2017 Power Broker

Workers’ Compensation

An Indispensable Partner

Christopher Bailey
Vice President
Willis Towers Watson, Greenville, S.C.

After decades coaching college football, Dave Roberts launched a new venture — Vital Care EMS, a South Carolina medical transportation company. There was a steep learning curve at first, and the company’s experience mod went “through the roof.”

Willis Towers Watson’s Christopher Bailey stepped in and analyzed Vital Care’s program top to bottom, identifying everything from quick-fix issues to long-term improvements. Roberts, the company’s president, credited Bailey with helping him turn things around.

“[He] helped us grow from five trucks and 20 people to 100 trucks and 400 people,” said Roberts. “He’s always given me great advice — even when I don’t want to listen to him.”

Roberts said the company could never have grown so fast without Bailey.

“We’ve been approached by every person in the state to [change brokers] and I won’t even go there,” he said. “I have the highest regard for him.”


“He is the bomb,” said Dustin Pelletier, franchise owner and operator of the Big Air Trampoline Park in Spartanburg, S.C. Pelletier said Bailey had never worked with a trampoline park before. But he learned the industry so fast and so thoroughly that he soon found better insurance solutions than even Big Air corporate could offer.

“He got me better cover with less expensive premiums — better than corporate,” he said.

In fact it’s so good, said Pelletier, that corporate is asking, “Hey, can we get that guy’s number?”

A Champion for Small Employers

Riley Holman
Insurance Consultant
Dixie Leavitt, Cedar City, Utah

Dixie Leavitt’s Riley Holman understands that often the person managing workers’ comp for a small entity wears several other hats as well. That’s why he makes it a priority to streamline and simplify coverage as much as possible, while offering expert advice on safety improvements that won’t break the bank.

He also understands that even one workplace tragedy can turn a small business upside down in a moment.

Holman saw that playing out with a sand and gravel company in a tough position. A workplace accident had led to a double fatality and a large claim payout.

Carriers were not inclined to take the company on, and they were only able to find coverage with a nonstandard carrier, paying more for less coverage than they needed.

“We were practically uninsurable,” said the company president. “Other brokers said, ‘There’s almost nothing we can do.’ “


Holman disagreed. He knew of a standard carrier with an appetite for their business. He arranged for underwriters to do a loss control visit to better understand the actual exposures, as well as the measures the company was taking to prevent future incidents.

“Riley leveraged his relationships and brought the carriers out to see the operations and to show that the fatality didn’t tell the whole story,” said the company president.

The new program saved more than $100,000, rescuing the company from being slowly strangled by excessive premiums.

Crisis Averted

Linda Joski, CRM
Area Senior Vice President
Arthur J. Gallagher, Brookfield, Wis.

The Milwaukee Center for Independence was thrown for a loop with a substantial legislative change impacting the state’s workers’ comp law. The law specified that the entity providing financial management services would become the employer of record for workers’ comp purposes for workers providing long-term care benefits under programs administered by the state.

That put MCFI, a nonprofit, in the crosshairs, as the fiscal agent responsible for withholding income taxes for employees of one such program.

The law “would have meant we had to put 18,000 workers’ comp policies in place,” at an expense of about $2.9 million, said Rob Wedel, CFO and vice president of finance for MCFI. It’s a burden that could have buried MCFI. But Gallagher’s Linda Joski came to the rescue.


“Linda settled everybody down and got the right people in place, connected [the carrier] United Heartland and the state and got everyone on the same page with a viable solution,” Wedel said.

Joski helped arrange one master program for all participants involved, eliminating the administrative burden of single policies. Joski also negotiated using MCFI’s experience mod of .72 rather than the typical 1.00 used for new entities — resulting in additional savings of 28 percent (about $2.3 million).

Joski’s dedication and creativity “saved the state of Wisconsin about $5 million … it was just phenomenal,” said Wedel.

Bringing the ‘Wow’ Factor

Machelle McKenzie, CRM, CIC
Managing Director
Crystal & Company, Houston

Machelle McKenzie’s clients tend to talk about her in extremes — but in a good way.

“If she ever leaves, my business goes with her,” said Cheryl Wyatt, director of human resources for Stronghold Ltd. in La Porte, Texas. “There’s nothing she can’t answer, and I never have to wait for a response. I literally send emails at 2 in the morning … and I actually get her at 2 in the morning.”

Wyatt’s company split into two entities in early 2016, a complex undertaking with a high volume of moving parts.

“We wanted all of our billing to be separate,” said Wyatt. “Machelle had to split out the cost by entity. In particular for workers’ comp, that’s not easy … we work in almost every state.”


Wyatt was impressed with how quickly McKenzie was able to find a workable solution, not to mention how quickly she completed the project.

“She did it in a couple of weeks,” said Wyatt. “It would have taken me six months.”

Clients value McKenzie’s ability to assess every angle and identify substantive ways to help the business succeed.

For one client, McKenzie recently discovered and corrected a carrier reporting error, bringing the company’s experience mod down from .98 to a more manageable .80. For another, she got a letter of credit reduced from $990,000 to $200,000.

The Next Frontier in Claims Audits

Joe Picone, CPCU, AIC
Claim Consulting Practice Leader
Willis Towers Watson, Glen Allen, Va.

Jenny Novoa, director of risk management for The Gap, threw down the gauntlet for her broker, Willis Towers Watson’s Joe Picone: Help us find a better way to evaluate third-party administrators (TPAs). More specifically, Novoa wanted to measure TPA performance based on outcomes rather than using standard “best practice” audits.

“We had to figure out how to build a tool to do that,” said Novoa.

Picone rolled up his sleeves and dug in, recruiting additional stakeholders from Foot Locker, Saks Fifth Avenue and Corvel.

To build the new audit tool, Picone, Novoa and the team incorporated numerous factors into the claim process such as employee co-morbidities, failures in the return-to-work process and life events as well as the hiring process and performance management.


They completed audits using both the new tool and the old tool, and compared the results, which turned out to be a revelation. Using the traditional audit tool, some claims scored high even though they had poor outcomes, while some with good outcomes had lower scores.

For example, a file that received a perfect “100” score on a best practice audit may have exceeded expected medical disability guidelines by 400 percent.

Using the outcomes-based audit tool, there was a far higher correlation between high scores and good outcomes. It’s a “very cool tool,” said Novoa — the first of its kind in the industry.

Rolling Into Claims Success

Dennis Tierney
Director of Workers’ Compensation Claims
Marsh, New York

Power Brokers love a challenge. Marsh’s Dennis Tierney got that and more when he took on Motivate International as a client. A global bike share leader, Motivate International partners with governments and brands in major cities around the world.

The company was at a crossroads after the acquisition of a troubled bike share operator. The acquired company, which didn’t have a risk management department, had amassed $10 million in claims in only three years.

“Our broker at the time was on cruise control,” said Grant Barkey, Motivate’s risk manager. “We needed somebody who was strong on claims, someone who understood our business.”

Barkey partnered with Tierney and his team at Marsh, and he is effusive when explaining how far things have come since then.

“My entire team is pretty rock star,” said Barkey. “[They] really turned around our claims and claims management.”


One key hurdle, said Barkey, was that carriers didn’t really understand the bike share business, which is a fairly young industry, or its sometimes nuanced exposure. But Tierney got it, Barkey said, and strove to make sure that carriers could wrap their heads around it.

The company ultimately ended up with a new carrier, said Barkey, and Tierney has been instrumental in ensuring that the carrier has a solid handle on Motivate International’s exposures. The company has made incredible strides in closing out open claims and setting up special handling agreements with the carrier.


Jeffrey Breskin
Crystal & Company, Los Angeles

Carol Murphy
Managing Director and Casualty Growth Leader
Aon, Chicago

Thomas Ryan
Managing Director
Marsh, New York City

Teri Weber
Spring Consulting Group, Boston

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 Water.org 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]