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Risk Insider: Chris Mandel

Risk, Disrupted

By: | February 22, 2016 • 3 min read
Chris Mandel is SVP, strategic solutions for Sedgwick and Director of the Sedgwick Institute. He is a long-term risk management leader and a former president of RIMS. He can be reached at [email protected]

With increasing frequency, the world of risk and insurance is facing challenges that are leading to disruptive interventions from a variety of sources, the aggregate of which portends some significant shifts in an industry often viewed as being stuck in a lower gear.

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Well known and understood among underwriters is the challenge of the investment environment, which has been disrupted continuously since 2008 with returns being artificially suppressed by the federal government’s economic strategy. This fact only exacerbates the reality of the conservative investment limitations already imposed on the industry by regulators.

In the health care world, the Affordable Care Act has surely disrupted medical benefit plans. Most Americans have been accustomed to leveraging their benefits to protect their assets from catastrophic health events and, perhaps to an even greater degree, manage their day-to-day medical costs.

While one of the few clear benefits of the ACA is the catastrophe protection enabled by the removal of aggregate expense caps (previously the lifetime maximum was $1 million in many plans), many other changes brought about by the ACA have been at a minimum, disruptive. Common sense would suggest you can’t expand an exposure and constrain an underwriter’s ability to charge the appropriate premium for risk underwritten, without a significant negative impact on premiums. Underwriting disrupted.

Disruption has the potential to drive innovation and improve the industry for the better as players are forced to respond to with ideas and solutions that are often outside [the box].

We find ourselves inexplicably surprised that the $2,500 average savings promised by the administration has been anything but the reality. In fact, just the opposite is emerging for many who are not eligible for subsidies (estimated by the CBO to be over $300B in 2016).  Corporate medical/benefits budgets and planning continue to be disrupted while benefit levels are reduced and/or premium increases are increasingly common.

In the property/casualty world, two new exposures are fanning the flames of the unknowns for underwriters. First, social media risk emerges as a potentially more damaging source of loss than even more well-known and better understood exposure to hacking. The latest example is hot off the press with Kalobios filing for chapter 11 after its CEO used both regular and social media to trumpet his decision to exploit the pricing of a newly deregulated drug to the detriment of the customer. This rapidly led to disclosures of alleged criminal (yet unrelated) conduct, leading to the CEO’s firing and now the demise of another potentially great company.

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Total elapsed time from first negative media to bankruptcy: three months.

Another emerging exposure of growing concern is “domestic” terrorism. Since Ft. Hood, San Bernardino, the Boston Marathon and other assorted instances of targeted violence in recent years, domestic terrorism is becoming more “expected” than one would have hoped, yet the industry’s ability to predict the impact or severity remains limited.

Assessing and pricing exposures accurately where there is insufficient historical data to support conclusions is a challenge for an industry so heavily reliant on data to accurately price risk. Disruption looks to be evolving into a more frequent and accelerating characteristic of this industry.

While challenging, disruption has the potential to drive innovation and improve the industry for the better as players are forced to respond to with ideas and solutions that are often outside the typical considerations of an industry constrained by regulation and the vagaries of new and often poorly understood exposures. Accordingly, I see disruption as a necessary sign of likely progress ahead.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

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]