Risk Insider: Marilyn Rivers

If We Don’t Listen to What Climate Change Is Saying, We’re Doomed

By: | October 15, 2018 • 2 min read
Marilyn Rivers, CPCU, ARM, AIC, currently serves as the Director of Risk and Safety - City Safety and Compliance Officer for the City of Saratoga Springs, NY and is a Director at Large and Delegate for the Government and Public Sector Division of the National Safety Council. She can be reached at riskletters@lrp.com.

Historical mythology has long captured the four essential elements of human existence — earth, fire, water and air.


All have materially withstood the test of time, acting as factors in our continuing dialogue on how climate change impacts our earth’s ecosystem and our unending quest to control and manipulate it. Discussions on climate change often become heated and political as populations across the globe argue prosperity, population and preparedness.

In planning for emergency preparedness, I often mention “The Lorax” and the timeless lessons it teaches to generations as communities weigh prosperity against the cost of the totality of the pressures on our global environment. I get smirks when I say the Earth is a small, unique ecosystem that is getting tired in trying to accommodate humans’ present and future needs. That tiredness is seen in the increasing fierceness of Mother Nature and the weather patterns that threaten and test our ability to survive and overcome the hazards that global weather patterns present.

Meteorology has become an essential tool in our risk management toolbox. Changing weather patterns and temperature anomalies are warning precursors for emerging trends as we prepare for fiscal responsibility, emergency preparedness and the recognition of the capacity of aging infrastructure.

It’s a factor in promotional campaigns for tourism, product advancement, commodity replenishment and human responsibility. Community infrastructure needs to be critically examined for capacity and capability for catastrophic redundancy needs. Sewer, individual enterprise and pollution controls materially impact the earth, fire, water and air … and ultimately our capacity to thrive and survive.

It’s important to understand that emergency preparedness is scalable for weather events related to climate change. Understanding the needs of private and public entities in emergency preparedness assists us all in successfully weathering the storms that befall us. It is incumbent upon us as risk professionals to take the time to educate, explain and integrate resiliency into our risk mitigation efforts.


It’s imperative that we, as individuals, collectively combine those resiliency efforts for the totality of our survival as a human species.

As risk professionals plan, practice and promote climate awareness and preparedness, let us always remember the human factor tipping the scale of our reality. As humans, we are unique, reacting to the situations of our lives based upon the fabric of how we got to be. An old commercial once aired of a cowboy desperately trying to herd cats. The activation of emergency measures is often like that cat-herding exercise. Risk professionals constantly try to communicate, yet fail, because of the false courage and bravado of the populist who will always know better — even when they need to be rescued off the roof of their sinking home.

Breaking icebergs in Antarctica, rising sea levels on the continental coasts and anomalies in fierce freshwater storms in geographic regions where they’ve never been seen before are warnings for our generation to LISTEN to Mother Nature showing us how the changing climate of our planet ultimately impacts the survival of our present and future endeavors. &

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 dreynolds@lrp.com.