Arkansas Insurance Department. (See story, Page 1).

Regions Insurance Inc. of Little Rock, built on the former Rebsamen Insurance foundation, remains No. 1 among insurance agencies in the state, although it reported a slight decrease in premium written in 2009 ($883.8 million) when compared with 2008 ($893.7 million). Of that, the lion's share, almost $700 million, was P&C premium.

No. 2 is Stephens Insurance of Little Rock, which reported total premium of $330 million in 2009, up almost 3 percent from 2008. Stephens Insurance, a division of Stephens Inc., remains heavily focused on life and health insurance, with barely a third of its premium coming from P&C.

Third-largest among the agencies that participated in the premium survey is BancorpSouth Insurance Services, the new name for the Little Rock agency formerly known as Ramsey Krug Farrell & Lensing. BancorpSouth Inc. of Tupelo, Miss., acquired the Little Rock agency in 2003 but left the name unchanged for several years.

First Arkansas Insurance of Pine Bluff, which also has offices in Hot Springs, Hot Springs Village, Dumas and Fayetteville, moved to No. 5 with a 3 percent premium increase, to $50 million. It overtook Brown & Brown of Arkansas Inc. by only about $725,000 in premium.

The highest-ranking newcomer on the list is Town & Country Insurance Agency Inc. of Jonesboro, No. 10 with $34.6 million in revenue. Town & Country, a 40-year-old agency where Dick Darouse is president, has not previously participated in the survey.


P&C Companies

This week's list of property and casualty carriers ranks insurance companies in and out of the state by the amount of premium written in Arkansas in 2009. It is topped, as usual, by State Farm Insurance of Bloomington, Ill., which managed to increase its share of the shrinking market to 8 percent.

A distant second is Farmers Insurance Co. of Los Angeles, with 3.58 percent of the market, which translates to $240 million last year, followed closely by Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Co. of Ridgeland, Miss.

The only Arkansas-domiciled insurer among the 35 on the list is No. 4 Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. of Arkansas Inc., which sold $205 million in premium in the state last year.

Nationwide Insurance Co. of Columbus, Ohio, maintained its place at No. 10 by selling $119 million in P&C premium in Arkansas. But it has closed the regional office it formerly operated on Cantrell Road in Little Rock.