The 2021 Executives to Watch: The Hartford’s Debra Fox

Debra Fox brings expertise in underwriting, sales, technology, marketing and product innovation to her new position as head of product for The Hartford's middle and large commercial team.
By: | November 4, 2020

A strategic thinker and deep-risk player with a diverse skillset and 30 years of experience at The Hartford, Debra Fox brings expertise in underwriting, sales, technology, marketing and product innovation to her new position as head of product for The Hartford’s middle and large commercial team.

She also brings a fascination with insurance and how to make it better. Among the long-term challenges she sees in general liability is the growing disconnect between GL contracts built for the physical, bricks-and-mortar liability and exposures that are increasingly transformed by technology.

”A little more personal and advertising injury, or errors and omission,” Fox said, “as opposed to the traditional product damage type of a loss.” But she adds, “That’s what makes GL so complex, but it also makes it interesting …. You get to be creative and think about intangible things, and that is the most rewarding part.”

It is an attitude that, combined with Fox’s deep knowledge of the industry, should serve her well as she confronts near­term challenges like COVID-19.

Amid a hardening market, Fox cites the importance of sharing that knowledge with customers, educating them about how disparate factors like cost of goods inflation, lumber shortages and the increasing litigiousness of injured employees are contributing to rising prices, even for customers without claims.

“Educating customers on all of the components that an insurance company is managing is helpful, because it helps them understand the challenges that insurers face,” Fox said.

Fox is excited about the future on several fronts, including products like The Hartford’s new Life Sciences Elite, which became available in some states in July and will be rolled out more widely early 2021.

“Our new Life Science form has product liability, professional liability, errors and omission and cyber liability, all packaged into one form, one set of limits, and that’s pretty cool for us to have that capability,” Fox said. “We’re pretty excited about that.”

And while technology has created new challenges for the industry, Fox is excited about the solutions it has provided as well, including The Hartford’s Consolidated Underwriting Environment, which Fox said has been particularly useful in confronting COVID.

“It’s allowed us to push pertinent information to an underwriter at the point in the underwriting cycle that they need it,” Fox said. “They’re not keying in data but actually responding and applying higher logic to the decision making.”

But she sees plenty of room for continued improvement: “We’ve already got quite a nice system now, but we want to upgrade it.”

Fox envisions a more flexible, modem environment for products and underwriters, leveraging data science, insights and information in ways that will make it easier to customize product for individual customers and adapt quickly to a rapidly changing landscape.

“Making that platform work for all of those different needs is a unique challenge,” Fox said. “It’s a game-changer if you get it right.”&

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

Jon McGoran is a magazine editor based outside of Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]

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