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D&O liability and insurance market newcomers contributing to soft market

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Observers say some relative newcomers to the directors and officers liability insurance market are contributing to the soft market, although none are charged with acting irresponsibly.

Observers point particularly to units of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., Bermuda-based Hiscox Ltd. and Sydney-based QBE Insurance Group Ltd.

“There seems to be a renewed energy” among some insurers with respect to writing D&O insurance depending on the account, said Christopher Casper, Chicago-based senior vice president for Lockton Cos. L.L.C.

Mr. Casper said Berkshire Hathaway is “interested in large portions on an excess capacity” basis, which is having an impact in the excess market. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment on that claim.

Bertrand Spunberg, New York-based executive risks practice leader for Hiscox USA, said despite his firm being identified as being relatively new to the D&O market, it first entered it in 2009 and is now focusing in the U.S. on private and nonprofit business, particularly employers with 50-500 employees.

In April, New York-based QBE North America, a unit of QBE Insurance Group, announced its expansion into the management liability and professional lines arena with the launch of three new products for public and private commercial companies and financial institutions and nonprofit businesses. A spokesman could not be reached for comment.