Our Independence. Your Advantage.

Our History

Steadfast independence since 1920

Through almost a century in business and client relationships built over decades, Holborn’s approach has always been one of reinvestment, adaptation and progress. That’s why we’ve survived and succeeded through multiple disasters and dozens of changes in the markets.

So while we’re looking forward to our Centennial in 2020, this landmark represents more of an opportunity, rather than a dignified milestone. We’re proud of our reputation and accomplishments, but even more excited about the opportunities ahead—the chance to continue doing what we do best: using decades of experience and constantly evolving analytics and expertise to provide our insurance-industry clients with quality service.

A short, chronological history of Holborn follows.

1920 – 1939:

1930s: Holborn helps establish new companies in Mexico, seizing an opportunity for growth after the collapse of the Mexican insurance market.

Holborn was chartered by the State of New York as an insurance brokerage firm. Jack Gilbert, who started his career as a broker with Lloyd’s of London, joined the firm and soon narrowed its focus exclusively to reinsurance broking.

After the collapse of the Mexican insurance market, Holborn quickly helped to establish a number of new companies in that market, thereby developing reinsurance capacity that had not previously existed.

With no effective means of communication with the London market during World War II, Jack Gilbert traveled to England by military transport in order to collect on claims for marine war-risk losses.

1940 – 1989:

World War II: CEO Jack Gilbert travels to England by military transport to collect on claims for marine war-risk losses.

John Gilbert joined Holborn in 1962 and became the firm’s second President in 1973.

Holborn hired its first actuary in 1987, thereby leading the trend among the reinsurance brokerage firms to maintain such resources internally.

During these years, Holborn placed the first reinsurance treaty underwritten by CNA, and created one of the industry’s first property catastrophe models.

1990 – 2009:

1990s: Introduction of Comprehensive Stock Ownership Plan makes Holborn’s employees its owners.

Continuing to pursue new alternatives for clients, Holborn pioneered opportunities in the Bermuda market, placing the first reinsurance contracts written by Mid-Ocean (now XL Re, Ltd.) and Renaissance Re. Today, Holborn is a major source of business for all the Bermuda markets.

Through the adoption of an ESOP structure, Holborn’s ownership was transferred to its employees, providing each Holborn professional with a direct stake in the firm’s success – and that of its clients.

Frank Harrison named President in 2004, just the 3rd in Holborn’s history.

Holborn opened its Minneapolis and Kansas City branch offices.

With the launch of its Eye in the Sky sm technology, Holborn began providing clients with catastrophe analysis, modeling and management tools.

2010 – present:

In 2012, John Gilbert retires from Holborn while continuing to serve as Director.

Holborn acquired an ownership stake in Stonybrook Capital, an investment-banking advisor to the insurance industry.

During 2013, Holborn merged with W.J. Lehrke Co., a Minnesota-based reinsurance brokerage firm founded in 1973. The combined firm continues operations under the Holborn name.