Lisa Powell Whitten – Class of 1982
Claims Examiner, Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., Charlotte

When a person accepts a position with a business or industry, he rarely thinks about what may happen if he is injured. But in the event of an accident, workers can be assured that their case will be heard and that they will be treated and compensated fairly.

Lisa Powell Whitten serves as a claims manager at Sedgwick Claims Management Services, Inc., headquartered in Charlotte. According to their website, Sedgwick’s “approach to delivering quality service in areas such as workers’ compensation, liability, property, disability and absence management goes far beyond just managing claims – we aim to simplify the process and reduce complexity, making it easy and effective for everyone involved.”

“I have been in the workers’ compensation claims business since I graduated from college,” explains Lisa. “I have held multiple positions with insurance companies and third-party administrators from adjuster to regional manager to national claims director. As I am winding down my working years, I have recently elected to step out of management and handle claims again. I am loving it and do not regret the decision one bit.

“Sedgwick is a third-party administrator. We are a huge company with about 30,000 employees, and we handle claims for almost every household name company. On a daily basis, I investigate new workers’ compensation claims for Federal Express. I begin by making contact with the manager to confirm the facts of the accident and any lost time from work. I take recorded statements from the injured workers and gather medical information. Once a claim compensability decision is made, I will either pay or deny the claim. If the claim is denied, legal representation sometimes follows. In those cases, we either go to court or we settle out of court. Fortunately, most cases are paid; in those cases, I will make sure the employee is compensated for lost time from work and that their medical bills are paid. I follow the medical care until they are released, ensuring the care is appropriate. I handle all kinds of cases from ‘smooshed’ pinky fingers to low back injuries to amputations and even death claims.”

Lisa graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1986 with a BS in Criminal Justice and went on to the National Center for Paralegal Training in Atlanta, where she received a paralegal certificate. She is a licensed adjuster in fifteen states and has a professional designation, Associate in Claims.

“I kind of happened into this profession. I went to paralegal school after UNC and was offered a workers’ comp paralegal job with a large defense firm. I went on to become an adjuster from there and the rest is history, as they say. I absolutely love my job! I love helping people. I love getting to know them and making sure they know I am here to help them, not out to get them like so many people think about the ‘big insurance company.’ Every day I get to help people heal; I make sure they get their pay in a timely manner because being out of work is scary. I ensure they understand the process, and I am just there for them. Feeling like I have helped in some small way is my reward, and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.

“The challenges of the job are few, but we do have an occasional fraudulent claim or someone who is trying to get more than they are entitled to by prolonging their injuries. But for the most part, I find that people want to get better, and they want to go back to work.

“I have been in this industry for close to forty years. Most of that time was spent in management. Pre-Covid, I LOVED managing people. My favorite part was training people and then coaching and mentoring them to be the best version of themselves, not just as workers but as people, too. I will toot my own horn by saying I was a well-liked manager as I did not micromanage but allowed them the freedom to get their jobs done. I was fair and easy to work with.

“After Covid, everything changed. Workers did not want to work. It was like a switch was flipped. Loyalty to companies and to managers went out the door. Workers would quit without notice and not think a thing about it. It was a bizarre experience. I was working long hours because of the turnover. I decided to step down from management to try to regain some work-life balance and my sanity. I do not regret it at all, but I do have many fond memories of my management experiences.”

Like most people, Lisa was inspired along the way by a variety of people. “I think the most impactful mentors in my life have been my East Burke English teachers. Being able to write correctly, using proper grammar, knowing what to say — and maybe more importantly what not to say — has helped me more than anything else in my education and in my career. Dottie Perkins at Drexel Junior High, Phyllis Garrison, Sherron Prewitt, Anne Stevens, and Candace Yount at East Burke were especially memorable. In insurance files, documentation is so important, and all of the writing I learned at EBHS has been instrumental in how to document my files concisely yet thoroughly.

“In my professional years, my first supervisor in the insurance industry, Karen Calhoun, taught me well. Also, from a personal perspective, I have had a few spiritual mentors who have really influenced me. I am involved in my church and love reading my Bible and listening to worship music.”

Creative outlets are also important, and Lisa enjoys painting and making crafts. “I LOVE doing macrame. Crafts are so relaxing and provide self-expression.

“I imagine I will work seven to ten more years. I hope to continue to help the injured workers. I hope to influence others in my profession to be kinder and more caring when they deal with injured workers. And when I am finally able to retire, I hope to have more time to participate in church activities and to volunteer by helping others. And I hope I get some grandkids!!”

Published January 2024

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