Fourth-quarter gains can?t overcome 2011?s start

A net income gain of $25 million and surplus increase of $32.3 million in the fourth quarter were the highlights of Church Mutual Insurance Company’s 2011 performance.
Also, for the seventh consecutive year, the nation’s leading insurer of religious organizations exceeded $550 million in direct written premium in 2011. In a highly competitive property and casualty market, Church Mutual wrote more than $583 million, which was only 0.2 percent less than in 2010.
Despite that impressive number, the fifth-most expensive year for catastrophe losses in history took its toll on Church Mutual:
•The $156 million absorbed in catastrophe losses was almost triple the previous
five-year average of $55 million.
•Seven separate events cost Church Mutual more than $10 million, and it absorbed another $8 million from homeowners losses in Lincoln County from the April 10, 2011, twister that exceeded 160 miles per hour.
By the time 2011 was in the books, Church Mutual had paid out 38,882 claims totaling almost $430 million.
That seriously affected the company’s bottom line:
•Net income loss was $28.5 million.
•Corporate assets declined $47.3 million.
•The policyholders’ surplus was reduced $37.5 million.
The company’s superior financial strength going into 2011 allowed it to absorb those blows, and Church Mutual did receive a gain of $35.8 million on its investments.
Heading into 2012, Church Mutual’s policyholders’ surplus of $376.2 million was fourth best in company history, and its corporate assets of $1.17 billion also ranked No. 4 in the 115-year history of the company.
“We survived the perfect storms of 2011,” President and CEO Mike Ravn pointed out. “While it was a record year in terms of claims severity, it fell short in occurrences.
“Our results were not unique within the industry,” he continued. “The year 2011 went down on record as having the second-most insured catastrophe losses over the past 30 years, trailing only 2005 and Hurricane Katrina. In this historic year for property damage that saw so many of our customer/owners impacted, Church Mutual stepped up to the challenge and validated their decision to place their trust in us.”
Ravn pointed to the recertification of Church Mutual’s National Customer Service Center as a “Center of Excellence” by BenchmarkPortal and The Center for Customer-Driven Quality™ founded at Purdue University as another 2011 bright spot.
“Ours is one of only 53 so recognized in the United States,” he said. “The center handles more than 500,000 calls per year and supports more than 90,000 of our customers. Their average speed of answer of 12.24 seconds is almost twice as fast as the property and casualty industry average of 22.83 seconds.”
Church Mutual, which now employs 921 people, is rated A (Excellent) by industry rating analyst A.M. Best. It insures more than twice as many religious organizations as its nearest competitor.

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