In the C-Suite with Melissa Hill
Hamilton USA’s Chief Resolution Officer explains her company’s commitment to CLM’s Resolution Revolution while offering tips to those considering the profession.
By Taylor Smith
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Southern California, and I considered myself a real “beach bum” as a child. It was pretty wonderful. My mom was a single parent and worked very hard as a paralegal. I would sometimes spend time with her at work, and I would read some of the files and look at the work that was going on. It really piqued my interests and was a big part of why I developed a desire, even at an early age, to do something in the legal profession when I grew up.
How did you come by a career in claims?
After graduating from college with a degree in pre-law and political science, I saw an ad for a claims trainee program with Safeco Insurance and thought, “Why not?” When I called, someone I knew answered the phone and encouraged me to apply. This was a very detailed, in-depth, six-month program. It’s a shame that insurers don’t have programs like this in the industry now. I never touched a claim until I graduated. I was exposed to all lines of business and all types of claims, sat in on depositions, and even witnessed a trial. I went out into the field with claims professionals. After six months, I was hooked.
Based on your career that includes many senior-level roles, what would say to those considering a career in claims today?
First and foremost, I’d say ask yourself if you are curious. Ask yourself if you like to find out why things happen and how all things work. If the answer is “yes,” then this is the career for you. In the world of claims, every day is an adventure. You don’t know what you are going to see and what you are going to learn. It’s so much fun.
Second, it’s 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.
Lastly, it’s a role that is crucially important to the company for which you are working. For example, here at Hamilton USA, I set about to make sure that the claims process is absolutely the best process it can be for our policyholders. We want their experiences to be positive from beginning to end. That’s a very important part of our focus.
You are one of several organizations using the “resolution” nomenclature not only for your title, but also your staff. What factors contributed to your decision to adopt that terminology?
I think that the terms “claims adjuster” and “claims manager” have negative inferences. I wanted to change the perception of how claims are handled in the industry, and I wanted Hamilton to be the leader in making an innovative change like this.
What we really do in our process is resolve things. We resolve problems for our policyholders. We resolve issues, disputes, questions about coverage, and so much more. We resolve the anxiety that our policyholders may have when they first contact us. I think it makes sense that our titles and terminology reflect that.
The response from policyholders and our own staff has been very positive. When I hand out a business card, there is always a conversation about my title, and each time is a wonderful opportunity to reinforce the fact that we help people and that we resolve problems. I’d encourage other companies to do the same because we need to change the industry in this respect.
Tell us about some of your passions and hobbies.
I have many but I’ll focus on one. I am a runner—a serious one. I usually run two full marathons a year and 15-20 half marathons a year. As often as possible, I run for charity and help raise money for the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas. This is a hospital that takes all patients at any time, whether or not they can pay or have insurance. They performed a life-saving operation on my daughter three years ago, and I will forever do what I can to help their cause.