Travelers shores up online distribution with U.K. purchase

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The Travelers Companies has agreed to buy Simply Business, a U.K. online business insurance broker, for $490 million, the companies announced Monday.

The acquisition is intended to equip Travelers’ agent and broker partners with Simply Business’ digital platform, Travelers said, making small commercial insurance policies easier to distribute. Simply Business, purchased through Aquiline Capital Partners LLC, was founded in 2005. Its current portfolio includes more than 425,000 microbusiness customers, covering about 1,000 classes of business.

“Simply Business is a profitable and growing technology company with impressive strategic digital capabilities, leading digital commerce talent and proven small business insurance expertise,” said Alan Schnitzer, Travelers CEO, in a statement. “With technology and innovation driving customer preferences and expectations, advancing our digital agenda to best serve our customers and the marketplace is a key strategic priority. As an important part of that agenda, we also look forward to working with our agent and broker partners as we seek to deploy Simply Business’ capabilities with them to make the small commercial insurance transaction easier, faster and more efficient.”

Simply Business also operates a managing general agency, which will operate as a stand-alone business after the acquisition, Travelers says. Simply Business underwrites some of the premium it places through its online platform. Over time, the insurer expects Simply Business to provide it with better access to U.S. and global microbusiness markets.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for our company and employees, as well as a strong validation of our business model,” said Simply Business CEO, Jason Stockwood, in a statement. "Our shared values and commitment to innovation make this transaction a perfect fit.”

The deal is expected to close in the third quarter of 2017, and will have limited impact on 2017 and 2018 earnings, Travelers said. Law firms Skadden, Arps, Slate, and Meagher & Flom LLP provided legal counsel to Travelers throughout negotiations.

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