Working at Chubb Insurance: An Interview with Neha Hannan, NDLS 2008

As you may have heard, Chubb Insurance, the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurer, is now starting to recruit Notre Dame 3Ls for the Claims Associate position to start after graduation. In fact, Chubb will be on campus interviewing 3Ls this Thursday, February 8. If you’re a 3L interested in interviewing with Chubb, there is still time to get on their interviewing schedule! Email Ali Wruble, awruble@nd.edu.

In the future, Chubb may also hire 2Ls as paid summer claims interns. All Notre Dame students are invited to attend Chubb’s talk on Thursday from 12:30-1:30 in 2172 Eck Hall of Law. At that talk, Charlie Silla, Claims Talent Officer at Chubb, will discuss roles for young attorneys at Chubb.

To provide insight into the company and the work that Chubb does, this week, I spoke with Neha Hannan, Vice President, Coverage Director, North American Casualty Claims at Chubb and NDLS 2008 graduate about her work, her career path, and Chubb.

KMB: Tell me about law school and your experience at NDLS.

NH: When I graduated from college, I did not have a clear picture of what I wanted to do with my career, so I worked for my father for a year. I had a number of friends going to law school, so it made me at least start thinking about it, and I figured having a law degree wouldn’t really hurt. My father graduated from Notre Dame in the 70s, so Notre Dame was always on my mind. When I got into the law school, I just knew I had to go. My experience there was fantastic. The school itself was so different from my undergrad. The culture was very intimate and I just loved my law school classmates. I always heard stories from friends at other law schools about ultra-competitive environments where pages went missing out of library books. I felt the opposite experience at Notre Dame. People were always willing to share notes and help you out. I think Notre Dame really brought together some quality people. My classmates weren’t just smart people; they were good people.

In fact, I ended up meeting my husband at Notre Dame, so I am married to a Notre Dame lawyer!

KMB: Did you know you wanted to practice insurance law when you went to law school?

NH: No. One thing that I didn’t have is any idea of what insurance law was. I didn’t have any inclination to go into insurance from my experiences at Notre Dame. There weren’t courses or much discussion dedicated to insurance.

KMB: How did your early career proceed after law school?

NH: I wanted to go back to New Jersey after I graduated, so I did a summer associate program with a firm in New Jersey and ended up accepting a job offer there to start right after law school. I was a general litigation associate. I got to know the firm well and had a great experience there.

At some point, there ended up being a need for an associate in the insurance group.  I fell into this insurance group, and it just blew my mind that there was this area of law I didn’t know existed that turned out to be what I was looking for. I didn’t really want to be in the courtroom, but I didn’t really want to be a transactional attorney either, so insurance law was this weird, happy medium for me. I just find that with insurance law, the cases and the facts are so different from one case to the next. There really are different angles for every case. I got to work on high profile matters and just really enjoyed it. I eventually went over to an international firm in their insurance group and was there for 2 1/2 years.

KMB: How did you end up at Chubb?

NH: After 4 years in private practice, I realized I wanted to take my career in a different path and joined Chubb as an in-house coverage attorney, providing legal advice to the Claims Department. I learned so much in that role because I ended up working across all lines of Chubb’s business. I was in that position for 4 years before ACE Insurance acquired Chubb. With the acquisition, I ended up taking a new role in the company where I now manage insurance coverage litigation, working with our outside attorneys in defending Chubb in coverage suits for Casualty Claims.

KMB: Do you interact with Claims Associates, the role Chubb is interviewing for at Notre Dame Law, in your work?

NH: I do. I work with all of the claims people in Casualty with respect to threats of lawsuits against the company, coverage issues, or if we’re actually sued, I work with them in identifying potential issues. I work a lot with coverage issues generally.

KMB: Why is it valuable for your Claims Associates to have a JD? Can you tell me more about the position?

NH: Lawyers are so good at reading and interpreting contracts, and at the end of the day, an insurance policy is a contract. As lawyers, we’re trained to read, interpret, and apply. That is why lawyers make some of the best people in insurance, and our claims department is full of attorneys. Attorneys are highly valued in our company because of the skills they have, and the type of person who is drawn to law school is very analytical.

Our claims associates are very highly regarded in the company and are people we want here.

There are a lot of people in management at Chubb who are attorneys.

KMB: Do you think a law student has to start their career in an attorney position to get the most out of their career? What is the advantage to starting one’s career in a JD preferred position such as a Claims Associate role?

NH: If you’re considering one of these Claims Associate roles, while you would not be a practicing attorney at the company, it is a really great way to still get to use a lot of the skills that you develop in law school. Insurance is a contract. In Claims, you’re applying the terms of the contract to the facts of the case, and there is also an element of customer service and interacting with people. It’s not too far from practicing law.

In fact, you’re constantly considering various legal issues and developments. A prime example is that at Chubb, a lot of the claims that come in involve our insureds being sued. Having a law degree, understanding the contract, and understanding the legal jargon is really invaluable in the role. Also, very often, as a Claims Associate, you’re working with outside attorneys.

KMB: Do people ever move around in the company to different departments? What is the growth potential at Chubb?

NH: At Chubb, you can create your own career path, and there aren’t just opportunities in Claims. It’s a big company with many different buckets and roles. There are so many things you can do. Whatever your interests are, you can probably pursue them here. People definitely move between roles in this company. I have found that people are very supportive in helping you identify what you want to do and getting you there. People move from non-legal roles to legal roles and vice versa. You can also move to the business side, IT, project management, etc.

Also, many people in senior management at Chubb are attorneys. We highly value law degrees here.

KMB: What is a benefit to starting your career at Chubb rather than at a law firm?

NH: Practicing law with requirements such as billable hours and needing to develop clients can be quite daunting. You don’t have to face those requirements at Chubb. Also, the company is really focused on creating a very inclusive culture, which means getting different voices to the table and embracing different perspectives. The driver is that this is a culture of inclusion. The company is making efforts to get a diversity of voices to the table.

Also, at Chubb, there are opportunities across the globe. I have colleagues who have taken internal opportunities overseas. That’s one of the great things about our company. It’s not just a big national company.  This is another way that you can be working for as big of a company as there is and still use the skills and tools you developed in law school.

KMB: Can you tell me more about Chubb as a company and what your company does?

NH: Chubb is one of the largest property and casualty insurance companies in the world. We provide insurance for all sorts of needs, including both personal and commercial. For example, we are very well known for our high net worth personal lines business, so we provide homeowners with property and liability insurance coverage. On the commercial side, we provide insurance to mom and pop stores as well as the largest companies in the world. We write general liability, directors and officers liability, employment practices liability, property, etc.

Our policy holders really run the gamut from your next door neighbor to Fortune 500 companies and CEOs.

KMB: Do you have any advice for law students?

NH: I would recommend that you think hard about what it is that you want in your life and your career and do the things that will help get you there. Don’t be afraid to take a chance, and be open to the possibility of change. I did not ever, ever imagine that I would be in insurance, and I got here really in large part by chance but also by identifying what it is that I wanted and didn’t want.

 

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