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March 04, 2021

Dan Fortin

Chicago-based president, financial lines, QBE North America

Chicago-based senior vice president, executive and professional liability, Berkshire Hathaway

The outlook for the financial lines segment of the insurance industry is positive but challenging. The last few years of rate increases across many lines has been necessary and encouraging. The rate environment will likely stay favorable for the near future, but rate adequacy is still questionable for some areas within financial lines. Cyber risk, event-driven litigation, derivative litigation, COVID-19 and economic-related uncertainty, regulatory expansion and environmental, social and governance concerns – these are all factors that intertwine and require ever more sophisticated levels of expertise to understand, solve and price. As a result, we see customers demanding greater degrees of specialization backed by more disciplined and data-driven decisions. At the same time, the favorable rate environment is attracting new capacity into the market, which usually brings a top-line mentality that drives the cyclical nature of the business.

QBE North America has been in the financial lines market since 2013, and our goal is to take the business to the next level so that we’re considered a consistent, predictable, leading financial lines insurer. This doesn’t mean we aspire to be the biggest. It means we want to be the best based on our responsiveness, flexibility, solutions orientation, consistency, great claims service and competitive product offerings. QBE has invested heavily in its financial lines business both from a technology and talent standpoint. We’ve got a great foundation to expand our risk appetite and create a more diverse business portfolio that will deliver positive, sustainable business results for QBE and our broker partners. When brokers seek an insurer for their clients, and when financial lines professionals want to build a career, I want them to think of QBE first.

The financial lines area has always had the challenge of balancing its long-tail nature with short-term pressures. We must always fight the tendency to be more optimistic than realistic, which is made even harder when new capacity enters the market and competes on price. Right now, we’ve got to guard against complacency after the recent improvement in the rate environment. Customers are becoming concerned about further rate increases and more restrictive terms; they’re pressing brokers to market more. But we must remain vigilant given the increasingly complex risk, legal and regulatory landscape affecting privacy laws, employment laws, securities laws, consumer protection laws and social engineering. We must also account for systemic exposures such as cyber and economic downturns. To stay on top of this increasingly complex landscape, specialization in both underwriting and claims becomes even more important – as does the teamwork between underwriting and claims.

My first experience in financial lines was back in 1991 with CNA Corp. as a public company, directors and officers underwriter. I was fortunate to be at the right company at the right time. Much as QBE is doing now, CNA was investing in attracting top talent for financial lines. They had inspirational leadership, and I had the great fortune to be mentored by the best in the industry at the time.

First, I’d reassure them that they’ve made a good choice. Underwriting financial lines can be a great career. It’s a dynamic market and requires a mix of technical, people and business skills that will keep you challenged. Be a sponge. Learn everything you can from others – find mentors within your company and in the industry. Be transparent, ask relevant questions, and don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo. If you do these things, you’re going to build your knowledge and skills quickly, and earn the respect of colleagues, brokers and customers.

That’s easy. I’d love to be the general manager of an NFL team. I’m a huge football fan, and the economics of the sport, balancing winning with profit, intrigue me. I think the Bears could use my help.

Villanova, B.S. business administration; Northwestern University, MBA, J.L. Kellogg School of Management

Since I started at CNA back in 1991, I have had several chances to be a part of building a successful financial lines business – first as a junior underwriter and then in greater leadership roles. I’m really excited about the challenge of doing it again and helping QBE establish a leadership position in the market. There was a strong team already in place, and we’ve added to it with additional expertise to bring even more capabilities to our broker partners and customers. Our expanded team is coming together very quickly, and every day I look forward to working with the people here to deliver for our customers, have fun and win.

This is tough because I love a lot of foods. When weather permits, anything I can grill and smoke on my Big Green Egg is my favorite meal. When that’s not possible, I’m a pasta man -- pasta with marinara, Bolognese sauce, chicken parmesan, meatballs or sausage. I could eat and enjoy pasta every night.

I do like to read but don’t have a favorite. I’m currently reading “Green Lights,” by Matthew McConaughey, and “Australia,” by James Walker, to get a little more educated about the home of QBE.

I like to golf, water ski, hike and just generally stay in shape. I’m a Peloton junkie.

I’ll narrow it to three – “Seinfeld,” “The Sopranos,” and “Entourage.”

I like to spend time with family and friends, especially if that time involves golfing, boating, or attending sporting events.