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From the Ground Up

Lori Chordas for AM Best

October 31, 2015

Ross Buchmueller was at the helm of AIG Private Client Group in 2005 when he was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug to create another insurance organization focused on America’s wealthiest clients. After all, he was anything but a novice in that space. “Underwriting high net worth insurance is the only thing I’ve ever done since I got out of college,” said Buchmueller, who began his career at the Chubb Corp. after graduating from Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.

Buchmueller is no stranger to the world of insurance startups. In 1999, he was approached by AIG’s former CEO, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, to create a company division dedicated to providing property/casualty insurance to elite customers. Today, AIG Private Client Group offers insurance for everything from homeowners and private collections to kidnap and ransom and workers’ compensation for domestic staff. After serving six years as AIG Private Client Group president, and after Greenberg left AIG in 2005, “I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my career at AIG,” Buchmueller said. “I was fortunate that private equity sponsors approached me and said if I ever wanted to have my own insurance company they would support me.”

In 2005, he began laying the groundwork for a new high net worth provider, Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE). Privilege Underwriters Inc., the holding company for the PURE Group of Insurance Cos., including the member-owned PURE, was founded in 2006 and was initially capitalized through investments including management and Trident III, a private equity fund managed by insurance investor Stone Point Capital, according to the company’s 2014 annual report.

In 2006, when Buchmueller launched PURE, “there were only a handful of companies focused on what people refer to as the top 1% of wealthiest Americans,” Buchmueller said. “It was a large, growing, yet relatively underserved market, and we felt we had an expertise and knowledge advantage in that space.” The opportunity to work with independent agents and brokers, “many of whom have in common their love for owning their own business,” also spurred PURE’s genesis, he said. “I found that to be infectious and inspiring. So when given the opportunity, I seized it.”

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