2015 was a terrific year for Sentry, one in which we thrived financially while staying true to our beliefs and values as a mutual company with 112 years of history. These include running the company conservatively; treating customers, claimants, employed associates, and retirees well; and giving back to the community. Our financial results reflected our ability to grow, expand into new businesses effectively, and manage the company’s business profitability while continuing to strengthen our ability to meet commitments to our claimants, retirees, current associates, and the community. All but one of our business areas grew. Each was profitable. Our premium and premium equivalents grew strongly, to $3.3 billion, due to strong growth of our mature businesses, continued acquisition, and new organic initiative growth. Cash and invested assets grew a half billion dollars to nearly $10.6 billion. Our surplus grew $264 million to $4.4 billion. Sentry remains one of the best-capitalized insurance companies in the industry. A.M. Best recognized that by awarding Sentry an A+ (Superior) rating for the 24th consecutive year.
Our strong financial showing in 2015 was enhanced by the fact that we are starting to harvest the half billion dollar investment in technology that began six years ago. We are finalizing the replacement of all major systems with new platforms that enable us to make faster, better decisions, utilize data and analytics more effectively, and improve our customers’ and agents’ experience. Our confidence in our ability to build and effectively deploy new technology is also behind our decision to expand our market presence in the independent agency commercial insurance market, a story you can read more about in Expanding through the Independent Agent on page 8.
Sentry is a mutual company with strong vitality, a big heart, and the resources to invest in the betterment of our communities. The Sentry Foundation contributes to worthwhile causes in Central Wisconsin and other areas of the country where our offices are located. Sentry associates give of their time and their money, with the Foundation matching their contributions to several designated charities. Learn more in Giving with a Purpose on page 16.
This year’s annual report updates a story from the previous year: the rebirth of the newly reimagined SentryWorld, the golf, recreation, dining, and special events complex adjacent to our Stevens Point headquarters. In 2015, SentryWorld completed its first full year of operation after a major renovation. I am proud to report that SentryWorld is delighting both local citizens and out-of-town visitors, as well as Sentry associates and retirees, and has earned the accolades of golf, restaurant, and travel writers. In the redesign of SentryWorld, we wanted a facility that would benefit the Sentry community and beyond, enhancing the quality of life in Central Wisconsin and giving visitors a special experience during their time here. It has succeeded on all counts.
Other stories in this year’s annual report include features on our affiliation with Florists’ Mutual Insurance Company, our dedication to helping our associates reach their full potential, and a profile of our Government Affairs team. Each of these articles is part of the overall great story of Sentry Insurance. I want to thank our policyholders, associates, and retirees for making Sentry what it is today.
We promise to continue to earn your trust and confidence.
Chairman of the Board, President and CEO