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Knowledge Is Power

Macy’s VP of Risk Management Ann Schnure looks forward to improved education at the Claims College.

May 14, 2013 Photo

CLM Fellow and Dean of the Claims College’s School of Workers’ Compensation Ann Schnure understands that knowledge is power, but to be able to actually confirm that knowledge would be a dream come true for managers in the world of workers’ compensation. Find out why she is excited about this unique new school and what it means for the future of the industry from her perspective as vice president of risk management for Macy’s.

How did you get involved with the Claims College?

I attended a CLM event in Ohio where I was speaking on a panel. At the event, I not only met CLM Executive Director Adam Potter but also several people in my “world” who were involved in the association, and I was very impressed. I had a conversation with Adam about the CLM and its vision, and we started talking about the Claims College. I thought it was a great idea, and I’m very excited to be a part of it because I think it fills a need that is missing in our industry right now.

What are some of these missing needs?

National-level training and education is a big concern. The world of workers’ compensation is state by state, and many conduct training and education on the basics for each state. For big, national companies—of which I’m a part—the prospect of single-state training poses a very labor-intensive and tough way to go. A multistate program that is beyond something basic is really lacking in the industry.

There also is demand right now for a program that is high quality. Attorneys are state specific in the world of workers’ compensation, too, so there is an absence of education on a national level for all involved. For example, when you go to a national conference for workers’ compensation, you often find that a presenter will give a very state-specific presentation because that is the state they know. The Claims College, however, will provide a national perspective. I think it is a great solution that fits the niche and needs that are out there.

What does the role of dean for the School of Workers’ Compensation mean to you?

I wanted to make sure it would be a high-quality program, and I hope to have people from my staff participate in the Claims College as it gets up and running. A side benefit is that I’ve made a lot of new contacts with people in the world of workers’ compensation, and it’s always a great advantage to add someone new to your network.

What are the most challenging problems facing the claims profession?

I think that making sure people have an excellent and solid base of understanding as they move up through the ranks has been a challenge. The good thing about a national program like the Claims College is that, if someone has attended, you will know the depth of their knowledge. Just as a certification provides managers with a clear understanding of a person’s knowledge level for a particular area or discipline, this college turns a person’s insurance experience and education from a question mark into a known entity.

What are your thoughts on the school’s curriculum?

I think the curriculum is great. It will give anybody who attends a solid overall base and understanding that, once you know the concepts and the right questions to ask, all you need to know are the state laws. If you understand the concept, principles, and how things operate, the only question left to ask is, “What do I need to do in this particular state?”

Also, I’ve been in the industry forever, so I’m really interested to hear feedback from those for whom we’ve aimed the content—whether it was difficult enough or possibly too difficult. I’m sure the curriculum will get tweaked over time as we get feedback on things that can be done differently, which I’m looking forward to.

How does the Claims College differ from other events that cover workers’ compensation insurance issues?

I think it’s going to be very different because it is an actual program curriculum—people don’t pick and choose what they will and will not learn. The college is unlike attending a conference, where people select the sessions they want to go to or attend some continuing education. 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.

What do you think your “pupils” will ultimately take away?

I hope that it will fill in all of the missing pieces or, if they already have knowledge, it’s a refresher course of all they have learned. The school will provide everything a person should know at their level of experience to be a solid, quality individual in the industry.

Is there any other thing that stands out for you as far as what the benefits will be for the industry?

Yes, one thing I like about the college is that it is created and taught by senior industry professionals, for younger industry professionals. You attend to really learn and become educated in your field. While vendors certainly play a role in making the Claims College successful, they do not run the program or inform its teachers, and that is very, very different from other events. I think that difference is what will sustain this program and also make it appealing to a wide range of people.

Is there anything about your experience that gets you excited about the school as far as your participation is concerned?

There is going to be a wide variety of companies sending their employees and staff. I think it’s great that people will come together from all different backgrounds. I’m from a self-insured company, but there will be third-party administrators and insurance carriers represented, as well. I hope that people will see from the way the curriculum is designed that they are going to interact with those who have developed in different environments, all trying to accomplish the same thing. That variety is absolutely valuable.

For managers who are considering sending someone from their team or for those making the case to attend, how would you communicate the worth of attending the Claims College?

This is not about someone going to a national conference where they can attend half of the event and you never know the quality of the presenters or the education that is provided. I’ve participated in those conferences where I’m doing a presentation and yet have no idea what the rest of the day is about or what people are actually going to be doing.

The Claims College has been vetted out and is targeted with a specific goal. I think that is another thing that makes this program different. No one should attend who does not intend to focus on learning and returning home able to say they have gained knowledge versus chatting about how they got to go on a trip to Philadelphia.

There is a great need in the industry for developing claims professionals. Now, you can go to the big global conference that touches everybody, but education varies greatly and there is no testing that confirms an attendee has actually learned something. That is not the place to go to learn and build the base of anything. The Claims College is specific to one industry and what they do and by line of insurance. It’s something that has not existed until now.

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About The Authors
Bevrlee J. Lips

Bevrlee J. Lips was managing editor of Claims Management magazine (now CLM Magazine) from January 2012 until March 2017.  blips@claimsadvisor.com

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