Overcoming Obstacles and Risk Management

Mike Riis, Account Executive
 Mike Riis-resized Playing competitive sports throughout life, you learn about overcoming obstacles and finding ways to use them to your advantage. I have always had a general understanding of this concept as it pertains to athletics/life, however, I never fully applied the concept to risk management and insurance (for obvious reasons).

I recently stumbled across a book by Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle is the Way, which gives a variety of stories about different people in various professions who have overcome obstacles. After reading the book, I thought, “What if there was a way for a business owner to look at the obstacle of insurance and use it as an advantage?”

To the business owner, dealing with insurance is that conversation which takes place once a year when your broker warns you about everything that could go wrong that could hurt your business. After discussing all types of insurance, from worker compensation to cyber liability, the meeting usually ends with a confirmation of renewal followed by a trip to the local watering hole. Barring any claims, you do not have to think about insurance for another year.


  1. The painstaking meeting that you look forward to forgetting;
  2. The large payment which will be made for “peace of mind” according by your broker.

Overcoming these obstacles is not always obvious, however, if the proper path is taken, it can create enormous value for your organization. You can overcome these obstacles by following these three tips:

  1. Alter your perception
  2. Take action
  3. Use will power

Alter your perception of the meeting (and insurance in general for that matter.)  The goal of insurance is to protect your company from exposed risks.  Is insurance the only way to make sure you are covered? No! There are multiple ways to manage risk. The most important step your insurance broker must take is risk analysis. The analysis tells the broker where the largest exposures to loss are and if there are ways to prevent or mitigate those losses. The analysis portion is where you as the business owner need to be fully involved. A thorough description of your business operations will help your broker identify the risk exposures.

Take action. During your meeting, you and your broker identify your company’s risk and develop an effective way to manage that risk. You do this through various forms of risk management: risk assumption, risk prevention, risk mitigation, risk transfer via contract, and risk finance (insurance). For example, a general contractor hires a safety professional to perform a site and hazard assessment. Although the general contractor may have a certified safety professional on staff, getting a fresh set of eyes on a high-risk operation may be beneficial.

Use will power. When obstacles around you begin to interfere with progress, will is what pushes you forward. In our previous example, the same construction company experiences a troublesome year full of claims. This general contractor understands that bad years happen, but decides to increase the frequency of the safety professional’s visits. Additionally, he has all of the superintendents meet with the safety professional. This emphasis on safety has a trickledown effect and can lead to a positive and safe work culture. This newly-established culture can now lead to decreased claims and decreased premiums.

As you triumph over obstacles, you gain the tools and experiences to handle the next obstacle. When it comes to risk management, approach it with a positive attitude. Make the right choices and stick with your decision, or double down as things begin to falter around you. Emphasizing risk management can reduce the frequency and severity of claims, which reduces the amount of insurance premiums you pay each year.