Turning Data Into Dollars. How Kara Sepulveda Is the Driving Force Behind Lithia Motors’ Enhanced Risk Management

Kara Sepulveda’s transformative risk management leads to sweeping operational improvements.
By: | July 14, 2023

Claims processing and risk management are running like a well-oiled machine at Lithia, one of the country’s largest automotive retailers featuring domestic and import franchises.

Much of that success is thanks to Kara Sepulveda, senior corporate risk manager for the company.

As a result of Sepulveda’s work, Lithia’s lag time for claims fell from 19 days to just seven. The company also realized a 15% increase in closed claims, all of which has improved the injured workers’ experiences and decreased costs and risk for the company.

When Sepulveda joined Lithia in 2022, she saw an opportunity to implement an RMIS system. This enhancement tackled the decentralization issue that arose from dealerships operating independently while risk was managed in conjunction with the corporate office.

Lithia had not been using this type of system to collect losses and insurance information, which kept them from identifying risk and calculating the appropriate risk transfer between corporate and dealers.

The RMIS system has produced many other benefits, according to Sepulveda.

“We can gather data from across the organization in a single system,” she said.

“Having all of these components together allows us to identify patterns in risk and respond faster with mitigation solutions.”

J.D. Taylor, vice president of national accounts for CorVel Corporation, said Sepulveda is always looking for better ways to predict risk.

“She’s curious about her risk program,” he said. “She wants to improve. She wants to know why things happen.”

Using CorVel’s CareMC Edge, Lithia has been able to tap into the data and intelligence needed to purchase the appropriate level of insurance and accurately charge back to various locations. Lithia can drill down for more granular information in order to be more proactive in claims and case management.

For Sepulveda, smooth claims handling also helps employees feel good about where they work. “We never want our employees to feel like a claimant; we want them to know they are valued,” she said.

New policies at Lithia have also allowed field case managers to attend employees’ follow-up appointments after a major diagnostic test.

“This can be a scary time when the employee is finding out if they are going to need surgery, and the results from this appointment can impact not just their work but their personal life,” she explained. “Risk isn’t always about just getting employees back to work fast; it is about getting them back to work healthy.”

Lithia has added 100 dealerships in the past 12 months, but that doesn’t faze Sepulveda, who said the growth keeps her on her toes.

“I enjoy the constant problem-solving,” she said. “We continue to grow at such a rapid rate that you must be adept at pivoting at a moment’s notice. It allows for you to be challenged at every turn.” &

Every year, Risk & Insurance selects deserving candidates to become Risk All Stars. These are risk managers who, through their perseverance, passion and creativity, make a big difference to the stability of their organizations.

See all the 2023 Risk All Star Winners here.

Annemarie Mannion is a freelance writer. She can be reached at [email protected].

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