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Brown & Brown Inc. reported higher revenue for the second quarter, but the COVID-19 pandemic may affect the overall economy until 2022, its top executive said Tuesday.
President and CEO J. Powell Brown, who recently contracted and recovered from the disease, said the insurance sector’s performance will be heavily influenced by outside factors such as the pandemic and civil unrest.
The brokerage expects its organic revenue for the full year will be slightly up or down, he said.
Brown & Brown on Monday reported second-quarter revenue of $598.8 million, a 4.1% increase over the same period last year.
Overall, organic revenue, which excludes mergers and acquisitions and supplemental commissions, inched up 0.5% to $547.8 million, but growth varied by sector.
On a conference call with analysts on Tuesday, Mr. Brown said the brokerage’s retail segment reported organic revenue of $290 million in the second quarter, down 2.6% compared with the same period last year, in part due to lower general liability revenue as a result of economic disruption during the pandemic.
Brown & Brown’s national program segment reported a 15.5% increase in organic revenue to $135.7 million, in part due to growth in its lender-placed property insurance, earthquake insurance and wind insurance programs, he said.
Wholesale brokerage organic revenue increased slightly to $79.2 million, and its services segment revenue, which includes claims processing, fell 15.4% to $42.9 million.
“Based on the continued uncertainty of the recovery, we believe our full-year organic growth could be slightly positive to slightly negative,” Mr. Brown said.
Much will depend on how and when the overall economy recovers from the effects of the pandemic, he said.
“We believe it’s going to be slow and sporadic, and we might not see a recovery to pre-pandemic levels until 2022,” he said.
Uncertainty over whether employment levels and consumer spending will continue to increase, the solvency of the brokerage’s customers, the effect of rate increases on the purchase of insurance, the economic effects of civil unrest in various cities, the ability to meet with prospective customers and how much additional federal stimulus will be provided will all affect the speed of the recovery, Mr. Brown said.
The virus has also affected Mr. Brown personally.
“I did contract COVID-19 a number of weeks ago. While I felt a little sluggish at times it did not prevent me from making phone calls and engaging with people virtually. I’m feeling fine now and have received my negative test results yesterday,” he said.
Brown & Brown’s net income for the second quarter increased 4.5% to $96.8 million.
Hospitality, restaurant and entertainment business slowed significantly in the second quarter, which resulted in reduced insured exposures for companies in those industries, Mr. Brown said.
But industries such as health care and construction were “resilient and in some cases continue to expand,” he said.
Declines in payroll reduced workers compensation revenue but employee benefit revenue grew due to new business and because hard-hit employers elected to furlough employees rather than lay them off, he said.
Rates increases in many lines accelerated during the second quarter, Mr. Brown said.
Premium rates in the admitted market increased 2% to 7%, excluding commercial auto, which continued to increase by 5% to more than 10%, he said. In the excess and surplus lines market, coastal property insurance rates increased 15% to 25%, general property rates increased 5% to 10%, professional liability rates increased 10% to 20%, and cyber liability rates were up 10% to 20%.
Rate increases will likely remain fairly consistent for the remainder of the year, Mr. Brown said.
Workers comp rates continued to decline but at a slower rate, down 1% to 5%.
The brokerage, which has a long history of growth through mergers and acquisitions, completed three acquisitions during the quarter with combined annual revenue of $46 million.
The biggest challenge in the brokerage M&A area is how to project the financial impact of the pandemic on target firms, Mr. Brown said.
“With this uncertainty, the percentage of money paid at closing might decrease somewhat, but it does not appear valuations will materially change at this point,” he said.
Brown & Brown expects to make more acquisitions this year and has a full pipeline of potential deals, Mr. Brown said.
More insurance and risk management news on the coronavirus crisis here.