A Look into Partner Engagement and Member Services

In this Leader Perspective, we’re talking with the three Membership Directors within the Partner Engagement and Member Services (PEMS) department: Kym Forester, Nina Vitalo, and Brian Armstrong. We talked with them about the evolution of the PEMS team, the new ways NICB engages with members, and the unseen value of having an NICB membership.

Coming Soon! An exclusive video with our Membership Directors discussing more on the importance of NICB's connections with members. 

A Look into Partner Engagement and Member Services

Nina and Kym, you’ve had long tenures within NICB (17 and 14 years, respectively). How have you seen the organization change and grow?

NV: During my time with NICB, I’ve had seven roles in different departments across the organization, including the Membership team. In general, we’ve become so much more efficient and effective in providing support to our members. We’re more proactive and leaning into technology and the virtual workplace in order to be more responsive, engage with members more regularly, and provide more opportunities for training. 

KF: I agree. We’ve also had the benefit of bringing on new team members who have insurance industry experience. This enables us to look at our efforts through a different lens and speak the language of our members, with the same goal of listening to members and making improvements based on their feedback. 
One of those newer team members is you, Brian, having joined NICB just over a year ago. So what drew you to NICB and the PEMS department specifically?

BA: I’ve been in the insurance industry for 20 years, much of that time as an SIU or managing SIUs or in some way directly involved with claims. So, I’ve been working with NICB for a long time, just from the other side of the relationship. When I was in the field, I always valued the partnership we had with NICB. It was a natural fit for me to join the association and become a part of this important team. 

It’s often said that membership is the lifeblood of an industry association. How are you retaining and growing membership? 

KF: Within our team, we’re always working to understand the issues our members (and potential members) face and sharing the solutions that NICB has in place to help them. Sometimes new members don’t have a fraud plan, so we’ll take a very active role in working with that company to understand their goals and how they’re currently fighting fraud. A lot of times, we’ll have training available to get them up and running quickly, which immediately shows a new member the value of being part of NICB.

NV: We’re also broadening our horizons with new membership opportunities, creating additional associate member types that fulfill needs of companies that mirror our mission of fighting fraud, such as specific third-party administrator (TPA) and managing general agents (MGA) types and strategic partners, which include ride share companies. 

BA:  The bottom line is that everyone has fraud exposure, and we all have a shared mission of fighting fraud. We’re stronger when we work together to share best practices. Our members understand that and see the strategic value of being part of NICB. 

One of the most important interactions between a Membership team and a member company is making sure members feel like being a part of NICB is supporting them in their role fighting fraud at their companies. What types of interactions and tools do you use to ensure those exchanges are valuable?

BA: We use what we call a Member Activity Report (MAR), which shows where and how often members are taking advantage of particular benefits from NICB. I used these reports when I was a member of NICB, and I found them very valuable. It’s a great way for members to understand what they’re using and where they can find additional opportunities, such as more training. 

NV: The MAR was in direct response to member feedback and provides better intelligence on how to support our members. For example, we’re able to look at how many questionable claims a member has submitted, and we can benchmark that against their peers to see if they’re on par. If we’re seeing a big discrepancy, then we work with that member to provide additional training so they can get the most out of their NICB membership.

KF: We also can use the MAR to proactively reach out to members. If and when we see a trend or an opportunity for a member, we can use this report as a starting point for a conversation. And with most member companies still working virtually, we’re taking advantage of that to have more meetings and interactions with members.

What would you say is the biggest value that being a member of NICB brings?

KF: I’d say the opportunities for members to collaborate, both with NICB and with other member companies. Many times, NICB agents are working with multiple carriers on the same or similar fraud cases. By joining together and sharing information or best practices, it increases the likelihood of successful prosecution of insurance fraud. 

BA: For me, it’s the NICB field agents. As a former SIU investigator, having a regional or local contact in NICB to help with investigations and bridge the gap with law enforcement was an invaluable asset. Our field agents have incredible backgrounds and experience and always provided me with great insights when I was on the company side. 

NV: To build on Kym’s answer, I would say that multi-claim, multi-carrier approach is the biggest value for NICB members. Membership really helps launch a collaborative environment and helps member companies make better decisions and understand industry-wide impacts. 

What is the one benefit you wish members knew more about or would use more often as a part of their NICB membership?

BA: The best tools available for members are NICB’s dashboards, specifically the questionable claim (QC) and ForeWARNSM dashboards. These tools enable members to hone in on what’s going on with their own organization and also get visibility to what’s happening across the industry. 

NV: I’d have to agree with Brian. I wish more members were aware of the dashboards and the tools they have access to. A lot of dashboards are specific to their company data, with the added bonus of providing the ability to compare and benchmark across the industry. There is a wealth of data available to support their individual efforts, in addition to the staff support from NICB.

KF: Absolutely. The dashboards are the best way for our members to see how they’re comparing against industry standards and pull reports that can help identify trends within their own companies. Another major benefit is our foreign operations team. This team’s expertise is the repatriation of stolen vehicles from outside of the United States. Bringing back stolen cars the correct way is incredibly difficult, and it’s especially challenging for member companies who aren’t familiar with the process. We have agreements in place with vendors and the Mexican government that are highly beneficial in the successful return of member company vehicles. Because we’re not-for-profit, we do it the right way and we do it cost-effectively. It’s a very specialized skillset. 

You speak with members regularly about challenges and ways to help them. What successes have you heard from members that you’d like others to know about?

NV: I’d like to add onto what Kym mentioned about our foreign operations team. We had a recent success for a new member whose high-dollar vehicle was stolen and found in Mexico. We were able to leverage the expertise of our foreign operations team to successfully recover and repatriate that vehicle, which really demonstrated the value of membership for that company. 

KF: We had a recent interaction where an NICB agent was working directly with port authority officials in Baltimore who had located a suspicious container on a cargo ship. While the container claimed to have furniture, the authorities located a LoJack car tracker, which made them think there may be vehicles within. When the container was opened, they found 50 stolen vehicles, and NICB was able to start running VINs and license plates, contacting our member companies, and working to get the vehicles back to their owners. It was a great example of NICB connecting the dots, working in that intersection between law enforcement and the insurance industry, and tackling a multi-claim, multi-carrier situation that would have been infinitely more complex without our involvement. 

BA: We get so much good feedback at trade shows and conferences from members who come up to us, so I’ll share a recent example. At a New Jersey fraud conference, I met a member who was so grateful for a local agent who had helped out on a recent case. The member raved about the benefit of having a local agent with boots on the ground to help find a hidden VIN for a stolen vehicle. The biggest takeaway for me is that this member talked about how our agent enhanced the member’s ability to do his job because of our expertise. Those types of stories really remind us of how important our work is and how rewarding it is to be part of NICB. 


Membership Directors


By Rocky Krivijanski  


Anyone with information concerning insurance fraud or vehicle theft can report it anonymously by calling toll-free 800.TEL.NICB (800.835.6422) or submitting a form on our website.

About the National Insurance Crime Bureau: Headquartered in Oak Brook, Ill., the NICB is the nation's leading not-for-profit organization exclusively dedicated to combatting and preventing insurance crime through Intelligence, Analytics, and Operations; Education and Crime Prevention; and Strategy, Policy, and Advocacy. The NICB is supported by more than 1,200 property-casualty insurers, self-insureds, rental car, vehicle finance, and auto auctions. To learn more, visit www.nicb.org.