Universal Insurance Services (UIS) was founded in 1988 as one of the early true independent Brokerage Agencies. In the beginning, Universal Insurance Service’s main focus was on aligning carriers and large producers directly. Recognizing the tremendous value of the relationships they had created, Universal Insurance Service shifted its focus, and began successfully wholesaling a variety of insurance products, utilizing their strong carrier relationships to support its retail clients and firms. By early 2000, Universal Insurance Services had grown to become one of the leading Broker General Agencies.
In late 2002, Universal Insurance Services attracted the attention of one of the largest publicly traded independent distributors of life insurance in the United States, recognizing the tremendous growth and potential of UIS, they acquired the firm.
Shortly after the acquisition, in 2003, Michael Sorensen joined Universal Insurance Services as the National Brokerage Director. As a result of his success, in 2007, Mr. Sorensen was named President of Universal Insurance Services establishing Universal Insurance Services’ position as the fastest growing and one of the most profitable BGA’s within its parent company.
In 2008, Gaines and Smith Financial Group was acquired by the same corporation, which was founded by Mitchell Smith in 1997. Gaines & Smith featured a unique agency platform, with specialties more diverse than a typical firm, ranging from financial planning and money management to executive benefits, advanced insurance planning and robust product expertise.
In 2010, Universal Insurance Services and Gaines and Smith Financial Group, along with its divisions, merged into a single business. The merger added significantly to UIS’ expertise and service offerings, bringing platforms in practice management, marketing and advanced sales, and leaving them well-positioned for even greater growth in the BGA marketplace. As a result of their continued growth and to better reflect the synergy created by the merger, the company changed the name of their independent advisory group from Gaines and Smith Financial Group to Universal Partners, in 2011.
In late 2012, Universal Insurance Services successfully completed the re-acquisition of its remaining equity from the initial acquiring company. This re-acquisition is representative of the growth and maturity of Universal Insurance Services; with greater flexibility, Universal now has the ability to expand dramatically, allowing them to maximize their platforms in practice management, marketing and advanced sales and in return provide new opportunities for their advisors and firms to help them grow their practices and better serve their clients.
Realizing there was a gap in the options, objectivity and creativity offered, even by the largest of firms, Universal and Vanbridge LLC formed a strategic partnership in 2014 to offer a broad range of solutions that included consulting and advanced planning for Private Equity and/or their portfolio companies, RIA’s, Funds, HNW Individuals, Insurance Firms and Corporations. Recognizing the tremendous potential the partnership afforded, Vanbridge acquired Universal in 2015.
Vanbridge is an insurance intermediary, capital advisory and insurance and reinsurance management firm and is led by a unique inter-disciplinary team of industry experts and insiders. Joining Vanbridge represented another opportunity to scale to meet the demands of the industry and the needs of our valued clients.
Alongside our acquisition, Vanbridge also acquired Alan Gray, a highly respected international audit, actuarial, underwriting, reinsurance and risk management firm, and Dowling Hales, one of the oldest and most experienced advisory firms focused exclusively on the insurance industry. As a result of this remarkable combination, we have effectively brought all of the services related to insurance, reinsurance and capital markets into a single organization that is focused on providing high-end, bespoke solutions. Universal now has the ability to leverage the intellectual capital, technical capabilities and client relationships of its people to anticipate, innovate and develop creative re-engineered insurance solutions in capital markets, insurance and reinsurance.
Our collective firms have the capability to bridge the languages, cultures and financial interests across the broad spectrum of traditional insurance and capital markets to deliver significant value to our clients and partners. No one insurance broker or investment bank currently offers this total integrated approach as a combined business enterprise—until now.