Living Up to a Good Name

Robert Ritchie, CEO of American Integrity Insurance, sees the world differently.  It was his ability to spot trends and see opportunity that enabled him to launch his Florida-based residential property insurance company in the wake of significant market turmoil. 

"We had four major hurricanes hit Florida in 2004—Francis, Charley, Ivan, and Jean—and then two more majors in 2005," Ritchie explained. "The homeowners’ insurance market was extremely difficult, and, those events created more disruption in the market."

An insurance industry veteran, Ritchie decided the timing was perfect to strike out on his own.  "Our ability to respond to market needs makes us successful," he said. "It's the old adage that in any business, you find out what they want, you go out and get it, and then you give it to them. It's that simple." 

Today, American Integrity insures 104,000 homes in the state and seeks to double that by expanding into underserved markets. "While our products are offered through independent insurance agents, we are the underwriter. We are the risk taker," Ritchie said. “We believe in rational growth,” he added.  

"Few people get excited about homeowners insurance.  Ours is largely an obligatory purchase. If you have a mortgage, you must have homeowner's insurance. Having said that," he added, "most people do want to protect their homes. The insurance industry doesn’t get the most appreciation or respect, so we've got to focus on the service element."
Financially stable, with strong claims-paying ability and a ready catastrophe-response team, Ritchie is building American Integrity on solid values and "a covenant of trust." 

The name American Integrity Insurance was chosen because, in Ritchie's view, the business was founded "during a time when the industry was overwhelmed with integrity issues. I wanted to create a name that was lofty yet achievable, one that would be a benchmark for all of us. 'Integrity' immediately came to my mind," he told The Suit. "I believe that in any industry, you can rise above the muck and provide a different angle."

Ritchie likens entrepreneurship to looking through a camera lens with solution-oriented optimism rather than doomsday pessimism. "You can look at certain scenarios and interpret them in entirely different ways," he explained. "In any economy, the goods and services must be produced, distributed, sold, and serviced. 

"If you look back at the Great Depression, there were more millionaires formed in that decade than in the history of this country. In these sort of economies, there are going to be winners and losers, and I believe that we are on the edge of spawning even more entrepreneurs over the next decade," he added.