In Our Care

Attorney Richard J. Underwood of Milton, Massachusetts and Naples, Florida, who for over forty years was a presence in insurance law, regulation and legislation as a trade association executive, senior corporate officer and law firm founder has died at age 82.

Before embarking on his over 40 year career in insurance law, Mr. Underwood spent a number of years in state and city government. In 1963, he joined the Office of Secretary of State, and later served as the 4th Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth, Chairman of the Boston Election Commission, and Assistant Secretary of Transportation for the Commonwealth. During his time as Election Commission Chairman, he also sponsored and secured the passage of early legislation eliminating some privileged statewide exemptions from jury service. As Assistant Secretary of Transportation, he played a significant role in securing federal funding for the purchase from the Penn Central Railroad of what is now a substantial portion of the Commuter Rail System.

In 1972, he left government service when he was named New England Regional Vice President of the American Insurance Association, then the largest property-casualty insurance association in the United States. With his past experience in state government, Mr. Underwood quickly mastered the complexities of insurance regulation and legislation. He also assumed a prominent role in the Massachusetts media as a spokesman for the property-casualty insurance industry.

In late 1977, Mr. Underwood was approached by the then Commercial Union Insurance Company, headquartered in Boston. He joined the company and was shortly named Senior Vice President of Corporate Legal Services. While at Commercial Union he led a successful effort that secured legislative and gubernatorial approval for a restructuring of the automobile insurance residual market. He then served as a key member of the governing committee in the implementation of the newly named Commonwealth Automobile Reinsurers (CAR).

In early 1984, he left Commercial Union to join with trial attorney and recent candidate for Mayor of Boston David I. Finnegan in the founding of the Finnegan &Underwood Law Firm. With Mr. Underwood’s experience in insurance regulation and legislation, the firm immediately attracted a growing clientele of foreign and domestic insurance companies, agents, trade associations, rating organizations and individuals seeking redress on insurance matters. A few years later, the firm merged with that of former Massachusetts Insurance Commissioner John Ryan and insurance trial attorney Philip Tierney as Finnegan, Underwood, Ryan & Tierney.

Richard J. Underwood received a Bachelor Degree from Boston University and an MBA and Law Degree from Suffolk University. In 1983, he was named a Distinguished Alumni by the Boston University College of Communications. In the early 1980’s he also served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Massachusetts Bay Community College.

From 1953 to 1959, he was a member of the United States Marine Corps Reserve.

Richard J. Underwood is survived by his devoted and beloved wife, Anne (Conners) and equally beloved children by order of birth Tony, Susan, Scott, as well as Tony’s wife Melissa Pate, whom he regarded as a daughter, and Susan’s companion Paul DerBoghosian, whom he regarded as a son, and his cherished friend and assistant for over three decades Teresa Cardoso.

Memorial Service to be held at Granite Links Golf Club 100 Quarry Hill Drive Quincy MA 02169 on Thursday, July 20, 2017 from 3:30 PM to 6:30 PM. Memorial tribute at 4:00 PM.