Former Zurich North America Executive Gilway to Head Florida’s Citizens

June 14, 2012

Florida’s state-backed homeowners insurer has reached into the private sector for its new president, selecting an experienced insurance executive and consultant.

The Citizens Property Insurance Corp. board of governors yesterday unanimously selected Barry J. Gilway as president to lead the insurer that is looking to raise its rates and lower it policyholder count.

Gilway will replace Tom Grady, who has been serving as interim president since Scott Wallace left the top job in March.

Gilway was chosen largely for his private sector experience. His resume includes stints as senior vice president with W.R. Berkley Corp. (1987-1990); president and CEO with Zurich Financial’s $1.4 billion subsidiary Maryland Casualty Group (1990-1998); president and CEO of Zenith North America Canada (1998-2002); and executive vice president, Zurich North America (2002-2006).

From 2006 through 2008, he honored a non-compete agreement he signed with Zurich North America that kept him out of the insurance industry.

In 2008, he signed on with Mystic Capital Advisors, a mergers and acquisitions consulting firm for independent agencies and managing general agencies.

In May 2009, he joined Mattei Insurance Services, a $30 million managing general agency in Seattle to help turn it around.

Citizens Chair Carlos Lacasa said Gilway’s background with working with private companies will be a valuable asset as the insurer looks to move more policyholders to the private market.

“Barry’s experience on the private side brings a great deal of support to our efforts to depopulate,” said Lacasa.

Gilway’s experience in running large organizations also appealed to board members who are looking for ways to reduce the insurer’s $171 million administrative budget.

Gov. Rick Scott congratulated Gilway for his appointment as Citizens new president and said he looked forwarded to working with both him and the board in to reduce the insurer’s exposure and potential assessments on Florida policyholders.

“No matter how you crunch numbers, the experts acknowledge that Citizens has grown too big and doesn’t have the money to cover its policyholders in the case of a major hurricane,” said Scott. “I expect Citizens to reduce the exposure to Florida’s families and return to being the insurer of last resort.

Gilway comes to the post in a time of public discussion over the rates Citizens is charging.

The Citizens board is scheduled to hold a July 16 meeting to unveil its latest actuarial projections and discuss the possibility of increasing new rates above the 10 percent annual cap on rates enacted by the legislature in 2009.

Gilway told the board that Citizens rates needed to be adequate, especially in those areas of the state with a higher density of population. However, he cautioned, that any such rate increases must take into effect the impact on the state’s struggling economy.

“If rates are moved to complete adequacy, it has the terrible potential of absolutely destroying both home building and retail sales,” Gilway said.

In being chosen president, Gilway beat out Glenn Pomeroy, the current CEO of the California Earthquake Authority and a former North Dakota Insurance Commissioner.

Citizens had contracted with the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles in January to help search for a new president after Wallace announced his resignation. At the time, Tom Grady, a former Florida state representative and head of the Office of Financial Regulation, was named as interim president. Grady had applied for the permanent president position, but was not one of the final two candidates considered.

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