The 2021 Executives to Watch: AXA XL’s Donna Nadeau

Donna Nadeau steps into a new role as chief underwriting officer for the Americas at AXA XL.
By: | November 4, 2020

There are many reasons insurance professionals select this industry as their career. For some, the ability to work hands-on with clients is appealing. For others, the industry’s ever-changing landscape keeps them engaged.

For Donna Nadeau, chief underwriting officer -Americas at AXA XL, the insurance industry offered many different areas to explore, and she knew she would be intellectually challenged.

“I started in this industry after graduating from Boston College with a degree in mathematics. Interestingly, I had offers for two jobs in insurance at the time one was an underwriting role and the other was an actuarial role,” Nadeau said.

“I accepted one role and declined the other on the very same day.”

Nadeau chose the actuarial path and ultimately became fully credentialed as a fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society.

In 2014, Nadeau moved into the role of COO for AXA XL’s North America P&C organization. She held that role until recently, moving into the role of chief underwriting officer for the Americas region. In her current role, Nadeau is responsible for the development and execution of AXA XL Americas’ business and operational strategies to drive profitable growth and strong underlying earnings.

“Our goal is to consistently deliver best-in-class products and services to our customers, so they can meet their business objectives and any challenges that they face,” Nadeau said. And 2020 has certainly brought about its fair share of challenges including:

  • A pandemic that presented new risks and brought new ways of working and connecting with teams and customers.
  • Named storms that are now working their way through the Greek alphabet.
  • Wildfires in northern California that have expanded beyond 1 million acres, creating a new classification – a gigafire – and total wildfires burning through 4 million acres so far this year;
  • Much talked about and dreaded social inflation.
  • Trends in cyber and ransomware claims.

“Looking ahead to 2021, all of these challenges will persist,” Nadeau said. “Hopefully, we will start to emerge from the pandemic, but it will take time to recover.” Nadeau is proud of how AXA XL has operated seamlessly in a virtual environment.

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The team learned to connect in new ways with employees and customers through webinars, virtual industry events such as RIMS, virtual panels, and most recently CIAB. Nadeau believes one of the opportunities that will come out of COVID is how she and the AXA XL team manage risks they previously considered 1 in 100- or 1 in 250-year events- risks that have not been considered in the traditional sense.

“Sure, we understand CAT losses and even inflationary impacts, but COVID has presented a whole lot of new challenges,” Nadeau said. “The industry needs to be in a better position to provide certainty for its insureds, and I expect a greater degree of specificity in how we think about and manage those events or losses that have been previously considered very remote events and how we manage newer risks.”

For AXA XL, I am most excited by our new operating model, which brings the whole region together under our CEO, Joe Tocco, and empowers teams in each geography to make decisions closer to our clients. It will strengthen our ability to meet our customers’ current and evolving needs and deliver a ONE AXA experience.” &


For the full list of Insurance Executives to Watch in 2021, view here.

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Maura Keller is a writer, editor and published book author with more than 20 years of experience. She has written about business, design, marketing, health care, and a wealth of other topics for dozens of regional and national publications. She can be reached at [email protected]

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