Category Archives: Insurance

Commentary: GEICO Right to Bet on Maintaining Policyholder Loyalty

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Berkshire Hathaway’s auto insurer GEICO is pausing cancellation of coverage due to non-payment and policy expiration, effectively immediately. This pause will remain in effect through April 30, 2020.

In addition, GEICO is prepared to offer maximum flexibility, including special payment plans, to those who need it once normal billing operations are scheduled to resume.

“This ongoing situation impacts everyone, and we want our policyholders to have some peace of mind knowing we’ll be there when they need us most,” said GEICO President and CEO Todd Combs.

In taking this step, GEICO is betting that maintaining policyholder loyalty is more important than trying to squeeze cash out of customers that are out of the blue in a severe cash crunch.

While they may have some policies in arrears, on the positive side for GEICO is that self-quarantining due to the Coronavirus will lead to a dramatic reduction in new claims filed due to reduced mileage.

GEICO, like other leading auto insurers, such as Progressive, Liberty Mutual, and State Farm, normally runs multiple media campaigns. The reason for this is that in recent years the battle for policyholders is primarily a branding battle, not one of service or policy features.

Capturing the wallet of the consumer through the GEICO gecko, wood chucking wildlife, and office wandering camels, is a far more effective than listing the dry insurance features that policyholders are actually purchasing.

GEICO’s doing the right thing, both for consumers and for its bottom line. After all, losing customers at a time when they are down may add to customer acquisition costs down the road when the economy revives.

If GEICO can maintain brand loyalty, it will have done more to cement itself in the heart of the consumer than all the geckos in the world ever could.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Denies Ownership Stake in IRB Brasil Re

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Berkshire Hathaway has taken the unusual step of refuting rumors of an ownership stake in a company.

In a release, the company said:

There have been recent stories in the Brazilian press that Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is a shareholder of IRB Brasil Re (“IRB”). Those stories are incorrect. Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is not currently a shareholder of IRB, it has never been a shareholder of IRB and it has no intention of becoming a shareholder of IRB.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO Files Federal RICO Lawsuit in California Against Glass Repairer

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Following several lawsuits in Arizona and Florida, GEICO has filed a federal lawsuit in California alleging an auto glass repair shop submitted fraudulent glass repair bills. GEICO seeks to recover damages alleging violations of the Civil RICO statute and the California Business and Professional Code as well as claims for common law fraud and unjust enrichment.

GEICO alleges that owners Tal Elzari and Navid Vatankhahan used their business, Winaffix Auto Glass, in a fraudulent scheme to overbill for windshield glass replacement.

Their alleged scheme involved creating false glass invoices designed to mimic those from legitimate car dealerships in order to fraudulently claim they were using expensive original equipment glass rather than less expensive alternative glass. In fact, it is alleged that Winaffix never purchased the glass their invoices claimed. They are also alleged to have performed glass replacement services without a license to do so.

GEICO says it intends to file future lawsuits in California and around the country in its continuing efforts to protect its customers and the public from fraudulent glass repair operators.

“GEICO is committed to protecting our customers from the negative effect that insurance fraud has on premiums,” said James Jones, assistant vice president of claims in GEICO’s Poway, California, office. “These incidents of fraud hurt consumers in California because they cause premiums to increase, and we will continue to pursue them with a zero tolerance.”

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

GEICO on Hiring Spree in Georgia

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GEICO’s Macon, Georgia regional office is looking to extend job offers to more than 500 Central Georgia residents in 2020.

There are full-time and part-time career opportunities in Claims, Salvage, Emergency Roadside Service, Customer Service and Sales. Recent college graduates and others looking to train for leadership positions are encouraged to apply for the Emerging Leaders Program or Management Development Program. No prior insurance experience is necessary; training, mentorship and support are provided to all new associates.

New associates will join Central Georgia’s largest private employer and GEICO’s largest regional operation. They will be welcomed onto a team with a proven track-record of success. Last year, nearly 40 percent of GEICO associates in Macon received promotions for their efforts to provide quality service to GEICO’s ever-growing policyholders.

GEICO associates are offered the Total Rewards Program, with a wide range of benefits, including a health benefits package, retirement and finance options and continuing education opportunities. In addition, associates can expect career growth opportunities and a friendly and supportive environment in which to develop and thrive.

GEICO also provides associates with many opportunities to be involved in their community. GEICO has been the biggest contributor to the United Way of Central Georgia for the past 14 years, and associates have been honored for their volunteer work at Bibb County Public Schools and Middle Georgia Community Food Bank.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies using AI Technology

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Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies, a group of six insurance carriers that are part of the Berkshire Hathaway insurance group, has selected CLARA analytics, the leading provider of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the commercial insurance industry, in order to advance its workers’ compensation claims operations.

BHHC will integrate the full suite of CLARA products, including CLARA providers, CLARA litigation and CLARA claims as well as its popular Medicare Set-Aside solution.

“AI offers an unprecedented opportunity to improve the entire claims process by analyzing millions of data points — making connections, spotting trends, and developing meaningful insights in a matter of seconds,” said Russ Selinger, Senior Vice President of Claims at Berkshire Hathaway Homestate Companies.

CLARA products utilize AI and advanced machine learning to deliver key insights that help commercial insurance organizations increase efficiency and make data-driven decisions that substantially improve operations as well as client service. This comprehensive product suite empowers teams to reduce loss costs incurred in claims handling by keeping claims on track throughout their life cycle.

“BHHC is one of the most respected companies in the insurance landscape, always focused on providing compassionate care to recovering workers and superior service to its customers,” said Gary Hagmueller, CEO of CLARA analytics. “CLARA will help BHHC further differentiate itself by facilitating and informing the claims process in incredible new ways. Our platform will deliver powerful insights to claims representatives, turning them into instant experts who can handle each claim with precision, respect and empathy at scale.”

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Names Hilary Browne Country Manager, Ireland & Head of Casualty, UK & Europe

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has named Hilary Browne to the dual role of Country Manager for Ireland and Head of Casualty for UK and Europe.

“Hilary’s excellent technical underwriting and leadership skills make her a stellar addition to our European team,” said Chris Colahan, President, UK & Europe. “Our customers and brokers are in good hands with Hilary providing our insurance and services with the certainty of BHSI’s long-term commitment and financial strength.”

Hilary comes to BHSI with nearly 20 years of European market experience. She has held numerous insurance underwriting and leadership roles in the UK and Ireland and was most recently Head of International Casualty at AIG.

BHSI’s Casualty offering across UK & Europe includes, Public & Products Liability, Employers Liability, Excess Casualty, Construction Liability, Energy and Environmental Impairment Liability (EIL).

Hilary is based in BHSI’s office in Dublin.

© 2020 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway’s Todd Combs to Become Head of GEICO

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Berkshire Hathaway’s portfolio manager Todd Combs will be taking over the helm at GEICO as of next week. Current president and CEO Bill Roberts will move to vice chairman.

Roberts began his career with GEICO in 1984 as an officer in the Marketing department. Over his 35-year career, he has helped lead GEICO to become the second largest auto insurance company in the U.S. Roberts will become vice chairman of GEICO effective January 1, 2020.

Roberts has announced that he will retire from GEICO in December 2020.

“Bill told Ajit Jain, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, and I in early November he was about to turn 70 and finishing up his 35th year with GEICO, and that he intended to retire at the end of 2020,” said Tony Nicely, GEICO’s executive chairman. “Bill has done an outstanding job leading and growing GEICO throughout his career. Our results throughout his career have been excellent and our culture is strong. He has put in place a strong plan for the coming year.”

“Todd has a strong career in insurance,” said Ajit Jain. “He initially worked at Progressive Insurance Company before going to graduate school to begin an investing career.”

Since 2010, Combs has been an investment manager at Berkshire Hathaway, and in addition to becoming GEICO’s CEO, Combs will continue to manage $14 billion of investments for Berkshire Hathaway.

“I am looking forward to taking on the responsibilities of CEO at GEICO,” said Combs. “They have a strong senior management team, a great organization of 40,000 employees, a great brand, and are a very successful insurance company.”

Combs will assume his position as GEICO’s CEO effective January 1, 2020.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Offers Commercial Crime Insurance in Asia

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance is offering Commercial Crime Insurance in Asia. The new policy is designed to help companies address the exposures of a changing fraud landscape.

“Corporate fraud is becoming increasingly sophisticated as technology advances at an exponential pace across the globe. Companies now face new threats and are tasked with protecting both traditional and digital assets,” said Scotland Walsh-Riddle, Head of Executive & Professional Lines, BHSI Asia. “Our policy is important protection for a company’s balance sheet by both insuring against losses arising from a wide range of threats and providing support to investigate the cause of a loss.”

BHSI’s Commercial Crime Insurance Policy offers concise contract language for commercial organizations and includes coverage for both traditional employee crime and external crimes, including funds transfer fraud, credit card fraud, forgery, and impersonation coverage. Impersonation coverage responds to losses arising when a perpetrator impersonates an employee, executive or business associate of the insured for the purpose of defrauding the insured.

“Impersonation fraud is quickly becoming a systemic issue around the world. We’ve recently seen a social engineering scheme utilize artificial intelligence-based software to impersonate an executive. These schemes are testing the boundaries of what companies can prepare for – and we are committed to helping our customers protect against this rising threat,” said Scotland.

The Commercial Crime Insurance Policy also includes numerous extensions, including coverage for lost establishment fees an insured incurs to establish the existence and quantum of a loss.

“The Commercial Crime Policy was crafted with BHSI’s clear and concise underwriting and is backed by our excellent claims handling,” said Scotland. “Through BHSI’s unparalleled financial strength and experience, our customers and brokers can have the confidence BHSI will be there when it matters most.”

© 2019 David Mazor


Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Names Javier Villalba as Head of Claims in Spain

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has appointed Javier Villalba to its expanding leadership team in Spain as Head of Claims.

“We are thrilled to have Javier, with his extensive industry experience, bringing BHSI’s commitment to claims excellence to customers in Spain and throughout Europe. Claims is our product — and Javier is exceptionally equipped to bring this product to the marketplace, the BHSI way,” said Ignacio Almazan, Country Manager, Spain, BHSI.

Javier comes to BHSI with nearly 20 years of claims experience. He was most recently Director for Expert Claims (Spain) and Claims Customer Relationship Manager at Zurich in Spain. Prior to that he spent 16 years in Claims at AIG, beginning as a claims adjuster and rising to the position of AIG South Europe Claims & Operations Officer. He earned a law degree from Universidad Complutense de Madrid and completed his studies in Procedural Law at C.E. Ignacio de Loyola.

Javier is based in BHSI’s office in Madrid.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Expands in France

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Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has commenced underwriting casualty and construction insurance in France and filled two key in-country leadership posts, naming Olivier Antiphon as Head of Construction and Anne-Sophie Bonifay as Head of Casualty.

“We are pleased to continue to round out our capabilities in France as we welcome Olivier and Anne-Sophie to lead our entry into the local construction and casualty markets,” said François-Xavier d’Huart, Country Manager, France, BHSI. “Their expertise, coupled with BHSI’s financial strength and commitment to claims handling excellence, will serve our customers and brokers well for years to come.”

Olivier comes to his role with three decades of experience in construction underwriting and engineering. For the past 12 years he was Construction & Engineering Underwriting Manager at XL Insurance Company SE in Paris. Prior to that, he was Engineering Underwriting Manager at Gerling in Paris. He began his career as Head of the Firefighting Engineering Team at Alstom Power. He has a degree in Health & Security from the Institut Universitaire de Technologie in Saint-Denis.

Anne-Sophie joins BHSI with 25 years of experience spanning both middle market and large account casualty underwriting. She began her career in casualty underwriting at AGF (Allianz), and then Commercial Union, in Paris. She then held increasingly senior positions in casualty underwriting at Chubb Insurance Company of Europe, and was Casualty Underwriting Manager, Large Corporate Accounts, at Zurich Global Corporate France. She served as Casualty Underwriting Manager, Middle Market, at XL Insurance Company Limited, and most recently was Casualty Underwriting Manager, Middle Market, at AXA XL in Paris. She holds a master’s degree in Insurance Law from the University of Paris Panthéon Assas.

Olivier and Anne-Sophie are based in BHSI’s office in Paris.

© 2019 David Mazor

Disclosure: David Mazor is a freelance writer focusing on Berkshire Hathaway. The author is long in Berkshire Hathaway, and this article is not a recommendation on whether to buy or sell the stock. The information contained in this article should not be construed as personalized or individualized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.