ITL Focus

ITL FOCUS puts a spotlight each month on a different topic that is driving innovation in risk management and insurance. A collection of curated content from our vast library, each month’s FOCUS includes webinars, featured authors, and more to offer a comprehensive look at the topic of the month.

This Month's Focus: Workers Comp

a photo of a warehouse with a blue box reading "ITL Focus Workers Comp August 2022"

ITL FOCUS: Workers Comp

August 2022

An interview with Mark Walls, vice president, client engagement, at Safety National. Plus, Threats, Openings for Workers' Comp; Smartest Idea for High-Hazard Businesses; and Identifying Fraud in Workers’ Comp; and more. 

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What We're Focusing on in 2022

Parametric Insurance | January

When you strip insurance down to its essence, there are just three components related to indemnification. There is a client/contract. There is a yes/no mechanism for determining whether a payment is triggered to that client under that contract, as well as the amount. And there is capital, whether from an insurer, a reinsurer or the capital markets. That’s it: a client, a judgment mechanism and money.


Read more about  Parametric Insurance >

Blockchain | February

While blockchain has been an intriguing topic for some time now, interest has skyrocketed in recent months. 

ITL Focus February 2022 Sponsored by Gigaforce 

Read more about Blockchain >

Life and Health | March

For an industry that has long been considered sleepy, life insurance has a lot going on. 

Read more about Life and Health >

Automation and RPA | April

Sometimes, innovation takes time. 

Some 30 years ago, I wrote an article for the front page of the second section of the Wall Street Journal that declared a revolution in forms. We were far enough along in the personal computer revolution that software companies were coming out with products that would let users fill out forms on-screen, speeding the process and eliminating the errors that occurred as someone had to interpret people's handwriting. Even more magical, the spread of local area networks meant that information could flow straight from my screen into a corporate database, with no never to ever print the form and have someone re-enter the data.  

Everything I wrote was correct, and forms did take a major step forward, but, here we are three decades later, still drowning in forms. And the insurance industry is Exhibit A.


Read more about Automation and RPA >

Claims | May

In this month's interview for ITL Focus, my longtime friend and colleague John Sviokla takes us through some of the unintended consequences that digitization could bring to insurance claims.


Read more about Claims >

Agent and Broker | June

Not quite a decade ago, a colleague and I did some consulting on innovation for the CEO of one of the biggest personal lines insurers, and he expressed great frustration with his agent force. "Every time I try something new, even when it's going to benefit the agent channel, they turn around and kick me in the [crotch]," he said.

In the years since, I've watched the power of agents and brokers only grow -- just look at how much valuations for agencies and brokerages have been climbing and at the much slower increases for carriers. And agents and brokers have mostly guarded the model that has let so many prosper for so long: They get paid commissions on product sales, rather than being paid for advice, and are rewarded for building and then maintaining a book of business rather than primarily for continually adding clients. 

Certainly, the industry's push for digital innovation has led to more cooperation. In particular, insurers are trying to make themselves easier to work with, if only to try to become the carrier of choice for independent agents. But is that really the best we can do? 

Bill Walrath thinks not.


Read more about Agent and Broker >

Talent Gap | July

Sponsored by AgentSync

When my younger daughter was a freshman at Yale, I was encouraged that her intro to economics class included a fairly long section on the economics of insurance -- essentially, an exercise in determining how much people valued the peace of mind they get from having a policy in place. Insurance certainly never came up in any of the economics classes I took way back when, and I took the material as a good sign: A top-tier college was making insurance intriguing for smart, young students.


Alas, I couldn't interest my daughter in the insurance industry. And there seems to be a lot of that indifference going around, based on the persistent concerns in the industry about the talent gap. 


Jenn Knight, co-founder and chief technology officer at AgentSync, offers some intriguing thoughts on a way forward in this month's interview. 


Read More About Talent Gap >


Workers Comp | August

has things doubly bad -- it has to deal not only with its own staffing issues but those of its clients. 

As Mark Walls, vice president of client engagement at Safety National, explains in this month's interview, many companies are having to ask employees to do more to cover for gaps in staffing. Companies are also being less rigorous about pre-employment physicals and may rush people into action. The risk of injury is rising as a result.

At the same time, workers' comp carriers and third-party administrators are having to deal with their own shortages of adjusters, nurse care managers and so on, while dealing with caregivers that are struggling to line up enough doctors and nurses.

The result? Not pretty.

Read More About Workers Comp >


AI and ML | September

The ITL team will focus on AI and ML for the month of September 2022. Check back at the start of the month for six feature articles, exclusive commentary from Editor-In-Chief Paul Carroll and an expert interview. If  you have interest in sponsoring this month's focus, please reach out to

Cyber Threats | October

The ITL team will focus on Cyber Threats for the month of October 2022. Check back at the start of the month for six feature articles, exclusive commentary from Editor-In-Chief Paul Carroll and an expert interview. If  you have interest in sponsoring this month's focus, please reach out to

Resilience and Sustainability | November

The ITL team will focus on Resilience and Sustainability for the month of November 2022. Check back at the start of the month for six feature articles, exclusive commentary from Editor-In-Chief Paul Carroll and an expert interview. If  you have interest in sponsoring this month's focus, please reach out to

Internet of Things | December

The ITL team will focus on Internet of Things for the month of December 2022. Check back at the start of the month for six feature articles, exclusive commentary from Editor-In-Chief Paul Carroll and an expert interview. If  you have interest in sponsoring this month's focus, please reach out to

2021 Focus Topics 

Commercial Insurance | January

Much of the focus on innovation has related to personal lines. That makes some sense: Policies tend to be more cookie-cutter than in commercial lines, and individuals, spoiled by Amazon and other online resources, have demanded a better experience from insurers. But don’t sleep on commercial lines. As businesses see what’s changing in personal lines, they aren’t going to be left behind.


Read More Commercial Insurance

Blockchain | February

Blockchain has held out promise for some time now and it may finally be coming into its own, with some uses starting to move into production. We’ve collected our thought leaders’ latest thinking on the topic in this month’s ITL FOCUS, as well as an interview with John Sviokla about the future impacts and strategic implications of blockchain, the ITL On Demand ‘Future of Blockchain’ webinar series, and more.


Read More about Blockchain

Strategic Innovation | March

Strategy is what you don’t do. That was the dictum of the late, great Mel Bergstein, who way back in 1994 founded the pioneering digital strategy firm Diamond Management & Technology Consultants. (It became part of PwC in 2010.) I heard Mel’s line a lot, as a partner with Diamond from 1996 through 2003, and I think his are words to live by in the insurance industry these days. Everyone seems to have gotten the memo about the need to digitize insurance and to explore innovative ideas, but the present typically creates a real drag that slows movement toward the future.


Read More about Strategic Innovation

Agent and Broker | April

Mark Twain reportedly once responded to a rumor of a serious illness by saying, “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” Insurance agents and brokers could have said the same thing over the past decade and will likely be parrying those rumors for years to come. There’s no doubt that agents & brokers inhabit a world going digital and not every agent will migrate easily into the ever-more-digital world, but those who do will find the work more rewarding, both for themselves and for their ever-more-loyal clients.


Read More about Agent and Brokers

Cyber Risk | May

In high school, a friend of mine had a poster on his wall that read, “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.”

That pretty well summarizes how the world of cybersecurity and insurance works. Companies may feel paranoid for looking over their shoulder all the time, expecting something back to happen, but we all know that there are plenty of bad guys out to find all the victims they can.


Read More about Cyber Risk

Workers Comp | June

The world of work turned upside-down and inside-out beginning 15 months ago, as the pandemic shut down offices and forced so very many of us to work from home.

Now that we’re beginning to reverse this process, insurers will have to sort through all sorts of new issues. Here’s one: When is the place where a worker works a “workplace,” and when is it not? Welcome to the new world of workers’ compensation


Read More about Workers Comp

Customer Experience | July

Insurance companies are finding that they have to reinvent chunks of their businesses to really get the customer experience right. Yes, they have to focus on the ways that they touch customers, through agents and brokers, through call centers, through adjusters and through an increasingly broad array of electronic means. But a customer doesn’t just experience a company through a direct communication. Customers also experience, for instance, how long and painful an underwriting process or a claim is.

And here’s the thing: This emphasis on customer experience requires a revolution for companies.


Read More about Customer Experience

Cognitive Technologies | August

Cognitive computing is a funny beast. Every time you hit your target, you find that another pops up off in the distance.

When I first saw a demonstration of speech recognition, some 30 years ago, I was mightily impressed that the computer understood a few words. If I had seen what would be possible today, I’d have been stunned. But now? Oh, that’s just Siri or Alexa. And why didn’t auto-correct guess exactly what I wanted to say?


Read More about Cognitive Technologies

Life Insurance | September

“…It seems to me that the lines will increasingly blur between life insurance and financial management, given that life insurance is an important financial asset; people often think about their finances, and life insurance can become a natural part of that focus. I could also see the trend toward embedded insurance expanding the life insurance market — why couldn’t a term life policy be, for instance, embedded in a mortgage when someone buys a building, to make sure the purchase is secure even if something happens to the buyer?

Over the years, I’ve had people tell me life insurance is boring. I don’t see it that way at all.”


Read More about Life Insurance

Catastrophic Weather | October

In the face of catastrophic weather, insurers are doing what insurers do: helping identify, quantify and mitigate the risks, while making customers whole when disasters strike.

They are also increasingly digging further into the roots of the problem. As you’ll see in the articles we’ve highlighted for this month, insurers are focusing more on how to raise the alarm about climate change and on how to make the world more resilient in the face of the challenges that we face today and that are surely.


Read More about Catastrophic Weather

Telematics | November

In all my years covering all manner of technology, telematics may have caught me off-guard the most. When I first wrote about Progressive’s auto telematics program, Snapshot, in 1998, it seemed like a slam dunk. Of course, it made sense to monitor how people drove and to price their insurance accordingly.

Or not.


Read More about Telematics

Smart Home | December

For nearly 30 years, I’ve been hearing about smart homes. Even before a commercial version of the internet browser was invented in the early 1990s, the rich, geeky types I dealt with in my travels at the Wall Street Journal were figuring out ways to wire their homes to ward off possible intruders. 


Read More about Smart Home

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