The 2021 Executives to Watch: Allied World’s Kelly Doherty-Schaffner
Named executive vice president, head of North American Claims Group at Allied World, Kelly Doherty-Schaffner has been keeping an eye on the future, including tracking difficult challenges such as social inflation.
Doherty-Schaffner started as a senior claims analyst at Allied World in 2007 and within five months was promoted to managing a team of claim analysts. Over the course of the next 13 years, her management responsibilities expanded, and she was instrumental in building out the U.S. professional liability and health care claims groups for Allied World.
She was promoted to her current role overseeing all North American professional liability, health care and casualty claims, and all programs claims globally, just as the pandemic shutdown prompted Allied World and other businesses to require employees to work remotely.
Amid these difficulties, she has raised attention to other challenges that continue to affect claims, including large jury awards.
“Over the last several years, we’ve been mindful of the trend toward large jury verdicts, particularly against corporate defendants,” she said.
What remains to be seen in 2021, as courts reopen and civil cases proceed, is how the pandemic and the economy that has suffered because of it will affect those awards. “Claims professionals must continue to stay attuned to litigation trends and the factors underlying those trends so that we can partner effectively with our insureds and their defense counsel.
“I think there’s an opportunity for us to work with our insured’s counsel, experts and other consultants to craft compelling narratives from the defense perspective,” she continued. “It is more critical than ever that information is discovered and evaluated as early as possible in the claims process.”
A looming talent and diversity gap in the insurance industry is another challenge that Doherty-Schaffner is tackling.
She serves on Allied World’s Diversity and Inclusion Task Force.
“From the perspective of the claims department, I am working to partner with outside firms that align with our goals, encouraging organizations by virtue of the hard questions we ask to embrace similar standards and build a more welcoming environment throughout the industry.”
One of the best parts of her job is developing talent: “Helping others to see opportunities and develop in their own career paths gives me great joy,” she said.
Her first priority during the shutdown was ensuring the safety of employees and making sure claims proceeded seamlessly.
“I am immensely proud of the way our team transitioned to remote working, maintaining focus on our priorities and our connections to one another. We have the technology and tools to stay connected with others internally to get our work done and connect with those externally to participate fully in the claim process — whether that is working with our insureds and their defense counsel or participating in mediations.” &
For the full list of Insurance Executives to Watch in 2021, view here.