Claims + Damage Recovery (Apr 11-13)

This program focuses on sharing best practices and building relationships with other leaders in claims and collection management, and offers insights from guest speakers who have been expert witnesses in claims investigations. Discussions address a wide variety of issues around balancing the need to protect utility assets with the ever-increasing priorities of providing an excellent customer experience. Participants learn from industry professionals who provide services to our members, and discuss issues common to Western utilities such as fire and storm recoveries, inverse condemnation, settlement and negotiations, and proper record keeping.

General Details

  • Program Chair(s)
  • Rob Ramos, Director, Risk & Claims Management, Southern California Edison

    • Program Location
    • Southern California Edison
    • 23 ParkerIrvine, CA 92618
    • Who Should Attend
      • Managers or supervisors responsible for claims and collections functions
      • Senior claims investigators and adjusters
      • Collections leadership
      • Legal counsel responsible for claims areas
      • Insurance specialists
      • Service companies supporting claims and collection areas*

      *Service company members are encouraged to attend, and are permitted one registration per company. Exceptions may apply; contact sangerreed@westernenergy.org for more information.

  • Registration Options
  • Member: $429 USD
    Regular: $829 USD

    Registration prices increase $100 after March 14, 2018. Registration includes access to all Claims + Damage Recovery agenda items and meeting materials. Registration includes a welcome reception, all meals on the second day including a networking dinner and breakfast and lunch on the final day. Guest tickets are available for $100 and allow a personal guest (a spouse or partner who does not work in the energy industry) to accompany a registered attendee at the event.

  • General Cancellation Policy
  • Due to contractual obligations, cancellations received 15 business days prior to the program will receive a full refund. Cancellations received 6 to 14 business days prior to the event will receive a refund, less a $100 administrative fee. No shows and last minute cancellations, 5 business days prior to the event or less, will be responsible for the full registration fee. Substitutions from your organization for the same event are always welcome.
  • Participation Policy
  • Western Energy Institute programs and events are open to energy companies (including gas production and electric generation, gas and electric transmission and gas and electric distribution utilities). Select programs and events are open to energy industry product and service suppliers. Programs and events are closed to all media representatives and to the general public.
  • For more information contact Anna Sanger Reed, Director of Customer + Corporate Programs at (503) 688-2795.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

5:30 PM - 7:30 PM

Networking Reception

Join us at CUCINA enoteca for networking and hor d'oeuvres, co-sponsored by AEGIS Insurance Services, Inc. and JNR Adjustment Company, Inc. CUCINA enoteca features California-inspired Italian cuisine and sits on the northwest side of the Irvine Spectrum Center.

532 Spectrum Center Dr
Irvine, CA 92618

Thursday, April 12, 2018

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Networking Breakfast

Enjoy a hot breakfast at Southern California Edison sponsored by KPMG.

8:30 AM - 9:30 AM

Welcome + Introductions
Facilitator(s): Rob Ramos, Director, Risk & Claims Management, Southern California Edison

Our chair will welcome us to the forum and kick-off conversation through round-robin attendee introductions. Come prepared to share recent successes and set-backs.

9:30 AM - 9:45 AM

Networking Break

9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

10 Years of 811
Facilitator(s): Mike Cummings, Liability Claims Supervisor, Southern California Gas Company
Speaker(s): Amber Dahl, Safety Director, Underground Service Alert of Southern California, Ann Diamond, President, Underground Service Alert of Southern California

Contacting 811 is the start to safe excavation, but how did we get here and what do we still need to do to prevent damage to underground lines?
This presentation will look at how 811 (the national number to contact before digging) came about, how all stakeholders need to be involved in the process, legislation regarding safe digging, and how to follow damage trends to find ways to reduce costs and promote safety.

10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

Trees + Utilities: Vegetation Management & Claims
Facilitator(s): Shawna Arndorfer, Senior Claims Analyst, Portland General Electric
Speaker(s): Alex Konopka, Manager of Vegetation Management, Portland General Electric

Vegetation management programs prevent and mitigate general liability claims for a variety of public safety risks, including fire.
This presentation will look at vegetation management practices, discuss the challenges that utilities face in the aftermath of vegetation behaving badly and introduce ideas/topics that claim professionals should be aware of and/or keep in mind while investigating claims related to vegetation management practices.

11:45 AM - 12:45 PM

Networking Lunch

Enjoy a catered lunch onsite sponsored by Phoenix Loss Control.

12:45 PM - 1:30 PM

Structure Fires: the Claims Perspective
Speaker(s): Barbara Gliszczynski, Administrator, Southwest Gas Corporation

Join this session to receive a 101 quick guide to Fire Scene Investigation and how it can help build your claim file. Conversation will cover:

  • Proper fire scene investigation for the non CFI.
  • What should you be looking for.
  • What info you should be requesting.
  • Why you need to think beyond cause origination and consider implications of smart meter data, chronology, witnesses, and evidence.
  • How you can best align with your operations team on safety-related items such as proper personal protective equipment.

1:30 PM - 2:30 PM

Structure Fires: the Legal Perspective
Facilitator(s): Michael Moreno, Casualty Claims Manager, Southern California Gas Company
Speaker(s): Marlin Howes, Senior Litigation Attorney, Southern California Gas Company

Join this session to hear best practices in defending structure fires in investigations. Conversation will cover:

  • Interaction between the claims team and your litigation section.
  • Initial evaluation: property damage only or are there bodily injuries?
  • Evidence removal and preservation. What should you consider after the dust settles?
  • Experts, employee interviews, witness interviews and potential joint evidence examinations.
  • Are there other issues you should consider such as inverse condemnation or PUC Jurisdiction?

Lastly, discussion will turn toward best practices in the resolution of these types of cases.

2:30 PM - 3:30 PM

Industry Tour

Join us for a tour of Southern California Edison’s Reliability Operations Center. You’ll gain a general understanding of the roles of the grid operations staff and the various tools used to enhance reliability. There will be a demonstration of early damage detection, fault location, and circuit health monitoring with examples of real-time operator role and responsibilities. Learn how these tools can assist you with your claims handling and claims investigations.

3:30 PM - 4:00 PM

Use of Technology in the Investigation - Roundtable
Facilitator(s): Rob Ramos, Director, Risk & Claims Management, Southern California Edison

Join this roundtable discussion to explore emerging technologies in the utility industry, and hear novel applications of existing technology in current claims management.

6:00 PM - 8:30 PM

Networking Dinner

Join us for a hosted networking dinner at Paul Martin's American Grill:

534 Spectrum Center Dr
Irvine, CA 92618

Friday, April 13, 2018

8:00 AM - 8:30 AM

Networking Breakfast

Enjoy a hot breakfast at Southern California Edison.

8:30 AM - 9:00 AM

Facilitator(s): Jim DeFrates, Claims Manager, NV Energy

This session provides time for attendees to address new topics and/or elaborate upon previous discussions at the forum. Attendees are encouraged to come prepared with one "top of mind" issue for discussion.

9:00AM - 10:30 AM

A Clear and Present Danger Beyond the Meter
Facilitator(s): Michael Moreno, Casualty Claims Manager, Southern California Gas Company, Nina Overacker, Manager - Claims Collections & Operations, Southern California Edison
Speaker(s): Andy Wendell, Director of Customer Service, Chelan County PUD

Electric system integrity in the 21st century is at risk due to energy theft, generator backfeed, large and small scale marijuana grows, and the emergence of cryptocurrency mining and blockchain technology. These factors require utilities to monitor an increasing array of threats to the grid. The predictable Kilowatt hour consumption of the past has given way to situations of increased load, and in some cases exceeded 100 times traditional energy usage. In this session, we will examine the experiences of two utilities in handling exceptional load increases and their perspectives on how to mitigate against potential points of failure. First, we will examine a case study regarding an electric diversion (energy theft) that overloaded a transformer, resulted in a fault condition that ultimately damaged an underground natural gas line. The ensuing gas leak was identified as a contributing factor to a structure fire. We will also explore how utilities address the impacts of the dramatic rise in mixed-use electrical energy beyond the meter, and will spotlight what one utility is doing to uncover and manage this growing threat that impacts public safety, can put utility employees in harm’s way, and negatively impact grid reliability.  

10:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Networking Break

10:45 AM - 11:45 AM

Challenges from 3rd Party Auditors on Recovery Claims
Facilitator(s): Jim DeFrates, Claims Manager, NV Energy
Speaker(s): Nina Overacker, Manager - Claims Collections & Operations, Southern California Edison

Utility damage claims are oftentimes met with significant challenges or resistance from 3rd party auditors hired by the responsible parties or insurance carriers. What can you do to counter these arguments and maximize recovery on your damage claims? You will gain insight from Southern California Edison Company on what strategies it has employed in order to improve its efficiency and success in its collections activity. Our speaker will share specific examples of verbiage, insurance regulations and regulatory codes that are utilized in response to 3rd party auditor communication. Come prepared to share your challenges and success stories.

11:45 AM - 12:30 PM

Networking Lunch + Wrap-up Part I

Enjoy a catered lunch onsite as we begin discussions on plans for the 2019 forum.

12:30 PM - 1:30 PM

Reptile Theory 2.0
Facilitator(s): Rob Ramos, Director, Risk & Claims Management, Southern California Edison
Speaker(s): Brian Cardoza, Senior Attorney, Southern California Edison

In this session, our presenter will take us on a deep dive of “Reptile Theory” tactics used by plaintiffs to achieve monumental damage awards and how Claims organizations can best spot these tactics and minimize their effects. Reptilian tactics are designed to play to the inherent fears of certain jurors and rally them to “protect their communities” by punishing defendants for engaging in perceived unsafe practices. Identifying the application of reptilian practices early, crafting discovery and discovery responses in a manner that doesn’t play into this practice and creating a strong game plan, is the recipe for success. This program is designed to be audience interactive and will benefit anyone charged with preparing the defense of claims.

1:30 PM - 2:00 PM

Wrap-up Part II

Interested in improving our forum experience? Join us as we continue our discussion to evaluate this forum and discuss ideas for the next. This session is also a great starting point for those who wish to volunteer as a planning team member for 2019 planning.

Hotel + Travel

  • Reservation Instructions
  • Please contact the hotel directly at (844) 610-7857 to reserve your room. Identify yourself as being with Western Energy Institute to receive a special rate of $175 USD/night. This rate is guaranteed until March 28, 2018 or until the WEI room block is full.


Thank you to our sponsors!

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KPMG 405

Meet The Speakers

Alex Konopka

Portland General Electric

Manager of Vegetation Management

Amber Dahl

Underground Service Alert of Southern California

Safety Director

Marlin Howes

Southern California Gas Company

Senior Litigation Attorney

Brian Cardoza

Southern California Edison

Senior Attorney

Jim DeFrates

NV Energy

Claims Manager

Michael Cummings

Southern California Gas Company

Liability Claims Supervisor

Rob Ramos

Southern California Edison

Director, Risk & Claims Management

Shawna Arndorfer

Portland General Electric

Senior Claims Analyst

Paul Pimentel

Southern California Edison

Senior Manager

Barbara Gliszczynski

Southwest Gas Corporation


Nina Overacker

Southern California Edison

Manager - Claims Collections & Operations

Andy Wendell

Chelan County PUD

Director of Customer Service

Ann Diamond

Underground Service Alert of Southern California


Michael Moreno

Southern California Gas Company

Casualty Claims Manager