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Travelers Leads Insurers Paying Big Money to Top Lawyers (1)

April 10, 2020, 7:02 PM; Updated: April 10, 2020, 7:48 PM

The Travelers Cos. Inc. gave almost $24 million in total compensation last year to a pair of former Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP partners, according to a recent proxy statement filed by the insurance giant.

Avrohom “A.J.” Kess, who headed the New York-based law firm’s public company advisory practice until he replaced fellow former Simpson Thacher partner Alan Schnitzer as Travelers’ vice chair and in-house legal chief in 2016, earned more than $6.3 million from the company last year. Kess’ pay package included $3.56 million in cash and over $2.55 million in stock and option awards.

Kess and Schnitzer were joined at Travelers earlier this year by Janice Brunner, a longtime counsel in Simpson Thacher’s public company advisory practice who was hired by Travelers as group general counsel. Brunner reports to Travelers executive vice president and general counsel Christine Kalla, who in turn reports to Kess, a company spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg Law.

Schnitzer took home nearly $16.78 million in total compensation during 2019, including $7 million in cash, in his role as chairman and CEO of Travelers. Schnitzer was a corporate partner at Simpson Thacher until 2007, when he joined New York-based Travelers as vice chairman and chief legal officer. He was elevated to CEO in 2015.

Other Insurers

Travelers wasn’t the only insurance company giving big money to its top in-house lawyers last year.

The Hanover Insurance Group Inc. awarded more than $1.99 million in total compensation to general counsel J. Kendall Huber, who retired April 1 from the Worcester, Mass.-based insurer. Securities filings show that Huber will make $37,500 per month through July 31 as he helps transition leadership of the company’s law department to former deputy general counsel Dennis Kerrigan.

Bloomberg Law has previously reported on the 2019 pay packages for top lawyers at other leading insurers like Assured Guaranty Ltd. and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Insurance claims are soaring across the U.S. as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, leading some law firms to hire insurance litigators with an eye on future courtroom fights over coverage.

Below are 14 more pay packages for leading in-house insurance lawyers. Listed parenthetically is the cash component of each individual’s pay, a sum that includes annual base salary, cash bonuses, and non-equity incentive plan compensation.

RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. – Stephen Weinstein, $3.25 million ($1.65 million)
White Mountains Insurance Group Ltd. – Robert Seelig, $2.96 million ($1.03 million)
NMI Holdings Inc. – William Leatherberry, $2.61 million ($1.29 million)
National General Holdings Corp. – Jeffrey Weissmann, $2.56 million ($1.43 million)
MGIC Investment Corp. – Paula Maggio, $2.27 million ($1.05 million)
Selective Insurance Group Inc. – Michael Lanza, $2.07 million ($1.37 million)
CNO Financial Group Inc. – Matthew Zimpfer, $2.05 million ($1.20 million)
Everest Re Group Ltd. – Sanjoy Mukherjee, $2.02 million ($1.23 million)
American Financial Group Inc. – Vito Peraino, $2.00 million ($1.32 million)
Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America – Gretchen Cepek, $1.20 million ($902,520)
United Fire Group Inc. – Neal Scharmer, $835,985 ($389,438)
Symetra Life Insurance Co. – Jacqueline Veneziani, $736,163 ($715,765)
Goosehead Insurance Inc. – P. Ryan Langston, $413,140 ($400,000)
Security National Financial Corp. – S. Andrew Quist, $369,044 ($337,765)

(Updated to include information for CNO Financial and Security National Financial.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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