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Table of Contents


UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549

 FORM 10-K
Annual Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2019
OR
Transition Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the transition period from ______ to ______
Commission File Number 001-34257
UNITED FIRE GROUP, INC.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Iowa
 
45-2302834
(State or other jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
 
(I.R.S Employer Identification No.)
118 Second Avenue SE
Cedar Rapids
Iowa
52401
(Address of principal executive offices) (Zip Code)

Registrant's telephone number, including area code: (319) 399-5700
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
Trading Symbol
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, $0.001 par value
UFCS
The NASDAQ Global Select Market
Securities Registered Pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days. Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files). Yes No
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer", "smaller reporting company", and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act
Large accelerated filer
Accelerated filer

Non-accelerated filer

Smaller reporting company
Emerging growth company
 
 
 
 
 
 
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Act). Yes No
The aggregate market value of voting stock held by non-affiliates of the registrant as of June 30, 2019 was approximately $1.0 billion. For purposes of this calculation, all directors and executive officers of the registrant are considered affiliates. As of February 26, 2020, 25,051,170 shares of common stock were outstanding.
DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE
Part III of this Form 10-K incorporates by reference certain information from the registrant's definitive proxy statement to be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission pursuant to Regulation 14A of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, for its annual shareholder meeting to be held on May 20, 2020.


Table of Contents

FORM 10-K TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
Page
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


Table of Contents

FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION
This report may contain forward-looking statements about our operations, anticipated performance and other similar matters. The Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 provides a safe harbor under the Securities Act of 1933 (the "Securities Act") and the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the "Exchange Act"), for forward-looking statements. The forward-looking statements are not historical facts and involve risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those expected and/or projected. Such forward-looking statements are based on current expectations, estimates, forecasts and projections about United Fire Group, Inc. ("UFG," the "Registrant," the "Company," "we," "us," or "our"), the industry in which we operate, and beliefs and assumptions made by management. Words such as "expect(s)," "anticipate(s)," "intend(s)," "plan(s)," "believe(s)," "continue(s)," "seek(s)," "estimate(s)," "goal(s)," "target(s)," "forecast(s)," "project(s)," "predict(s)," "should," "could," "may," "will," "might," "hope," "can" and other words and terms of similar meaning or expression in connection with a discussion of future operations, financial performance or financial condition, are intended to identify forward-looking statements. See Part I, Item 1A "Risk Factors" of this report for more information concerning factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements.
Risks and uncertainties that may affect the actual financial condition and results of the Company include but are not limited to the following:
The frequency and severity of claims, including those related to catastrophe losses and the impact those claims have on our loss reserve adequacy; the occurrence of catastrophic events, including international events, significant severe weather conditions, climate change, acts of terrorism, acts of war and pandemics;
The adequacy of our reserves for property and casualty insurance losses and loss settlement expenses;
Geographic concentration risk in our property and casualty insurance business;
The potential disruption of our operations and reputation due to unauthorized data access, cyber attacks or cyber-terrorism and other security breaches;
Developments in general economic conditions, domestic and global financial markets, interest rates and other-than-temporary impairment losses that could affect the performance of our investment portfolio;
Litigation or regulatory actions that could require us to pay significant damages, fines or penalties or change the way we do business;
Our ability to effectively underwrite and adequately price insured risks;
Changes in industry trends, an increase in competition and significant industry developments;
Lowering of one or more of the financial strength ratings of our operating subsidiaries or our issuer credit ratings and the adverse impact such action may have on our premium writings, policy retention, profitability and liquidity;
Governmental actions, policies and regulations, including, but not limited to, domestic health care reform, financial services regulatory reform, corporate governance, new laws or regulations or court decisions interpreting existing laws and regulations or policy provisions; changes in laws, regulations and stock exchange requirements relating to corporate governance and the cost of compliance;
Our relationship with and the financial strength of our reinsurers; and
Competitive, legal, regulatory or tax changes that affect the distribution cost or demand for our products through our independent agent/agency distribution network.
These are representative of the risks, uncertainties, and assumptions that could cause actual outcomes and results to differ materially from what is expressed in forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this report or as of the date they are made. Except as required under the federal securities laws and the rules and regulations of the Securities and Exchange Commission ("SEC"), we do not have any intention or obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.


1

Table of Contents

PART I.
ITEM 1. BUSINESS
GENERAL DESCRIPTION
United Fire Group, Inc. ("UFG", "United Fire", the "Registrant", the "Company", "we", "us", or "our") and its consolidated subsidiaries and affiliates are engaged in the business of writing property and casualty insurance through a network of independent agencies. Our insurance company subsidiaries are currently licensed as a property and casualty insurer in 46 states, plus the District of Columbia. United Fire & Casualty Company was incorporated in Iowa in January 1946. Our principal executive office is located at 118 Second Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401; telephone: 319-399-5700.
United Fire Group, Inc. owns 100 percent of one subsidiary, United Fire & Casualty Company. United Fire & Casualty Company owns 100 percent of seven subsidiaries: (1) Addison Insurance Company; (2) Lafayette Insurance Company; (3) United Fire & Indemnity Company; (4) Mercer Insurance Company; (5) Financial Pacific Insurance Company; (6) UFG Specialty Insurance Company; and (7) United Real Estate Holdings Company, LLC. Mercer Insurance Company owns 100 percent of two subsidiaries: (1) Franklin Insurance Company; and (2) Mercer Insurance Company of New Jersey, Inc. United Fire Lloyds is an affiliate of United Fire & Indemnity Company.
Reportable Segments and Discontinued Operations
We have historically reported our operations in two business segments: property and casualty insurance and life insurance. On September 18, 2017, the Company signed a definitive agreement to sell its subsidiary, United Life Insurance Company ("United Life"), to Kuvare US Holdings, Inc. ("Kuvare") and on March 30, 2018, the sale closed. As a result, our life insurance business, previously a separate segment, was considered held for sale and reported as discontinued operations in the Consolidated Statements of Income and Comprehensive Income and Consolidated Statements of Cash Flows. Subsequent to the announcement of this sale, our continuing operations were reported as one business segment. For more information, refer to Note 17 "Discontinued Operations" contained in Part II, Item 8, "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data." Additionally, for a detailed discussion of our operating results by continuing operations and discontinued operations, refer to the "Results of Operations for the Years Ended December 31, 2019, 2018 and 2017" section in Part II, Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations."
Our property and casualty insurance business is comprised of commercial lines insurance, including surety bonds, personal lines insurance and assumed reinsurance. All of our property and casualty insurance subsidiaries and our affiliate belong to an intercompany reinsurance pooling arrangement. Pooling arrangements permit the participating companies to rely on the capacity of the entire pool's capital and surplus, rather than being limited to policy exposures of a size commensurate with each participant's own surplus level. Under such arrangements, the members share substantially all of the insurance business that is written and allocate the combined premiums, losses and expenses based on percentages defined in the arrangement.
Employees
As of December 31, 2019, we employed 1,173 full-time employees and 12 part-time employees. We are not a party to any collective bargaining agreement.
Available Information
We provide free and timely access to all our reports filed with the SEC in the Investor Relations section of our website at www.ufginsurance.com. Under the "Investors" tab, select "Financial Documents" and then, select "SEC Filings" to view the list of our SEC filings, which includes annual reports on Form 10-K, quarterly reports on Form 10-Q, current reports on Form 8-K, proxy statements, beneficial ownership reports on Forms 3, 4 and 5 and amendments to reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a), 15(d) or 16(a) of the Exchange Act. Such reports are made available as soon as reasonably practicable after they are filed with or furnished to the SEC. They are also available on the SEC's website at www.sec.gov.
Our Code of Ethics and Business Conduct is also available at www.ufginsurance.com in the Investor Relations section. To view it, under the "Investors" tab, select "Overview," then "Governance Documents" and then "Code of Ethics and Business Conduct."


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Free paper copies of any materials that we file with or furnish to the SEC can also be obtained by writing to Investor Relations, United Fire Group, Inc., 118 Second Avenue SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401.

MARKETING AND DISTRIBUTION
We market our products through our home office in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and five regional offices: (1) Westminster, Colorado, a suburb of Denver; (2) Webster, Texas, a suburb of Houston; (3) Pennington, New Jersey; (4) Phoenix, Arizona; and (5) Rocklin, California. We are represented through approximately 1,000 independent property and casualty agencies.
Property and Casualty Insurance Business
We staff our regional offices with underwriting, claims and marketing representatives and administrative technicians, all of whom provide support and assistance to the independent agencies. Also, home office staff technicians and specialists provide support to our subsidiaries, regional offices and independent agencies. We use management reports to monitor subsidiary and regional offices for overall results and conformity to our business policies.
Competition
The property and casualty insurance industry is highly competitive. We compete with numerous property and casualty insurance companies in the regional and national market, many of which are substantially larger and have considerably greater financial and other resources. Except for regulatory considerations, there are limited barriers to entry into the insurance industry. Our competitors may be domestic or foreign, as well as licensed or unlicensed. The exact number of competitors within the industry is not known. Insurers compete on the basis of reliability, financial strength and stability, ratings, underwriting consistency, service, business ethics, price, performance, capacity, policy terms and coverage conditions.
In addition, because our products are marketed exclusively through independent insurance agencies, most of which represent more than one company, we face competition within each agency and competition to retain qualified independent agents. Our competitors include companies that market their products through agents, as well as companies that sell insurance directly to their customers.
Because we rely solely on independent agencies, we offer a competitive commissions program and a rewarding profit-sharing plan as incentives for agents to place high-quality property and casualty insurance business with us. Property and casualty insurance agencies will receive profit-sharing payments of $19.6 million in 2020, based on profitable business produced by the agencies in 2019. In 2019 for 2018 business, agencies received $21.4 million in profit-sharing payments and in 2018 for 2017 business, agencies received $15.1 million in payments.
Our competitive advantages include our commitment to:
Strong agency relationships —
A stable workforce, with an average duration of employment of approximately 9.6 years, allows our agents to work with the same, highly-experienced personnel each day.
Our organization is relatively flat, allowing our agents to be close to the highest levels of management and ensuring that our agents will receive answers quickly to their questions.
Exceptional service — our agents and policyholders always have the option to speak with a real person.
Fair and prompt claims handling — we view claims as an opportunity to prove to our customers that they have chosen the right insurance company.
Disciplined underwriting — we empower our underwriters with the knowledge and tools needed to make good decisions for the Company.
Superior loss control services — our loss control representatives make multiple visits to businesses and job sites each year to ensure safety.


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Effective and efficient use of technology — we use technology to provide enhanced service to our agents and policyholders, not to replace our personal relationships, but to reinforce them.
REINSURANCE
Incorporated by reference from Note 4 "Reinsurance" contained in Part II, Item 8, "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data."
RESERVES
Property and Casualty Insurance Business
Property insurance indemnifies an insured with an interest in physical property for loss of, or damage to, such property or the loss of its income-producing abilities. Casualty insurance primarily covers liability for damage to property of, or injury to, a person or entity other than the insured. In most cases, casualty insurance also obligates the insurance company to provide a defense for the insured in litigation, arising out of events covered by the policy.
Liabilities for loss and loss settlement expenses reflect management's best estimates at a given point in time of what we expect to pay for claims that have been reported and those that have been incurred but not reported ("IBNR"), based on known facts, circumstances, and historical trends.
The determination of reserves (particularly those relating to liability lines of insurance that have relatively longer lag in claim reporting) requires significant work to reasonably project expected future claim reporting and payment patterns. If, during the course of our regular monitoring of reserves, we determine that coverages previously written are incurring higher than expected losses, we will take action that may include, among other things, increasing the related reserves. Any adjustments we make to reserves are reflected in operating results in the year in which we make those adjustments. We engage an independent actuary, Regnier Consulting Group, Inc. ("Regnier"), to render an opinion as to the reasonableness of our statutory reserves annually. The actuarial opinion is filed in those states where we are licensed.
On a quarterly basis, United Fire's internal actuary performs a detailed actuarial review of IBNR reserves. This review includes a comparison of results from the most recent analysis of reserves completed by both our internal and external actuaries. Senior management meets with our internal actuary to review, on a quarterly basis, the adequacy of carried reserves based on results from this actuarial analysis. There are two fundamental types or sources of IBNR reserves. We record IBNR reserves for "normal" types of claims and also specific IBNR reserves related to unique circumstances or events. A major hurricane is an example of an event that might necessitate establishing specific IBNR reserves because an analysis of existing historical data would not provide an appropriate estimate.
We do not discount loss reserves based on the time value of money. 
For a more detailed discussion of our loss reserves, refer to the "Critical Accounting Policies" section in Part II, Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations" and Note 5 "Reserves for Losses and Loss Settlement Expenses" contained in Part II, Item 8, "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data."
INVESTMENTS
Incorporated by reference from Part II, Item 7, "Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations," under the headings "Investments," "Market Risk" and "Critical Accounting Policies"; and Note 1 "Summary of Significant Accounting Policies" under the headings "Investments," Note 2 "Summary of Investments," and Note 3 "Fair Value of Financial Instruments," contained in Part II, Item 8, "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data."
REGULATION
The insurance industry is subject to comprehensive and detailed regulation and supervision. Each jurisdiction in which we operate has established supervisory agencies with broad administrative powers. While we are not aware of any currently proposed or recently enacted state or federal regulation that would have a material impact on our operations, we cannot predict the effect that future regulatory changes might have on us.



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State Regulation
We are subject to extensive regulation, primarily at the state level. The method, extent and substance of such regulation varies by state, but generally has its source in National Association of Insurance Commissioners ("NAIC") model laws and regulations that establish standards and requirements for conducting the business of insurance and that delegate regulatory authority to a state regulatory agency. Moreover, the NAIC Accreditation Program requires state regulatory agencies to meet baseline standards of solvency regulation, particularly with respect to regulation of multi-state insurers. In general, such regulation is intended for the protection of those who purchase or use our insurance products, and not our shareholders. These rules have a substantial effect on our business and relate to a wide variety of matters including: insurance company licensing and examination; the licensing of insurance agents and adjusters; price setting or premium rates; trade practices; approval of policy forms; claims practices; restrictions on transactions between our subsidiaries and their affiliates, including the payment of dividends; investments; underwriting standards; advertising and marketing practices; capital adequacy; and the collection, remittance and reporting of certain taxes, licenses and fees.
The state laws and regulations that have the most significant effect on our insurance operations and financial reporting are discussed below.
Insurance Holding Company Regulation
We are regulated as an insurance holding company system in the states of domicile of our property and casualty insurance companies: Iowa (United Fire & Casualty Company, UFG Specialty Insurance Company and Addison Insurance Company), California (Financial Pacific Insurance Company), Louisiana (Lafayette Insurance Company), New Jersey (Mercer Insurance Company of New Jersey, Inc.), Pennsylvania (Mercer Insurance Company and Franklin Insurance Company) and Texas (United Fire & Indemnity Company and United Fire Lloyds). These regulations require that we annually furnish financial and other information about the operations of the individual companies within our holding company system. Generally, the insurance laws of these states provide that notice to the state insurance commissioner is required before finalizing any transaction affecting the ownership or control of an insurer and before finalizing certain material transactions between an insurer and any person or entity within its holding company system. In addition, some of those transactions cannot be finalized without the commissioner's prior approval.
Most states have now adopted the version of the Model Insurance Holding Company System Regulation Act and Regulation as amended by the NAIC in December 2010 (the "Amended Model Act") to introduce the concept of "enterprise risk" within an insurance company holding system. Enterprise risk is defined as any activity, circumstance, event or series of events involving one or more affiliates of an insurer that, if not remedied promptly, is likely to have a material adverse effect upon the financial condition or the liquidity of the insurer or its insurance holding company system as a whole. The Amended Model Act imposes more extensive informational requirements on us, including requiring us to prepare an annual enterprise risk report that identifies the material risks within our insurance company holding system that could pose enterprise risk to our licensed insurers.
Restrictions on Shareholder Dividends
As an insurance holding company with no independent operations or source of revenue, our capacity to pay dividends to our shareholders is based on the ability of our insurance company subsidiaries to pay dividends to us. The ability of our subsidiaries to pay dividends to us is regulated by the laws of their state of domicile. Under these laws, insurance companies must provide advance informational notice to the domicile state insurance regulatory authority prior to payment of any dividend or distribution to its shareholders. Prior approval from the state insurance regulatory authority must be obtained before payment of an "extraordinary dividend" as defined under the state's insurance code. The amount of ordinary dividends that may be paid to us is subject to certain limitations, the amounts of which change each year. In all cases, we may pay dividends only from our earned surplus. Refer to Part II, Item 5, "Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Shareholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities" under the heading "Dividends" and Note 6 "Statutory Reporting, Capital Requirements and Dividends and Retained Earnings Restrictions," contained in Part II, Item 8, "Financial Statements and Supplementary Data" for additional information about the dividends we paid during 2019.



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Price Regulation
Nearly all states have insurance laws requiring us to file rate schedules, policy or coverage forms, and other information with the state's regulatory authority. In certain states, rate schedules, policy forms, or both, must be approved prior to use. While insurance laws vary from state to state, their objectives are generally the same: an insurance rate cannot be excessive, inadequate or unfairly discriminatory. The speed with which we can change our rates in response to competition or in response to increasing costs depends, in part, on the willingness of state regulators to allow adequate rates for the business we write.
Investment Regulation
We are subject to various state regulations requiring investment portfolio diversification and limiting the concentration of investments we may maintain in certain asset categories. Failure to comply with these regulations leads to the treatment of nonconforming investments as non-admitted assets for purposes of measuring statutory surplus. Further, in some instances, state regulations require us to sell certain nonconforming investments.
Exiting Geographic Markets; Canceling and Non-renewing Policies
Most states regulate our ability to exit a market. For example, states limit, to varying degrees, our ability to cancel and non-renew insurance policies. Some states prohibit us from withdrawing one or more types of insurance business from the state, except upon prior regulatory approval. Regulations that limit policy cancellation and non-renewal may restrict our ability to exit unprofitable markets.
Insurance Guaranty Associations
Each state has insurance guaranty association laws. Membership in a state's insurance guaranty association is generally mandatory for insurers wishing to do business in that state. Under these laws, associations may assess their members for certain obligations that insolvent insurance companies have incurred with regard to their policyholders and claimants.
Typically, states assess each solvent association member with an amount related to that member's proportionate share of business written by all association members within the state. Most state guaranty associations allow solvent insurers to recoup the assessments they are charged through future rate increases, surcharges or premium tax credits. However, there is no assurance that we will ultimately recover these assessments. We cannot predict the amount and timing of any future assessments or refunds under these laws.
Shared Market and Joint Underwriting Plans
State insurance regulations often require insurers to participate in assigned risk plans, reinsurance facilities and joint underwriting associations. These are mechanisms that generally provide applicants with various types of basic insurance coverage that may not otherwise be available to them through voluntary markets. Such mechanisms are most commonly instituted for automobile and workers' compensation insurance, but many states also mandate participation in Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plans or Windstorm Plans, which provide basic property coverage. Participation is based upon the amount of a company's voluntary market share in a particular state for the classes of insurance involved. Policies written through these mechanisms may require different underwriting standards and may pose greater risk than those written through our voluntary application process.
Statutory Accounting Rules
For public reporting, insurance companies prepare financial statements in accordance with GAAP. However, state laws require us to calculate and report certain data according to statutory accounting rules as defined in the NAIC Accounting Practices and Procedures Manual. While not a substitute for any GAAP measure of performance, statutory data frequently is used by industry analysts and other recognized reporting sources to facilitate comparisons of the performance of insurance companies.
Insurance Reserves
State insurance laws require that insurance companies analyze the adequacy of their reserves annually. Our appointed actuaries must submit an opinion that our statutory reserves are adequate to meet policy claims-paying obligations and related expenses.


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Financial Solvency Ratios
The NAIC annually calculates 13 financial ratios to assist state insurance regulators in monitoring the financial condition of insurance companies. A "usual range" of results for each of these ratios is used by insurance regulators as a benchmark. Departure from the usual range on four or more of the ratios could lead to inquiries from individual state insurance departments as to certain aspects of a company's business. In addition to the financial ratios, states also require us to calculate a minimum capital requirement for each of our insurance companies based on individual company insurance risk factors. These "risk-based capital" results are used by state insurance regulators to identify companies that require regulatory attention or the initiation of regulatory action. At December 31, 2019, all of our insurance companies had capital in excess of the required levels.
Federal Regulation
Although the federal government and its regulatory agencies generally do not directly regulate the business of insurance, federal initiatives and legislation often have an impact on our business. These initiatives and legislation include tort reform proposals, proposals addressing natural catastrophe exposures, terrorism risk mechanisms, federal financial services reforms, various tax proposals affecting insurance companies, and possible regulatory limitations, impositions and restrictions arising from the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act ("Dodd-Frank"), and the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Various legislative and regulatory efforts to reform the tort liability system have impacted and will continue to impact our industry. Although there has been some tort reform with positive impact to the insurance industry, new causes of action and theories of damages continue to be proposed in state court actions or by federal or state legislatures that continue to expand liability for insurers and their policyholders. For example, some state legislatures have from time-to-time considered legislation addressing direct actions against insurers related to bad faith claims. As a result of this unpredictability in the law, insurance underwriting is expected to continue to be difficult in commercial lines, professional liability and other specialty coverages.
Dodd-Frank expanded the federal presence in insurance oversight and may increase regulatory requirements that are applicable to us. Dodd-Frank's requirements include streamlining the state-based regulation of reinsurance and non-admitted insurance (property or casualty insurance placed with insurers that are eligible to accept insurance, but are not licensed to write insurance in a particular state). Dodd-Frank also established the Federal I