LaRocco Out at Fireman’s Fund; Fouché Named CEO

By | July 6, 2011

Lori Dickerson Fouché has been named president and chief executive officer of Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. She succeeds Michael LaRocco, who the company said left to pursue other professional opportunities.

The company also announced that Jill Paterson, currently executive vice president, chief financial officer, would retire at the end of the year.

Fouché joined Novato, Calif.-based Fireman’s Fund in February 2006 and most recently served as president of Commercial Insurance. Previously, she was chief operating officer for Fireman’s Fund’s Specialty business.

Prior to Fireman’s Fund, Fouché was senior vice president, private company product manager at Chubb & Son and also served as a management consultant at The Parthenon Group.

The company said that a successor to CFO Paterson would be named within the next several months and that she would continue in her role during the transition.

The company has been owned by Allianz Group since 1991. In January 2009, Allianz invested $100 million into Fireman’s Fund, largely to upgrade the company’s infrastructure, technology and products.

As of March 31, 2011, Fireman’s Fund had statutory assets of $10.7 billion, with $3.0 billion in policyholder statutory surplus.

The company is rated Excellent (A) rating from the A.M. Best Co.; Strong (A+) by Standard & Poor’s and Good (A2) by Moody’s.

Fouché will be the fourth executive at the helm at Fireman’s Fund since June, 2007, when Joseph J. Beneducci resigned as CEO after less than six months on the job. Chuck Kavitsky, president of Allianz of America and the former Fireman’s Fund chief executive whom Beneducci replaced, was named interim CEO and served in that capacity until LaRocco’s appointment in March 2008.

An insurance executive with nearly 30 years of experience, LaRocco, 54, previously served as president and chief operating officer of Seattle-based Safeco.

Fireman’s Fund is known for its products in the high net worth and affluent personal lines market and commercial lines niches such as entertainment.

It writes coverage in every state but has been attempting to become even more of a national player in the marketplace, targeting low-margin automobile insurance and middle-market home and small-business commercial. According to LaRocco, this has been going more slowly than hoped because the technology to profitably handle this business had to be built first.

In a November, 2010 interview with Insurance Journal, LaRocco said the company was proceeding with its plans to grow.

“We are very bullish on our future,” LaRocco said. “Right now, we are a fairly small player in the United States property/casualty industry. But we’ve got very specific plans to become a significant player in this marketplace.”

In that same November interview, LaRocco acknowledged that 2010 was a tough year due to claims from flooding in the Midwest and East. But he expressed optimism. “It’s hard to make a prediction but I think we’ve hit the bottom and we’re going to start coming into a better place,” he said, with the caveat that “so much of it depends on the overall economy.”

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