Find­ing a new di­rec­tion

Digital Insurance - - CONTENTS - By Nathan Go­lia

The de­sire to be on the front lines is a char­ac­ter­is­tic of many strong lead­ers, and USAA's Indira Davidson has lived that out in her ca­reer. The mul­ti­line fi­nan­cial ser­vices com­pany's AVP of op­er­a­tions and plan­ning for claims started out in the back of­fice, serv­ing in mul­ti­ple fi­nance-re­lated roles. But, she says, as the in­sur­ance in­dus­try has evolved to be more dig­i­tal, in­no­va­tive and real-time, she wanted a change. “I wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence a deeper con­nec­tion to our mem­ber­ship and link all my years of fi­nance, strat­egy and plan­ning learn­ings to op­er­a­tions,” Davidson says. “I be­gan with the com­pany's strate­gic im­per­a­tives and align­ment to de­fined out­comes. How could I help the claims team man­age the com­pet­ing de­mands of the in­dus­try, while bal­anc­ing the needs from a com­pli­ance and reg­u­la­tory per­spec­tive? How do we con­tinue to serve mem­bers in their time of need, while en­abling an ef­fort­less and em­pathic ex­pe­ri­ence?” Davidson is cred­ited with build­ing the op­er­a­tions and plan­ning group within claims from the ground up. Her back­ground in fi­nance has helped her keep claims op­er­a­tions costs down – con­sis­tently 10% be­low plan, USAA says, leav­ing more wig­gle room in case of catas­tro­phes. She has also been cred­ited with im­ple­ment­ing pro­cesses that help the claims or­ga­ni­za­tion stay in com­pli­ance with reg­u­la­tions ef­fi­ciently and cleanly. But her over­ar­ch­ing ob­jec­tive, she says, has been to de­liver an “ef­fort­less” claims ex­pe­ri­ence that makes the mem­ber ex­pe­ri­ence great. “We pri­or­i­tize and in­vest in ef­forts and ini­tia­tives that de­liver the great­est value to em­ploy­ees, mem­bers and the as­so­ci­a­tion, never los­ing sight of the ob­ses­sion we have for our pre­cious re­sources and mil­i­tary fam­i­lies. We strive to de­liver the most per­son­al­ized ex­pe­ri­ence and be the provider of choice,” she says. “But our mem­bers' ex­pec­ta­tions are chang­ing and evolv­ing ev­ery day,” Davidson con­tin­ues. “The ex­ter­nal en­vi­ron­ment con­tin­ues to be­come more dig­i­tal and real-time. More com­pa­nies are us­ing ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence in ev­ery­day op­er­a­tions, and non-tra­di­tional com­peti­tors are rapidly en­ter­ing the in­sur­ance mar­ket­place. These are the ar­eas where we need to dou­ble-down and pri­or­i­tize.” Un­der Davidson's watch, USAA's claims or­ga­ni­za­tion im­ple­mented data ca­pa­bil­i­ties that pow­ered all these ob­jec­tives and made claim in­for­ma­tion more vis­i­ble and eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble across the group and com­pany. The com­pany has also been a first mover in lever­ag­ing drone tech­nol­ogy to help get im­agery needed to ad­ju­di­cate claims af­ter catas­tro­phes. “To achieve our goals and be there for mil­i­tary fam­i­lies for the next 100 years, we must make sure that our sys­tems, pro­cesses and in­ter­ac­tions are ef­fec­tive and ef­fi­cient,” she says. “Au­tomat­ing man­ual pro­cesses and fo­cus­ing on where we need to strengthen for scale and sta­bil­ity are key. For ex­am­ple, be­fore catas­tro­phes un­fold, we must de­ter­mine im­pacted ar­eas and mem­bers and proac­tively com­mu­ni­cate with those who are af­fected. Speed and agility are cru­cial to en­abling us to bring mem­bers back to nor­mal.'” Davidson re­lates that the op­por­tu­ni­ties to be a change agent in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try are grow­ing as a re­sult of the in­creas­ing dig­i­tal­iza­tion of the sec­tor. The breakdown of si­los be­tween prac­tice ar­eas, front- and back-of­fice func­tions, and the in­creas­ing ne­ces­sity to serve cus­tomers in real-time pro­vide a strong in­cen­tive to be­come a well-rounded em­ployee with knowl­edge of how ev­ery as­pect of the in­sur­ance busi­ness works. “Years ago, one would have re­ceived their ac­count­ing de­gree, be­come a CPA and hoped to land a job with one of the big ac­count­ing firms,” she says. “And, cer­tainly, my fi­nance back­ground has been my strong­est and most valu­able en­abler through­out my ca­reer, al­low­ing me to ap­pre­ci­ate what our mem­bers and em­ploy­ees go through each day.” Com­pa­nies in the in­sur­ance in­dus­try are look­ing for lead­ers that have hy­brid, blended skills, she adds. Work­ing as a men­tor to women and men in the or­ga­ni­za­tion, Davidson looks to de­liver the mes­sage that it's al­ways worth learn­ing a lit­tle more. “The strate­gic thought leader of to­mor­row must be able to not only un­der­stand fi­nan­cial com­po­nents and com­plex busi­ness mod­els, but also trans­late strat­egy to ex­e­cu­tion,” Davidson ex­plains. “This evo­lu­tion of lead­er­ship is why I de­cided to make the move from fi­nance to op­er­a­tions. I'm grate­ful to have the op­por­tu­nity to learn the en­tire life­cy­cle of the in­sur­ance busi­ness.”

Indira Davidson AVP, Op­er­a­tions and Plan­ning, USAA

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