The Profession

Tim Liberty of Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners

This claims expert says the industry is getting better at using technology and data, but it could come at the expense of customer service.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?
I worked at a sporting apparel store at the mall. The CEO was a retired Marine and would watch us through the CCTV at his home. I learned that there is always work to be done. And if not, I learned how to act busy.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?
After college I was desperate for work. I interviewed for an adjuster job, because I thought I would be able to drive around in a company car. Turned out it was a desk job managing workers’ comp claims. The rest is history.

Tim Liberty, senior claims consultant, Baldwin Krystyn
Sherman Partners

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?
I think the community does a good job of sharing knowledge through conferences and periodicals. No matter the issue or topic, the best practices have been shared through some avenue.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?
I think there has been more of a focus on technology and data, which is needed, but the community could do a better job at the fundamentals of customer service. One of the biggest pain points I hear from prospects is lack of communication from carriers.

R&I: How have you seen tech and data being used?
Most of the periodicals I receive have at least one or two stories around tech and data, from drones to predictive modeling and AI. Our firm has embraced the importance of data, and I have seen our capabilities grow substantially. Our clients love to be able to see their performance and trends in an easy-to-read format. The challenge for the risk management community is being able to show the info with real-time data.


R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?
The increase of cyber and social engineering risks. And it now seems like every auto claim becomes litigated.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?
I’m sure it has been said before, but cyber is only going to get worse in frequency and severity, and hackers are going to get more creative in breaching attempts. Everyone who has employees or clients needs coverage, but not everyone buys it.

R&I: What’s the most interesting or complex problem you’ve had to solve in your career? 

Responding to Irma last year. The majority of my experience has been in casualty, so there was a lot of learning on the fly. Working for an agency as a claims advocate, I am essentially stuck in the middle. I don’t have the authority to adjust claims and have to work with adjusters and managers to get them to make decisions that result in the best outcomes for our clients. During Irma, it seemed like everyone was interpreting policies differently, and many couldn’t give us clear answers for weeks after the storm. Our firm understands that this is a relationship business, and we have cultivated relationships over the last 12 years to where we were often successful in getting interpretations that were beneficial to our clients.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?
I was deployed to Iraq and had the opportunity to lead Marines. I am proud that my Marines made it back home.

R&I: How many emails do you get in a day and how many do you answer?
60 to 75 received. Many of these are claim alerts that require no response. I send around 15 to 20.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?
I have a young child, so I read a lot of books. Snog the Frog is my current favorite. Prior to children, I’d say The Alchemist. Favorite movie is Jaws. Quint’s Indianapolis monologue is hard to beat.


R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?
I’m a pretty simple guy and like a good diner. In St. Petersburg, Metro Diner’s chicken and waffles is the meal that comes to mind. As you can see, I’m kind of a health nut.

R&I: What is your favorite drink?
One of my clients turned me on to a New Fashioned. It’s like an Old Fashioned but better. It is bourbon, amaretto, orange zest and a filthy black cherry.

R&I: What is the most unusual or interesting place you have ever visited?
When I was in Iraq, the towns we patrolled were made up of houses that were either made out of mud or had dirt floors and were pretty run down. But there was one house that had marble counters, a kitchen, a Playstation and a bidet. That was pretty weird to see.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?
The parents who teach children to be critical thinkers, financially responsible, decent human beings. Much of society seems to encourage the opposite values and the parents who overcome those societal obstacles are to be commended.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?
I enjoy educating clients on topics they care about in a fun and engaging way. I try to incorporate puns and dad jokes into all my presentations.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?
They think I am in meetings all day and drink coffee.

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.


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]