Former Ironshore, Lexington CEO Kelley to Retire at Year’s End from Liberty Mutual

November 22, 2019 - Liberty Mutual Insurance today announced that long-time industry leader Kevin H. Kelley, vice chairman, Global Risk Solutions, will retire at the end of this year.

In 2017, Kelley joined Liberty Mutual following the company’s acquisition of Ironshore Inc., where he was chief executive officer. Under his leadership, Kelley led the company from its start-up beginnings into a global excess and surplus specialty lines insurance company. Kelley also expanded Ironshore’s international and U.S. presence with a network of offices offering diverse, specialty insurance coverages throughout its global platform.

“Kevin has a long and distinguished career in the U.S. insurance industry,” said Liberty Mutual Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David Long. “His leadership, innovative thinking and market expertise has had significant impact to our business.”

Prior to joining Ironshore, Kelley served as chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Lexington Insurance Co. from 1997 until 2008. Kelley was also executive vice president of AIG Property Casualty Group, president of AIG Domestic Personal Lines, director of C.V. Starr & Co. and Starr International Companies.

In December, 2008, Kelley left Lexington Insurance Co., the largest excess and surplus lines insurance company, after more than 30 years during which he helped the company become one of parent American International Group’s (AIG), and the industry’s, most profitable and respected enterprises. At Lexington, Kelley rose from being a senior underwriter in 1975 through a variety of roles before being elected president and chief executive officer in 1987. In 1997, he became chairman and chief executive officer.

Kelley’s departure from AIG came just a few years after his boss, the legendary Maurice Greenberg, departed as CEO of AIG. Kelley left to become chief executive officer of a young but promising Bermuda-based global specialty commercial lines insurance company, Ironshore Inc., founded by Bob Deutsch just two years earlier in 2006. When he left Lexington, Kelley took with him one of his top aides, Shaun Kelly, who was named to head up the U.S. operations of Ironshore. A number of other AIG executives would soon follow their lead and join Ironshore.

In a 2009 interview with Insurance Journal, Kelley talked about why he departed AIG for Ironshore:

“Well, number one, I think you have to take a look at why I may have left a fine organization like AIG. I quite frankly saw a very different company from the company that I had known for so many years, and thought it was going to be very difficult to restore the company to the position that it once held.

“So, given that, I thought it was best to look elsewhere. Luckily for me I had a few options and probably could have created a few more, but what I saw in Ironshore was a company that was young, it was only two years old; it had created a foundation. Bob Deutsch and his team had really built something that I think could have been built upon, and I saw an opportunity to build a culture as opposed to transform a culture.

“So, for all those reasons, Ironshore became a very good option for me, particularly given the fact that we had platforms in Bermuda, platforms in the United States, and at Lloyd’s through Pembroke, so I thought we had the right beginnings to really build a great organization.”

In November 2015, China’s Fosun International Ltd. paid $1.84 billion for the remaining 80 percent stake of Ironshore Inc. that it did not already own. However, the ownership by Fosun, which had accumulated significant debt in a 20-year acquisition spree, did not last long.

In November, 2016, Liberty Mutual announced its plan to acquire a 100 percent ownership interest in Ironshore from Fosun for approximately $3 billion.

Kelley called the transaction “beneficial for all three parties involved” in a statement at the time. “We have aimed for the best possible outcome for our employees, clients and business partners and are confident this transaction achieves these goals and more,” he said.

In an interview with Carrier Management after Liberty Mutual bought Ironshore, Kelley spoke about Ironshore’s new corporate parent.

“What Liberty brings is not just a [strong] balance sheet, but it brings a much broader commercial business,” Kelley said. “They have a very robust standard multiline commercial business that, quite frankly, gives us greater access to clients and further access to a broadened distribution.”

Kelley added that those elements are key to competing successfully in the future.

“When you look at the environment of today and tomorrow, I think you need to offer a very broad and complete set of products and services to a client base,” Kelley said. “Through ownership from Liberty Mutual, we not only get access to their balance sheet but to their other commercial businesses.”

“By knowing and utilizing the resources of Liberty Mutual, which are extensive both from the insurance product side and distribution side, but just as importantly [on the technology side], what we want to do is build the premier specialty property/casualty insurer of tomorrow,” he said.

In his retirement announcement, he said, “Liberty Mutual is a strong, long-standing institution. I enjoyed my experience working with David, his team and the many talented people I came to know and appreciate.”