In this edition of our “Smart Leaders” series we have the opportunity to interview Michael Quigley – Risk Manager of the City of Cape Coral, Florida. Cape Coral is the largest city between Tampa and Miami situated in Lee County on the Gulf of Mexico. Michael is responsible for providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees while minimizing accidents. He ensures that the risk management program protects the interests of the City of Cape Coral and its employees. Let’s jump into our interview.
WCI: Where did you go to school and what did you study?
MQ: I earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Westfield State College in Westfield, MA
WCI: How did you find your way into the world of risk management?
MQ: I was a police officer until I was injured in an auto accident that left me unable to continue in police work. Risk management and claims involves investigations and the legal aspect which I have a strong interest in.
WCI: What person/persons have had the most influence in your life?
MQ: I do not believe there to be just one person in my life. Of course my parents and siblings have played a large role in my life. My wife, Laurie of course is a major support and influence in that she has the same heart I do for people and doing what is right. There are also many others that have made an impact as well.
WCI: Outside of work (is there such a thing) what kind of hobbies or activities are you into?
MQ: When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family.
WCI: Can you give us an overview of your career and how you got to Cape Coral?
MQ: I started working for Crawford & Company in 1988 as a claims adjuster and was promoted and transferred to 9 separate offices up and down the East Coast, starting in Massachusetts and landing in Florida. During my time with Crawford, I learned Risk Management and have been able to transfer most, if not all to my efforts here at the City of Cape Coral.
WCI: What piece of technology is essential to you every day?
MQ: My cell phone so that I am made available to our employees 24/7 for any needs. It also keeps me in touch with my friends and family.
WCI: What direction do you see the comp / risk industry heading over the next few years?
MQ: I see the industry getting more difficult as time goes on. Everything must be verified and documented as you cannot take people at their word. People do not seem to only be content with being rehabilitated and back to work. You see many more cases going to litigation to try and get all they can from an injury.
WCI: Whether Cape Coral self-administers or uses a TPA, do you feel there is an advantage of using one over the other for workers comp claims?
MQ: Cape Coral self-administers all liability claims, up to the Sovereign Immunity cap and our Work Comp claims are administered by a TPA, so we have the best of both worlds. Self-administering the claims is personal and there is accountability, while the TPA can take more of a business approach. Cape Coral uses a TPA, but is intimately involved in every claim to make sure our employees are taken care of and are able to recover from their work related injuries.
WCI: What are the typical injuries that you see your employees sustain?
MQ: Back strains and knee injuries are the most common
WCI: How do you educate city employees on safety and avoiding injuries that lead to workers compensation?
MQ: This is an evolving process. We have had our ups and downs in the safety arena, mostly down. We have been without a full time Safety Officer for about six years. I have been managing my position as well as Safety, and in my opinion I have been doing a less than adequate job. Although numbers are better, a more intentional full time focus by a professional Safety person is needed and it just so happens, Cape Coral is currently looking to fill that position.
WCI: What have been some of the hardest decision you have had to make as a risk manager?
MQ: Anytime you have to make a decision that affects people and their career or their position within the city is a difficult decision.
WCI: What do you feel could make your job easier?
MQ: I am blessed to be surrounded by an incredible team of professionals on a daily basis that help to make my job easier.
WCI: What do you think makes your team at Cape Coral a success?
MQ: We care about the people in our city and the people we work with and we want to make a difference. From the First Report of Injury we want to do the right thing. We pay claims that we owe and we defend against any claims that we do not owe.
WCI: If you think about your work comp adjusters, what kinds of qualities do they possess that make them essential to your operation?
MQ: Our adjusters have heart, believe in our people and want what is best for them so they can make a full recovery and return to work.
WCI: Do you have a specific story in mind of an adjuster who really went the extra mile to have a successful outcome on their case?
MQ: There is no one specific case that comes to mind, there have been so many claims that folks have done a great job that the people directly involved have benefited.
WCI: Does Cape Coral have a return-to-work program in place?
MQ: Yes, Cape Coral has a RTW Program in place in that we will accommodate EVERY restriction. Unless it is medically necessary for an employee to stay out of work, the employee is working. Our employees are our biggest asset and they are very valuable to the operation of the City.
WCI: What has been a success for your risk management program?
MQ: When we went self-insured and became accountable for the claims coming into our department.
WCI: What do you think makes a great leader?
MQ: In my opinion a leader is not afraid to get their hands dirty. They allow their staff to have ownership and responsibility, and they never forget where they came from.
WCI: What resources do you use to stay on top of industry news?
MQ: I read numerous periodicals. For me my peers and conferences are the best source of information in the industry.
WCI: What do you think Cape Coral does for its employees that separate you from others in the industry?
MQ: I am blessed to be surrounded by the staff I have and have an immediate Director that allows us to work to accomplish the task at hand. We hold people accountable, but treat everyone with respect in our City.
Michael Quigley has been the Risk Manager of the city of Cape Coral, Florida since 2003. Before that he was a branch claim manager, then the Assistant Operations Supervisor with Crawford & Company. He sits on the Risk Advisory Board and is the Claims Committee Chairman for the Preferred Governmental Insurance Trust. He is married with two children and coaches little league and basketball, staying active in his church community and local youth sports leagues.