The Milestone Approach: One Construction Risk Manager’s Award-Winning Method to Effective Claims Management
One large claim can be stressful enough, but three builder’s risk claims, three subcontractor defaults and a bond claim all reaching in excess of 7-figures? That can be overwhelming to say the least.
But Dave Glasser, vice president for contractor Moss & Associates and a 2019 Risk All Star winner, kept his cool throughout the process.
“These claims arose in a cascading way. One month, a subcontractor defaulted on a multi-family build. A few weeks later came a builder’s risk claim, and so on. We saw the hits keep coming, but we worked hard to stay ahead and get our arms around them,” Glasser explained.
To stay ahead, Glasser worked on getting leadership’s attention.
It was vital he could draw resources from the company and rely on the extraordinary team Moss had built.
“The risk management department is great,” he said.
“We know insurance and have an understanding of what’s needed to document a claim. But [in this instance] risk management alone wouldn’t have been successful unless we had the operations team backing us.”
Constant communication with their broker, keeping everyone in the loop and tackling each issue in real time kept the twists and turns at bay.
In construction, open claims can add a double whammy of uncertainty. Not only is the team trying to manage the claim, they are also working to honor owner contracts and complete their current projects on time.
“You know the old adage, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time,” said Scott Trethewey, who acted as a co-broker of placement and assisted Glasser throughout the claims process.
“The adjuster has this unique position of hindsight,” explained Trethewey. “But for the people dealing with the claim as it’s happening, they’re looking at several issues at a time. It was critical to have someone like Dave on these claims.”
Glasser was preparing the documentation and working with the operations teams to look ahead to where the claim could land. He reviewed everything and kept constant communication with the insurance companies.
“There can be a lot of second guessing when you’re in the throes of a claim, but Dave’s work ethic wasn’t to be questioned. He didn’t waver. He was there every day,” Trethewey said.
Keeping morale up became paramount.
“Operations folks are excited to be on a new project and want to be creative and do a good job,” explained Glasser.
“With a claim, it almost feels like we’re bringing them back to the scene of the crime over and over again, which is a morale killer.
“We needed to make the operations teams feel empowered to complete their ongoing project tasks while also balancing the open claims at hand.”
Glasser took what he called the milestone approach. He said it wasn’t realistic for his team to power through the claims, but rather to take it one step at a time.
“If we did it the other way, operations would never want to work with us again,” he said.
“He kept his eye on the low-hanging fruit and went through the easier tasks first, while working his way up to the big stuff,” said Trethewey.
This way, Glasser kept operations engaged and incentivized to keep going. They had little victories along the way, and although the process was long, it felt like things were always moving forward.
In the end, Glasser’s efforts paid off: Now, risk management has a more integrated role in operations at Moss & Associates.
“The process may have been painful at points,” said Glasser, “but it was a case study in balance. It would have been easy to have a knee-jerk reaction and say, ‘We’re going to clip operations’ wings.’ But that’s not the right approach.
“It’s more difficult to sit down and pinpoint the issues and try to find solutions for the next time, but that’s the right way to do it.” &
Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, clarity of vision and passion.