11/25/2013

Inside Risk with Anthony Riina, Pfizer Inc.

Pfizer's senior risk manager keeps his company safe from diseases like culture confusion, inefficiency, and legacy claims.

By Eric Gilkey

As the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company with 79,500 employees spread across 150 countries, Pfizer Inc. embodies the word “global.” CLM Fellow and Senior Risk Manager Anthony Riina shares with us how he is able to keep his company safe from diseases like culture confusion, inefficiency, and legacy claims.

Q. How did you get into risk management?

A. Shortly after graduating college, I started as an adjuster for Liberty Mutual where I handled workers’ comp and auto liability claims. I moved to a couple of different brokers, a Bermuda reinsurer, then to Tyco International, where I worked in their risk management department. After gaining those valuable experiences, I made my way over to Pfizer. I would say that I have had a diverse career, dealing with primary, excess, reinsurance, and claims as well as various other exposures around the world.

Q. How did your background in adjusting help in your current role?

A. It’s a huge asset because I can look at a claim and take it from the minute it happens all the way to final settlement, and my experience allows me to deal with most of the avenues in between. Here at Pfizer, we deal with everything from workers’ comp claims in Alaska to foreign general liability claims in China, so my background enables me to know how a claim will progress and what’s needed for final resolution. 

Q. What’s your day to day life like?

A. As far as a typical day, there are two words to describe it: exciting and challenging. I do a lot of coordination on a global basis. For instance, this morning I was dealing with the country manager in India, and I’m coordinating with a carrier in the U.S. I need to work with both internal and external parties in order to effectively manage claims on a global basis. 

Q. Can you give more specifics on the difficulties of operating on a global basis?

A. Culture is a big obstacle. Each country does things differently, and we have to be aware of that and operate appropriately while keeping in mind corporate goals. It’s challenging because you have to react quickly, pay attention to details, and spend a lot of time working through various issues and culture differences to ensure proper claims handling.

Q. What are some of the biggest risks and exposures that Pfizer faces?

A. We see a lot of claims for auto, workers’ comp, business travel accident, as well as claims involving international exposures. In addition, I work on insurance recoveries for legacy coverage and the placement of international bonds, not to mention managing our outstanding letters of credit. Maintaining our brand is always important, too. All colleagues are aware of the global brand and recognition and its importance.

Q. Have you taken a risk and turned it into an opportunity?

A. Seven years ago, when I first started at Pfizer, it didn’t take long for me to realize that I needed to work on our casualty claims.  There were a number of issues that needed to be cleared up, mainly with regard to legacy workers’ comp claims. I spent two or three years working with adjusters and negotiating settlements to reduce our exposures.  It was quite a long process, and I worked with a lot of different legacy insurers and TPAs to change the mindset and to get adjusters to think in our terms. We settled a lot of claims with fair settlements and this enabled us to move the claims along. A closed claim is a good claim, and it takes creative thinking to get there. Even though it goes against the rule, sometimes it pays to settle the indemnity exposure of a workers’ comp claim and leave the medical open for future payments.

Q. How do you handle claims?

A. I am the staff. I manage all of Pfizer’s casualty claims on a global basis. I use a TPA, Sedgwick, as an extension of our risk management department, and we have a very good relationship with them. In-house, I have someone who manages all of our data, and another colleague who helps manage various claims issues, but I don’t have a “true” claims staff. Pfizer is lean and we are proud of that. We’re very efficient. I manage most of the claims electronically and utilize Sedgwick and our brokers to help us manage to the fullest extent. I like our model; it keeps me challenged, it works, and we’ve been very successful.    



Eric Gilkey is executive editor of CLM Magazine, a publication of the Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance. He may be reached at 513-273-8025, eric.gilkey@TheCLM.org.

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