Episode 8: Opportunities Abound for Insurance Leaders Transcript
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Wesley Todd [00:07]: Welcome to the Litigation Management podcast. I’m your host, the CEO of CaseGlide, Wesley Todd. And as you know, the Litigation Management podcast is where I interview some of the most successful people in and around the claims and Litigation Management industry. I’m in it for the home runs, I get the opportunity to talk with people like the people you’re going to talk with today, and I want you to have that opportunity. Because these folks, the leaders that I’m speaking with, they are the people that are having the biggest impact on claims and litigation for you the adjuster, the executive, the attorney. I have had incredible guests already, and today is no exception. I have Bob Ritchie. Bob is the founder and CEO of American Integrity Insurance. And I am going to leave it to Bob, to tell you more about his background. Bob and I are going to talk about leadership today. Bob and I could talk and have talked for hours upon hours, but we’re gonna do our best to talk about leadership today. Bob, welcome to the podcast. Could you share your background with the CaseGlide Litigation Management podcast audience?
Bob Ritchie [01:11]: Thanks was appreciate the opportunity. Before I talk about me, which will be minimal, I want to talk about you. And I want to thank you for your thought leadership. And for your incredible bravery and courage in creating and designing CaseGlide and other approaches toward Litigation Management. There was a void there, you found it, and you’re serving and because of you and Carly and your leadership, our industry is in a much better place. So thank you for that.
Wesley Todd [01:41]: Thank you, Bob.
Bob Ritchie [01:43]: So I’m a career guy with an insurance geek and started in the industry more than a few decades ago, and thoroughly enjoyed my career. And I’ve worked for big and small companies in various areas of the industry started American Integrity in 2006. Obviously, here in Florida, we’re only a Florida company. And we serve the underserved. Florida, as you know, is a unique animal for residential property insurance. And so it’s a feast or famine environment. We’re currently in one of the greatest crises that we’ve experienced in a generation down here. But so it’s not everybody’s cup of tea, but we’d love it. And it’s a great industry to serve and it’s a rock and roll environment. But for us, we’re able to serve and to be a part of Florida’s business, and residential network. And hopefully to add value.
Wesley Todd [02:37]: In the crisis, you’re talking about the litigation crisis, that’s not going to be unfamiliar to anybody that’s listening to this pod. A lot of the listeners are probably in it, you look back to when you started American Integrity and this is why having Bob on. So Bob, not only is leading a large organization through this, but Bob also created this out of thin air and that’s innovation. And so you know, innovation is to me, it’s an essential part of leadership. So I think that’s why you’re uniquely positioned as an entrepreneur, but not just a leader, you weren’t placed into the CEO role in American Integrity. Once it was all said and done, you built it into thin air built although jobs and so you have a unique perspective. And you know, most of our audience is going to be claims professionals and attorneys. It’s not often that a claim professional gets to hear directly from a CEO of one of these companies. You know, our people that are on this podcast, probably younger group of claims professionals, they’re going through so much personally and professionally. What advice do you have for them? What should they be doing right now?
Bob Ritchie [03:51]: Let’s start with the professional side, for all of you that are in this industry and serving in Claims Litigation Management and the like, I cannot think of a greater period of time in your career. I’m gonna go out on a limb a little bit here for the Florida residential property insurance industry. This is your moment, and what I mean by that is the crisis is existential. And it’s never been this big since right after Hurricane Andrew in 1992. And the challenge is this time it’s manmade. It’s legal extortion ism that’s happening. You guys know the numbers, the 10s of 1000s, hundreds of 1000s of lawsuits. You know the statistic that the Commissioner of Insurance recently issued, while we’re 8% of residential property claims for the country, Florida represents 76% of lawsuits. So this is a moment for your value add, whether you’re an entrepreneur, whether you’re serving a TPA, whether you’re serving an insurance company like ours, any related part of the industry, your value add is monumental, and everybody’s job is important and valuable and frankly, tough. I cannot think of the tougher position though. It with Litigation Management in Florida also cannot think whether you’re 25 or 65, whether you’re in the middle of your career, the front of your career, or on the last chapter, this is the moment where, who you are serving, and you’re serving many people here, your value add, has never been greater. And so all eyes and all ears, and all ideas emanate from Litigation Management, how we tame this tiger, how we control it, and how we shrink it, I think it’s a pretty cool time to be in the area. So that’s my first thought Wes, when it comes to the professional value add for folks that are listening to this podcast.
Wesley Todd [05:53]: I can’t thank you enough for that on behalf of all the adjusters, because I think that we’re the fall guys a lot. And it’s really nice to hear a leader that understands exactly how big or how difficult that role is. But also, I think it’s fair to say that this is their moment, this is your moment. You are going to make or break all the constituents with even down to Floridians with your actions and I thought was a great point. You also made about you know, it could be through entrepreneurship. But this is your moment. I appreciate that, and I hope that that energize the audience. So on the whole other end of the spectrum, Bob, you’ve always set this tone of vulnerability. Now, I believe this is foreign. In most insurance companies, there’s only a couple that I can think of that we work with where it’s okay to make a mistake. And it but the only thing that’s not okay is if you don’t share it and learn from it. In a world where everybody’s feeling so much pressure, and it all goes down, who knows what it looks like when it gets down to the adjuster or the attorney? And we feel a little bit of pressure, we might slip up here and there. But imagine it’s it goes down the rains. Well, how is that possible? How do you cultivate that willingness to make mistakes? And frankly, why do you think that that’s the right perspective?
Bob Ritchie [07:29]: I think I’ve shared with you, Wes, in prior times in our great conversation these last couple of years, mine nine words that are least used in business and maybe even in life. And there are three sets of three words, a couple of contractions, and those nine words that the first set it that are never set in big businesses that are not said, maybe even in personal relationships for feelings of being vulnerable, and being too transparent about what you know? And so those first three sets of workloads, there’s three words are “I don’t know”, but most people cannot say that many people won’t say it in big business, and I’ve worked for big companies, and it’d be safe those words, well, you’re supposed to know. And so then you get in this game of trying to presume that you know, things that you don’t know, and just the story gets bigger and bigger. So those are important words you know, I don’t know. And then the next set of three words, or I think even more scares, and that is “I was wrong”. And not to be used in a delicious way or in a forum to control people. It just one on one, one on one. I said something, I did something and I was wrong. And I just want you to know that I acknowledge my imperfection, and that I hit something that was wrong. The final three southwest gift to this, this this vulnerability. And these three words, I think people, they’ll go to their deathbed, they’ll divorce their spouses, they’ll separate from your children, they’ll quit jobs certainly. Because it’s just feel so weak to say these words. And the irony is its power not overused. But these three words, maybe the two remaining way there are three most powerful words together in the English or human language, and that is “I am sorry”. And I’m sure Wesley, you’re alive. You know, folks that just cannot will not say that. And without being able to be able to feel like that that I’ve got the answers or that I am not in a position to acknowledge my imperfections and not to be in a position of connecting with people. A truly saying those nine words but emphasis on in this particular example I’m using, I’m sorry, these words are liberating. Well, they also can be controlled by folks that truly are not using a man and their authentic passion. So but those nine words for me, it dawned on me, gosh, maybe 10 years ago, these nine words, I often utilize them not only interviewing new folks and trying to coach new folks, and not just the words. I also try to live with them, because I’m as imperfect as any leader. And so in staff meetings in one on ones is to fessing up fessing up to my imperfection and fessing up to my humidity, was reading an article was, recently I, I do this quote of the week, I sent it to you often from my team. And in fact, this week’s quote of the week was got me thinking about authentic leadership. And one of the things that I was reading, and I thought it was wonderful, it said that it said something like, when I consider the past, that’s my ego. And then it went on a lot about the future has said, when I want to think about my future, it’s important, but that’s pride. But when I’m thinking about the present, both my words and my successes and my imperfections, that’s humility. I thought that was pretty powerful.
Wesley Todd [11:50]: Yeah, and you know, when you first said that to me, those nine words, I felt uncomfortable I was, I remember thinking like, how does that actually you know, how could I you know, how do you actually do it? And how do you actually say those things? And what do you need in your environment to feel comfortable saying those things and I also thought it was so you know, I had to actually think about it for some time. And then you just also kind of in passing said not overused. In other words, like, this isn’t you know, cure to anything, but it’s something you should be thinking about a lot. Because if you think about a lot, there is a place for this, and if you don’t, so it’s not just to do it, just to do it, but it’s to do it where it matters most. You know, so the question that I have, I think if I’m listening from the ears of an adjuster, or an attorney, and I think it’s a tough one, so I hate to put you on the spot. What if I’m not an environment where that’s been welcomed? And how can I, what do I do? What should I do?
Bob Ritchie [12:56]: Fair enough. So we’ve all got to read the audience. And now the ego wants to protect his or herself. So to the prideful person, we’ve all got to read the audience now. So if I’m in a negotiation, I was on a mediation call yesterday. And you know, our attorney, their attorney, and the issues and things. So that’s not the time in my opinion. That’s a game of chess, a little bit of poker to and mediation. However, these moments of radiation are when we’re in leadership. So if you’re an attorney, and let’s say you have a team of folks that work with you, because nobody works for you, and work with you. I think the strongest thing that can happen is if you accept and buy into that this philosophy is to begin modeling it. And it’s not to be the smarty pants, to where you’re come in the room. I recently read this book, or I heard this podcast, no, it’s to dive in to get deep and personal with the team. And to get deep into who you are, as you’re relating individually one on one and as a group. And there won’t be they won’t take much time. Because I make mistakes every one could tell you today, I could take about four things to tell you, Hey, I was wrong on that and here’s why I’ve learned. So to find real world things in the day to day relationships. If you’re in a position as a claims manager, as a managing attorney, even if you don’t have tech reports, how you’re working with your peer’s one on one? And in my view, it’s a process first of saying those words, I effect matter of fact, if I don’t, it sounds weird here. But if I don’t forget myself first, for things that I haven’t measured up to how in the world that weakness to us. So I think there’s lots of great opportunities as we’re talking to ourselves, and as we’re working with others and their families to get better, and add more value.
Wesley Todd [15:05]: Yeah. I mean, like you just said, you can’t take the advice. And immediately you do have to think about this stuff and use it for the purpose. And if you are the claims professional, if you’re managing people, my view is when you do that, Bob, your team does that, you have a better team. Now, and peers is probably the same thing. Nothing’s more frustrating when someone’s not admitting something. But if you’ve never admitted something, then don’t expect anybody else to admit something. So it’s almost essential to succeeding when done properly, which is a perfect segue. So you know, again, I’ve noticed that you do things different American Integrity, yes, you’re a great leader. But you spend all your time trying to make this group of people around you leaders. How are you doing that? And why is that such a priority for you given all the other challenges? And you know, things that you’re facing in the outside world and within American Integrity?
Bob Ritchie [16:17]: All I’ve got is my ability to add value. I mean, that’s what we have as a leader. Well, I can you know, I think I’m decent at certain skill sets. And does that mean, I don’t dive in when there’s a crisis and where there’s an opportunity. Of course, it’s important for me, that it’s not so it’s as a leader, if we expect it, I expect that everything that a person that worked with me, not for me does, is in my image, I got a big problem, two reasons. One, I don’t need all these people, because it’s the strength of leadership and a team is diversity. Number two, is the all the leadership abilities to leverage greater results lies in the respect and competence of the team. And what that means? And I learned this a long time ago hard ways is, that I have to accept in my mind, that even with the coaching and all of that, no one is going to execute something just like I would do it. It did it, guess what, probably going to be better most of the time. So I accept in my own head, an 80% rule what I mean, as I’ve coaches that develop leaders, if in fact, why I’m in a position where the message and the solution is on target is going to be 20% totally, at least 20% totally different. Certainly the style, but also the outcome. And so I think it’s the maturity of the leader to be in a position with this authentic leadership is to recognize the power of that diversity, and not the No at all necessity, that the only way to do it is the way I might do it. So and that’s number one. But as far as it is why we as leaders, why you do it a CaseGlide and we attempt to deal with American debt, what why do we pour into our leaders? It’s because here’s how I feel. Number one, I think we have a value added responsibility as leaders, we’ve been entrusted and we’re going to do it wrong. I hope we do it more often right than not, because the things that we do, the things that we lead, are monumentally impactful to people’s careers, people’s lives, the corporation’s results here. But I’m a big believer. I’m a big believer, and the founder of Southwest Airlines, wrote a book called “Nuts” and he’s passed on now, but her was just an eccentric, phenomenal leader here. Here’s what he said, if I pick the right people, if I serve my leaders, if they’re the number one customer, they will treat my customers well. And so everything all the juice for customer delivery, for acceptance rate of product lies in the authenticity of our leaders, the team that we’re building and their contentment, their happiness and their development.
Wesley Todd [19:35]: That’s also something that you’ve helped me learn just understanding the certain leadership approach and being there for your group and that, like you just said, like if you treat them you model that you’re supporting them, they’re going to support the customers or they’re going to support their team in it. It’s funny because it’s not what, you actually have to work to figure this thing out. Because it’s not what you see in the movies, or you hear about in the stories about these companies that get started off the ground. So, I mean, this is like working perfectly with segues Bob. So I went you know, as I was learning this, and you were helping me with this too, you could go really far in that one direction of perfect leadership and really think that that means, hey, I’m gonna help you with this thing or, or do this thing for you. And then I’ve come to find out what your team also needs from leadership is, what’s your vision? And how do you measure progress? And it’s funny because when you hear about the servant leadership, or you hear like some of the thoughts you just shared, you think, Okay, well, I’m just going to support my team 100%. Your team will still be unhappier, teamwork will get frustrated, because you’re not giving them direction. It’s great that you’re acting like they’re great, but they also want to be challenged, they want to feel like they’re making progress. So I’m going to use this as another difficult segue to, in general, like where have metrics come in for you or measuring or operating systems, different things like, how do you use which I think this is very useful for the adjusters and attorneys that also are, or that might be unfamiliar with a more metrics driven organization, like an insurance company where it’s baked in, but how do you counterbalance, hey, I’m here to serve you with I’m also here to help you have the best career in develop personally, and try to make that pretty clear scoreboard. What’s your philosophy on that? How do you use metrics that help your team feel like they’re making progress and winning? Because I feel like that is important part of leadership as it is to be a servant?
Bob Ritchie [21:59]: Yeah, it is. Look, we all need another goalpost. And so those goalpost kind of change without the driven nature of the goalpost, and what our objectives are, how do you keep score? You can’t. I’m a big believer that if you can’t measure it, and you can’t manage it, which is true. Now, not everything is reduced to data driven scenarios. But more are the not even some of the soft side of human resources and leadership can be reduced to certain measurement criteria. Now the answers could be subjective, I get that. But the answers are from humans from which those results can be categorized and could be compared. So and if you look at an insurance company, is actually a Florida based insurance company. And you know, I’ll often tell I was mentoring a really young person here a few weeks ago, only 16 years old, and a grandson of a family friend, maybe wants to be an actuary brilliant guy and got a perfect ACT, SAT score in math. And so I’m talking about actuarial science and how that person can make their mark. But when I was explaining it that to this person is, and this fits for every one of us, because we all serve the century. This is the only industry known to mankind, the only industry known to mankind, where the cost of goods sold is not known about for the fact period. Manufacturing facility, we know the cost of goods sold, we know the assembly line, we know inventory costs, yes, they can change, retail order that you see where I’m going here. We rely upon data to predict loss cost. Oh, and how do you predict data with loss cost? When the minute something like SIBO or Joy’s happened, and immediately the entire triangles for your asset, your prior years have just been obliterated. And so that’s a huge challenges. But for our industry, the beauty and the depth of data is remarkable. And there’s not a more perfect industry for data driven people to make one hell of a difference because of that cost of goods sold. To me, that’s fascinating because we’re the only industry.
Wesley Todd [24:33]: Yeah, that is really interesting. And I think that has led. Well, I think that what you know, you mentioned SIBO and Joy’s two case cases that in Florida that have changed the calculations on you know, lost development and I think that the historical I won’t say certainty, but the ability to predict like the insurance industry has been very good at predicting loss and then having risk manager or risk transfer tools there for when it was difficult to predict. And I think that that created some complacency around building metrics for claims and litigation that are sophisticated enough to keep up. And because the problem with litigation is it’s, you know, first of all, you got your, you know, six months until it gets into litigation, you got your year plus until it settles, if you wait until then to figure out what that was gonna cost. You have a big challenge there. I think that there weren’t that many surprises for so long that the legal and the claims industry wasn’t ready to adapt. And you know, it’s been beautiful, because I have seen the leadership improve. I mean, I’ve just seen some tremendous you know, you basically have claims and litigation departments in Florida, because of the litigation epidemic, like he would see it a national carrier. I mean you see, and just these excellent people that have stepped up, I think a lot of people are in other organizations where there’s been a lot of turnover and there’s been a lot of changing priorities. And there’s been a lot of not admitting to mistakes. And so for those folks you know, hopefully, this is eye opening for you that there are Florida leaders that’s still have a long term perspective that are willing to put in the time into their people. Because that’s the only way this thing works is by being data driven by leading people through this, not basically blaming everybody for what happened. As we’ve seen, this is been way too complex. And there’s way too many parties involved this the Florida epidemic especially in litigation in general nationally, there’s a lot of these trends elsewhere. Now, not in a home property market, but different lines of business in different regions, you got to be at my opinion, you got to be at a company where I don’t know, why you would choose a company that doesn’t have a leader that you really appreciate. And these are the elements of it, the things that that you’ve shared. So I appreciate that. Bob, I have one last question for you if you can believe it. So one of the big things that I’ve seen in this industry is there’s not a ton of community. I know there feels like there is in these pockets like there’s NAMIC, Mutuals, there’s you know, different groups that all get together, but in like the claims and litigation community, there’s not a big community. I’ve noticed how much you prioritize building a community. And you’ve done it in like a lot of different ways. You have a lot of different communities, a lot of different groups. And I’ve seen you, you try to get them as much information as you can. And you’re basically you’re asking them to join a cause that they’re all behind, but maybe couldn’t lead themselves. So this is expanding, suddenly now you’ve graduated to not being able to lead not just your own company, but everybody around you, including myself. So why is community building become so important to you? And you know, why are you taking these causes on yourself? I think everybody, at least in our circles have noticed how great of a leader, you become not just American Integrity, but to the whole industry. Talk to me about why you found that to be so important?
Bob Ritchie [28:24]: So we all either succeed together, or we fail together. And look, I love great competition. And I often say to our team here you know, we recently have seen Gultstream go into insolvency. I don’t like that. Yeah, we’ll pick up some of the business perhaps not. But I’d much rather compete with a strong industry, with strong competitors. There are 6.5 million homes, there are plenty of homes, there is plenty of business for more American Integrities. We’re good competitors. So that’s number one. Number two, is it is fragmented, and it’s very, very challenging. And oftentimes to us, as we’re looking at change in Tallahassee, legislators get weary because we’re not unified. And sometimes we’re even binding against each other because the trade associations are not as strong as they could be. And so for that, we have much more in common as we fight the bad guys and fight this cause here. And unfortunately, we’re not all always galvanized. Yes, it’s important for me that we be a thought not the thought leader, one of the biggest, smartest or best that a thought leader with both our agency partners and with our good competitors. And we have found that things like LinkedIn, we’ve got numbers of followers. In fact, we doubled that reach here in just the last 12 months. The other thing that we started with Floridians for lawsuit reform, and that has been a good conduit for education for the elimination of the insurance fraud factor here. But back to why we do it is because I love what I do so to you, and Florida is an exceptional place to make a living and to serve constituents, or I’m also fed up with this hidden tax. See, here’s how I feel. There’s about 2% or 3% of Floridians that are taxing the rest of us and it’s wrong. There’s no such thing as a free roof. But certain folks had been talked into it. And certain constituents like lawyers, and roofers, have been able to game the system here. So we’ve got to squeeze out that there’s so many things we cannot do with Mother Nature, we can measure Mother Nature, much better than we did a generation ago with catastrophe models, we can mitigate that risk, with world class reinsurers. And yes, occasionally, we get the Cat four or five. But that can be managed in the long haul. What we ought not let happen are manmade crises created by legal extortion, opportunism and greed, the totally trash a business that we’re all proud of serving here. And so that takes all of this, not just a few of us. And for that reason, we really are incredibly involved in the process, and really trying to make some changes in Tallahassee.
Wesley Todd [31:30]: Well, I definitely appreciate that all of our you know, everybody that that has, from agents, to your policyholders, to your team, to your partners is appreciated that, I think you know, as I bring this to a close, for those of you that don’t know, American Integrity has been one of the top performers. And I say that because, you know, Bob, could theoretically feel like this you know, that this volatility could benefit him. Because it’s going to hurt a lot of other companies before it hurts Bob, but he’s basically on behalf of the industry, building that community, leading the fight against this challenge that will disrupt a lot of people before it disrupts his company. And I think I say that, because that’s a very virtuous thing. But also, because the record speaks for itself. You know, this type of leadership, this type of community building, this type of law, I call it long term focus you know, you didn’t jump at, you didn’t try to win every quarter, like a lot of companies did. And then they had to finally fess up and own up to what was really going on. It’s the winning formula, this type of conservative risk approach, which of course, couldn’t be conservative enough in Florida, but relative to some of the competitors, it’s the winning formula, long term, short term. So to have you, as the voice is just so much more credible for our community. And then it’s just, it’s from a leadership perspective, I want to thank you, for the leadership, you’ve provided me, you’ve helped not only me, but my team become a better team and all the support that you’ve shown since CaseGlide was just a little drawing, and you knew enough about claims and litigation to foresee that this was, could be an issue. I think you were already on it back in 2015. And so you know, thank you for the kind words, but all the stuff you do for us every day, and what a great opportunity for the audience, Bob, these are adjusters, these are attorneys, they have caseloads 100 200, it’s not every day that they get to hear this perspective. And a lot of them may never hear this type of thing. You know, they’re trying to you know, that he mentioned, this is that their time. Yeah, they all are a little million each adjuster, each attorney is a little million dollar business, that’s amazing. You’re managing a million dollars in expense and density and the type of impact you can have is unbelievable. So for them to hear that calling that you gave them is just incredible. And they’re so fortunate to see to get your perspective that I get, and now I get to share with everybody else. Yeah, I’d like to, before I let everybody know how they can reach you, anything else you’d like to say, Bob, before I wrap this up.
Bob Ritchie [34:38]: Each of us making one heck of a difference. And I don’t know all of you, obviously. But I want to thank you because the work you’re doing is unprecedented. It’s I think as I said, it’s a once in a career opportunity as you both help us solve the crisis but was to your point. As always, have you helped to build a better mousetrap? A better set of tools for the future? Because let me tell you, this is not the last crisis, I often get claimed professional league professionals. What’s next? And I don’t grant because I don’t mean to be smirk about it. There will be one, what until many years ago was sinkhole, and wasn’t too many years ago it was mobile? Now this one granted is deeper. And it’s more existential, and it’s threat than anything that we’ve seen in the full generation. But the protocol that you’re doing and the approaches that you’re taking are going to be permitted changes. And so your value add will continue to rise, I also would be lost on me, it’d be lost on me, you’re doing all of this in the middle of a once in a generation, some would say a once in a 100 year scenario with COVID-19. We all want to be overnight yet. We know what’s happening with the variant. We know the chances of us personally, getting sick or dying are very, very rare. But it will continue to be a disrupter. And so I think in our industry, we have a crisis within a crisis. We’ve got the Florida residential crisis. Now on top of it the last year and a half, we’ve got the COVID-19 crisis. So hats off to all because you’re making one heck of a difference. And it’s been my honor to be a part of this podcast. Thank you.
Wesley Todd [36:26]: Bob, if someone wants to reach out to you, they want to follow up on what are you talking about? Where can they go?
Bob Ritchie [36:32]: So please email me it’s rritchie@aiiflorida. I read only, it will be my honor to get one from you.
Wesley Todd [36:48]: What an amazing offer. Bob, thank you so much for sharing your story with the Litigation Management podcast. I hope we get to do it again sometime soon.
Bob Ritchie [36:56]: Thank you. Take care.