Nationwide CEO Steve Rasmussen to Retire

Steve Rasmussen is stepping down after 45 years of insuring homes, cars and businesses and helping people plan for retirement.

Source: Columbus Dispatch | Published on April 8, 2019

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The Nationwide CEO announced Thursday his plans to retire on Oct. 1, saying it is a good time for him to go.

“Right now we’re at a very good place in the organization. I feel very comfortable where we’re at,” he said.

Rasmussen, 66, joined Nationwide in 1998 as a result of Nationwide’s acquisition of Allied Insurance, where he began working in 1974 and ultimately become president and chief operating officer. He became Nationwide’s CEO 10 years ago after serving as president and chief operating office of the company’s property and casualty division for six years.

Rasmussen has been talking with the board about succession for the last couple of years. The board has begun a search for a new executive.

“You hope in your care that you’ve left the place a little better than when you started and I think I have,” he said.

Under Rasmussen’s leadership, Nationwide has grown into one of the nation’s largest insurance and financial services company with 30,000 employees and $46.9 billion in sales in 2018.

The company is split between a property and casualty company that offers auto, home and commercial insurance products and a financial-services business that sells life insurance, annuities and other financial products.

During his tenure, the company bought Harleysville Insurance in 2012 to strengthen the company’s commercial lines and bought Jefferson National in 2017, which expanded offerings on the company’s financial services side.

At the same time, the company, like other insurers, has had to deal with a surge in weather-related claims, such as the wildfires that ripped California the past two years and tornadoes and heavy storms that struck the South and Midwest.

“We’re aware the climate is changing,” he said. “There are observable differences. ... All these things impact us and our customers.”

Rasmussen has started positioning the company for the future as innovation and technology such as self-driving cars figure to upset traditional insurance markets.

Over the past several months, for example, the company has introduced products that permit motorists to buy insurance by the mile or allow drivers who work for a ride-sharing company to buy coverage only when they are on the clock. The insurer has also launched an innovation fund, taking stakes in startups and young companies with promising services in insurance and other industries.

The company also has been on a campaign to unify all its brands under the Nationwide name, using the “Nationwide is on your side” tagline.

Nationwide has been recognized for its culture, making such lists as Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

“I feel proud that we have set the company up to continue to grow,” he said.

Board leaders and others in the insurance industry praised Rasmussen’s tenure at Nationwide.

“His invaluable leadership guided the company’s transition to one brand, strengthened our core businesses, evolved our distribution approach, prioritized investments in innovation and emerging businesses, and sharpened our focus on customers,” board Chairman Tim Corcoran said in a statement. “These steps have further solidified Nationwide as a market leader in the insurance and financial services industry.”

Sean Kevelighan, CEO of the Insurance Information Institute, called Rasmussen “a beacon of leadership and transformation for Nationwide as well as the entire insurance industry. He is leaving the company well-poised to take on the disruptive challenges facing the world, and ensuring Nationwide customers are protected.”

During his tenure, Rasmussen remained focused on the customer, said Dean Fadel, president of the Ohio Insurance Institute.

“Mr. Rasmussen has always demonstrated a big-picture view, where it isn’t only about what’s best for his company, but he looks at what’s best for the customers foremost and what’s best for the community and the state as a whole,” Fadel said. “He always embraced the extra, external obligations associated with being a major employer in Ohio and given my experience with Nationwide, I fully expect that will continue with his successor.”

Rasmussen has no immediate plans for retirement beyond spending more of his free time with his family.

He said he will continue to be active in the community. He already serves on several boards, including Nationwide Children’s Health, OhioHealth, American Electric Power and Catalyst. He also is a member of the Columbus Partnership, a group of business leaders working to improve the region.