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Jim Little

Jim Little earned a reputation as something of a workers’ compensation psychic when he quit the business in the mid-90s. Sensing that deregulation was going to push the business into an unsustainable price war, he moved to his home state of Oregon and waited for the right time to re-enter the market. In early 2003, Little moved back and started Employers Direct, a direct writer of workers’ compensation insurance that has been able to write more than $150 million in premiums over its first two years in business. The company has also announced regular rate reductions since 2003’s state reform efforts, its prices dropping more than 40 percent since then. Before founding Employers Direct, Little was responsible for the workers’ compensation division of Fremont Comp, eventually positioning the carrier as to be the largest workers’ compensation writer in California. He also expanded the company from a policy writer in two states to a national writer in two and half years, and directed four acquisitions including Oregon-based Industrial Indemnity, where Little started his career in the mailroom in the 1970s. Little said he isn’t worried about making Employers Direct the dominant workers’ compensation writer in California, however. “We expect the next few years to be a period of growth for us. We don’t have a goal to write all workers’ compensation policies in California, but we’d certainly like to have two to four percent of the market,” Little said. He also said he doesn’t plan to step down as CEO or sell the company any time soon. “I’m having a great time, this is a lot of fun. I’ve already had the retirement stuff, I call it my sabbatical now.” Doug Helm, vice president of marketing for Employers Direct, first hired Little as a direct writer in the 1970s when he worked at EBI Companies. “Jim is uniquely qualified for this position. He has a fabulous background working with investment banks and working as an entrepreneur building an investment owned company, but he also has a background managing a direct writing operation.”

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