Risk Insider: Dan Holden

The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

By: | November 4, 2015 • 2 min read
Dan Holden is Manager of Corporate Risk & Insurance for Daimler Trucks North America (formerly “Freightliner”). He manages the risk management program in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He can be reached at daniel.holden@daimler.com.

In 2012 nearly 4,000 people were killed on US roads, and 90% of those fatalities were caused by driver error.

Imagine an advanced autonomous system that could avoid those deadly motor vehicle accidents.  Even a system that works only on the highway – where the technology has already been developed and where trucks spend the majority of their time – can make a significant difference.

If you include the future of autonomous passenger cars on the road, drivers will experience not only improved safety, but eventually will see better fuel economy and more free time.

If you include the future of autonomous passenger cars on the road, drivers will experience not only improved safety, but eventually will see better fuel economy and more free time.

A new report has analyzed the impact of driverless cars on the incidence of fatal traffic accidents, and concluded that by removing human emotions and errors from the equation, we could reduce deaths on the road by 90 percent.

That’s almost 300,000 lives saved each decade in the U.S., and a saving of $190 billion each year in health care costs associated with accidents. If you expand this to global figures, driverless cars are set to save 10 million lives per decade.

There are now some trucks on the road that begin to fulfill that promise. Daimler Trucks North America’s “Inspiration” freightliner semi-truck this year became first legally operated autonomous commercial vehicle operating on U.S. highways.

For now, the “Inspiration” is basically a limited take on autonomy. The driverless system engages when the truck is on the highway and ramps up speed. It then maintains a safe distance from other vehicles and stays in its own lane.

If the truck were to encounter a circumstance it can’t handle (e.g., heavy snow or washed-out lane lines) it will alert the human driver that it’s time for him to take over. But what this technology can do is reduce traffic accidents, and that’s why I’m pretty excited about the whole thing.

A human driver has limited situational awareness. Autonomous vehicles offer an extra set of eyes that continuously monitor a broad range of sensors (e.g., visible and infrared light, acoustic including ultrasound) both passive and active with a nearly 360-degree field of view.

Therefore, driverless vehicles can more quickly determine a safe reaction to potential hazards and initiate reactions faster than a human driver. For example, traffic collisions caused by human driver errors such as tailgating, rubbernecking and other forms of distracted or aggressive driving would be eliminated.

Safer and more efficient driving is the motivating force behind this emerging technology. It’s not about catching 40-winks on the highway or watching an episode of your favorite show. As cool as that might be to imagine, no one is replacing the human as the ultimate decision-maker.

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Risk Insider: Martin Frappolli

Grab Some Risk While You Can

By: | August 31, 2015 • 3 min read
Martin J. Frappolli, CPCU, FIDM, AIC, is Senior Director of Knowledge Resources at The Institutes, and editor of the organization's new “Managing Cyber Risk” textbook. He can be reached at frappolli@TheInstitutes.org.

Because many of us in the risk management business make thoughtful and prudent decisions in life, you may be among those people who choose a vehicle for pragmatic purposes.  You may consider size, safety, and fuel economy.

If you’re like me, you might choose that pragmatic car even though it doesn’t quicken your pulse in the way that a red convertible performance coupe might do.  “Someday” you might buy that performance or luxury car.

Well, here is your excuse to act sooner. We’re keenly aware of how each new vehicle has more “smart” features than previous models, taking us closer to the future reality of autonomous cars.

We’re rushing toward a model of streaming transportation – driverless vehicles that arrive when you need them, take you where you need to go, then head off to another purpose for another passenger.

There’s plenty of upside to this – reduced need for parking, removal of the costs of ownership and insurance, reduced congestion, great strides in safety. I take some comfort that by the time I am no longer physically able to drive, I won’t need to.  If I can use a smart phone or whatever devices succeed the smart phone, I can get a ride.

From a risk management perspective, the move to streaming, on-demand autonomous transportation is a clear winner.

From a risk management perspective, the move to streaming, on-demand autonomous transportation is a clear winner. Cars will be safer when the possibility of human error is removed. Car insurance exists, after all, primarily as a means to compensate victims of human error.

Beyond the savings for vehicle repair, the reduction in bodily injury events will be cause to celebrate. Further, much of the capital and resources now devoted to automobile insurance may be freed up for other productive uses.

The flip side, though, is that we’ll pass up on the joy of motoring, the very notion of motor sport. Just as we’ve surrendered the beauty of album art when we moved from vinyl LP to CD to MP3 to streaming music, so too we’ll leave behind the rush of a fast muscle car and the twisty mountain road handled by the finely tuned suspension of a sports car.

You need to manage your own personal appetite for risk. While you may increase your risk of a traffic ticket or even an accident if you aggressively exploit the power of a sports car, you also mitigate the risk because these high-end vehicles typically are built with better braking systems and advanced safety features.

Were you eying that red convertible in the showroom when you bought that SUV?  The time for you to own and drive a car for pleasure is going away. Our future selves will marvel at the old days when multi-ton machines traveled at 70 miles an hour piloted by humans and subject to fatal error.

The question remains about how soon – but the change is coming. Here’s your rationalization to buy that performance car before your only role is that of passenger.

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Sponsored: Liberty Mutual Insurance

The Doctor as Partner

Consulting clinical expertise can vastly improve disability and absence management outcomes.
By: | January 4, 2016 • 6 min read

Professionals helping employees return to work after being on disability or a leave of absence face many challenges. After all, there is a personal story behind each case and each case is unique.

In the end, the best outcome is an employee who returns to the job healthy and feeling well taken care of, while at the same time managing the associated claim costs.

Learn what most employers want from their group disability and life benefits program.

While many carriers and claims managers work toward these goals, in the end they often tend to focus on minimizing costs by aggressively managing claims to get the worker back on the job, or they “fast track” claims, approving everything and paying little attention to case management.

Aggressively managed claims can leave many employees and their doctors feeling defensive and ill-at-ease, creating an adversarial relationship that ultimately hinders return to work and results in higher direct and indirect employee benefit costs for the employer. Fast track or non-managed claims can lead to increased durations, costs and workforce productivity issues for employers.

Is it possible to provide a positive employee benefit experience while at the same time effectively managing disability and lowering an employer’s overall benefit costs?

A Unique Approach

Yes.

Liberty Mutual Insurance’s approach to managing disability and absence management focuses on building consensus among all stakeholders – the disabled employee, treating physician, employer and insurer. And a key component of this process is a large team of consulting physician specialists, leading practitioners from a variety of specialties, highly regarded experts affiliated with leading medical universities across the country.

“About 16 years ago, our national medical director, Dr. Ed Crouch, proposed that if we worked with a core group of external consulting medical specialists – rather than sending most claims for Independent Medical Evaluations – we could do a better job making disabled employees and their attending physicians comfortable, and therefore true partners in producing better disability management outcomes and employee benefit experiences,” said Tim Kastrinelis, senior vice president, Distribution Partnerships at Liberty Mutual Benefits.

“In this way, our consulting physician and the attending physician are able to work with the disability case manager, the employee and the employer to deliver a coordinated, collaborative approach that facilitates a productive lifestyle and return to work.”

The result of Dr. Crouch’s initiative has produced positive results for the clients of Liberty Mutual Insurance. This consensus building approach to managing disability with consulting physician expertise has helped achieve industry leading client retention results over the past decade. In fact, 96 percent of Liberty Mutual’s group disability and group life clients renew their programs.

LM_SponsoredContent“By getting all stakeholders on the same page and investing heavily in consulting physician specialists, we have been able to lower claim costs and shortened claim duration for our group disability policyholders. …In the end, it’s a win-win for all.”
–Tim Kastrinelis, Senior Vice President, Distribution Partnerships, Liberty Mutual Benefits

A Collaborative Approach

In the case of complex disability medical health situations, Liberty Mutual’s disability case managers play a vital role in seeking additional expertise—an area where the industry’s standard has been to outsource the claimant for independent medical examinations.

However, Liberty Mutual empowers its disability case managers with the ultimate responsibility for the outcome of each claim. The claimant and the case manager stay together throughout the life of the claim. This relationship is the foundation for a collaborative approach that delivers a better employee benefit experience and enables the claimant to return to work sooner; which more effectively controls total disability claim and absence costs.

Sending a disabled employee with complex medical needs to an external specialist may sound like a cost-effective path, but it often comes at the cost of sacrificing the relationship and trust built between the employee and case manager. The disabled employee must explain their medical history to a new clinician, which he or she is often reluctant to do. The attending physician may be uncooperative as this move can appear to question his or her treatment plan for the employee.

As a result, the entire claims process takes on an adversarial atmosphere, building major roadblocks to the ultimate goal of helping the claimant return to a productive lifestyle.

Liberty Mutual takes a different approach. Nearly 100 physicians representing more than 30 medical specialties are available to consult with its medical and claims professionals, working side-by-side with case managers.

More than 95 percent of these consulting physicians are in active practice, and therefore up-to-date on the latest clinical best practices, treatment guidelines, therapies, medications, and programs. Most of these physicians are affiliated with leading medical universities across the country. “We recruit specialists from around the country, getting the best from such prestigious institutions as Harvard, Yale, and Duke,” said Kastrinelis.

These highly-credentialed physicians help case managers focus on providing the support needed for the disabled employee to successfully return to work as quickly as appropriate. Their collaborative work with the attending physicians provides the behind-the-scenes foundation that leads to a positive claimant experience, results in a better outcome for the claimant, and more effectively reduces total claim costs.

Coordinated Care Plan

When one of these consulting physicians reaches out to an attending physician, there’s an immediate degree of respect and high regard for his or her opinion. This helps pave the way to working together in the best interest of the employee, improving treatment plans and return to work results.

In this process, the claimant is not sent to yet another doctor; instead, the consulting specialist works with the attending physician to help fill in the gaps of knowledge or provide information that only a specialist would have. Although not an opportunity to direct care, these peer-to-peer discussions can help optimize care with the goal of helping the employee return to work.

The attending physician may have no knowledge of the challenges the employee faces in order to return to work. A return to work plan created in concert with the specialist, disability case manager, employer, and attending physician can set expectations and provide the framework for a proactive and effective return to a productive lifestyle.

“Our consulting physicians bring sophisticated medical expertise to the discussion, and help build consensus around a return-to-work plan, helping us more effectively impact a claim’s outcome and costs, and at the same time provide a better claimant experience,” said Kastrinelis.

“We can work more collaboratively with the attending physician, manage expectations, and shepherd the employee through the process much more effectively and in a much more high-touch, caring, and compassionate manner. Overall, we’re able to produce better outcomes as a result of this consensus building approach.”

Better Outcomes

“Our approach – including the use of consulting medical experts – helped us significantly reduce disability costs over two years for one large health service company,” notes Kastrinelis. “We cut average short-term disability claim durations by 4.2 days in that time, while increasing employee satisfaction with our unique disability management model and collaborative, partnership approach.

How did Liberty Mutual’s unique approach lower claim costs, reduce disability duration and improve the benefit experience for one customer?

“By getting all stakeholders on the same page and investing heavily in consulting physician specialists, we have been able to lower claim costs and shortened claim duration for our group disability policyholders,” said Kastrinelis.

“Plus, we, the employee, and the employer also get the bonus of creating a better employee benefit experience. This model has shaped our disability and absence management program to more aptly reflect our core mission of helping people live safer, more secure lives. In the end, it’s a win-win for all.”

How does Liberty Mutual provide a superior employee benefit experience?

Tim Kastrinelis can be reached at timothy.kastrinelis@libertymutual.com. More information on Liberty Mutual’s group disability and absence management offerings can be seen at https://www.libertymutualgroup.com/business-insurance/business-insurance-coverages/employee-benefits.

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This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty Mutual Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.




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Liberty Mutual Insurance offers a wide range of insurance products and services, including general liability, property, commercial automobile, excess casualty, workers compensation and group benefits.
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