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Buffett officially launches Berkshire's commercial insurance unit

Buffett officially launches Berkshire's commercial insurance unit

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has announced the operational launch of Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, the company's recently formed commercial property/casualty group that is headed by several former AIG executives.

“It's official: We are moving into commercial insurance in a substantial way, and we are here to stay,” Warren E. Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, said in a statement Thursday.

The Omaha, Neb.-based insurer's new unit will underwrite commercial property, casualty, professional risk and executive liability coverages, according to the statement.

Berkshire said in its statement that the unit will focus mainly on U.S. excess and surplus lines insurance. Policies will be written on National Fire & Marine Insurance Co.'s nonadmitted paper, but the unit will also access admitted paper offered by other Berkshire units.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance is headed Peter Eastwood, who in April abruptly resigned from his former position as president and CEO of American Insurance Group Inc.'s property/casualty unit.

“With our customer's needs in mind, our aim is to create an exemplary insurance organization by combining the financial strength of the Berkshire Hathaway group of insurance companies with talented professionals who will create market-leading products, services and solutions,” Mr. Eastwood said in the statement.

Four other former AIG executives — David Bresnahan, Sanjay Godhwani, David Fields and David Crowe — have joined Mr. Eastwood moving to Berkshire Hathaway.

Mr. Bresnahan has been named executive vice president of the unit's casualty, health care, professional risk and executive liability units; Mr. Godhawi has been named executive vice president of property and programs; Mr. Fields has been named executive vice president of underwriting, reinsurance, actuarial and financial services; and Mr. Crowe will assume the role of senior vice president of claims.

More than a dozen former AIG staff have joined the Berkshire unit, though AIG quickly replaced the departing executives from within its ranks of existing staff.