On Kentucky Derby Day, I take a deep breath if none of the horses have died on the track,” says Dean R. O’Hare, chairman and CEO of Chubb Corporation.
You can’t blame him. Chubb has millions of dollars in insurance policies riding on some of those thoroughbreds-an example of the entrepreneurial culture that has nearly doubled the property-casualty insurer’s net income from $267 million in 1986 to $522.1 million in 1990. Moreover, its record earnings have come as much of the industry is struggling.
O’Hare believes that the current problems of the industry stem from lack of strategy. He’s had first-hand experience, because he saw how Chubb refocused its strategy after it suffered unexpected losses back in 1973-74.
Since then, the insurer has cut back on less profitable lines such as general auto insurance, and concentrated on niche areas such as wealthy individuals. “If you’re not rich, we’re not really interested,” says O’Hare unabashedly, listing Chubb’s lucrative coverages for mansions, fine works of art, and jewelry.
Replicating the same strategy overseas has boosted premiums from Europe by more than 40 percent in the first three quarters of 1991. Chubb is also tackling Asia’s fast-growing market. He expects premiums from abroad will account for 25 percent of total revenues by the year 2000.
At home, O’Hare deplores the price cutting and junk bond investing that have rocked the industry. As for Chubb and its very solid financial position, O’Hare says, “We’re selling a promise to pay, and if our balance sheet isn’t pristine, we can’t keep that promise.”