Column: Roger's Soapbox

Pardon, No Disruption

By: | February 20, 2018 • 3 min read
Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

The Internet doubles as the Great Disruptor. Businesses and practices that have plugged along, getting the job done in any number of fields, will soon be memories overtaken by the frantic rush to embrace the shiny new future.


CDs have been outmoded by downloads. Passports, we are told, will be replaced by data held on mobile phones. Robots will henceforth provide the appalling customer service we’re used to from humans.

Not every development is necessarily beneficial. In the rush to find electronic ways to do things, important matters are being overlooked. Privacy, for example.

You want a fair and considered legal system with due process and ‘innocent until proven guilty’ as basic tenets? Sorry. No longer available, thanks to the Digital Inquisition.

How about trustworthy media with editorial standards? Laughably old-fashioned. The mantra now is online or be damned. The truth has set itself free.

You want a bank account? In the UK, an early adopter, banks are closing branches nationwide, leaving many without banking facilities other than online. No computer? Too bad.

Insurance considers itself especially threatened as robots replace humans in the front office, having already taken charge of systems and claims denials at the back end.

Not every development is necessarily beneficial. In the rush to find electronic ways to do things, important matters are being overlooked. Privacy, for example.

All may not be lost. Take motor insurance. Tech companies are testing driverless vehicles, and not too many people have died as a result. One might conclude conclude that, in the near future, no vehicle will be driven by humans, nor will an automobile ever malfunction. Thus motor insurance must go the way of hunting and gathering insurance.

It won’t.

Think for a second. Divest your mind of the hype. To allow driverless vehicles to function properly, sensors must be installed on every road, bridge, overpass, underpass, tree, building, traffic light, pedestrian and other man-made or natural structure.

Cities encircled by a ring road, such as London (the M25) or Paris (the Peripherique), might eventually be wired in this way. In rural conditions, however, there are no buildings or fixtures on which to install the necessary equipment.


Some Scandinavian countries are doing away with cash, with Sweden leading the way. My bank manager hasn’t carried cash for years, he tells me, not even other people’s. The cash and specie insurance crowd must be doomed, no?


If the currency of currency ends, only those permitted to have bank accounts will survive. Since a chunk of every country’s population would not qualify for a bank account, the end of cash, and cash insurance, would be a death sentence for significant numbers of people. It’s not going to happen.

The ‘gun murder insurance’ that Lloyd’s sells via the National Rifle Association won’t be obsolete any time soon. The U.S. has more guns than people. They’ll insist on shooting something, even if it’s only robots or family members.

Much as we might wish for technology to replace everything, just for laughs, old habits die hard, as do sensible ones. Not everything can be replaced by an algorithm — and thank God for that. &

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]