Column: Roger's Soapbox

Empty Promises, Broken Trust

By: | March 5, 2018 • 2 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

The facts of the matter are simple enough. Friends — I’ll call them Jack and Jill — decided to sell the small local hotel they had run for years, found a buyer and set a sale date. In the period between the agreement and completion, the couple’s liability insurance had to be renewed. Jill explained to the broker about the sale and asked that the insurance be cancelled the day after the sale.


A few days before the sale, their attached living quarters accidentally caught fire. Jack had to jump through a closed window to survive and spent time in the hospital.

With calm restored, Jill called the broker to ask how to proceed. She was advised the insurance had been cancelled, per her wishes, the day before the fire, a few days ahead of the sale. Jill explained those had never been her wishes.

The broker has not produced evidence, written or recorded, of his position.

The sale completed a month late, the fire damage having been repaired at Jack and Jill’s cost. They also footed the bill for potential profits lost during the month of repairs. They coped well, but the unilateral cancellation of the insurance coverage rankled.

My friends asked me for help with their attempts to claim. It’s been an education for all of us.

Their brokerage washed its hands of the whole affair. One cannot take action against a broker for claims denial. Jack and Jill therefore wrote to the company with whom we believed they had a policy. The letter went unanswered.

That the insurer and broker have to this day not issued a cancellation notice is surely suggestive. That the “little man” stands at a grave disadvantage is self-evident.

Later, realizing that the carrier had changed, they wrote to the correct insurance company, asking for claims forms. No reply still.

One avenue remained: In the UK, a Financial Ombudsman has been set up to resolve complaints between financial service providers and their customers.

The Ombudsman’s forms were duly completed and sent away. Jack and Jill now await a ruling. They don’t expect to win, because they see themselves as the “little people” fighting a faceless bureaucracy. If the Ombudsman rules in favor of the insurer, they would have to sue to keep their claim alive.


That Jill would have cancelled the insurance in advance of the proposed sale makes no sense.

That the insurer and broker have to this day not issued a cancellation notice is surely suggestive.

That the “little man” stands at a grave disadvantage is self-evident.

Insurers generally have a bad reputation because they insist on sticking to the contracts signed by insureds.

In this case, if the insurer has done that, so be it. If the truth is otherwise, you might read about it in your newspaper one day. Either way, a lack of communication has occurred that boggles the mind.

People’s livelihoods and economic well-being depend on knowing where they stand. Jack and Jill didn’t, and they still don’t. How can that be the right way to do things? &

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

Janet Sheiner, VP of risk management and real estate at AMN Healthcare Services Inc., sees innovation as an answer to fast-evolving and emerging risks.
By: | March 5, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

As a kid, bagging groceries. My first job out of school, part-time temp secretary.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

Risk management picks you; you don’t necessarily pick it. I came into it from a regulatory compliance angle. There’s a natural evolution because a lot of your compliance activities also have the effect of managing your risk.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?


There’s much benefit to grounding strategic planning in an ERM framework. That’s a great innovation in the industry, to have more emphasis on ERM. I also think that risk management thought leaders are casting themselves more as enablers of business, not deterrents, a move in the right direction.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

Justified or not, risk management functions are often viewed as the “Department of No.” We’ve worked hard to cultivate a reputation as the “Department of Maybe,” so partners across the organization see us as business enablers. That reputation has meant entertaining some pretty crazy ideas, but our willingness to try and find a way to “yes” tempered with good risk management has made all the difference.

Janet Sheiner, VP, Risk Management & Real Estate, AMN Healthcare Services Inc.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego, of course!  America’s Finest City has the infrastructure, Convention Center, hotels, airport and public transportation — plus you can’t beat our great weather! The restaurant scene is great, not to mention those beautiful coastal views.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

The emergence of risk management as a distinct profession, with four-year degree programs and specific academic curriculum. Now I have people on my team who say their goal is to be a risk manager. I said before that risk management picks you, but we’re getting to a point where people pick it.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?


The commercial insurance market’s ability to innovate to meet customer demand. Businesses need to innovate to stay relevant, and the commercial market needs to innovate with us.  Carriers have to be willing to take on more risk and potentially take a loss to meet the unique and evolving risks companies are facing.

R&I: Of which insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion?

Beazley. They have been an outstanding partner to AMN. They are responsive, flexible and reasonable.  They have evolved with us. They have an appreciation for risk management practices we’ve organically woven into our business, and by extension, this makes them more comfortable with taking on new risks with us.

R&I: Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the U.S. health care industry and why?

I am very optimistic about the health care industry. We have an aging population with burgeoning health care needs, coupled with a decreasing supply of health care providers — that means we have to get smarter about how we manage health care. There’s a lot of opportunity for thought leaders to fill that gap.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Professionally, AMN Healthcare General Counsel, Denise Jackson, has enabled me to do the best work I’ve ever done, and better than I thought I could do.  Personally, my husband Andrew, a second-grade teacher, who has a way of putting things into a human perspective.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

In my early 20s, I set a goal for the “corner office.” I achieved that when I became vice president.  I received a ‘Values in Practice’ award for trust at AMN. The nomination came from team members I work with every day, and I was incredibly humbled and honored.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

The noir genre, so anything by Raymond Chandler in books. For movies,  “Double Indemnity,” the 1944 Billy Wilder classic, with insurance at the heart of it!

R&I: What is your favorite drink?


Clean water. Check out for how to help people enjoy clean, safe water.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant at which you’ve eaten?

Liqun Roast Duck Restaurant in Beijing.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

China. See favorite restaurant above. This restaurant had been open for 100 years in that location. It didn’t exactly have an “A” rating, and it was probably not a place most risk managers would go to.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

Eating that duck at Liqun!

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Dr. Seuss who, in response to a 1954 report in Life magazine, worked to reduce illiteracy among school children by making children’s books more interesting. His work continues to educate and entertain children worldwide.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

They’re not really sure!

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]