Business People: Gallagher Bassett, SDV Law, Topa, J.A. Montgomery

February 4, 2020
Gallagher Bassett Appoints CEO for North America

Gallagher Bassett announced that Mike Hessling has been promoted to chief executive officer for North America.

The position is effective immediately and reports directly to Gallagher Bassett Global CEO, Scott Hudson.

“Mike has been a leader with GB for over seven years and has a tremendous track record as North America Chief Client Officer, leading our sales and account management teams,” Hudson said. “He has also been a driving force behind the building of our industry-leading analytics team.”

Gallagher Bassett, based in Rolling Hills, Ill., is a third-party claims administrator that also owns numerous independent insurance brokerages. The company reported $1 billion in earnings in 2019, according to its annual financial report.

Hessling previously was Gallagher Bassett’s chief products officer in Itasca, Illinois. Before then, he was a principal at Bain & Co., a Boston-based management consulting firm, according to his profile on LinkedIn. He served as a manager for Bridge Strategy Group before then.

Theresa A. Guertin named Managing Partner of SDV Northeast

Saxe Doernberger & Vita, P.C. announced that Theresa A. Guertin has been named managing partner of the law firm’s Northeast office in Trumbull, Conn., effective Jan. 1.

Theresa Guertin

Guertin has an active litigation practice, and she is co-chairwoman of the firm’s Risk Transfer Group. She represents clients in claims for coverage for property damage, bodily injury related to mold and asbestos, directors and officers and professional liability claims, employment disputes, and construction defects, SDV said in a press release.

Guertin has extensive experience in developing and rewriting insurance procurement language. She works directly with contractors and broker clients to identify potential deficiencies in policies before they are issued and assists in the negotiation of more favorable terms at policy renewal.

Guertin is also a sought-after speaker and has been a frequent presenter on insurance-related topics at conferences, seminars and webinars, the firm said.

Guertin serves as vice chair of the Insurance Law Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, after having spent two second consecutive terms as its legislative liaison. She also serves on the executive board of the Lawyers Collaborative for Diversity, whose mission is to make Connecticut a more attractive place for women and attorneys of color to practice law. Guertin is a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and also serves on its Philanthropic Committee.

Topa Promotes Claims and IT Executives

Topa Insurance Company has promoted two of its executives – Kelly Yates as vice-president of claims and Tracy Tillinghast as assistant vice-president of information technology.

Yates will have direct oversight of the company’s claims department. He will be based in Topa’s office in Calabasas, California.

Yates served previously as assistant vice-president of claims. He had direct oversight of the property and commercial auto claim units, as well as the special investigations units. He has worked for Topa for nearly six years and has more than 18 years of multi-line claims experience. Before joining Topa, Yates was working for State Farm Insurance and State Auto Insurance.

As assistant vice president of information technology, Tillinghast will be responsible for “building productive and collaborative relationships” with both the company’s internal business departments and external partners, the carrier said in a press release. He will also help drive the company’s technology strategy and will be based out of Calabasas.

Tillinghast has 25 years of insurance technology experience. He was most recently the director of IT product management for the firm and previously worked for the California State Automobile Association before joining Topa in 2018.

J.A. Montgomery Consulting Appoints Forensics Leader
Colleen Vallen

J.A. Montgomery Consulting, an affiliate of Conner Strong & Buckelew that focuses on risk control, safety and claims services, announced the appointment of Colleen Vallen as senior vice president of its new forensic services practice.

Vallen will guide the launch of a new forensic practice and serve as senior vice president, forensic services practice leader.

“Colleen’s expertise in both forensic and investigative accounting makes her the ideal leader to build out this important service for current and future clients,” stated Michael Tiagwad, president and chief executive officer of Conner Strong & Buckelew. “Clients facing large and complex claims require significant assistance and expertise from proof of loss to final payout.”

Previously, Vallen was partner at Citrin Cooperman where she was the practice leader for the firm’s Litigation Support Services Group. Vallen has more than 20 years of industry experience, specializing in economic damage analysis and forensic and fraud investigations. In addition, she has worked with Conner Strong & Buckelew’s claims team for the past decade to assist clients in receiving the maximum recovery under their policies.

The Forensic Services Practice will focus on two key areas: claims preparation and forensic services. Under Vallen’s leadership, the team will provide services including preparing proof of loss and coordinating communication with carriers, along with assisting clients with economic evaluations and claim calculations.

Vallen holds her bachelor of science in accounting from Rutgers University.

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