Ben Latham Presented Crop Insurance Industry Lifetime Achievement Award02/12/2015
Ben Latham, retired, ProAg Insurance, received a Crop Insurance Industry Lifetime Achievement Award during the 2015 Crop Insurance Industry Annual Convention this week.
Jess “Ben” Latham III was literally born to write crop insurance. His grandfather, Jess Latham Sr, began selling crop insurance on horseback in the 1910’s and in 1927 founded what became ProAg in Amarillo, TX where Mr. Latham was born. After college and a stint trading commodities, he entered the family business in 1973. As the dominant crop hail writer in a state known for violent hailstorms, Mr. Latham became the pre-eminent authority in the world on Texas crop hail. He, joined later in the decade by his brother Larry, began to build the family company with the goal of a national presence.
Mr. Latham understood early on the value of industry relationships and leadership. Early in his career he brought his expertise to CHIAA and the actuarial committee and various industry committees until 1997 when he was elected to the NCIS Board of Directors. During his many year of service he was elected twice to hold the position as Chairman of the NCIS Board. During his tenure he participated in four Standard Reinsurance Agreement negotiations, numerous committees and gave his time to other industry board organizations. He also lent his considerable knowledge to international crop hail organizations and served four years as a board member. In his effort to bring understanding and credibility to this insurance industry he has traveled extensively not just in this country but Europe and Africa as well.
In 2003, Mr. Latham became CEO of ProAg. Over the next several years he oversaw the fastest growing crop insurance company in the industry. What was a regional hail company, had now grown to more than 480 employees spread over 40 states. He doubled the premium of ProAg three times during his seven year stint as CEO. However, because of SRA changes during the 2008 timeframe, it became apparent to Mr. Latham that ProAg no longer was served by family ownership and needed an institutional parent. In 2009, ProAg was sold to CUNA Mutual ending the Latham family ownership of the company after 83 years.
Mr. Latham ended his career in 2012 having seen and been a part of changes that would have been unimaginable to his grandfather in the 1920’s. He served on the Board of Directors of ProAg until 2014 and now spends his time playing bogey golf (often times with many friends made in the industry) and travelling to visit his children and grandchildren.
Source: National Crop Insurance Services