Ward Group Releases Findings From Analysis of Independent Auditors for Insurance Companies

CINCINNATI, OH--(Marketwire - December 21, 2010) - Ward Group, the leading provider of benchmarking and best practices research studies to the insurance industry, released its findings from a benchmarking analysis of the independent certified public accountant or accounting firm retained by insurance companies to conduct their annual audit.

One of the key relationships for most insurance companies is their relationship with the independent accounting firm or individual who performs the audit on the financial statements. Beyond just fulfilling required audits for the company, these firms act as advisers on a diverse range of financial matters. The purpose of this research was to help insurance companies identify auditors most commonly used within the industry.

The analysis was developed using insurance company responses to the general interrogatories in the 2009 year-end statutory filings. Over 3,360 property-casualty and life-health insurers were examined. The study identified several key points:

-- Approximately 61% of the insurance companies used one of the "Big 4"
   accounting firms as their auditor (PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst &
   Young, Deloitte and KPMG), representing 96% of total net premium of
   the companies analyzed.

-- Larger insurance companies were more likely to use a Big 4 accounting
   firm as their auditor. The analysis showed 94% of insurance companies
   with revenues over $250 million used one of the Big 4 accounting firms
   to conduct their annual audit.

-- Nearly 43% of insurance companies with revenues less than $250 million
   used an auditor other than one of the Big 4 accounting firms.

-- Property-casualty companies were more likely to use a smaller accounting
   firm to conduct the audit than life-health companies. Approximately 41%
   of property-casualty companies used an accounting firm other than a Big
   4 auditing firm compared to 31% of life-health companies.

The following lists the 20 largest auditors identified ranked by the number of insurance clients and lists the ranking of each firm by the percent of premium represented by its clients.

                                                      Ranked by   Ranked by
Top 20 U.S. Audit Firms                                 # of        Client
(Listed in order by number of                          Clients     Premium
                                                      ---------- ----------
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP                                     1          1
Ernst & Young LLP                                              2          3
KPMG LLP                                                       3          4
Deloitte & Touche LLP                                          4          2
Johnson Lambert & Co.                                          5          6
BDO Seidman LLP                                                6          5
Saslow Lufkin & Buggy LLP                                      7         18
Larson & Rosenberger LLP                                       8         10
Buffamante Whipple Buttafaro                                   8         16
Strohm Ballweg LLP                                            10          7
McGladrey & Pullen LLP                                        11          8
Brown Schultz Sheridan & Fritz                                12         15
ParenteBeard LLC                                              13          9
Brown Smith Wallace LLC                                       14         14
Jaynes Reitmeier Boyd                                         15         11
Amper Politziner & Mattia LLP                                 15         17
Clifton Gunderson LLP                                         15         19
Blackman Kallick LLP                                          18         12
BKD LLP                                                       18         13
Shores Tagman Butler & Co P.A.                                18         20
                                                      ---------- ----------

About Ward Group

Ward Group is the leading provider of benchmarking and best practices research studies for insurance companies. The firm analyzes staff levels and expenses for all areas of insurance company operations to help companies measure results, optimize performance and be more profitable. For more information about Ward Group, visit www.wardinc.com.

Contact Information: For more information, contact: Betty Cornelius