Heritage CEO Lucas to retire, Garateix to take over leadership role

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Bruce Lucas, the co-founder, Chairman and CEO of Heritage Insurance Holdings, Inc., the Florida headquartered and nationally expanding U.S. property casualty insurer, is retiring from the role and COO Ernie Garateix has been promoted and will take over the Chief Executive Officer position.

heritage-insurance-logoLucas has led Heritage Insurance through a rapid expansion during the lifetime of Heritage as a company, driving its portfolio to become one of the largest in the state of Florida and then branching out into other states through acquisitions and new licenses.

He has also been instrumental in Heritage becoming a significant buyer of reinsurance, including from the insurance-linked securities (ILS) market through its Citrus Re range of catastrophe bonds, as well as numerous innovative private arrangements with leading ILS fund managers.

With a coastal and wind exposed property focus, Heritage has positioned the ILS market as a key partner alongside its other reinsurance capital providers and Lucas has worked closely with the sectors as his company leant on reinsurance capital to support its exposure and expansion.

Lucas will retire from the Chairman and CEO roles on November 30th, remaining with Heritage in an executive consulting capacity through 2021.

Richard Widdicombe, Heritage’s other co-founder, will continue to serve as President and has also been named Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Ernie Garateix, who prior to joining Heritage in 2012 worked at another coastal homeowners carrier American Integrity Insurance Group, will take on the CEO role at the same time and will also join the Heritage Board of Directors.

Lucas commented, “Ernie is a highly accomplished executive and has been instrumental to Heritage’s success. He’s been with the company since inception, knows the business inside out, has a tireless work ethic and has the trust and respect of our employees and partners. He’s uniquely suited to take over as CEO and I know I’m leaving the Company in good hands.”

Garateix added, “Bruce has done a tremendous job building Heritage from the ground up with impressive operating results.  I’ve learned a lot working with Bruce over the past eight years and I’m grateful for this opportunity to succeed him as CEO. I look forward to continuing to expand Heritage’s footprint as the premier super-regional carrier.”

In announcing its results yesterday, Heritage once again booked significant growth, with gross premiums rising by more than 17% in Q3 2020.

At the same time, Heritage again booked favourable reserve development as the insurer showed again that it has managed the loss creep and social inflationary issued in the Florida market far better than most.

Catastrophe and weather losses of $47.3 million did drive Heritage to a $5.2 million net loss for the quarter, but the carriers’ ability to manage claims inflation has been evident over the years which has also helped to make it a preferred partner for many reinsurance and ILS players.

In addition, Heritage has now expanded into its fifteenth state, beginning to write homeowners business in Delaware. The carrier has expanded from a Florida only focus to now become a multi-state carrier all under the impressive tenure of Lucas.

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