2017 Risk All Star: Tim Liberty

Creating Positive Vibrations in the Claims Department

Experiencing a period of rapid growth, Tampa’s Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners recognized that it needed a dedicated claims department, and wanted someone with workers’ comp experience to lead it. Tim Liberty, then a senior claim specialist for Liberty Mutual and a former Marine, fit the bill perfectly.

Tim Liberty, senior claims consultant, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Liberty came on board in 2015, and began building the new department’s processes and procedures from the ground up. BKS clients appreciated the changes right away.

“Our clients generally don’t have a risk manager, and they definitely don’t have [an internal] claims person, so I’ve been their go-to,” said Liberty, “which has relieved a lot of stress on the CFOs and the HR managers that we deal with.”

But Liberty had a bigger vision in mind for the department. Having worked on the other side of claims, Liberty understood how important it is to have positive working relationships with adjusters. So he took the time to say thank you, beginning with an adjuster who’d helped him lower a client’s loss ratio from 120 to 39 percent, lowering their experience mod and saving the client a significant amount of money.

Liberty sent the adjuster a framed certificate of appreciation, signed by founding partner Lowry Baldwin. It might seem like a small thing, but it meant a lot to the adjuster. Liberty said it’s still hanging on her wall.

“I’ve been in the trenches,” said Liberty.

“I know most people don’t like adjusters because they work for the ‘nasty insurance company’ and they deny claims and all of that. But I understand the role and I wanted to appreciate my adjusters as much as possible.”

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Liberty will routinely send small thoughtful gifts and thank-you notes to adjusters who go the extra mile, and he makes sure their supervisors hear about it as well. He sent the chief claims officer of a major carrier an email complimenting the work of an adjuster who’d done an excellent job handing a claim.

“She was kind of taken aback,” he said, “because the chief claims officer normally only gets the angry emails.”

“I’ve been in the trenches. I know most people don’t like adjusters because they work for the ‘nasty insurance company’ and they deny claims and all of that.” — Tim Liberty, senior claims consultant, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Carriers appreciate how Liberty and BKS treat their adjusters, and the positive vibe extends to the larger relationship that BKS has with its carriers. BKS has been able to ask for — and get — dedicated adjusters on certain accounts, and acceptance of special claims handling instructions that might go beyond what a carrier will normally agree to.
Because of the bonds that Liberty has forged with adjusters and carriers, he knows he can ask them to go above and beyond in terms of customer service.

“I’m able to get that done because they see what I do with their adjusters and that I recognize them,” said Liberty, and it’s also because BKS — and its clients — are growing at a healthy pace.

“They like BKS. They like doing business with us — I think we do business the right way. They want to keep us happy and grow with us as well. Everybody [is] on the same page and they want to grow together, so it hasn’t been too hard of a sell.” &

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

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

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]