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United Fire & Casualty Company Reports Operating Results (10-Q)

November 09, 2009 | About:
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United Fire & Casualty Company (UFCS) filed Quarterly Report for the period ended 2009-09-30.

United Fire & Casualty Company is engaged in the business of writing propertycasualty and life insurance. Their property and casualty segment includes the following companiesall of which are wholly owned by United Fire: Addison Insurance Companya property and casualty insurerLafayette Insurance Companya property and casualty insurerand American Indemnity Financial Corporationa holding company. United Fire & Casualty Company has a market cap of $459.51 million; its shares were traded at around $17.28 with and P/S ratio of 0.76. The dividend yield of United Fire & Casualty Company stocks is 3.47%. United Fire & Casualty Company had an annual average earning growth of 20.9% over the past 10 years.

Highlight of Business Operations:

Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans, Louisiana, on August 29, 2005, causing an estimated $80 billion in damages. Over 95 percent of our policyholders in the New Orleans area suffered damage from Hurricane Katrina, with over 11,000 claims reported. Our total loss and loss settlement expenses inception to date, net of reinsurance, from Hurricane Katrina claims are $289.2 million through September 30, 2009. In the first nine months of 2009, our loss and loss settlement expenses from Hurricane Katrina litigation was $38.3 million, of which $19.0 million was incurred from an increase in our incurred but not reported (“IBNR”) reserves. The primary reason for this reserve increase is the continuing unfavorable legal environment related to insurers of Hurricane Katrina claims in Louisiana.

We recorded the final settlement of this litigation, which included additional interest and penalties awarded by the appellate court and the settlement of an additional claim that was not included in the original lawsuit, in August 2009. We paid the policyholder a total of $28.9 million, of which $10.8 million, net of reinsurance, was incurred in 2008 in response to the initial verdict, and $6.7 million, net of reinsurance, was incurred in 2009.

Legal developments involving Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corporation (“Louisiana Citizens”), which provides insurance for individuals and businesses unable to secure coverage through the voluntary insurance market, have contributed to the unfavorable legal climate for insurers in Louisiana. This publicly funded insurance plan has the ability to issue assessments to insurance companies doing business in Louisiana, including us, to fund its operations. In the third quarter of 2009, Louisiana Citizens settled a class action lawsuit for $18.0 million involving Orleans Parish policyholders whose claims resulted from Hurricane Katrina. In August 2009, Louisiana Citizens announced its decision to appeal a $95.0 million judgment in favor of policyholders in Jefferson Parish whose claims resulted from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. These judgments and settlements against Louisiana Citizens could result in large assessments in future years against insurance companies who do business in Louisiana. These cases also set a standard for class action certification and settlement expectations among policyholders and plaintiff’s attorneys.

Losses and loss settlement expenses improved by 5.0 percent for the three-months ended September 30, 2009, as compared with the same period in 2008. This is a result of a considerable decrease in our pretax catastrophe losses, which totaled $9.5 million and $36.7 million, excluding loss development on Hurricane Katrina claims litigation, for the three-month periods ended September 30, 2009 and 2008, respectively. Catastrophe losses were higher than expected in the three-months ended September 30, 2008 due to an active hurricane season, which included Hurricanes Gustav and Ike. For the first nine months of 2009, losses and loss settlement expenses increased 0.4 percent due specifically to construction defect and products liability claims. Overall, claims frequency has decreased, while claims severity continues to trend slightly upward, specifically in our commercial auto and commercial general liability lines of business.

Read the The complete ReportUFCS is in the portfolios of David Dreman of Dreman Value Management.

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