The St. James Insurance Group was founded in 1984 in New York, NY as a retail insurance broker. The firm expanded to Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey and competed with the mid sized and national brokerages for property casualty and employee benefits business.
In 1990 Jim McCahill joined the firm as CEO, hired by founder and owner Louis J Kennedy. Jim had been the Managing Director, Commercial Lines Division for Palmer and Cay of Savannah , Ga. since 1994. Braishfield, ( St James), continued on a "retail track", though was Tribunalized at Lloyd's of London in 1991, and began underwriting on Lloyd's behalf domestically. This proved to be the impetus for all underwriting programs and later a conversion from the retail brokerage business to that of "underwriting program manager" in the mid 1990's.
By 1997 it was apparent the company existed in two worlds; retail and wholesale/MGA. The company sold all retail business in 1997, making the decision to focus exclusively on underwriting programs and distribution of “high transactional” business. Simultaneously, Braishfield was engaged by a major direct writer to develop a program for homeowners in areas highly exposed to windstorm. Utilizing underwriting, marketing and processing systems developed for high transactional business, the company was successful in creating a program with General Star, writing homeowners in 13 states. Virtually all company services were provided, except the assumption of the actual risk. This program grew to 50,000 policies annually, later complimented by two new Lloyd’s program (35,000 policies); ACE USA (Hurricane Deductible Buy Down), Caliber One (Mobile Home Program). In total, the company created programs that exceeded homeowner writings in excess of 100,000 policies annually, making it a leader in the field. The stage was set for St. James/Braishfield to become one of the premier homeowner MGA’s in the country.
Commercial writings had topped $50,000,000 (all program business) and the insurance market was tightening. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 (besides the tragic implications to our country), brought about a dramatic restriction in capacity. St. James/Braishfield lost a number of markets, and alternatives were needed. Capacity needs were addressed by utilizing some of the smaller, newer companies created in Florida post Hurricane Andrew, but many of these “solutions” were short term. The company needed a real solution, one which would offer stable long term Capacity. What was needed was a risk bearing facility that could be counted upon.
In 2003 the decision was made to create an insurance company, a risk bearing entity that would support Braishfield’s clients in areas suffering from capacity shortage. With sizeable financing from a major direct writer, an equity contribution from Seibels Bruce Corp., and additional capital from BAI, St. Johns Insurance Company was launched in December. The company is an Orlando-based, homeowner insurer carrying a Demotech Rating of “A”, excellent. Underwriting and operations are managed by a team of professionals hired to deliver upon a promise to our customers.
In January 2005, after the unprecedented hurricane season of 2004, Braishfield agreed to sell the commercial insurance operations to Brown & Brown Inc. Divesting the commercial business within Orlando fit perfectly with management’s decision to focus on the burgeoning homeowners initiatives presented by the Program Management Division, as well as St. Johns. While no management changes or capital restructuring occurred, the company was renamed St. James Insurance Group and St. James Holding Company. Corporate operations have relocated from New Jersey to Florida.
Today, the company, formerly known as Braishfield Associates Inc., represents seven insurance companies/binding authorities, with projected 2014 writings exceeding $325,000,000. Over 200,000 homeowners belong to the St. James family of insurance products. New programs are providing steady growth. St. James re-entered the Commercial Programs/Binding facilities in 2012. Since that time we have implemented a number of commercial products for our agents, including artisan contractors, mercantile, and vacant properties. We continue to analyze and develop new commercial and personal programs for our agents.