Risk Insider: Eric Copple

For Better Renewals, Follow Pixar’s Lead

By: | August 30, 2018 • 2 min read

Eric B. Copple CIC, CRM is a risk management adviser for Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. Throughout his 20 years of brokerage experience, he has helped clients build effective risk management systems to stay on the road to success. He can be reached at [email protected]

Everybody loves a good story. Your insurance underwriter is no exception. They would love to know what makes your company stand out as the true hero, a rose in a field of thorns, but the underwriting process is slanted toward identifying the villains in your story instead.

So, how do you control the message of your company in the insurance renewal process? How do you assure that you are getting the underwriter to see you as the hero?

You have to create the risk management story.

When learning how to create a good story it might help to turn to the experts at Pixar Entertainment. After all, they have made gobs of money by telling the right story: not only the villains and heroes, but also the cast of characters and scenarios that capture the hearts of viewers both young and old.

Emma Coats is an accomplished storyboard artist who formerly worked at Pixar. Emma once said, “Every good movie that Pixar puts out follows the same story structure,” described as follows:

“Once upon a time, there was __________. Every day, __________. One day, __________. Because of that, __________. Because of that, _________. Until finally,__________.”

I would argue that every company’s risk-management challenges and processes fall in line with this story structure, both the exposures AND the treatments.

We rarely give full credit to the character who admits guilt and promises to do better. We do, however, give credit to those who can prove a track record of positive change in the past.

Businesses often struggle to manage risk because they lack a framework to properly identify, prioritize, and therefore mitigate risk. Over and over again, we have witnessed risk-managers’ attempts to get key stakeholders to identify exposures while also creating ways to clarify the outcome of any potential issue. This fruitless struggle prevents them from being able to create a good story.

We rarely give full credit to the character who admits guilt and promises to do better. We do, however, give credit to those who can prove a track record of positive change in the past.

Use this as an exercise for your own businesses. Take a claim or lawsuit from your experience and plug it into that storyboard. Perhaps it can help you identify a valuable solution.

Take this example:

“Once upon a time there was a profitable company that made widgets. Every day the employees stamped out widgets on their production machines. One day, a storm blew in. As a result, the roof blew off of their building, causing their manufacturing equipment to get wet and damaging valuable electronics. Ultimately, the company was unable to make widgets anymore.”

What can you do to change the ending of that story? How about:

“Once upon a time there was a profitable company that made widgets. Every day the employees stamped out widgets on their production machines. One day, someone asked a question about “duplication” of processes. In response, one of the owners became concerned about what could happen if the machines were damaged. As a result, the company made an agreement with another local machine shop to use their excess machinery in case of an emergency. Ultimately, everyone agreed that this was a good back-up plan, and they went about their merry way with a very successful business.”

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.

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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.

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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]