2017 NWCDC Preview

Leading With Technology

The newest educational track at NWCDC reflects the growing role of technology in the workers' comp environment.
By: | November 27, 2017 • 2 min read

The thought of “insurtech” inevitably disrupting established processes and familiar practices for purchasing insurance and managing claims may scare some workers’ compensation industry practitioners.


But insurtech also may deliver a positive impact, especially for those practitioners who learn to take advantage of the changes currently underway and those likely to arrive in the near future, said Jeffrey Austin White, Senior VP and product manager, workers’ compensation, at Gallagher Bassett.

White will speak on the topic during the 26th Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference & Expo to be held Dec. 6-8 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The former director of innovation at worker’s comp insurer AF Group is known for his forward thinking on how technology impacts insurance and workers’ comp, and its disruption of existing systems.

“Most people [negatively] look at insurtech as disruption,” White said. “I don’t want people to think of it as a bad thing. Because you can use it to your advantage.”

White’s presentation, titled “How Will Insurtech Impact the Claims World” will be part of the new Technology track added just this year to NWCDC’s other educational tracks that include Medical Management, Program Management, Legal/Regulatory, Disability Management and Claims Management.

NWCDC added the Technology track to help workers’ comp professionals gain an understanding of the emerging systems quickly becoming part of the workers’ compensation landscape.

In addition to speaking on using insurtech to one’s advantage, White said he also plans to detail where insurtech is entering workers’ comp and discuss new technologies that may become mainstream.

“Most people [negatively] look at insurtech as disruption. I don’t want people to think of it as a bad thing. Because you can use it to your advantage.” — Jeffrey Austin White, Senior VP and product manager, workers’ compensation, Gallagher Bassett

Part of his discussion aims to help his audience prepare for the future by highlighting technologies such as robotic process automation and its impact on insurance processes.

Staying true to NWCDC’s mission of providing practical educational session content, the Technology Track will also feature Travelers’ Melissa Burke, second VP, workers’ compensation, as well as Sangarapil Manoharan, an MD and regional chief of service, occupational medicine at Kaiser-On-The-Job.

They will discuss lessons they’ve learned along the road to implementing telemedicine.


The goal is to help attendees avoid pitfalls and learn how to gain maximum benefit when employing the telemed and telehealth technologies that are currently disrupting health care, Burke said.

“We will walk [attendees] through the perspective of the injured employee, the carrier, the employer and the provider,” Burke added.

Other NWCDC Technology Track sessions will include a review of the current state of mobile technology and use of apps in the workers’ comp claims world, existing wearable technology for injury prevention and post-loss claims management, and a look at how high-performance claims organizations apply technology.

The latter session will include speakers representing an employer, a TPA, an insurer and a medical management company.

Janine Kral, VP of risk management at Nordstrom, will open the conference with a keynote address titled “The Nordstrom Way: Boosting Injured-Worker Engagement.” Kral will share the retailer’s strategy for applying its famed customer-service culture to the care of injured workers.

NWCDC’s entire agenda and registration information are available online.

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]

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.


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.


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. &


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]