From the Carrier Side to the Broker Side, 2022 Workers’ Comp Power Broker Mike Lane Recounts His Career Path
One of the knock-on effects of the pandemic is the way that it accelerated many trends that were just taking hold in workers’ comp, like telehealth and a greater emphasis on mental health and worker wellbeing.
Brokers have had to pivot and adapt quickly in order to bring clients the right solutions at the right time. Mike Lane, ARM, CPCU, CLCS, claims/risk management consultant at Reagan Companies, is among six brokers honored as 2022 Workers’ Compensation Power Brokers for their achievements guiding clients through the new landscape.
Risk & Insurance® spoke with Lane about his journey through the industry and how the pandemic has affected workers’ compensation claims.
Risk & Insurance: Can you share your brokering journey? What led you to the role you have today?
Mike Lane: I took a somewhat non-traditional path to the role I have today. I started my insurance career adjusting workers’ compensation claims at The Hartford twelve years ago.
After a few years, I really found myself burnt out from always talking to people on the worst day of their lives. A friend convinced me to try the broker side of the business, but I didn’t find the traditional producer role to be much better of a fit.
I eventually approached the Reagans with the idea for a hybrid in-house claims consulting role with the freedom to pursue production opportunities as they came up. This allowed me to utilize my diverse skills while still being open to sales.
They loved the idea and shared my vision, so I made the move. That was almost three years ago, and it has gone incredibly well.
R&I: What are the biggest differences you’ve seen in the way clients approach their workers’ compensation programs since the pandemic began?
ML: Our clients are primarily in transportation or construction and many utilize captive insurance for their workers’ compensation.
Given those two factors, most of our clients were already sophisticated in their approach to workers’ compensation because their own dollars are paying out the claims. They were also not impacted by the pandemic like other industries because they were considered essential and never stopped working.
R&I: What are some workers’ compensation claim trends that should be top of mind in the coming months/years?
ML: The two factors I expect to increase claim frequency as we approach the bottom of a soft market are the aging workforce and increased turnover rate of employees.
The bodies of the aging workforce in blue collar industries are more susceptible to injury each year they age and will likely lead to an increase in ‘retirement claims.’ OSHA also recently completed a study that found employees in their first year with a new employer are most likely to have a workers’ comp injury.
R&I: What is a work achievement you are most proud of?
ML: I won an appeal for revision of the experience rating of a Reagan client shortly after I started that set precedent with NY Compensation Insurance Rating Board.
R&I: Who have been some of your mentors in the industry? Are you paying that knowledge forward by mentoring yourself? In what ways?
ML: Early in my career Tom Finwall from Brown & Brown taught me how to translate my claims knowledge in to experience rating management and ultimately to help my clients keep their costs down. It gave me a niche that was unique to build a career on.
Since starting at Reagan, Ned Reagan has made a tremendous effort to mentor me in risk management and broking. He has put me in positions to utilize my strengths for consistent success, while challenging me to improve areas I am not as strong.
He leads by example with an honesty, integrity, expertise and work ethic that has established a legacy for our agency I hope to carry that legacy on for many years.
The plan to pay it forward is to bring the next person in to my invented hybrid role and share my knowledge on experience rating management. I hope to give them the same skills and opportunity to build a career that was given to me.
R&I: How would you describe your broking philosophy?
ML: My philosophy is that our clients rely on us as brokers to be their insurance experts.
My goal for every client is to identify their risks and employ them to make the best decision for their business. To deliver on those goals I have to be constantly pursuing continuing education and exploring both new markets and alternative risk solutions as they come up.
If any of them are a fit for my client they deserve to know it is available. I also keep open, frequent, communication with my clients, so I know if exposures or risk appetites are changing. &
Ed. note: At National Comp 2022 in October, Mike Lane will present a CompTalk called “It’s Not Your Job to Stop a Claim From Going Bad.” Register now to check out Mike’s presentation and dozens of others.