How This Entertainment Risk Manager Sees the Future of the Industry from Pandemic through Diversity and Inclusion Efforts

Vincent Foderingham details his 23 years in risk, the need for a more diverse workforce and what the industry will look like post-pandemic. 
By: | October 12, 2020

R&I: What was your first job?   

 I was a claims adjuster with Liberty Mutual. At Liberty Mutual, you trained across all lines of coverage. So, whether it was workers’ comp, personal or commercial auto, liability, homeowners — we did it all. We did our own investigations. We certainly settled our own claims.

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 We would travel around with checkbooks with a certain level of settlement authority. We were able to sit down with a homeowner or someone involved in a car accident with one of our insureds had the opportunity to offer money on the spot and settle the claim right then and there. Write a check, sign a release, and be done with the claim all at one time. That was back in the late 80s, early 90s. Things are a lot different now but that was my first job. 

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?   

During my time with Liberty, I worked on claims for large deductible and self-insured accounts, particularly with retailers. I always developed good working relationships with the risk managers.  

 I often had side conversations with them to understand their roles, what they were doing, and at that particular time, I realized that I really wanted to be on that side of the business. I figured that whenever I had the first opportunity to do so, that I certainly would try to make the transition, and I wound up doing it. 

 My first risk management job was with a company called J. Baker, Inc. in Canton, Massachusetts. They were a huge retailer. They owned a number of apparel and shoe stores throughout the country. 

 Back then, it was Fayva Shoes, Parade of Shoes, and Casual Male, Big & Tall from the apparel side. They also did the shoe concessions and the number of different mid-tier department stores. I worked there for a couple of years and I knew at that particular point that was what I wanted to do.  

 I flipped back to claims for a couple of years with Sedgwick CMS, but then I had my first big risk management opportunity working for a very large defense contractor, and I wound up staying in risk management ever since then. 

 R&I: What’s been the biggest change in risk management and the insurance industry since you’ve been in it?   

 I would say that the first big change happened after 9/11. I was working for Raytheon Company, the defense contractor, at the time when 9/11 occurred.

I still remember that day, and not only was it impactful because I was working for a company that was in the defense business. Unfortunately, we had a number of people, and I had friends that were on all three planes. I also had friends that were in the towers that day, friends that I worked with and other business partners. 

 From a catastrophic perspective, nobody really understood or really would have understood the magnitude of a catastrophic loss of that size until it actually happened. 

 Now fast forward to today with COVID 19 and the pandemic risk. When you’re thinking about business continuity or enterprise risk management, you think about pandemic risk and what happened with SARS or other things, and you’ll say, ‘Oh geez, that’s never really going to happen,’ but here we are with COVID-19 and the pandemic risk is making that something very tangible and it’s changing everything on a global basis.  

 Look at how businesses have been impacted. Nobody thought that if you had a pandemic risk, that it would happen to this magnitude on a global basis.

One would think that with a pandemic risk that it might happen in pockets or in certain segments, but this pandemic risk has really affected everyone and everything. Nobody could have really foreseen the significance of its impact. 

 R&I: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?    

It’s right now, I’m right in the thick of it. COVID-19 really has impacted our business significantly. It’s impacted the way we will go about doing business going forward.  

Live entertainment is a huge challenge for us. Everything is so up in the air at this particular point for any business that’s trying to restart in the live entertainment sector. It’s very uncertain and until the virus gets under control, there isn’t a clear pathway back to some level of normalcy.   

However, the good news is that we are seeing some stadiums and arena partners beginning to provide us with plans for sanitizing and percentages of capacity to achieve social distancing so we can start planning a restart our traveling tours. 

We certainly look forward to getting our traveling tours back out on the road and being the bright spot during this difficult time. 

 R&I: How has the risk management and insurance space for live events and performances changed due to COVID-19?  

This is going to be a significant challenge. We have resumption planning in place right now that documents our process and protocol around COVID testing for our employees as they begin to travel again. We must be mindful of the challenges that they face as they travel and we are providing specific recommendations and guidance for their well being and safety. 

Fortunately, our process has been trialed and tested as we completed the last seven rounds of Monster Energy Supercross in Salt Lake City back in June and it worked very well.    

With our touring model, we have a large number of people that will travel together in groups. Our challenge is keeping all of them safe. 

Is it okay for them to go to restaurants? What are the activities for them that would be safe?

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The answer to those questions might be that there really isn’t any activity that could be safe for them. So, we have to put together specific guidance to help minimize any risk of COVID exposure. The world isn’t the same as it was before and there are no guarantees but we must try our best to keep our people as safe as possible. 

However, there has to be a shift of how people view what they can or what they should do, as compared to the risks they face if they continue to operate as they did prior to COVID. The world is totally different now than it was before. 

The other piece of this is working with our venue partners and how will that change from an operational perspective. How will the stadiums and the arenas work to minimize the exposure for fans coming to our shows? What are the procedural changes for fans entering the building? From ticket scanning during entry to touchless transactions for concessions, all of these things that everybody had been accustomed to when will change. The fan experience will be a bit different. 

R&I: Who has been your mentor(s) and why?   

 I have two mentors that have come to mind. One of them, my professional mentor and good friend, Tom Stewart.  

 I worked with Tom at Sedgwick in Boston in the mid 90s. As I transitioned to the risk management business, I wound up doing some business with him while he was at Willis. 

Not only was he a good friend, but he also helped me understand the inner workings of the brokerage side and from a technical perspective, he helped me understand different coverages from a unique perspective.  

Even though I was a coverage guy, I was handling a lot of different things that I never touched outside of my traditional casualty insurance training. Tom was always a great resource, he really understand things from a technical perspective. I always had this great level of intellectual conversation with him around insurance and around the philosophies of risk management which really helped me shape what I do today.  

 He gave me honest feedback and really helped shaped my thinking on a forward-looking basis. This helped me anticipate and think through a lot of things that could happen in the future and how to best position myself to handle issues or challenges that might come up, or just be proactive by making sure I have the right things in place that could react accordingly to it. 

 Personally, my mentor was my high school basketball coach, Mike Jarvis at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School. He was a phenomenal coach and ran one of the best high school basketball programs in Massachusetts for a number of years.  

 Coach Jarvis not only taught us to be good athletes and good students, but he also taught us to become good, responsible men. He was a phenomenal role model. Personally, he had a warm, wonderful family that embraced me, and I’m still in close contact with him to this day.  

 He exhibited to me all the great things that a responsible man should be, and being able to be responsible for your own actions and being accountable for what you do, doing what you say you’re going to do, and following through on the promises that you make.

Those are the things that Coach Jarvis really instilled in us. Now, as I look back, he really helped shape me into being a good businessman as well. All of those personal traits that he helped us develop, the responsibilities we had on and off the court, they wound up turning into skills that proved to be very developmental and very positive from a professional standpoint. 

 R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?   

There’s a lot of networking and a lot of sharing of information. I’ve been lucky enough to be in a position where I’m able to network with peers across many sectors of risk management. Regardless of what sector of business that you’re in, we all have or could face similar challenges.  

I’m part of a network of peers where we meet on a monthly basis to share our experiences and challenges. We talk about the latest trends.

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Is somebody doing something different that we should consider? Are some of us experiencing some challenges in specific areas or specific aspects of what we do on a day-to-day basis, whether it’s a renewal, or a marketing exercise, or RFPs with brokers. I think the community’s done a great job bringing together and having the ability for risk professionals to be in opportunities to help network and share. I think that’s been a huge positive. 

 R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?   

 I think the short answer to the question is that I think the insurance industry and the risk management community as a whole, needs to be more diverse and more inclusive. As I’m thinking of it right now, our current social circumstance around the country shows that diversity and inclusion is still an area that needs to be addressed.  

 As I began my career in Boston, there were very few people of color in the insurance business, while there certainly have been some progress there still remains to be limited access for people of color in management and executive positions throughout the entire industry, not just risk management. There needs to be greater access and opportunities for people of color for advancement within the industry.  

 I want to continue to advocate for diversity and inclusion, and to make sure that as companies — whether they be brokerage firms, insurance companies or companies in the private or public sector — begin recruiting a diverse slate of candidates for open positions, particularly in management and executive management positions. 

They should be recruiting at historical black college and universities (HBCU’s), so that the industry as a whole begins to change and become much more diverse. I’m currently working on efforts locally here in Florida that help advance that agenda, and if there’s a way we can continue to advance this through additional advocacy so we can make a change, I want to be able to support that. 

 R&I: How would you say technology has impacted the risk management profession?   

 I’ve been using technology in risk management for the last 15 years, and my strategy is to use data in an efficient way to drive my decision making. Those whom I have worked with in the past know that I probably have been on the forefront of this more than most.

Now you’re starting to see an evolution of the use of data through a number of different platforms. The one thing that I would say is that the data needs to be in a form in a usable way, in a form that risk managers can easily adapt within their organizations.  

 Everybody uses data in a different way. I find that it can be terribly inefficient when something is provided to you or sold to you, and you’re unable to use it because right out the box, it becomes too complex or it’s not giving you exactly what you wanted.

So, I think companies now are doing a better job of trying to figure out how better adaptable the interface for the information can be. I think there needs to be a further discussion with users to make sure that the user interface and the reports and dashboards provided are adaptable.  

 It can be a game changer, but in my opinion, if it’s done in the right way, risk managers will be able to use it more and more widely. I saw an article, it may have been about a year or so ago, that there’s still a very large percentage of risk managers that do not use data to drive business decisions within their organizations.

That can change based on the way the adapters of the technology listen to and try to understand how risk managers can use it. One must understand its value and how easily it can be adapted. But then, risk managers are widely varied in their approach.

The downside of that is that you could wind up in different directions, but technology can significantly impact what we do. It just has to be done in a way that is impactful for the risk manager. 

 R&I: What’s your favorite book or movie? 

 Book: Good to Great by Jim Collins 

Movies: The Godfather and Jason Bourne series 

 R&I: What is your favorite drink? 

 Wine. I like the big, bold cabernet sauvignon along with a nice cigar.

 R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

 It has nothing to do with insurance. For me, its always been about giving back and how do I best impact the community that I live in.

Since I moved to Florida about 13 years ago, I really had the opportunity to give back to my community, and really be involved by helping disadvantaged and disenfranchised kids have better and more gainful access to education. I work on programs that include mentoring, scholarships and job internships, so that students can have access to opportunities that they never really thought have existed before. 

 Once you get students out of their own environment and they see something different, their world opens up, and whether that’s going to lead them to think that they could be a risk manager or an engineer, a doctor or whatever endless possibility.

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Some of our kids come from extremely challenging environments and if they’re not able to get outside of their environment, then their lives become very predictable. So, if I’m able to have an opportunity to help a kid see past that, then I think it’s a way for them to have a completely different life than what he or she could have ever imagined. 

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you’ve ever engaged in?   

 I had to laugh at this one, because I’m not a risky type of guy, but I would say … remember back when the change of the millennium happened, and everybody thought that the world was going to stop? 

 So, I was visiting my family in Barbados and I was flying back to the United States on January 1st, 2000 and people thought I was crazy. Everyone thought planes were going to fall out of the sky. None of that happened. So needless to say, that probably was the riskiest thing that I’ve done, and I’ve lived to tell the story. & 

Courtney DuChene is a staff writer at Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Risk Scenario

The Betrayal of Elizabeth

In this Risk Scenario, Risk & Insurance explores what might happen in the event a telemedicine or similar home health visit violates a patient's privacy. What consequences await when a young girl's tele visit goes viral?
By: | October 12, 2020
Risk Scenarios are created by Risk & Insurance editors along with leading industry partners. The hypothetical, yet realistic stories, showcase emerging risks that can result in significant losses if not properly addressed.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.

PART ONE: CRACKS IN THE FOUNDATION

Elizabeth Cunningham seemingly had it all. The daughter of two well-established professionals — her father was a personal injury attorney, her mother, also an attorney, had her own estate planning practice — she grew up in a house in Maryland horse country with lots of love and the financial security that can iron out at least some of life’s problems.

Tall, good-looking and talented, Elizabeth was moving through her junior year at the University of Pennsylvania in seemingly good order; check that, very good order, by all appearances.

Her pre-med grades were outstanding. Despite the heavy load of her course work, she’d even managed to place in the Penn Relays in the mile, in the spring of her sophomore season, in May of 2019.

But the winter of 2019/2020 brought challenges, challenges that festered below the surface, known only to her and a couple of close friends.

First came betrayal at the hands of her boyfriend, Tom, right around Thanksgiving. She saw a message pop up on his phone from Rebecca, a young woman she thought was their friend. As it turned out, Rebecca and Tom had been intimate together, and both seemed game to do it again.

Reeling, her holiday mood shattered and her relationship with Tom fractured, Elizabeth was beset by deep feelings of anxiety. As the winter gray became more dense and forbidding, the anxiety grew.

Fed up, she broke up with Tom just after Christmas. What looked like a promising start to 2020 now didn’t feel as joyous.

Right around the end of the year, she plucked a copy of her father’s New York Times from the table in his study. A budding physician, her eyes were drawn to a piece about an outbreak of a highly contagious virus in Wuhan, China.

“Sounds dreadful,” she said to herself.

Within three months, anxiety gnawed at Elizabeth daily as she sat cloistered in her family’s house in Bel Air, Maryland.

It didn’t help matters that her brother, Billy, a high school senior and a constant thorn in her side, was cloistered with her.

She felt like she was suffocating.

One night in early May, feeling shutdown and unable to bring herself to tell her parents about her true condition, Elizabeth reached out to her family physician for help.

Dr. Johnson had been Elizabeth’s doctor for a number of years and, being from a small town, Elizabeth had grown up and gone to school with Dr. Johnson’s son Evan. In fact, back in high school, Evan had asked Elizabeth out once. Not interested, Elizabeth had declined Evan’s advances and did not give this a second thought.

Dr. Johnson’s practice had recently been acquired by a Virginia-based hospital system, Medwell, so when Elizabeth called the office, she was first patched through to Medwell’s receptionist/scheduling service. Within 30 minutes, an online Telehealth consult had been arranged for her to speak directly with Dr. Johnson.

Due to the pandemic, Dr. Johnson called from the office in her home. The doctor was kind. She was practiced.

“So can you tell me what’s going on?” she said.

Elizabeth took a deep breath. She tried to fight what was happening. But she could not. Tears started streaming down her face.

“It’s just… It’s just…” she managed to stammer.

The doctor waited patiently. “It’s okay,” she said. “Just take your time.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath. “It’s like I can’t manage my own mind anymore. It’s nonstop. It won’t turn off…”

More tears streamed down her face.

Patiently, with compassion, the doctor walked Elizabeth through what she might be experiencing. The doctor recommended a follow-up with Medwell’s psychology department.

“Okay,” Elizabeth said, some semblance of relief passing through her.

Unbeknownst to Dr. Johnson, her office door had not been completely closed. During the telehealth call, Evan stopped by his mother’s office to ask her a question. Before knocking he overheard Elizabeth talking and decided to listen in.

PART TWO: BETRAYAL

As Elizabeth was finding the courage to open up to Dr. Johnson about her psychological condition, Evan was recording her with his smartphone through a crack in the doorway.

Spurred by who knows what — his attraction to her, his irritation at being rejected, the idleness of the COVID quarantine — it really didn’t matter. Evan posted his recording of Elizabeth to his Instagram feed.

#CantManageMyMind, #CrazyGirl, #HelpMeDoctorImBeautiful is just some of what followed.

Elizabeth and Evan were both well-liked and very well connected on social media. The posts, shares and reactions that followed Evan’s digital betrayal numbered in the hundreds. Each one of them a knife into the already troubled soul of Elizabeth Cunningham.

By noon of the following day, her well-connected father unleashed the dogs of war.

Rand Davis, the risk manager for the Medwell Health System, a 15-hospital health care company based in Alexandria, Virginia was just finishing lunch when he got a call from the company’s general counsel, Emily Vittorio.

“Yes?” Rand said. He and Emily were accustomed to being quick and blunt with each other. They didn’t have time for much else.

“I just picked up a notice of intent to sue from a personal injury attorney in Bel Air, Maryland. It seems his daughter was in a teleconference with one of our docs. She was experiencing anxiety, the daughter that is. The doctor’s son recorded the call and posted it to social media.”

“Great. Thanks, kid,” Rand said.

“His attorneys want to initiate a discovery dialogue on Monday,” Emily said.

It was Thursday. Rand’s dreams of slipping onto his fishing boat over the weekend evaporated, just like that. He closed his eyes and tilted his face up to the heavens.

Wasn’t it enough that he and the other members of the C-suite fought tooth and nail to keep thousands of people safe and treat them during the COVID-crisis?

He’d watched the explosion in the use of telemedicine with a mixture of awe and alarm. On the one hand, they were saving lives. On the other hand, they were opening themselves to exposures under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. He just knew it.

He and his colleagues tried to do the right thing. But what they were doing, overwhelmed as they were, was simply not enough.

PART THREE: FALLING DOMINOES

Within the space of two weeks, the torture suffered by Elizabeth Cunningham grew into a class action against Medwell.

In addition to the violation of her privacy, the investigation by Mr. Cunningham’s attorneys revealed the following:

Medwell’s telemedicine component, as needed and well-intended as it was, lacked a viable informed consent protocol.

The consultation with Elizabeth, and as it turned out, hundreds of additional patients in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, violated telemedicine regulations in all three states.

Numerous practitioners in the system took part in teleconferences with patients in states in which they were not credentialed to provide that service.

Even if Evan hadn’t cracked open Dr. Johnson’s door and surreptitiously recorded her conversation with Elizabeth, the Medwell telehealth system was found to be insecure — yet another violation of HIPAA.

The amount sought in the class action was $100 million. In an era of social inflation, with jury awards that were once unthinkable becoming commonplace, Medwell was standing squarely in the crosshairs of a liability jury decision that was going to devour entire towers of its insurance program.

Adding another layer of certain pain to the equation was that the case would be heard in Baltimore, a jurisdiction where plaintiffs’ attorneys tended to dance out of courtrooms with millions in their pockets.

That fall, Rand sat with his broker on a call with a specialty insurer, talking about renewals of the group’s general liability, cyber and professional liability programs.

“Yeah, we were kind of hoping to keep the increases on all three at less than 25%,” the broker said breezily.

There was a long silence from the underwriters at the other end of the phone.

“To be honest, we’re borderline about being able to offer you any cover at all,” one of the lead underwriters said.

Rand just sat silently and waited for another shoe to drop.

“Well, what can you do?” the broker said, with hope draining from his voice.

The conversation that followed would propel Rand and his broker on the difficult, next to impossible path of trying to find coverage, with general liability underwriters in full retreat, professional liability underwriters looking for double digit increases and cyber underwriters asking very pointed questions about the health system’s risk management.

Elizabeth, a strong young woman with a good support network, would eventually recover from the damage done to her.

Medwell’s relationships with the insurance markets looked like it almost never would. &

Bar-Lessons-Learned---Partner's-Content-V1b

Risk & Insurance® partnered with Allied World to produce this scenario. Below are Allied World’s recommendations on how to prevent the losses presented in the scenario. This perspective is not an editorial opinion of Risk & Insurance.®.

The use of telehealth has exponentially accelerated with the advent of COVID-19. Few health care providers were prepared for this shift. Health care organizations should confirm that Telehealth coverage is included in their Medical Professional, General Liability and Cyber policies, and to what extent. Concerns around Telehealth focus on HIPAA compliance and the internal policies in place to meet the federal and state standards and best practices for privacy and quality care. As states open businesses and the crisis abates, will pre-COVID-19 telehealth policies and regulations once again be enforced?

Risk Management Considerations:

The same ethical and standard of care issues around caring for patients face-to-face in an office apply in telehealth settings:

  • maintain a strong patient-physician relationship;
  • protect patient privacy; and
  • seek the best possible outcome.

Telehealth can create challenges around “informed consent.” It is critical to inform patients of the potential benefits and risks of telehealth (including privacy and security), ensure the use of HIPAA compliant platforms and make sure there is a good level of understanding of the scope of telehealth. Providers must be aware of the regulatory and licensure requirements in the state where the patient is located, as well as those of the state in which they are licensed.

A professional and private environment should be maintained for patient privacy and confidentiality. Best practices must be in place and followed. Medical professionals who engage in telehealth should be fully trained in operating the technology. Patients must also be instructed in its use and provided instructions on what to do if there are technical difficulties.

This case study is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to be a summary of, and does not in any way vary, the actual coverage available to a policyholder under any insurance policy. Actual coverage for specific claims will be determined by the actual policy language and will be based on the specific facts and circumstances of the claim. Consult your insurance advisors or legal counsel for guidance on your organization’s policies and coverage matters and other issues specific to your organization.

This information is provided as a general overview for agents and brokers. Coverage will be underwritten by an insurance subsidiary of Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd, a Fairfax company (“Allied World”). Such subsidiaries currently carry an A.M. Best rating of “A” (Excellent), a Moody’s rating of “A3” (Good) and a Standard & Poor’s rating of “A-” (Strong), as applicable. Coverage is offered only through licensed agents and brokers. Actual coverage may vary and is subject to policy language as issued. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions. Risk management services are provided or arranged through AWAC Services Company, a member company of Allied World. © 2020 Allied World Assurance Company Holdings, Ltd. All rights reserved.




Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]