As part of our commitment to delivering innovative solutions and creating a positive impact for our customers, clients, and teammates, we have proudly assembled a leadership team that is rich in both expertise and creativity, as they cast the vision for the future of Brown & Brown Absence Services Group while also developing and executing against our strategies for success.
This month we proudly introduce Mark Sawyer, Senior Vice President of Consulting Solutions. Mark joined Professional Disability Associates (PDA) in March 2016, officially becoming a part of the Brown & Brown Absence Services Group family in 2018 upon (then) Advocator Group’s acquisition of PDA.
Mark brings more than 30 years of industry experience to the organization, leading Consulting solutions. Mark delivers disability claim operational insights, process solutions, and claim management expertise to our clients by identifying strategic and tactical improvement opportunities and making specific, actionable recommendations consistent with industry best practices.
When asked to reflect on his career within disability claim operations, Mark notes:
“Over the course of the last 30 or so years, disability claim operations have benefited from a variety of improvements, most recently through the application of technology in creative and productive ways. Disability claim systems of the past were cobbled together on legacy mainframe platforms that required multiple, inefficient workarounds. Claim systems of today provide the end-user with an integrated experience and functionality that results in greater productivity and quality. Interfacing with the customer used to be exclusively completed using landlines, whereas there are now multiple means of contact and self-service options that improve the customer experience.
What hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that disability claims – especially those with a degree of complexity – require good old-fashioned skill and critical thinking to properly assess the extent to which an individual remains unable to work. In our experience working with multiple client-partners over many years, successful claim organizations train, reinforce, and hold people accountable to understand the claimant’s perspective regarding his/her functional capacity, prognosis for improvement, motivation, and perceived barriers to return to work. Those disability claim organizations that invest in this approach are almost always rewarded.”
We asked Mark to further reflect on his career at Brown & Brown Absence Services Group and provide additional insight into the industry he knows so well. Here is what he had to say:
The COVID-19 pandemic has been unlike anything we have seen before. How do you think the disability and absence industry has fared in “weathering the storm?”
“Even though some might feel otherwise, the “storm” hasn’t ended…at least in the disability claims business.
While there was a period of significant chaos early on in the pandemic, most carriers did a good job of developing and implementing strategies in STD to manage an increase in volumes. Many created a set of guidelines that facilitated the orderly and timely payment of COVID claims for a particular period of time. Those STD organizations that had a segmentation model that aligned claim complexity with claim manager proficiency were able to effectively handle many of the COVID claims that extended beyond the normal duration expectations.
The claim organizations that struggled to manage durations for that subset of claims were often forced to transition the claim to LTD with little understanding of why the claimant remained unable to return to work. To the extent the “storm” persists, it now largely resides in LTD and has taken the form of claims that, due to the lack of attention in STD, are difficult to manage.”
What responsibilities of your current role do you take the most pride in?
“I take enormous pride in the quality of the work product we produce. With our disability claim experience, we’re uniquely positioned to provide our customers with best-practice perspectives and recommendations that result in meaningful change and sustainable success.
When providing operational assessments, our deep understanding of both strategic and tactical drivers allows us to uncover root-cause issues that must be addressed before results change. The tools and curriculum we’ve developed are unique to the industry and provide organizations with the foundational support they need for long-term prosperity.”
What would you consider the be the biggest highlight(s) of your career with Brown & Brown?
“There have been many highlights while working with a cast of such capable teammates, but the development of our Skill Builder training curriculum for STD, LTD, Clinical, and now Absence has to be at the top of my list. In our travels, we continuously found that disability organizations did a reasonable job of training their new hires on the ‘what, when, and how’ to do things, but an unsatisfactory job exposing learners to ‘why’ what they were learning was important to the role they were being trained to perform.
We saw an opportunity to change this by creating that critically important context, so we set out to first develop our STD offering, which consists of 35 self-contained modules and took over 650 hours to develop. We then followed with an LTD and Clinical curriculum and are now putting the finishing touches on our Absence Skill Builder. The response from customers has been overwhelmingly positive and especially gratifying to see them use Skill Builder as the foundation of their training programs.”
What excites you more about the future of Brown & Brown Absence Services Group?
“During the last three years especially, we’ve been reminded nearly every day of the value we create for the industry. The Brown & Brown Absence Services Group’s suite of offerings is unparalleled and serves the needs of our partners in multiple and diverse ways.
Our business complements disability claim organizations by really moving the needle, whether through our Social Security advocacy, talent solutions, physician and nurse reviews, or consulting support. We continue to develop and deliver innovative solutions in exciting ways that leverage the depth and breadth of our collective expertise.”