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The bar is high for induction into the 2022 Insurance Business America Hall of Fame. You need at least 35 years in the industry, examples of leadership and inspiration, and an impressive track record.
One of the judging panel, Edward Levy, is a board member at insurtech firm Openforce and is also on the board at Capacity Insurance Company, a multiline carrier. “I wanted to look beyond just somebody building their business. I wanted to see that they made an impact on the overall insurance business and people. I wanted to see mentoring; I wanted to see support in the community and things of that nature,” he says. “It takes a lot to get to 35 years in a career, and it takes a lot to get nominated. And so, for all the nominees, ultimately, they were all very good.”
“I looked for people who made meaningful changes and improvements within our industry”
George Rusu, Captive Resources
He also lauds the women who made it on to the list. “I think pretty clearly, there are a lot of women in the insurance business, but there are not a lot of women who are leaders in the insurance business. The fact that they were able to get beyond that glass ceiling to grow, participate, and make an impact, I just think is incredible.”
The panel also featured Deborah Fox, vice president of NFP, who looked for innovators, game changers, policymakers, and builders of well-respected companies. “Extensive experience is so important in the insurance field as one can leverage past success or failure to create change for the benefit of all,” she explains. “These finalists should be commended not only for their 35-plus years of experience but also for their commitment and dedication.”
The other judges were Ben Francavilla, president of AmWINS Program Underwriters, and Christine LaSala of Beazley Group.
The remaining member of the panel was the chairman, CEO, and co-founder of Captive Resources, George Rusu, who explained his criteria. “I was not impressed nor gave particular credit that someone worked more than 35 years in the industry; many people do that in all types of jobs,” he explains. “I looked for people who made meaningful changes and improvements within our industry. Did they invent a new product that years later changed the industry for the better? Did they mentor others on this new approach and, over time, change and improve that portion of our industry? To me, those are the ones deserving to be in a Hall of Fame.”
“It takes a lot to get to 35 years in a career, and it takes a lot to get nominated. And so, for all the nominees, ultimately, they were all very good”
Edward Levy, Openforce
One of the inductees who’s been passionately involved in shipping since the late 1970s is John Michael (Mike) Falvey, the president and CEO of Falvey Insurance Group. In 1978, he graduated from the US Merchant Marine Academy and worked at sea as a first assistant engineer, as well as in underwriting roles. In 1995, he started Falvey Cargo Underwriting as a two-person operation, which evolved into the multidisciplined Falvey Insurance Group.
Of the accomplishments that he attributes to helping him get inducted into the Hall of Fame, the predominant one was prioritizing culture over strategy. “The world will always throw unexpected curveballs that no strategy can address, but if you focus on keeping people motivated not only to work but also wanting to come to work, the rest will fall into place,” says Falvey. In addition to emphasizing culture, he has stayed focused on core competencies and dedicated himself to keeping his word.
“Insurance is full of opportunities, and underwriting and risk management are not the only career paths within the industry,” he says. “You can support the operations of an organization through data analysis, marketing, people management, accounting, and more. Plus, the way we do business is evolving, so those who continue to drive innovation in their respective disciplines will go far.”
Over his career, Falvey has managed to grow his company into one of the top five providers of cargo insurance in the US with nearly 140 employees, as well as the largest cover note holder at Lloyd’s. The Falvey Insurance Group is also the largest insurance provider for vessel pollution for commercial vessels in the US and a leading company in small business transactional cargo insurance. In addition to holding multiple insurance designations, Falvey has continued to add to his qualifications and is a 2020 Harvard Business School OPM-55 graduate.
In addition to his family, Falvey thanks his partners and employees. “We are nothing without these meaningful relationships,” he says. “We are strongest together.”
“The world will always throw unexpected curveballs that no strategy can address, but if you focus on keeping people motivated not only to work but also wanting to come to work, the rest will fall into place”
John Michael (Mike) Falvey, Falvey Insurance Group
Joseph Boren, senior advisor at Synapse Services since 2019, has more than 50 years of insurance experience, mostly in the environmental industry. In 1996, Boren became CEO of AIG Environmental Insurance, gradually building it into the largest environmental insurance carrier in the world – from 25 people and $80 million in premiums to over 300 people and $1.1 billion in premiums. In 1996, he also started Ironshore Environmental Insurance and grew it from 20 people to 150 people with more than $250 million in premiums.
Landing his place in the Hall of Fame is a byproduct of having the good fortune to get into environmental insurance at the start of the US environmental movement. “My career began just as the Environmental Protection Agency was formed, and that provided me a unique opportunity to work in many aspects of environmental protection,” says Boren.
What does he recommend for younger insurance professionals? “Go back to your office,” he says. “The wisdom and experience that exist in the hallways of your office are things you won't come by in your den, as lovely as it may be.” He also recommends meeting customers in real life, learning the history of the insurance business, and introducing clients to your claims person.
As for quantified achievements, he notes that when he started in the environmental insurance business, there were three carriers with total premiums of approximately $300 million. Today, there are approximately 40 carriers with at least $3.5 billion in premiums. In addition, he estimates that 50% of the leaders of the environmental insurance carriers are alumni of AIG Environmental Insurance.
Ultimately, he emphasizes that you never achieve success by yourself. “It happens when you are surrounded by great people,” he says. “I was but a part of many great teams. We developed and carried out our mission together. If anything, I was able to embrace all the great ideas my teammates created.”
“The wisdom and experience that exist in the hallways of your office are things you won't come by in your den, as lovely as it may be”
Joseph Boren, Synapse Services
Another Hall of Fame inductee is Jack Kuhn, president of Westfield Specialty since 2021. Nearly 40 years ago, he started at Chubb, where he eventually rose to be the chief underwriting officer of Chubb Specialty. Subsequent roles have included C-level positions at companies ranging from Vantage to Sompo/Endurance to AXIS Insurance to Kemper.
A key moment for Kuhn was the purchase of Executive Risk while he was at Chubb. “It was the first merger and acquisition and integration of my career,” he says. “I reflect on that experience even today.” Other auspicious events include completing the renewal rights deal of Kemper’s Financial Insurance Solutions with AXIS Holdings and rebuilding Endurance Insurance. “I was able to confirm that talent does, in fact, win the day,” he says.
Offering advice to his less experienced colleagues in the industry today, he says, “Listen consistently and constantly seek to understand, be curious, and be a student of this industry – that will serve you well. Be patient. There has been a lot said and written about talent moving around. I think there is value in not being in a rush. Good things will happen to talented people.”
Ultimately, like Falvey, he believes that culture is a competitive advantage, which starts with interns and trainees. “I’ve long believed that culture is a competitive advantage, and that starts with the interns and trainees we bring into the industry,” says Kuhn. “The time we spend fostering a strong culture is well worth it. I also believe continual learning is key and that we can learn from each other. There’s a tremendous value in someone more tenured spending time with someone new to the industry – they will learn from each other.”
“There has been a lot said and written about talent moving around. I think there is value in not being in a rush”
Jack Kuhn, Westfield Specialty
Starting in July, Insurance Business America invited insurance professionals from across the country to nominate standout industry veterans for the annual Hall of Fame. This year’s Hall of Fame class was selected by an independent advisory panel of industry leaders and previous Hall of Fame honorees, including:
• Deborah Fox, NFP
• Ben Francavilla, AmWINS Program Underwriters
• Edward Levy, Openforce
• George Rusu, Captive Resources
• Christine LaSala, Beazley Group
Nominees had to have been in the industry for at least 35 years. The panel considered each nominee’s history of distinguished service to the insurance profession, the leadership and inspiration they provided to others in the sector, their role in guiding future generations of entrepreneurs and business leaders, their contributions to the leadership and direction of industry associations, and any visionary strategies and innovations that have made an outstanding contribution to the industry as a whole.
The sixth annual Hall of Fame report is proudly supported by the Big “I” and ACORD.
The Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”)
Founded in 1896, the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America (the Big “I”) is the nation’s oldest and largest national association of independent insurance agents and brokers, representing more than 25,000 agency locations united under the Trusted Choice brand. Trusted Choice independent agents offer consumers all types of insurance – property, casualty, life, health, employee benefit plans and retirement products – from a variety of insurance companies. The Big “I” strives to provide independent insurance agents and brokers with a sustainable competitive advantage in the insurance marketplace by equipping members with tools and resources, and advocacy and support to maintain excellence in business and customer service.
ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development)
ACORD (Association for Cooperative Operations Research and Development) is the global standard-setting body for the insurance and related financial services industries. It facilitates fast, accurate data exchange and efficient workflows through the development of electronic standards, standardized forms and tools to support their use. ACORD members worldwide include hundreds of insurance and reinsurance companies, agents and brokers, software providers, financial services organizations and industry associations. ACORD maintains offices in New York and London.
Since 1970, ACORD has been an industry leader in identifying ways to help its members make improvements across the insurance value chain. Implementing ACORD standards improves data quality and flow, increases efficiency, and realizes billion-dollar savings for the global insurance industry.
ACORD engages more than 36,000 participating organizations spanning 100 countries, including insurance and reinsurance companies, agents and brokers, software providers, financial services organizations and industry associations. With the tools and resources provided by ACORD, our members are equipped to address current business and technology imperatives while influencing and shaping the future.