[caption id="attachment_201795" align="alignright" width="200"] Matthew Welding Vice President of CBM Insurance[/caption]
By Matt Welding
As our agency has grown over the last 30 years we’ve looked for ways to better meet the needs of our customers. We believe we’ve done that by hiring Lori Thomas as our new Claims Manager, a role that many other insurance agencies/brokers our size don’t have.
Readers familiar with insurance will most likely know Lori, who has spent her career in this market, beginning as a casualty underwriter at Cigna, moving on to being an account manager at a local property and casualty agency, and then opening her own business that specialized in workers compensation claims management for clients that included restaurant chains, nursing homes, and steel fabricators.
She went to work in 2015 as claims manager for a large national cable communications firm that had acquired one of her clients. In that role, she reduced company claims costs by 42% and the claims count by 56% in a two-year period.
I asked Lori how she did that.
“I think educating the client is very important,” she said. “I’ve always found that the people companies insure feel that when they pay their premiums and suffer a loss, the insurance company is going to magically take care of it. They often don’t realize that they need to be a partner in helping figure out what happened –who was there, why it happened, and how it might be prevented in the future. You need to investigate it yourself so your insurance company can be your best advocate.”
We’re excited to have Lori aboard because claims can be a process that too often is an all-hands-on-board activity with many folks involved. But having someone with Lori’s background enables us to streamline the process and put procedures and infrastructure in place that will enable us to serve our clients more efficiently and more quickly spot trends and opportunities.
Lori joined us in late June 2020 and says she’s focused right now on reviewing every open claim and introducing a tracking system to understand the different claims CBM has across different categories, looking at the source of any issues, and where more focus needs to be paid. Using that approach, she says, will enable CBM to integrate claims experience into the renewals process for clients.
“My job is to help each client, and I can do that by getting even better reporting system in place; developing the ability to track where we are; and react to things that are messy,” she said. “It also helps me to educate the client as to what their role is in the claims process. In most cases, they don’t know what they don’t know.
Knowing Lori’s experience when we first spoke with her about the position, what stuck out to us was Lori’s experience at getting actively involved with lawyers, hospitals, medical providers, and insurance adjusters. We’ve found – and so has Lori – that most insurance agencies don’t have dedicated claims folks and we think we’ve hired the best around.
“Smaller companies take the claim and turn it in,” Lori said. “My role is to help, to discuss options, and make sure that the paperwork – with photos -- is complete and going where it’s got to go. This really is a new service for CBM – one that others don’t offer. We have the best product on the front end. I need to make sure it works on the back end when they need it.”
At CBM, our slogan is “Partnerships Built on Relationships.” We have a simple, unified message for all that we do. Our sales team isn’t “salesy”. We partner with our clients to check for gaps or confirm the coverage is adequate. Our service folks have an average of 17 years of experience, which provides a wealth of knowledge. Adding a dedicated claims role is another arrow in the quiver for us, and we think gives us a leg up on the competition.
Matt Welding is vice president for New Castle-based CBM Insurance, an independent agency that has provided personalized insurance protection and services to clients for more than 30 years. CBM has partnered with more than 15 national and regional insurance carriers to provide clients with a wide range of products and services.