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These are the world's 20 insurance billionaires

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The rich keep getting richer.

For its 29th annual guide that ranks the world’s wealthiest individuals, Forbes totaled 1,826 billionaires with an aggregate net worth of $7.05 trillion — an increase from $6.4 trillion last year.

Of the top 10 overall, seven are from the United States, and one of whom has ties to the insurance industry. Microsoft founder Bill Gates, 59, retains his position as the world’s richest man with a net worth of $79.2 billion, a position he has held for 16 of the past 21 years. The two youngest on the list are Evan Spiegel, 24, and Bobby Murphy, 26, who founded the photo-messaging app Snapchat, who each have a net worth of $1.5 billion. 

Twenty individuals with ties to the insurance industry made Forbes’ list, and include a part-owner of the Chicago Bears, a former professional tennis player, a Commander of the British Empire, seven U.S. citizens, and, of course, the world’s No. 3 richest person.

Below and on the following pages, here is Forbes’ list of the world’s 20 insurance billionaires:

prem watsa

No. 1741 (tie): V. Prem Watsa, 64

Toronto, Canada

Net worth: $1 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance & investments

Watsa founded the firm Fairfax Financial Holdings in 1985 and remains its chairman and CEO. Fairfax maintains property and casualty insurance and reinsurance interests across four continents, including Odyssey RE, Crum & Forster and Zenith Insurance Co.

(Photo: Wikipedia/C.R.Selvakumar)

ion tiriac

No. 1741 (tie): Ion Tiriac, 75

Bucharest, Romania

Net worth: $1 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, banking & insurance

A financial and real estate investor, Tiriac returned to the Forbes’ billionaire list for the first time since 2010 as Romania’s real estate market strengthened. After a career as a professional tennis player, he purchased assets in banking, auto leasing and the insurance company Allianz Tiriac.

(Photo: Tiriac, left. AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

hal jackman

No. 1638 (tie): Hal Jackman, 82

Toronto, Canada

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance & investments

Jackman and his family are the largest shareholders in E-L Financial Corporation, which provides insurance and financial services through its subsidiaries, including Empire Life Insurance.


No. 1638 (tie): Henry Engelhardt, CBE, 57

United States

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Source of wealth: CEO, Admiral Group plc

Chicago-born and University of Michigan educated, Engelhardt followed his girlfriend (now wife) to earn an MBA in France. Now living in Cardiff, U.K., Engelhardt founded the Admiral Group in 1993 to sell car and home insurance directly to customers, bypassing brokers. Admiral is a leader in price comparisons of car insurance, with sites in the U.K., Spain, France and the U.S., where it offers insurance under the brand Elephant Now and


No. 1638 (tie): Shlomo Eliahu, 79

Tel Aviv, Israel

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance

In 1966, he founded the Elihahu Insurance Co., Israel’s first insurance company, which provides coverage for cars, homes, property, accidents and life.

(Photo: Wikipedia/ /Shlomo Eliahu)

wb logo

No. 1638 (tie): William Berkley, 68

Greenwich, Conn.

Net worth: $1.1 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman and CEO, W.R. Berkley

Berkley founded his P&C insurance firm nearly 50 years ago with just $2.500 while attending Harvard as an MBA student. The company does business through 27 subsidiaries. He has a nearly 20 percent stake, through about half of his shares are pledged as collateral for loans, Forbes says.


No. 1415: Surin Upatkoon, 65

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Net worth: $1.3 billion

Source of wealth: telecoms, lotteries, insurance

Upatkoon acquired a major stake in Multi-Purpose Holdings Bhd., which he later split into MPHB Capital, an insurance and real estate firm. The company underwrites various general insurance products, including fire, motor, marine, personal accident, engineering, hospital and surgical, liability, specialized risk and bond. 


No. 1250 (tie): George Joseph, 93

Los Angeles, Calif.

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance

George Joseph started his career as a door-to-door insurance salesman, where he realized that auto insurance companies weren’t screening their customers correctly. Forbes says that that led him to start Mercury General, which is now a publicly trader auto insurer with revenues of $2.7 billion.

(AP Photo/Jae Chong)


No. 1250 (tie): Rolf Gerling, 60

Zurich, Switzerland

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Source of wealth: Insurance

Gerling’s grandfather launched a small insurance business, Gerling Konzern, in 1904, which his father Hans expanded into a global insuranace group. Following Hans’ death, Gerling showed little interest in managing the business, Forbes says, and sold his 94 percent stake to the Talanx Group, German’s third largest insurance company, in 2005 for $1.6 billion.

(AP Photo/Hermann J. Knippertz)


No. 1250: Jayme Garfinkel, 69

San Paulo, Brazil

Net worth: $1.5 billion

Source of wealth: Insurance

Garfinkel serves as the chairman of the board of Brazil’s No. 1 auto insurer Porto Seguro, and is also its biggest shareholder, controlling about 40 percent of the firm’s shares. 

danil russia

No. 1190: Danil Khachaturov, 43

Moscow, Russia

Net worth: $1.6 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance, banking, real estate

Between 2001 and 2003, Khachaturov and his partners spent $60 million to buy 75 percent of the retail insurance company Rosgosstrakh from the government. It is the country’s largest insurance company with $3 billion in revnue.

(Photo: Rosgosstrakh headquarters, Wikipedia/MiLaNa19)

No. 894: Susan Hirt Hagen, 79

Erie, Pa.

Net worth: $2.1 billion

Source of wealth: Insurance

Hagen has spent 34 years on the board of the multi-line insurer Erie Indemnity, the P&C firm that her father, H.O. Hirt, founded in 1925. Her husband, Thomas Hagen, serves as chairman and used to run the company while her son and niece also are directors. Erie brings in $6.2 billion in revenue, and Hagen and her family control the company’s CLass B voting stock and own more than one third of the common shares. 


No. 810: Othman Benjelloun, 82

Casablanca, Morocco

Net worth: $2.3 billion

Source of wealth: Banking & insurance

Through his holding company, FinanceCom, Benjelloun has interests in banking, insurance and telecom in Morocco. Benjelloun’s father was a large shareholder in an insurance company that he took over in 1988, renaming it RMA Watanya. 


No. 714: Patrick Ryan, 77

Winnetka, Ill.

Net worth: $2.6 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance

Ryan began his career in 1964, when he founded Pat Ryan & Associates, originally an auto credit insurer. which he later merged with Combined International in 1982 and renamed Aon. That company would grow to become a reinsurance giant, and in 2011 was ranked as the largest insurance broker in the world with $10.61 billion in revenue. Ryan retired in 2008, but in 2010 he founded the privately held insurance firm Ryan Specialty Group. Ryan is also a part-owner of the Chicago Bears.

No. 663: Richard Rainwater, 70

Forth Worth, Texas

Net worth: $2.8 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, real estate, energy & insurance

After managing assets for the Bass family (who owned major interests in oil and gas, and the Walt Disney Co.) in the 1970s, Rainwater broke out on his own in 1986 as an independent investors’ agent. He founded or co-founded many firms, including Mid Ocean Limited, a provider of casualty reinsurance in 1992, which is now part of XL Group.

No. 628: Shin Chang-Jae, 61

Seoul, South Korea

Net worth: $2.9 billion

Source of wealth: Chairman and CEO, Kyobo Life Insurance

Shin joined Kyobo Life Insurance in 1996 and became chairman and CEO in 2000—taking over from his father who founded the company. Kyobo Life is Korea’s third-largest life insurer in terms of premium, with an 11% market share in 2013. Before joining Kyobo Life, Shin trained as an obstetrician.

No. 462: Vanich Chaiyawan, 83

Bangkok, Thailand

Net worth: $3.7 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, insurance & beverages

Chaiyawan is the chairman of and holds a 60% stake in Thai Life, Thailand’s second-largest life insurer.


No. 160: Petr Kellner, 50

Vrane and Vltavou, Czech Republic

Net worth: $8.4 billion

Source of wealth: Self-made, banking & insurance

Kellner founded and owns nearly 99% of the Czech investment fund PPF, which in turn owns 93% of the largest Czech insurance company, eská pojišovna. PPF also bought 49% of Assicurazioni Generali, the largest insurance company in Italy in 2007, but sold all of its share back to Generali at the end of 2014 for €2.5 billion.


No. 110:  Lee Kun-Hee, 73

Seoul, South Korea

Net worth: $11.3 Billion

Source of wealth: Chairman, Samsung Group

Samsung Group is more than electronics—it also encompasses affiliate companies in fashion (Cheil Industries), IT (Samsung SDS) and insurance (Samsung Life Insurance).


No. 3: Warren Buffett, 84

Omaha, Neb.

Net worth: $72.7 billion

Source of wealth: CEO, Berkshire Hathaway

Was there any doubt that the Oracle of Omaha wouldn’t take the top spot among insurance billionaires?

With dozens of subsidiaries in railroads and energy, Berkshire Hathaway also conducts insurance and reinsurance business through 70 domestic and foreign companies, including GEICO, General Re, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty, Berkshire Hathaway Homestate and Berkshire Hathaway Travel Partners.

A dedicated philantropist, Buffet gave away $2.8 billion in Berkshire shares last year, primarily to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

(AP Photo/Mark Duncan)

See also:

Meet the top 20 billionaires in the world

The 10 wealthiest people in America

50 of the wealthiest people in America, by state: Part 1


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