Problem: how to convince County staff, including the Sherriff’s Department, to work with Risk Management in claims handling, to result in fewer claims or more defensible positions.
Solution: “Let’s Talk.”
Sounds simple, right?
Among overall goals such as reducing claims costs and increasing public trust, growing outreach and visibility within the County was another goal of Paul Lo Verme, Liability Risk Analyst, and Leonardo Selvaggi, Liability Manager, at Ventura County. As Lo Verme said, risk people aren’t just there to scold—their purpose is to serve other County departments. And they want to make sure everyone knows that.
Lo Verme’s strategy was to “get out there.” Going out and talking to people in other agencies with the County led to great improvements in the overall impact that Risk has had in the County. “Get up out of your chair and go meet with the people you service. Learn what they do, and along the way, explain to them what we do and why need to get their information,” LoVerme said of his strategy. “That type of collaboration is key.”
A Face with a Name
For many, the thought that Risk Management is on their way to discuss a claim may illicit a groan or two. But for Lo Verme, he treated such visits as the perfect opportunity to understand the other agency better. His approach was to think of himself as a member of that agency, learning as much as possible. When there was a claim he would go out to the department and speak to them, learn what they did and how they do it, and then in turn, give them the chance to learn about him.
“It was almost like I was Huell Howser on a TV show about County Government,” he joked.
The strategy Lo Verme used may sound like a “no-brainer” as he put it, but it boiled down to talking to people face to face. He was able to expand the visibility of the Risk Management, and to create a bond with other departments and agencies. And with emails being the primary communication between departments, his “out-of-your-seat” style helped put faces with names, and created contacts that improved the overall claims management process down the line.
The Nuts and Bolts
Once this new style of communication and relationship building had taken hold, it was integrated into “Nuts and Bolts” new manager trainings for the County. “I love to teach the class and am grateful that I can deliver a relatively dry subject with enthusiasm and humor,” LoVerme said. Increasing the audience types allowed for the overall message of Risk Management to get out to more County staff.
Collaboration is Key
Lo Verme pointed out that the most interesting and perhaps rewarding efforts was with the County Sherriff’s Department. There can sometimes be a divide between law enforcement and other departments in an entity, and much work is being done to foster good relations on both sides. Ventura County is just one example.
When dealing with claims involving the Sherriff’s Department, they were “all business,” said Lo Verme. Even so, he took it upon himself to use the same approach as with other departments, and jumped in to learn about them.
From doing ride-alongs with Sheriff’s deputies to touring jails (even sampling the jail food), Lo Verme made it a point to show his desire to learn about them, making it easier for them to learn about him in return. He “dissolved the mystery of what Risk does,” leading to better collaboration.
The concept of getting involved and becoming known to other departments wouldn’t have worked if there hadn’t been top-down support in Ventura County. Lo Verme pointed out his managers’ appreciated his enthusiasm and they stand by him, leading to tangible results. “Now if I can convince Leonardo [Selvaggi] and Chuck [Pode] that my need to rappel out of a helicopter has something to do with Risk Management…”
Ventura County was a recipient of the 2018 EIA EAGLE Award for their Liability Division Synergy with Other Departments strategy.