Risk Insider: Tony Boobier

New Riders of the Storm?

By: | March 26, 2015 • 3 min read
Tony Boobier holds a WW Executive role at IBM, focusing on solutions for Risk and Finance, and was previously IBM Insurance Analytics leader for EMEA. He can be reached at boobier@uk.ibm.com.
Topics: ERM | Risk Insider

I recently had the pleasure of talking to a large group of insurance risk experts about the transformation not only of their industry, but how they also will need to personally reinvent themselves.

It seemed to them that the so-called “nexus of forces” — cloud, analytics, mobile and social — were potentially so disruptive as to seem more like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

Some of these new forces of change are easier to take on board than others. Almost all the audience had android devices, and they could understand how “mobile” allows business insight to be distributed much more effectively, and in a timely manner.

“Cloud” seemed to them to be more of a threat than an opportunity, but all recognised the need for greater agility and higher performance from their platform technology. The relatively new concept of the “hybrid cloud” approach allows both scalability and flexibility, without data going off premises or out of country, and in doing so appeared to tick many of the essential boxes.

Mention “social” and one immediately jumps to thinking about external social networks, but we equally need to consider internal communication networks.

“Analytics” was viewed as critical, and of course the risk industry is founded on complex analytics, but as we pushed the discussion further, the concept of cognitive analytics started to make them think more about how their roles would invariably change within the next decade, probably sooner.

But it was the fourth “nexus” that seemed to create the most curiosity, that of “social media.”

Mention “social” and one immediately jumps to thinking about external social networks, but we equally need to consider internal communication networks.

One of the key challenges for risk managers will be to change the organizational culture, and embed risk into each and every decision. This won’t be done by all the employees having a simultaneous “hallelujah” moment, but rather by careful planning and sustained effort, and effective use of internal communication probably delivered through an internal social media platform.

So it was rather worrying that, amongst the audience of nearly 200 risk professionals, the number of who were tweeting could be counted on two hands — and I’ve seen a similar trend at other risk events.

This is much lower than I’ve seen at events for other professions. Are risk professionals so risk averse as to be excessively wary of social media? If so, of the four apocalyptical horses, will the use of social media prove to be one of the more difficult ones to ride?

At the end of the day, we have a choice.  We can be victims of any or all of these four horsemen, and be trampled by them as we rush to escape from the inevitable. Or, we can learn to ride any or all of these stallions, and in doing so become masters of our destiny, and greater masters of our profession.

I know what I prefer, and what’s the best way forward … a “little bird” told me.

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Risk Insider: Susan LaBar

You Gotta Have Heart

By: | March 25, 2015 • 2 min read
Susan LaBar is the risk manager at Coach USA/Megabus. She has more than 20 years experience in handling nationwide liability and workers’ compensation claims. She can be reached at susan.labar@coachusa.com.

I believe that people who work in claims have the best stories to tell at cocktail parties. I was recently entertaining a group at a local party with one of my sordid stories from the world of bus claims, when someone asked me if I ever had trouble separating my emotions from the claims.

That got me thinking about whether you can allow your emotions and past experiences to enter into the claims evaluation process. Should claims be evaluated strictly on the facts? Can a risk manager have a heart?

For years I have tried to take my emotions out of the evaluation of claims. It has always been my practice to look at the facts and the numbers and not take into account my personal experiences.

“Risk managers can have hearts. We just must be careful how we use them.”

To me, the claims process became very black and white. In my experience, we see so many claims where the liability is questionable or the damages are inflated. It is impossible not to become numb and jaded when faced with these types of claims on a daily basis.

This changed recently when I had a claim that hit close to home. The claimant was about the same age as my children.

In this case, it was very hard to separate the mother from the risk manager. Could I be objective in evaluating this claim if I allowed my own emotions into the process?

After struggling with this concept, I realized that sometimes we need to view the claims with emotion. You never know who could end up on your jury.

The average person on the jury will use all of their past experiences and emotion when deciding the case. If a jury is going to use their emotions when rendering a verdict, shouldn’t the person evaluating the claim do the same thing?

By using the facts and my emotions, I believe we came to a fair settlement. It was a difficult case, but the respect and sympathy that I gave the claimant went a long way in helping to settle the claim. In this case, having a heart was an asset.

Now, let’s not get carried away. I will still use my common sense and years of industry experience when evaluating claims.

Certainly, I will continue to look skeptically on claims that I believe contain exaggerated allegations. The challenge is to find a balance between business sense, common sense and the heart.

There are claims where we must look realistically at the claim and injury and allow ourselves some emotion when evaluating. Our company has always prided itself in doing the right thing. We strive to acknowledge when we are wrong and aggressively defend claims that we believe are fraudulent or exaggerated.

Whether the emotion is sympathy or disdain, don’t we all use our hearts when handling claims? So, the answer is yes. Risk managers can have hearts. We just must be careful how we use them.

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Sponsored: Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Healthcare: The Hardest Job in Risk Management

Do you have the support needed to successfully navigate healthcare challenges?
By: | April 1, 2015 • 4 min read

BrandedContent_BHSIThe Affordable Care Act.

Large-scale consolidation.

Radically changing cost and reimbursement models.

Rapidly evolving service delivery approaches.

It is difficult to imagine an industry more complex and uncertain than healthcare. Providers are being forced to lower costs and improve efficiencies on a scale that is almost beyond imagination. At the same time, quality of care must remain high.

After all, this is more than just a business.

The pressure on risk managers, brokers and CFOs is intense. If navigating these challenges wasn’t stress inducing enough, these professionals also need to ensure continued profitability.

Leo Carroll, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Professional Liability, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Leo Carroll, Senior Vice President, Healthcare Professional Liability, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

“Healthcare companies don’t hide the fact that they’re looking to reduce costs and improve efficiencies in practically every facet of their business. Insurance purchasing and financing are high on that list,” said Leo Carroll, who heads the healthcare professional liability underwriting unit for Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

But it’s about a lot more than just price. The complexity of the healthcare system and unique footprint of each provider requires customized solutions that can reduce risk, minimize losses and improve efficiencies.

“Each provider is faced with a different set of challenges. Therefore, our approach is to carefully listen to the needs of each client and respond with a creative proposal that often requires great flexibility on the part of our team,” explained Carroll.

Creativity? Flexibility? Those are not terms often used to describe an insurance carrier. But BHSI Healthcare is a new type of insurer.

The Foundation: Financial Strength

BrandedContent_BHSIBerkshire Hathaway is synonymous with financial strength. Leveraging the company’s well-capitalized balance sheet provides BHSI with unmatched capabilities to take on substantial risks in a sustainable way.

For one, BHSI is the highest rated paper available to healthcare providers. Given the severity of risks faced by the industry, this is a very important attribute.

But BHSI operationalizes its balance sheet in many ways beyond just strong financial ratings.

For example, BHSI has never relied on reinsurance. Without the need to manage those relationships, BHSI is able to eliminate a significant amount of overhead. The result is an industry leading expense ratio and the ability to pass on savings to clients.

“The impact of operationalizing our balance sheet is remarkable. We don’t impose our business needs on our clients. Our financial strength provides us the freedom to genuinely listen to our clients and propose unique, creative solutions,” Carroll said.

Keeping Things Simple

BrandedContent_BHSIHealthcare professional liability policy language is often bloated and difficult to decipher. Insurers are attempting to tackle complex, evolving issues and account for a broad range of scenarios and contingencies. The result often confuses and contradicts.

Carroll said BHSI strives to be as simple and straightforward as possible with policy language across all lines of business. It comes down to making it easy and transparent to do business with BHSI.

“Our goal is to be as straightforward as we can and at the same time provide coverage that’s meaningful and addresses the exposures our customers need addressed,” Carroll said.

Claims: More Than an After Thought

Complex litigation is an unfortunate fact of life for large healthcare customers. Carroll, who began his insurance career in medical claims management, understands how important complex claims management is to the BHSI value proposition.

In fact, “claims management is so critical to customers, that BHSI Claims contributes to all aspects of its operations – from product development through risk analysis, servicing and claims resolution,” said Robert Romeo, head of Healthcare and Casualty Claims.

And as part of the focus on building long-term relationships, BHSI has made it a priority to introduce customers to the claims team as early as possible and before a claim is made on a policy.

“Being so closely aligned automatically delivers efficiency and simplicity in the way we work,” explained Carroll. “We have a common understanding of our forms, endorsements and coverage, so there is less opportunity for disagreement or misunderstanding between what our underwriters wrote and how our claims professionals interpret it.”

Responding To Ebola: Creativity + Flexibility

BrandedContent_BHSIThe recent Ebola outbreak provided a prime example of BHSI Healthcare’s customer-centric approach in action.

Almost immediately, many healthcare systems recognized the need to improve their infectious disease management protocols. The urgency intensified after several nurses who treated Ebola patients were themselves infected.

BHSI Healthcare was uniquely positioned to rapidly respond. Carroll and his team approached several of their clients who were widely recognized as the leading infectious disease management institutions. With the help of these institutions, BHSI was able to compile tools, checklists, libraries and other materials.

These best practices were immediately made available to all BHSI Healthcare clients who leveraged the information to improve their operations.

At the same time, healthcare providers were at risk of multiple exposures associated with the evolving Ebola situation. Carroll and his Healthcare team worked with clients from a professional liability and general liability perspective. Concurrently, other BHSI groups worked with the same clients on offerings for business interruption, disinfection and cleaning costs.

David Fields, Executive Vice President, Underwriting, Actuarial, Finance and Reinsurance

David Fields, Executive Vice President, Underwriting, Actuarial, Finance and Reinsurance, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance

Ever vigilant, the BHSI chief underwriting officer, David Fields, created a point of central command to monitor the situation, field client requests and execute the company’s response. The results were highly customized packages designed specifically for several clients. On some programs, net limits exceeded $100 million and covered many exposures underwritten by multiple BHSI groups.

“At the height of the outbreak, there was a lot of fear and panic in the healthcare industry. Our team responded not by pulling back but by leaning in. We demonstrated that we are risk seekers and as an organization we can deploy our substantial resources in times of crisis. The results were creative solutions and very substantial coverage options for our clients,” said Carroll.

It turns out that creativity and flexibly requires both significant financial resources and passionate professionals. That is why no other insurer can match Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance.

To learn more about BHSI Healthcare, please visit www.bhspecialty.com.

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, programs, and homeowners insurance. It underwrites on the paper of Berkshire Hathaway’s National Indemnity group of insurance companies, which hold financial strength ratings of A++ from AM Best and AA+ from Standard & Poor’s. Based in Boston, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance has regional underwriting offices in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Toronto, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand. For more information, contact info@bhspecialty.com.

The information contained herein is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any product or service. Any description set forth herein does not include all policy terms, conditions and exclusions. Please refer to the actual policy for complete details of coverage and exclusions.



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

Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance (www.bhspecialty.com) provides commercial property, casualty, healthcare professional liability, executive and professional lines, surety, travel, programs, and homeowners insurance.
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