Friday, July 24, 2015

Insurance Mergers & Acquisitions Redux

I've worked in the claims segment of the insurance industry since  1980 and fully appreciate that there are cycles of centralization and decentralization; concentration on expenses and focus on indemnity dollars; soft markets and hard markets; periods of stability and times of mergers and acquisitions. 

During the late 1990s the industry endured the failure of several stalwart companies that went into liquidation as well as the mergers/ acquisitions that reduced the number of property and casualty companies significantly. 

I'd begun my career with the venerable Commercial Union Assurance Companies that was formed following the Great Fire of London and claimed ancestry to the late 17th Century. I was proud of the company's pedigree and actually accepted a position with the Indianapolis branch because the organization has at least 1 woman Vice President in 1980. Little did I know she was the only one. There was no Internet to search for such information at that time. 
My career followed a trajectory upwards for the next several years until my then husband approached me about his being offered a position in international sales in Asia. While the posting was not one about which I'd dreamed ("Taipei") I knew that if I didn't go I would forever regret it. So we moved to Taipei and then Hong Kong, my favorite city in the world, and I didn't even think about renewing my career until life's little glitches knocked me off my path - an unexpected ignominious return to the USA, marital dissolution, the loss of my life of leisure and a need to find work with health insurance.

One of my dearest friends lived in Alexandria, Virginia - a hop, skip and a jump from my seaside exile on the Delaware shore where there was peace and serenity but no viable employment. So I ventured into the DC area and began calling insurance companies looking for a job. That actually proved fruitful and I was hired by General Accident. A few years later Commercial Union acquired General Accident and I was fortunate enough to convince the newly formed CGU to bridge my time. 
But our European owners were disgruntled with the combined ratio of the US organization and decided to sell us. So, to help us adapt to the disorientation, our management gave each employee of copy of the then popular book - "Who Moved My Cheese?" by Dr. Spencer Johnson - a sweet little treatise on how to deal with change. Ultimately, I followed my instincts, interviewed for and accepted a position with my dream company, Chubb, where I've found what I thought was my career home. 

However, in the early morning of  July 1, 2015 - I received an email from a business newsletter to which I subscribe that announced before my company had issued any notice that ACE had purchased Chubb for $28 Billion.  My coworkers and I are still reeling from the announcement. I had become comfortable and complacent. This was unexpected. While I've come to understand that change is inevitable and often a good thing, I'm tired of searching for the damned cheese.

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