By B.G. YOVOVICH, who has written for national trade publications for more than 20 years
After getting his Bachelor of Science degree in economics and completing the college ROTC program at St. Peter's College in 1970, George R. Fay entered the Army as a second lieutenant.
"I went to the Infantry School, then went to the Counter-Intelligence School, and spent the rest of my career in Army Intelligence," said Fay, executive vice president of worldwide property/casualty claim at Chicago-based CNA Insurance. "As an officer in counterintelligence, I had a significant amount of investigative experience. I did background investigations for security clearances. I did sabotage and espionage investigations. I oversaw a bunch of those investigations for the Army, and I taught how to do investigations at the Army Investigations School."
When he finished his four-year active duty tour in 1974, Fay's background in investigations made the insurance sector seem like a natural place to look for civilian work.
"Insurance companies need to investigate things, and I was offered a job as a claims investigator investigating medical-malpractice cases," Fay said. "It was an interesting assignment, more interesting to me than investigating automobile accidents or slip-and-fall."
So, Fay, like so many people who don't begin in insurance but just seem to end up there, progressed by earning his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter designation, and that led him into claims.
He spent more than 30 years at Chubb in claims, operations and administration, holding positions of increasing responsibility before eventually being named executive vice president and chief services officer.
He left Chubb in July 2006 to assume his current role at CNA in Chicago.
Two years later, he retired from the military altogether after a long career during which he rose to the rank of two-star general.
"I came here to make CNA the industry leader in commercial-lines insurance claims," Fay said. "When I joined CNA, quite frankly, it did not have a very good reputation. I came here to make a difference, and I think that we have made tremendous strides in four years."
DISCIPLINE IN READING TOO
When not thinking of how to improve CNA's claims process, Fay is a voracious reader.
"I am always reading a book because I am always travelling," Fay said. "Usually, at least every other book is a military book. In fact, I have to discipline myself so that I am not always reading military history."
Recent military reading includes several books about General Douglas MacArthur and Anthony Beevor's "Stalingrad: The Fateful Siege," which Fay describes as "an amazing, unbelievable battle."
Outside of the military arena, one of Fay's favorite authors is Malcolm Gladwell because of all the potential applications to the insurance industry, Fay said. Fay praised "Outliers" and "Tipping Point."
"I have recently read 'Outliers,' and I am thinking of making his chapter on airplane crashes required reading," Fay said.
November 1, 2010
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