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Business Insurance Lifetime Achievement Award: Kevin Kelley



In a career spanning 50 years, Kevin Kelley has seen a lot of changes in the insurance world, and as a leader in one of the industry's most dynamic sectors, he has played a key role in its development. [19659002] From the early 1970s, he experienced ups and downs in pricing cycles, the emergence of new debt, the challenges of the financial crisis, the influx of new capital into the industry and the subsequent consolidation.

And it has been Mr. Kelly's ability to adapt and thrive among all the transitions in the surplus and surplus market through his time at Lexington Insurance Co., Ironshore Inc. and most recently Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. who has marked him as a top industry leader, said Shaun Kelly, a former senior executive at all three insurers and a longtime colleague of Mr. Kelley.

“He always had an idea of ​​innovation, whether it was a product or an attitude to the market. In the E&S market, innovation is a key quality and Kevin has it in spades, he said.

In recognition of his industry leadership and many successes, Mr. Kelley Company Business Insurance Lifetime Achievement Award during the Virtual American Insurance Awards event last month.

In addition to his work in the insurance sector, Mr. Kelley, who retired as vice president of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co.'s Global Risk Solutions business in January, retired. on the boards of many community organizations in New England and elsewhere.

Born in Boston, he grew up in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and attended Cardinal Spellman High School in nearby Brockton, where he now holds the presidency.

After graduating from Boston University in 1

972 with a degree in business administration, he initially considered a career in commercial real estate, commercial banking or urban development, but in a tough job market he joined the Fireman & # 39 ;s Fund and went through the insurer's education [19659002] He left to join Lexington as an accident insurance company in 1975 and remained in American International Group Inc. surplus lines for more than 30 years.

After a few years with Lexington, he was asked to design a new

"I was able to design a department around the more specialized areas of the E&S world and that was about half of our accident business," said Kelley.

Four years later, he was given responsibility for all of Lexington's accident operations, and in early 1987, AIG's then CEO, Maurice R. Greenberg, appointed Mr. Kelley to CEO of Lexington.

"I was only 36 then, so it was a phenomenal opportunity," Kelley said.

Mr. Greenberg, who is now head of Starr Insurance Cos., Is a strategic leader who also has the ability to spot problems as soon as they arise, Kelley said.

“At AIG, you have really run your business, so you were exposed to really significant executive opportunities. "Obviously you were challenged quite a bit by (Mr. Greenberg) and others, and if things went a little off track you became responsible," he said. “It was a doctoral degree; there is no doubt about the value of the experience. "

During the 21 years he led Lexington, the insurer grew from less than $ 1 billion a year in gross premiums to more than $ 10 billion and about 20% of that surplus, and

" We knew customers were always looking for solutions. another type, so we listened. We were very willing to work with brokers who had these clients and we could come up with new solutions, he says.

During Kelley's time, the insurer faced several major tests, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he said.

“In such an event, insurance is the first respondent to liquidity. We had five large customers in New Orleans, and we knew we had total losses for all five, so we decided to just pay the full limit because they, No. 1, will not be able to get the documentation because it's destroyed, and No. 2 , they need the dough. "Probably to this day, they have never forgotten it," Kelley said.

The insurer also grew by launching new products in response to new debts as a result of changes in federal law.

"A new federal law can create debt, and if you are the first to understand what these debts are and you can design a product that helps customers understand what those debts are, and you can help the client mitigate those exposures, do you really have something, he says.

For example, after the 1991 Civil Rights Act extended the right of workers to claim discrimination against their employers, Lexington introduced liability insurance coverage, which has since become a fundamental purchase for many companies.

“We always challenged ourselves to be creative. We always had a goal that a certain percentage of our top line would come from things we did not do three or five years ago, ”says Kelley.

While Lexington is still the largest surplus line insurance company, AIG has faced tougher times. In the early 2000s, it was attacked during investigations in the insurance industry led by then-New York prosecutor Eliot Spitzer. In 2005, Greenberg retired.

Mr. Kelley said he felt an obligation to Lexington staff and AIG's new leadership to stay after Greenberg left, but in 2008, when AIG came under even more pressure during the financial crisis, he decided it was time to leave.

"It was gut-wrenching, but the main reason I left was because I started to see brokers and clients choosing against us, and you can not run an insurance company when that happens," he said.

Mr. Kelley got soon a chance to return to the market, when the late Bob Clements, a longtime Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. executive who helped start several insurance companies, asked him to be the CEO of Ironshore, a specialty insurance company launched in 2006. [19659002] With the Ironshore offer and a few other options on the table, Mr. Kelley went out on a Sunday run to consider his options.A long-running marathon runner, Mr. Kelley ran his first in the late 1970s and another in the 1990s, but after on September 11, 2001, he regularly carried out terrorist attacks after deciding to do something each year that personified perseverance and has now completed 18

When he returned from the jump that Sunday, he decided to take Clement's offer.

When Kelley became CEO of Ironshore, he adopted a similar strategy as he had at Lexington but was able to write lines such as directorial responsibility and environmental responsibility, which had been handled by various companies at AIG.

In addition, Kelley recruited talented people from competing insurance companies. "It's the people you gather that determine the outcome, and we were able to attract a really high level of people, and perhaps most importantly, they did not leave," he said.

Mr. Kelley and his team built on their relationships with leading brokers and always tried to be "loud in the market," he said.

The company grew from about $ 400 million in gross premiums in 2008 to about $ 2.3 billion when Liberty Mutual acquired Ironshore 2017.

After a couple of years as a senior executive in Liberty Mutual's large account company, Mr. Kelley to retire earlier this year.

“It has been a phenomenal learning experience. I liked being CEO, but I also don't like being CEO anymore, ”he said. Catalog

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