The Profession

Amanda Lagatta

Amanda Lagatta, Target’s director of insurance and claims, was drawn to risk management in high school and praises the value of college graduate risk management programs.
By: | October 1, 2016 • 4 min read

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R&I: What was your first job?
I did copying, filing, data entry and other clerical tasks at a local HMO while I was in high school.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
Almost all of my jobs have been related to insurance, starting with the HMO and including work in the coordinated care/utilization review department at a hospital while I was in college. I was interested in what I learned in those jobs, so I decided to major in risk management and insurance while I was at UW-Madison. Through my classes, I realized that a career in risk would allow me to do several of the things I love — problem-solving, negotiating and building strong relationships with people.

R&I: What are the benefits of internships and college graduate training programs? Are they a good tool for attracting more young people to the field of risk management and insurance?

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I think they’re a great way to start building a network of contacts early on, and a great way to get new graduates familiar with different aspects of the industry. As recruiting tools, I think they will be important programs because they offer new graduates a foot in the door and a clear path forward, as well as hands-on training that gives you experience right off the bat.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?
Developing and improving upon analytics to help drive decisions, including predictive analytics for claims operations and platforms to help determine limits and retentions to manage volatility. There is still room for these platforms to continue to improve and evolve, but the growing commitment is great to see!

R&I: What was the best location for the RIMS conference and why?
San Diego. What is not to love about Southern California after a long Minnesota winter!

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
I think it will be very interesting to see how the industry changes as new risks around Internet of Things and technology continue to emerge.

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

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In addition to greater use of data and analytics, I appreciate that risk management is moving beyond just traditional insurance. We are getting more comfortable with risk-taking and more creative with alternative risk transfer solutions.

R&I: How much business do you do direct versus going through a broker?
We do everything through a broker.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?
I am fortunate to have met many people I admire and respect over my years in the industry and they have taught me so much about how to be successful. Currently, I have several mentors both in the insurance community and internally at Target. It is helpful to have both as I continue to develop. Sometimes I am looking for guidance on career development or risk management-specific concerns, and other times it is great to talk through more general ideas such as how to become a better manager or team advocate.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?
I ran the Twin Cities Marathon several years ago.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
“Love Actually.” I watch it every Christmas while making cookies.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?

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Craft beer. I like IPAs or saisons. Currently, my favorite is Insight Brewing’s Sunken City.

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?
That’s so hard to decide. I am currently working my way through the Eater.com list of best restaurants in the Twin Cities and try to go to restaurants on those lists everywhere I go.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?
Iceland. It is so bizarre but also amazingly beautiful.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?
I am a very risk-averse person … maybe zip lining?

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?
I love that every day is different and that we get to learn about what is going on and support so many areas of the company. The days are full of problem-solving to help the company achieve its goals — either through helping to keep team members and guests safe, protecting profits or finding creative ways to support new business initiatives.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
Most of the kids I know are disappointed to learn that I am not a cashier at their local Target store. Most others settle for a business job at the corporate office or “something related to insurance.”




Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

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]