Risk Insider: Emily Cummins

Are You All In?

By: | July 16, 2014 • 2 min read
Emily Cummins is director of tax and risk management for the National Rifle Association, the global leader in firearms safety, education, and training. She is a past chair of the RIMS technology council and continues to promote RIMS as the most valuable society for risk professionals. She can be reached at [email protected]

Does the evidence show that your grocery products deliver a balance of nutritional health and affordable value? Do reports verify that your mining and mineral processing operations have improved safety and health conditions in the mines? Does over a century’s track record demonstrate that your organization’s safety, education, and training programs have successfully trained millions of people?

In other words, are you proud of your mission? Do you believe in what you do?

No matter your own line of business, you know why personally investing in your organization’s success makes a difference in the risk and insurance industry. Authenticity bolsters your credibility, while insincerity can undermine your reputation. Risk managers play a uniquely personal role in representing their organization’s risks to brokers and underwriters. Working closely with these partners will reveal you to be either genuine or artificial.

Cyber risk illustrates this theme. The complex web of data security, and privacy liability law and regulation drives organizations to manage cyber risk through an enterprise risk management (ERM) framework. In addition, enterprisewide dialogue about cyber risk management serves to highlight an organization’s own privacy philosophy. Safeguarding the personally identifiable information (PII) of our members and supporters demonstrates a commitment to privacy inherent to our mission as a membership association and civil rights advocate.

Such focus on security and privacy explains why we supported the American Civil Liberties Union with a friend of the court brief in their lawsuit over government surveillance through telephone metadata. The ACLU’s view is that certain mega-surveillance may strike at the core of Americans’ rights to privacy, free speech, and association.

Our brief in the ACLU matter argued that the government’s broad interpretation of its authority to collect information from private entities could effectively override legislative protections for privacy, such as provisions intended to block gun registration. Our lawyer, John Frazer of Virginia, also referred to potential abuse of data mining. Aggregating forms of data to perform inference analysis about individuals and portray their connections and networks could allow the easy identification of our members and other gun owners for unlawful purposes.

Respecting your own organization’s mission requires true understanding based on a risk manager’s independent professional judgments. To the skeptics who meet me through industry networking and continuing-education events, I can respond sincerely: If I did not believe in my association, I would not have invested such a significant portion of my career and life there.

Are YOU all in? If you are unable to answer that question as sincerely as we can, take the time to explore what motivates you when you wake up every morning.

Read all of Emily Cummins’ Risk Insider contributions

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.


That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.


Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]