The Summer Reading List

CLM Fellows share what they have been reading as vacation season winds down.

August 13, 2012 Photo

The dog days of summer are ending, and back-to-school specials are beginning. It’s official: Summer is wrapping up and Fall is just around the corner.

But there is still time to catch up on some reading, whether it’s to help develop your career, stay up to date on case law, or to simply pass the time between plane flights and vacation trips to the buffet. We asked CLM members what (and how) they were reading, and their answers provided a wide spectrum of thoughtful suggestions. See what you think, and be sure to see our staff recommendations, as well.

Frank Lattal

Frank Lattal

Chief Claims Officer, ACE Group

Reading Medium: iPad Kindle App

The book “The One Thing You Need to Know…About Great Managing, Great Leading, and Sustained Individual Success,” by Marcus Buckingham is a three-section foundational work filled with clearly written observations and rules for developing and improving management and leadership skills.

When I left private practice, I realized I needed to focus on improving my own management and leadership tool box, as the organizational dynamic in a corporation is quite different than a law partnership. What first drew me to this book was hearing its author say in an interview that, contrary to conventional thinking, the key to individual success is not improving one’s weaknesses, but spending your time constantly improving your strengths. (The author said something like, “Find out what you don’t like doing and stop doing it.”)

What he was really saying was that the key to success is not only knowing your own strengths and weaknesses, but also having the confidence to forego opportunities that will not allow you to exploit your strengths. He suggests that people must have the personal discipline to analyze potential avenues in their life and focus their direction only on those who drive them positively with enthusiasm and energy, while ignoring those who drain them.   

The book is much more than simply a guide for individual success.  The first two sections focus first on management and then on leadership.  According to Buckingham, the one key to management is to discover what is unique about each employee and take advantage of it for the good of the organization. The one key to leadership is to rally your team to a better future by capitalizing on whatever is universal to your organization and communicating a core message with clarity.

All three sections are well written and contain many observations and insights into three important development areas for executives.  


Michele Adams

Michele Adams

Director, Claims Management & Business Strategies, Risk Management Services, Walt Disney World Resort

Reading Medium: iPad

As a lifelong learner and an avid reader, it’s not uncommon for me to have several books that I’m reading simultaneously. Fiction, non-fiction, academic, and leadership—you name it and I probably have it on my iPad and can pull it up at any time.

However, for the past year my books have included titles such as “Advanced Management Accounting,” or “Financial Management–Theory and Practice.” Why am I reading such engrossing literary works of art? I’m currently pursuing my MBA as part of the Key Executive MBA program at the Crummer School of Business at Rollins College, and my book club consists of all things academic.

In addition to providing a rich library of books and case studies, though, my studies have given me the opportunity to meet some incredibly talented and smart business executives from a variety of industries. So, to answer the question, “What am I reading?” it’s all academic right now, but it’s the experiences that accompany the books that have provided a great break from the wonder world of risk management.


Gary Givler

Gary Givler

Vice President and Claims Operations Manager, The Cincinnati Companies

Reading Medium: iPad or iPhone

A claims professional can never know enough about people and the world they inhabit. Daniel Kahneman offers some surprising new insights into the way people think and make decisions in his 2011 offering, “Thinking Fast and Slow.”

Complementing this selection is an earlier book (2008) by Nassim Nicholas Taleb entitled, “Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets.” Taleb, like Kahneman, believes that most of us overestimate the likelihood of outcomes of future events, a tendency that could be disastrous if it is a factor in deciding whether to try or settle significant lawsuits. Available in all formats, these two books are a must read for investigators, case supervisors, and negotiators.


Gene Murray

Gene Murray

Corporate Claims Manager, Arrowpoint Capital

Reading Medium: Hardback

I have used Dennis Wall’s “Litigation and Prevention of Insurer Bad Faith” as a desk reference for law on insurance claims handling and settlement practices for over 10 years. His recently published third edition is now expanded to a two-volume set.

To me, the most important feature of this book is that it is written in textbook form, with careful and clear wording to assist claims professionals—particularly non-lawyers like me—in understanding insurance bad faith law, topic by topic. It’s written to benefit everyone who handles insurance claims, from beginner to advanced claim specialist, and it is especially useful to claims professionals who do not have ready access to a legal research database, such as Westlaw or Lexis-Nexis. 

The material in the new edition serves as an excellent foundation for understanding insurance law.  However, it is advisable that a claims professional always check with their local counsel to make sure they have a clear understanding of the law in a specific area.


Stephen Hunckler

Stephen Hunckler

Vice President and Chief Claims and Risk Control Services Officer, State Auto Group

Reading Medium: iPad

As I was reading the biography, “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson (on my iPad, of course), I realized that there are many parallels to being an effective leader and creating and running an effective claims organization.

The first is the importance of having a vision and strategy that is executable. Jobs did not create a vision for Apple that drove it to be like others and to compete in an already established marketplace. Rather, he developed products that created their own marketplace, changed the game, and gave consumers something they did not know they wanted.

Another parallel was the importance of engaging all associates. Not only did this book outline how difficult it was for associates to deal with Jobs, but also it demonstrated that they saw the value in dealing with him and found ways to alter their own styles to get the most out of him. As managers and leaders, it is critical to get the most out of the people who interface with agents and policyholders, with those designing workflows and systems, with those who report metrics and measures, and so on. This drives improved results for all stakeholders.

LinkedIn to CLM

Many CLM members and fellows responded to our question about what they were reading and why. To read all 36 responses online, simply search on LinkedIn for the group “CLM Alliance” and be sure to leave your own book selection while you are there. If you aren’t yet a member, join the group’s nearly 5,700 members and contribute to this valuable resource.

About The Authors
Eric Gilkey

Eric Gilkey is vice president of content at the CLM, and serves as executive editor of CLM magazine, the flagship publication of the CLM.

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