RSA Ireland taps Insurance Ireland head Thompson as CEO

Industry lobby group chief steps back into corporate role

Kevin Thompson, who has stepped down as chief executive at Insurance Ireland to head RSA Ireland. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Kevin Thompson, who has stepped down as chief executive at Insurance Ireland to head RSA Ireland. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Insurance Ireland’s chief executive, Kevin Thompson, has quit the group to take over as head of UK insurer RSA Insurance Group’s Irish unit, according to industry sources.

RSA Ireland said in a statement on Friday that its chief executive, Ken Norgrove, has been appointed as head of the Scandinavian business of the wider RSA group, having presided over an overhaul of the Dublin-based business after it was hit by an accounting scandal in late 2013.

A spokesman for Insurance Ireland confirmed that Mr Thompson had departed to take up a senior role within the industry, but declined to comment beyond that. A spokeswoman for RSA Ireland declined to comment on the appointment.

Mr Norgrove was hired in 2014 by RSA Ireland to take over a business that was rattled in 2013 when it emerged that it had set aside less money than needed for large insurance loss claims between 2009 and 2013. This artificially inflated the company’s profits.

The episode led a management overhaul and some €423 million of cash injections from its UK parent to fill a hole in its balance sheet and shore up its finances.

Mr Norgrove was chief executive of Zurich General Insurance Ireland for three years before taking on the role at RSA Ireland. He had previously worked for the RSA group between 1986 and 2010.

Mr Thompson previously served as chief executive of Alico Life International, a cross-border life company with branches in Germany, Italy and Spain, and held senior positions within Allianz Worldwide Care, Citigroup & Lincoln Financial.

During Mr Thompson’s early period with Insurance Ireland, the domestic general insurance industry was in crisis as years of low premiums left most companies nursing large losses as the frequency of personal injury claims and the size of court awards soared.

The industry subsequently faced political and public ire as motor premiums soared more than 70 per cent in the three years to late 2016. Although motor coverage costs have since come off by more than 20 per cent, employers’ liability and public liability premiums have been increasing in recent times.

Merger

Mr Thompson presided over the merger with Insurance Ireland and the Dublin International Insurance & Management Association (DIIMA) in 2017 as the industry prepared for a surge in authorisations in Dublin ahead of Brexit.

The European Commission opened a formal investigation in May into whether the body is operating a cartel by restricting access to a claims database. Insurance Ireland has said that it is “confident its practices are fully compliant with competition law”.