Insurance Executive

Ironshore’s Kelley Enthused by Liberty Acquisition

Combining Liberty Mutual’s standard line depth and Ironshore’s underwriting expertise bodes well, he says.
By: | May 5, 2017 • 3 min read

Ironshore CEO Kevin Kelley said this week that he views the combination of specialty carrier Liberty International Underwriters, a Liberty Mutual subsidiary, with the U.S. operations of Ironshore as a “phenomenal opportunity” that should advance the fortunes of both Ironshore and its new parent company.

“What I think is interesting and positive is that we now become a US insurer and that fundamentally  means we can cross-sell all of our products to our US customer base,” Kelley said.

On May 1, Liberty Mutual announced that it closed on the acquisition of Ironshore, a specialty carrier that has been in existence since 2006.  Lexington veteran Shaun Kelly, who came over to the Bermuda-based Ironshore with Kevin Kelley in 2008, is CEO of Ironshore US and reports directly to Mr. Kelley.

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The new Ironshore unit will become the sixth largest E&S writer in the country based on 2016 direct written premium, according to Liberty Mutual.

For Kelley, the merger means he can leverage his team’s underwriting experience and begin working with standard commercial lines like workers’ compensation, general liability, and commercial auto that Ironshore wasn’t involved with previously.

“I think by joining a firm such as Liberty that has very, very strong ratings and a desire to be an even stronger commercial alternative we have really entered into the next phase in Ironshore’s evolution,” Kelley said.

“We will see more activity and that is fundamental to selection.”– Kevin Kelley, the CEO of Ironshore

“The combination of our two operations will create a top-tier U.S. specialty insurer with a broad and deep set of solutions for clients and brokers,” said Liberty Mutual Chairman and CEO David Long in a company press release.

According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, Liberty Mutual is the fourth largest property and casualty insurance carrier in the U.S. based on 2016 direct written premiums.

The scale of the Liberty Mutual balance sheet, the amount of capital it can deploy against risk, and the sheer number of customers Liberty Mutual serves are assets Kelley said he is happy to align himself with.

“It enhances our looks,” he said, meaning the scope of risks and customers Ironshore can now potentially underwrite.

“We will see more activity and that is fundamental to selection,” Kelley said.

“We just see a phenomenal opportunity to build on the activity we currently have. Through the integration of LIU U.S. and Ironshore U.S., we will be in excess of a $2 billion company in the U.S. and over $3 billion under the Ironshore global brand,” Kelley said. “Scale matters.”

Liberty Mutual Chairman and CEO David Long

In a career at AIG that spanned three decades, Kelley rose to lead specialty carrier Lexington, which is still the biggest U.S.-based carrier in the specialty insurance space.

Since its origins in 2006, Ironshore grew to become a specialist in environmental, professional liability and health care, among other disciplines.

Kelley said this week he is confident the combined LIU and Ironshore specialty underwriting teams will thrive.

“I think what we bring to the table is a fundamental concept of ownership of our performance with creativity, innovation and an entrepreneurial spirit,” Kelley said.

“Believe me, that’s in our DNA so we are going to continue to embrace that approach and will be a positive influence on Liberty Mutual’s already strong, reputable culture,” he added.

Ironshore has its own presence at Lloyd’s, Pembroke, and Liberty Mutual also has a strong London presence and a strong surety business, he added.

“I think Liberty brings an awful lot of resources to the market now,” Kelley said.

“With us being a part of the Liberty family we hope that we can help them achieve new heights,” he said.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

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