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Welcome Back to School

Four ways CLM’s Claims College will change the industry.

July 16, 2013 Photo
When the Claims College was first proposed, the natural inclination by planners was to call it a conference or event. In reality, it’s much more than that. The Claims College is the recognition by the CLM that the insurance claims industry needs to fill a gap left by abandoned adjuster training programs. It’s the end result of an honest discussion about priorities and knowledge transfer fragmentation. Its goal is to provide students with the practical skills and techniques that will ensure a high degree of competency across a broad swath of learners.

When the Claims College launches in September in Philadelphia, it will aim to accomplish just that. Not by fluke or by luck, but through preparation and planning with industry experts who are responsible for everything students will learn. This learning experience is for the industry, by the industry, and it’s divided into three main schools: Claims Management, Professional Lines, and Workers’ Comp. Additional schools will be added in 2014.

Here are four facts to understand about the Claims College and how it represents the future of adjuster learning.


#1: Collaboration and the Claims College 

Reflecting leadership organization from university settings and overseeing the development of the Claims College from the start is a group of senior industry professionals from several prominent organizations. As chancellors, these leaders established the overall strategic direction of the Claims College.

Additionally, each school is led by an executive council of industry experts and chaired by a dean. Councils are composed of practicing industry professionals with years of experience, which enables them to develop practical and useful courses in conjunction with the faculty. Because these council members are often the ones hiring for their companies, they will be looking in the future for those who earn their Claims College designations as proof of school and concept mastery.

The pedigrees of those on the executive councils and the shared belief about the importance of the Claims College shows how collaboration among companies is helping to reshape the role of adjuster education, moving it away from traditional sources and centralizing it with the Claims College. Together, everyone is working towards the goal of making the industry stronger. 

“The difference with [the Claims College], and what I think is overdue, is that there really has never been a formal structured program run by claims executive management and taught by senior claims professionals who are active in the industry,” says Chancellor Paul Tuhy, XL Global Services. “I think it’s never been done before to this degree, and it’s something the industry has needed for some time.”


#2: Teaching from the Ground Up

Senior executives recognize the industry crisis. Call it a “brain drain” or a lack of recruiting, but one thing is clear: fewer claims adjusters arriving to their desks today received the training that their peers would have 20 or 30 years ago. What used to be a company norm—training adjusters in multiple lines and disciplines across their companies—has disappeared.

Furthermore, for those colleges that offer risk management or insurance-type programs, none offer claims courses or teach any claim specific material. If anything, they offer a brief overview of what claims does in terms of functional support and that’s it.

Given this fragmented approach to claims education, the Claims College is kicking off its first year by offering an overview of the industry to its students. Held on the first day of school, this half-day primer explains the insurance industry in its entirety to ensure students have the same foundation of knowledge from which to build in the college’s remaining days.

Specifically, senior industry leaders will offer technical explanations on how insurance companies work; the claims process; insurance brokers/agents and other intermediaries; and risk management. Here are the topics they will address: 

  • Basic Economic Model of an Insurance Carrier – Steve Hunckler, Chief Claims Officer, State Auto
  • Various Functions in an Insurance Company – Patrick Cusack, Chief Claims Officer, ARI Insurance Co.
  • Significance of Ratios – Jeff Vanderpool, Chief Claims Officer, Sunshine State
  • How Reserves/Reserving Works – Nelson Tavares, SVP of Claims, W.R. Berkley Company
  • Reinsurance and Run-Off – Julie Fortune, Chief Claims Officer, Arrowpoint Capital
  • Types of P&C Companies – Frank McLaughlin, Chief Claims Officer, Assicurazioni Generali
  • Stakeholders in the Claims Process – Mike Lancashire, Chief Claims Officer, Main Street America
  • Determining Coverage/Allocation/Duty to Defend – Steve Eisenmann, SVP of Claims, Crum & Forster
  • Roles of Outside Lawyers – Cindy Khin, Chief Claims Officer, Medmarc Insurance
  • Negotiating Settlements – Linette Ranieri, Chief Claims Officer, Berkley Life Sciences
  • Understanding Brokers, Agents, and Other Intermediaries – Todd DeStefano, President of Risk Management, York Risk Services
  • Risk Manager Duties – Libby Christman, Vice President of Risk Management, Ahold USA


“Our college is taught totally by claims professionals, whereas others use a mix of lawyers, vendors, and other professionals,” says Vic Marmo, dean of the Claims College’s School of Claims Management. “Our instructors have been in the same shoes as the students, so we can relate and we know what is useful and beneficial. We have no other motive than to see our profession prosper.”


#3: The Power of the Designation

Each school is comprised of multiple levels, and successful completion of all levels in a particular school will earn participants a respected and sought-after designation, which will become the industry standard for identifying top-notch claims professionals. For individual schools, levels consist of pre-course reading materials, in-class instruction, group projects, and an exam. In addition, students will earn 20 CE credits.

“The Claims College is unlike attending a conference, where people select the sessions they want to go to,” says School of Workers’ Comp Dean Ann Schnure, who also is Macy’s vice president of risk management. “In those situations, you never know exactly what they have learned. The Claims College is unique because attendees will have the specific goal to get trained and go through the school, and everybody going through that program has the exact same exposure.”


#4: A Seat at the Claims Table

In addition to hosting its first class, the Claims College also will host a summit with more than 50 senior claims executives who will come together to show their support of the industry and the educational opportunities created specifically for claims professionals.

The Claims College was created based on the need for more educational opportunities for claim professionals, which was identified during the 2012 Chief Claims Officer Summit. Since then, dozens of industry leaders have been working to develop the curriculum and recruit faculty.

Additionally, Richard Woollams, AIG’s president of global commercial claims, will deliver the keynote address. Woollams, who started his claims career in the 1980s, will share his experiences as he moved from a claims adjuster to one of the most prominent and well-respected claims executives in the industry. The address will kick off the first full day of classes on Sept. 9 and will emphasize that working in claims is more than a job—it’s a career.

The tangible benefits of attending CLM’s Claims College are easy to state. There’s the 20 CE credits, the respected designation that companies will soon demand, and the practical education so lacking in today’s insurance environment. But the intangibles are even greater. It’s about being part of a sea change in the industry that is dedicated to working together to create the future of claims. It’s about being on the ground level and meeting like-minded senior professionals who share and understand what this industry is all about, all put together by an organization that seeks to change the industry for better. See for yourself in Philadelphia this September when the Claims College welcomes its first class. 


The Three Schools

Registration has already opened for the Claims College, which begins on Sept. 8, 2013. Here are the three schools that will comprise the college and the deans who will direct the curriculum via their executive councils. To find out more about each school’s faculty or to register, go to TheCLM.org.

School of Claims Management: This school is designed by Dean Vic Marmo for claims professionals from all industries. Students will benefit from the school’s rigorous curriculum, which is designed to help strengthen current skills and develop new skills and knowledge in order to excel professionally. Those who successfully complete all three levels will receive the Certified Claims Management Professional (CCMP) designation.

School of Professional Lines: The School of Professional Lines is led by Dean Larry Goanos, consultant with Andros Risk Services, and will expose students to a variety of professional lines, including medical malpractice, legal malpractice, and design professional malpractice. The school has three levels, which students must complete in order to receive the Certified Professional Lines Professional (CPLP) designation.

School of Workers’ Comp: Designed by Dean Ann Schnure, Macy’s vice president of risk management, this school is intended for professionals who currently work in workers’ compensation or are interested in pursuing a career in the field. Students who successfully complete all three levels will receive the Certified Workers’ Compensation Professional (CWCP) designation.

About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.  eric.gilkey@theclm.org

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