BANKING/FINANCE

Compiled by James S. Granelli, Times Staff Writer

The crowded field of workers compensation insurers in Southern California has become a little more competitive with the creation of a new firm in the giant network of subsidiaries under Continental Corp. in New York.

The new subsidiary, Workers Compensation & Indemnity Co. of California, has started operating from offices in Brea to try to grab a share of the $6-billion workers compensation market in the state.

Employees for the carrier had a bit of a head start, though. They have been writing business for the last year through the new company's immediate parent, Casualty Insurance Co. in Chicago, which withdrew from the state once the new firm got under way.

The new subsidiary will write business in Southern California through independent agents who specialize in workers' compensation.

"It's a great market, one with a lot of diversity and very competitive," said Robert L. Werner, president and chief operating officer of the new subsidiary.

"We want to take the concept we had in Chicago--a very service-oriented one--and clone it here in California," he said. "We're looking for companies within 100 miles of our office and for companies where service can help them."

Last year, Casualty Insurance took in about $6.7 million in premiums from operations in Southern California.

Continental is the sixth-largest insurance holding company in the world with annual revenue of $6 billion.

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