Aviva Irish general insurance chief executive sues employer

John Quinlan has been on leave for almost eight months, successor has been lined up

Aviva Ireland's general insurance chief executive John Quinlan, who has been on leave for almost eight months, has launched legal proceedings against the company.

It comes at a time when Aviva is known to be lining up a replacement for the executive.

A spokeswoman for Aviva said that Mr Quinlan remained the chief executive of the Irish general insurance unit, but declined to comment further. The executive and his solicitors, named in court filings registering the case this week, did not respond to efforts to secure comment.

The Irish Times first reported last November that Mr Quinlan was on leave from his position and that a senior executive with the wider UK-based Aviva group, Nick Amin, had been parachuted in to run the division on an interim basis.


The legal proceedings are the first public confirmation of a breakdown in relations between Aviva and Mr Quinlan (55), who joined the company as general insurance managing director in 2013 from RSA Insurance Ireland, where he was the sales and marketing director. He was named chief executive of Aviva Ireland in November 2016, becoming its seventh head in a decade.

The business was reorganised in September 2019 to align itself with the structures of the Aviva group. This eliminated the position of Aviva Ireland chief executive and left Mr Quinlan in charge of the general insurance business, with the life and pensions business headed up by another executive.


It emerged last month that Declan O’Rourke, general manager of US insurance giant AIG’s Irish business, had been tapped to become the next chief executive of Aviva’s general insurance business in Ireland. Aviva has not confirmed that Mr O’Rourke is joining the company.

Earlier this month, Aviva announced that Dave Elliot, who has been with the group for almost a decade, would be taking over as chief executive of its Irish life and pensions unit in August, succeeding Tom Browne, who joined the business in 2018 through the acquisition of Friends First. Mr Browne is retiring after 40 years working in the insurance industry in Ireland.

London-based Aviva named independent director and former Zurich Insurance executive Amanda Blanc as its new chief executive on Monday, succeeding Maurice Tulloch.

Ms Blanc immediately stoked speculation of a shake-up of the business. There has long been speculation of a break-up of the life and general insurer, which some analysts and investors say has an unwieldy structure.

“I’m not a business-as-usual person, and I haven’t come here to do a business-as-usual job,” Ms Blanc, the first woman to run Aviva, told reporters on Monday. “We will look at the strategic options.”

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times