2015 NWC&DC

Speaker Proposal Deadline Looming

The deadline is approaching for proposals to speak at the 24th Annual National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo.
By: | January 26, 2015 • 2 min read

The deadline is nearing for submitting proposals to speak at the 24 annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo held in Las Vegas.

WCconf_24thAnnualThe conference is looking for panels and individual speakers to present strategies that will help worker’s comp payers solve claims challenges, teach best practices for selecting and managing service providers, or can enlighten on industry trends.

Those are just a few of the general topic areas we are interested in hearing employers, vendors, attorneys, medical providers, regulators and other workers’ comp professionals address. We are eager to hear other great topic ideas.

Presentation proposals can focus on new, innovative strategies that reduce injuries and costs. But risk managers, workers’ comp managers, and disability managers are also welcome, for example, to share their unique experiences with adopting tried-and-true practices at their companies.

Integrated disability strategies combing solutions for workers’ comp and non-occupational drivers of employee absence are of particular interest to us this year.

Conference speaker proposals are due by February 5th, 2015. The event will be held November 11-13 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas.

Speaker proposal forms are available at http://www.wcconference.com/speak.html

If you or your company plans to submit a proposal for a session presentation, please keep in mind that we do prioritize those submissions that include an employer on the panel.

However, we also understand that not all presentations can include an employer speaker and we value the knowledge and information that other workers’ comp professionals serving the payer community bring to the conference.


Here is some advice to increase the potential for having your RFP selected:

  • Consider submitting multiple RFPs because we sometimes receive several proposals from different companies wishing to speak on the same topic. We may only select one presentation per topic in such cases. Submitting multiple RFPs provides an alternative when one of your ideas is a popular one among several submitters.
  • Select topics with relevance for a broad range of workers’ comp professionals. The greater the relevance and the stronger the speaker’s experience and knowledge the greater the possibility of being selected.
  • Avoid submitting proposals that are mere product or service pitches featuring company personnel responsible for sales or marketing.
  • Review additional advice available in a past advisory http://www.riskandinsurance.com/2015-nwcdc-call-proposals/.

I am also available via telephone or email for anyone wishing to discuss their proposal content ideas before submitting.

Roberto Ceniceros, conference chairman 208 286-1425

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and co-chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at rceniceros@lrp.com. Read more of his columns and features.
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NWCDC Update

Co-Chairs Discuss High Points, Prepare for 2015

Feedback on the best of last year's National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo is fueling plans for the 2015 conference.
By: | January 9, 2015 • 4 min read

The 23rd annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo was, by all accounts, a rousing success. The talk of posts on various social media sites, the nation’s premiere event for workers’ comp and disability practitioners attracted record attendance in November.

WCconf_24thAnnualThe conference had barely ended when planning organizers were already getting started on the 24th National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo, scheduled for Nov. 11-13 again at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. Speaking proposals are being accepted through Feb. 6.

This year’s planning co-chairs hope to build on the success of last year’s event, which they say is a hard act to follow.

“I think we’re going to have to dig deep to do better,” said Denise Gillen-Algire, director of managed care and disability risk management for Safeway and a conference planning co-chair. “This last conference was really good.”

As a returning conference program co-chair, Gillen-Algire says she has definitely seen changes since she began in 2010. “In terms of what I see people looking for five or six years ago vs. today is more innovation and program design topics,” she said. “Things around how to design programs, measure performance of providers, best practices in programs; things like that.”


Joining Gillen-Algire as a planning program co-chair is Bill Wainscott, manager of workers’ compensation and occupational health for International Paper. He is especially focused on expanding the push to include as many employers as possible.

“A lot of times [at conferences] speakers tend to talk in theoretical terms about research or trends,” Wainscott said. “This year what struck me was employers saying ‘here’s what we did.’ I learned a lot from other companies willing to share.”

Wainscott’s sentiments were echoed by Gillen-Algire, who said she heard many positive comments about the focus on employers. “There was great feedback on several panels we had with employers on them in that people were talking about real experiences,” she said. “That’s important – a case study approach, the pros and cons to certain programs, or implementing different systems.”


Wainscott said he heard and spoke with many different employers not only during sessions but also in the expo hall. He was pleasantly surprised to find out about innovative programs for smaller and mid-sized employers.

“I walked away learning some things I could do differently that I hadn’t thought about,” Wainscott said. “I probably stole more from those than I gave to smaller employers. It was a really good opportunity to network with people.”

As an example, Wainscott said he spoke with a woman whose program focuses squarely on the employee. “I tend to get really focused on all the processes and medical management things and return-to-work issues and she brought me back to the point that it’s all about the employee,” he said. “They did an excellent job of communicating to employees, setting expectations well before an accident occurs. Every employee and supervisor knew what would happen when an injury occurred and held everybody accountable.”

In another “eye-opening” expo hall conversation, he learned about a small employer’s inclusion of its employee assistance program. “If a wife is struggling with her husband being around all day and juggling all the family activities and money is not coming in as much as it was, the EAP gets involved and helps around the depression issues or family struggles,” Wainscott said. “I hadn’t thought about EAP playing a serious role in workers’ comp. They said it really helped out, helped the employee deal with things and more importantly helped the family deal with things. I hadn’t really thought about bringing the family in.”

Next Up

One of the first orders of business for the co-chairs is deciding on the opening general session. The 2014 opening keynote address was delivered by Dr. L. Casey Chosewood, senior medical officer and director of the Office for Total Worker Health Coordination and Research at the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

“I was very pleased and received nothing but positive feedback on Dr. Chosewood’s session,” Gillen-Algire said. “That theme was in many sessions; several on integrated disability management and total worker health, and that sort of followed through several sessions. It touched on the importance of pre-loss/post-loss and managing workers’ health.”


Those themes may continue into the 2015 conference.

“Looking at the core of the conference, it is workers’ comp and disability. So I think it’ll be important for us to have sessions around integrated disability and how that integrates with employees and wellness programs and the Affordable Care Act,” Gillen-Algire said. “Obviously, the ACA has been in place for a few years, and most employers and insurers are just starting to see the impact. Additional sessions on strategies for workers’ comp and employers around the ACA will be important.”

Other possible sessions included risk financing, the consolidation of the industry and the impact on managing vendor partners, and the management of litigation. Ultimately, the sessions are chosen with input from the full advisory board.

“That’s the nice thing about this conference,” Wainscott said.  “We get such a diverse group of people at the table.”

To submit a proposal or for more information, please visit our website.

Nancy Grover is co-Chair of the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference and Editor of Workers' Compensation Report, a publication of our parent company, LRP Publications. She can be reached at riskletters@lrp.com.
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Sponsored: Liberty International Underwriters

From Coast to Coast

Planning the Left Coast Lifter's complex voyage demands a specialized team of professionals.
By: | January 7, 2015 • 5 min read

The 3,920-ton Left Coast Lifter, originally built by Fluor Construction to help build the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco, will be integral in rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge by 2018.

The Lifter and the Statue of Liberty

When he got the news, Scot Burford could see it as clearly as if somebody handed him an 8 by 11 color photograph.

On January 30,  the Left Coast Lifter, a massive crane originally built by Fluor Construction to help build the new Bay Bridge in San Francisco, steamed past the Statue of Liberty. Excited observers, who saw the crane entering New York Harbor, dubbed it the “The Hudson River Hoister,” honoring its new role in rebuilding the Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River.

Powered by two stout-hearted tug boats, the Lauren Foss and the Iver Foss, it took more than five weeks for the huge crane to complete the 6,000 mile ocean journey from San Francisco to New York via the Panama Canal.

Scot took a deep breath and reflected on all the work needed to plan every aspect of the crane’s complicated journey.

A risk engineer at Liberty International Underwriters (LIU), Burford worked with a specialized team of marine insurance and risk management professionals which included John Phillips, LIU’s Hull Product Line Leader, Sean Dollahon, an LIU Marine underwriter, and Rick Falcinelli, LIU’s Marine Risk Engineering Manager, to complete a detailed analysis of the crane’s proposed route. Based on a multitude of factors, the LIU team confirmed the safety of the route, produced clear guidelines for the tug captains that included weather restrictions, predetermined ports of refuge in the case of bad weather as well as specifying the ballast conditions and rigging of tow gear on the tugs.

Of equal importance, the deep expertise and extensive experience of the LIU team ensured that the most knowledgeable local surveyors and tugboat captains with the best safety records were selected for the project. After all, the most careful of plans will only be as effective as the people who execute them.

The tremendous size of the Left Coast Lifter presented some unique challenges in preparing for its voyage.


The original intention was to dry tow the crane by loading and securing it on a semi-submersible vessel. However, the lack of an American-flagged vessel that could accommodate the Left Coast Lifter created many logistical complexities and it was decided that the crane would be towed on its own barge.

At first, the LIU team was concerned since the barge was not intended for ocean travel and therefore lacked towing skegs and other structural components typically found on oceangoing barges.

But a detailed review of the plan with the client and contractors gave the LIU team confidence. In this instance, the sheer weight and size of the crane provided sufficient stability, and with the addition of a second tug on the barge’s stern, the LIU team, with its knowledge of barges and tugs, was confident the configuration was seaworthy and the barge would travel in a straight line. The team approved the plan and the crane began its successful voyage.

As impressive as the crane and its voyage were, it was just one piece in hundreds that needed to be underwritten and put in place for the Tappan Zee Bridge project to come off.

Time-Sensitive Quote

SponsoredContent_LIUThe rebuilding of the Tappan Zee Bridge, due to be completed in 2018, is the largest bridge construction project in the modern history of New York. The bridge is 3.1 miles long and will cost more than $3 billion to construct. The twin-span, cable-stayed bridge will be anchored to four mid-river towers.

When veteran contractors American Bridge, Fluor Corp., Granite Construction Northeast and Traylor Bros. formed a joint venture and won the contract to rebuild the Tappan Zee, one of the first things the consortium needed to do was find an insurance partner with the right coverages and technical expertise.

The Marsh broker, Ali Rizvi, Senior Vice President, working with the consortium, was well known to the LIU underwriting and engineering teams. In addition, Burford and the broker had worked on many projects in the past and had a strong relationship. These existing relationships were vital in facilitating efficient communication and data gathering, particularly given the scope and complexity of a project like the Tappan Zee.

And the scope of the project was indeed immense – more than 200 vessels, coming from all over the United States, would be moving construction equipment up the Hudson River.

An integrated team of LIU underwriters and risk engineers (including Burford, Phillips, Dollahon and Falcinelli) got to work evaluating the risk and the proper controls that the project required. Given the global scope of the project, the team’s ability to tap into their tight-knit global network of fellow LIU marine underwriters and engineers with deep industry relationships and expertise was invaluable.

In addition to the large number of vessels, the underwriting process was further complicated by many aspects of the project still being finalized.

“Because the consortium had just won this account, they were still working on contracts and contractors to finalize the deal and were unsure as to where most of the equipment and materials would be coming from,” Burford said.

Despite the massive size of the project and large number of stakeholders, LIU quickly turned around a quote involving three lines of marine coverage, Marine Liability, Project Cargo and Marine Hull & Machinery.

How could LIU produce such a complicated quote in a short period of time? It comes down to integrating risk engineers into the underwriting process, possessing deep industry experience on a global scale and having strong relationships that facilitate communication and trust.


Photo Credit: New York State Thruway Authority

When completed in 2018, the Tappan Zee will be eight lanes, with four emergency pullover lanes. Commuters sailing across it in their sedans and SUVs might appreciate the view of the Hudson, but they might never grasp the complexity of insuring three marine lines, covering the movements of hundreds of marine vessels carrying very expensive cargo.

Not to mention ferrying a 3,920-ton crane from coast to coast without a hitch.

But that’s what insurance does, in its quiet profundity.


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

LIU is part of the Global Specialty Division of Liberty Mutual Insurance.
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