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Top insurance brokers, No. 7: Truist Insurance Holdings Inc.

John Howard

2020 brokerage revenue: $2.43B

Percent increase (decrease): 7.2%

Truist Insurance Holdings Inc. made seven acquisitions in 2020 and achieved solid positive organic growth despite the economic downturn. 

Those seven deals, all in the wholesale sector, will generate more than $100 million in annual revenue, according to John Howard, chairman and CEO of the brokerage, which is a unit of Charlotte, North Carolina-based banking company Truist Financial Corp. 

Truist Financial was formed by the 2019 merger of SunTrust Banks Inc. and BB&T Corp. The insurance operation changed its name from BB&T Insurance Holdings Inc. on June 1, 2019. 

Growth was limited in 2020 but has rebounded this year, Mr. Howard said. 

Truist Insurance reported $2.43 billion in brokerage revenue last year, a 7.2% increase over 2019, and retained its position at No. 7 in Business Insurance’s ranking of the world’s largest brokers.

“Growth in 2020 wasn’t to the same extent it would have been had we not experienced the pandemic, but we were still able to grow,” he said. 

Truist Insurance reported 4.3% organic growth in 2020, which Elyse Greenspan, managing director, equity research, insurance, at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in New York, said was “a strong, healthy number given the impact of the pandemic. From an organic perspective they were able to outgrow their peers,” she said. 

Truist Insurance reported 6.4% organic growth in the first quarter of 2021. 

While the brokerage acquired seven wholesalers in 2020, that was “opportunistic,” Mr. Howard said. “We remain very interested in retail acquisitions and it just so happens that in 2020 there were better wholesale acquisition opportunities.” 

Truist Insurance’s business is now 29.1% commercial retail and 48.7% wholesale, with the remainder composed of personal lines, employee benefits and services.

The last deal of 2020 was its December purchase of Wellington Risk Holdings Inc., an insurtech company that operates as a managing general agent in the admitted residential property markets, with a strong presence in Texas. 

Prior acquisitions in 2020 included W. Brown & Associates Property & Casualty, an Irvine, California-based surplus lines broker and MGA; Specialty Risk Associates, a Shreveport, Louisiana-based surplus lines broker and MGA; and Program Insurance Management of Sarasota, a Florida-based managing general underwriter with specialized programs for industrial chemical manufacturers and distributors. 

“They have a presence in both the wholesale and retail markets, which gives them the ability to go after transactions in both sectors,” depending on where the opportunities are, Ms. Greenspan said.

Gerard Vecchio, managing director of Woodmere, Ohio-based mergers and acquisitions consultancy Marsh, Berry & Co. Inc., said Truist Insurance understands “the wholesale and managing general agent markets and is very active.” 

Truist Insurance continued its wholesale additions with the May 2021 purchase of Constellation Affiliated Partners LLC, an insurance distribution platform with seven managing general agents and program managers, which will add roughly $160 million of annual revenue to Truist’s Insurance’s wholesale division. 

Truist Insurance also continues to add staff. In 2020, the broker brought in more than 50 new producers in excess of retirements and departures, Mr. Howard said.

The broker also created a new role, client experience officer, which reports to Mr. Howard. “Somebody who will really focus on improving client retention and enhancing our value proposition,” he said. Henry Wright was promoted into the role on Sept. 1, 2020. Prior to that, he was senior vice president and director, risk solutions, for Truist Insurance’s wholesale unit McGriff Insurance Services Inc. 

Another driver of growth for Truist Insurance since the merger that created its parent company is what it calls integrated relationship management, Ms. Greenspan said. The broker reported that being able to generate revenue through referrals from the larger merged business added $153 million of revenue to the insurance business in 2020, she said.

To help its employees during the pandemic, Mr. Howard said Truist Financial provided more than $100 million in support programs including additional paid time off, reimbursement for child care, enhanced onsite pay, and a $1,200 COVID-19 relief bonus for those making less than $100,000 a year.