Boston-based Liberty Mutual Group announced a major restructuring intended to revamp how it interacts with mid-sized businesses.

The company said henceforth it would rely solely on agents and brokers to distribute its commercial property/casualty insurance products to the middle market. Accordingly, Liberty Mutual entered into definitive agreements to sell the policy renewal rights of its middle market operations to three firms: Itasca, Ill.-based Arthur J. Gallagher & Co., Chicago-based Hub International (Hub) and USI Holdings Corp. (USI) of Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. Each of the firms has extended job offers to many of the Liberty Mutual Group sales and service professionals, the company said. 

As part of the move the company said it would discontinue use of the venerable Wausau brand and, instead, create a new commercial business unit dubbed Liberty Mutual Middle Market. The company said the new unit will fuse the strengths of Liberty Mutual and Wausau Insurance Cos. to better serve the middle market.

“Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to being a leader in commercial insurance,” says Edmund Kelly, Liberty Mutual Group chairman, president and CEO.  “The agreements with Gallagher, Hub and USI speak to the quality of our business and desire to form strong, mutually beneficial relationships with agents and brokers who have earned outstanding reputations among middle market buyers.”

Liberty Mutual notes that it already writes large national account business through brokers and small commercial business through independent agents, and is looking to employ a similar strategy for the middle market. 

“For years, agents and brokers have sought to place their middle market clients with Liberty Mutual, but couldn’t access us because we distributed directly to that segment of the market,” says J. Paul Condrin, Liberty Mutual’s president of Commercial Markets.   “Now they can.  And we are giving middle market businesses what they want—the opportunity to have Liberty Mutual as their carrier, and still work with their trusted advisor—their agent or broker.”

Condrin notes that although the Wausau Insurance Cos. name will vanish, the company, which writes middle market business through appointed agents and brokers, will survive.  “So while the Wausau brand will be retired, the Wausau agents, brokers and policyholders are vital to our future success,” he says. 

The transactions are expected to close on or around March 1, 2009.

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