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Best’s News & Research Service - April 25, 2012 04:53 PM (EDT)

Hastings Mutual CEO to Retire After 37 Years in the Insurance Business

HASTINGS, Mich. //BestWire// - The long-time head of the Michigan-based Hastings Mutual Insurance Co. is retiring after spending 37 years in the insurance industry, the company said in a written statement.

Bill Wallace has served as chief executive officer of Hastings for 14 years. He will stay on until July, when the company's chief operations officer, Joseph Babiak Jr., will take the reins.

"Together, we have met many challenges and have overcome many obstacles while having some fun along the way," Wallace said in a statement about his time at the company.

Wallace led Hastings into an expansion era. In 2010, the company entered the Iowa market, its sixth state in the Midwest. The statement touted aspects of the company's financial performance under Wallace and the fact he established the Hastings Mutual Insurance Co. Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit that provides community support.

Babiak, Wallace's successor, has been with Hastings since 2001 when he joined at chief financial officer. He has more than 30 years of insurance industry experience. The company has been planning for Babiak to take over when Wallace retired, the statement said. Wallace voiced support for Babiak in the company's statement.

Hastings Mutual specializes in writing personal and commercial lines, according to BestLink. The company has produced moderate operating earnings in the past five years, evidenced by pretax returns on revenue and equity, which are lower than the private passenger standard automobile and homeowners industry composite. The company has had solid investment income, partially offset by underwriting losses.

The company in 2011 had direct premiums written of $341.9 million and a net income of $16.7 million, according to BestLink. The company's five-year average combined ratio is 102.8, driven by spikes above 100 in 2009 and 2010. The company currently has a Best's Financial Strength Rating of A+ (Superior).
(By Michael Buck, senior associate editor, BestWeek:


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