Hanover Insurance Taps Roche for CEO as Zubretsky Departs for Molina

The Hanover Insurance Group announced Tuesday that John C. Roche has been appointed president and chief executive officer, effective Nov. 4, succeeding Joseph M. Zubretsky.

The news came about a half hour before Molina Healthcare announced that Zubretsky was stepping down from his leadership role at The Hanover to take a position at Molina as president and chief executive officer, effective Nov. 6. Zubretsky is expected to remain at The Hanover through Nov. 3.

Roche currently leads The Hanover’s personal and commercial lines businesses as president of Hanover Agency Markets, a division of the company created in a reorganization announced in February. Roche has served on the company’s executive leadership team since 2008.

A veteran of the property/casualty insurance industry with more than 30 years of experience, Roche began his career at Fireman’s Fund and Atlantic Mutual, where he held a number of underwriting and management positions. Prior to joining The Hanover, he served in senior roles at the St. Paul Travelers Companies.

John Roche

He joined The Hanover in 2006 and held senior leadership positions in business insurance, field operations, marketing and distribution, commercial lines underwriting and product management.

Announcing Roche’s appointment as CEO, Kevin Condron, chair at The Hanover praised Roche for playing a critical role in the successful expansion of our company, for working closely with the board, and for helping to position The Hanover in its partnerships with independent agents. “He brings passion, vision and tremendous knowledge of our industry, our company, and the independent agency distribution channel to the role, working with our talented team to set the stage for an even more successful future,” Condron said in a statement.

Roche also serves on the board of directors for the National Council of Compensation Insurance. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut.

Molina Successor

Over at Molina Healthcare, Zubretsky is set to succeed an interim CEO, Joseph W. White, who will remain at the company in his role as chief financial officer. Zubretsky, who took the reins of The Hanover from a retiring Fred Eppinger in June 2016, has 35-year career in the insurance and financial services, much of it on the life-health side of the business, including nine years at Aetna, where he served for a time as CFO. Zubretsky began his career as an accountant with Coopers & Lybrand, rising to partnership in its national insurance industry group.

In February, at an Investor Day presentation, Zubretsky and other executives at The Hanover unveiled a go-forward strategy for The Hanover—Hanover 2021—setting forth five-year growth and financial targets, reinforcing a commitment to its partners, and announcing organizational changes.

The organizational changes included combining the company’s small commercial, middle market and personal lines businesses into one division—Hanover Agency Markets—putting Roche at the helm. The combination was part of an effort to deliver a range of products and services to distribution partners to serve their customers’ evolving needs. Plans called for Hanover Agency Markets to selectively expand its risk appetite, pursue new customer segments, and grow its presence in under-penetrated geographic markets.

Joseph Zubretsky

As part of the reorganization, domestic specialty lines and international specialty business written through Chaucer were also set up as separate business units, and another separate unit—Hanover Innovation—was established to identify emerging customer segments, leverage data and analytics, and also to help distribution partners innovate and grow.

Financial targets set at the time included growing net written premiums from under $5 billion in 2016 to $7 billion by 2021 while maintaining a stable loss ratio and improving the expense ratio, along with a long-term ROE target of 11-12 percent.

In August, The Hanover reported net income of $123.6 million for the first half of 2017, compared to $80.2 million for the same period in 2016. Although Zubretsky said at the time that results fell in line with the company’s long-term strategic plan, in conjunction with the earnings announcement, the company also announced that it had initiated expense actions to eliminate roughly 160 positions, expected to contribute to annualized pre-tax expense savings of approximately $30 million in personnel-related costs. Another $20 million would come from non-personnel cost reductions, The Hanover said in August.

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