In the C-Suite: A Look Back at 2016
We celebrate the season by revisiting top claims leaders’ thoughts on why claims is all about helping people.
By Taylor Smith
So much about the holiday season is about helping others. Similarly, a career in claims can be rewarding because it, too, is about helping others. We celebrate those values and other reasons why a claims career can be so satisfying by looking back at some of the insights shared with us this past year by the industry’s top leaders.
“If you like to be busy in what you do, if you like to do different things every day, if you like to see the work that you are doing have immediate results, if you believe doing the right thing is important, then you can have a successful claims career because these are all important qualities. It’s a rewarding career with a lot of room to move up and income potential.” —Bill Schrimpf, Chief Claims Officer, General Counsel and SVP, American Mining Insurance Company
“I look for compassion and caring in people. Claims requires working with people who have had bad things happen. You can train people how to interpret the policy and do the technical parts of the job, but it’s harder to teach the customer service skills if that’s not part of who the person is. Good claims people want to do what’s fair, and they want to help their insureds.” —Michael Zimmerman, Claims Vice President, Goodville Mutual Casualty Company
“You get to use analytic decision-making, you investigate, and then you get to go sell your results. It’s hugely satisfying. There also is so much that you can learn in so many areas. Good claims people like to dig deep and have good common sense. It’s a fast-paced environment, and the workdays fly by so quickly because you’re busy doing interesting things all day. When I started in claims, I had no idea that I’d like it—but in fact, I love it. I find it a hugely satisfying career. It requires really smart people with good communication skills. Claims professionals get to handle a wide variety of things each day, so they have to be able to multitask and handle disruptions.” —Ann Schnure, Former Vice President, Risk Management and Claims, Macy’s Corporate Services Inc.
“I’ve always been naturally inquisitive, and there is so much in the claims world to keep someone interested. The pace is very quick, and I truly am interested in what I am doing. I also found the opportunity to help people each and every day to be exceptionally rewarding. It was—and still is—a great career choice.” —Steve Shiner, Senior Vice President, Claims, MAPFRE Insurance
“I actually believe that the role of claims in insurance is pretty sexy! This is true on a few different levels. On one level, claims allows us to give back and to make a difference. That’s not true of most jobs. For example, my title is chief CARE officer, which stands for chief claims and risk engineering officer. We adopted that moniker to remind those in the profession what our key role is: caring for people when something goes wrong. It’s our job to alleviate and minimize the discomfort, inconvenience, and, sometimes, tragedy of the occurrence. Claims management is one of the greatest service careers out there. After the role of first responders, the role of claims comes next. It’s the key to the recovery.” —Paul Stachura, Chief CARE Officer, State Auto Insurance Company
“Claims management connects so directly to the social fabric of life. When I try to describe to my children what I do, I can show them a truck on the highway and say, ‘If that truck gets in an accident, we help the people who are hurt, we help get the truck repaired, and we get the people back on their feet.’ Claims is where the promise of insurance is fulfilled, and we get to do that every day. I think this is wonderfully different from many businesses.” —Ajay Sinha, Executive Vice President, Operations, Gallagher Bassett
“I love working in claims because I think it’s an important, dynamic role. There are so many different things to do. You’re close to the customer. We’re at the cutting edge of what’s important in the insurance company. The industry also is changing quickly and innovating, which makes the career very exciting. There’s always something new and challenging, and that appeals to many people looking for a new career.” —Grace Hanson, Senior Vice President and Chief Claims Officer, Homesite Insurance
“[Claims is] a job about helping people. When people reach out to us, it’s often the worst day of their lives. We have an opportunity to turn that day around and help them get back to their normal lives. So there is a combination of intellectual, inquisitive, legal, and caring opportunities that comprise the claims world. It’s wonderful.” —Melissa Hill, Chief Resolution Officer, Hamilton USA
“My favorite part of [claims] really relates to helping people. For example, when a policyholder calls me to report a new claim, even if it’s a small one, they often are quite nervous and anxious. They might be embarrassed. Maybe they haven’t slept well. They really want help. My ability to immediately convey to them that we’re there to help and that we’re experts in what we do can be reassuring immediately. That ability to help is very rewarding.” —Wes Marston, Vice President, Claims, CPA Mutual Insurance Company of America Risk Retention Group
“First and foremost, I’d stress the dynamic nature of a claims career. You get to work with a myriad of professions and professionals—each with their own perspective and each offering a different way of looking at a situation. Good claims professionals are able to appreciate this, which is good for career growth in any business. I also think the range of roles within claims is so varied now. Being in claims isn’t just about handling files anymore. It’s about process and technology and new ideas for growing our business—skills that the millennial workforce is so good at. It also is a profession that you truly still get to help people.” —Jeanette Hernandez, Chief Operations and Claims Officer, Carl Warren & Co.