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UPC Insurance gets new leadership amid delay in new St. Pete HQ plans

Margie Manning

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UPC headquarters at 800 2nd Ave. S.

There’s a new lineup of top executives at United insurance Holdings Corp., one of the largest companies headquartered in St. Petersburg.

Just days after insurance industry veteran Daniel Peed took over as chairman and CEO, the company’s board named a new president and a new chief risk officer.

Brad Martz

Brad Martz, UPC’s chief financial officer, was named president and will oversee the company’s daily operations. He’ll also keep his CFO job, overseeing financial operations.

The company also created a new leadership position — chief risk officer — and appointed Chris Dittman to that post. Dittman has been managing director of reinsurance since 2017.

The C-suite shifts at United Insurance (Nasdaq: UIHC), a property and casualty insurer that does business as UPC Insurance, are occurring amid a delay in the company’s plans for a new corporate headquarters in downtown St. Petersburg. The city has agreed to sell land at 800 1st Ave. S. to UPC, where the comapny plans to build a  four-story, 150,000-square-foot corporate office building and  a 500-space parking garage. The company said it had outgrown its current headquarters across the street from the new site, and expects to add about 300 jobs, more than doubling its workforce.

The deal with UPC was delayed last year when environmental contamination was discovered on the site. The city-owned land has subsequently been divided into two parcels, and on July 9, St. Petersburg City Council members will be asked to give UPC more time to complete due diligence on the property, extending the deadline to Oct. 15 due to emergency orders and continued uncertainty because of COVID-19.

UPC intends to complete the deal by Nov. 15, a memo from the city’s administration to the city council said.

John Forney, who was UPC CEO when the company initially unveiled plans for its new headquarters, left UPC effective June 30. Forney was named CEO at GeoVera Insurance Holdings Ltd., a California company that specializes in earthquake insurance.

Forney signed a separation agreement with UPC that gives him a $500,000 cash payment in lieu of an annual bonus that would otherwise be earned and payable to him in 2020, according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Peed, the new chairman and CEO, will forgo any salary or incentive compensation as an officer of the company, but will get an annual payment of $125,000 for his board service, the filing said.

Martz, the new president, will get a pay raise, with his base salary increasing from $412,000 to $450,000, a separate SEC filing said.

Martz joined UPC in 2012 and has served as CFO since then.

“Brad has a tremendous wealth of industry experience and understands the company’s business and operations. In his expanded role Brad will manage the company’s operations, which will allow me to focus on pursuing the company’s strategic vision and strengthening underwriting profitability,” Peed said in a news release.

In Dittman’s new role as chief risk officer, he will be responsible for risk management, capital management and portfolio optimization strategies to manage the company’s exposure and enhance UPC’s underwriting profit.

“Chris has successfully managed our critical reinsurance program and I am confident Chris will continue to lead our overall risk portfolio going forward,” Martz said.

Dittman will be based out of UPC’s Minneapolis office, the press release said.

UPC Insurance, with a net loss of $12.7 million on $176.3 million in total revenue in the first quarter of 2020, recently provided a sneak peek at what’s ahead when it reports financial results for the quarter ended June 30. It estimated catastrophe losses incurred during the second quarter would be about $30 million before income taxes, or about $23 million after tax, net of expected reinsurance recoveries. That included claims from 15 new catastrophe events and three new named tropical windstorms, a news release said.

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