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Press Releases


Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Now Writing Homeowners Policies in PA

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies has begun offering Homeowners and complementary Personal Umbrella coverage in Pennsylvania. According to GUARD CEO Sy Foguel, "We have always relied upon independent agents to deliver our policies to consumers, so our goal is to feature products that fill a need within their offices. We believe our Homeowners coverage, which provides the same high level of security and service currently enjoyed by our commercial customers, will do just that." Targeted markets include one- to four-family dwellings, renters, and condo units (both owner-occupied and those held for rental). GUARD's product is generally aimed at dwellings valued at $75,000 to $2,000,000. A personal umbrella with limits up to $5,000,000 can also be added. (Wall Street Select news story)

Governor Wolf Announces Creation of 285 New Jobs Through Expansion of Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Headquarters in Wilkes-Barre

Governor Tom Wolf announced Berkshire Hathaway GUARD (GUARD), a commercial property and casualty insurance company, will expand its national headquarters in Wilkes-Barre, Luzerne County, and create 285 new Pennsylvania jobs. “This project is a big win for Wilkes-Barre, both now and in the future,” said Governor Wolf. “Major employers like GUARD recognizing the advantages and growth potential of Wilkes-Barre means that not only will its current Pennsylvania workers remain employed here for years to come, but that hundreds more will now have family-sustaining jobs that will help the local economy and community.” (Governor Wolf press release)

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Closes Deal to Buy Wilkes-Barre Building; New Jobs on the Way

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance didn’t have to look beyond the city for its new corporate headquarters…. The company ended months of speculation Wednesday, announcing it closed a deal to buy the Wilkes-Barre Center at 39 Public Square. CEO Sy Foguel said the search began more than a year ago to accommodate the company that was growing financially and in number of employees. GUARD, a subsidiary of billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., had increased six-fold to more than $1.2 billion in annual sales and doubled its workforce to more than 675 over the past five years. “Staying in downtown Wilkes-Barre has always been a high priority for us, but we had an obligation to our parent company and their shareholders to do a thorough due diligence and fully explore the feasibility of numerous alternatives in Wilkes-Barre, other parts of Northeast PA, and elsewhere,” Foguel said. (Times Leader news story)

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies Buys New Wilkes-Barre Building

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Co. has purchased the Wilkes-Barre Center building on Public Square as it expands its national headquarters in the city’s downtown. During a press conference in the courtyard of Rodano’s, which is part of the Wilkes-Barre Center property, state Sen. John Yudichak called the project “the biggest economic development victory for the City of Wilkes-Barre in decades.” Calling GUARD a “stellar corporate citizen,” state Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski said keeping the company headquarters here “speaks volumes about the private sector’s faith in Wilkes-Barre City and Northeastern Pennsylvania.” (Citizen’s Voice news story)

GUARD Adds Miscellaneous Professional Liability; CEO Foguel Discusses Expansion

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies has begun offering a Miscellaneous Professional Liability policy in New Jersey with expansion into a half dozen more states targeted by year-end 2016. This new product is the latest development in an expansion plan kicked off in 2013. GUARD CEO and President Sy Foguel explains, "Our vision has been to become a one-stop shop for commercial insurance. To achieve this goal, we implemented several strategies." Foguel indicates that the first step was to write workers' compensation coverage in all 46 non-monopolistic states plus the District of Columbia – a benchmark achieved in the spring of 2015. "By the end of 2017," he adds, "we plan to be writing very robust businessowner's policies and commercial umbrellas nationwide; we are also actively entering new states with commercial auto. Together, these lines and professional liability provide the basis of our BizGUARD Plus one-stop solution." (Morningstar news story)

Warren Buffett Touts GUARD's Growth

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies in downtown Wilkes-Barre has received accolades from billionaire Warren Buffett for its tremendous growth…. When GUARD was acquired, it had less than $400 million in premiums. “This year, we should arrive at the $1 billion mark,” COO Carl Witkowski said…. The growth caught the attention of Mr. Buffet, who singled out GUARD for “doing terrifically” at a recent shareholders’ meeting attended by about 40,000 people in Omaha, Nebraska…. Mr. Buffet said Wilkes-Barre-based GUARD is “doing a great job with small business policies — primarily workers’ comp around the country — and it’s flourished."  (Citizen’s Voice news story)

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Adds Lawyers Professional Liability Program

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Insurance Companies is now offering a Lawyers Professional Liability policy in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and the District of Columbia with ten more states planned in 2016. Available as either a complement to other policies or on a standalone basis, Lawyers Professional Liability is designed to protect against financial losses due to negligence, errors, or omissions. Berkshire Hathaway GUARD’s coverage has limits starting at $100,000 per claim ($300,000 aggregate) but can range up to $3 million. (Insurance Journal news story)

A.M. Best Affirms Ratings of Berkshire Hathaway GUARD

A.M. Best has affirmed the financial strength rating of A+ (Superior) and issuer credit ratings of "aa-"…. The ratings reflect Berkshire Hathaway GUARD's solid capitalization, favorable operating profitability achieved through disciplined underwriting initiatives and conservative reserving philosophy, which has resulted in favorable reserve development in recent years. The ratings also acknowledge the implicit and explicit financial support provided by GUARD’s ultimate parent, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (A.M. Best press release)

Berkshire Hathaway GUARD Names Important Staff Appointments and Promotions

As a result of expansion, a number of important staff appointments and promotions have been made. Read our press releases to learn more. (Senior Field Representative Traci Herring, Insurance Journal news story; Senior Field Representatives Sue Bonkowski and Mike Lawless, Insurance Journal news story; Senior Field Representative Mark Martinez, Insurance Journal news story; Executive Vice President of Property and Liability Insurance Lyle Hitt, Insurance Journal news story; Senior Field Representative Connie Bedaw, The Standard news story)

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B u s i n e s s

A.M. Best Upgrades 2013 Ratings of GUARD Members (Later Reaffirmed 2/2014)

A.M. Best Co. has upgraded the financial strength rating to A+ (Superior) from A- (Excellent)…. The ratings reflect GUARD’s solid capitalization, favorable operating profitability achieved through disciplined underwriting initiatives, as well as the cautious manner in which initial claim reserves are established, which has resulted in favorable reserve development in recent years. The ratings also acknowledge the implicit and explicit financial support provided by GUARD's new ultimate parent, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and Berkshire subsidiary, National Indemnity Company…. In addition to Berkshire’s track record of supporting its member companies, these transactions demonstrate the explicit commitment provided by Berkshire, for which GUARD members receive rating enhancement. (A.M. Best press release)

Acquisition of GUARD by National Indemnity Company (a Subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.) Completed

GUARD Insurance Group was sold to Nebraska-based National Indemnity Co.…. [Carl Witkowski, GUARD’s Chief Operating Officer] said the world-class high-performing National Indemnity Co. [a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc.] was interested in GUARD because the company was successful and profitable during some difficult years in the recent past. "Despite a long and deep recession and challenging period within our industry, we managed to expand and produce good financial results," Witkowski said. "With the economy slowly turning around and a strong parent company to assist us, we are very optimistic about our prospects for profitable expansion and growth." (Times Leader news story; Citizens' Voice news story; A.M. Best's Best Day news story)

GUARD Named a Ward’s 50 Top Performer for 2012

Annually, Ward Group analyzes the financial performance of over 3,000 property-casualty insurance companies and nearly 800 life-health insurance companies domiciled in the United States and identifies the top performers in each segment. This group is called the Ward's 50 for the year. Each Ward's 50 company has passed all safety and consistency screens and achieved superior performance over the five years analyzed. (Ward Group article; Marketwire news story)

GUARD Recognized Among Model Carriers (2007)

Selected by Celent, Inc., an international strategy consultancy, to be included as a case study in their Model Carrier Report in January of 2007, as a part of their mission to help leading financial institutions sustain a competitive advantage. GUARD’s Agency Service Center (ASC) was recognized for providing insurance agents and brokers with a secure, web-based means of managing their business with the company on-line. (press release)

GUARD Among Industry Technology Award Finalists (2004)

GUARD was recognized as a finalist for the 2004 A.M. Best E-Fusion Awards, a national program highlighting innovative uses of technology to address insurance business challenges. GUARD Executive Marshall Kornblatt said, “Our agents and brokers have expressed satisfaction with the power and ease of use of our Agency Service Center. We are pleased to have an independent group of our peers recognize and validate our contributions to advancing efficiencies for insurance professionals.” (press release)

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C o m m u n i t y S e r v i c e

GUARD Supports United Way with $96,878 Donation (2014)

GUARD held another successful United Way campaign. The employees’ goal was to raise at least $60,000 to aid specific programs at member agencies – a target exceeded by over $5,000. Overall, GUARD’s staff raised $65,085 (including 63 Leadership Givers who contributed at least $500). Combined with GUARD’s corporate match of $31,793, the total donation to the United Way was $96,878.

GUARD Aids Victims of Earthquake (2010)

As a local corporate donor, GUARD gave $27,678 to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund in February to help Haitians recover from the disaster. The donation was the largest from any Northeastern Pennsylvania company to the nonprofit's Haiti fund, according to Wyoming Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross Executive Director Ed Winters. (insurancenewsnet.com news story)

Working to Volunteer for Society (2008)

GUARD’s employees are allowed to volunteer work time with nonprofit agencies. “For us it’s part of our fabric,” said Carl Witkowski, the Chief Administrative Officer at GUARD. “Volunteerism is investing in your human capital, which is a company’s most valuable asset. At the same time, it strengthens the community.” (Times Leader news story)

Hurricane Katrina Relief (2005)

“Always a great corporate citizen,” GUARD increased its Matching Gifts Program to 3:1 for Hurricane Katrina Relief efforts. Within three days, $35,000 was raised. (WBRE interview)

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C u l t u r e

GUARD Lot an Example of What Pride Can Accomplish (2007)

“‘They paved paradise and put up a parking lot,’ Joni Mitchell famously noted in 1969’s ‘Big Yellow Taxi.’ That’s usually the way it works…. This makes what GUARD has done with its parking lot on Market Street in Wilkes-Barre all the more remarkable…. Take a stroll…and you’ll see what pride of ownership, a sense of civic responsibility and love of perfectly maintained plants has achieved.” (Times Leader editorial)

GUARD Receives Healthy Workplace Award (2006)

GUARD’s health care initiative, WellGUARD, was recently recognized by the Greater Wilkes-Barre Chamber of Commerce. The award recognized the numerous health-conscious programs GUARD has put into place since launching WellGUARD in January of 2006. More than 91 percent of the organization’s employees participate and enjoy better health due to weight loss, smoking cessation, increased physical activity, enhanced education, and better nutrition. (press release)

GUARD is Ranked #2 Best Place to Work in PA (2001)

“We believe employees will do their best work in an environment that is conducive to their creativity,” said Robert Thomas, Communications Director for GUARD. “Challenging jobs are the most interesting. We’ve learned to take a chance on people, asking them to assume projects that extend their reach. GUARD is still small enough that individual efforts have a large impact on our success.” (Central PA Business Journal supplement; Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry press release)

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