It's been a challenging summer for specialty insurance firm HCC Insurance Holdings ( HCC). Despite strong stock performance to start the year, the company saw a sharp selloff at the end of July that pushed shares into losing territory for 2011. That said, with dividends factored in, shareholders are still up year-to-date. HCC is in the business of providing insurance products to commercial and personal customers worldwide. The firm is a leader in smaller insurance markets where competition is less -- that's a very attractive focus for an insurer, whose offerings tend to be commoditized these days. With Hurricane Irene a not-too-distant memory for millions of East Coasters, investors are understandably wondering just how much insurers will get hit. The short answer is "not much" -- damage by the storm looks to be a fraction of initial estimates, and most monetary damage was due to flooding, which is insured by the Federal government. In other words, HCC should avoid a big hit to its financials. The company announced a 6.9% dividend increase last week that brings the firm's total quarterly dividend payout to 15.5 cents per share. That upgrade brings HCC's yield to 2.15% right now.