Lawyer, writer, leading businessman who made MAPFRE, a bankrupt company in 1955, the year of its incorporation, into one of Spain’s largest businesses.
Unflagging advocate for cultural matters generally and Spanish culture in particular, he established different institutions and businesses and, through them, undertook ambitious projects in association with the right people for each.
Privately tutored until shortly before the Spanish Civil War, he enlisted as a volunteer at the age of 16 in order to search for a brother who had enlisted in the anti-Republican forces under an assumed name.
After the war he finished his law degree in record time in 1942 and in 1944 obtained the public sector position of Insurance and Savings Inspector by competitive examination. In 1947 he was awarded the first Marín Lázaro Prize for his first book, El riesgo catastrófico en los seguros personales [Catastrophic Risk in Personal Insurance], already taking the position that not everything can be settled on an administrative and technical basis and that insurance is a part of the social structure and has to be useful to it. He spent extended stays in London, where he learned about insurance in English-speaking countries, and on his return he published Tres claves de la vida inglesa [Three Key Aspects of English Life] (1952), setting out his personal view of The Corporation of Lloyd’s. He resigned his public sector job and for a short time worked for the Madrid branch of the Royal Insurance Company.
In 1955, at the age of 34, with four children and a wife, Lourdes Martínez, who would be his inseparable companion for nearly 60 years and is now the President of the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation, he was offered the position of Managing Director of MAPFRE, a technically insolvent, small mutual insurance company that had been started for farmers, with 72 employees.
That was the outset of a new professional career that would result in his, and MAPFRE’s, becoming watchwords in the insurance and financial sectors worldwide. Following his personal guiding principles to business – objective basis for selecting managers and staff, independence from political and religious powers, ethical conduct, transparency, meticulousness, innovation, decentralization, acquisition of knowledge – he took charge of a company that was technically insolvent in 1955 and built it into a great insurance company with 31,000 employees, doing business in 41 countries, the leading insurance company in Spain and IberoAmerica. The three foundation stones were a broad territorial base, expansion into the Americas, and corporate responsibility through the establishment of the MAPFRE Foundations. And in 1979 he was named president of Acción Social Empresarial [Business for Social Action]: “Business entails concern for society and its members; the life of a corporation unfolds in an environment, a country, and it cannot take on all comers all by itself. Its activity must be beneficial to the community as well as to its members and staff” (IESE Business School, First Meeting of the Insurance Sector, Barcelona, 27 February 1997).
On leaving his executive duties at MAPFRE in 1990 (the following year MAPFRE wanted to leave permanent memory of his decisive work for the company placing a bust of the sculptor Jose Maria Casanova in the main entrance of its central headquarters of Majadahonda, in Madrid), Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi y Montiano started the cultural and charitable Hernando de Larramendi Foundation (since 2002, the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation) in memory of his father, Luis Hernando de Larramendi, a leading traditionalist, lawyer and politician, writer, and exemplary citizen whose private and public lives both rested on the firmness of his convictions (his likeness can be viewed in the Virtual Library of Traditionalist Thinkers).
The Hernando de Larramendi Foundation, as it was then called, was established in 1986 with contributions from the Hernando de Larramendi family and Ignacio Hernando de Larramendi’s severance package on retiring from MAPFRE.
Until his death on 7 September 2001, his activity as president of the Foundation was centred on carrying out the Foundation’s objectives and developing historical projects, largely focussing on the Americas, in association with the Tavera Historical Foundation (since merged into the MAPFRE Foundation), which he had also founded.
His particular concerns were contributing to a reflection on the social analysis and thought of Spain and Western Civilization and disseminating knowledge of Spanish and Christian culture. To that end he promoted digital editions of historical treatises in the Tavera Classics Collection, writings by Spanish polymaths, and commentaries on Aristotle and traditionalist thinkers under the FHL Virtual Libraries project together with an ambitious undertaking to make available the Catholic Church’s documentary contribution to the history of Spain and the nations of IberoAmerica.
In 1996 he founded a company, Digibís, as an instrument that would furnish a business and technical springboard to enable him to carry out the various projects he had drawn up for the Tavera Foundation and the Ignacio Larramendi Foundation. The Foundation that bears his name subsequently took over the company and has used it not only as a means of undertaking a major programme of digitizing Spain’s historical heritage, in particular archives and library collections, but also for business and R&D initiatives to develop new products and applications, making Digibís into one of the leaders in the sector, both in Spain and in Europe.
He was the 1986 recipient of the John S. Bickley Founder’s Award Gold Medal for Excellence awarded by the International Insurance Society, Inc., the company that manages the Insurance Hall of Fame founded by Mr. Bickley.
He was also awarded the Gold Medal for Merit in Insurance in 1987 and was made a Commander of the Order of Her Catholic Majesty Isabella in 1996, along with the Grand Cross for Civil Merit in 1998 and the Labour Merit Medal posthumously in 2002.