VHI names Brian Walsh as new chief executive

Former chief financial officer was appointed on an interim basis last May

Health insurance company VHI has named former chief financial officer Brian Walsh as the group’s new chief executive.

Mr Walsh joined the State-owned private health insurer in 2014 as chief financial officer and has held a seat on its board since 2015. He was named interim chief executive in May 2022 following the departure of John O’Dwyer in 2021.

In a statement, Mr Walsh said he was “honoured” to take up the role. “VHI is one of Ireland’s best known and most trusted brands for over 65 years and I am very aware of the responsibilities that come with this trust. We have moved well beyond offering a value proposition in health insurance: our vision is to be a healthcare partner to our more than 1.2 million customers and patients.”

Prior to joining VHI, Mr Walsh worked with Kerrygold-maker Ornua, based in Los Angeles.


“The board has every confidence that Brian, with his broad leadership and wide ranging experience, will continue to steer VHI in the right direction,” said Greg Sparks, chairman designate of VHI.

He said: “VHI has a compelling purpose, helping customers live longer, stronger, healthier lives and an ambitious strategy that will help to ensure it delivers on that purpose. Brian has been central to the development and implementation of that strategy in recent years and we are certain that he will continue to ensure VHI delivers on its goals in the future.”

VHI had been on the hunt for a new long-term chief executive since Mr O’Dwyer left the company in 2021 after more than eight years at the helm. During his tenure, the insurer was authorised by the Central Bank of Ireland, a major milestone for the company, allowing it to move into new markets like life insurance.

The group reported a net after-tax surplus of €65.3 million from consolidated business activities in 2021, up from €52.7 million a year earlier, driven by strong membership performance. Its gross earned premium for private health insurance was almost €1.6 billion, up from €1.51 billion in 2020.

In January, the insurer announced that it would increase prices by an average of 4.8 per cent across its health insurance plans due to increased demand for healthcare and rising costs.

“We understand that our customers are already dealing with the pressure of rising costs across the economy, and we have made every effort to keep the price increase as low as possible,” said Aaron Keogh, managing director of VHI. “However, because of these cost pressures the price increase is necessary.”

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times