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Column: Roger's Soapbox

Perspective | Dear Adjuster, I Need to File a Hedgehog Claim

By: | August 30, 2018 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Modern journalism means lists. Rather than provide facts, newspapers offer ‘listicles’ of the ‘10 Best Places to Eat Pigeons’ or ‘Actors You Didn’t Know Were Fat.’

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Insurance has a branch of this nonsense all its own, one which predates the Internet: the endless lists of supposedly true “funny” insurance claims. Motorists have always provided the bulk of the material.

You know the sort of thing. “Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don’t have.” Or “A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.”

Real claims are funnier. To make a point, a lawyer set fire to his pants (claim denied). A tourist in Athens ran helter-skelter into a bus shelter after ogling some women in bikinis (50 percent paid). Last week, I fell over a hedgehog.

Yes, I fell over a hedgehog. In my own living room. I’m not usually that close to nature; I live in an apartment on the 99th floor of my block.

(Well, the 9th. But still.)

Having recovered from the trauma and removed the blood from the carpet, I sat down to decide where the all-risks policy might be. I have an immaculate filing system. Without exception, everything is somewhere at all times.

Where was I? Oh yes, the hedgehog. It’s ceramic but looks convincingly like an actual hedgehog. I use it as a doorstop. It makes the place look kooky.

I had occasion to move the hedgehog one day, to stop another door from closing automatically. For insurance reasons, all my internal doors are fire doors, which slam shut whether you want them to or not — the original closed-door policy.

On the first possible occasion, I damaged my toe on the hedgehog. Fell over the bloody thing. It was painful. The irony didn’t help. There I was saving the planet for the hedgehogs, in my own way, and the damn thing tore a hole in my pinky toe, the one that went wee-wee-wee all the way home.

Mine went squelch, squelch, squelch all the way to the bathroom, and when I had stanched the wound, I discovered that I had bled at intervals on the new hall carpet. Being middle-class can be so very stressful.

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Having recovered from the trauma and removed the blood from the carpet, I sat down to decide where the all-risks policy might be. I have an immaculate filing system. Without exception, everything is somewhere at all times.

On that basis, I have every piece of paper that’s ever come my way, such as expired vacuum cleaner warranties for vacuums I no longer have. I’d have to wade through cabinets full of paper I was sure I’d never need to look at again, but kept because, in Fats Waller’s words, “one never know, do one?”

Luckily, at the last possible moment before I had to start the equally time-consuming search for the keys to the filing cabinets, I remembered that I didn’t need the policy after all. I had opted for a $100,000 deductible on my hedgehog coverage. After all, how likely is it that I would suffer a hedgehog-related injury in an apartment in the sky?

Let this be many lessons to you. Buy doors that stay open, even if they kill you in the end. Take smaller deductibles. Buy child-proof doorstops. Be kind to hedgehogs. You’re welcome. &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2018 Risk All Stars

Stop Mitigating Risk. Start Conquering It Like These 2018 Risk All Stars

The concept of risk mastery and ownership, as displayed by the 2018 Risk All Stars, includes not simply seeking to control outcomes but taking full responsibility for them.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 3 min read

People talk a lot about how risk managers can get a seat at the table. The discussion implies that the risk manager is an outsider, striving to get the ear or the attention of an insider, the CEO or CFO.

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But there are risk managers who go about things in a different way. And the 2018 Risk All Stars are prime examples of that.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Goodyear’s Craig Melnick had only been with the global tire maker a few months when Hurricane Harvey dumped a record amount of rainfall on Houston.

Brilliant communication between Melnick and his new teammates gave him timely and valuable updates on the condition of manufacturing locations. Melnick remained in Akron, mastering the situation by moving inventory out of the storm’s path and making sure remediation crews were lined up ahead of time to give Goodyear its best leg up once the storm passed and the flood waters receded.

Goodyear’s resiliency in the face of the storm gave it credibility when it went to the insurance markets later that year for renewals. And here is where we hear a key phrase, produced by Kevin Garvey, one of Goodyear’s brokers at Aon.

“The markets always appreciate a risk manager who demonstrates ownership,” Garvey said, in what may be something of an understatement.

These risk managers put in gear their passion, creativity and perseverance to become masters of a situation, pushing aside any notion that they are anything other than key players.

Dianne Howard, a 2018 Risk All Star and the director of benefits and risk management for the Palm Beach County School District, achieved ownership of $50 million in property storm exposures for the district.

With FEMA saying it wouldn’t pay again for district storm losses it had already paid for, Howard went to the London markets and was successful in getting coverage. She also hammered out a deal in London that would partially reimburse the district if it suffered a mass shooting and needed to demolish a building, like what happened at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.

2018 Risk All Star Jim Cunningham was well-versed enough to know what traditional risk management theories would say when hospitality workers were suffering too many kitchen cuts. “Put a cut-prevention plan in place,” is the traditional wisdom.

But Cunningham, the vice president of risk management for the gaming company Pinnacle Entertainment, wasn’t satisfied with what looked to him like a Band-Aid approach.

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Instead, he used predictive analytics, depending on his own team to assemble company-specific data, to determine which safety measures should be used company wide. The result? Claims frequency at the company dropped 60 percent in the first year of his program.

Alumine Bellone, a 2018 Risk All Star and the vice president of risk management for Ardent Health Services, faced an overwhelming task: Create a uniform risk management program when her hospital group grew from 14 hospitals in three states to 31 hospitals in seven.

Bellone owned the situation by visiting each facility right before the acquisition and again right after, to make sure each caregiving population was ready to integrate into a standardized risk management system.

After consolidating insurance policies, Bellone achieved $893,000 in synergies.

In each of these cases, and in more on the following pages, we see examples of risk managers who weren’t just knocking on the door; they were owning the room. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.

See the complete list of 2018 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]