Risk Management

The Profession

David Hornaday knows risk managers have to be more fluent and competent in the financial world. Just procuring insurance isn’t enough anymore.
By: | August 3, 2016 • 4 min read

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R&I: What was your first job?

Working as a signalman for Consolidated Rail Corp. I did that for about a year and a half before I got my first risk management job as a claims agent for ConRail. That was a self-insured company, so they administered their own claims.

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

ConRail got acquired by two different railroads and was split up, so I had the opportunity to either go with one of the railroads or look outside for another position, and I wanted to do more than just work with claims. I wanted to be exposed to the corporate risk management side of things. So I found a job as a risk manager for Suburban Propane in Whippany, N.J.

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

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We’re working closely with brokers and underwriters and communicating internally to bring the insurance expertise to companies that need it.

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

Risk managers should be aware of non-traditional risks and focusing on ERM, versus just the traditional insurance procurement function. That’s where the future of our profession is going.

R&I:: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

This is a little self-serving, but I thought Vancouver in 2011 was great because I had never been there but always wanted to go.

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

Risk managers have to be more fluent and competent in the financial world. Just procuring insurance isn’t enough anymore. You have to have a basic level of financial knowledge to communicate with not only internal treasury and CFOs, but also with underwriters and insurers.

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

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Social engineering. The onslaught of fraudsters is relentless. Companies have to be vigilant. But the coverage surrounding that sort of risk is also emerging, so risk managers will have to pay close attention to that and keep up with that evolving coverage.

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

We had a major loss recently and there was a handful of insurers who paid on that claim which I thought were exceedingly professional: ACE (now Chubb), Ironshore and XL (now XL Catlin).

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?

We use a broker for everything.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

It probably was a little bit overblown, but I think it’s good that things are more transparent now.

R&I: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economy or pessimistic and why?

I’m probably a little more pessimistic than optimistic. I just don’t see signs of strength out there. There are still companies with tons of cash outside the U.S. which can’t really bring it back in a way that makes sense. U.S. oil production is way down since the price of oil is so low.  Of course, the lower gas prices help the average consumer and lowers overhead costs for businesses, so it’s a little bit of a mixed bag.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

My mentor in this business is Joe Racansky. He was the director of risk management and my boss at CyTec Industries, and I learned as much from him as anybody in my career.

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

Successfully resolving claims stemming from the Lac-Megantic train derailment in 2013.

R&I: How many e-mails do you get in a day?

I’d say about 100.

R&I: How many do you answer?

All the important ones.

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

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Prime 112 in South Beach, Miami. It was the freshest tuna I’ve ever had, and it was with the team from Aon, so it was great food and great company.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

Gin and tonic.

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

My favorite movie is “Bull Durham.” It’s a baseball movie.

R&I: Who’s your favorite baseball team?

The Cincinnati Reds.

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

Key West, Fla., is pretty interesting. My wife and I have been there a few times and you always see something different.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

I was moved by the Chris Kyle story. I thought his life and story were inspiring.

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

I think they think I just buy insurance, when it’s really more comprehensive than that. They don’t know about meeting with underwriters and contract review and working on M&A deals.




Katie Siegel is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Risk All Stars

Immeasurable Value

The 2017 Risk All Stars strengthened their organizations by taking ownership of improved risk management processes and not quitting until they were in place.
By: | September 12, 2017 • 3 min read

Being the only person to hold a particular opinion or point of view within an organization cannot be easy. Do the following sound like familiar stories? Can you picture yourself or one of your risk management colleagues as the hero or heroine? Or better yet, as a Risk & Insurance® Risk All Star?

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One risk manager took a job with a company that was being spun off, and the risk management program, which was built for a much larger company, was not a good fit for the spun-off company.
Rather than sink into inertia, this risk manager took the bull by the horns and began an aggressive company intranet campaign to instill better safety and other risk management practices throughout the organization.

The risk manager, 2017 Risk All Star Michelle Bennett of Cable One, also changed some long-standing brokerage relationships that weren’t a good fit for the risk management and insurance program. In her first year on the job she produced premium savings and in her second year is in the process of introducing ERM company-wide.

Or perhaps this one rings a bell. The news is trickling out that a company is poised to dramatically expand, increasing the workforce three- or four-fold. Having this knowledge with certainty would be a great benefit to a risk manager, who could begin girding safety, workers’ comp and related programs accordingly. But things sometimes don’t work that way, do they? Sometimes the risk manager is one of the last people to know.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance.

In the case of 2017 Risk All Star winner Steve Richards of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, the news of an expansion spurred him to action. He completely overhauled the company’s workers’ compensation program and streamlined its claim management system. The results, even with a much higher headcount, were reduced legal costs, better return-to-work experiences for injured workers and a host of other improvements and savings.

The Risk All Star Award recognizes at its core, creativity, perseverance and passion. The 13 winners of this year’s award all displayed those traits in abundance. Sometimes it took years for a particular risk solution, as promoted by a risk manager, to find acceptance.

In other cases a risk manager got so excited about a solution, they never even considered getting turned down. They just kept pushing until they carried the day.

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Butler University’s Zach Finn became obsessive about what he felt was a lackluster effort on the part of the insurance industry to bring in new talent. The former risk manager for the J.M. Smucker Co. settled on the creation of a student-run captive to give his risk management students the experience they would need to get hired right out of college.

The result was a better risk management program for the university’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and immediate traction in the job market for Finn’s students.

A few of our Risk All Stars told us that the results they are achieving were decades in the making. Only by year-in, year-out dedication to gaining transparency about her co-op’s risks and learning more and more about her various insurance carriers, did Growmark Inc.’s Faith Cring create a stalwart risk management and insurance program that is the envy of the agricultural sector. Now she’s been with some of her insurance carriers more than 20 years — some more than 30 years.

Having the right idea and not having a home for it can be a lonely, frustrating experience. Having the creativity, the passion and perhaps, most importantly, the perseverance to see it through and get great results makes you a Risk All Star. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]