GB Experts Reveal Their Top Insights from RIMS

Gallagher Bassett (GB) always enjoys supporting the RIMS (newly RISKWORLD), and this year’s conference was a welcomed opportunity to connect with industry peers and share insights that will serve as a foundation for future success. With over 10,000 attendees, 400 exhibitors, and 300 speakers, RIMS provided the opportunity for our thought leaders to share their expertise across four days of workshops, sessions and networking events. The conference’s focus was “infinite opportunities,” aligning with GB’s commitment to service excellence in claims and risk management to achieve superior outcomes for our clients and partners.

Our experts were honored to be selected to present on several different challenges faced by carriers, and we have compiled their most important takeaways from their RIMS 2024 experience for our readers.

Mike Hessling, CEO North America, and Caryn Siebert, VP — National Director, Carrier Engagement 

We Are Ready to Embark on the DE&I Journey: Now What? 

Members of GB’s Include@GB Committee, including North America CEO and Chair, Mike Hessling, shared their experiences building a focused approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) to provide a helpful framework for organizations looking to improve their own ability to champion diversity.

“Under the banner of Include@GB, we’re dedicated to creating an inclusive environment where all are treated with equity, understanding and support but we know there are critical points along the journey,” Mike said. “We are dedicated to providing career and progression opportunities for all individuals based on their respective skills and capabilities while striving to ensure our talent, across all levels, reflects the diversity across the communities and clients we serve.”

Our approach to DE&I is characterized by modern, inclusive processes, policies, and practices designed to provide every individual at GB with the greatest potential to thrive. Through our program pillars—Awareness and Education, Career Opportunities and Professional Development, Equity, and Social Responsibility—we deliver a comprehensive learning and development program that creates a more inclusive and welcoming environment for all team members.

“We shared our insights with attendees, from surrounding yourself with passionate co-drivers and charting a course that keeps you on the road to setting measurable goals and taking time to celebrate wins,” said Caryn.

Audience members shared questions relating to addressing colleagues not supporting diversity initiatives, keys to success and milestones, and obtaining “buy-in” across countries and levels of leadership.

Caryn commented, “Just like picking a family trip, there is not one crystal clear methodology. All voices must be heard to achieve the goal and continue reaching new heights. It’s not the easiest of journeys, but it’s one well worth taking.”

Kirsten Mickelson, Cyber Claims Practice Leader, and Christa Johnson, Cyber Claims Team Lead 

Navigating the Evolving Cyber Landscape: Safeguarding Against Ransomware and Emerging Threats in the Digital Age 

In the United States, there are over 2,200 cyberattacks occurring daily, which translates to approximately one every 39 seconds1 RIMS attendees reinforced that businesses are increasingly searching for guidance from experts on how to safeguard against cyber threats in the digital age. 

“We heard many examples from attendees about their experiences of cyber threats in both the workplace and their personal lives,” Kirsten said. “One notable topic of discussion revolved around the complexities of dealing with threat actors, particularly in the context of a ransomware attack.”

Our experts highlighted how increasingly intertwined the nature of data, software, and supply chains are in our digital world, and why so many organizations can be affected by a vendor or supply chain attack. Attendees were particularly interested in preventative measures and GB’s experts provided them with actionable insights and strategies to fortify their cybersecurity defenses.

“From patch management and multi-factor authentication to incident response planning, it was all about meeting the cyber threat challenge head-on,” Christa said. “By exploring these key areas, we aimed to equip the audience with actionable insights and strategies to fortify their cybersecurity defenses for the long term.”

With the uncertainty of cyber losses, it is essential to understand that some carriers are pulling back coverage by including conditional coverage through coinsurance provisions, sublimits, higher retentions, or exclusions added by endorsement.

“Many cyber insurance policies offer modular coverage, but one event can hit all coverage modules, so it is important to be aware of the appropriate coverages available to meet an organization’s needs,” Kirsten said. “Because of the fast pace at which cyber coverage is evolving, it is imperative to ensure the claims team is experienced and knowledgeable.”

Looking to the future, our experts predicted increasingly more severe attacks on critical institutions, such as those supporting the healthcare and manufacturing industries, and potentially other critical entities, such as institutions supporting the energy and food production industries.

Bill Bower, EVP — Director of Healthcare 

Fortifying Defenses: Navigating Escalating Jury Damages Through Strategic Anchoring 

The increasing medical, claim, and litigation costs, on top of rising social inflation, pose a significant threat to organizations when combined because of adverse outcomes. Bill Bower began practicing law in 1989 and has tried or managed more than 300 medical malpractice cases to verdict. He predicts these conditions will only continue to evolve and, with them, so should our strategies to combat them.

“Social inflation in litigation is particularly relevant for carriers navigating complex liability claims,” he said. “Continuing to manage litigation in the same fashion will yield the same results. The plaintiff’s bar is way ahead of us, and the defense of liability claims needs to catch up.”

From his experience supporting clients as a member of GB in the healthcare space, anchoring and providing a “damages defense” represents a certain cultural change. And like any change, this can bring about feelings of uncertainty. For many this is unfamiliar territory. But it is now necessary to move beyond the discomfort of “trying something new” and venture onto a pathway of proactively mitigating damages.

“We need to start putting on a case for damages and we need to start ‘anchoring.’ Simply labelling the plaintiff’s ask as ‘outrageous’ or ‘unreasonable’ is not sufficient. We must provide a counter anchor—an actual number—that has a solid foundation.”

Bill said such cultural change could bring feelings of uncertainty but hoped carriers who attended his session agreed it was time to venture onto “a new pathway of proactively mitigating damages.”

Greg McKenna, National Practice Leader – Public Sector 

Violence in the Workplace: Using Risk Management to Protect Professionals in the Public Sector 

Did you know the average cost of assault-related workers’ compensation claims across about 2,000 schools has increased 26% to about $6,700 since 2018–19?

Greg McKenna presented on the topic of casualty claims due to workplace violence with Sara Lowenthal, Director of Safety and Risk Management for the City of Hartford. This important session covered the alarming rise in incident data related to workplace violence, emerging risk control concepts seeking to curtail this peril, and the inception of a new legislative and regulatory framework aimed at preventing workplace violence from coming to California employers this summer.

“Our diverse audience, comprised of employers in both the private and public sectors, recognized the unique challenges of protecting public employees like law enforcement officers, public health workers, and educators whose workplace is the community at large,” Greg said. “Protecting workers who actively engage with the public requires us to recognize and explore an integration of political, societal, socioeconomic, and psychological factors and solutions. As we continue to move from an industrial economy, through a service economy, and into an increasingly on-demand society, the set of loss control solutions necessary to help prevent workplace violence is dynamic and constantly evolving.”

Many of the pilot programs that are underway in the city of Hartford resonated with the audience and RIMS organizers in attendance at the session. Sara described the advent of a new cabinet-level position in the Mayor’s Office, the Office of Violence Prevention, which will be charged with coordinating a portfolio of violence prevention initiatives. It will be exciting to see how these initiatives, accurately documented in future loss and claims data, help make incremental improvements toward a safer workplace and community in Hartford and beyond.

Greg also discussed the keys to enhance workplace safety, mitigating liability risks, and fostering a culture of employee well-being, and addressed the new California Workplace Violence Prevention Program legislation:

“Just as California employers are set to deploy a statutory framework aimed at preventing workplace violence, inclusive of a robust written plan, detailed incident reporting, tailored training, and recordkeeping requirements, employers from across the country are watching with interest,” he said. “Legislation in California often catalyzes lawmakers in other states to adopt and adapt similar laws and practices.”

Following these comments, attendees from around the country (and the globe) shared how their organizations have already developed such violence prevention plans—and are seeing positive returns. In fact, several attendees shared similar success stories around their effective use of de-escalation training to help mitigate workplace violence.

Get in touch with our team to discover how GB can empower your organization to navigate challenges and embrace opportunities in an evolving insurance landscape.

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1. https://www.watchguard.com/wgrd-news/blog/there-was-cyberattack-every-39-seconds-2023 

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Joseph Berrios

Managing Director — Carrier Practice

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