Amerisafe, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMSF) Q1 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Preliminary Transcript

Apr 26, 2018 • 10:30 am ET

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Amerisafe, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMSF) Q1 2018 Earnings Conference Call - Preliminary Transcript

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Presentation
Operator
Operator

Good day, ladies and gentlemen. And welcome to the AMERISAFE's 2018 First Quarter Earnings Conference Call. At this time, all participants are in a listen-only mode. Later, we will conduct a question-and-answer session, and instructions will follow at that time. (Operator Instructions) As a reminder, this call is being recorded. I would now like to introduce your host for today's conference, Ms. Kathryn Shirley, General Counsel. Ma'am, you may begin.

Executive
Kathryn Shirley

Good morning. Welcome to the Amerisafe 2018 First Quarter Investor Call. If you have not received the earnings release, it is available on our website at www.amerisafe.com. This call is being recorded. A replay of today's call will be available. Details on how to access the replay are in the earnings release.

During this call, we will be making forward-looking statements. These statements are based on current expectations and assumptions that are subject to various risks and uncertainties. Actual results may differ materially from the results expressed or implied in these statements. If the underlying assumptions prove to be incorrect or as the results of risks, uncertainties and other factors, including factors discussed in today's earnings release, and the comments made during this call and in the Risk Factor section of our Form 10-K, Form 10-Qs and other reports and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We do not undertake any duty to update any forward-looking statement.

I will now turn the call over to Janelle Frost, Amerisafe's President and CEO.

Executive
Janelle Frost

Thank you, Kathryn. And good morning, everyone. Thank you for joining us today as we discuss the financial results for the first quarter of 2018, and operational metrics supporting those results. I will begin by saying this was a good start to 2018.

At Amerisafe, we pride ourselves on our focus, consistency, frugality and service. And our financial performance this quarter is the result of our dedicated employees executing on those fundamental attributes. The results demonstrate our ability to maintain discipline while navigating a competitive Workers' Compensation environment. Pricing pressure continued as approved loss costs declined and carriers aggressively searched for premium. Amerisafe, however, focused on retaining and serving our valued policy holders through risk selection, proactive safety expertise and claims management. It was the retention of those valued policy holders that in large part, enabled gross premiums written to grow 2.4% in the first quarter.

Voluntary policy count grew 2% and the related premium grew 1.6%. The growth was supported by a historic policy retention rate of 94%, compared to 92.8% in 2017's first quarter. This was somewhat offset by a decline in new business of 10.4% as new business submissions were down. Overall, pricing on the policies written in the quarter was at 1.63 ELCM, down slightly from a 1.65 in the year ago quarter. Keep in mind our ELCM decrease has been a gradual decrease in a market when underlying loss costs have been on the decline for three years.

In addition to the policies we wrote this quarter, top-line also benefited from $1 million tailwind