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Risk managers describe role beyond buying

Brian Warren, left, and Loren Nickel

LAS VEGAS — Risk managers have a substantial role beyond just buying insurance, according to two risk managers at major tech organizations.

Buying insurance is “not a fun process,” said Loren Nickel, director of business risk and insurance for Google in Menlo Park, California, who took the stage Wednesday with Brian Warren, director of risk management for Microsoft Corp. in Seattle, to talk about their roles at the InsureTech Connect technology conference in Las Vegas.

“The people who are trying to change that are in this room,” he continued. “Keep that up. Keep making that process better.”

Risk managers, he said, “want to have a better buying process. Simpler. Cleaner.”

Beyond buying insurance, Mr. Nickel said his function is to help his company understand how to use insurance and use it as a way to “help our products,” citing autonomous vehicles as one example.

“Insurance is a really important component of what self-driving cars are going to look like in the future,” Mr. Nickel said.

His background as an actuary helps him, he said. “For me it’s very helpful to be an actuary and be able to quantify information.”

Even though risk management goes far beyond buying insurance, Mr. Warren noted, however, that “we’re the only ones (in their companies) who are buying insurance. That’s really our specialty. The risk financing aspect,” he said, adding that his purchasing involves upwards of 50 counterparties.

He added, however, that his company’s involvement with insurers goes far beyond buying policies.

He said “insurance companies are among our biggest and best customers,” and that Microsoft is involved in cyber response together with the insurance industry.

“When I have a cyber event, I want somebody to help me solve my problem,” Mr. Warren said.

And like Mr. Nickel, Mr. Warren expressed his regard for the event and those attending.

“It is a great learning experience trying to see what’s possible,” he said.


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