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  • Writer's pictureTanya Berndt

What Does a Doctor and an Insurance Risk Manager Have In Common?

My husband being diagnosed at the hospital.

Since I was in the 6th grade, I have absolutely dreaded visiting a doctor’s office. I don’t know if it was due to my asthma and frequent illnesses as a child or the fact that my dad had a heart condition for as long as I could remember. For whatever reason, I fear doctors. Let’s be real, I don’t slightly feel on edge or a little uncomfortable – I am usually in all out panic mode thinking they are going to tell me I have one of a million life threatening medical conditions. I know I am not alone, I’ve heard it’s so common for patients to fear the doctor’s office that there is an actual name for it, “white coat syndrome”. Let me tell you, if there was a picture of someone with white coat syndrome referenced in a book or a research paper, my face would appear prominently on it.

It's been about a year and a half (or a little more I am embarrassed to say) since I’ve had my routine physicals.

Maybe it’s because every ounce of my being tries to come up with an excuse as to why this month won’t work to schedule an appointment. Either way, this morning, as I am writing this blog, I am heading for my blood tests. Then, next week, I have the ultimate panic attack waiting to happen - the results of that physical. It’s one of those necessary evils that I know I am required to do for myself to stay healthy and for peace of mind.

So you are probably wondering, what on earth does visiting a doctor’s office have in common with commercial insurance? Annually, you reach out to your doctor so they can diagnose and evaluate your current state of health. Through multiple tests, they discover whether your blood cell count, cholesterol levels, eye sight, reflexes and many other key health factors are considered “healthy”. They ask questions such as what type of medications you are on, how often you drink alcohol or if you smoke. After gathering all this data we wait in anticipation as to the very diagnosis of our current state of health.

Much like diagnosing a health condition, a commercial insurance risk manager should be diagnosing a commercial insurance policy. Just because ABC Company, Inc. has key coverages such as Employment Practices Liability, Cyber Liability Insurance and a high umbrella limit, does not mean your business requires the same coverages or the same limits. There is no cookie cutter approach to insurance – every business is different and requires different coverages and options. Discovering the risks associated with a business and then deciding whether the business should transfer the risk to another party (like an insurance company) is key.

Once a doctor diagnoses your health issue, they then design a customized plan on how to improve it. For example, if they decide you have high blood pressure, they design a plan on how to lower it. Through medication, exercise, etc. the goal is to ultimately improve your overall health. Just like a doctor would not prescribe an antibiotic to someone who has high blood pressure, a commercial insurance risk manager should not prescribe a policy if they do not know the risks involved with your business. What is your business’s plan design?

A doctor provides a plan to become healthier and now is the time to execute this plan. The plan may be walking daily, meditation, less sodium intake, etc. The plan might involve taking a particular dose of medication. A commercial insurance risk advisor, similar to a doctor, provides ways for your business to execute a plan of action. Maybe fleet safety is the hard to control issue in your business. What type of solutions are you being provided or have in place to assist in increasing auto safety and decreasing the claims associated with your policy?

Finally, the only way to know if the plan works, is to monitor it year after year. Do you still have the same health issue in six months after executing your doctor’s plan of action? If so, what else needs to be done? Should the plan of action involve therapy or surgery? At the same time, a risk management plan would need to be evaluated and re-evaluated until losses are reduced, the correct measures are in place, ultimately reducing costs of the policy itself over time.

While I dread a physical, I know that it is something that needs to be done to ensure my health. A business owner or executive probably doesn’t look forward to evaluating their risk management program either. It takes time and you might hear things you don’t want to hear regarding recommendations for your business. But, as I tell myself year after year, won’t it be worthwhile if I catch something early rather than later? Similarly, won’t a business owner or executive be relieved if they catch a risk management issue early before it is too late and it results in a devastating claim?

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