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Argo reorganizes surety operations following departures

Posted On: May. 25, 2023 11:12 AM CST


Argo Group International Holdings Ltd. late Wednesday said it has contracted with Trisura Group Ltd. to support its surety underwriting as part of a revamp of the business.

Brendan Keating and Mark Farina, who were appointed in 2021 to co-lead the surety operations, recently left the Bermuda-based insurer, along with several other senior surety staff.

In a statement Argo said Trisura, a Toronto-based specialty insurer with U.S. excess and surplus lines operations in Oklahoma City, will provide surety underwriting services and Argo will retain control of claims.

The companies are negotiating the terms of shared surety and co-surety agreements, and fronting arrangements, Argo said.

“This partnership is an important step as we work to evolve Argo Surety,” Thomas A. Bradley, Argo executive chairman and CEO, said in the statement.

In addition, Greg Chilson, former vice president of surety at Peoria, Illinois-based RLI Corp., has joined Argo as an advisor. Mr. Chilson will work with Steve Boughal, New York-based interim surety head, to develop and execute its surety strategy, Argo said.

An Argo spokesman declined to disclose how much surety business the insurer writes.

The announcement comes after several turbulent years at Argo. In 2019, Mark Watson stepped down as CEO amid an investigation over executive compensation and the company later settled with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Since then it has sold various units and last year, Kevin J. Rehnberg, who replaced Mr. Watson as CEO, stepped down for health reasons. The insurer reported a net loss and decline in gross written premiums, largely due to business sales and exits, in the first quarter of 2023.

Earlier this month Applied Surety Underwriters Inc. also announced it had hired three former Argo surety leaders. They join former Argo executive Joshua Betz, who set up the unit last year.