Hammerin’ Hank

By | April 4, 2005

He finally met his match. After more than three decades at the helm of New York-based American International Group, it took less than a month for 79-year-old Maurice “Hank” Greenberg to go from the seemingly ageless, peerless chief executive of a property/casualty insurance colossus to being just another retiree touring the far side of the world (see page 8).

While there’s no doubt many other insurance company CEOs are up nights worried they could easily be the subject of probe similar to the one that drove Greenberg from power, I’ve got to wonder how many are muttering to themselves: “Thank you, Eliot Spitzer.”

As one anonymous Web denizen said, Hank Greenberg was “one tough and nasty hombre.” He was so tough, so zealous of his position at the top of AIG that he chased not one but two sons away to other positions of prominence within the industry, though now only Evan remains in place at ACE. His other son, Jeffrey, was fired from his job as CEO of Marsh & MacLennan following that firm’s own little tiff with New York Attorney General Spitzer. You may have read about it somewhere.

Will the father-and-son bond now be solidified? I imagine them taking up target shooting together and adorning the clay pigeons with Spitzer’s picture. I see them becoming expert duck hunters, calling out to their hound after every successful shot: “Go get the Spitzer, boy! Go get him! Good boy!”

I see them hanging out in the neighborhood dive bar downing shots of no-name Whiskey and watered-down, dollar-a-pitcher beer, bemoaning their fates in between rounds of drunken dart-throwing. The target on the dart board: Spitzer, of course.

My fevered imaginings aside, this much is clear. We insurance reporters won’t have Hank Greenberg to kick around anymore. We’ll miss him, but will the industry? See page N2 for David Schiff’s graceful farewell.

On another note, we’re testing out a new recurring feature in the Midwest edition called CaseWatch (see page 33). The folks at the law firm Goldberg Segalla have kindly allowed us to reprint an excellent compendium of insurance-related appellate decisions they put together on a fortnightly basis (that is, every couple of weeks). Please write and let me know if you think it’s useful and informative. I appreciate your feedback.

As always, thanks for reading.

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Insurance Journal West April 4, 2005
April 4, 2005
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