A Brief Interview with Jon Thornton, Claims Strategy Leader at Westfield Insurance (Connected Claims 2019 Conference Speaker)

As part of the Connected Claims conference being hosted by Insurance Nexus, we will be conducting a series of brief interviews with speakers and/or presenters from this conference. In the second in the series (see The Brief Interview With Laura Pierman HERE), we asked Jon Thornton, Claims Strategy Leader at Westfield Insurance, about his work and his session at Connected Claims. (Insurance Nerds is a marketing partner for this conference. Use discount code NERDS200 to register here to get $200 off your registration)

  1. Jon, can you tell us about your role at Westfield Insurance?
     I love my role of Claim Strategy Leader at Westfield as I have the opportunity to influence, develop and lead our short and long term strategy and roadmap.  My team operates in a matrix organization reporting in a dotted line to our national claims operations leaders (Auto, Property, Casualty and Workers’ Compensation) and lead vendor, technology and process initiatives.  Claims communications and training also report into our team as well as claims automation and process support (our back-end operations support.) 
  1. What do you love the most about your job?
    Leading and influencing change is what I love most about my job.  I’m highly entrepreneurial in nature and my role provides the constant ability to create new ways of approaching our business, make an improvement to current processes and technologies and enable our front line claim professionals to focus on the most important aspects of their jobs.  I also have the opportunity to work with some of the best people in the business.  If I was stuck with a group of people who live and breathe the “we’ve always done it this way” I would be miserable! 
  1. What are some of the challenges of your role?
    From the 30,000 foot view, my answer would be, balance.  Balancing the numerous priorities, limited resources and my desire for a fast pace of change.  I want to win and I don’t like waiting, pausing projects or initiatives or losing in the corporate funding request process!  Balancing the decisions to invest or pilot insurtechs with enhancing relationships with proven partners who might not be as cutting-edge are also challenges I face.     
  1. What are some of the things that keep you up at night as a claims leader?
    I try not to lose sleep over anything related to insurance claims! Life is too short for that…. However, themes around compliance, data breaches and obtaining the internal resources I need to execute our strategy are certainly popular.  I can typically start reading a big RFP and get to sleep quickly!   
  1. What advice would you give to someone who is considering claims as a potential long-term career option?
    I would remind them how noble the profession is.  Our job is to help people on one of their worst days which can be very rewarding.  We are in the midst of the most change the profession has ever experienced and I think some of the opportunities in claims aren’t yet defined.  I would encourage them to become experts in as many areas of expertise as possible and to develop their analytical skills. 
  1. Beyond the client satisfaction during a claim, how can the claims operation within an insurance organization contribute to product development, underwriting and sales?
    Our industry still has a significant opportunity to collaborate more internally, especially between claims, underwriting, and product! Positive claims service experiences lead to a much higher retention ratio as well as to new business acquisition.   Data and analytics derived from claims are foundational to develop and price our products more effectively and learn what types of accounts have the most potential for success. 
  1. What will be your session at the Insurance Nexus Connected Claims USA Summit in Chicago on June 5th & 6th?
    I’m going to be speaking about Change Management. 
  1. Who should attend and what will they learn?
    I think everyone can use a few minutes of discussion around change management.  I hope to share some success stories, key concepts and things to start, stop and continue doing when it comes to successful change management.

CONNECT WITH JON THORNTON: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jon-thornton-7a23a1a/

About Nick Lamparelli

Nick Lamparelli is a 20+ year veteran of the insurance wars. He has a unique vantage point on the insurance industry. From selling home & auto insurance, helping companies with commercial insurance, to being an underwriter with an excess & surplus lines wholesaler to catastrophe modeling Nick has wide experience in the industry. Over past 10 years, Nick has been focused on the insurance analytics of natural catastrophes and big data. Nick serves as our Chief Evangelist.

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