A Conversation with Carolyn Snow

Caroline McDonald


March 1, 2014


As the 2014 RIMS president and a veteran risk manager, Carolyn Snow has a unique perspective on risk management. The director of risk management for health care giant Humana Inc., Snow manages the company’s insurance program, including its captive and risk management information system, serves on the corporate acquisition team and the legal entity committee, and is a member of the core advisory group for enterprise risk management. She has been with Humana for 14 years and, before that, she served as vice president of marketing at Aon Risk Services and held underwriting and marketing management positions with Fireman’s Fund and Cigna P&C.

She spoke to Risk Management about her experiences in the risk and insurance industry and the issues she plans to focus on as RIMS president in 2014.

RM: What are your responsibilities at Humana?

Snow: Part of what we do is manage the corporate insurance program—property, casualty, professional, aviation, and directors and officers. We have an insurance program manager, but we also spend time on that as a department.

We’re more about operational risk, but a big part of what we do is risk management for our clinics. Humana owns Concentra, which has urgent care clinics as well as worksites that bring health services to the workplace. We also own CarePlus Health Plans and CAC-Florida, which primarily serves Medicare and Medicaid patients. Over the past two years, we have actively acquired physician groups, mostly in Florida, because we’re looking at integrated medicine. We also own an operation called Senior Bridge, which provides home help.

Anything related to members or patient safety is under our umbrella. A typical task may be designing safety programs or addressing something about a member or patient that is reported to us. It is pretty encompassing, because it could be a personal nurse who called on a member and found that they had fallen and had been there all night. Or it could be as relatively insignificant as a report that items have gone missing from somebody’s desk.

If the issue is something that appears to be serious, we do an investigation and work with the person who reported it. Ultimately, it might give rise to a claim later, which we then manage to completion, whatever that turns out to be.

RM: How has your company’s risk management program grown?

Snow: Humana has always done a good job of evaluating the risks of its business areas, has a good awareness of risk and has worked cooperatively with the risk management team. Risk management has grown in visibility in the past few years, as risk has become more of a public issue. As a company, we have established an enterprise risk program, which my department was involved in developing.

As an insurer, there is more regulation on risk management. Any time you have new government regulations, more attention is paid to risk management and it becomes of greater interest at the board level—the board is very involved and aware of what we do.

RM: In particular, what regulatory issues should risk managers watch for?

Snow: The way to watch regulatory issues as a risk manager is to figure out which ones have a direct impact on your company. RIMS is keeping an eye on the Neal Bill, which pertains to the taxation of offshore reinsurance. The bill would limit deductions for reinsurance premiums paid by a U.S. insurer to its foreign affiliates. That could have a real impact on the market by reducing coverage and limits while raising premiums.

There is also the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act—RIMS would love to see a long-range solution for that. The process of settling on something at the last minute has been very frustrating.
For regulatory and other issues, risk managers need to know their business. This is also true for underwriters. When you’re talking about your account and trying to present it in the best possible way, you absolutely need to know your business and your company.

The risk of doing business in emerging countries is also important. Global companies need to make sure they are buying coverage that is not only appropriate for their needs, but that they are meeting regulatory guidelines, buying admitted insurance when necessary, and understanding how to handle that.

Risk professionals need to keep up with what is going on in the world—both economic and regulatory developments. Global expansion will impact many organization’s supply chains.

RM: Overall, how has risk management as a discipline grown over the years?

Snow: Risk management has seen incredible growth. A lot of that came about because of negative issues, such as the economic downturn and mismanagement. It started out with people talking about financial risk, but all of a sudden, managing and monitoring risk became a top priority for many businesses.

I always say risk management is the best job in the world. No day is ever the same and the opportunities and challenges we face are always exciting. At Humana, one minute I might be working with one of our guidance centers, the company’s senior leadership or an auto claim, and the next minute I could be handling a member incident. In this field, you’re always busy and it’s always something different.

RM: What is the focus for your RIMS presidency this year?

Snow: My big focus is the development of a long-range plan that we’re calling “RIMS 2020” that looks at what the society will be like in the future. With all the changes going on in this profession, how will RIMS adapt? How do we stay relevant and ahead of the curve? How will we meet our members’ needs?

A big piece of that will be focusing on rising professionals. The next generation of risk professionals are such an important part of establishing our future plans, and we are attracting a great group of these rising risk professionals to the industry. The challenge for RIMS and the risk management industry as a whole is that, once new professionals have expressed interest in risk management, how do we find them jobs and help them grow and stay involved in the industry?

One of the best things about RIMS is the networking opportunities. This isn’t just valuable to the new group of risk professionals, but to the entire risk management community. I’ve never called a risk manager for help on an issue and not gotten it. RIMS is a great place to share ideas and experiences with others in the field.

Another critical component of our plans for the future is to broaden our focus internationally. RIMS has gained more of a global presence and is speaking more often on an international stage. Our fellow risk professionals in Australia, for example, might have some differences with a specific need or challenge, but we all share a common goal to advance the risk management profession.