Universal Risk Management
Risk management theory and practice fascinates — and can also appear so complex — because it resides in so many different professional realms and takes such different shapes.
Some of this year’s Risk All Stars work for widely known companies with billions in assets. Others work for a nonprofit that cobbled its solutions together with government grants.
In some examples, winners of the award were armies of one, who either through specialization or a unique perspective effected sweeping change. But creativity, passion and perseverance, the traits that we base this award on, are found in every winner.
In the person of Dr. Mike Tomecek, of the Oklahoma Spine & Brain Institute, Risk & Insurance® gives an award for the first time to a neurosurgeon; perhaps it won’t be the last.
Dr. Tomecek uses electrodiagnostic functional assessments to determine whether medical hardware removal surgery is really necessary. His specific knowledge of nerve function, coupled with technology, allows him to determine whether the movements that are actually causing pain or immobility are connected to medical hardware or are coming from some other place.
With his assessments, Dr. Tomecek acts as a patient advocate who is reducing surgeries and recommending site-specific physical therapy, a far less costly and intrusive treatment.
Risk All Stars winners Chris Chathams and Latitia Estrada are working-class heroes. These safety and human resources specialists work for the Timber Products Manufacturers Association.
The association is a trade group for smaller operators in the extremely hazardous timber industry in the Pacific Northwest. Using massive, unforgiving chain saws to bring down big trees, workers in the timber industry get hurt badly when something goes wrong.
The forestry companies that depend on the association as a safety education resource don’t have the resources to offer safety training on their own, even though such training is drastically needed.
Using grants from OSHA, Chathams and Estrada created a safety training program that in a three-year span reduced injuries for some member companies by 75 percent. That’s a lot of workers and their families suffering less trauma.
Richard Pcihoda, the director of risk management for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, moved with speed and effectiveness when Superstorm Sandy struck. One of PREIT’s shopping malls suffered millions in damage when the storm hit.
But Pcihoda had planned ahead, lining up a reconstruction contractor so he didn’t have to wait in line for help after the fact. Pcihoda’s planning, and his great relationships with his adjusters, resulted in the Hudson Mall reopening a mere 17 days after the storm.
Business interruption was lessened and many jobs saved as a result.
Risk management can be a thankless job. It demands hard work and attention to detail that some people would rather not think about.
But we think about it. The 2014 Risk All Stars awards are our way of saying thanks.
Complete coverage of the 2014 Risk All Stars winners begins here.
Leading From the Front
Making your fellow employees safer and creating more risk resiliency in your organization requires much more than simply doing your job.
It means doing the hard work to find a unique and practical solution, and then having the backbone and drive to implement that solution despite whatever obstacles you might face. In effect, doing the right thing over the easy thing.
These eight Responsibility Leaders do that and more. Through their drive and passion, they are the ones creating solutions that benefit not only their organizations but their employees and their communities.
Leslie Lamb works for Cisco Systems, with 75,000 employees and more than $100 billion in assets. You could count the members of her risk management team on one hand.
But Lamb’s Global Risk & Resilience Management team is bold and acts strategically. They dig deeper into the business, to take the time to meet with department heads in the effort to better understand their risks.
Lamb and her team created that most precious of dynamics. They created a dialogue among company leaders that is risk-focused. The award-winning Lamb reports that after a five-year effort, that dialogue is not only ongoing, it is expanding.
Sprague Operating Resource’s David Hershey displayed courage and dedication in standing up for his fellow risk managers. When insurance carriers decided in one fell swoop to stop notifying designated third parties that policies naming them as insureds were cancelled, he stood up to take a leading role.
In demanding that such notification be restored contractually, Hershey was insisting that insurance be what it says it is: a backstop that enables the smooth and productive flow of commerce.
“Commerce is not in business to justify the insurance industry, insurers, agents and brokers,” Hershey said, in one of the most relevant statements that may have ever appeared in this publication.
His status as a Responsibility Leader® stems from the essence of the definition of the award. He made a difference for an entire industry by leading when no one else stepped forward.
Hershey also furthers the profession of risk management by being a frequent speaker and author on risk management topics. He talks to college students about careers in risk management and teaches insurance at the Insurance Library of Boston.
Hershey and the rest of the 2014 Risk All Stars Responsibility Leaders® are not only doing what needs to be done, they are helping others to do it as well.
Here are the 2014 Risk All Stars Responsibility Leaders.
Champion for Change
Workers’ Compensation Manager Patty Hostine created dramatic gains for Cooper Standard Automotive by championing a fundamental change in the way both management and employees perceived the company’s approach to injury treatment and recovery.
That kind of transformation is never an easy sell. But Hostine’s ability to clearly communicate the benefits of the change to people at every level of the organization is the hallmark of a Responsibility Leader®.
“When she came on board we had all kinds of new management — nobody was on board with our thought process,” said Gerry King, who hired Hostine to manage workers’ compensation at Cooper Standard.
“So it was taking them and making them see the business side of workers’ compensation that a lot of people don’t look at,” King said.
Hostine is also committed the members of her team, and to making sure that everyone involved has the tools and knowledge they need to excel.
“Her ethics are above reproach,” said Mick Altherr, coordinator of health, safety and environment, and workers’ compensation at Cooper Standard Automotive, “and that drives her theme of being fair, firm and friendly. … She’s an amazing talent with her drive for knowledge. She shares her thought process to educate the people who work with her.”
Filling a Need for Safety
Saws and heavy lumber make the timber and wood products industry inherently dangerous. But many small companies lack resources to provide adequate safety training to employees.
Enter Latitia Estrada and Chris Chathams of Timber Products Manufacturers Association (TPM). The duo leveraged their nonprofit status to win government grants to create and provide training to member organizations at no cost.
The training programs, consisting of webinars, worksheets, and videos, bring awareness to the highest-risk areas of the industry, all the way from logging in the forest to working a sawmill on the factory floor.
Over the past two years, more than 80 employers and 2,200 employees in seven different states have received training.
The pair estimates they’ve saved participating companies more than $134,000 in training costs alone, not including costs saved by lowering injury rates.
One company was able to slash their injury rates by 50 percent.
Chathams and Estrada have also widened TPM’s involvement within the safety industry.
They’ve worked with different chapters of the American Society of Safety Engineers, the Northern Idaho Safety Fest and the Montana Safety Fest.
Looking to the future, they’ve also helped TPM create a safety scholarship and internship program.
Making a Difference
David Hershey is a prolific speaker and writer on risk management topics. The list of industry awards he has won and industry leadership positions he occupies runs longer than most restaurant menus.
He serves as a board member, president, vice president, and committee member — both now and in the past — for the New Hampshire chapter of the CPCU, the Massachusetts and Delaware Valley chapters of RIMS, the Philadelphia Area Risk Managers Association, the Governor’s Council on Insurance Fraud, and the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners.
He has also volunteered his creativity and passion about risk management by serving on the External Affairs Committee and Standards & Practices Committee of the national RIMS organization.
Sharing his knowledge with others, Hershey taught classes for the Insurance Society of Philadelphia and the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New Hampshire.
In challenging insurance carriers to restore their obligation to inform named insureds when a policy is cancelled — and establishing a process to make sure his company was protected — Hershey made a difference to countless others in the risk management community, not just himself or his company.
“Notification is one of the core concepts of risk management,” he rightly noted.
Taking on a Mighty Challenge
You sign on to share the burden of managing risk for a high-profile $15 billion company. Months down the road, you’re bidding “Happy Retirement” to half of your team and wondering how you’re going to manage it all alone. That scenario could send a chill down the spine of any seasoned risk professional.
But Dan Holden took on the challenge, and he thrived —identifying multiple savings opportunities in the insurance and risk management programs of Daimler Trucks North America.
Holden made a critical assessment of his responsibilities. He carved out the pieces that needed his attention most, and sought alternative means to get the rest accomplished, like relying more heavily on the company’s TPA and on the company’s existing online portal.
He also skillfully leveraged his resources, tapping into the expertise of his brokers, other vendors, and former colleagues to gather the tools he needed to succeed.
Taking on the work of two men, Holden persevered by looking at the big picture and restructuring his priorities.
That freed him up get creative in making adjustments to DTNA’s insurance program, negotiating better policy terms by highlighting the impact of the economic downturn. The determination to rise above every challenge is what makes Holden a Responsibility Leader®.
Worth Her Weight in Gold
The company Leslie Lamb works for has more than 75,000 employees and $100 billion in assets.
Imagine the amount of work involved to break down department silos and gain a better understanding of risk on a department by department basis.
It can’t have been easy to go to company leadership and say that you want to conduct risk meetings with each department, to get a better understanding of not only each department’s risk but how risk straddles the entire company.
But that’s what Leslie Lamb and her risk management team of three did.
Senior leaders who didn’t before are now talking to one another about risk as a result of Lamb’s drive to unify all stakeholders.
The result is a sharing of information about exposures, risk scenarios and how best to mitigate them.
Because of Lamb’s leadership, Cisco can take to its underwriters a story that is far more educated and nuanced. Underwriters like that; they like it very much.
As a Responsibility Leader® and winner of a Risk All Stars Award, Leslie gets a plaque and mention in this magazine. But to the company that employs her, she is worth her weight in gold.
Running to the Fight
Maybe it’s his history in emergency management and current service as a volunteer firefighter that gives Richard Pcihoda the reflexes to run to the fight, because that is what he did as Superstorm Sandy threatened in October of 2012.
Pcihoda, the director of risk management for the Pennsylvania Real Estate Investment Trust, based in Philadelphia, wasn’t the only risk manager whose job got a lot tougher when Sandy hit, but it looks like he outperformed many of his contemporaries.
Not only did Pcihoda conduct the necessary planning and preparation to reduce his own company’s business interruption, he went out of his way to counsel his company’s Jersey City (N.J.) Hudson Mall tenants on coverage and recovery methods after the mall suffered millions in damage.
Pcihoda looked at the whole picture and acted on it. The day after the storm struck, Pcihoda jumped in his truck and drove to Jersey City, getting there before formal travel bans were in place to jump start the recovery process.
He had his contractors in place ahead of the storm to get a jump on reconstruction. He had the adjuster relationships to pull it together seamlessly.
Pcihoda is a Risk All Star because he possesses passion, creativity and perseverance. He’s a Responsibility Leader® because through his actions, he shows others how it’s done.
Creating His Own Solution
When the 16 institutions comprising Wisconsin Technical Colleges faced persistent problems obtaining insurance coverage suited to their unique needs, Steven Stoeger-Moore didn’t just find the solution — he created it.
Stoeger-Moore helped to establish Districts Mutual Insurance (DMI) in 2004 to represent the colleges and provide better insurance and risk management services.
Under his self-implemented “Rule of 16,” he ensures that if any school has a problem, all 16 colleges benefit from DMI’s solution. That dedication led to the development of comprehensive risk management programs — provided to each school at no cost — for electrical and fire safety inspections, emergency response planning, legal consultations, and employee health and safety consultations, among many others.
And when those programs were tested, Stoeger-Moore sprang into action. In the past 10 years, the Wisconsin Technical College System has weathered both a tornado and a major fire. Both times, he was at the scene within 24 hours of the event, providing claims and insurance guidance as well as comfort for shaken colleagues.
Stoeger-Moore has also worked to bolster the industry’s future by encouraging young people to consider a career in risk management. Through DMI, he creates opportunities for young people to learn about the colleges’ unique challenges and the programs created to meet them.
Six Best Practices For Effective WC Management
It’s no secret that the professionals responsible for managing workers compensation programs need to be constantly vigilant.
Rising health care costs, complex state regulation, opioid-based prescription drug use and other scary trends tend to keep workers comp managers awake at night.
“Risk managers can never be comfortable because it’s the nature of the beast,” said Debbie Michel, president of Helmsman Management Services LLC, a third-party claims administrator (and a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance). “To manage comp requires a laser-like, constant focus on following best practices across the continuum.”
Michel pointed to two notable industry trends — rises in loss severity and overall medical spending — that will combine to drive comp costs higher. For example, loss severity is predicted to increase in 2014-2015, mainly due to those rising medical costs.
Debbie discusses the top workers’ comp challenge facing buyers and brokers.
The nation’s annual medical spending, for its part, is expected to grow 6.1 percent in 2014 and 6.2 percent on average from 2015 through 2022, according to the Federal Government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This increase is expected to be driven partially by increased medical services demand among the nation’s aging population – many of whom are baby boomers who have remained in the workplace longer.
Other emerging trends also can have a potential negative impact on comp costs. For example, the recent classification of obesity as a disease (and the corresponding rise of obesity in the U.S.) may increase both workers comp claim frequency and severity.
“The true goal here is to think about injured employees. Everyone needs to focus on helping them get well, back to work and functioning at their best. At the same time, following a best practices approach can reduce overall comp costs, and help risk managers get a much better night’s sleep.”
– Debbie Michel, President, Helmsman Management Services LLC (a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual)
“These are just some factors affecting the workers compensation loss dollar,” she added. “Risk managers, working with their TPAs and carriers, must focus on constant improvement. The good news is there are proven best practices to make it happen.”
Michel outlined some of those best practices risk managers can take to ensure they get the most value from their workers comp spending and help their employees receive the best possible medical outcomes:
1. Workplace Partnering
Risk managers should look to partner with workplace wellness/health programs. While typically managed by different departments, there is an obvious need for risk management and health and wellness programs to be aligned in understanding workforce demographics, health patterns and other claim red flags. These are the factors that often drive claims or impede recovery.
“A workforce might have a higher percentage of smokers or diabetics than the norm, something you can learn from health and wellness programs. Comp managers can collaborate with health and wellness programs to help mitigate the potential impact,” Michel said, adding that there needs to be a direct line between the workers compensation goals and overall employee health and wellness goals.
Debbie discusses the second biggest challenge facing buyers and brokers.
2. Financing Alternatives
Risk managers must constantly re-evaluate how they finance workers compensation insurance programs. For example, there could be an opportunity to reduce costs by moving to higher retention or deductible levels, or creating a captive. Taking on a larger financial, more direct stake in a workers comp program can drive positive changes in safety and related areas.
“We saw this trend grow in 2012-2013 during comp rate increases,” Michel said. “When you have something to lose, you naturally are more focused on safety and other pre-loss issues.”
3. TPA Training, Tenure and Resources
Businesses need to look for a tailored relationship with their TPA or carrier, where they work together to identify and build positive, strategic workers compensation programs. Also, they must exercise due diligence when choosing a TPA by taking a hard look at its training, experience and tools, which ultimately drive program performance.
For instance, Michel said, does the TPA hold regular monthly or quarterly meetings with clients and brokers to gauge progress or address issues? Or, does the TPA help create specific initiatives in a quest to take the workers compensation program to a higher level?
4. Analytics to Drive Positive Outcomes, Lower Loss Costs
Michel explained that best practices for an effective comp claims management process involve taking advantage of today’s powerful analytics tools, especially sophisticated predictive modeling. When woven into an overall claims management strategy, analytics can pinpoint where to focus resources on a high-cost claim, or they can capture the best data to be used for future safety and accident prevention efforts.
“Big data and advanced analytics drive a better understanding of the claims process to bring down the total cost of risk,” Michel added.
5. Provider Network Reach, Collaboration
Risk managers must pay close attention to provider networks and specifically work with outcome-based networks – in those states that allow employers to direct the care of injured workers. Such providers understand workers compensation and how to achieve optimal outcomes.
Risk managers should also understand if and how the TPA interacts with treating physicians. For example, Helmsman offers a peer-to-peer process with its 10 regional medical directors (one in each claims office). While the medical directors work closely with claims case professionals, they also interact directly, “peer-to-peer,” with treatment providers to create effective care paths or considerations.
“We have seen a lot of value here for our clients,” Michel said. “It’s a true differentiator.”
6. Strategic Outlook
Most of all, Michel said, it’s important for risk managers, brokers and TPAs to think strategically – from pre-loss and prevention to a claims process that delivers the best possible outcome for injured workers.
Debbie explains the value of working with Helmsman Management Services.
Helmsman, which provides claims management, managed care and risk control solutions for businesses with 50 employees or more, offers clients what it calls the Account Management Stewardship Program. The program coordinates the “right” resources within an organization and brings together all critical players – risk manager, safety and claims professionals, broker, account manager, etc. The program also frequently utilizes subject matter experts (pharma, networks, nurses, etc.) to help increase knowledge levels for risk and safety managers.
“The true goal here is to think about injured employees,” Michel said. “Everyone needs to focus on helping them get well, back to work and functioning at their best.
“At the same time, following a best practices approach can reduce overall comp costs, and help risk managers get a much better night’s sleep,” she said.
To learn more about how a third-party administrator like Helmsman Management Services LLC (a subsidiary of Liberty Mutual) can help manage your workers compensation costs, contact your broker.
Debbie discusses how Helmsman drives outcomes for risk managers.
Debbie explains how to manage medical outcomes.
Debbie discusses considerations when selecting a TPA.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Helmsman Management Services. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.