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Ace’s founding chairman Cox dies at 84

John Cox, the founding chairman and first employee of Ace Ltd, has died at the age of 84.

Back in 1985, Mr Cox played a pivotal role in getting Ace off the ground in Bermuda, helping to establish a company that is today known as Chubb Ltd, the largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company in the world.

The company announced the news of Mr Cox's passing last night.

Evan Greenberg, Chubb's chairman and chief executive officer, paid tribute to Mr Cox, describing him as “a respected and accomplished industry leader of his generation”.

“What John put in motion more than 30 years ago in helping to found, lead and shape Ace in its formative years is a noteworthy legacy, and we honour his vision and achievements,” Mr Greenberg said.

“Those who knew and worked with John remember him giving generously of his time in order to share his industry knowledge, and of fostering a dynamic environment where people could learn and grow. He will be missed by colleagues and friends. Our thoughts are with his family.”

Mr Cox was among a group of pioneers who helped to create Ace in response to a severe lack of excess liability and directors and officers insurance coverage in the US marketplace.

The founding sponsors of Ace were 34 blue-chip companies from a broad range of industries. Mr Cox played a critical role in forming this consortium.

He was the company's first employee and the only one for several months after the company's incorporation.

Those early days were described by Mr Cox himself in an interview with The Bermudian magazine, when he recalled writing his first official insurance policy in temporary headquarters at the Hamilton Princess.

“The hotel room was 348,” Mr Cox remembered. “We had quite a few customers and all of them obviously wanted policy number one. I decided no one should get it, so the first policy I issued was number 348.

“People say I was the father of Ace, but I tell them, ‘No, [Bob] Clements was the father — I was the mother.' I raised the brat!”

Ace's arrival, followed a year later by Exel, today known as XL Catlin, took Bermuda to a new level as an insurance and reinsurance hub, and helped to establish the island as a place where new companies could set up in response to insurance market dislocations, as occurred in waves after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Mr Cox began his career in the insurance industry in 1959 as an accounting clerk at American International Group, where his career flourished. He later joined the Insurance Company of North America, becoming president and, in 1981, senior executive vice-president and chief operating officer of the insurer's parent company, INA Corporation.

When INA merged with the Connecticut General Life Insurance Company to form Cigna, Mr Cox was executive vice-president for its P&C insurance operations.

Mr Cox left Cigna in 1983 and served for a time as deputy chairman and CEO of Associated Madison Companies, a financial services group owned by the American Can Company. He retired from Ace in 1990.

Mr Cox grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and Newburgh, New York. He served in the Marine Corps in the Korean War and, following his military service, graduated from New York University and attended NYU's Graduate School of Business Administration.

Ace team: John Cox is pictured, right, with company colleagues Walter Scott, left, and Brian Duperreault (Photograph from Held Captive: A History of International Insurance in Bermuda)

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Published February 03, 2017 at 8:00 am (Updated February 02, 2017 at 11:11 pm)

Ace’s founding chairman Cox dies at 84

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