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Markel to combine its U.S. Specialty and Assurance divisions; promotes Wendy Houser, Sarah Gavlick into new leadership roles

RICHMOND, Va., March 2, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Markel Corporation (NYSE: MKL) today announced it is combining its existing U.S. Insurance divisions – Assurance and Specialty – into one division called Markel Specialty, effective April 1, 2020. The new division will preserve the regional model that was part of its Assurance operations and add two new overarching territories (East and West) to foster a more consistent customer experience.

"This evolutionary change will make it even easier for our trading partners and customers to navigate Markel," said Bryan Sanders, who will lead the newly created division as President, Markel Specialty. "By combining our Assurance and Specialty divisions, it will position us to get closer to and more efficiently serve our customers with unmatched underwriting expertise and competitive, industry-leading products."

The company also announced four promotions related to this organizational change. Wendy Houser and Sarah Gavlick have been named to the newly created roles of Executive Territory Officers, effective immediately. Most recently, Houser was Regional President for Assurance's Mid South region and Gavlick was Regional President for Assurance's Northeast region.

In their new roles, Houser and Gavlick oversee the existing regional structure with the goal to further simplify Markel for its customers—making it easier for them to seamlessly access more of what Markel has to offer. Houser manages the West territory, which includes the Mid South, Midwest and West regions and Gavlick manages the East territory, made up of the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast regions. Both report to Sanders.

"Wendy and Sarah are proven leaders with deep industry understanding and expertise," Sanders said. "They will help us leverage the power of the Markel platform and our regional structure to create the best customer experience in the industry."

The company also announced the promotions of Alison Burgess to Regional President for the Northeast region and Daniel Kennedy to Regional President for the Mid South region, effective April 1. Burgess currently serves as Senior Director of Underwriting and Production, Management and Professional Liability, for the Northeast region, and Kennedy is Managing Director, leading the sales team for Specialty's Commercial group.

"Dan and Alison are exceptional leaders with considerable industry experience and knowledge, who also have a track record of developing high-performing teams," Sanders said. "We are confident they will only build on the successful regional operations Sarah and Wendy established."

About Sarah Gavlick: Gavlick became Regional President for the Northeast region in 2010. Prior to that, she was Director, Production and Underwriting for the Northeast region with oversight for all products. She joined Markel in 2004 as an Assistant Manager, Excess and Umbrella, and went on to hold several additional roles with increasing responsibility. Gavlick has more than 25 years of industry experience, having started her career as an underwriter at Gen Re. She is a graduate of Villanova University.

About Wendy Houser: Houser was named Regional President for the Mid South region in early 2014, after serving as Managing Director, Underwriting and Production for the region since August 2012. She joined Markel in 2008 as Director of Marketing and Business Development in the Mid South region, and in 2010 she was named Managing Director, Wholesale Marketing. Houser, who has more than 20 years of insurance industry experience, was a broker at Alexander, Morford & Woo prior to joining Markel. She is a graduate of Missouri State University and a veteran of the U.S. Navy.

About Alison Burgess: Burgess was promoted to Senior Director of Underwriting and Production, Management and Professional Liability for the Northeast region in 2018, after serving as Director since 2016. She joined Markel in 2012 and underwrote and managed the Management Liability team. Prior to Markel, Burgess spent 12 years at CNA, where her last role was Management Protection Products Underwriting Consulting Director. She is a graduate of Rutgers University.

About Daniel Kennedy: Kennedy, who was named to his most recent role in September 2015, manages a team of 70 and leads business development initiatives and strategies, helping agents engage and grow with Markel's diverse suite of products and programs for Markel Specialty Commercial. A 16-year industry veteran, he began his career in the insurance industry with FirstComp, a monoline workers compensation carrier Markel acquired in 2010, and went on to hold additional sales roles with increasing responsibility at Markel. Kennedy is a graduate of Kansas State University.

About Markel
Markel is a diverse financial holding company serving a variety of niche markets. The Company's principal business markets and underwrites specialty insurance products. In each of the Company's businesses, it seeks to provide quality products and excellent customer service so that it can be a market leader. The financial goals of the Company are to earn consistent underwriting and operating profits and superior investment returns to build shareholder value. Visit Markel on the web at

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Jennifer Blackwell, +1.804.864.3787,