Announcing the Insurance Executives to Watch in 2021

2021 will hold many dangers. Look for these executives to display the necessary courage to run to the fight.
By: | November 4, 2020

In its essence, commercial insurance is a backstop.

That dynamic or circumstance you fear? You buy insurance for it so that your fear can be alleviated.

That’s the product, in a nutshell. But what about the people behind the product or who deliver it?

That’s what we’re getting at here in our annual insurance carriers’ Executives to Watch issue. We consider “Executives to Watch” those who are taking on a new responsibility, got a big promotion, or who are managing a product essential to the function of the economy.

Concerned about massive losses that will require a specialist’s touch to ameliorate? There you will find Judy Gonsalves, a Bermuda-based division president for Chubb.

“We see losses beginning with Bs,” Gonsalves told contributing writer Jared Shelly, referring to the high-limit underwriting and claims resolution her division takes on.

You find those massive wildfires in California unnerving? Look to Gonsalves and her Chubb colleagues to stand in the gap, as they did for one large corporate client.

“That was not a risk we wanted to run away from,” she said. “It’s something we wanted to understand by getting in the weeds, hearing how the company manages the risk internally and learning how we could come to the table with a solution. We looked at coinsurance ideas and reinsurance capacity to put out a large line of coverage. In the end, we got the client the protection they needed.”

Another kind of fire moves through our culture. These flames demand that we address systemic bias, whether it be motivated by racial bigotry, gender discrimination or some other moral illness.

Here’s what AIG’s Barbara Luck told Shelly about her experience breaking into commercial insurance, and what the industry — and our culture — must address to progress.

She was lucky to have senior executives who mentored her. She plans to do more of the same.

“Now, as a leader working to bring more diverse groups to the table, I’m calling on my early experiences to help me relate to groups that are underrepresented in the industry,” she said.

Luck is experienced. And with experience, hopefully, comes the hardening of courage. Having been through the fire, being brave enough to do the right thing, whether that’s putting up large limits for a valued customer, or looking down through the cubicle rows to lend assistance to someone who needs your compassion and guidance.

Every executive that we feature this month is feeling the pressure. They know their clients need them and that they can’t turn away.

“It’s critically important that we understand the needs of our clients and that we are close to our clients and broker partners because this is the toughest time that many of them have ever faced,” said FM Global’s George Plesce.

Plesce was put in charge of some consolidated FM Global operations as Chief Client Experience and Sales Officer.

“There is also so much opportunity for growth because there is always a flight to stability and quality in tumultuous times. There is value in resilience and that is where we are placing our efforts,” Plesce said.

Those are reassuring words, from an industry veteran in a business that sells assurance and supports resilience.

Make no mistake, these executives, this industry and its product are needed now, as much as ever. &

The 2021 Executives to Watch

Chris Colahan, head of UK & Europe, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Kelly Doherty-Schaffner, EVP, head of North American claims, Allied World

Tom Fitzgerald, president of specialty & commercial, QBE North America

Debra Fox, head of product, middle & large commercial, The Hartford

Judy Gonsalves, division president, Chubb Bermuda

Barbara Luck, president of retail, casualty, North America general insurance, AIG

Grant Maxwell, global head, alternative risk transfer, Allianz

Andrew Morgan, chief claims officer, EVP, AmTrust Financial Inc.

Donna Nadeau, chief underwriting officer — Americas, AXA XL

George Plesce, chief client experience and sales officer, FM Global

Tracy Ryan, president, Global Risk Solutions, North America, Liberty Mutual

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected].

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