2017 Risk All Star: Faith Cring

Seeking Clarity

As the risk manager for an agricultural cooperative that sprays pesticides, plants genetically modified crops and sells propane and other explosive materials, Faith Cring knows that there are few underwriters who want any part of her business.

Faith Cring, director, Engineering, Environmental, Safety and Insurance, Growmark Inc.

“In agriculture, we deal with everything that the underwriter doesn’t like,” she said.

Cring also recognizes that excess underwriters tend to be city dwellers, not immediately comfortable with agriculture, or its risks.

“We’re not the hamburger joint on the corner,” she said. “We’re not typical.”

So Cring, herself a former underwriter with an MGA, took a wise approach to helping underwriters get more comfortable with her cooperative’s risk. So comfortable in fact, that Growmark is now considered a benchmark organization, one that underwriters refer to when asking other firms to step up their game.

“Growmark has embraced enterprise risk management across the board. They want to bear risk, they don’t want to just trade dollars with insurance companies,” said Dan Real, the president of ECC Insurance Brokers in Oak Terrace, Ill., which services Cring’s account.

One of Cring’s key programs brings urban-based underwriters out to the country to educate them about pesticide drift claims, grain siloes, and other realities of the agriculture business. When Cring conducts tours of Growmark facilities, she insists on complete transparency.

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For example, she doesn’t coach location managers on what to say to underwriters.

“She wants full and total transparency on the exposure,” said Real. “The last thing she wants to hear from an underwriter is ‘Oh, I didn’t know you did that.’ ”

And rather than just seeing the underwriters at renewal time or once or twice a year, Cring visits with some underwriters four or five times per year. She lets her broker, Dan Real, handle the renewal negotiations.

“No insurance company makes any money that first year they put an insured on the books; they don’t. The only way they are making money is if they keep and maintain relationships, and that is what we’re looking for.”  — Faith Cring, director, Engineering, Environmental, Safety and Insurance, Growmark Inc.

What she’s after is a much more thorough understanding of the insurance companies she is working with.

In turn, she wants the underwriters to fully understand her company’s business, and where the risk lies.

Cring seeks long-term relationships with her carriers, some of which she has been working with for more than 20 years, others closer to 30.

As a former underwriter, she knows that’s the way she can get tailored coverage for her business, and make sure that her underwriting partners make enough money to want to keep her business.

“I always tell them, I’m here to see you make money, but that you don’t make too much money,” Cring said. “No insurance company makes any money that first year they put an insured on the books; they don’t.

“The only way they are making money is if they keep and maintain relationships, and that is what we’re looking for,” she said. &

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Risk All Stars stand out from their peers by overcoming challenges through exceptional problem solving, creativity, perseverance and passion.

See the complete list of 2017 Risk All Stars.

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]