Risk Insiders are an unrivaled group of leading executives focused on the topic of Risk. They share their insights and opinions – and from time to time their pet peeves and gripes – on the Risk & Insurance website.
Each Risk Insider is invited to publish based on their expertise, passion and/or the quality of their writing. The only rules are no selling and no negative competitor mentions.
The topic of Risk is very broad and very complex. By inviting leading industry experts to share their insights we hope to provide a more complete perspective for our readers.
Risk Insiders are considered editorial contributors. As such, we are looking for individuals who want to publish their ideas, opinions or insights. Assistance from PR is great but we are not looking for ghost-written articles or corporate marketing perspectives.
Our primary target participants are Risk Managers, CFOs, Workers’ Comp Managers and other professionals responsible for risk mitigation for their companies.
Risk Insiders are free to write about any event, trend, opinion or other topic that is relevant to risk management or the insurance industry. There are no schedules or deadlines, write when you have something to say. Articles should be concise yet complete.
Some additional guidelines include:
- Do your own writing (review and editing by colleagues is fine).
- Original submissions only.
- Publish 2 times a year, minimum.
- Write from your own perspective, not your firm’s.
- Avoid heavy jargon or corporate-speak.
- Expressing complexity does not provide clarity. Keep it simple.
- No selling.
- No competitor put-downs.
- Be concise but complete. 500 words max.
- Pictures, graphics, videos, etc. are encouraged but not required.
How to apply
For more information and an application please contact us via email@example.com.
The Information Gap
All too often, we hear antidotes about circumstances where important information was not provided to the risk management team because of the fear of retribution or retaliation.
When that happens, we lose the opportunity to improve the organization’s performance. Particularly in health care, this leads to ineffective feedback for patient safety.
“Compassionate communication” encourages others to share and express their thoughts. It has been described as ensuring we hear the underlying values, needs, and fears of those we communicate with.
With compassionate communication — and the coaching and mentoring that follows — our colleagues will ensure that critical information is provided and that risk management can be seen as a partner.
Organizations that have a highly evolved risk culture have designed opportunities for this open dialogue. Approaching the risk culture with a mind-set linked to valuing and engaging the individual through compassionate communication still provides the necessary parameters around which we can protect the organization and mitigate risk.
A Hurtful Silence
We have heard stories about individuals who isolate after a mistake has been made or when their actions result in an untoward outcome because they believe that opening up to someone is a risk to themselves and their organization.
They silence their opportunities to process their feelings and emotions in exchange for safety from legal ramifications, believing they will be met with blame and criticism for their actions.
Yet, in a culture of compassionate communication, these doors are opened, and leaders can nurture the space between recognition and reporting to inspire, create hope, and engage employees in areas that might have been neglected in the past.
With compassionate communication, the culture is enhanced and enriched.
Each of our employees has the ability to see and report situations that could bring about risk to the organization, so visibility and approachability are crucial.
Using opportunities to seek information — explore what is keeping your employees up at night — and to provide education on a structured schedule demystifies the idea of who is behind the door.
Risk managers also need strong communication and conflict resolution skills.
While many risk managers understand the skills related to negotiation and mediation, we sometimes forget that we are working with human beings who bring their fears and hesitations when thinking about risks in our organizations.
Training risk managers in empathetic approaches, the principles of cooperative power, and sound communication skills will provide an infusion of compassionate communication within the risk culture where it is needed to ensure that the right thing is done on behalf of those served.
I was once told that it takes at least two years to fully develop trust in another individual. Trust at a level where no matter what the decision or action, support can be given indicates a trusting relationship.
Working to develop and solidify strategic relationships with risk management, through our use of empathy and compassion, will contribute to the kind of risk culture that benefits those serving the organization and those being served.
Read all of Terri Nichols’ Risk Insider contributions.
A Modern Claims Philosophy: Proactive and Integrated
According to some experts, “The best claim is the one that never happens.”
But is that even remotely realistic?
Experienced risk professionals know that in the real world, claims and losses are inevitable. After all, it’s called Risk Management, not Risk Avoidance.
And while no one likes losses, there are rich lessons to be gleaned from the claims management process. Through careful tracking and analysis of losses, risk professionals spot gaps in their risk control programs and identify new or emerging risks.
Aspen Insurance embraces this philosophy by viewing the data and expertise of their claims operation as a valuable asset. Unlike more traditional carriers, Aspen Insurance integrates their claims professionals into all of their client work – from the initial risk assessment and underwriting process through ongoing risk management consulting and loss control.
This proactive and integrated approach results in meaningful reductions to the frequency and severity of client losses. But when the inevitable does happen, Aspen Insurance claims professionals utilize their established understanding of client risks and operations to produce some truly amazing solutions.
“I worked at several of the most well known and respected insurance companies in my many years as a claims executive. But few of them utilize an approach that is as innovative as Aspen Insurance,” said Stephen Perrella, senior vice president, casualty claims, at Aspen Insurance.
“We do a lot of trending and data analysis to provide as much information as possible to our clients. Our analytics can help clients improve upon their own risk management procedures.”
– Stephen Perrella, Senior Vice President, Casualty Claims, Aspen Insurance
Utilizing claims expertise to improve underwriting
Acting as adviser and advocate, Aspen integrates the entire process under a coverage coordinator who ensures that the underwriters, claims and insureds agree on consistent, clear definitions and protocols. With claims professionals involved in the initial account review and the development of form language, Aspen’s underwriters have a full sense of risks so they can provide more specific and meaningful coverage, and identify risks and exclusions that the underwriter might not consider during a routine underwriting process.
“Most insurers don’t ever want to talk about claims and underwriting in the same sentence,” said Perrella. “That archaic view can potentially hurt the insurance company as well as their business partners.”
Aspen Insurance considered a company working on a large bridge refurbishment project on the West Coast as a potential insured, posing the array of generally anticipated construction-related risks. During underwriting, its claims managers discovered there was a large oil storage facility underneath the bridge. If a worker didn’t properly tether his or her tools, or a piece of steel fell onto a tank and fractured it, the consequences would be severe. Shutting down a widely used waterway channel for an oil cleanup would be devastating. The business interruption claims alone would be astronomical.
“We narrowed the opportunity for possible claims that the underwriter was unaware existed at the outset,” said Perrella.
Risk management improved
Claims professionals help Aspen Insurance’s clients with their risk management programs. When data analysis reveals high numbers of claims in a particular area, Aspen readily shares that information with the client. The Aspen team then works with the client to determine if there are better ways to handle certain processes.
“We do a lot of trending and data analysis to provide as much information as possible to our clients,” said Perrella. “Our analytics can help clients improve upon their own risk management procedures.”
For a large restaurant-and-entertainment group with locations in New York and Las Vegas, Aspen’s consultative approach has been critical. After meeting with risk managers and using analytics to study trends in the client’s portfolio, Aspen learned that the sheer size and volume of customers at each location led to disparate profiles of patron injuries.
Specifically, the organization had a high number of glass-related incidents across its multiple venues. So Aspen’s claims and underwriting professionals helped the organization implement new reporting protocols and risk-prevention strategies that led to a significant drop in glass-related claims over the following two years. Where one location would experience a disproportionate level of security assault or slip & fall claims, the possible genesis for those claims was discussed with the insured and corrective steps explored in response. Aspen’s proactive management of the account and working relationship with its principals led the organization to make changes that not only lowered the company’s exposures, but also kept patrons safer.
World-class claims management
Despite expert planning and careful prevention, losses and claims are inevitable. With Aspen’s claims department involved from the earliest stages of risk assessment, the department has developed world-class claims-processing capability.
“When a claim does arrive, everyone knows exactly how to operate,” said Perrella. “By understanding the perspectives of both the underwriters and the actuaries, our claims folks have grown to be better business people.
“We have dramatically reduced the potential for any problematic communication breakdown between our claims team, broker and the client,” said Perrella.
A fire ripped through an office building rendering it unusable by its seven tenants. An investigation revealed that an employee of the client intentionally set the fire. The client had not purchased business interruption insurance, and instead only had coverage for the physical damage to the building.
The Aspen claims team researched a way to assist the client in filing a third-party claim through secondary insurance that covered the business interruption portion of the loss. The attention, knowledge and creativity of the claims team saved the client from possible insurmountable losses.
Modernize your carrier relationship
Aspen Insurance’s claims philosophy is a great example of how this carrier’s innovative perspective is redefining the underwriter-client relationship. Learn more about how Aspen Insurance can benefit your risk management program at http://www.aspen.co/insurance/.
Stephen Perrella, Senior Vice President, Casualty, can be reached at Stephen.firstname.lastname@example.org.