The many hats of Tsili Naveh


‘I have been in the United States for a year and a half,” says Adv. Tsili Naveh, “and I have met Jews who love Israel unconditionally.” Naveh is speaking from her residence in New York that she shares with her husband Dani, businessman and former Likud politician, who is currently serving a five-year term as president and CEO of Israel Bonds in New York. She adds that nothing is more important than maintaining the positive connection and relationship between Israel and the Jews of the United States. Israel Bonds is an apolitical organization, and our discussion did not touch upon some of the pressing issues that have dominated the Israeli news cycle in recent weeks.

Instead, Naveh delivered a brief retrospective on her long and varied career in the worlds of business, finance, and insurance, in which she served as head of marketing for Clal Finance Underwriting, CEO of Clal Finance and Trust Funds, and most recently, as head of the Personal Injury Department for Clal Insurance from 2013 until 2021. 

Heading Clal’s personal injury department, with its six departments, one hundred lawyers, and more than 20,000 claims coming into each department was a daunting, demanding job, she explains, with immense administrative responsibility coupled with risk management of NIS 3 billion in claims.

“I had to wear many hats in my job,” she recalls. “There are many human aspects of the job that were not relevant to dry legal matters.” During her time at Clal, the company insured all of the students in Israel with a policy that covered accidents, regardless of where they occurred. The policy did not cover instances of terrorism or murder. Yet, she says, there were many occasions when the company went beyond the letter of the law to act sensibly and responsibly. 

“You have to look at the person who is insured, not only through the fine print in the insurance policy,” says Naveh. Without naming names, she notes that some insurance companies, as a matter of policy, would categorically refuse to pay out claims for as long as they could, waiting until the insured party would give up, or the courts would force them to pay. 

Dani Naveh, President and CEO of Israel Bonds, at Israel Bonds’ 2023 International Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C (credit: courtesy of Israel Bonds)

Naveh took the opposite tack. “If the insured party deserves to get paid, they should get paid immediately, instead of procrastinating. If it is clear cut that you will have to pay the money, pay it at the beginning ” She explains that this position was not only fair and proper, but also better from the company’s perspective, sparing it legal expenses, interest, and investigative costs.

Naveh next discusses some of the different insurance claims that were presented over the years. For example, a schoolteacher who had boarded a school bus to ensure that all of the students had left the bus, fell down the stairs, injuring herself. Was the mishap defined as a car accident, even if the engine had not been started, and the bus was not moving? (The court ruled that it was, in fact a car accident).  

Another case involved a woman who suffered from fibromyalgia, who was injured by an errant shopping cart in a grocery store. The court ruled that she was eligible to receive NIS 1 million for the injury she had suffered. Naveh says that years ago, the courts would rule that most traffic accidents that resulted in a 10% disability would receive payouts of NIS 100,000. Today, she says, this amount has doubled.

Naveh can recall a wealth of stories and incidents involving medical malpractice cases. One particularly tragic case she mentions involved a  pregnant haredi woman who came to the hospital and was attached to a monitor. The medical personnel informed her that the baby was in distress, and that she needed immediate medical attention. 

The woman, says Naveh, procrastinated, and told the staff that she wanted to consult with her rabbi before proceeding. The baby was not born healthy, and the family sued the hospital. “On one hand,” she says, “as patients, we have the freedom to decide what choices we make. On the other hand, it is the obligation of the medical staff to tell the patient if they are in danger.”

Beyond her responsibilities at Clal, from 2018 until 2021, Naveh served in a completely different capacity, as the Chairperson for the Children and Adult District Psychiatric Committee. Together with two psychiatrists, she reached decisions on discharging psychiatric patients committed by court order or District Psychiatrist orders. 

Naveh says that she applied her knowledge of Israel’s Basic Law: Human Dignity And Liberty to reach a decision. “Being kept in a psychiatric hospital is a form of imprisonment,” she says. Keeping someone there must be based on the dangers that they pose to themselves or society. If these dangers were not present, I would not continue hospitalization.”

Tsili Naveh will be in the United States for another three and a half years, until the conclusion of her husband’s term as head of Israel Bonds. She is not certain what direction her career will take when she returns, but her career at Clal was an important chapter in her life, that enabled her to combine her financial acumen with her people skills and common sense to make an impact on the lives of those she encountered.