Risk Insider: Martin Frappolli

What If Uber and ZipCar Had a Baby?

By: | May 28, 2015 • 3 min read
Martin J. Frappolli, CPCU, FIDM, AIC, is Senior Director of Knowledge Resources at The Institutes, and editor of the organization's new “Managing Cyber Risk” textbook. He can be reached at [email protected]

Imagine a world in which all of the cars on the road are navigating without a human driver. We may also anticipate another liberating aspect – the “ownerless” car. Well, some entity will own the car, but it may not be you or me.

Several motoring trends are moving towards convergence; Uber and ZipCar are already changing the way we move about. The potential for a driverless car changes those models. What could happen when autonomous cars are demonstrably safer than human-piloted vehicles?

Uber and Lyft essentially replace hailing a cab with ordering and paying for your ride through your smartphone. No cash changes hands, your driver is motivated to be polite and keep a clean vehicle because you will rate him after the experience.

When will this all happen? Many experts say “sooner than you think,” but Warren Buffett is still investing in car dealerships.

At the same time, city residents who don’t own cars but occasionally need one can turn to ZipCar instead of taxis or car rentals. After a small monthly membership fee, ZipCar users pay an hourly rate. It’s an on-demand model for car use.

This model isn’t new to us. Just 10 years ago, we bought our music on CDs (or MP3) and bought movies on DVD. Now, people everywhere are rapidly switching to a streaming model for music and movies – think Pandora, Spotify, Roku, Chromecast and Netflix.

With streaming, we save the costs of purchasing a library of movies or music, and we save the hassle of maintaining this library. We find it convenient to have every song and movie title at our fingertips.

Imagine, then, how the utility of Uber and ZipCar is compounded by the potential for autonomous vehicles. When we want a ride, the car comes to us, takes us safely to our destination, and then departs.

We don’t buy the car, insurance, gas, or parking space. We are freed from the time and expense of vehicle ownership.

The implications of this “streaming transportation” model are far-reaching. Some experts predict that, because most cars are idle most of the time, we would need only one out of eleven cars currently on the road.

While there is great opportunity for robotics experts and upstart transportation entries like Google and Tesla, how do Ford and Toyota react?

Reduce the car count by 90 percent, reduce the number of accidents even further – what happens to car insurers? Auto insurance exists to help us recover from the costs of human error. Once you take human error out of the mix, auto liability will be an issue for the manufacturer, not the (absent) driver.

Other implications – parking garages will be largely unnecessary; local mechanics won’t be needed; doctors and hospitals will have fewer patients; reduced congestion might spark inner cities, but easier commutes might spark development outside the cities.

Drunk driving, texting and driving, and driver fatigue will all be problems of the past. Leisure travel might mean you get in your RV at 10pm and wake up 8 hours later at your resort destination. No person is denied transportation due to age or ability to drive.

When will this all happen? Many experts say “sooner than you think” but Warren Buffett is still investing in car dealerships.

It will likely happen sooner in cities than rural areas, but the certain thing is that this disruptive technology will create great opportunities while destroying a lot of traditional business models.

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]