The Profession

Jane Sandler

At McKesson, Jane Sandler blends her passions for risk management and health care to help the organization develop innovative, forward-thinking solutions.
By: | December 14, 2016 • 4 min read

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R&I What was your first job?

My first paycheck came from bagging groceries at Kroger. I didn’t have a car and had to walk to work. My ultimate goal was to save enough money for my first car. The very car I later drove to my first insurance job in an underwriting department. It was a great feeling.

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

Growing up in a state-controlled environment of the former Soviet Union, risk management was not on my radar. I have always had a passion for health care as it touches and influences the lives of so many. I was pre-med when a friend told me about her major – risk management and insurance. It seemed fascinating.

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

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One of the things I appreciate the most about our industry is the depth of relationships. Trust and integrity are crucial. Risk managers form long-standing partnerships with insurers and other industry colleagues, enabling us to support each other and excel during challenging times.

At the core of everything risk managers do lays the desire to prevent injuries, enable new opportunities and protect our enterprise against volatility.

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

We could do a better job of attracting young talent. There is a stigma associated with the insurance industry — it’s perceived as boring, and that could not be further from the truth. I’ve been stretched and challenged every step of the way and feel that this is one of the more engaging professions.

I serve on the board of trustees for the Georgia State University Risk Management Foundation and one of our strategic initiatives focuses on educating college recruits on the breadth of opportunities afforded by our industry.

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, risk managers have made a huge move from being “insurance and claim guys” to becoming a trusted business adviser to the C-suite. We’ve embraced that we cannot eliminate or insure all risk. Risk-taking is an essential part of any business opportunity. But what we can do is partner with key stakeholders to better understand the risk and empower innovative solutions.

R&I What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

It’s the risks associated with new technological breakthroughs and legislative developments. Most recent examples in the health care industry are interconnectivity and value-based reimbursements. In the early stages of any initiative, much is undefined.

R&I Who is your mentor and why?

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I have been very lucky to meet many colleagues along the way that have opened doors, given me a chance and shared their expertise. Deanna Allen gave me my first opportunity in health care risk management, welcomed me with open arms, pushed me and really helped me grow in my early career.

Another individual who comes to mind is Allan Bogenschutz. He’s one of the best colleagues you could have, always willing to share his candid feedback. Allan has been a great sounding board and adviser to me over the years.

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

Having emigrated here at the age of 17 from Ukraine, successfully establishing a new life is a point of both pride and immense gratitude to everyone who helped me along the way.  I am appreciative of the freedom and opportunities this country affords to anyone who’s willing to work hard and apply themselves.

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

Riding on an ATV with my husband. It was all fun and games until he flipped us over. So, my zip-lining experience, in comparison, was very safe.

R&I What is your favorite book or movie?

“Kafka on the Shore” by Haruki Murakami.

R&I What is your favorite drink?

Absinth.

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

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Travel is my escape and it is hard to narrow down the wonders of the world to just one. I would say for architecture it’s the magic of Gaudi’s Barcelona. For nature, it’s the grandeur of the Alps.

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

The most fulfilling part is blazing new trails and developing innovative solutions to support my company’s growth. I am very grateful for the opportunity McKesson has afforded me in leading the risk management department in a new direction. I am lucky to have an incredibly talented global team.

We are very focused on quantification of risk in a way that is easy to communicate across the organization. McKesson’s leadership team values the role and contribution of the risk management function.

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

I talk about it so much, I am pretty sure they know exactly what I do! To my kids, I explained that it’s planning in advance and having a plan B. Last time we were at the beach in the fall, their shoes got soaking wet and we had a spare pair in the car. I think they got it.




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

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

High Net Worth

High Net Worth Clients Live in CAT Zones. Here’s What Their Resiliency Plan Should Include

Having a resiliency plan and practicing it can make all the difference in a disaster.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 7 min read

Packed with state-of-the-art electronics, priceless collections and high-end furnishings, and situated in scenic, often remote locations, the dwellings of high net worth individuals and families pose particular challenges when it comes to disaster resiliency. But help is on the way.

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Armed with loss data, innovative new programs, technological advances, and a growing army of niche service-providers aimed at addressing an astonishingly diverse set of risks, insurers are increasingly determined to not just insure against their high net worth clients’ losses, but to prevent them.

Insurers have long been proactive in risk mitigation, but increasingly, after the recent surge in wildfire and storm losses, insureds are now, too.

“Before, insurance was considered the only step in risk management. Now, our client families realize it is one of the many imperative steps in an effective risk management strategy,” said Laura Sherman, founding partner at Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.

And especially in the high net worth space, preventing that loss is vastly preferable to a payout, for insurers and insureds alike.

“If insurers can preserve even one house that’s 10 or 20 or 40 million dollars … whatever they have spent in a year is money well spent. Plus they’ve saved this important asset for the client,” said Bruce Gendelman, chairman and founder Bruce Gendelman Insurance Services.

High Net Worth Vulnerabilities

Laura Sherman, founding partner, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

As the number and size of luxury homes built in vulnerable areas has increased, so has the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, including hurricanes, harsh cold and winter storms, and wildfires.

“There is a growing desire to inhabit this riskier terrain,” said Jason Metzger, SVP Risk Management, PURE group of insurance companies. “In the western states alone, a little over a million homes are highly vulnerable to wildfires because of their proximity to forests that are fuller of fuel than they have been in years past.”

Such homes are often filled with expensive artwork and collections, from fine wine to rare books to couture to automobiles, each presenting unique challenges. The homes themselves present other vulnerabilities.

“Larger, more sophisticated homes are bristling with more technology than ever,” said Stephen Poux, SVP and head of Risk Management Services and Loss Prevention for AIG’s Private Client Group.

“A lightning strike can trash every electronic in the home.”

Niche Service Providers

A variety of niche service providers are stepping forward to help.

Secure facilities provide hurricane-proof, wildfire-proof off-site storage for artwork, antiques, and all manner of collectibles for seasonal or rotating storage, as well as ahead of impending disasters.

Other companies help manage such collections — a substantial challenge anytime, but especially during a crisis.

“Knowing where it is, is a huge part of mitigating the risk,” said Eric Kahan, founder of Collector Systems, a cloud-based collection management company that allows collectors to monitor their collections during loans to museums, transit between homes, or evacuation to secure storage.

“Before, insurance was considered the only step in risk management. Now, our client families realize it is one of the many imperative steps in an effective risk management strategy.” — Laura Sherman, founding partner, Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

Insurers also employ specialists in-house. AIG employs four art curators who advise clients on how to protect and preserve their art collections.

Perhaps the best known and most striking example of this kind of direct insurer involvement are the fire teams insurers retain or employ to monitor fires and even spray retardant or water on threatened properties.

High-Level Service for High Net Worth

All high net worth carriers have programs that leverage expertise, loss data, and relationships with vendors to help clients avoid and recover from losses, employing the highest levels of customer service to accomplish this as unobtrusively as possible.

“What allows you to do your job best is when you develop that relationship with a client, where it’s the same people that are interacting with them on every front for their risk management,” said Steve Bitterman, chief risk services officer for Vault Insurance.

Site visits are an essential first step, allowing insurers to assess risks, make recommendations to reduce them, and establish plans in the event of a disaster.

“When you’re in a catastrophic situation, it’s high stress, time is of the essence, and people forget things,” said Sherman. “Having a written plan in place is paramount to success.”

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Another important component is knowing who will execute that plan in homes that are often unoccupied.

Domestic staff may lack the knowledge or authority to protect the homeowner’s assets, and during a disaster may be distracted dealing with threats to their own homes and families. Adequate planning includes ensuring that whoever is responsible has the training and authority to execute the plan.

Evaluating New Technology

Insurers use technologies like GPS and satellite imagery to determine which homes are directly threatened by storms or wildfires. They also assess and vet technologies that can be implemented by homeowners, from impact glass to alarm and monitoring systems, to more obscure but potentially more important options.

AIG’s Poux recommends two types of vents that mitigate important, and unexpected risks.

“There’s a fantastic technology called Smart Vent, which allows water to flow in and out of the foundation,” Poux said. “… The weight of water outside a foundation can push a foundation wall in. If you equalize that water inside and out at the same level, you negate that.”

Another wildfire risk — embers getting sucked into the attic — is, according to Poux, “typically the greatest cause of the destruction of homes.” But, he said, “Special ember-resisting venting, like Brandguard Vents, can remove that exposure altogether.”

Building Smart

Many disaster resiliency technologies can be applied at any time, but often the cost is fractional if implemented during initial construction. AIG’s Smart Build is a free program for new or remodeled homes that evolved out of AIG’s construction insurance programs.

Previously available only to homes valued at $5 million and up, Smart Build recently expanded to include homes of $1 million and up. Roughly 100 homes are enrolled, with an average value of $13 million.

“In the high net worth space, sometimes it takes longer potentially to recover, simply because there are limited contractors available to do specialty work.” — Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting, Private Client Group, Ironshore

“We know what goes wrong in high net worth homes,” said Poux, citing AIG’s decades of loss data.

“We’re incenting our client and by proxy their builder, their architects and their broker, to give us a seat at the design table. … That enables us to help tweak the architectural plans in ways that are very easy to do with a pencil, as opposed to after a home is built.”

Poux cites a remote ranch property in Texas.

Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting, Private Client Group, Ironshore

“The client was rebuilding a home but also installing new roads and grading and driveways. … The property was very far from the fire department and there wasn’t any available water on the property.”

Poux’s team was able to recommend underground water storage tanks, something that would have been prohibitively expensive after construction.

“But if the ground is open and you’ve got heavy equipment, it’s a relatively minor additional expense.”

Homes that graduate from the Smart Build program may be eligible for preferred pricing due to their added resilience, Poux said.

Recovery from Loss

A major component of disaster resiliency is still recovery from loss, and preparation is key to the prompt service expected by homeowners paying six- or seven-figure premiums.

Before Irma, PURE sent contact information for pre-assigned claim adjusters to insureds in the storm’s direct path.

“In the high net worth space, sometimes it takes longer potentially to recover, simply because there are limited contractors available to do specialty work,” said Curt Goetsch, head of underwriting for Ironshore’s Private Client Group.

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“If you’ve got custom construction or imported materials in your house, you’re not going to go down the street and just find somebody that can do that kind of work, or has those materials in stock.”

In the wake of disaster, even basic services can be scarce.

“Our claims and risk management departments have to work together in advance of the storm,” said Bitterman, “to have contractors and restoration companies and tarp and board services that are going to respond to our company’s clients, that will commit resources to us.”

And while local agents’ connections can be invaluable, Goetsch sees insurers taking more of that responsibility from the agent, to at least get the claim started.

“When there is a disaster, the agency’s staff may have to deal with personal losses,” Goetsch said. &

Jon McGoran is a novelist and magazine editor based outside of Philadelphia. He can be reached at [email protected]