Senior vice president-railroad practice leader
Westchester, a unit of Chubb Ltd.
When Chubb Ltd. decided to launch a division of Westchester, its excess surplus lines company, to write liability coverages for short-line freight and excursion railroads, as well as railroad construction projects, it recruited Cate Whiddon to head the new practice.
Ms. Whiddon, who had more than 30 years of experience in the railroad liability insurance field before joining Westchester in January 2013, immediately went to work.
She worked with her Westchester colleagues to write a business plan, as well as drafting insurance policies, obtaining reinsurance coverage and launching a major advertising campaign to attract customers.
Those efforts paid off. More than 1,600 policies have been written, with more than $55 million in gross written premiums since the railroad unit was launched.
“We are hitting our stride. We are considered one of the go-to insurers in the railroad insurance industry, which is a very niche marketplace. Our policyholders have tremendous pride in being insured by a Chubb” unit, Ms. Whiddon said.
And Ms. Whiddon takes enormous pride in the development and growth of Westchester.
“You don’t often get an opportunity to build something like this from the ground up,” she said.
Policyholders and colleagues credit Ms. Whiddon’s success to several factors.
“She has great experience in the field and an innate interest in her clients,” said Bruce Lieberman, executive vice president and chief financial officer of Anacostia Rail Holdings Co. in New York, who has known Ms. Whiddon for about 15 years.
“Her ability to collaborate and drive positive outcomes is a reflection of her preparedness, insight and understanding of goals and targets,” said Dean Andrighetto, Westchester’s executive vice president of casualty in its San Francisco office.
Ms. Whiddon is a speaker at events sponsored by Operation Lifesaver Inc., a Washington-based public safety education organization dedicating to reducing collisions and injuries and deaths at highway-railroad crossings and railroad tracks.
Among other things, Ms. Whiddon speaks to school groups and community audiences to help adults and children become more safety-conscious when near railroad tracks.