Risk Insider: Dan Holden

In Praise of the Hippo

By: | October 1, 2014 • 2 min read
Dan Holden is Manager of Corporate Risk & Insurance for Daimler Trucks North America (formerly “Freightliner”). He manages the risk management program in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. He can be reached at [email protected]

When I was a fledging claims examiner, I was taught the universal file mantra: “Res Ipsa Loquitor” (the thing speaks for itself). In claims terms, it means the file should tell the story.

Not a difficult concept if you think about it. I suppose a less classy version would be, “if it ain’t written down, it didn’t happen.” But Res Ipsa Loquitor is more than just jotting down crib notes in a file. It’s about documenting the direction in which you are headed and why.

A second, equally important mantra came from a former claims manager who said, “… if you were hit by a bus, someone should be able to pick up your file and know exactly where you left off.” He went on to say that could only be achieved through clear, copious, and comprehensive documentation.

As a senior workers’ compensation claims consultant, I often dinged examiners for poorly documented files and a dearth of a memorialized thought process. Occasionally, their response was akin to, “well, obviously you don’t know Alaska comp!” (or whatever state I was auditing).

“… if you were hit by a bus, someone should be able to pick up your file and know exactly where you left off.”

While I realize they were just being defensive, they missed the point entirely. I wasn’t criticizing them for something statute-related; I was simply telling them they failed the Res Ipsa Loquitor test which is the most critical common denominator in all the various ‘Best Practice’ file criteria available.

An employer always has the right to know how/why a certain decision was made. Pronouncements made by insurance companies and TPAs — which obviously effect the employer — should never be made in a vacuum.

In my claims manager days, I came up with a whimsical way for my staff to “visualize” the documentation process. I called it “HIPPO.”

HIPPO
History: What happened? Who/what/where/how?
Issues: How serious was the injury? Is there time-loss involved?
Plan of Action: What is the examiner’s initial plan? Is return-to-work possible?
Procedure: How will the examiner begin the compensability process?
Outcome: What is the examiner’s best guess at this point?

Obviously, HIPPO would need to be revisited from time to time as the file matures and becomes more complicated. And, of course, the compensability aspect of the claim would be much different than a plan of action for ongoing medical management.

But you get the drift. And, yes, I found little plastic hippopotamuses which I placed on their desks to help them remember!

For the younger generation, who seem compelled to use social media to document what they had for breakfast, perhaps this concept will come easier.

Then again, documenting what you ate is a far cry from explaining why you chose that particular food item; why it was the best choice over all others; why it made financial sense; and what gastronomical ramifications might ensure because of said choice. Bon appétit.

Read all of Dan Holden’s Risk Insider contributions.

More from Risk & Insurance

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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.

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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.

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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. &

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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]