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2021 US Insurance Awards: Liberty Mutual, Insurance Underwriting Team of the Year

Dennis Cook

During the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the health care and medical malpractice insurance market scrambled to deal with mushrooming issues of coverages and exclusions in a fast-changing market.

“At one point, a need from our brokers and clients was just to get quotes,” said Dennis Cook, president of IronHealth, the health care division of Ironshore Insurance, a unit of Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. and Insurance Underwriting Team of the Year in Business Insurance’s 2021 U.S. Insurance Awards. “Then additional needs began to pop up as new deliveries or types of health care services were presenting themselves.”

One example of the changing market is the city of Chicago. “There were COVID-only senior care facilities as well as other COVID-only facilities,” he said. “There were hospitals opening up different locations, convention centers being used for response, and there were all the testing services being put together for vaccines and world-wide delivery of those vaccines. There was also the need to support many of the front-line workers.”

The changing circumstances led to a disruption in insurance coverage for some health care policyholders, he said. 

To tackle these issues, IronHealth developed a strategy for helping companies across the health care industry respond to the coverage issues they faced.

While many conversations were not easy, “clients appreciated having that open dialogue and trying to come up with a solution that worked for everybody,” he said.

The approach IronHealth developed was an underwriting team response. “We looked at exposures that presented themselves and worked to figure out endorsements, or which form would best fit that type of exposure,” Mr. Cook said.

The outcome has been favorable for clients and the company. “Our book has grown quite a bit,” Mr. Cook noted. “A lot of our competitors in that space put a moratorium on new business or decided to step back from the space. We embraced it and wrote more of that business.”

Overall, he added, “I’m proud of the team and Liberty Mutual and the way they stepped up, the way claims continued to work with clients and attorneys, and the way our health care brokers and clients stepped up.” 


• Axa XL, a unit of Axa S.A. — In 2020, Axa XL’s professional liability team quickly transitioned from a collaborative office environment to a collaborative online team, all while serving its brokers and policyholders. The team uses a collective underwriting process, which it refers to as the “roundtable.”

• Crum & Forster — Crum & Forster launched its credit and structured products group in 2019, within its surety, credit and programs solutions division. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, the team of senior professionals came together to offer global coverage solutions. 

• QBE North America — To help mid-sized businesses respond to rapidly changing risks, QBE North America launched an artificial intelligence-based policy offering that gives brokers and underwriters the ability to tailor a program for each individual customer. 

• Swiss Re Corporate Solutions — The Swiss Re risk solutions team launched parametric HAIL, a real-time, data-based insurance product that is index-based and pays out in less than four weeks. The coverage has no deductible and virtually no mandate for how to use the funds.

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