Barry Llewellyn, one of my favorite workers’ compensation professionals, retired at the end of June. I will miss Barry, but I am not alone. In this blog, Eric Nordman, Paul Mattera, Eric Oxfeld, John F. Burton, Jr., Bob Malooly and Tom Schell also offer their thoughts on my favorite workers’ compensation actuary.
If Barry Llewellyn ever had a job before becoming the behind-the-scenes-go-to actuary at the National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI) it’s likely that only he remembers. Chief actuaries at NCCI come and go, but Barry was the department’s rock of stability, assuring accurate combined ratios, loss costs and other industry indicators exciting only to actuaries, underwriters and true workers’ compensation junkies. The results of his countless studies provide information that is now taken for granted in CompLand.
“He generally worked in the ‘back room’ crunching numbers on workers’ compensation proposals while others took the public spotlight,” said Eric Oxfeld who has worked with Barry for about 25 years as a lobbyist for insurers and employers. “Barry is a titan in the workers’ compensation system.”
I became acquainted with Barry some 15 years ago when I was the lead reporter for BNA’s Workers’ Compensation Report. Like so many others, I relied on him for explanations about public policy measures, media questions and just about anything else workers’ comp actuarial. His influence on workers’ compensation cannot be overestimated.
Barry never looked for credit or recognition. He just wanted to make sure the information was portrayed accurately. As an approachable and patient actuary, he made number-crunching results accessible to the uninitiated but curious.
He is also a fantastic human being. When I was working with Barry on a project, my three-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Type I diabetes. Having family members with the same chronic illness, Barry was supportive and offered understanding during one of the most difficult times in my life. With his assistance, I wrote a 16-page booklet on reforming the Longshore Act.
Eric C. Nordman of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners agrees. “Barry Llewellyn is perhaps the nation’s best known workers’ compensation actuary.
“His knowledge of workers’ compensation pricing, data, coverage and how all the pieces fit together is second to none. Barry’s unique ability to translate complex actuarial terms and processes into something we all could understand is a unique gift. The workers’ compensation world is much better off from having Barry as a major part of it for many years. It will be diminished by his absence. Barry, best wishes for a long and happy retirement.”
“He is not going to escape my dependence on him without a struggle!”
–John F. Burton, Jr.
Paul Mattera of Liberty Mutual recalls working “pretty closely” with Barry when he started the unit at NCCI that priced out legislative reforms. “That work was and remains invaluable as policymakers want to know the cost impact of their policy choices. Barry worked easily and effectively with all WC system stakeholders…..(and he) told it like it is.”
Says Oxfeld, “Thanks to him and the team he assembled, government officials – and all who have an interest in the workers’ compensation system – have had an objective and credible baseline estimate of how legislative and regulatory proposals will measurably affect workers’ compensation costs.
“For this reason, there is no one who has done more than Barry to make sure that public expectations connected with these proposals are realistic and the proposals actually achieve the cost objectives of their proponents.“
John F. Burton, Jr., the Nixon appointee who headed the country’s only National Commission on Workman’s Compensation, is not taking Barry’s retirement much better than I am.
“I shudder — figuratively — at the thought of not being able to rely on Barry,” Burton said. “But wait! What are his home phone number and his personal e-mail address? He is not going to escape my dependence on him without a struggle!
“I have also known Barry for at least 15 years during his participation in activities of the National Academy of Social Insurance, where he was a member of the steering committee on workers’ compensation and where he still serves as a member of the study panel on workers’ compensation data, which publishes an annual report on workers’ compensation benefits, coverage, and costs.
“All members on the Study Panel know some facets of workers’ compensation very well, but when a question arises about the workers’ compensation insurance industry, invariably Barry is the person we turn to for the answer. The great things about Barry are that he is so generous with his time, so levelheaded in his advice, and such a nice person. “
Bob Malooly, CEO of Claim-Maps LLC, offered, “Barry has always been a great help and very patient when explaining what the data says and almost more important what questions the data does not answer. He has been a pleasure to work with since my early days in workers’ compensation. ”
Finally, Tom Schell of Paradigm Health Corporation, said it all. “To Barry, the guy with the Bubba Watson hook-drive, who is the straightest shooter in the business. Always first class. Always honest.”
Amen to that!