Insurance firm gains $1 billion in premiums

Shelter Insurance becomes one of only 14 similar firms in U.S. to hit that high mark.
Friday, July 9, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:37 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 2, 2008

When tornadoes roared through Missouri and surrounding states in May 2003, Shelter Insurance Co. faced record losses with $100 million being paid out.

A little more than a year later, the insurance company is dealing with another record. This time, however, it is a record high.

In the past 12 months, Shelter Insurance received more than $1 billion for property and casualty premiums, which includes automotive and homeowner policies. Only 14 other mutual insurance companies in the United States have reached that goal.

Joe Moseley, vice president of public affairs for Shelter, said the milestone means security and stability for Shelter policy-holders, which is also evident from its surplus of about $835 million.

“You have that money to cover day-to-day claims,” Moseley said.

Shelter Insurance is the seventh largest insurer in Missouri, said Randy McConnell, communication director at the Missouri Department of Insurance in Jefferson City. Moseley credited the company’s ability to reach the $1 billion mark to the employees, agents and retirees who have served Shelter since it opened in 1946. Shelter’s headquarters is in Columbia; the firm employs more than 1,000 people, not including agents and offers insurance in 13 states. Moseley said agents’ ability to sell more policies — not an increase in premiums — is the primary reason it reached the $1 billion mark. In the past 12 months, premiums rose 3 percent.

Premiums rise every year, Moseley said, but “it was not like it was two years ago.” Premium rates have stabilized across the industry, he added.

A year and a half ago, “record catastrophe losses” and a negative equities market caused the entire insurance industry to lose money, Moseley said.

Reaching the $1 billion milestone was not an official goal, but it was expected, he said.

“If you grow the policies, the premiums will grow. ... It appeared inevitable.”

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