Tackling Rising Litigation: How QBE North America’s Robert McDade Reduced His Company’s Legal Costs by 48.7%

QBE North America’s Robert McDade thinks outside the box to manage risk.
By: | September 2, 2021

When Robert McDade sees problems, he gets creative.

And that’s just what happened when he tackled rising litigation and associated legal spend at QBE North America for its large attritional claims book.

As the company’s vice president of litigation and recovery services, McDade knew that larger firms would tackle the legal spend issue by developing an internally managed staff legal program. It’s an efficient and cost-effective way to manage claims, litigation and legal spend.

But QBE North America’s claim volume wasn’t high enough to build such a program.

That got McDade thinking outside the box. What if QBE North America worked with a law firm to do the same things an internal group would do? Perhaps they could act as an outsourced staff counsel?

McDade’s “outsourced staff counsel” idea had legs from the start.

After a meticulous selection process, QBE North America partnered with a firm that showcased a history of superior claims litigation handling and was open to creating a tailor-made program. After some initial testing, QBE North America saw progress and expanded the program considerably.

Now, it is responsible for closing 25% of all claims litigation annually with a 48.7% reduction over average closed file legal costs. QBE North America even reports the program has led to millions of dollars in cost savings.

Another problem that McDade was able to tackle in this last year was defense counsel selection — and once again he steered away from conventions. He implemented an artificial intelligence-driven program to evaluate firms based on fees, indemnity outcomes and ability to deliver lowest possible settlement awards.

“That process is difficult to do in a systematic way, because the nuances of each claim make apples-to-apples comparisons difficult,” McDade said.

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“As our system constantly learns, it makes that process much easier, and we are already seeing significant cost savings. We are looking to support a large portion of claims with this AI-driven model.”

Eric Sanders, head of claims at QBE North America, worked closely with McDade on these projects. He called McDade a strong collaborator who uses his open-mindedness to solve tough problems.

“Bob is a high-integrity leader who holds himself and others accountable. He leads with empathy and brings a great blend of technical and leadership skill to his role,” Sanders said. “One of his strongest traits is curiosity. The ability to stay curious whether it is an initiative we are pursuing or in helping lead a team is something I really admire about his leadership.” &


Every year, Risk & Insurance selects deserving candidates to become Risk All Stars. These are risk managers who, through their perseverance, passion and creativity, make a big difference to the stability of their organizations.

See all the 2021 Risk All Star Winners here.

Jared Shelly is a journalist based in Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]