Top of the tips: Prove that your program is low risk

When it comes time to meet with the underwriter and insurance broker, your risk management program is in the spotlight. How you perform could make the difference in whether your organization receives favorable terms from the insurer. So where in the world do you start?

The risk manager should show that the provider is already on top of all the concerns running through the mind of the insurer, says Matthew Dolan, senior vice president for OneBeacon Professional Liability Partners, a Boston insurer. He offers this advice:

Explain your role as risk manager.

Discuss your responsibilities, your department structure, and how you report to senior leadership.

• Explain your organization’s approach to risk management and how that view is supported.

Ideally, you should show that risk management is integrated throughout the organization and supported from the top. If you have changed your approach to risk management in recent years — by changing to a proactive emphasis or a blame-free culture, for instance — show how you did that and what effect it had.

• Differentiate your risk from other providers.

What makes you different from other providers the insurance might cover instead? Do you carry less risk because of the services you offer or don’t offer? Do you have a track record that is better than average in terms of past claims or payouts? Can you show that your staff is better trained or more experienced? Do you have fewer nursing vacancies than the national average of 13%? Have you implemented a program to retain experienced nurses?

Anything that can demonstrate you are a lower risk, even small points in your favor, will add up.

• Show your organization’s success record and possibly your own.

Unless you have a terrible record, you should volunteer to show the underwriter your actual record in terms of malpractice premiums and losses. Nothing reassures an underwriter like a history of low premiums, few claims, and minimal losses. If those numbers are lower than the typical figures for a comparable organization with similar demographics, highlight them and emphasize that they were no accident; your successful risk management program kept those numbers low.

And if you can attach those good numbers to your own career as risk manager, highlight that association for the underwriter. For instance, you might be able to show that the statistics improved once you were hired or when you implemented a certain risk strategy. If the numbers support it, you can even point to your favorable statistics from a previous job. The point is that the underwriter can see that you personally played a role in achieving those good numbers for the organization, and your continued presence will be seen as an asset.

Anticipate any questions or concerns from the underwriter.

While it is important to promote all your accomplishments, you also should be prepared to explain any weaknesses. Consider what the underwriter may have gleaned from Joint Commission reports, for instance, and have a good explanation. In many cases, you’ll fare better by offering the explanation before the underwriter asks.