Trio of deals bolster bank’s insurance business

TowneBank is expanding its insurance arm locally.

TowneBank is expanding its insurance arm locally.

A Hampton Roads-based bank is extending its reach further into Richmond.

TowneBank announced Friday that it has acquired three insurance agencies in the area in a trio of deals that will give its Towne Insurance subsidiary its first major local foothold.

Invincia Insurance Solutions in Chesterfield, Total Insurance Planning in Midlothian and B.H. Baird Insurance in the Northern Neck will now be part of Towne Insurance. The financial specifics of the transactions were not disclosed.

TowneBank CEO Bob Aston said the company’s insurance subsidiary has grown elsewhere around Virginia and North Carolina with about 20 acquisitions in 16 years but had yet to tap into Richmond.

“The one hole in the map was we didn’t really have anything in the Richmond market, and we’ve been working on that since last year,” Aston said. “This will give us a nice foundation in the Richmond market.”

Bob Aston

Bob Aston

The purchases are the latest steps in a methodical approach that the $6 billion bank has taken in expanding into Richmond. Its initial step was to bring its mortgage operations here in 2011 by acquiring Benchmark Mortgage in Innsbrook.

It took its biggest leap in January when it closed on the $275 million purchase of long-standing Franklin Federal Savings Bank.

Insurance is an important part of TowneBank’s balance sheet, accounting for about 10 percent of the company’s net income, Aston said. And these latest acquisitions help the company hit and surpass its goal of $50 million in annual revenue for its insurance operations. Invincia, Total Insurance and B.H. Baird combined bring books of business of about $5 million annually.

“The agencies that we just purchased will put us around $52 million in (annual insurance) revenue, so that gets us through our current five-year plan,” Aston said. “The new five-year plan is to double that.”

The three agencies each sell property and casualty insurance, as well as other policies. Invincia, which is the largest of the three, also has a sizeable book of health insurance policies.

Dudley Fulton, president and CEO of Towne Insurance, said the deals add 38 employees to the company’s insurance headcount of more than 300. That includes the principals of each of the three agencies – Invincia President Frank Beale, Total Insurance President Jeff Swanson and B.H. Baird President Rick Farmar will remain on with Towne, as will each of the agencies’ individual brands.

“They come with a lot of experience,” Fulton said.

Towne Insurance’s acquisition streak will likely continue. Fulton said the company is in constant conversations with potential candidates.

“We hope to continue to expand,” Fulton said. “We would be looking for other opportunities in the Richmond marketplace and the Central Virginia marketplace. It’s a targeted area for us.”

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