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Todd B. Ruthruff

New position: Vice president and resident manager for Florida and the Carolinas, Amerisure Mutual Insurance Co., St. Petersburg

Previous position: Resident manager, Amerisure Mutual Insurance Co., Charlotte, N.C.

Recently approved increases in Florida's workers' compensation insurance premiums are making Todd B. Ruthruff's new position especially challenging.

As Amerisure Mutual's newly appointed vice president and resident manager for Florida and the Carolinas, Ruthruff said he has been busy developing company initiatives in preparation for the rate increase that takes effect April 1.

"There has long been a need for tort reform and rate balance in the state," he said. Ruthruff said the increase will address "some of the rate inadequacies."

In addition, Ruthruff is charged with the "planning and managing of our underwriting and marketing" as well as with the general office management of the St. Petersburg center and all Florida employees _ approximately 95 throughout the state. He also oversees approximately 43 employees in North and South Carolina, assisted by a resident manager in Charlotte.

This will mean at least one trip to Charlotte each quarter, plus extensive travel throughout Florida, both by car and by airplane. "Southwest (Airlines) is my friend now," he said with a laugh.

Amerisure Mutual has been a regional property and casualty insurance company for more than 90 years. Amerisure provides insurance to manufacturing, contracting and commercial clients. The St. Petersburg office is the company's largest, Ruthruff said.

Approximately 50 percent of its Florida premiums come from workers' compensation policies, Ruthruff said. The company wrote approximately $75-million in workers' comp policies in 2002, he said, which represents about 50 percent of the company's total business.

A native of Michigan, Ruthruff, 34, attended Wayne State University in Detroit, majoring in finance. In 1989, while in college, he began working for Amerisure Mutual and has been with the company ever since.

"I have always been interested in management," Ruthruff said. "That was a key factor in this position. I've always enjoyed working with people, whether internally with a staff or externally with clients.

"Insurance is a very exciting industry," he said. "It takes in all the elements of business. You've got planning. You've got objectives. You've got the opportunity to influence other companies' assets by providing a good insurance product, and it's a very relationship-driven industry.

"I love all that," he said.

Ruthruff and his wife, Jennifer, live in Tampa. They have two children, ages 5 and 2, and are expecting their third child in May.

_ FRED W. WRIGHT JR., Times correspondent