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Company History

History of Burns and Wilcox

Burns & Wilcox is an expert in the excess and surplus insurance market. Also called specialty insurance, these product lines refer to complex or unique risks that typically fall outside what the standard market will cover.

Understanding the Specialty Insurance Business

Specialty insurance originated during the 17th century when merchants would gather at Edward Lloyd’s coffee house in London to await word that their ships had arrived safely in port. They recognized an opportunity to better manage risk to their ships by backing one another, spreading their chance of individual catastrophe and assuring themselves of profit. It is also where the term “underwriter” is derived – when one would agree to accept a portion of the risk by writing their name under the representative who previously agreed to accept portions of the risk represented.

Lloyd’s of London remains the epicenter of the global specialty insurance business, which has expanded to include U.S. companies or “markets” where risks can be placed. Burns & Wilcox acts as an intermediary between retail insurance brokers and agents and the specialty London and U.S. markets.

Our Commitment to Excellence

In 1969, the late Herbert W. Kaufman established Burns & Wilcox as an insurance wholesaler to provide brokers and agents with unique access to a variety of insurance markets and help place their specialty risks. Mr. Kaufman began his career as a retail insurance agent. He set out to build a better wholesale platform that would partner with insurance companies and improve the standard of service provided to retail brokers and agents.

Today the entrepreneurial spirit of Burns & Wilcox continues to thrive under the direction of Mr. Kaufman’s son, Alan Jay Kaufman, the company’s Chairman, President and CEO. Burns & Wilcox now stretches to 50 offices throughout North America and includes more than 1,700 professionals.

Engineered for the Future

While the business has evolved in the more than 45 years since Mr. Kaufman founded the company, there are tenants central to the fabric of Burns & Wilcox that remain forever unchanged.

Burns & Wilcox was built on the strength of market relationships that continue to deepen over time. Deals that were struck over a handshake more than a quarter century ago have resulted in long-term and mutually profitable partnerships.

Retail brokers and agents continue to rely on Burns & Wilcox for the company’s in-depth expertise, breakthrough products and innovative solutions to place nearly every distinct risk that a company encounters.

The company’s financial freedom and 100 percent commitment to the wholesale insurance business has Burns & Wilcox well positioned for enduring success that will continue through the next generation of Kaufman family leadership and beyond.