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TWGP > SEC Filings for TWGP > Form 10-K/A on 26-Nov-2013All Recent SEC Filings




Annual Report

Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations

The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read in conjunction with our consolidated audited financial statements and accompanying notes which appear elsewhere in this Form 10-K/A. It contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. See "Business-Note on Forward-Looking Statements" for more information. Our actual results could differ materially from those anticipated in these forward-looking statements as a result of various factors, including those discussed below and elsewhere in this Form 10-K/A, particularly under the headings "Business-Risk Factors" and "Business-Note on Forward-Looking Statements" and the Original Form 10-K under the heading "Risk Factors."

Certain items within Management's Discussion and Analysis have been restated for the matters discussed in the Explanatory Note.


Tower, through its subsidiaries, offers a broad range of general commercial, specialty commercial and personal property and casualty insurance products and services to businesses in various industries and to individuals throughout the United States. We provide these products on both an admitted and an excess and surplus ("E&S") lines basis. Insurance companies writing on an admitted basis are licensed by the states in which they sell policies and are required to offer policies using premium rates and forms that are filed with state insurance regulators. Non-admitted carriers writing in the E&S market are not bound by most of the rate and form regulations imposed on standard market companies, allowing them the flexibility to change the coverage offered and the rate charged without the time constraints and financial costs associated with the filing process.

Our consolidated results of operations in 2012 reflect continued growth from our Assumed Reinsurance products as well as growth from acquisitions completed in prior years. Our consolidated revenues and expenses reflect the results of these acquired companies from their respective acquisition dates and this affects the comparability of our results between years.

Subsequent to the acquisition of the One Beacon Personal Lines Division ("OBPL") on July 1, 2010, the Company changed the presentation of its business results, by allocating the personal insurance business previously reported in the Brokerage Insurance

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segment along with the newly acquired OBPL business to a new Personal Insurance segment and merged the commercial business previously reported in either the Brokerage Insurance or Specialty Business segments in a new Commercial Insurance segment. The Company retained its Insurance Services segment which includes fees earned by the management companies. This change in presentation reflects the way management organizes the Company for making operating decisions and assessing profitability. In developing cost allocations between the Commercial and Personal Insurance segments, management has made significant assumptions regarding costs of reinsurance and internal services provided on behalf of such segments. As management receives additional facts which enhance its ability to apportion such costs, it may modify such allocation. If modifications are made, such adjustments will be made to all reporting periods disclosed.

Because we do not manage our invested assets by segments, our investment income is not allocated among our segments. Operating expenses incurred by each segment are recorded in such segment directly. Our home office related expenses not directly allocable to an individual segment (for example, accounting, finance and general legal costs) are allocated based upon the methodology deemed to be most appropriate which may include employee head count, policy count and premiums earned in each segment.

We offer our products and services through our insurance subsidiaries, managing general agencies and management companies. Results for our insurance subsidiaries are reported in our Commercial and Personal Insurance segments. Results for our managing general agencies and management companies are reported in our Insurance Services segment.

Our commercial lines products include commercial multiple-peril (provides both property and liability insurance), mono line general liability (insures bodily injury or property damage liability), commercial umbrella, mono line property (insures buildings, contents or business income), workers' compensation, fire and allied lines, inland marine, commercial automobile policies and assumed reinsurance. Our personal lines products consist of homeowners, personal automobile and umbrella policies.

In our Insurance Services segment, we generate management fees primarily from the services provided by management companies to the Reciprocal Exchanges and other fees generated by the managing general agencies.


See "Note 5 - Acquisitions" in the consolidated financial statements for more detail on each of the acquisitions discussed below.

NAV PAC Division of Navigators Group, Inc. ("NAV PAC")

On January 14, 2011, Tower obtained the renewal rights to the middle market commercial package and commercial automobile business underwritten through the NAV PAC division of Navigators Group, Inc. Tower pays Navigators Insurance Company a commission equal to 2% of the direct premiums written under this renewal rights arrangement. This business allowed us to expand our middle market commercial product offering into certain niche classes of business. This renewal rights acquisition represents the ability to write future insurance business and does not include the acquisition of any assets or liabilities of NAV PAC. Accordingly, this transaction was not accounted for as a business combination.

Renewal Rights of AequiCap Program Administrators, Inc. ("AequiCap")

On November 2, 2010, Tower acquired the renewal rights to the commercial automobile liability and physical damage business of AequiCap ("AequiCap II"), an underwriting agency based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The business subject to the agreement covers both trucking and taxi risks that are consistent with Tower's current underwriting guidelines.

One Beacon Personal Lines Division ("OBPL")

On July 1, 2010, Tower completed the OBPL acquisition pursuant to a definitive agreement (the "Agreement") dated February 2, 2010 by and among the Company and OneBeacon Insurance Group, LLC ("OneBeacon"). This acquisition expanded Tower's suite of personal lines insurance products to include private passenger automobile, homeowners, umbrella, and the signature package product, OneChoice CustomPac, which provides customers with one policy for all of their homeowners, automobile and umbrella needs.

Principal Revenue and Expense Items

We generate revenue from four primary sources:

- Net premiums earned;

- Ceding commission revenue;

- Insurance Service revenue; and

- Net investment income and realized gains and losses on investments.

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We incur expenses from four primary sources:

- Losses and loss adjustment expenses;

- Operating expenses;

- Interest expense; and

- Income taxes.

Each of these is discussed below.

Net premiums earned. Premiums written include all policies produced in an accounting period. Premiums are earned over the term of the related policy. The portion of the premium that relates to the policy term that has not yet expired is included on the balance sheet as unearned premium to be earned in subsequent accounting periods. Premiums can be assumed from or ceded to reinsurers. Direct premiums combined with assumed premiums are referred to as gross premiums and subtracting premiums ceded to reinsurers results in net premiums.

Ceding commission revenue. We earn ceding commission revenue (generally a percentage of the premiums ceded) on the gross premiums written that we cede to reinsurers under quota share reinsurance agreements. We typically do not earn ceding commission revenue on property catastrophe or excess of loss reinsurance that we purchase.

Insurance Service revenue. We earn fee income primarily from services provided to the Reciprocal Exchanges for underwriting, claims, investment management and other services. Additional commission and fee income is generated on premiums produced by the managing general agencies on behalf of third-party reinsurance companies.

Net investment income and realized gains and losses on investments. We invest our available funds in cash, cash equivalents, securities and investment partnerships. Our investment income includes interest and dividends earned on our invested assets. Realized gains and losses on invested assets are reported separately from net investment income. We earn realized gains when invested assets are sold for an amount greater than their amortized cost, in the case of fixed maturity securities, and cost, in the case of equity securities, and we recognize realized losses when invested assets are written down or sold for an amount less than their amortized cost or actual cost, as applicable.

Losses and loss adjustment expenses. We establish loss and loss adjustment expense ("LAE") reserves in an amount equal to our estimate of the ultimate liability for claims under our insurance policies and the cost of adjusting and settling those claims less the amounts already paid on these claims. Loss and LAE expense recorded in a period includes estimates for losses incurred during the period and changes in estimates for prior periods.

Operating expenses. In our Commercial Insurance and Personal Insurance segments, we refer to the operating expenses that we incur to underwrite risks as underwriting expenses. These include direct and ceding commission expenses (payments to our producers for the premiums that they generate for us) and other underwriting expenses. In our Insurance Services segment, operating expenses consist of costs incurred to manage the Reciprocal Exchanges and other insurance service expenses.

Interest expense. We pay interest on our subordinated debentures, convertible senior notes, credit facility and on segregated assets placed in trust accounts on a "funds withheld" basis in order to collateralize reinsurance recoverables. In addition, interest expense includes amortization of debt origination costs and original issue discounts over the remaining term of our debt instruments.

Income taxes. We pay Federal, state and local income taxes and non income-related other taxes.

Measurement of Results

We use various measures to analyze the growth and profitability of our business segments. In our Commercial Insurance and Personal Insurance segments, we measure growth in terms of gross, ceded and net premiums written, and we measure underwriting profitability by examining our loss, expense and combined ratios. We also measure our gross and net written premiums to surplus ratios to measure the adequacy of capital in relation to premiums written. In the Insurance Services segment, we measure growth in terms of fee income generated from the Reciprocal Exchanges and, to a lesser extent, fee and commission revenue received. We measure profitability in terms of net income attributable to Tower Group, Inc. and return on average equity related to Tower Group, Inc.

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Premiums written. We use gross premiums written to measure our sales of insurance products and, in turn, our ability to generate ceding commission revenues from premiums that we cede to reinsurers. Gross premiums written also correlates to our ability to generate net premiums earned.

Loss ratio. The loss ratio is the ratio of losses and LAE incurred to premiums earned and measures the underwriting profitability of a company's insurance business. We measure our loss ratio on a gross (before reinsurance) and net (after reinsurance) basis. We also measure the loss ratio on the ceded portion (the difference between gross and net premiums) for our Commercial Insurance and Personal Insurance segments. We use the gross loss ratio as a measure of the overall underwriting profitability of the insurance business we write and to assess the adequacy of our pricing. We use the loss ratio on the ceded portion of our insurance business to measure the experience on the premiums that we cede to reinsurers, including the premiums ceded under our quota share treaties. In some cases, the loss ratio on such ceded business is considered in determining the ceding commission rate that we earn on ceded premiums. Our net loss ratio is meaningful in evaluating our financial results, which are net of ceded reinsurance, as reflected in our consolidated financial statements. In addition, we use accident year and calendar year loss ratios to measure our underwriting profitability. An accident year loss ratio measures losses and LAE for insured events occurring in a particular year, regardless of when they are reported, as a percentage of premiums earned during that particular accident year. A calendar year loss ratio measures losses and LAE for insured events occurring during a particular year and the changes in estimates in loss and LAE reserves from prior accident years as a percentage of premiums earned during that particular calendar year.

Underwriting expense ratio. The gross underwriting expense ratio is the ratio of direct commission expenses and other underwriting expenses less policy billing fees to gross premiums earned. The gross underwriting expense ratio measures a company's operational efficiency in producing, underwriting and administering its insurance business. We also calculate our net underwriting expense ratio after the effect of ceded reinsurance. Ceding commission revenue is applied to reduce our underwriting expenses in our insurance company operation.

Combined ratio. We use the net combined ratio to measure our underwriting performance. The combined ratio is the sum of the loss ratio and the underwriting expense ratio. We analyze the combined ratio on a gross (before the effect of reinsurance) and net (after the effect of reinsurance) basis. If the combined ratio is at or above 100%, an insurance company is not underwriting profitably and may not be profitable unless investment income is sufficient to offset underwriting losses.

Management fee income earned by the management companies. Our management companies provide various underwriting, claims, investment management and other services to the Reciprocal Exchanges. We receive a percentage of the gross written premiums issued by the Reciprocal Exchanges.

Net income and return on average equity. We use net income to measure our profits and return on average equity to measure our effectiveness in utilizing our stockholders' equity to generate net income on a consolidated basis. In determining return on average equity for a given year, net income is divided by the average of stockholders' equity for that year.

Book value per share. Book value per share is calculated as Tower Group, Inc, stockholders' equity divided by the number of shares outstanding. We use this as a measure of value per share of the Company independent from the market price per share.

Tangible book value per share. Tangible book value per share is calculated as Tower Group, Inc, stockholders' equity, less intangible assets and goodwill, divided by the number of shares outstanding. We use this as a measure of value per share of the Company independent from the market price per share.

Operating income. Operating income excludes realized gains and losses and acquisition-related transaction costs, net of tax. This is a common measurement for property and casualty insurance companies. We believe this presentation enhances the understanding of our results of operations by highlighting the underlying profitability of our insurance business. Additionally, these measures are a key internal management performance standard.

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The following table provides a reconciliation of operating income to net income attributable to Tower Group, Inc. on a GAAP basis. The operating income is used to calculate operating earnings per share and operating return on average equity.

                                                                   Year Ended December 31,

                                                          2012             2011               2010
($ in thousands)                                        (restated)      (restated)         (revised)

Operating income (loss)                            $      (33,934)    $      40,285      $      97,335

Net realized gains (losses) on investments
attributable to Tower Group, Inc.                           12,245            6,980             14,910

Acquisition-related transaction costs                      (9,229)             (360)            (2,369)

Income tax                                                 (3,316)           (2,470)            (5,046)

Net income (loss) attributable to Tower Group,
Inc.                                               $      (34,234)    $      44,435      $     104,830

Critical Accounting Estimates

In preparing our consolidated financial statements, management is required to make estimates and assumptions that affect reported assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses and the related disclosures as of the date of the financial statements. Management considers an accounting estimate to be critical if it requires assumptions to be made that involve uncertainty at the time the estimate is made and, had different assumptions been selected, the changes in the outcome could have a significant effect on our financial statements. We review our critical accounting estimates and assumptions quarterly. Actual results may differ, perhaps substantially, from the estimates.

Our most critical accounting estimates involve the estimation of reserves for losses (including losses that have occurred but had not been reported by the financial statement date) and LAE, establishing fair value of losses and LAE for acquired businesses, net earned premiums, the reporting of ceding commissions earned, the amount and recoverability of reinsurance recoverable balances, deferred acquisition costs, investment impairments and potential impairments of goodwill and intangible assets.

Loss and loss adjustment expense reserves. The reserving process for loss and LAE reserves provides management's best estimate at a particular point in time of the ultimate unpaid cost of all losses and LAE incurred, including settlement and administration of losses, and is based on facts and circumstances then known and including losses that have been incurred but not yet reported. The process includes using actuarial methodologies to assist in establishing these estimates, judgments relative to estimates of future claims severity and frequency, the length of time before losses will develop to their ultimate level and the possible changes in the law and other external factors that are often beyond our control. There are various actuarial methods that are appropriate for the different lines of business, and our actuaries' use of a particular method or weighting of methods depends in part on the maturity of each accident year by line of business, the limits of liability covered under the policies, the presence or absence of large claims in the experience, and other considerations. In general, the various actuarial methods can be grouped into three categories:
loss ratio projection, loss development methods, and the B-F method. For the most recent accident year, and especially for liability lines of business, the actuarial method given the most weight is usually the loss ratio method, since the percentage of ultimate claims reported to date is expected to be low and the immature reported claims experience is not a reliable indicator of ultimate losses for that accident year. For property lines of business for the most recent accident year, the B-F method is usually given the most weight, because experience typically shows that there is a small percentage of claims reported in the subsequent period due to normal lags in reporting and processing of claims in these lines of business that can be relatively reliably estimated as a percentage of premiums, which is reflected in the B-F method. For each line of business, the actuarial reserving method usually given the most weight shifts from the loss ratio projection to the B-F method to the incurred loss projection as each accident year matures. These methods are described in "Business-Loss and Loss Adjustment Expense Reserves."

This process helps management set carried loss reserves based upon the actuaries' best estimates, using estimates made by segment, product or line of business, territory, and accident year. The actuaries also separately estimate loss reserves from LAE reserves and within LAE reserves estimates are made for defense and cost containment expenses or Allocated Loss Adjustment Expenses ("ALAE") and for other claims adjusting expenses or Unallocated Loss Adjustment Expenses ("ULAE"). The amount of loss and LAE reserves for reported claims is based primarily upon a case-by-case evaluation of coverage, liability, injury severity, and any other information considered pertinent to estimating the exposure presented by the claim. The amounts of loss and LAE reserves for unreported claims are determined using historical information by line of business as adjusted to current conditions. Due to the inherent uncertainty associated with the reserving process, the ultimate liability may differ, perhaps substantially, from the original estimate. Such estimates are regularly reviewed and updated, and any resulting adjustments are included in the current year's results. Reserves are closely monitored and are recomputed periodically using the most recent information on reported claims and a variety of statistical techniques. Specifically, on at least a quarterly basis, we review, by line of business, existing reserves, new claims, changes to existing case reserves and paid losses with respect to the current and prior years. See "Business-Loss and Loss Adjustment Expense Reserves" for additional information regarding our loss and LAE reserves.

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We segregate our data for estimating loss reserves. The property lines include Fire and Allied Lines, Homeowners-property, Commercial Multi-peril Property, Multi-Family Dwellings, Inland Marine and Automobile Physical Damage. The casualty lines include Homeowners-liability, Commercial Multi-peril Liability, Other Liability, Workers' Compensation, Commercial Automobile Liability, and Personal Automobile Liability. Commercial Insurance segment reserves are estimated separately from Personal Insurance segment reserves. For the Commercial Insurance segment we analyze reserves by line of business and, where appropriate, we further segregate the data for analysis purposes between small, middle and large policies sizes and by state or region. We also analyze various producers' business separately where the volume of business from those producers is considered significant and the characteristics of the business from those particular producers are perceived to be different. Within the Personal Insurance segment, we estimate loss and loss expenses reserves separately for the Reciprocal Exchanges, which we manage, and for our owned companies. We utilize line of business breakdowns and, where appropriate, analyze results separately by state.

Two key assumptions that materially impact the estimate of loss reserves are the loss ratio estimate for the current accident year and the loss development factor selections for all accident years. The loss ratio estimate for the current accident year is selected after reviewing historical accident year loss ratios adjusted for rate and price changes, trend, mix of business, and other factors. In addition, as the year matures and, depending upon the line of business, we utilize B-F methods or loss development methods for the current accident year.

In most cases, our data is sufficiently credible to determine loss development factors utilizing our own data. In some cases, we supplement our own loss development experience with industry data and utilize historical loss development experience for particular books of business, programs or treaties obtained from our sources. The loss development factors are reviewed at least annually, and whenever there is a significant change in the underlying business. Each quarter we test the loss development by analyzing actual emerging claims compared to expected development.

Because of the nature of the business historically written, the Company's management believes that the Company has limited exposure to environmental claim liabilities.

We estimate ALAE reserves separately for claims that are defended by in-house attorneys, claims that are handled by other attorneys that are not employees, and miscellaneous ALAE costs such as investigators, witness fees and court costs.

For claims that are defended by in-house attorneys, we estimate the defense cost per claim, and we attribute to each of these claims a fixed fee for defense work. We allocate to each of these litigated claims 50% of the fixed fee when litigation on a particular claim begins and 50% of the fee when the litigation is closed. The fee is determined actuarially based upon the projected number of litigated claims and expected closing patterns at the beginning of each year as well as the projected budget for our in-house attorneys, and these amounts are calibrated to reimburse our in-house legal department for all of their costs.

ULAE for claims that are handled in-house by our claims adjusters utilize a similar process to that described above for ALAE. We determine fixed fees per claim by line of business, and assign these costs to line of business and accident year. For property lines, 50% of the fixed fee is attributed to claims when a claim is opened and 50% is attributed to claims when they are closed. For casualty lines, 75% of the fixed fee is attributed to the claim when a claim is opened and 25% is attributed to the claims when the claim is closed. The IBNR portion of ULAE for these claims is based upon 50% of the fixed fee per claims for in-house ULAE multiplied by the number of claims open and by 100% of the fixed fee multiplied by the estimated number of claims to be reported for prior accident dates.

For some types of claims and for some programs where we utilize third-party administrators ("TPA") to adjust claims, we pay them fees which are included in ULAE. In some cases, we arrange for fixed percentages of premiums earned to be the fee for claims administration, and in other cases we arrange for fixed fees per claim or hourly charges for ULAE services. The reserves for ULAE for these situations is estimated based upon the particular arrangement for these types of claims by product or program.

Establishing fair value of loss and LAE reserves for acquired companies. At acquisition date, accounting standards require that loss and LAE reserves must be set to fair value. As there are no readily observable markets for these liabilities, we use a valuation model that estimates net nominal future cash flows related to the loss and LAE reserve. This valuation is adjusted for the time value of money and a risk margin to compensate the Company for holding capital supporting the risk associated with the liabilities. This adjustment is referred to as the "reserve risk premium", which is amortized over the expected payout pattern of the claims.

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