Credit Unions Eye Revenue With Insurance Buys
Growing market share in an environment ripe with relentless competitors can be daunting, overwhelming and exhaustive.
But for some credit unions, building a stronger presence within the insurance sector may be worth the time and can ensure their members stay close to home for their life, auto property and casualty and other insurance needs.
One strategy that is paying off is their acquisition of local firms that have had steep roots within their respective communities.
Indeed, during the first six months of 2014, there were 165 mergers and acquisitions of insurance agencies and brokerages, according to Optis Partners LLC, a Chicago-based investment banking and financial consulting firm. That time period was the most active first half since 2000.
While hard figures aren’t readily available on the number of credit unions that have acquired insurance firms, their activity has certainly been robust over the past few years.
The $5.5 billion Alaska USA Federal Credit Union in Anchorage has certainly seen the ebbs and flows within the insurance sector as its CUSO, Alaska USA Insurance Brokers, has been offering service to members since 1986.
In September 2012, the CUSO purchased the book of business from Anchorage-based Rentschler Insurance Agency for an undisclosed amount, according to Timothy Maudsley, president of AUIB. RIA had served commercial insurance clients in Alaska for more than 25 years.
“RIA was a long-established agency located in Anchorage and earned a strong reputation for service to its clients for many years,” Maudsley said. “The demographics of the book of business that was purchased fit very well within our business strategy, which made the acquisition a good fit.”
Alaska USA Insurance Brokers is the largest independent insurance brokerage in Alaska, offering its clients and members access to a full range of insurance products, including all lines of coverage for both commercial businesses as well as personal insurance needs, according to Maudsley. The RIA acquisition improved market share in the local business community and over the years, the CUSO had purchased multiple books of insurance businesses.
There have been a number of other notable insurance acquisitions within the credit union industry over the past few years.
One of the latest purchases occurred when Lake Michigan Insurance Agency, a division of the $3.1 billion Lake Michigan Credit Union in Grand Rapids, Mich., announced in May that it had acquired Alpha Agency, which is also based in Grand Rapids. The purchase price was not disclosed.
In 2012, TDECU Insurance Agency LLC, a subsidiary of the $2.2 billion Texas Dow Employees Credit Union in Lake Jackson, Texas, bought four insurance agencies.
Owned by the $4 billion United Nations Federal Credit Union in Long Island City, N.Y., UNFCU Financial Services LLC acquired Industrial Coverage Corp., a privately-held commercial and personal insurance agency, the credit union said in January 2013.
Desjardins Group made headlines in January when it announced that it would buy State Farm Canada’s property and casualty insurance business making the $210 billion cooperative in Lévis, Québec the second-largest P&C insurance provider in that country with annual gross written premiums of approximately $3.9 billion.