An article ran in the April edition of Best’s Review entitled, “Risk Managers Walk a Tightrope as COVID-19 Challenges Remain”. The summary under the title says this, “Risk managers say they’re seeing their roles evolve as the old work environment undergoes profound change.” And the article says this, in part:

In the age of COVID-19, the insurance industry and risk managers view the whole process of opening office doors—if that’s even possible—or even setting up remote laptops for millions of workers as a “tightrope” walk that’s very hard to balance.

That statement reminded up of one of our earlier blog posts: “It’s 2022. Do You Know Where Your Claims Managers Are?” In that post, we wrote this:

Many companies in industries as diverse as insurance, transportation, construction, local governments, TPAs, self-insured groups, and restaurants are wondering where their claims managers and risk managers are. They might be in the office. They might be working from home. They might be on the road. It doesn’t matter. Wherever they are, they need access to information. And they need to be able to find the information they need as efficiently as possible.

And the congruence of the Best’s Review article and our blog post reminded us of an old expression: “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

Common Problems

It really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. If you’re managing risks or claims, you need to be able to get the information you need when you need it. You need to be able to generate the reports you need to be able to see incidents, the claims related to every incident, the types of accidents or injuries that caused the claims to be filed, the cost of those claims, and the trends suggested by all of that information. If risk and claims managers seem to be walking a tightrope over working from home or returning to an office, can you imagine how thin the high wire would be if they were walking it without all the information and access to it?

The problems of risk and claims managers are common to everyone who works any kind of job that requires work to be done online, regardless of industry.

For the industries in which we work, we have the challenges of risk and claims information solved.

We charge extra for solving the challenges of the rest of the world.

We recently read an article on Syncro entitled, “4 Changes You Need to Be Aware of in the Cyber Liability Insurance Industry”. This jumped off the screen and whacked us in the noggin:

Companies applying for cybersecurity liability insurance can expect to have more digital hoops to jump through before they’ll be approved … a “lack of attention to one or more aspects of basic security hygiene” was responsible for the most damaging attacks seen in 2020. Insurance carriers are mitigating their own risk by requiring more cybersecurity safeguards by those seeing [sic] coverage for cybersecurity attacks. This includes protocols such as:

  • Privilege access monitoring
  • Multi-factor authentication
  • Advanced threat protection
  • Confirmation of 3rd party security
  • And many others

Well, yeah. Those digital hoops could also be called common sense because many insurers who wrote cybersecurity liability coverages had no idea of the measures — or lack thereof — their policyholders had undertaken to ensure their environments were reasonably secure. As a result, those insurers took huge baths.

On the Job Training

There’s no real blame to be placed for any of that. It’s a new world, and we’re all feeling our way along. Given the business we’re in, however, we do believe strongly the right claim system can give all parties to cybersecurity liability risks much better understandings of their risk data, cyber and otherwise.

Cloud Claims, for example, connects claims to policies, enabling you to run reports by policy and policy period. It lets you audit every change made by anyone and the dates they’re made. It lets you run reports by user-determined filters — claim handlers, claims paid by amounts, dates, policy numbers, totals incurred, and more — all without SQL or Boolean logic — and export them to Excel. Cloud Claims also gives you dashboards that show types of cyber attack by incidents and frequency, along with the claims associated with those attacks, by time period, causes of those attacks, their costs, and more. And all of that will help you determine, by incident, specific points of entry and to determine trends, if any, in your exposures.

Yes. We all have to find our way in this new world. No. We don’t have to treat our exposures as random. Yes. We can get a better understanding of our risk data and derive better risk-management measures accordingly.

And we can start now with the tools we have now.

Since A Tale of Two Cities, the 1859 novel by Charles Dickens, is in the public domain, we borrowed the title for this post.

Unlike the novel, which takes place in London and Paris, our story takes place in Baked, Alaska. We called Albert Murfwhiffle, the municipal risk manager for the city of Baked, after hearing about a snow-plowing accident that resulted in multiple claims. We recorded the conversation, then sent the recoding out for transcription because we didn’t think anyone would believe what happened.

This version of the transcript has been edited for brevity and clarity. Al is represented as AM. We’re represented as CE (claims expert, of course):

CE: Good morning Mr. Murwhiffle. Do you have a few minutes to speak with us.

AM: Well, I guess I can spare a few. I gotta get over to the hospital to see Clem. He was in an accident with one o’ them snowplows, ya know.

CE: Yes. We heard about that. We weren’t able to get all the details. So, we thought we’d call and ask you about it.

AM: Yeah. Clem never seen that moose.

CE: Moose?!

AM: Yep. The durn thin’ jumped right up on the hood o’ Clem’s truck and did some kind of Merengue or somethin’.

CE: The moose was dancing on the hood?

AM: Right before he poked Clem in the eye with an antler, he was. Busted the windshield right out.

CE: Is Clem alright?

AM: He’s a little banged up, but he’ll be okay. His truck is totaled, though.

CE: Totaled?!

AM: Right you are. With only one good eye, he couldn’t see past the moose on the hood, and he drove off a bridge.

CE: And he’s only a little banged up?

AM: He was lucky. His airbag deployed, and he was wearing 10 pairs o’ long johns. Cushioned the impact pretty good.

CE: That sounds like a property damage claim, a personal injury claim, and a veterinary claim.

AM: ‘At’s about right.

CE: How are you managing all that?

AM: Mildred in my office has it all diagrammed out on a BOC.

CE: BOC?

AM: A big ol’ chart. Right there on the wall, ya know.

CE: Have you ever heard of Cloud Claims?

AM: Is that anything like weather insurance? We could sure use some ‘o that with all the snow up here.

CE: No. It’s an incident-based claims system that would let Mildred track and manage every claim related to Clem’s accident with her keyboard.

AM: No more BOC?

CE: No more BOC.

AM: Where do I sign?

All’s Well …

We’re happy to report Baked, Alaska is now using Cloud Claims. Clem’s out of the hospital. The insurance company replaced his truck. The city got rid of Mildred’s BOC. And the moose has refused to come out of the house since the accident.

Albert Murfwhiffle is now living in Freemish, Alaska, working for Mildred.

In September of last year, McKinsey & Company published a report called, How top tech trends will transform insurance. This excerpt about claims technology caught our eye:

Technology trends have the potential to materially change some of the underlying inputs of insurance products and core functions … [allowing] carriers to more effectively manage risk and make use of complex customer data—a critical step in evolving to a “predict and prevent” model of insurance where data is shared more frequently between parties.

It’s actually quite amazing to think about how far we’ve come from paper applications and telephones as means of submitting claims and how quickly it happened. We’re not quite sure what McKinsey means by will transform, since software has been transforming insurance — particularly in claims — by helping companies of all sorts to submit claims, to manage risk, to analyze customer data, to identify risk trends, and to mitigate the risks posed by those trends.

But that’s okay. That’s not the part that really got us.

Here’s the Head Slap

Later in the report, McKinsey wrote this:

The role of insurers may shift from claims to prevention, whereby they are best placed to identify and reduce risk by partnering with clients and using technology.

Whoa! It can be argued (as we did above) that software is already enabling insurers to play a more active role in mitigating risks. But actually shifting roles from claims indemnification to claims prevention? That’s a whole different kettle of fish.

McKinsey may prove to be correct. But for the moment, we’re not sure how software could predict the occurrence of risks well enough to preclude them. If we take into account the vagaries of human nature alone, it seems like a stretch. How, for example, in any given scenario, can we know Person A will do this, instead of that? Under what specific conditions is he likely to do one and not the other? How can we know?

We’re software developers. We believe in technology, of course. But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves in predicting the omniscience of software, even the software we develop.

That doesn’t mean we sell ourselves short. But it does mean we wonder how high tech can go.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

If you’re not familiar with the Charles Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, you might not have recognized its opening line. But whether you’ve read the novel or not, there must have been times in your life, perhaps your working life, in which you’ve felt the seemingly contradictory truth in that line.

We were reminded of that contradiction in a conversation we had with a risk manager for a restaurant chain. To protect his identity, we’ve identified him as RM (risk manager) in the transcript that follows. We’ve identified ourselves (modestly, of course) as CE (claims expert).

Here’s the transcript:

CE: Hi. Thank you for looking at our website and contacting us. Please let us know how we can be of service to you.

RM: Thank you for taking the time for this call. The truth is I reached out because I thought Cloud Claims looked interesting.

CE: That’s a great place to start. Do you have a claims system at present?

RM: I do.

CE: Do you mind if we ask what system you’re using?

RM: Not at all. It’s called Claims Bomb.

CE: Okay … well … how do you like it?

RM: I love it. It’s automated so many of the process I was doing manually.

CE: Excellent. Can you tell us what kind of reports it gives you.

RM: What kind of who?

CE: Maybe that’s not the best place to start. Does Claims Bomb let you tie individual claims to the incidents that precipitated them?

RM: No. But it does number all my claims. So, all I have to do is go back to figure out what caused them in the first place.

CE: Is that a distraction?

RM: It depends on what else I have to do.

CE: Right. Of course. And does Claims Bomb let you attach files in various digital formats?

RM: Isn’t that why God invented paper?

CE: Are you experiencing any backlog in the claims you have to manage?

RM: Yes. But the only people who complain are the ones whose claims aren’t being paid.

CE: Alright, then. Just one more question: Overall, how do you feel about Claims Bomb?

RM: I hate it.

CE: But you said earlier you love it.

RM: Yeah. But that was before I realized all the stuff it doesn’t do.

CE: We’re here to help when you’re ready.

RM: Are you busy right now?

Chapter Two

The moral of the story is this: There are good reasons to have a headache. Claims management isn’t one of them.

Please let us know how we can help you feel better.

In case you’re not aware, today is International Pi (π) Day, March 14 or 3.14.

The day is named in honor of Arnaldo Pi, the inventor of mathematics, who realized if he calculated the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter, he’d come up with 3.14. He also realized its decimal representation never ends and never settles into a permanently repeating pattern. And he was astute enough to realize, therefore, that he could never sell pi as an end-to-end solution because it didn’t exactly have an end.

What Arnaldo did not realize, however, is that his formula for calculating the area of a circle — πr— would land him in hot water with the WAG (World’s Authoritarian Grammarians). According to the WAG, the formula, πr2, is grammatically incorrect. Rather, the WAG insisted, the formula should be πisbecause π is singular.

Arnaldo’s Defense

As a means of justifying his formula, Arnaldo wrote the following letter to the WAG in hopes that they might leave him and his formula alone or at least cut him some slack:

Esteemed Members of the WAG,

I appeal to you for some latitude in rendering my formula for calculating the area of a circle on the following grounds:

First, I’m the inventor of mathematics, for cryin’ out loud. Nobody ever did this before. Since I’m making it up as I go along, how can you say I’m wrong?

Second, what about Toys ‘R’ Us? You let a retail chain that sells junk to impressionable kids get away with that — and you want to bust my chops?! I have to say it feels like I’m being singled out unfairly.

Finally, I think you have to decide whether you’ll err on the side of mathematical accuracy or grammatical accuracy. After all, you can’t have your pi and eat it, too.

Yours sincerely in numbers,

Arnaldo Pi

The Verdict

Arnaldo, as we now know, prevailed. That’s why all of us are now able to calculate the areas of circles with mathematical precision, albeit with grammatical incorrectness. But who cares? Arnaldo’s victory gives us all the more reason to celebrate International Pi Day, regardless of whether we prefer apple, peach, blueberry, strawberry, rhubarb, chocolate, custard, banana cream, lemon meringue, key lime, or mince.

Eat responsibly.

In an earlier post, we wrote about the ways in which companies go about reporting the incidents that spawn claims. And we recounted a conversation we’d had with a prospect on the subject of that reporting.

We recalled that post and that conversation in a more recent exchanges with another prospect. That made us think about what kind of risk-management reporting some companies might be getting. More important, it made us think about the extent to which many companies settle for what they’re getting.

Here’s a transcript of the exchange:

Us: What kind of risk-management reports do you get from your TPA or from your claims system?

Them: You mean loss runs or summaries?

Us: No. Risk-management reports. You know, the kinds of reports that would let you identify loss trends and such.

Them: Oh, you mean like reports of accidents, injuries, and stuff like that?

Us: Uh … not exactly. We were thinking more along the lines of reports that break down losses by type, by individual, by activity, by geography, and a number of other factors that could help you mitigate your risks and costs.

Them: Gotcha. You’re talking about the kinds of report that would help us improve safety, reduce the probability of accidents, and minimize our exposures.

Us: Exactly!

Them: Whew. Now we’re on the same page.

Us: Precisely. So, now that we understand our terms, what kind of risk-management reports do you get from your TPA or from you claims system?

Them: We don’t get anything like that.

It Doesn’t Have to Be That Hard

If you find yourself in a situation in which you’re not getting the risk reports you need to manage your risks adequately, you can do one of three things:

  1. Ask your TPA for them.
  2. Ask your risk manager for them.
  3. Get a system that will generate them for you on demand.

We know what we’d do. But we’re biased because we know how easy it is to get the reports you need.

If you’re ready to find out just how easy, we’d love to talk with you.

A popular introduction to local news used to ask, “It’s 10 o’clock. Do you know where your children are?” Along the same lines, many companies in industries as diverse as insurance, transportation, construction, local governments, TPAs, self-insured groups, and restaurants are wondering where their claims managers and risk managers are. They might be in the office. They might be working from home. They might be on the road. It doesn’t matter. Wherever they are, they need access to information. And they need to be able to find the information they need as efficiently as possible.

If that was true to some extent before the coronavirus pandemic, it’s a way of life now. Some folks call it digital transformation. Some folks call it the new normal. We call it evolution and common sense. Paper’s been been on the decline in working environments for more than 20 years because digital technology has been on the rise for that same period of time. And there’s no going back.

Digging Digital

Much of the digital progress has been made in claims management and risk management. Digitization facilitates automation. Automation facilitates workflows. Workflows facilitate efficiency and productivity. Efficiency and productivity improve loss mitigation, customer service, and profitability. Digitization also facilitates better data. Better data facilitates analytics and reporting. Analytics and reporting improve decision-making. It’s a pretty straight line. And there’s more.

As data analytics and decision-making improves, so does claim prevention. By identifying trends, incident types, claims frequency, times of occurrence, affected activities, accident-prone individuals, and more, claims managers and risk managers can work with their customers and their employees to reduce the likelihood of risk.

We’d never say COVID-19 was a good thing. But it did bring about — or at least accelerate — some very good things. Because it created the need for enhanced digitalization, it created the opportunity for claims management and risk management to advance rapidly. If we can keep the momentum going, the future will be bright, indeed.

It’s 2022. You don’t need to know where your claims managers are.

We had a conversation the other day that made us think about the ways in which companies — even or maybe especially companies that use TPAs — go about reporting the incidents that spawn claims. We were talking with a prospect, and the conversation went something like this:

Us: What does your reporting process look like?

Them: Everything goes directly to our TPA.

Us: Every incident, every claim, or both?

Them: What’s the difference?

Us: Well, if one accident spawns a physical injury claim and a property damage claim, how do you report them?

Them: We’d report the accident.

Us: How?

Them: We could use a form or a phone number.

Us: Do the forms ever get lost?

Them: Sometimes.

Us: If you use the phone number, do you document the accident?

Them: I guess we’re not sure.

Us: Would the TPA receive or track every claim stemming from that accident?

Them: I guess we’re not sure.

Us: Are there any incidents or accidents that don’t go to the TPA?

Them: I guess we’re not sure.

Us: Since you’re not sure about what gets reported to the TPA and how it gets reported, how do you manage your reporting to ensure the right people know about accidents, to maintain control of your data, to manage your costs, and things like that?

Them: We were afraid you were going to ask us that.

They’re Not Alone

You might be surprised to know the number of companies that take it on faith that everything goes directly to their TPAs. We used to be surprised. But we’re not anymore. But it’s not a difficult problem to fix. And believe it or not, the remedy starts with the definitions of everything and directly:

Everything goes to a TPA only if you systematize the tracking of every incident, systematize the tracking of every claim to every incident, and verify every incident is going to the TPA. Everything goes directly to the TPA only if you submit everything completely and electronically. Paper forms have a way of getting lost. Phone calls have a way of getting forgotten. And here’s the bonus: Everything you track and submit directly to the TPA can be reported quickly and efficiently.

We grant you we’re biased. But tracking and reporting your claims — and managing everything in one system — feels like sound business practice to us.

Can we help you track and report your claims?

We don’t envy municipal risk managers. Having to contend with claims for property damage, workers compensation, and other liabilities; accidents on school yards and sports fields; resident complaints; and more other things than most of us can imagine must leave most risk managers wishing they were jugglers … or octopuses (octopi, if you prefer the Latin derivative).

But while we don’t envy them, we definitely support them.

Don’t Agonize — Organize

When you’re being bombarded with claims, public safety issues, and the other aspects of managing risk, the last thing you can afford is disorganization. That’s why Cloud Claims is incident-based, tracking each claim related to each specific incident. Consider this, however far-fetched it might be: A Department of Public works employee is out plowing snow one night. He has the driver’s side window of his truck rolled down. A neighborhood kid throws a snowball that hits the employee in the head, causes a laceration, and knocks the employee unconscious. Out cold, the employee, with his foot still on the accelerator of his truck, crosses a yard and crashes into a house.

The employee’s medical claim, his workers comp claim, and the resident’s property-damage claim would track to the same incident, including every attendant document, image, or any other related file. In addition, Cloud Claims allows you to track lost time — and to visualize risk trends, incidents vs. claims, and your areas of greatest exposure to liability.

Don’t Complicate — Automate

Even a small town can generate hundreds, if not thousands, of claims in a year. You don’t want to contend with this equation:

[the number of claims, x the documents and files associated with each claims x the time required to manage each one = weeks or months of work]

In contrast, Cloud Claims lets you contend with this equation:

[the number of claims x entry of details x electronic upload x automated workflow = weeks or months of work saved]

Add dashboards that enable you to get the reports needed, when they’re needed, and municipal risk managers reduce their own risk — of stress, of burnout, of overwork, of overtime, and of sweating the small stuff (but their juggling skills might suffer as a result of all that organization and efficiency).

As an added benefit, happier municipal risk managers may very likely result in better service and happier municipalities.

As Robin Williams would have said, “What a concept.”