NCCI’s Industry Roundtable: NCCI President and CEO Bill Donnell engages workers compensation leaders on the critical issues and trends impacting the industry today and in the future. In this premier installment, Donnell speaks with Tracy Ryan, executive vice president and chief claims officer of Global Risk Solutions at Liberty Mutual Insurance and NCCI’s outgoing Board chair, on what the workers compensation industry can do to protect its reputation and transition into the future.
Bill: Last year in my AIS speech, I talked about the importance of staying relevant. What are the opportunities you see for us to demonstrate our relevancy and the value we bring?
Tracy: A key way to be relevant is to be part of the conversation and to share the real-life stories of how the workers compensation industry fulfills a noble mission—to help injured workers recover as fully as possible while providing lost wages and medical payments.
NCCI’s Our System@Work series is a fitting example of this. These stories showcase the partnership between industry stakeholders to get injured workers back to a life of normalcy, helping to humanize the numbers behind the work we do. It’s also important that we provide the real data highlighting the number of injured workers helped by the workers comp system and the value of lost-wage and medical payments covered by the system. And it’s critical that the world knows our commitment continues 365 days a year.
Bill: To honor that commitment, we’ll need dedicated people. But in the next 5–10 years, we will be losing insurance industry talent. How should we position for this turnover, both in terms of reshaping the perception of our industry and in attracting new talent?
Tracy: As employees in this industry, we have to be strong ambassadors and sit up tall when we tell our peers that we work in the insurance industry. Our mission to aid injured workers fits so well with the quest for social good, and the pride we exhibit will help attract prospective employees. Getting involved in recruiting events, speaking at schools, and even casual encounters can open the conversation about the benefits of our industry. Insurance is challenging and incredibly rewarding. Our industry is also complex, with opportunities in traditional and nontraditional insurance roles, from claims and sales to HR, Legal, IT, and office support. We need diversity of thought and experience, problem solvers, and analytic thinkers who are ready to take on the challenges posed by rapid advancement of technology and rising analytic sophistication.
Bill: Technology is certainly changing the landscape of many industries. Specifically, in workers compensation, tech start-ups are reinventing the mousetrap. How do you see InsureTech impacting our line of insurance?
Tracy: The technology shift is affecting workers compensation in many ways: from new customers to changing exposures to new competitors in the market. We have opportunities to partner with new vendors to improve how we deliver our products and services. It’s a very exciting time.
And there are new ways for employers to better manage their risk with smart sensors and wearable technology that can have a positive impact on workplace safety. Additionally, the proliferation of new data and new capabilities—like artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive analysis to utilize that data—will play a central role in how the industry moves forward.
Bill: What might that evolution do to affect the perception of our stakeholders?
Tracy: I’m not exactly sure as it’s all still unfolding—but that’s where we, as an industry, have to be comfortable with taking a bet on the future and taking a step forward into the next generation of our industry so we aren’t left behind. Our relevancy will depend on learning how to rise to these changes and interact across the board in ways that make the most sense for our businesses.
Bill: In five years, NCCI will celebrate its 100-year anniversary. What do you hope to see over those five years?
Tracy: It’s critical that we stay ahead of the changes to come so that we stay connected and stay relevant. I also hope NCCI will continue to bring new talent into the industry. There are tremendous opportunities for smart, young people to really make a difference toward our mission of protecting the lives and careers of the American worker.
Bill: Thank you very much for your time and for your service as NCCI’s Board chair. We will miss you.
Tracy: It’s been my pleasure.
Tracy Ryan served on NCCI’s Board from 2013 to 2018. For the last two years, she has served as Board chair. She is currently responsible for all claims operations at Liberty Mutual Insurance and leads 4,500 dedicated claims employees who handle 850,000 new claims each year for Liberty Mutual customers.
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