Markel Gayner and Whitt

President and Chief Investment Officer Thomas S. Gayner (l) and President and Co-Chief Operating Officer Richard R. Whitt III will serve as the co-CEOs of Markel Corp. Their appointments are effective Jan. 1.

Markel Corp., the Henrico County-based specialty insurer, said Thursday it has named two top executives as chief executive officers.

President and Chief Investment Officer Thomas S. Gayner, 53, and President and Co-Chief Operating Officer Richard R. Whitt III, 51, will serve as the co-CEOs. Their appointments are effective Jan. 1.

They replace Alan I. Kirshner as CEO, who will serve as executive chairman. Kirshner has been the company’s chief executive officer since September 1986 when Markel became a public company.

In addition, F. Michael Crowley, 64, president and co-chief operating officer, will serve as the sole president of the company as of the same date.

Gayner, Whitt and Crowley will continue to report to Kirshner.

“Markel is a company built to last,” Kirshner said Thursday in a statement.

“The unanimous decision taken by the board of directors (Thursday) to appoint Tom and Richie as co-CEOs ... sets the stage for Markel’s future and builds upon and continues a long tradition of collegial and collaborative leadership, management and decision-making,” Kirshner said.

He said these three people possess character, talent, experience and vision and the management teams throughout the organization are filled with exceptional leaders who execute company goals and aspirations on a daily basis. “Our bench is indeed strong and deep.”

In addition to serving as co-CEOS, Gayner will oversee the company’s investment portfolio and non-insurance operating companies, known as Markel Ventures, and Whitt will oversee international insurance and reinsurance operations as well as its underwriting, finance, actuarial, claims, information technology, legal and administrative functions.

Crowley will continue to oversee global insurance, specialty and wholesale operations and its marketing, human resources and strategic management functions.

As executive chairman, Kirshner will focus on long-term strategic planning and development.

Markel is a financial holding company serving niche markets. Its principal business is marketing and underwriting specialty insurance products.

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