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Chief Abu Ghraib Investigator George Fay Now Claims EVP at CNA

Formerly in the spotlight for his work as the Army's chief investigator of abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison, CNA's George Fay intends to adapt the military's use of advanced IT for the carrier's claims operations.

George Fay
The military has provided countless metaphors for business — doing battle, closing ranks, etc., — as well as templates for strategic thinking and leadership. Having worked in both camps, George Fay, executive vice president of CNA's (Chicago) P&C claims organization, believes business, and the insurance business in particular, should also look to the military for technological inspiration.

Currently in the fourth decade of his insurance career, Major General (ret.) George Fay was in the international spotlight as the U.S. Army's chief investigator of abuses at Baghdad's Abu Ghraib prison. He was the lead author of the report on the abuses presented by the Army in Aug. 2004. A long-time reservist, Fay returned to active duty after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. In addition to having a bachelors degree in economics from St. Peter's College and an MBA from St. John's University, Fay is a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army Infantry School, Counterintelligence Officer Course, Aerial Surveillance Officer Course, Electronic Warfare Officer Course, and the Command and General Staff College. Fay has served as a deputy chief of intelligence and has spent considerable time at the National Security Agency (NSA). Fay joined CNA in July 2006.

"While at the NSA, I saw the advanced software and hardware that the Agency and Army Intelligence had," Fay relates. "Having been a claims person in the insurance industry, I saw data mining, predictive modeling and decision-support technology the government had developed which could have a beneficial impact on claims operations and the insurance industry more generally."

Fay recalls the use of data mining technology used during the Abu Ghraib investigation. "We ingested 9000 different documents, including 100-page field manuals and handwritten interrogations and there was not a single inquiry from reporters that we were not able to answer," he says. "Those are the kinds of systems we are going to build at CNA."

The carrier has created a working group to study the potential application of advanced analytics and intelligence technologies for claims, actuarial, underwriting and loss control, Fay says. Among areas for improvement, Fay cites insurers dependence on information codes for data mining. "Right now insurers' ability to get [loss] information to customers is dependent upon coding; they have loss codes, location codes, etc., and one out of ten is wrong," he asserts. "We are moving away from coding and moving to data mining by words. We envision the loss control department going directly to the claims data to interrogate it."

Fay seeks to integrate the most advanced technology and process throughout the claims organization as CNA's business expands. He is currently overseeing the establishment of a new service center in Denver whose capabilities will be shaped by concepts pioneered at the carrier's Express Center in Reading, Pa. over the past five years. "We envision the Denver facility as an overall intake center, where customers can reach us via any channel," Fay says. "We will link up the facility with our claims and underwriting databases, giving service reps pop up screens so that they won't have to put customers through the information gathering process beyond the relevant claim information."

CNA's claims service capabilities currently include the ability to automatically link customers to preferred vendors based on the type of insurance and claim, and coordinated through geocoding.

The Denver facility, which Fay says will house about 400 employees, will include not merely claims service personnel but also underwriting and operations support. "Our concept is that we'll be able to do career-pathing for the employees there," he explains. "They will be able to begin as a claims trainee, operations person or other specialty and be able to grow to the next level right there in Denver."

At Denver, as throughout the enterprise, Fay says he will drive the use of the most advanced technology that make sense for the business. "We're not trying to duplicate what other carriers have; we're going to emulate what the Department of Defense does by leaping to the next level beyond what everybody else has," Fay says. "We're not going to be satisfied until our results are the best in the industry."

Anthony O'Donnell has covered technology in the insurance industry since 2000, when he joined the editorial staff of Insurance & Technology. As an editor and reporter for I&T and the InformationWeek Financial Services of TechWeb he has written on all areas of information ... View Full Bio

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