During 2015, a surprising number of top executives of property/casualty insurance carriers stepped down, opening the door for new leaders at the helm of some of the industry’s best-known brands. The replacements and successions happened for a variety of personal and business reasons, including planned retirements, shareholder pressures and, unfortunately, serious illness.
The year also saw two of the industry’s giants— Hartford’s Liam McGee, 60, and AIG’s (and formerly MetLife’s) CEO Robert Benmosche, 70 — pass way after battles with cancer. They had passed their batons to their successors—Christopher Swift and Peter Hancock — before their deaths.
Also, there are more changes coming in early 2016.
The following is a rundown of who was in and who was out at the top at P/C insurance carriers in 2015 and what’s in store in the C-suite for 2016 (with apologies to anyone left off).
The Class of 2015: Top P/C insurance executives who left in 2015 and their successors
The Travelers Companies announced on Aug. 4 that CEO Jay Fishman would give up his long-time role as chief executive officer due to a neurodegenerative condition that appears to be a form of ALS. Alan Schnitzer, CEO of Travelers’ Business and International insurance unit, replaced Fishman on Dec. 1, and Fishman became executive chairman at that time. At a September investor conference, Fishman said it had been a privilege to be CEO at Travelers and credited the executives he worked with who are the company’s future leaders. “We were an ensemble cast,” he said. “I was the conductor in the front, in the fancy tuxedo getting all the applause, but everybody else behind me was playing the instruments. And they’re really good musicians. I had the privilege of being in that position, but without that orchestra, we weren’t going to be anything.”
William R. Berkley, founder of W.R. Berkley Corp., stepped aside as CEO this year as planned and his son, W. Robert Berkley Jr. took control. The elder Berkley is still chairman. “On Oct. 31 I step down as CEO and Rob is going to take over, then I will be chairman and then I get to harass everybody else,” William Berkley said on a July conference call.
Elizabeth Heck replaced her father, Warren Heck, as CEO of GNY Insurance Companies. The decision to appoint his daughter, who served as president and chief financial officer of the firm, was made by the board and outside consultants without his involvement, according to the retiring executive.
Michael Tipsord succeeded State Farm’s long-time CEO Edward B. Rust Jr. in September. During Rust’s 30-year span of leadership, State Farm grew from 45 million policies to more than 82 million and the firm’s financial strength grew from $10 billion to more than $80 billion.
On Dec. 1, Zurich Insurance Group CEO Martin Senn resigned, after acknowledging that the firm suffered some setback and losses forced the company to withdraw a takeover bid for RSA Insurance Group. Tom de Swaan, who was named interim CEO, said the insurer is looking for a replacement among outside candidates.
Western World Insurance Group CEO Thomas F. Mulligan retired in January after 33 years of service. Robert J. Livingston is now president and CEO.
Tom Welch, president and CEO of Columbus, Ohio-based Grange Insurance, also retired in January; he was succeeded by John Ammendola.
Michael Miller, the long-time president of Scottsdale Insurance Co., quietly moved onto a new role with corporate parent Nationwide to spearhead strategic investments. Tom Clark, most recently executive vice president for Nationwide Excess & Surplus/Specialty Insurance, has taken over Miller’s post at Scottsdale.
Ohio-based State Auto Financial Corp. and State Automobile Mutual Insurance Co. hired Michael E. LaRocco as president and CEO, replacing Robert Restrepo Jr.
Donegal Group Inc. in Marietta, Pennsylvania appointed Kevin G. Burke as CEO to succeed Donald H. Nikolaus, who returned from a medical leave of absence and continued as chairman.
Citing personal reasons, Manny Rios resigned as CEO of American Modern in August. Tony Kuczinski, American Modern’s chairman who is also president and CEO of parent Munich Reinsurance America Inc., assumed the CEO responsibilities.
Christine Sears succeeded Kenneth Shutts as CEO at Penn National Insurance at the start of this year.
Others exiting in 2015:
- USAA’s Josue Roble (Stuart Parker succeeded Robles);
- Ohio Mutual’s Jim Kennedy (succeeded by Mark C. Russell);
- Scott Wallace, president of Homeowners Choice Property & Casualty Insurance Co. (with parent HCI’s Paresh Patel taking over); and
- NCCI’s Stephen Klingel (replaced by Swiss Re’s William E. Donnell).
Class of 2016: Changes in store at the top of P/C insurers in 2016
Michael Stone, president and chief operating officer of specialty insurer RLI Corp., is retiring. Craig Kliethermes, executive vice president of operations, becomes RLI’s next president and COO effective Jan. 1, 2016.
Frederick H. Eppinger, 56, CEO of The Hanover Insurance Group, announced he will exit in 2016 to pursue other interests. He has agreed to stay on until as late as June 30 to assist with the transition.
Utica Mutual Insurance Co. in New Hartford, New York, said Richard Creedon would be its next CEO starting in February when current CEO J. Douglas Robinson retires.
Church Mutual Insurance Co.‘s Michael E. Ravn will retire as CEO in January and will be succeeded by Richard V. Poirier.
If the ACE-Chubb deal closes in the first quarter of the new year as expected, Chubb CEO John Finnegan could retire earlier than planned. Evan Greenberg will head the merged entity, the new Chubb, as chairman and CEO. Also Chubb’s Dino Robusto is retiring from Chubb and joining CNA Insurance where he will succeed CEO Tom Motamed when he retires next December.
Meanwhile, Warren Buffet remains CEO at Berkshire Hathaway, with speculation about who might succeed him continuing.
- Incoming, Outgoing Travelers CEOs See Smooth Transition, Talk M&A
- Jain or Abel? Buffett Successor Speculation Continues
- New Chubb Will Preserve Old Chubb’s Agency Culture, Says ACE’s Greenberg
- Chubb Shareholders Say No to Finnegan’s $80M Golden Parachute
- Strategy Is a Missing Piece of Many Carrier Succession Plans: Survey
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