Gus Hatch – An Appreciation

Made the world of insurance his own

 

Augustine John (Gus) Hatch passed away on October 7th at the age of 69. He was a deeply talented individual who made the world of insurance his oyster, about which he was very knowledgeable, and where he honed his deep analytical skills, which were much sought after during his working life.

He was keenly interested in reinsurance, an area in which he was distinguished.

He was born in Dublin, where his family lived both in Inchicore and Malahide during his youth, and where he received his early education.

Remarkably, at the age of 21, he qualified for the FCII Insurance qualification, a feat which had to be accommodated by a change in the rules by the Insurance Institute to recognise his achievement.

Gus began his career with Yorkshire Insurance Co (latterly General Accident), before serving a spell as an insurance executive with an international firm of brokers in Zambia.

On his return, he became the secretary of the Irish Insurance Association for a period before joining Irish National in a senior role. He became chief executive of New PMPA Insurance in 1984 at the age of 35, and which was at that time under the aegis of court-appointed administrator Kevin Kelly, following its financial collapse the year before. Gus played a very significant role in leading it along the path towards a successful recovery.

Following this, he returned to Irish National where he shortly became its managing director, with further success. Being part of the French UAP Group (now AXA) he attracted the attention of the French board, and he was invited to join them, where he played a leading part in their activities, notably in the Far East and Australia. This entailed a crash course in learning French, which he mastered by immersing himself for an intensive six-week period, following which he achieved remarkable fluency, although his pronunciation of French, of which he was very proud, often left various restaurant maitres d’hôtel and friends in a state of trauma!

He was an inveterate air traveller in this capacity, frequently flying to the Far East and beyond; in fact it is believed he was the most frequent air passenger with Aer Lingus for some years. What distinguished him was his ability to work and study his brief during these flights, when others rested. One occasion involved a flight to Australia for a meeting which was held at Sydney airport for his convenience, and when finished he took the next return flight to Paris.

On his retirement from AXA in the late 1990s, he was in demand as an insurance consultant, and was an adviser to the Aga Khan, who had insurance interests in the Middle East, Pakistan and eastern Africa.

He was quite demanding in all the roles he occupied, but was always professional and fair in his level of expectation with whom he worked.

He had a range of interests outside work, including the unlikely combination of church history, hurling and rugby.

In retirement, he loved to spend time at his lovely home in the south of France, where he was a genial host.

He was devoted to his family, principally his wife Doreen, on whom he deeply relied, his son Niall, and daughters Aisling and Caoimhe, and grandson Thomas. He will be missed by them and his many friends.