My Introduction to Richard L. Green
by John Delach
Richard L. Green passed away on October 23, 2017 after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Dick was the finest insurance man I’ve ever known. He was honest, trustworthy and fair but exacting and demanding. It was both my honor and pleasure to work with him for almost twenty years.
I worked for Marsh & McLennan, Exxon’s corporate insurance broker. We placed a huge re-insurance policy for their in-house insurance company, Ancon, then located in Bermuda. Ancon insured Exxon’s world-wide operations. When I joined our Exxon team in 1978, Dick Green was one of Exxon’s senior insurance professionals. His office was in Houston, Texas, the headquarters for their largest and most important subsidiary, Exxon Company, USA.
Dick and his mates insured Exxon USA’s vast operations that included Alaska’s North Slope Pipeline. Exxon USA had its own insurance operation called, Petroleum Casualty Company (PCC.) Even so by 1978, PCC had been mandated by corporate to pass on their policies to Ancon. Nevertheless, PCC remained fiercely independent and maintained an adversarial relationship with Ancon and all doing business with Ancon including me.
No one bothered to explain this relationship to me. Too bad because one of my first tasks was to bring the PCC’s marine policies into line with Ancon’s. Someone at PCC had dissected the American Institute Hull Clauses (AIHC) a sacrosanct form not to be tampered with. They cut and pasted various clauses as they saw fit deleting those they found uninteresting or undesirable. (Could it have been Dick Green?) Changing the AIHC was akin to amending the United States Constitution. It is deliberately a difficult and complicated procedure.
Dick and his colleagues met with us in our home office at 1221 Avenue of the Americas as did Ancon’s people from Bermuda. Dumb and happy, I preached my sermon that the AIHC was not a term of art to be tinkered with, exploited, changed or deleted. Arrogantly, I noted that PCC was out-of-line and their policies had to be changed to reflect Ancon’s policies that accepted the AIHC in its entirety. Case closed, that’s the way it is.
Len Brown who worked for Exxon in several insurance capacities explained what happened next. (Note, Although Len wasn’t present in New York that day, he had his own experiences with the phenomenon that followed.) Len explained: “Every meeting would eventually get to a point where a voice would be heard from among the Exxon contingent uttering words in an Arkansas twang close to the following: ‘Just a minute, hold on, run that by me one more time will you? You gotta understand now that I’m just a little ol’ country boy, but…”
The speaker was Dick Green and what followed the “but” was a dressing down of biblical proportions. On that day it was directed at me. “Now, John, it seems to me that your position is based soley on your opinion. Do you expect us to roll over and make changes in our policy without any specific explanation of each change you are suggesting? I don’t think you’d appreciate it if I did this to you?”
I had no place to run and no place to hide as my arrogance quickly melted into humiliation.
Dick was relentless in his criticism and I saw my future slip sliding away. My only course for survival was agreeing to prepare a line-by-line analysis of the AIHC that I would present within a month to PCC at their office in Houston.
That meeting went reasonably well. I learned enough to listen to PCC’s demands as well as speak to them. The one exception was the so called “Continuation Clause.” In plain English, it says that if a vessel is at sea when the policy expires, coverage continues until the vessel reaches a port.
Dick insisted this was a restriction while I maintained it was an extension. Back and forth we went, neither giving an inch until the day ended and we broke for dinner. I do recall it was a great evening at a superb restaurant (it well could have been Brennan’s Houston.)
Another lesson learned, Dick Green was a completely different person on and off the field. He could be a bulldog when business was the issue, but socially he was charming.
We went at it again the next morning. Finally, I said to Dick: “If you ask me to prove that the sun will rise tomorrow, I could gather scientific data from the US Geological Survey, newspapers and other sources to demonstrate that the sun will come up tomorrow. But, you and I both know that I can’t prove it. Guess what though, even if I can’t prove it, the goddamn sun will come up tomorrow!
That got Dick’s attention and he agreed to disagree and move on. I was exhausted, but I knew I’d survived to fight another day.
Twenty years later, we had been down so many roads, fought good fights, mostly on the same side and overcame the great SS Exxon Valdez disaster. We traveled roads to many places including, London, Paris, Bordeaux, Munich and Zurich.
One night in Paris, our host took us to a historical restaurant. He seated us in a large chair and explained that Napoleon and Josephine once sat there. Dick looked at me and noted; “John, here we are, you from Brooklyn, NY and me from Alma, Arkansas and we are sitting where Napoleon sat. Only in America!
RIP Dick Green.
Did not know Mr. Geen but sure knew one or two others like him…wonder if their kind still exists? Ph
Nice one, John. Sometimes we stumbled forward. The important part is you kept moving that relationship forward while acknowledging there are two sides to most stories. Thank you for sharing. We continue to learn.