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Markel gets two new co-CEOs, Kirshner becomes executive chairman


November 20, 2015   by Canadian Underwriter


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Markel Corp. announced Thursday that Thomas S. Gayner and Richard R. Whitt, III will become co-CEOs of the specialty insurance carrier effective Jan. 1.

Markel gets two new co-CEOs

Allan Kirshner, Markel’s chairman of the board and chief executive officer since 1986, will continue to serve as executive chairman of Glen Allen, Va.-based Markel.

In its annual report for 2014, released in February, Markel reported that Kirshner – 79 at the time – has been on the board of directors since 1978.

Gayner is president and chief investment officer and Whitt is currently president and co-chief operating officer.

Markel’s other co-president and chief operating officer is F. Michael Crowley. Crowley will become the firm’s sole president as of Jan. 1.

Allan Kirshner, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of insurance provider Markel Corp. since 1986, will continue to serve as executive chairman Markel writes both primary insurance and reinsurance. A subsidiary – London-based Markel International Insurance Company Ltd. – has offices worldwide, including Canada. In 2009, Markel acquired Elliott Special Risks, a Toronto-based managing general agent with offices in Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. Elliott Special Risks was rebranded as Markel in July, 2015. Its offerings include property, marine and environmental impairment liability coverage, among others. Also in Canada, Vancouver-based managing general agent All-Sport Insurance Marketing Ltd. provides commercial general liability coverage for sports organizations and participants, written by Lloyd’s underwriter Markel Syndicate 3000. Capital for Markel Syndicate 3000 is provided by Markel Capital.

Kirshner “will continue to focus on long-term strategic planning and development” for the parent company, Markel stated in a release.

Michael Crowley will become insurance carrier Markel Corp.’s sole president as of Jan. 1. Whitt and Gayner will continue reporting to Kirshner. The decision to appoint Whitt and Gayner as co-CEOs “sets the stage for Markel’s future and builds upon and continues a long tradition of collegial and collaborative leadership, management and decision-making,” Kirshner stated in a release.

Crowley, 64, will also report to Kirshner. Crowley “will continue to oversee the Company’s global insurance, specialty and wholesale operations and its marketing, human resources and strategic management functions,” Markel stated.

Crowley “will continue to be an integral part of the executive management team,” Kirshner stated in a release.

Whitt, 51, has been president and co-COO since May 2010. He was Markel’s senior vice president and chief financial officer from May 2005 to May 2010, Markel said in its 2014 annual report.

Thomas S. Gayner, president and chief investment officer of insurance carrier Markel Corp., will become co-CEO as of Jan. 1

Gayner, 53, has been president and chief investment officer since May, 2010. He was initially appointed chief investment officer in 2001 and has been president of Markel-Gayner Asset Management Corporation, a subsidiary, since December, 1990. He was a company director from 1998 through 2004.

In addition to his duties as co-CEO, Gayner will oversee the Markel’s investment portfolio and non-insurance operating companies, known as Markel Ventures.

Whitt “will oversee the Company’s international insurance and reinsurance operations as well as its underwriting, finance, actuarial, claims, information technology, legal and administrative functions,” Markel stated in a release.

Markel’s target markets include “wind and earthquake-exposed commercial properties, liability coverage for highly specialized professionals, equine-related risks, workers’ compensation insurance for small businesses, classic cars and marine, energy and environmental-related activities,” the firm said last February in its annual report.Richard Whitt, currently president and co-chief operating officer of insurance provider Markel Corp., will become co-CEO as of Jan. 1

In the London market, Markel Syndicate 3000 is managed by Markel Syndicate Management Limited (MSM). Coverages include primary and excess of loss property, casualty, excess liability, professional liability, equine, marine, energy and trade credit insurance.

In the U.S., Markel writes excess and surplus lines through Essex Insurance Company, Alterra Excess & Surplus Insurance Company and Evanston Insurance Company. It also writes specialty admitted insurance through Markel Insurance Company, Markel American Insurance Company, FirstComp Insurance Company, Essentia Insurance Company and Alterra America Insurance Company.


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