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Ex-Narragansett CEO Hart, ex-Hallmark execs launch E&S carrier with $200mn from Newlight

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Former Narragansett Bay CEO Todd Hart and a team of executives have launched a new excess and surplus lines carrier targeting excess casualty business, with initial backing of up to $200mn from growth equity investor Newlight Partners.

The Dallas-based company will be known as Upland Capital Group. It will initially focus on casualty but will also write property and specialty business.

Hart will serve as the company’s chairman, president and CEO, and is joined by James Damonte, a former Hallmark executive who will serve as president of insurance and chief underwriting officer.

Mark Morrison, who was previously CEO of specialty insurance at Hallmark, will be CFO, while former Narragansett Bay executive Pamela Byron-Button will serve as chief administrative officer.

Newlight previously provided funding to Narragansett, which was purchased by Florida-carrier Heritage in 2017 in a bid by Heritage to diversify outside of its home state. Upland’s management team has also invested in Upland alongside Newlight.

Upland is the latest entrant into a firming market that has generated a raft of start-ups and scale-ups. Most recently, TowerBrook and Further Global reached an agreement to buy ProSight, installing former Validus executive as CEO.

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In a statement announcing the launch, Hart said the talent assembled for the venture would be a vital ingredient to its viability.

“From top to bottom, we have assembled a highly experienced, accomplished team of talented executives at Upland Capital Group,” said Hart in a statement. “Key to success is that our core executive group have all worked together, developed relationships built on trust and mutual respect and bring complementary skill sets.

“We intend to build a company based on our core values of culture, service and support, combined with modern problem-solving to provide solutions to our customer’s specialty insurance needs and requirements.”

Srdjan Vukovic, a partner at Newlight, added: “Having worked closely with Todd Hart on numerous other ventures over the past 15 years, we have seen firsthand his integrity and commitment to operational excellence.

“The Upland team brings substantial experience in building profitable insurance platforms and shares our values and philosophy of building sound, sustainable businesses. We are confident that Upland will be well positioned to become a best-in-class specialty insurance company and partner to its customers well into the future.”

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