Berkshire Builds Commercial Insurance as Delisio Hired

Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s specialty insurance business, created last year to expand into new niches, said its latest push is into backing construction projects.

Geoff Delisio, 47, was hired from Zurich Insurance Group AG as a senior vice president for surety, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance said in a statement today. He’ll be based in Boston and report to Executive Vice President David Bresnahan. Surety insurers can provide guarantees to make sure that construction and industrial projects are completed.

Warren Buffett, head of the Omaha, Nebraska-based parent company, hired Peter Eastwood from American International Group Inc. last year to start the specialty insurer. The operation said last month it would start providing travel protection to guard against risks such as lost luggage and flight delays. It already provides casualty coverage for construction clients.

“The one area in that space that they didn’t have was the surety,” Delisio said in a phone interview. “This fills out a very full and robust suite of products for the construction space.”

Delisio was a senior president of surety at Zurich, according to the statement. He’s a certified professional engineer with a master’s degree in business administration from Northeastern University and a bachelor’s in civil engineering from Ohio State University, Berkshire said.

Zurich said its surety group has recently been enhanced with the creation of segments focusing on middle-market and large accounts.

‘Bench Strength’

“Our organizational structure, our bench strength and the level of skill and authority we now have in the field has positioned Zurich to continue our track record of success,” Michael Bond, head of Zurich Surety, said in a statement e-mailed by the insurer.

The North America operation of the Zurich-based company said separately today that it named Jim Thomas as the new head of credit and political risk.

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