UFG headquarters in Cedar Rapids 
United Fire & Casualty Co., a subsidiary of Cedar Rapids-based United Fire Group Inc., said Friday it had completed the previously announced sale of its subsidiary United Life Insurance Co. to Kuvare US Holdings Inc. for $280 million in cash.

Kuvare, founded in 2015 by insurance company executive Dhiren Jhaveri, is backed by a consortium of long-term capital firms collectively managing more than $20 billion. With the acquisition of United Life Insurance Co., Chicago-based Kuvare has pro forma consolidated assets of more than $2.5 billion. 
When the sale was announced in September, Mr. Jhaveri said his company planned to maintain a strong presence in Cedar Rapids and retain the United Life brand. He told the CBJ the
deal offered an opportunity to deliver more an­nuity and complex life insurance products to retiring baby boomers and other mid­dle-market consumers.
"What we like about United Life is that it enables us to deliver solutions through­out our customer's life cycle," Mr. Jhaveri said. "Particularly, when you're younger and just starting a family, you tend to look at protective products like the fantastic life insurance products United Life offers. As you get older, you look at more accumula­tion-oriented products, like annuities and more sophisticated life insurance policies."

Kuvare offers the latter kinds of prod­ucts through Guaranty Income Life Insur­ance Co. in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, which it acquired last year.
As baby boomers stop earning a steady paycheck at retirement, Kuvare sees opportunities to sell them annuities that can provide a stream of predictable in­come from their retirement savings. Be­yond that, the company sees opportunities to sell them insurance products that will provide tax and convenience benefits for transferring wealth.

The acquisition will bring "great cross-pollination from a product stand­point," Mr. Jhaveri said, along with distri­bution synergies. United Life is sold exclu­sively through a network of independent insurance agents and brokers, while Guar­anty Income Life is sold through commu­nity banks and independent marketing agencies. Kuvare  ownership will allow both insurance companies' sales channels to sell all of its products.
IDx , which recently made news when its AI-based diagnostic system for autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy was given expedited FDA review as a "breakthrough device," has moved to a larger office building to help it scale up to enter the U.S. market.

IDx officials say the new building, at 2300 Oakdale Blvd. in Coralville, will better accommodate the company's rapid growth as it pursues FDA clearance. The company has 25 employees and is currently hiring for eight open positions in sales, marketing and engineering.
IDx was founded in 2010 by a team of renowned ophthalmologists at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics. The company's first product, IDx-DR, is an AI-based diagnostic system for the autonomous detection of diabetic retinopathy, a leading cause of blindness. More than 24,000 people with diabetes lose vision each year from diabetic retinopathy . However, if caught in its early stages, vision loss and blindness are almost entirely preventable.
If cleared by the FDA, IDx-DR is expected to become the first autonomous, AI-based diagnostic system intended for use in the front lines of healthcare.
"With potential FDA clearance on the horizon, we are looking for talented individuals who believe in our mission and want to help the company grow to its full potential," said Gary Seamans, IDx chairman and CEO. "It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a part of a company that is on the cusp of transforming healthcare."
IDx was located in Iowa City prior to moving to its new location.
Story4Johnson County approves 'symbolic' bump to minimum wage   

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors voted to increase the county's recommended minimum wage by 17 cents to $10.27 per hour late last week.
The symbolic wage increase, set to take effect July 1, was based on Consumer Price Index data, taking inflation into account. The wage hike is unenforceable under state law, but in line with the supervisors' September 2015 vote to begin phased increases.
"Many Johnson County businesses continue to honor our recommended minimum wage, even after the state took away local control from counties and cities to set the wage," Board Chairperson Mike Carberry said in a statement. "We encourage local businesses to continue to support it and increase their employee wage to $10.27 on July 1."
Iowa's minimum wage was increased to $7.25 per hour in 2008, ahead of the federal increase to $7.25 in 2009, but has remained at $7.25 and is not indexed for inflation. On Sept. 10, 2015, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors passed an ordinance establishing a Johnson County minimum wage. According to that ordinance, the minimum wage in Johnson County was raised in three steps - to $8.20 per hour on Nov. 1, 2015, to $9.15 per hour on May 1, 2016, and to $10.10 per hour on Jan. 1, 2017.
On March 30, 2017, Gov. Terry Branstad signed legislation eliminating the ability of jurisdictions within the state of Iowa to set a minimum wage above the state minimum wage. Johnson County had a higher minimum wage than the state for 17 months, including three months when it was $10.10 per hour.
At their meeting, supervisors pointed to a December 2017 report by the county's Minimum Wage Advisory Committee suggesting the minimum wage increase did not appear to hurt businesses during that period, which had been singled out as a possible negative consequence. The report also indicated low-wage workers had seen larger increases in their average weekly earnings than their counterparts around the state.
"Continuing to increase the minimum wage in Johnson County has had a positive impact on more than 10,000 workers without negatively affecting businesses," Rod Sullivan, supervisor and liaison to the committee, stated in a release. "We believe everyone deserves to earn a living wage."
Supervisors also set the base wage for its own county employees at $14 an hour for fiscal 2019, which begins July 1, and $15 an hour for 2020. That increase was part of a multi-year, multi-step process to increase the base wage rate for all county employees, including part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, and interns.  
From left: Steven C. Harms, Larry Jansen, James Luhrs, Duane Monson and Larry Zimpleman 

Five industry leaders have been selected for induction into the Iowa Insurance Hall of Fame, the Des Moines Business Record reports.
The 2018 inductees will be honored during the 22nd annual induction ceremony to be held April 26 at the Prairie Meadows Convention Center in Altoona. They are:
  • Steven C. Harms, retired president and chairman, Rain and Hail LLC
  • Larry Jansen, retired president and CEO, Grinnell Mutual
  • The late James Luhrs, retired president and CEO, Equitable of Iowa
  • Duane Monson, retired county mutual manager and independent agent
  • Larry Zimpleman, retired chairman and CEO, Principal Financial Group
Steven Harms began his insurance career with Rain and Hail in 1973 as an independent crop adjuster during the summer months and climbed the ranks to executive vice president by 1992. 
In 2001, Mr. Harms was elected the company's president. The next year, he was named president of Rain and Hail Insurance Service Inc. and president of Rain and Hail Insurance Service Ltd. In 2005, he was elected president and chairman of the board of Rain and Hail LLC, Rain and Hail Insurance Service Inc. and Agri-General Insurance Co., positions he held until his retirement in 2012.
Larry Jansen began his insurance career in 1969 with Hawkeye Security Insurance Co., and in 1979 he joined Grinnell Mutual as a personal lines underwriting manager. He was named president of Grinnell Mutual in 2012, following key leadership changes and three years of unprecedented storm losses. He used his experience, vision and energy to develop a strategic road map and institute significant financial changes that led to a return to fiscal stability and record-breaking profitability during the last three years of his presidency. He retired in December 2017.
James Luhrs, who died in April 2017 at his home in Des Moines, will be inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame. He began his insurance career with Equitable of Iowa in 1959 while still enrolled at the University of Northern Iowa. After a 31-year career with Equitable, he retired in 1990 as the company's president and CEO.
Duane Monson entered the insurance business in 1960 at the age of 23, when he accepted the position of secretary/manager of the Home Mutual Insurance Association of Carroll County, Iowa. In 1962, he established the Manning Insurance Agency, and three decades later he became co-owner of the Manilla Insurance Agency.
Larry Zimpleman 
joined Principal after graduating from Drake University in 1973, and following promotions through key leadership positions, was named Principal's chairman and CEO in 2009. He has held positions that include executive committee vice chair of the Financial Services Roundtable, vice chair of the Iowa Business Council, board member of the American Council of Life Insurers and chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership.
For more information and to make reservations to the event, click here.
Story5Mount Mercy student food pantry to address food insecurity    
With an estimated half of all undergraduate students struggling with food insecurity, Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids is taking action.

Mustang Market, a new food pantry open to all MMU students, is celebrating with a grand opening at 2 p.m. April 5 in Busse Library Atrium.

Jamarco Clark, Mount Mercy's director of volunteerism and service-learning, said giving students an alternative, free option is vital in preventing students from going hungry.

A December 2017 study in SAGE Journals found that half of students at four-year universities struggled to feed themselves. Most of those students work and receive financial aid, but only a fraction receive public or private assistance to help make ends meet, according to the study, which discussed implications for research on college affordability and efforts to boost college graduation rates.

"Food insecurity has long been a problem on college campuses, so to take a step in addressing it on our campus only made sense," Mr. Clark said in a release.

The grand opening will include a ribbon cutting ceremony, blessing and walk through of the food pantry. For more information, contact Jamarco Clark at
EventHeadlinesShort-Term Event Planner
April 2
Networking Night Out, by Professional Women's Network, 5:30-7 p.m., WineStyles, 4201 42nd St. NE, Cedar Rapids. Enjoy light appetizers and wine during this casual networking night out. Tickets: $20. To RSVP, email

April 3
Introduction to Innovation, by Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, 8-9:15 a.m., 501 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids. Learn from Mandy Webber about how to implement more innovative practices in your organization. Free. To register, visit
April 4
Wisdom Wednesday, by ICAD Group, 9-10 a.m., MERGE, 136 S. Dubuque St., Iowa City. Hear from ConnectFive about journey mapping and the user experience. Free. For more information, visit  
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Headlines from CBS2/FOX 28
These news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28  
As Holy Week cames to a close with the celebration of Easter Sunday, St. Jude's Catholic Church in Cedar Rapids mourns the loss of their late father Mark Reasoner who left a void in the community after his unexpected death on March 18. Just as Holy Week was about to start for St. Jude's, members of the church felt the loss deeply and were trying to deal with their leader being absent for the first time in decades. "He was our leader and we considered him part of our family," Shirley Walter a longtime community member said. "What a different feeling it's going to be. We are really going to miss him." Read the full story here.

One man had to be sent to the hospital Saturday night from a fire at 1605 K Ave. NE in Cedar Rapids. Firefighters first arrived on scene at 8:13 p.m. to find the home engulfed in flames. Crews worked to knock down flames outside the home to prevent the fire from spreading to neighboring homes. The fire department says once their crews entered the home, they found heavy flames coming from the attic. Two people were inside when the fire started and an adult male needed to be sent from the hospital for treatment. The cause of the fire and the man's injuries were not released.
T hese news items are provided by CBS2/FOX 28 
CBS2 Chief Meteorologist Terry Swails' Weather First Forecast

It's the winter that keeps on giving. Temperatures are starting off near record lows and it's going to be a chilly day. We'll start with sunshine then clouds will be building and temperatures will just rise into the low to mid 40s. Some scattered, light rain showers will develop overnight and by morning there will be snow showers close to the Iowa/Minnesota border. Snow will continue through Tuesday afternoon near and north of Highway 20 with rain to the south. As cold air moves in and temperatures drop, there will be a transition to light snow across much of the area by Tuesday night. Snow accumulation will be greatest in the far north near Decorah and New Hampton of around 3-6 inches. Near and north of Waterloo to McGregor, 2-4 inches are possible. From there southward to I-80, less than an inch of accumulation. Then the chill continues with temperatures in the 30s and 40s through the rest of the week. Another system arrives over the weekend.