Universal Insurance Holdings, which owns the largest private homeowners insurance company in Florida, will pay its new CEO a salary of $2 million a year, plus bonuses.

The Fort Lauderdale-based property insurance company (NASDAQ: UVE) appointed Sean P. Downes, 43, as its president and CEO on Friday. The move was expected following the previous announcement that Bradley I. Meier would resign as chairman, CEO and president of Universal Insurance.

Norman Meier also resigned as a director of the company, but he will continue to provide it with marketing and consulting services.

Downes’ new employment agreement, which runs through 2015, will pay him $2 million a year in salary, to increase by 7.25 percent per year. Pending shareholder approval, he will receive an annual performance bonus of 3 percent of the company’s pre-tax income, up to $5 million, and 4 percent of the company’s pre-tax income, above $5 million. He will also receive 1.5 million restricted shares of Universal Insurance stock in three separate grants – vesting over three years.

Shares of Universal Insurance were down 9 cents to $4.36 on Monday morning.

If there is a change in control of the company and Downes is dismissed from his job within 24 months of that change, he would receive a lump sum of cash equal to 48 months of his salary, plus two times any bonuses he earned the previous year.

Downes has been with the company since 1999, most recently as senior VP and COO. The company promoted Jon W. Springer to senior VP and COO and will pay him $1.25 million in salary per year, plus bonuses.

After state-owned Citizens Property Insurance Corp., Universal Insurance’s Universal Property & Casualty Insurance Co. is next largest property insurer in Florida with 552,548 policies, or 9.1 percent of the market, as of Sept. 30, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Universal Property recently got approval to raise homeowners insurance rates an average of 14.1 percent.

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