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The Average CEO Salary in the U.S. Insurance Industry

by Dana Severson

The direction taken in marketing, advertising, operations, technology, customer service, customer retention and revenue of any insurance company falls on the shoulders of its chief executive officer. Even when others head these departments, it’s still the responsibility of the CEO to govern the policies, procedures and plans of each. Because of this, salaries often outpace those of everyone else on staff.

Six-Figure Salaries Common

In 2012, chief executives earned an average of $176,840 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In the insurance industry, however, salaries often exceed this figure. At insurance carriers, chief executives brought home an average salary of $212,710. Those working for insurance agencies or brokerages earned even more, averaging $215,420 a year.

Top Executives, Top Dollars

With bonuses, stock options and other compensatory benefits, salaries for CEOs at insurance companies can reach eight figures. According to a survey published in Forbes, the CEO of Aflac came in at No. 37 of the highest-paid CEOs in the nation, at an average of $27.97 million. The CEO of Hartford Financial Service brought home $21.5 million, while the CEO of Fidelity National earned $18.76 million. The remaining CEO salaries in the insurance industry ranged anywhere from $3.09 million to $17.79 million a year.

Earnings Reflect Responsibilities

The million-dollar paydays are likely the result of responsibilities, as CEOs provide the overall direction of insurance carriers, agencies and brokerages. As companies grow, a certain level of complexity develops within the business, and the CEO must be able to oversee all aspects of this. They’re also responsible for the companies meeting their goals, and must answer to the board and shareholders when this doesn’t happen, which could mean the loss of their job. In addition, CEOs usually come into the position with a great deal of experience in the industry, and they must be compensated for what they bring to the table.

Cloudy Future for CEOs

The BLS expects employment for chief executives to grow 4 percent from 2010 to 2020. This is much slower than the national average for all US occupations, a projected 14 percent. With a reported 5,570 chief executives working in the insurance industry, the 4 percent growth works out to just 222 new jobs during the course of a decade. Expect strong competition for available roles, largely due to the high earning potential.

About the Author

Based in Minneapolis, Minn., Dana Severson has been writing marketing materials for small-to-mid-sized businesses since 2005. Prior to this, Severson worked as a manager of business development for a marketing company, developing targeted marketing campaigns for Big G, Betty Crocker and Pillsbury, among others.

Photo Credits

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