Insurance Executive

Six Questions for Grace Ries

Risk & Insurance® caught up with FM Global's Grace Ries to discuss the insurer's latest cyber products and its approach to helping clients manage their cyber exposures.
By: | February 7, 2017 • 3 min read

In July 2016, FM Global announced that Grace Ries, assistant vice president and manager of cyber risk insurance products, would lead a dedicated unit to develop an underwriting approach and coverage capabilities to meet clients’ needs for first-party cyber solutions. We caught up with her to ask her about the initiative and FM Global’s approach to the market.

R&I: Grace, part of your background is providing risk management support to the chemicals industry. What lessons learned will you be bringing forward as you underwrite this pressing issue of cyber risk?

Ries: My background is in chemical engineering and material science engineering. Many clients in the chemical sector have global exposures, and in my mind that is similar to cyber. Cyber is a global risk. Our clients’ data can be anywhere in the world. The solutions we provide for cyber need to be applicable globally. Both cyber and chemical risks also are high hazards. High hazards require a specialized risk management and underwriting approach, which is how we are approaching cyber.

R&I: How does FM Global plan to bring its engineering expertise to bear in managing cyber?

Ries:  We are treating cyber the same way that we approach any other risk. We always start with the science and research to determine what kind of standards, tools and methodologies are needed to help our clients address their risk at a location level and at a corporate level. We expect to offer some new cyber products and services in 2017. I am working closely with Mel [Carmelina] Borsellino, FM Global’s vice president and manager of cyber hazards, on this.

R&I: With so much insurance product now out there targeted at cyber, how is FM Global going to be able to differentiate its product?

Ries: Three things come to mind. First, FM Global is a specialty company. We focus on commercial and industrial property only. Cyber policies are usually driven by third-party liability. We focus solely on first-party exposure.

Our current FM Global cyber offerings address five areas: malware, denial of service, off premises data services, resultant damage and we provide a cyber optimal recovery endorsement. There’s more to come in 2017.

Second is that cyber is offered as part of our all-risk FM Global Advantage policy, in contrast to the marketplace, where cyber policies are usually a stand-alone offering. Also, FM Global has been providing coverage for cyber for more than 10 years.

And third, our insurance product is linked to our loss prevention engineering expertise. We look for ways to help clients access, quantify and improve their risk and to help them stay resilient.

R&I: Can you give us an idea of the traits you are looking for as you seek candidates to build your underwriting team?

Ries: To keep up with this rapidly evolving risk, you’ve got to have some fun! The people that we’re looking for on the FM Global cyber underwriting team are people who share the belief that the majority of loss is preventable and are focused on enhancing FM Global’s leadership in the industry.


We also are looking for people who are visionary, forward thinking and client-focused because, as a mutual insurance company, we are owned by our policyholders. And lastly, they’ve got to be passionate about always seeking ways to better protect the value our clients create and keep them resilient.

R&I: Can you tell us what some of your products will address specifically?

Ries: Our current FM Global cyber offerings address five areas: malware, denial of service, off premises data services, resultant damage and we provide a cyber optimal recovery endorsement. There’s more to come in 2017.

R&I: What’s the most challenging aspect of this new assignment, the one that keeps you up at night?

Ries: I work with a talented and dedicated team and believe our organization has the right people in place to address cyber. So, I sleep well at night and so should our clients. &

Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He 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]