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Chubb, Hit Hard by Covid-19, Taps New Top Government Lawyer

July 16, 2020, 11:30 AM

Chubb Ltd., a global insurer that lost $1.5 billion during the second quarter largely due to the coronavirus pandemic, has hired a new top government affairs lawyer as it works with other companies and lawmakers to address business interruption issues related to Covid-19.

John Fielding has joined Chubb as senior vice president and general counsel for global government and industry affairs, the company recently announced. He spent the past 13 years as an attorney at Steptoe & Johnson in Washington, where he also served as general counsel for the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, an insurance industry trade group.

Chubb is now one of several major insurers searching for solutions to a deluge of litigation from policyholders seeking compensation to offset coronavirus-related shutdowns. The Zurich, Switzerland-based company and Democratic lawmakers recently unveiled a plan that would see the U.S. government absorb a large part of business interruption coverage for companies caught up in the financial fallout from future pandemics.

Fielding didn’t respond to a request for comment about his new role. A Chubb spokesman told Bloomberg Law that Fielding fills a vacancy created by Tracey Laws, who left earlier this year for Athene Holding Ltd., a retirement services company.

At Chubb, Fielding will report to global general counsel Joseph Wayland, a former partner at Simpson Thacher & Bartlett who once served as acting chief of the Justice Department’s antitrust division. Wayland, who Bloomberg data shows owns nearly $10 million in Chubb stock, became the company’s legal chief in 2016 following Chubb’s $28.3 billion merger with rival insurer Ace Ltd.

Wayland didn’t respond to a request for comment about Fielding’s potential role in advising on the Capitol Hill discussions. He welcomed Fielding’s addition to Chubb’s government affairs team in a statement issued by the company.

“John has been immersed in many of the most important legislative and regulatory issues affecting the insurance industry,” Wayland said. “He is highly regarded for his expertise, leadership, and effective advocacy in advancing the interests of the industry.”

Regulatory Expertise

At Steptoe, Fielding counseled various insurance industry clients on policy matters before Congress, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the National Council of Insurance Legislators, and state regulatory bodies.

Those clients included the CIAB, where Fielding has been general counsel since January 2016. The Washington-based trade group’s most recent tax filing shows it paid more than $374,000 in total compensation to Fielding in 2018, as well as $1.2 million in legal fees to Steptoe.

Fielding led the CIAB’s state legislative and regulatory efforts and its legal counsel working group, according to a June 9 statement from the organization. The CIAB announced that day its promotion of political action committee director Gracie Gerlach to associate general counsel, a role that will see her work with chief legal officer Scott Sinder, a Steptoe partner and the CIAB’s top lawyer since 1999.

Sinder and Fielding joined Steptoe in January 2007 from Collier Shannon Scott, a Washington-based law firm that had represented the CIAB until its merger the year before with Kelley Drye & Warren. A Steptoe spokeswoman said the CIAB has been a longtime client of the firm, which will continue to lead its legal team and provide legislative services to the organization.

At Chubb, Fielding inherits control of a government affairs group that was previously helmed by Laws, a former Chadbourne & Parke partner who joined the insurer in January 2018. Jodi Hanson Bond, a former U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive, also spent two years as executive vice president of global government and industry affairs until leaving Chubb late last year.

Frances Townsend, a former Homeland Security adviser to President George W. Bush, joined Chubb’s board of directors in May. Townsend has spent the past decade as executive vice president of worldwide government, legal, and business affairs at billionaire Ronald Perelman’s holding company MacAndrews & Forbes Inc.

Bloomberg Law reported this week on Townsend’s promotion to general counsel and chief administrative officer at MacAndrews & Forbes, which is now looking to sell off certain assets as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at copfer@bloomberglaw.com

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