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U.S. property and casualty insurer W.R. Berkley Corp. (WRB - Analyst Report) has formed a division to write inland marine and related property insurance and hired an industry veteran to head the new operations. The new unit is named Berkley Fire & Marine Underwriters and is headquartered in Chicago.
 
Inland marine insurance is an insurance policy that provides insurance coverage for losses to moving and movable property that might occur during transport across the continent.
 
The new unit of Berkley Fire & Marine Underwriters will provide inland marine and related property risks throughout the U.S. It will act as an underwriting entity for all of W. R. Berkley subsidiaries which carry a rating of A+ assigned by A.M. Best.
 
John Geary erstwhile Vice President of another major U.S. insurance group, will take over the responsibility of the newly created unit.
 
Berkley has started a number of new business units since 2006 (when the soft market cycle started) to strengthen its position and take advantage of the eventual positive market turn. These newer units of WRB not only concentrate on important sections and aspects of the U.S economy, including healthcare, energy and agriculture, but also focus on the growing international markets such as Australia, Southeast Asia and South America.
 
W. R. Berkley’s new ventures are now bearing fruit and mitigating losses from the old businesses. It is especially testified by the steady growth in net premium written over the past years. These new businesses are eventually expected to benefit from a turn in the insurance cycle. Besides, share buybacks and dividend payments would add value to shareholders’ wealth. Moreover, strong financial strength ratings also contribute to the positives.
 
Berkley currently retains a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). 
 
Other players providing inland marine insurance coverage are RLI Corp. (RLI - Analyst Report), The Travelers Companies Inc. (TRV - Analyst Report), and XL Group plc (XL - Analyst Report).

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