Insurance Veteran Seeks Opportunity Buying Agencies

NU Online News Service, March 30, 10:23 a.m. EDT

A veteran of the insurance industry is coming out of retirement to launch a holding company that aims to acquire surety agencies because this is a prime opportunity for agents to sell their business.

Robert S. Goldstein, the former chairman and CEO of the managing general agency BenefitPort Mid-Atlantic, is launching Unique Insurance Concepts LLC, a Palm Beach, Fla.-based holding company.

Goldstein, who sold BenefitPort Mid-Atlantic to a unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. three years after buying the firm from Marsh & McLennan’s MMC Capital in 2005, says this is a “marvelous opportunity” for agents interested in selling their agencies.

As the Bush-era tax cuts are expected to end this year, agents need to take the opportunity to sell their agencies now to maximize returns on their years of effort before capital-gains taxes increase.

Despite being in retirement, Goldstein says insurance remains in his blood, and he is always in search of a good opportunity.

With agents seeking avenues to capitalize on their years of work--and with economic realities pointing to the need for the federal government to seek more revenue to close the deficit gap--he believes now is a great time to launch this new venture.

Goldstein would not go into detail about his backers or the capital arrangements, but the game plan for Unique Insurance Concepts is to create a national network of surety and surety-related P&C insurance agencies through acquisition.

He says the vision for the culture of this new venture is to create partnerships through developing a network of agencies that take advantage of the vacuum created by the large insurance brokerage firms, which acquire to fill strategic gaps in their regional offices.

Unique Insurance’s targets will be agencies that specialize in the surety business or P&C firms “that work well with surety” agencies, such as an agency that specializes in contractors who need bonds to fulfill construction contracts.

He says there is a clear vision to put together a company of low loss ratio, profitable agencies that provide for customers in a competitive market.

“A high level of customer service is at the core to everything,” adds Goldstein.

Another aspect of Unique Insurance will be offering principals either an opportunity to continue with the firm in a senior management capacity or to take a buy-out. Sellers will not be obligated to remain with the firm and take an earn-out of future profits the agency may produce as their compensation for the sale.

Unique Insurance will also offer those agencies that have been unable to modernize their technology an opportunity to become up to date. He stressed that the new venture will focus on efficiency and productivity--and that is best achieved through modern technology.

He notes that it is also a great way to keep quality people and pay them more as the operation grows in efficiency.

“We improve the morale of an agency by making it work better and increasing the production of good, quality business,” he says.

Unique Insurance has yet to announce any acquisitions, but the firm has a healthy pipeline of prospective candidates. He expects contracts to be issued in the near future.

In the meantime, the firm’s website is nearing completion and Goldstein believes the future is bright for this venture.    

“We want to be a national presence, coast to coast, and our core business will be bonds,” says Goldstein.

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