Kevin Miller – Missouri Employers Mutual
If a workers’ compensation insurance company tries to greatly decrease the amount of claims filed by its clients by encouraging them to be safer at work, won’t the agency eventually put itself out of business?
“I think [the industry has] a long way to go before that happens,” says Kevin Miller, the CIO of Missouri Employers Mutual (MEM).
People may never completely cease to have accidents in the workplace, he opines, but MEM has nevertheless made the elimination of slips, trips, falls and other accidents its primary goal—explaining that keeping people safe is a lot more important than making a quick buck.
Because of numerous incentives and strategies to make work environments safer, Miller also believes that the employees at every company insured by MEM have a much greater chance of getting home safe than they would with any other insurer.
And he just might be right. In 2016, more than 86 percent of MEM’s 16,000 policy-holding employers were injury-free, which is better than the national average.
MEM’s safety and risk services department conducts assessments of work environments to spot potential dangers and has numerous resources aimed at helping organizations mitigate those risks.
This includes WorkSAFE, an acronym for Work Smart in an Accident-Free Environment. Through sample safety programs, training sessions, seminars and customized plans and recommendations, MEM is educating companies across Missouri and Kansas.
“We’ve created some pretty innovative, technology-supported products in the last couple of years,” Miller says, including one for the company’s safety dividend program.
MEM is a mutual company—the shareholders are the policyholders, and they can earn dividends when the company is prosperous because MEM believes safe workplaces should be rewarded. A low loss ratio is an important outcome for these workplaces, but you must also have practices in place to eliminate injuries and save lives, Miller says. The MEM Safety Dividend program accounts for both initiatives and results.
To handle the record-keeping and evaluations needed for qualifying companies, the IT department created a custom application.
“For an innovative and customized offering like safety dividends, MEM couldn’t pick a piece of software right off the shelf,” Miller says.
MEM also offers safety grants up to $10,000 to policyholders wishing to improve workplace safety. This is not intended for companies that shop for their insurance every year, but rather ones that create long-term business relationships with MEM and demonstrate a continued effort to keep employees safe.
If these programs seem out of the ordinary for a workers’ compensation insurance company, there’s a reason for it, according to Miller.
“We’re more purpose-driven than other organizations,” he says, arguing that MEM sees the industry through a lens that flips the traditional, profit-based approach on its head. “If we can drive a safe work environment, the financials will follow.”
So appears to be the case.
Gateway to the rest
Since its founding in 1995, MEM has operated exclusively within Missouri’s borders, and has since become the largest workers’ compensation insurance carrier in the state—something Miller attributes to the company’s track record, as well as its traditional advertising efforts, digital campaigns, social media presence and local charity work with groups like United Way and Susan G. Komen. In 2016 alone, MEM donated to or volunteered with 138 charitable organizations.
After an 18-month effort, MEM recently expanded into neighboring Kansas under Previsor Insurance, a first step in expanding to serve Missouri businesses with employees in other states.
However, the core systems won’t be able to handle the additional processes, and MEM would like to reduce the amount of time it takes to further expand—which is why the IT team is replacing all of these systems. This includes the policy administration system, claims system, billing system and imaging system—“the four key components of an insurance transaction system,” according to Miller.
In order to avoid a disruption of service during this growth period, MEM is enlisting help in the form of both Guidewire and PwC. The former is the software provider and the latter is system integrator.
“We can give you a policy in Missouri, but right now we have to partner with another company to provide the insurance out of state,” Miller says. “And that’s not the experience we’re looking to give our customers.”
Making a difference
Between assisting injured workers, helping to create safer workplaces and contributing to charities, Miller says he finds working for Missouri Employers Mutual to be endlessly rewarding.
“It’s great to be able to go to work and feel like you’re making a difference,” he says.
But as a 22-year veteran of the industry, Miller is also rewarded by the increasing leadership role that the CIO position and IT department are playing within MEM, as well as businesses in general.
This shift isn’t just favorable, it’s critical, Miller says, as the success of large technology programs is based on employee and executive acceptance, understanding and adoption of technology.
“Our IT team is very excited to have an impact on things and not be hidden in the corner,” he says, joking that gone are the days of the stereotypical, propeller-hat-wearing geeks who were once locked away in a back office. “Instead, we’re out there working with our different business areas, based on the value chain of what we bring to customers. That’s the world we live in today.”
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