Janet Aschkenasy

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. She can be reached at [email protected]

Risk Management

The Profession

Dan Holden's first risk management job was as a field claim manager with Wausau when he was 22.
By: | August 31, 2015 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Besides the usual babysitting, mowing lawns and bean-picking in the summers, at age 15 I worked in the men’s department of a store in Eugene, Ore. I clerked at a law firm when I was 17. My first insurance job was as a field claim examiner with Wausau Insurance when I was 22.

Advertisement




R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Wausau Insurance was conducting on-campus interviews at Oregon State and they offered me a job right after graduation. I had no idea what a claim examiner was … but I needed a job. Later I moved on from multi-line adjusting at Wausau to focusing on workers’ compensation claims at INA/Aetna (Cigna) and Liberty Mutual.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

I think they are spot-on in regard to educating and recruiting millennials toward careers in insurance and risk management. As the boomers leave the industry we need to be replaced by those who see risk management as a viable career option.

Dan Holden Manager, Corporate Risk and Insurance Daimler Trucks North America

Dan Holden
Manager, Corporate Risk & Insurance
Daimler Trucks North America

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think they could do a better job explaining how to engage senior management. The success of enterprise risk management, like many programs, hinges on support from the C-suite. How does one convey the importance of risk management to a level of executives who always seem to have bigger fish to fry at the moment?

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management & insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

I’ve been around long enough to witness the decline in customer service in the insurance industry as companies are forced to do more with diminished staff. Wausau Insurance Cos. always emphasized customer service. They no longer exist and that speaks volumes.

R&I How do you grade the insurance industry’s response to the threat of cyber attacks?

I think the insurance community’s response has been very positive as they realize the lifeblood of any organization is its computer network and if that is disrupted, it can bring anyone’s business to a halt.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

If I had to choose one based on honesty, integrity, and great customer service, it would be Allianz.  Daimler and Allianz have forged a great relationship over the years.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

I was never in favor of contingent commissions. I thought it conveyed the impression that business was placed with certain carriers because of the commission structure rather than what’s best for the insured. … As for whether it was overblown; I will agree it was overly politicized by those with lofty career aspirations.

09012015_12_profession_sidebar

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

I try to be optimistic, but the recent recession certainly rocked my faith in the ability of our government to forecast such downturns. So while the economy is definitely improving, I don’t think I will ever be complacent that all will be well from here on.  I wonder if that’s how our grandparents felt coming out of The Great Depression.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I tried to glean the best from each manager I worked for and each insurance professional I encountered. But if I have one role model it would be Brian Perko of Sather, Byerly and Holloway, LLP, an insurance defense law firm in Portland, Ore. From Brian I learned the nuances of the insurance industry, professional communication, the importance of networking and the ability to tell someone to jump in a lake so they look forward to the swim.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

Well, I have two beautiful daughters and three grandkids, so I guess that should be my first answer.

R&I: How about in your professional life?

I’ve had some successes over the past three decades in terms of implementing cost-saving programs for clients and policyholders. I once convinced a carrier to reimburse my policyholder for claims they accepted which were clearly not compensable. … Substandard claims handling is unacceptable in my book. As for my position at Daimler, I’ve been able to maintain the same level of internal service with reduced staff and at the same time decrease premiums through improved loss history.  In 2014, I was named a Risk & Insurance® magazine All-Star as well as Liberty Mutual Responsibility Leader® designee.

Advertisement




R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

My favorite book is “How the Irish Saved Civilization” by Thomas Cahill. It’s the story of how the Irish preserved Western Civilization from destruction during the European dark ages, after the collapse of the Roman Empire, and later reintroduced that culture on the European continent.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Weinstube Am Stadtgraben in Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. It’s the best place for Swabian food.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Probably Bunratty Castle in County Clare, Ireland. Next door is “Durty Nellies” pub established in 1620. Who wouldn’t want to quaff a pint in a 400-year old saloon?

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

When I was a senior at OSU I took skydiving lessons and did a solo static line jump. The risky part was if the cable didn’t deploy the chute, I would have become part of the landscape in seconds. I also returned to the rugby pitch about 10 years ago after a 25-year hiatus. Work was stressful and I needed to let off some steam.  I got banged up a lot but I loved every minute of it.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

My personal hero is Pope Francis. Regardless if you’re Protestant or Catholic, atheist or agnostic, you have to respect a freethinking guy who focuses on the traditional Catholic value of volunteering and helping others in need.

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. She can be reached at [email protected]
Share this article:

Risk Management

The Profession

Ken Davis, the director of risk management for Nuverra Environmental Solutions, says the industry is getting better at education, but still has room to grow.
By: | August 3, 2015 • 5 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Country club pool monitor, age 15.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

My first insurance-related job was as a claims assistant at AIG. I started off as a workers’ compensation claims assistant then moved into claims adjuster roles, and ultimately ended up handling the Swift Transportation account for the TPA I worked for. After some time, I was asked by Swift to come aboard and become their workers’ comp claims manager. That’s really where the doors to risk management opened up for me.

R8-15p54_TheProfession.inddI worked closely with the director of risk management as well as the VP of risk, litigation and claims. I was also working with the finance department and with other lines of coverage, as well as with insurance-related items including the creation of a captive. My first risk job title was in 2008 at a company called Total Transit, and the rest is history, though I’ve always kept claims as part of my job function.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

I’d say educatiing the next generation of risk professionals. I think through the local chapters of RIMS (I’m president of the Arizona chapter), good education and resources are being provided for risk managers in their communities.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Advertisement




Oddly enough, the answer is the same. Employers, insurers and insurance brokers could be doing a better job of educating risk managers today. As I understand it, in the ’80s and even ’90s, the insurance community was so driven toward education — the breadth of knowledge of the people who are now nearing retirement age is huge.  Now the training you are receiving is coming from places like RIMS and outside resources rather than learning through the companies you work for.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego, close to a decade ago. Why: Location, location, location. San Diego has the infrastructure, hotels, restaurants and everything you need to hold as many risk people as attend.

R&I: How do you grade the insurance industry’s response to the threat of cyber attacks?

I think the insurance industry is trying to do its best to warn risk managers of the potential threats involved, but the trouble is that there is still such a lack of understanding related to cyber risk. I think we still don’t comprehend the true exposure.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

There are so many excellent carriers, it’s too difficult to pick a single one.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

I would say greater than 90 percent of our insurannce is transacted through a broker.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

My thought here is that no matter what, the controversy itself increased transparency and that is an excellent result. As long as I know what I’m paying for and what people are getting out of it, I’m OK with it.

Ken Davis, director of risk management, Nuverra Environmental Solutions

Ken Davis, director of risk management, Nuverra Environmental Solutions

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

I’m very cautious about the economy. There are so many variables that play into it; it’s no longer just about the U.S. economy since our economy is tied into the global status. Today you’ve got the Middle East, Greece, etc. — name the country and name the issue, whether it’s travel, oil, or concerns about hacking into various infastructures.

There are just a number of different factors to acknowlege and be mindful of. Nuverra is not global but is closely tied to oil and gas so these issues touch us every day.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I’ve had many mentors who have helped me develop my skills over the years, but I would point to a woman by the name of Belinda Lopes. Belinda probably had the largest impact on me. Despite being busy with her own career, she was always willing to stop what she was doing and educate me.

For me it’s been critical to my success and one of the reasons I ended up trying to give back to the people that work with me.

If you don’t take the time to do that, what’s the legacy that you’re leaving?

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

My family. I’ve got a wonderful family and two girls that are remarkable and one is graduating from the eighth grade today. Everything that I do in life is for my girls. I am so proud of the young women they are becoming and I am so excited to see their accomplishments in life.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Nick’s Italian in Scottsdale.

R&I: What is the most unusual or interesting places you have ever visited?

Next month, I’m headed to Denmark, Germany and Austria. It will be my first time in Europe. Ask me when I get back!

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Marriage — and skydiving.  Both are life and death activities.

Advertisement




R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

I used to work at a fire and ambulance company. So I would say our first responders. They put their lives on the line every single day.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I love looking at a situation, evaluating the risk, and working with a team to evaluate the issues. It’s very rewarding to see how you were able to mitigate or completely avoid an exposure.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

My kids think that I pretend to be a lawyer and a doctor.

R&I: Why a doctor?

Just because dealing with workers’ compensation, there are so many medical issues.

R&I: And why a lawyer?

Dealing so much with litigation and mediation and because of some of the lingo I’ve picked up dealing with attorneys all the time … or maybe because I like to argue.

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. She can be reached at [email protected]
Share this article:

Emerging Risk: Drones

The Paradox of Drones

Capacity is lining up to cover drones, but a lack of historical data and useful regulation hamper the industry.
By: | July 1, 2015 • 3 min read
09012014_08_napslo_report_drone PB

A paradox is emerging in the area of drone or unmanned aerial systems (UAS) coverage.

On the one hand, capacity for UAS–related risks is fairly abundant, according to a report from Marsh. Yet at the same time, underwriting expertise and historical data are in short supply.

Advertisement




As the insurance industry waits for enough data to more comfortably underwrite the risk, carriers are working off of forms developed for traditional aviation risks. The lack of precise language to address the risks of drones is limiting coverage, and by extension the expansion of the commercial use of drones.

According to a recent report from Marsh, entitled “Dawning of the Drones: The Evolving Risk of Unmanned Aerial Systems,” insurance is currently available to cover drone-related property and liability risks such as:

  • Physical Loss to the UAS itself (airframe, propulsion units, operating system, and flight controls).
  • The payload—such as camera equipment and sensors, and the ground station/control unit, as well as spare parts, and coverage for transit.

On the liability side, coverage is available for bodily injury and property damage as well as product liability for re-sellers and manufacturers.

Underwriting Criteria

The report includes a checklist of risk factors influencing UAS underwriting decisions.

For instance, in determining whether or not to take on UAS liability risks, underwriters are looking at:

  • Whether operators are certified by a governing body.
  • The hours flown since the craft was manufactured.
  • Engine type and redundancy as well as aircraft range.

In deciding about UAS property risks, all of the above concerns are taken into consideration as well as additional factors such as endurance, launch and recovery, navigation, operating environment (urban or non-urban) as well as maintenance, storage, countries and safety of the load while in transit.

Considering that much of the coverage that exists today evolved from the aviation market—and considering the shortage of UAS-related claims history, according to Marsh, some carriers are hesitant to underwrite the UAS sector, despite a general glut of capacity.

“It is difficult with the FAA just starting to open the commercial air space, to know what all of the risks are,” an executive with Marsh said.

“There just hasn’t been the claims history or litigation to tell where problems may lie.”

Exceptions to the rule do exist, however: One coverage that’s available which has some uniqueness to drones is insurance to cover the risks to the ground control equipment  — whether hand-held or via a full cockpit layout (often contained in a van).

“Such coverage varies depending upon the size and type of control station and functionality,” according to the Marsh report.

Advertisement




Still, risk specialists wanting a UAS insurance program addressing only what is needed for unmanned aircraft may want to consider markets who’ve been hard at work crafting specialized coverage for drones.

Another factor limiting the expansion of commercial drone use is a lack of regulation from the FAA. As an opinion piece in the Houston Chronicle recently pointed out, Congress asked the FAA to issue regulations by September of 2015.

The FAA recently announced it could miss that deadline by as much as two years.

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. She can be reached at [email protected]
Share this article: