Navigating the Ever Changing the Landscape of Risk Assessment

In this episode of Risky Business, Colin Rooke and Paul Martin talk about the perils and challenges of being a client in the insurance industry these days.

Listen to the full episode here, or read the full transcript below

Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers. This is Paul Martin, business commentator here on CKOM. And you’ve heard me talking about the Butler Byers risk assessments system, the step by step plan that will help business owners work their way through all of those questions that come from the world of insurance. And this is a very volatile world these days because of the … There’s so much stuff going on around the planet and it is changing the whole face and shape of the insurance industry. To help us understand this as always is Colin Rooke. He’s our expert, our specialists. The commercial risk reduction specialists with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. Colin, welcome. Great to see you again.

Colin Rooke: Thanks for having me.

Paul Martin: You know in the preface to this thing, I was just saying that the world kind of is topsy-turvy right now, I mean. As we prepare for these shows and we do them every couple of weeks or something. We’re looking for a topic here and a topic there, and like kind of take your lead on this stuff about what’s timely. And you were saying that that’s kind of hard to figure out what’s timely these days because it’s changing so fast.

Colin Rooke: Yeah. I wanted to discuss how difficult it is to prepare for the show. I spend a great deal of time prepping, and in order to prep of course, I’m constantly monitoring the changes in the world of risk. And as we get closer to the show, I find myself changing topics all the time right up until literally 30 minutes prior sometimes. And it makes it really difficult to record the show. And the reason for that is the landscape of risk changes so often that by the time we get to closer to recording, so much has changed that, what I read about three days ago, four days ago. Yeah. It was worth talking about, but then something new has occurred, up until an hour prior. And I think to myself, “Well, jeez, we need to discuss this. We’ve got to be on the forefront of this.” And that is the landscape of risk. That’s the nature of risk. It changes so rapidly that picking a topic is just so difficult for that reason.

The landscape of risk changes so often…

Paul Martin: Well, that speaks volumes too. If I’m a business owner, how do I cope with all of this? I mean, if you as an expert who lives this stuff every day, can’t keep up, how am I ever going to have a chance as someone who looks at insurance once a year?

Colin Rooke: You know exactly. We spent a lot of time as you know, educating ourselves on risk, and we’ve got to the point now where … Of course everyone that works at Butler Byers plays a hand in that. But we’ve gotten to the point where we have full time staff that are just helping us keep up with what’s changing. So then we can better educate our clients. A really good example of changes in risk because you and I talked about, well, several times about talking with all the hurricane activity we’ve had. So of course Harvey rocks Houston. So we say, “Okay, but we better talk about maybe disaster recovery planning. The effect that, that’s going to have on the insurance industry and reinsurance costs.” Well, as we get closer to recording, Irma hits Florida. Who would have predicted that we’d have a new hurricane that would trump Harvey in sort of timeliness or top of mindedness. And then we say, “Okay, well maybe we’ll just talk a bit about both.” And then we’ve got Maria that hits Puerto Rico and it just goes on and on and on.

Paul Martin: And then throw in the odd earthquake. And a-

Colin Rooke: Exactly. Yeah.

Paul Martin: Yeah.

Colin Rooke: -forget those.

Paul Martin: The natural disasters have been really significant, but those capture headlines, and I think we all pay attention to them. And we know the human toll that’s taken on it. But from the insurance industry’s perspective, these things are catastrophic. These are … They kind of rock the foundation of the industry, don’t they?

Colin Rooke: Exactly. By the time the news hits that hurricane Harvey will be one of the costliest or if not the most costly natural disaster to … Not only insurance companies but to North America, of all time. Again, adding to that total, we have two more hurricanes to worry about. And so to the insurance companies and ultimately to the businesses that we work with, we need to think about. This is not just new, it something to read about and say, “Jeez, maybe I’ll lend some support, or to think about those affected in those countries.” But at the end of the day it’s going to somehow impact the cost of insurance for our clients as well. Every single insurance company will be affected in some way, whether they’re directly involved, as in they are insuring a lot of that property. Or by way of reinsurance in the sense that it’s going to cost them more to buy reinsurance because these reinsurance companies have basically depleted their reserves, paying out these claims.

Paul Martin: As we talk about these natural disasters and of course three major hurricanes. I mean three big ones. We had earthquakes, fires, whether they were in BC or in California. And it just seems to stack up one after the other, after the other. But that’s mother nature at work. Then we see what I see now has being characterized as the Weinstein Effect or the Weinstein Effect, Harvey Weinstein. There’s just barrage of stories about sexual assault that have just mushroomed then exploded as a result of the exposures that are coming out of Hollywood. And this to now basically, there you go, the topics changed again, isn’t it?

Colin Rooke: Yeah. Now everyone is talking about sexual harassment. And all it takes is of course the one, and then it seems every single day you read the news and there’s another celebrity where people are coming forward and saying, “This occurred.” Now again, are these just stories out of LA and really has no impact on business? No. The more talk about sexual harassment, I mean, it’s turning …

It’s now something everyone is talking about and saying that this is occurring. It’s rapid. It’s occurring at … A list celebrities have been sexually harassed and they’re speaking out. So you’re going to see more allegations, more and more. It’s going to be talked about more. And as a business owner, you need to think, “I don’t want to go through this. What policies and procedures do we have to make sure, this is not occurring in our organization. That we’re providing adequate training around the sort of the do’s and don’ts.” And again, “Are our policies up to date? Are we discussing our stand on sexual harassment? And are we going over procedures with staff?”

Colin Rooke: So again, at first it just sounds like sort of celebrity news, but then when you think about it, it does translate down to risks to the clients that we work with.

Paul Martin: Now at the risk of just creating a shopping list here. But I mean, the last time we talked it was Equifax and that was a … And I don’t know what the numbers are on that now, but the cyber breach there, and we’re getting close to a 100 million dollars in expense on that one I think. Right?

Colin Rooke: Yeah. I mean Equifax is still in the news, and of course we talked about the number of files that were potentially lost. It was at the time, a 143 million. It’s grown since then. But the direct cost to Equifax alone are at again, just under a 100 million dollars. And again, is this new? Should I ignore it? No, because these are all real events that can impact our clients. So maybe you won’t have a 100 million dollar exposure like Equifax, and again that number is growing, but you might have a two or three million exposure. So again, these stories that hit the news and it has everyone talking. We look at those from a risk perspective and say … We gather that data and say, “Okay, these are trends. We’re hearing a lot more about this and we need to educate our clients on what they can do to avoid this.”

Paul Martin: All right, we’ve got to take a break Colin and then when we come back, we will explore that after this break, but we’re not even done the shopping list, I don’t think. I think we probably talk about things like there’s a Disney thing going on. There’s one in the airline industry. I mean this list goes on and on. And some of them we’ve been talking about, as a small business owner, I might say, “Well, let’s … I probably not going to be caught up in a global cyber attack.” But some of these other ones, they can hit a company of any size. So we’re going to take a little break. Come right back. You’re listening to Colin Rooke, the commercial risk reduction specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance on risky businesses. We look at the perils and challenges of being a client in the insurance industry these days. Back after this.

Paul Martin: Well, welcome back to Risky Business. This is Paul Martin, and as always, I’m speaking with Colin Rooke, the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. Just before the break, Colin, we were talking about Disney seems to have found themselves in a situation these days. We’ve got the airline industry that’s feeling it. I mean, it just seems to go on and on, doesn’t it?

Colin Rooke: Exactly, and like we mentioned earlier, we can’t keep up. I’ve mentioned before we’ve got several sources that supply us with new emerging risk. To put things in a perspective, over a three day span, I have 1227 new risk topics that have been emailed to me. These are real-life situations. These are all articles of new and emerging risks that have impacted business owners from across North America. I mean, it is that difficult to stay in front of this thing.

Paul Martin: Well, I guess I’ve done my job in this program, the first half of this program, anyhoo, which is I’ve scared the daylights out of any business owner that’s listening to us.

Paul Martin: So now let’s talk about the other side, like what do we do about this? I’m a business owner, and often we talk in the business world about looking for our ideal customer. Now, I’m going to flip that around and if I’m a business owner, how do I become the ideal client of an insurance company that is dealing with this whole laundry list of things that we’ve just talked about? They’ve got to be questioning their cost structure, all of that. So, how do I become a preferred customer in their eyes, as they’re dealing with all of these challenges?

I’m a business owner, how do I become the ideal client of an insurance company that is dealing with this whole laundry list of things that we’ve just talked about?

Colin Rooke: Yeah, a really good point. In order to do that, you have to say, “Okay … ” I get talking with the ideal customer from the business perspective, you kind of have a wish list of what we want this customer … How would this customer be? How often would they visit our store? How often would they make a purchase? After that purchase, they would tell 2.3 people, so on and so forth. Well, the insurance companies are doing that very same thing.

Colin Rooke: So again, these topics that we’ve discussed, and I could go on forever, any business that has a function that could be impacted by any of these news stories, you’re being graded on your level of preparedness for that risk. We’ve talked a lot about how is your story being told? Well, if you aren’t aware of how that story is being told, it’s definitely not being told effectively. And these risks, these items, definitely are not being shared to the insurance market.

Colin Rooke: It just shows how important risk planning really is. If you’re not working on risk, and if you’re working with someone that has no idea how the company thinks, the level of risk tolerance, where they are now, where they’re going, how can you effectively go out to the insurance market and say, “You know what? This client’s similar industry. I know what you’re thinking, big Equifax breach.”

Colin Rooke: But they are putting the following controls in place, because at the end of the day, we’re trying to appease the underwriters. They’re not confident. They are very, very cautious people, and they’re not confident that every piece of business that hits their desk are performing all these best practices to become as risk averse as possible. So, we need to make them confident. We need to tell that story. We need to say, “Equifax, no problem. They’ve done the following. They’re going to implement the following. They’re very aware. They’ve talked to their staff,” and so on and so forth.

Colin Rooke: But if you’re not doing that, if you don’t have a plan, from the insurance company perspective, not only are you not any better than average, they’re going to grade you as below average unless given evidence that you might even be average. I mean, that’s where they start.

Paul Martin: You know, as I sit here and kind of put the shoe on the other foot is what we’re trying to do, I guess, where as a buyer of insurance, I’m trying to position myself to make myself look pretty to the supplier, as opposed to the other way around, where the suppliers are usually trying to make themselves look pretty to me. It’s an interesting point, given the fact that the insurance industry is kind of reeling right now with all of these events that are occurring to them. If you don’t get proactive as a consumer of insurance, as a buyer of insurance, you could get left at the altar, right?

Colin Rooke: Exactly. We always hear about managing costs. I mean, our clients want to keep their costs of insurance as low as possible. Well, when factors like these hurricanes that impact the whole market, or the fires in B.C., for example, closer to home, someone has to pay. We’ve talked about this before. Someone is going to recoup those losses. If you don’t want that to be you, then what evidence are you providing to those in charge of setting the terms that you shouldn’t have to bear the brunt of those losses?

Colin Rooke: A lot of companies will move insurance companies. Businesses will move insurance providers to save some money on premiums, and those are … it’s usually the 3% to 5% range. But if that’s your tactic, and every insurance market is affected to some degree, and they’re all moving to what we call a hard market, where basically insurance costs are skyrocketing, in the long run, you’re not going to be any better off. Unless, again, you have a plan in place that will separate you from the pack, saying, “Okay, manufacturing is not a great category right now because of the following, or because of new and emerging risks, but this particular manufacturer is.” And we need to treat each business as an individual so we can, again, separate them from the pack in order to truly save on insurance premiums.

We need to treat each business as an individual so we can, again, separate them from the pack in order to truly save on insurance premiums.

Paul Martin: And I guess that’s where you come in with your step-by-step assessment. You will actually walk a business owner through, these are the things you need to know, these are the things you need to do, and here’s how we’ll put a program in place to achieve them.

Colin Rooke: Exactly, and you know, when we talk about topics like sexual harassment, that’s outside of a traditional insurance product. Why would we talk about that? Because the true costs to a sexual harassment accusation are to reputation. So, again, are we selling policies, sexual harassment policies? I mean, that’s not the true focus.

Colin Rooke: We are educating. We are saying, “This is what’s happening in the insurance environment right now, and if you’re not aware, this could be you, and if it were to be you, here are the associated costs or potential costs to your business. Do you want that?” And if the answer’s no, great, we’re going to work together and we’re going to put a plan in place, and we’re going to follow up on that plan and make sure that sexual harassment is something that’s discussed in the workplace. Policies and procedures are in place, and everyone is obtaining the proper education around the subject, or training, for that matter.

Paul Martin: Education and training. There’s no substitute for it. Colin, we’ve run out of time, and as always, very informative, and thank you for joining us. You’ve been listening to Colin Rooke, the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Byers Commercial Insurance. This is Risky Business, Commercial Insurance with Butler Byers, Paul Martin saying so long for now.