UPDATED: Stephens Insurance Hires Eight From Regions

Stephens Insurance LLC of Little Rock, an affiliate of Stephens Inc., announced Thursday that it had hired away "eight seasoned professionals," including Bill Bussey and Stan Payne, from Regions Insurance's Little Rock office, which was formerly Rebsamen Insurance Co.

The new hires will help Stephens Insurance increase its market share in property and casualty insurance, President and CEO Martin M. Rhodes told ArkansasBusiness.com.

"There's no question about that," he said. "We're going to continue to build all facets of Stephens Insurance, but we just saw a team of what we felt like was second to none. We feel like we're the beneficiaries of a great group of people, and they are joining a great group of people."

Rhodes wouldn't put a dollar amount on the business he expects the new hires to add to the agency. He said Stephens Insurance is still looking to "add depth to our organization."

"As we identify great people in our industry, we'll continue to build what we have," he said.

Bussey and Payne, who are keeping the senior vice president titles they had at Regions, "will lead a team providing insurance brokerage and risk management services to large public and private commercial clients," according to the written statement from Stephens Insurance.

Coming with Bussey and Payne are Vice President James Goss, account managers Mary Whitten, Denise Thompson and Shirley Simmons, and customer service representatives Stephanie Jones and Matt Jones.

Regions Insurance and Stephens Insurance we No. 1 and No. 2 on Arkansas Business' 2008 list of the state's largest insurance agencies, which was ranked by premium written in 2007. Regions reported $930 million in premium written - $300 million in life and health and $630 million in property and casualty - although those figures included business written by offices in Springfield, Mo., and Texarkana, Texas. It had 225 employees when that list was compiled in October.

Stephens Insurance reported almost $242.6 million in 2007 premium, all but $26.4 million of it in life and health. It reported 275 employees as of October, but Rhodes said that number was now up to between 285 and 290.