During its annual conference in Tampa this month, CLM will honor HCC Casualty Insurance Services Inc.’s Vice President, Casualty Claims Larry Beemer with its Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes distinguished industry professionals who have made a lasting impact on the industry and CLM. In a recent chat, Beemer shared his proudest professional moments over the course of his more than 40 years in claims, as well as his biggest achievements at CLM.
What was your reaction when CLM CEO Ronna Ruppelt first told you that you would be this year’s lifetime achievement award winner?
I was stunned, then completely overwhelmed. All these wonderful memories of the things I have learned, the friends I have made, and the fun I have had hit me in a wave of emotion. I was very choked up and at a loss for words.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your professional work? What were some important milestones?
Taking underperforming departments and turning them around to become assets to companies, and always striving for high technical standards for myself and the departments I oversaw is something I am proud of. Additionally, there have been a lot of important moments in my career, but there are two events that stick out in my mind. The first is leaving a claim director position at Fireman’s Fund and becoming a vice president at QBE. The second is being asked to run the entire liability claims department and litigation management department at QBE. Making these huge career jumps even better was being able to work for two great mentors, Eric Larson and Paul Stachura, both of whom taught me so much about leadership.
What are some of the biggest differences in the industry since you started your career?
When I started my career, many companies had extensive training programs for people right out of college. This is how I received a good foundation in insurance and claims, but, today, these programs are non-existent for most companies. This is one reason why I think CLM’s Claims College is so valuable to the industry. When I started, we were trained to think, analyze, and evaluate our claims. Today, I see a lot of institutionalization by carriers using processes and procedures to handle claims. Effectively, this changes a claim adjuster to a claim processor. In my opinion this type of claim handling can work most of the time on low end claims. However, on high end complex claims I believe this is a very dangerous practice for companies to take.
Do you have any advice for the younger professionals who are just starting out in claims and litigation?
This is a tough business, and you have to be thick-skinned. Knowledge is power, so you can never stop learning in this business if you want to be successful. Do your research, get out in the field (even if you are a desk adjuster), and learn to investigate claims. Finally, coverage is generally the area in that adjusters are weakest. Work on this constantly, and don’t be afraid to ask the old folks in the office questions—they know a lot more than you.
You’ve had so many successes related to CLM. Is there a particular memory or accomplishment that holds a special spot in your heart?
The development of CLM’s Litigation Management Institute is a special accomplishment that I cherish. Year after year, LMI has adapted and changed to the needs of our students. I was so lucky to have helped establish this program with three brilliant people: Mari Leigh, Julie Fortune, and John McGann.