Where We’re Going

AIG’s Richard Woollams told us where the industry is headed at the inaugural Claims College.

By Eric Gilkey

As president of global commercial claims for his company, it’s safe to say AIG’s Richard Woollams has the knowledge and experience to tell us where the industry is headed. He did just that at last month’s inaugural Claims College.

Woollams hit some familiar drum beats, such as the continued digitalization of claims files and how analytics and modeling are not just highlighting trends but helping find relationships between claims. But he also discussed how technology is providing the “assist.” He spoke of claims systems that will make suggestions á la Google based on what you type, or technologies that can prompt adjusters on what should be done next (“Have you thought about subrogation?” it might ask).

He also offered a few warnings to those first-year “students” he was addresssing: Embrace the outward-facing, customer-interacting positions, because data input jobs aren’t here to stay. He advised that the continuing march to specialization continues. Master one line, he said, then “side-step” to a different area to create true career advancement potential.

Woollams also articulated four essential traits in claims professionals: work ethic (“The lazy fail.”); honesty (“We’re an industry built on trust.”); brains (“You must know the subject matter.”); and toughness (“Those who flinch don’t do well.”).

His parting advice? Communicate clearly up and down, know how to handle the “ugly” conversations, and do the hardest thing on your list first. That’s sound guidance for us all.  

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

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