Outcast Athlete Insurer Addresses Industry Exit, Pans Critics

Daniel Libit
·4 min read

Chris Larcheveque says he is happy to no longer be selling disability insurance to athletes, describing the business as “dirty.”

In a series of stories published last week about the collapsed market for loss-of-value insurance for college athletes, Sportico reported about the controversy that Larcheveque and his employer, International Specialty Insurance, had engendered among both competitors and collaborators, as the market underwent a whirlwind boom-and-bust cycle.

Larcheveque attributes the hostility toward him to jealousy over his success as a wholesale insurance broker over the last 15 years, first at Hanleigh and later at International Specialty Insurance.

“I am not trying to be a jerk, but I ran s—,” Larcheveque said, analogizing himself to Tom Brady. “And I don’t think anybody has liked me since the day that started.”

A number of sources, both named and anonymous, specifically fingered Larcheveque for the industry’s problems and pegged his arrival at ISI in 2013 as the proximate cause for the LOV market’s overheating to the point of near immolation.

Sportico repeatedly tried to contact Larcheveque in reporting the story, but he declined requests for comment for several weeks, only to reach out to Sportico after the three-part series concluded on Thursday. When asked why he held his tongue until now, Larcheveque said he was worried that the stories were being dictated by his adversaries.

“I thought maybe you knew one of those parties and that it was going to be angled in a certain way against me,” Larcheveque told Sportico.

In a recent on-the-record conversation, Larcheveque sought to push back against criticisms and to recast the narrative of his departure from the insurance business. Whereas other sources described him as an albatross around ISI’s neck, effectively booted from the company amid its short-lived 2019 sale to Ryan Specialty Group (RSG), Larcheveque said he left on his own terms and for his own reasons.

According to Larcheveque, RSG, the Chicago-based insurance company started by Aon founder Patrick Ryan, wanted out of the ISI acquisition deal after discovering ISI had been fined for tardy payments on New York surplus lines taxes. Larcheveque said he thought RSG’s proposal to sell back ISI’s assets to its principals was an “unfair” deal and opted out. ISI’s managing partners, Matthew and Joseph Ferraro, accepted the agreement and eventually sold ISI’s assets to a former competitor, Exceptional Risk Advisors, at the end of last year.

“Please note that Chris Larcheveque was not involved in the repurchase of ISI from Ryan Specialty Group,” an RSG spokesperson told Sportico. “As mentioned before, the sale of ISI was a mutually agreed parting of the ways.”

The head of ERA’s sports and entertainment insurance division, Chris Lack, previously worked under Larcheveque at Hanleigh. In an interview, Larcheveque spared no ire for his former colleague, whom he called “not a good guy” and described with an expletive. Larcheveque went as far as to identify Lack as the wholesaler who should be blamed for driving LOV premium rates down to unsustainable levels.

In a statement on behalf of ERA and ISI, Lack declined to address Larcheveque’s specific claims and criticisms, saying, “We’re going to take the high road on this one.” Lack had previously told Sportico that ERA only purchased ISI after “they got rid of the people that were responsible for [its problems] happening.”

Prior to its acquisition by RSG, ISI had been the subject of at least three lawsuits filed by former college athletes over insurance policies. But Larcheveque denied that this played into RSG’s calculus to reverse the agreement.

Larcheveque said that, while at Hanleigh, he first got the idea of writing LOV insurance for athletes from Tokio Marine HCC, another Lloyd’s of London coverholder, which had introduced the concept of selling athlete income protection coverage into the market.

“I thought this was a pretty valuable product, especially with advanced medicine, and we came up with a pricing model the best way we could,” Larcheveque said. “People don’t realize that Lloyd’s doesn’t have actuaries, at least not in this space, but [the prices] dropped, year after year, because no claim was paid out for the first eight years.”

Larcheveque recalled the first LOV policy he wrote was for former Miami Heat star Dwyane Wade, in the last year of Wade’s rookie contract. Over the next decade-and-a-half, Larcheveque said, he wrote twice as many policies as any of his nearest competitors.

“I was not responsible for destroying any market,” Larcheveque said. “I didn’t do anything different than anybody else.”

Larcheveque went on to say the fact that RSG was ever interested in ISI is a testament to his work.

“We obviously attracted maybe the single biggest legend in insurance who’s still living,” Larcheveque said. “You don’t fool a guy like Pat Ryan at a conference table. … If he got the wrong impression or felt we weren’t doing something right, he wasn’t going to buy us.”

Since parting with ISI, Larcheveque said that he has turned his professional attention to private equity. While their rationales differ, he and his insurance industry adversaries can agree on one thing: Neither want him to return.

“That world is bad,” Larcheveque said.

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