Inside Risk: Marjorie Knight, Frias Transportation Management
Frias' Director of Risk Management shares how she keeps the transportation giant rolling smoothly.
By Eric Gilkey
Managing risk for the largest people transportation company in Nevada—700 vehicles strong—means CLM Fellow Marjorie Knight has to keep her eyes focused on the road ahead and behind her.
Q. Talk about your career and how you came to work in risk management for Frias.
A. After 17 years in the health care industry, I was asked to take over the risk management department while the director went on leave for a few weeks. It sounded like a great short-term adventure that would be something new and interesting. That was 23 years ago. The director was not able to return and, although it wasn’t short term, it’s certainly been an adventure! I loved the challenge of every day being different, having challenges to meet, and opportunities to identify problems. You have to respond quickly and think beyond the routine. I was able to participate in the wonderful patient safety movement, establish process and safety improvement measures, and address adverse events. Health care provided me an opportunity to not only grow in my career, but also to help make a difference in the delivery of health care for another 20 years.
Three years ago, I came to work for Frias Transportation Management in Las Vegas as the director of risk management. Again, the idea of going into a totally different field seemed like a great challenge that I couldn’t pass up. Cars and crashes weren’t unfamiliar to me, since my husband builds racecars for a living and I’ve spent years at racetracks. With that familiarity, I felt I had a good understanding of the risk exposure and claims management issues, but the world of personal injury is extremely different than medical malpractice. The good news was that I could bring a different approach to the claims management team while learning the new realm of personal injury.
Q. What is your overall philosophy to risk management?
A. I view risk management as a multifaceted program, and it involves working with senior leadership down to the frontline staff to look at every segment of the operation. We must identify the risk exposure and determine if it is related to equipment, location, processes, policies, training, or accessibility in order to prioritize them. Then we need to identify resources and develop a plan of action that, again, involves everyone from frontline staff to senior leadership. I’ve found that this approach has helped with budgeting, redesigning, and implementing change to move forward with less barriers and support of those directly affected. You can’t manage it if you don’t know what the exposure is.
Q. What is your day-to-day life like as director of risk management?
A. Every day is different, which is what most risk managers probably say. It could start early, such as when I get called out to an accident in the middle of the night, or it could begin as a planned day in the office that changes with one phone call. I am fortunate to have investigators on duty 24/7 who respond to every accident, which, with over 700 vehicles on the roads of Las Vegas at any given time, is an adventure in itself. Timely notice of an accident, the report of the investigator, and in-house claims professionals enhance the ability to manage claims timely and effectively. The risk and in-house legal team meet weekly to discuss any questions or concerns regarding non-litigated claims as well as new litigation to ensure good communication—another must in risk management.
Q. Have you ever taken a risk and turned it into an opportunity?
A. We initiated a drill-down process, sometimes called a root-cause analysis, with all accidents that resulted in major vehicle damage. This involves our driver, an in-vehicle technology representative, the training department, investigator, and the supervisor of the driver. Our goal is to utilize the people at the scene and other data to identify areas for improvement. This has been a great success with our drivers because they feel that they can help make a difference, whether it’s helping other drivers learn from their accidents; learning that we are committed to listening to them; or our willingness to change processes or policies as long as the outcome improves the risk exposure. Using lessons learned to improve is important in reducing exposure and the number of accidents.
Q. What kinds of claims do you typically encounter?
A. With our volume, vehicle accidents and personal injury claims are our highest exposure. We transport a lot of people every day and from every walk of life, including the famous (and infamous) and those just rushing to catch their planes home. Each claim has its own unique issues, concerns, and challenges, which is why this is a great job!