Insurance World Says Goodbye To Liam McGee: Hartford Exec Ends Cancer Fight At 60

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The insurance world said goodbye to one of its superstars last week when Liam McGee, the former CEO of Hartford Financial Services Group, Inc., died after a two-year battle with cancer. Hartford was one of the groups rescued by a taxpayer bailout prior to McGee coming on board in 2009. He turned things around by selling stock and debt to help the Connecticut-based company repay its $3.4 billion bailout, “and retreated from life insurance and variable annuities to focus on property-casualty coverage,” Claims Journal reports.

“Liam was a man of commitment, integrity and compassion,” Hartford director Thomas Renyi said in a statement. “Liam made the tough decisions necessary to guide the company through this period.”

And guide them through it, he did. McGee was with Hartford through the middle of 2014, though he relocated to California at one point after receiving his diagnosis.

Still, during that turmoil, he raised $1.65 billion selling stock and another $1.1 billion in debt. “A stock-market recovery helped Hartford post its first profit in six quarters in the final three months of 2009, and aided McGee as he raised capital,” CJ adds.

Not bad considering the company had received the second-largest bailout package among insurers under the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“We learned our lessons from the last two years,” McGee told analysts and investors in April 2010. “Never again will we have a concentration in any product, whether it be annuities or anything else, of the size that VA was.”

McGee made the decision to focus on property-casualty in 2012 “after the firm’s stock slipped to the lowest valuation relative to book value of any major insurance company,” CJ reports, adding that “McGee struck a deal in late 2012 to sell a life-insurance unit to Prudential Financial Inc. and disposed of a broker- dealer, retirement-plans business and annuity units in the U.K and Japan.”

The company’s stock sold at $3.33 a share in March 2009. When he announced his retirement from the position of CEO in 2014, it was selling at $35.86.

“Liam McGee has led a generational transformation of Hartford, positioning it to prosper by focusing on operations with industry-leading positions,” Paulson & Co. said in a statement when the CEO announced his departure. “We thank him for his efforts on behalf of shareholders.”

McGee was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1954. He attributed much of his work ethic to his father, who had moved the family from Ireland to California and took a job as a bus driver before working his way into management. He attended the University of San Diego, where he graduated in 1976 with a degree in biology. He also played pitcher and outfielder for the USD baseball team, wrote for the school paper, and was active in student government.

His son Stephen graduated from his old alma mater in 2009, and that same year, he gave the commencement address.

In an interview with the university, he shared these words.

“My advice was that whatever you do in life, you have to have a deep passion for it. If you have that passion, it won’t feel like work.”

We can only assume Mr. McGee was passionate for his work. Looking at the results of the Hartford turnaround, in particular, the proof is apparent. HometownQuotes would like to offer our best thoughts and wishes to the McGee Family during their time of loss.

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