Risk Management

The Profession

Rite Aid's Ryan McGuinness sees reasons to be optimistic about the U.S. economy.
By: | October 15, 2014 • 3 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

I was a claims examiner for former TPA GAB Robbins.


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

My predecessor at Rite Aid was leaving for another position outside the company and thought I’d be a good fit for Rite Aid. That’s how it all started. I had been working locally with PMA Insurance at the time as a claims examiner. It was a job opportunity. When I first got here I worked as a claims manager. Quickly, my interest was sparked in risk management as I was exposed to all aspects of the industry.

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

Risk managers have continued to do a much better job at risk identification and quantifying risk. As a result, I’d say that, today, risk managers are in a much better position to analyze and mitigate risk.

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

Capitalizing on opportunities to develop stronger partnerships with business partners within our own organizations and helping to educate them on recognizing and avoiding loss.

R&I: What sorts of challenges have colleagues been able to help you tackle?

Ryan J. McGuinness, senior director risk management, Rite Aid Corp.

Ryan J. McGuinness, senior director risk management, Rite Aid Corp.

The insurance and broker communities have significantly evolved in developing innovative ways to help measure and quantify risk, which, in turn, helps risk managers respond to the changing insurance landscape.

R&I: What was the best location for the RIMS conference and why?

San Diego. It’s a really nice venue. The convention center is centrally located and the city itself seems uniquely capable of accommodating large crowds.

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

The emergence of cyber risk and cyber liability.

R&I: Besides the cyber issue, what emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

The rising cost of health care as it relates to workers’ compensation.

R&I: Is the contingent commission controversy overblown?

I think the contingent commission controversy is past at this point and I have considered it to be overblown, yes.

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


R&I: Are you optimistic about the US economy or pessimistic and why?

I am optimistic. Despite the news we see today, there are a lot of good signs the economy is returning. For instance, I think in the retail sector people are beginning to spend more money now than in years past.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

My favorite book is “Last of the Mohicans” by James Fenimore Cooper.

10152014_profession_sidebarR&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Ray’s at Killer Creek in Alpharetta, Ga.

R&I: What would you do if you weren’t a risk manager?

I would be a youth counselor and fish much more.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

Jim Lott. He was the risk manager here at Rite Aid until 2004, when he retired. He’s the one who got me excited about risk and insurance. Through him, I learned about how the insurance procurement and placement process works, and really became interested in the business.


R&I: How many emails do you get in a day?

In the last 6 months I have received or exchanged over 8,000 emails.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

Derek Jeter. Simply, he exemplifies good values both on the field and off the field.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

Bertchesgaden, Germany. It’s situated in the Alps, and very picturesque.

“I like working a project from start to end, and I like partnering with groups of people working towards a common goal and achieving the results we set out to accomplish.”

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

Results. I like working a project from start to end, and I like partnering with groups of people working towards a common goal and achieving the results we set out to accomplish.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

They think I am just in insurance, although they have a remote understanding of what risk management actually entails.

Janet Aschkenasy is a freelance financial writer based in New York. 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.


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.


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]