CLM’s Recent Conference Amply Illustrated How Claims Managers and Opposing Counsel Can Learn From Another

Insurance and risk experts gathered for three days of claims and litigation management education and networking in Tampa, Florida, at the end of March.
By: | April 28, 2023

Claims adjusters, leaders and litigation managers convened for the CLM Annual Conference in Tampa from March 29 to 31. With global leaders in attendance and a packed agenda featuring industry experts, pre-conference workshops and networking events, the conference had its share of compelling topics.

Conference attendees who arrived early participated in a coverage boot camp workshop or a session on fair claims negotiations. The events team also organized a 5K fun run, a golf outing, a spa event and a community service project to benefit a local charity. The venue at the JW Marriott Water Street in downtown Tampa provided a modern coastal backdrop with space for small and large meetings, networking and learning.

Once the conference officially began, registrants chose from 90 educational sessions, many offering CLE and CE credits. Sessions were designed to maximize roundtable discussions and audience participation while allowing speakers ample time to share their expertise. Most of the sessions included diverse viewpoints from different stakeholders in the claims process, like attorneys, claims leaders, forensic engineers and other experts.

“The sessions were organized to dive into scenarios from our practice in a way that allowed for each stakeholder’s perspective to be shared regarding each scenario,” said Jade Davis, attorney at law, Hall Booth Smith P.C.

“Listening to the perspectives of other professionals in this line of work is invaluable. Key takeaways from these sessions created opportunities to continue developing new relationships while also strengthening existing relationships.”

Recharge, Refocus and Reconnect at AC23

Perhaps one of the best reasons to attend in-person conferences in the risk and insurance field is the opportunity for networking and learning outside of each session. The exhibition hall, charging stations and lounges were set up to facilitate collaboration and encourage first-time attendees and veteran participants to connect.

Attendees filled their agendas from an extensive list of educational sessions covering cyber claims, environmental litigation, product liability, coverage issues, cannabis claims and nuclear verdicts. Some sessions helped attendees with nonverbal communication skills, negotiation tactics and how to work effectively with claims experts.

One session that captured much attention covered how to tell if a witness is lying in court and ways to get to the truth. Another was an interactive workshop where participants used various tools to simulate hail damage to roof shingles — a fun way to learn about the differences between types of roof damage, including hail, mechanical defects, human-related defects and age-related damage.

Sessions also focused on trending topics like how innovations in technology are changing the management and life cycle of claims. These trending topics helped attendees get ahead of the curve with thought-leadership experts focused on the future of claims and litigation management.

Charlie Wendland, head of claims, Branch

Charlie Wendland, head of claims at Branch, spoke about this shift in focus to a technology-minded one: “It was great to spend time with colleagues at the CLM Annual Conference in Tampa. It’s very encouraging to hear how our industry has become more receptive and willing to embrace new technologies that enhance the customer experience.”

Participants had the option to enroll in a coverage boot camp, which was held before the official start of sessions. This interactive four-hour workshop walked through the steps of handling a claim or lawsuit when coverage is in question. Attendees learned more about how to evaluate coverage, develop claims strategies and manage expectations. Small breakout groups meant each participant could practice their skills and engage directly with mentors. The session was facilitated by eight industry experts.

“This year, I was lucky enough to lead an insurance coverage boot camp at CLM’s Annual Conference,” said Michael Young, partner at Reichardt Noce & Young LLC and one of the facilitators.

“We had dozens of people show up at 8:00 a.m. to participate in a four-hour workshop where we learned about making coverage decisions, communicating those decisions to the insured, and then developing strategies for bringing the claim to resolution,” he continued. “People got into it. The boot camp was so, so fun. It was just another example of how CLM facilitates tremendous learning and collaboration in the claims-handling space.”

Claims and Counsel Collaborate Openly at CLM

A unique value-add of the event is the opportunity for claims and counsel to interact, collaborate and discuss challenges openly.

“I love CLM’s Annual Conference because it is one of the few places where insurance claims professionals and their outside counsel actually talk to each other candidly about the difficult issues that we face in our claims and lawsuits every day,” Young explained.

“The roundtable discussion format of CLM’s panels forces discussion — in a good way — on these timely and challenging issues. As outside counsel, you can learn a little bit about claims handling by working on your cases, but you learn so much more by attending CLM’s panels, networking sessions and workshops.”

One returning CLM attendee, Dr. Brad Gronke, CPCU, technical training manager at Gallagher Bassett, described the value of interdisciplinary networking experience at CLM.

Brad Gronke, CPCU, technical training manager, Gallagher Bassett

“The experience was wonderful overall! I love connecting with thought leaders in our industry. It’s the human connection that makes the trip worth it year after year. Reconnecting with faculty members and planning for the upcoming Claims College is a highlight of the event for me.”

This year, the CLM Annual Conference was held back-to-back with the CPCU Society’s In2Leadership event. This added to the value of both events as participants could attend both but only travel and be away from work and home once.

Gronke took advantage of the back-to-back events. He described his experience, saying, “I found it a huge value-add that In2Leadership was combined with CLM Annual this year as it offered a great way to talk about both organizations to members from each. I was able to bring back to my organization new ideas for the future while also cultivating relationships.”

CLM hosts events throughout the year after its flagship annual conference. Watch for news about the upcoming Claims College, the Construction Claims Event and the Litigation Management Institute, as well as local chapter events. &

Abi Potter Clough, MBA, CPCU, is a keynote speaker, author and business consultant focused on Insurtech, leadership and strategy. She has over 15 years of experience at a Fortune 500 company with expertise in P&C claims operational leadership, lean management consulting, digital communications and Insurtech. As the past chair of the International Insurance Interest Group of the CPCU Society, Abi remains involved in many international initiatives and projects. She has published two books about change management and relocation. Abi can be reached at [email protected].

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