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Healthy and General

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

3 min read

2021 brokerage revenue: $2.86B

Percent increase: 17.6%

Cross-sales from clients of its bank parent, specialization in wholesale business and acquisitions helped Truist Insurance Holdings Inc. report strong revenue growth last year. 

Although the name has changed, Truist Insurance is also marking its hundredth year in the insurance business, said John Howard, chairman and CEO of the Charlotte, North Carolina-based brokerage, a unit of Truist Financial Corp.

The Truist brand was created after the 2019 merger of SunTrust Banks Inc. and the insurance brokerage’s parent, BB&T Corp. The insurance operation changed its name from BB&T Insurance Holdings Inc. 

The brokerage posted organic growth of 12% in 2021 as wholesale revenue jumped 33.8% to $1.59 billion. Brokerage revenue rose 17.6% as retail revenue grew 2%. Truist Insurance retained its position at No. 7 in Business Insurance’s ranking of the world’s largest brokerages. 

The July 2021 purchase of Constellation Affiliated Partners LLC, an insurance distribution platform with seven managing general agents and program managers, helped drive growth in Truist Insurance’s CRC Insurance Services Inc. wholesale division, Mr. Howard said. 

CRC named former Constellation CEO Bill Goldstein as CEO of its specialty programs division. Nicholas Bozzo, formerly president of programs at CRC, and Brian Norman, previously managing director of Constellation, were named co-presidents of the division.

Truist Insurance has a larger wholesale business than other large brokers, which are either fully retail or have a smaller wholesale component, said Elyse Greenspan, managing director, equity research, insurance, at Wells Fargo Securities LLC in New York. “That’s one of the factors that helped them,” as the wholesale business in general has been seeing “outsized growth” recently, she said.

Ms. Greenspan said Truist Insurance’s organic growth in 2021 topped its immediate peer group of other large brokers, which averaged almost 9% organic growth for the year, she said. “When you compare Truist to this peer group, they did come in above the pack in 2021.” 

John Wepler, chairman and CEO of Woodmere, Ohio-based mergers and acquisitions consultancy Marsh, Berry & Co. Inc., said that in addition to its wholesale/retail balance, Truist insurance is well diversified geographically and by client size.

Truist also practices what it calls “integrated relationship management” under which it “collaborates across the entire enterprise, not only insurance, but also banking,” to drive business referrals, Mr. Wepler said.

Truist Insurance has “incredible” opportunities to serve clients that came with the SunTrust purchase, Mr. Howard said, pointing out that the predecessor bank did not have an insurance business. “We have the potential to add significant amounts of revenue from customers introduced to us by other parts of Truist,” he said.

The broker has also added staff, Mr. Howard said. Truist Insurance’s headcount rose 6.8% last year to 8,142, according to company data. 

Truist Insurance in September 2021 named Read Davis, president of McGriff’s Georgia region, as CEO, McGriff Specialty and Middle Market, and Renee Keen, national personal lines and small business practice leader, as CEO, McGriff Small Business and Personal. Both executives report to Mr. Howard.

Analysts agreed the strong commercial line pricing environment provided a tailwind for brokers, and Mr. Howard said he expects pricing to remain buoyant. “Carriers are very focused now on inflation and incorporating that into their pricing, so I do expect pricing to continue to rise for the foreseeable future,” he said.

That firm market, however, has taken some toll on policyholders. 

“There are clients that are taking higher retentions and using captives,” Mr. Howard said. “There are also clients buying less insurance, and some buying as much insurance as in the past but paying more for it.” He added that there are also cases where policyholders “aren’t able to get all the capacity they would like to have,” such as with cyber liability coverage.

Truist Insurance has also been expanding its technological capabilities. In 2021 it invested in insurtech Covered Insurance Solutions LLC., and in May 2022 it launched an online marketplace for personal lines business, which is something that can be scaled to commercial applications. 

“We are looking to develop similar capabilities to support small businesses,” Mr. Howard said, adding that Truist Insurance has also increased its technology staff to support growth.