2016 NWCDC

Make a Decision and Move the Needle

American Airlines needed to take aggressive action to resolve 6,000 lingering workers' compensation claims.
By: | November 30, 2016 • 2 min read

U.S. Airways merged with American Airlines in 2013 to form the world’s largest airline. The high profile marriage also came with a large portfolio of complex and open workers’ compensation cases.

Jennifer Saddy, director of the combined airline’s workers’ compensation program, immediately set out to eliminate thousands of legacy claims. But there was no clear formula for her to follow to help fuse together the two distinct processes.

“The merging of cultures is really difficult,” Saddy said during a Nov. 30 NWCDC session, “Fostering a Claims Closure Culture to Swiftly Resolve the Difficult Challenges.” Saddy was joined in the discussion by Mark Pew, senior vice president of PRIUM.

With almost 6,000 lingering workers’ compensation claims, Saddy asked employees, the airline’s insurance carrier, lawyers, third party administrator, adjusters and medical support providers to find creative ways to satisfactorily settle claims as quickly as possible to the benefit of the employee.

“I found it to be a great opportunity,” Saddy said. “I have embraced this process and learned from it.”

Saddy’s approach required leadership support, employee empowerment, communication, accountability and teamwork, Pew said. All while clearly focused on taking care of their fellow employees.

This was no small job. The combined company has about 120,000 employees today with more than 11,000 injuries each year – about one injury every 43 minutes.

In the first year, American Airlines decreased its open claims by 20 percent and reduced claims that were two years or older by almost 30 percent.

“We gave our employees a sense of ownership,” Saddy said. “Settle your claim today … but we’re not going to continue with the status quo.”

“We encouraged employees to be creative and move claims forward,” Saddy said.

Today, American Airlines has about 3,340 claims and has greatly reduced pharmacy costs, litigation referrals and Medicare Set Aside costs.

Juliann Walsh is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Management

The Profession

After 20 years in the business, Navy Pier’s Director of Risk Management values her relationships in the industry more than ever.
By: | June 1, 2017 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

Working at Dominick’s Finer Foods bagging groceries. Shortly after I was hired, I was promoted to [cashier] and then to a management position. It taught me great responsibility and it helped me develop the leadership skills I still carry today.

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

While working for Hyatt Regency McCormick Place Hotel, one of my responsibilities was to oversee the administration of claims. This led to a business relationship with the director of risk management of the organization who actually owned the property. Ultimately, a position became available in her department and the rest is history.

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

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The risk management community is doing a phenomenal job in professional development and creating great opportunities for risk managers to network. The development of relationships in this industry is vitally important and by providing opportunities for risk managers to come together and speak about their experiences and challenges is what enables many of us to be able to do our jobs even more effectively.

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

Attracting, educating and retaining young talent. There is this preconceived notion that the insurance industry and risk management are boring and there could be nothing further from the truth.

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

In my 20 years in the industry, the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry are the various types of risk we look to insure against. Many risks that exist today were not even on our radar 20 years ago.

Gina Kirchner, director of risk management, Navy Pier Inc.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

FM Global. They have been our property carrier for a great number of years and in my opinion are the best in the business.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

I am optimistic that policies will be put in place with the new administration that will be good for the economy and business.

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

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The commercial risks that are of most concern to me are cyber risks, business interruption, and any form of a health epidemic on a global scale. We are dealing with new exposures and new risks that we are truly not ready for.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mother has played a significant role in shaping my ideals and values. She truly instilled a very strong work ethic in me. However, there are many men and women in business who have mentored me and have had a significant impact on me and my career as well.

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

I am most proud of making the decision a couple of years ago to return to school and obtain my [MBA]. It took a lot of prayer, dedication and determination to accomplish this while still working a full time job, being involved in my church, studying abroad and maintaining a household.

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

“Heaven Is For Real” by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. I loved the book and the movie.

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

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A French restaurant in Paris, France named Les Noces de Jeannette Restaurant à Paris. It was the most amazing food and brings back such great memories.

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

Israel. My husband and I just returned a few days ago and spent time in Jerusalem, Nazareth, Jericho and Jordan. It was an absolutely amazing experience. We did everything from riding camels to taking boat rides on the Sea of Galilee to attending concerts sitting on the Temple steps. The trip was absolutely life changing.

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

Many, many years ago … I went parasailing in the Caribbean. I had a great experience and didn’t think about the risk at the time because I was young, single and free. Looking back, I don’t know that I would make the same decision today.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I would have to say the relationships and partnerships I have developed with insurance carriers, brokers and other professionals in the industry. To have wonderful working relationships with such a vast array of talented individuals who are so knowledgeable and to have some of those relationships develop into true friendships is very rewarding.

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

My friends and family have a general idea that my position involves claims and insurance. However, I don’t think they fully understand the magnitude of my responsibilities and the direct impact it has on my organization, which experiences more than 9 million visitors a year.




Katie Siegel is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]