Universal Insurance Holdings is committed to creating a sustainable workplace for our employees, society, and our planet. As a property and casualty insurance group, we are keenly aware of the risks posed by increased climate change and issues that affect society at large. By leading with our values, our company focuses on ways we can drive positive change by promoting the benefits of sustainability, reducing our environmental footprint, encouraging employee education and involvement, and monitoring progress.
A Letter from Our CEO
At Universal Insurance Holdings, we are committed to creating a sustainable future that extends far beyond our business operations, to our society, our environment, and our people. Being a responsible corporate citizen is part of our DNA, and I am tremendously proud of the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) efforts that Universal is undertaking.
Our ESG approach builds on setting more definitive goals, measuring our successes and challenges, and implementing best practices to ensure we are good stewards on behalf of our key stakeholders —employees, customers, shareholders, agents, and communities. Living up to that commitment means staying true to the values that have defined our organization for many years. Only by harnessing the full power of our businesses and our people can we help solve society’s toughest challenges.
I am delighted to share our recent progress across these priorities and our vision for what lies ahead in Environmental, Social and Governance. We understand that this is a journey and have worked diligently to ensure it becomes an essential part of our culture and company strategy. This deep commitment and focus on sustainability allow us to maintain our leadership position and will support our long-term success.
Stephen J. Donaghy
Chief Executive Officer
Universal believes that active leadership in environmental issues and sustainability is paramount to the well-being of our planet. As a property and casualty insurance group, we understand the risks posed by climate change and increased natural disasters that affect our industry, our planet, and its inhabitants. Our goals are to support our communities when natural disasters strike and to create a sustainable workplace to preserve our environment for future generations.
At Universal, we are taking tangible steps to evolve our company to drive sustainable change, particularly with how our business affects the environment.
Universal Insurance Holdings is a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partner (GPP) as of November 2021. Through this partnership, our goal is to protect human health and the environment by reducing the negative health impacts of air emissions using green power.
Our organization has committed to use 652,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of green power annually (25% of our energy through renewals). Through the purchase of green renewable energy, including wind, solar, low-impact hydroelectric, and geothermal, we aim to reduce our own carbon footprint while encouraging others to take similar actions. Our purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) has been certified and verified by non-profit validation accreditors such as the Center for Resource Solutions’ Green-e program to meet GPP program requirements.
The CLEO Institute is a Florida-based, 501(c)(3) non-profit, non-partisan organization exclusively dedicated to climate crisis education and advocacy. Universal is proud to be the 2021-22 primary Corporate Partner for the CLEO Speakers Network (CSN).
The CSN is a certification program that builds individuals’ confidence in climate communication by breaking down the latest science, impacts, and actionable solutions. Through these trainings, they can carry a message of urgency to a broader audience to accelerate climate action. The program has trained hundreds of individuals throughout Florida to prepare and empower them to become climate advocates in our local communities.
Since the inception of the CLEO Speakers Network Program in 2012-2013, the organization has trained approximately 1,000 people across Florida. These trained speakers have provided over 1,500 webinars and presentations with vital climate change information to close to 50,000 Floridians.
Climate Symposium Silver Sponsor
Universal is also a Silver Level sponsor of the CLEO Institute’s 2022 Climate Symposium, which enlists world-renowned speakers to discuss critical topics related to the climate crisis and innovative solutions that are available to tackle it. The Symposium brings together close to 1,000 international participants to receive the most up-to-date data on climate and health-related issues, with a focus on how to lower carbon footprints and become more civically engaged. There is also an emphasis on climate justice to help people understand the impacts on our most vulnerable communities.
As climate change accelerates and natural disasters strike with more frequency, our involvement as a Community Partner with Team Rubicon is vital for affected populations. Team Rubicon is an organization that mobilizes veterans, leveraging their skills and experience to help people prepare, respond, and recover from disasters and humanitarian crises.
Team Rubicon utilizes the CDC’s Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to ensure they reach the most vulnerable and at-risk communities. The SVI uses census data to measure a community’s resiliency when confronted with an outside stressor. Disasters are indiscriminate, yet their devastating impact continues to disproportionally affect the poor and communities of color. During Hurricane Harvey, the worst flood damage affected a neighborhood that was 49% nonwhite. During Hurricane Katrina, four of the seven zip codes with the costliest flood damage were at least 75% Black.
Given these circumstances, Universal is passionate about the importance of Team Rubicon’s mission. There are natural synergies with this partnership as both our organizations support homeowners in time of tremendous need.
Universal partners with C2ES, the successor to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, which was founded in 1998, and is widely recognized as an influential and pragmatic voice on climate issues. Their mission is to advance strong policy and ambitious action to: reduce greenhouse gas emissions; promote and accelerate the clean energy transition; strengthen adaptation and resilience to climate impacts; and facilitate the necessary financial investments to do so.
Universal’s funding supports C2ES’s research and work, specifically their brief An Emerging Blueprint for Companies: Strategies to Advance Local Climate Resilience. The brief highlights 7 key strategies that companies can use to support local climate risk reduction and capacity building along with example company projects and a discussion of emerging trends. The brief, and sharable versions of graphics highlighting private sector strategies and opportunities can be found here.
Climate Leadership Conference
Universal was a proud Bronze Level sponsor of the C2ES Climate Leadership Conference in 2022. The annual Climate Leadership Conference is North America’s premier event dedicated to addressing the climate crisis through policy, innovation, and business solutions. The conference brings together over 1,000 forward-thinking leaders from the business (55%), government (20%) and non-profit/academic (25%) sectors to explore energy and climate solutions and opportunities, and to showcase climate leadership.
As of 2021, Universal has installed Elkay water filtration systems in our facilities, with the goal of reducing our plastic bottle consumption by 200,000 bottles per year. Additionally, Elkay filtered ezH2O bottle filling stations reduce lead and other harmful contaminants, putting cleaner, healthier water at our employees’ disposal.
Each filtration station informs users of the number of 20 oz. single-use water bottles saved from waste by using reusable bottles and cups. The innovative and award-winning filtration system aligns with our commitment to delivering a healthy work environment and sustainable design at our facilities. By reducing our dependency on the number of disposable plastic bottles and aluminum cans that pollute our land and waterways, we will also see long-term cost savings for the Company.
To reduce our paper consumption and more efficiently deliver services to our policyholders, we revitalized our digital presence to enable them to submit claims and view documents electronically through revamped public-facing websites.
We have continued our concerted effort to transition close to one million U.S. policyholders to “go paperless.” The goal of this ongoing initiative is to capture all policyholders electronically, while reducing our dependency on paper correspondence.
At Universal, we firmly believe that transparency and accountability are paramount to fostering a culture of ethics and optimal performance. We have established a corporate governance structure to ensure compliance with all legal and financial regulations, as well as strong ethical standards and conduct. Through our Board and governance structure, our goal is to foster informed and effective decision-making, and appropriate accountability measures and monitoring to ensure effective and principled business operations.
Chief Administration Officer
Richard D. Peterson, Chair
Joel M. Wilentz, M.D.
Ozzie A. Schindler
Michael A. Pietrangelo, Chair
Joel M. Wilentz, M.D.
Richard D. Peterson
Jon W. Springer, Chair
Sean P. Downes
Scott P. Callahan
Francis X. McCahill
Nominating & Governance Committee
Scott P. Callahan, Chair
Joel M. Wilentz, M.D.
Michael A. Pietrangelo
Marlene M. Gordon
Ozzie A. Schindler, Chair
Jon W. Springer
Kimberly D. Cooper
At Universal, we work tirelessly to put people first - by empowering them through homeownership as a means of wealth creation, professional and career development of our associates, and creating an inclusive and diverse work environment. We believe that by fighting for equal opportunity and respecting the human rights of everyone whose lives we touch, we can harness our collective power to be a force for equity and justice.
Fostering an inclusive workforce is essential to our core values. Our goal is to create an environment where everyone feels included and use our diversity to innovate and problem-solve. We firmly believe this is a critical competitive advantage for Universal in our industry.
In all this work, we partner with local non-profits, communities and leaders to make sure our community outreach efforts create impact and change lives.
United Nations Global Compact – Participant
As of October 2021, Universal has joined the world’s largest corporate citizenship initiative, the United Nations Global Compact. As participants in the UN Global Compact, our goal is to support this global movement of sustainable companies and stakeholders to create a better world. The UN Global Compact supports companies to do business responsibly by aligning their strategies and operations with Ten Principles on human rights, labor, environment, and anti-corruption.
Through this partnership, our aim is to take strategic actions to advance broader societal goals. As Participants with the UN Global Compact, we join other companies across industries to implement responsible practices and develop innovative solutions to address poverty and inequality, and support education, health and peace, to name just a few areas.
We are proud to be leaders in our industry in this space, as one of only three U.S. based, nonlife insurance companies signed to the UN Global Compact.
Great Place to Work Certified
Universal has received Great Place to Work® (GPTW) Certification for three consecutive years beginning in 2021. We make employee experience a priority every day and GPTW Certification is a testament to our great culture and the enhancements to our work environment. Our employees have reported a consistently positive experience with their coworkers, their leaders, and with their jobs during the company-wide GPTW Trust Index survey made available to the workforce. This includes an 86% positive rating in the GPTW statement question - "Is Universal Insurance Holdings a Great Place to Work?," compared to 59% for a typical U.S -based company.
From our robust benefit offerings, employee recognition programs, upgrades to our facilities, and our emphasis on our key values, the organization has made a concerted effort to enhance the quality of our workplace experience.
We are very proud of this achievement.
Employee Care – Health & Wellness
Universal is committed to providing its employees industry leading benefits that address their physical, emotional, and financial wellbeing. Our employees are a cornerstone of our operations, and we take their health and wellness seriously.
Professional Development for Employees
Tuition Assistance Program
Universal is proud to offer all its employee professional development and growth opportunities. Through our Tuition Assistance Program (TAP), every employee is eligible to receive up to $5,250 annually to enroll in courses, programs, certificates, and degrees from accredited college or universities for professional development and advancement.
To date, close to 10% of our employees have taken advantage of this benefit.
Dale Carnegie Executive Training
Universal offers high potential employees select Dale Carnegie Leadership Excellence training. Through the Leadership Excellence Training Package, our employees work on several modules that address Coaching for Improved Performance; Delegation; Successful Public Speaking; etc. The primary competencies reached revolve around coaching, leadership, accountability, management controls, communication, stress management, attitude, external awareness, and influence.
Diversity and Inclusion
Universal prides itself on its diverse talent, at all levels of the organization. By collecting data aligned with EEO-1 gender and race categories, we evaluate the progress of our diversity and inclusion efforts. Our data shows that our organization makes diversity a priority and we foster an inclusive environment where all employees can reach their full potential.
CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion
We are also signatories of the CEO Action Diversity and Inclusion Pledge as of 2020. Joining over 1,000+ counterparts, the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion™ pledge is the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion. This pledge affirms our commitment to provide diversity programming and engagement opportunities to workforce.
WOW Financial Capability Program
Through our partnership with the Neighborhood Housing Services of South Florida (NHSSF), we assist in addressing a pressing issue for South Floridians, addressing rates of homeownership among communities of color. We are official corporate partners with the NHSSF’s With Ownership Wealth! (WOW!) initiative – a financial capacity program designed to increase African American rates of homeownership. This will be a web-based and app platform that will provide vital information and resources to underserved communities in South Florida looking to become homeowners.
We believe that through this partnership, we can engagement and assist many African American families with achieving homeownership. WOW! participants are managed through a best-in-class financial capability platform called ChangeMachine.org that provides structure, guidance for goal-setting, and robust training materials to help housing counselors efficiently and effectively individualize their work with each client. Through this process, as well as pre- and post-testing and utilization of cutting edge FinTech, client progress is tracked and measured over the comprehensive trajectory toward homeownership goals, assessing debt levels, credit reports and scores, and savings and asset accumulation upon program entry and exit.
The program is currently in development and will be unveiled mid-2022.
Corporate sponsor of NHSSF’s 2021 Housing Expo
Universal is a corporate sponsor of the NHSSF’s Homeowner & Homebuyer Expo, which took place in October of 2021. The event informed low to moderate-income Miami-Dade residents about the homebuying process and put them on the path to homeownership.
Scholarships for Underserved, Low-income Communities
Since 2017, Universal has generously funded over 2,500 scholarships through contributions totaling $18.5 million to Step Up For Students. Step Up for Students is a non-profit organization that helps manage the income-based Florida Tax Credit Scholarship Program. The program is funded by corporations with tax-credited donations and allows parents and students to choose between a scholarship to support private school tuition and fees, or one that assists with transportation costs to out-of-county public schools.
Step Up For Students served more than 189,000 students for the 2021-22 school year. More than 2,000 private schools participate in the scholarship program statewide. About 55% of scholarship children are from single-parent households and nearly 65% are Black or Hispanic. The average household income of a family of four accepted to receive scholarships is $37,730.
Financial Literacy with Students
Universal is proud to have a multiyear commitment and partnership with Junior Achievement of South Florida. Through our Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Company (UPCIC) branded “storefront” at the Patten Family Foundation JA Finance Park, we teach 20,000+ students about the insurance industry, careers, and financial literacy.
The Junior Achievement Finance Park enlists eighth grade students from Broward County and south Palm Beach County every year to learn how career pathways and financial decisions impact their lives. As a financial services company, the synergies are obvious, as JA is an organization that provides invaluable financial literacy instruction to our youth.
Youth Health: Fundraising for Childhood Cancer Research
Universal’s longest standing employee charity fundraiser is with the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a non-profit organization with the aim of raising funds to help find cures for children with cancer. Universal provides a company match to every employee dollar raised at our annual fundraising drive. Our fundraisers have earned over $1M for St. Baldrick’s efforts throughout the years – earning the Top Fundraising Event in Florida several years running and placing top 10 nationally as well.
Access to Affordable Housing with Habitat for Humanity
As a provider of insurance for personal residential properties, Universal is keenly aware of the importance of homeownership. Our partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Broward, Greater Miami, and South Palm Beach County comes as a natural synergy and aligns with our core values. The reputable nonprofit builds strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter and provides affordable housing to those in need, which is critical in building strong and stable communities.
Our employees are proud to participate in Habitat for Humanity home groundbreakings, home dedications, and team builds for families in need throughout the year. Through sponsorships and volunteer hours, Universal is committed to strengthening this partnership throughout South Florida and every location where we have operations.
At-risk Youth Affordable Housing Options with H.O.M.E.S.
Universal supports local nonprofits in the South Florida community that work on assisting those in need of affordable housing. Through our partnership with the Housing Opportunities, Mortgage Assistance, & Effective Neighborhood Solutions (H.O.M.E.S.), we support their mission of providing quality community and economic development benefiting at-risk/disadvantaged lower income Broward County residents and neighborhoods. We are proud to contribute financially to many of their programs, including:
Affordable Housing Sponsor
Universal is committed to assisting local communities with access to affordable housing. Through the H.O.M.E.S. Affordable Housing Sponsorship, Universal helps defray the cost of providing affordable housing units to youth aged out of foster and relative care, as well as other low-income residents who live in one of their 20 affordable units ranging in size from 1 to 3 bedroom units.
Improving Lives with Best Buddies International
Best Buddies International is a nonprofit that assists individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Through their various programs, the organization is dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, and inclusive living for people with IDD. Universal has entered into a partnership with the local Broward chapter of Best Buddies, specifically supporting their annual Friendship Walk.
Best Buddies Friendship Walk
The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is the leading walk in the country supporting inclusion for people with IDD. We are a proud corporate sponsor of the Best Buddies Friendship Walk, and use our funds to help move their mission forward by funding local Best Buddies programs. It also provides a unique opportunity to engage our employees and have them see the mission of the organization in action at the local level. Every dollar raised goes towards making the world a more inclusive, accepting place.
The health and wellbeing of our associates has been Universal’s priority since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the unprecedented changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, we have made a concerted effort to protect our workforce, customers, and our community. By deploying our standard natural disaster / crisis rapid response protocol and offering innovative solutions, we have been able to rapidly respond to consumers and maintain an active workforce. Several relief measures were implemented to continue quality service and productivity, limit business disruptions, while ensuring our key stakeholders stay safe and healthy.