Mark Jones was driving with his family when their worst moment came crashing down.
“My family and I were involved in a very serious car wreck,” Jones reflects. “It was serious enough that everybody was taken to the ER, and we thought we actually lost my youngest daughter. We thought she had died, and fortunately she did not. She is thriving today.”
While Jones was just happy his family survived the car accident, his experience from the wreck would provide him with the perspective he needed to relate with clients later in his career.
Today, he serves as the director of litigation and special investigations unit at Shelter Insurance Companies, where he navigates the legal challenges of claims and lawsuits presented against its customers. “People are hurt,” Jones says. “They’re real injuries. They’re real things that we are here to try to help with. And unfortunately, we can’t take away their injuries.”
He continues, “All we have is money, which is frankly a very, very poor substitute. But we are dealing with people at probably the worst moment of their lives.”
Since Jones joined Shelter Insurance Companies in 2004, he’s turned a small legal team into a dynamic department with full-service capabilities. He has twelve in-house attorneys who advise branch offices in twenty-three states. Plus, he launched an in-house Special Investigation Unit that addresses fraud claims. “Each one of our litigation attorneys in my unit have responsibilities for the one or two or three of these branch offices and provide legal advice to them,” Jones says.
The director also brings over a decade of legal and insurance experience to his role. He began his legal career at Sherman, Wickens, Lysaught. He tackled commercial litigation cases for four years at Polsinelli, White, Vardeman, & Shalton (now Polsinelli). Then he spent eight years with Media Professional, Inc., a managing general underwriter for insurance companies, as assistant vice president of claims. There, he discovered the ins and outs of the insurance industry.
“That was really the first time I got involved doing insurance work,” Jones says. “Most of my litigation work was not for insurance companies, so I got to learn the insurance industry pretty well. I worked for this company because I was doing some legal advice, even within other departments in this company in the underwriting side, and other areas. I managed the litigation, then I took over the unit that handled all of the lawsuits against insurance agents.”
Of course, Jones has watched the industry evolve. He remembers insurers doubling down on stubborn and complacent approaches to running their businesses. “Insurance has been around for a long time, and they’ve kind of always done it the way they’ve done it,” Jones says.
Despite having to keep up with an influx of regulations—and working in legal environments that he says continue to become “more adversarial”—Jones confirms that insurance companies have pulled a 180, shifting their attitudes toward innovation.
“Over the last ten, fifteen, maybe twenty years, that is really, really starting to change,” Jones says. “Insurance companies in the industry are able to move a lot quicker on things, and we’re no different. We have been modernizing all our systems for the last few years, and that’s been a big change for us as a company, but it’s been very good.”
Jones embraces change as a catalyst for growth. He leans into challenges that prompt him to think like a lawyer and a leader, and it shows in the digital transformation he’s achieved across his department. “We just introduced in the litigation side, [a] brand new case management system that we built out on our side,” Jones says. “I led that effort . . . and that’s been awesome. It’s been a great productivity and efficiency boost for all our attorneys and our staff.”
Jones advises young attorneys to get as much broad experience as they can as they develop in their careers, even if their interests are specialized. “When I’m hiring folks here, I don’t necessarily have to hire somebody who knows insurance or who’s handled insurance cases,” he says. “I need somebody who has a broad experience base in helping people . . . in wanting to really help folks and be a part of the team.”
“Mark is smart and forward-thinking—he is aggressive about solving situations before they become problems. I enjoy working with him to reach common-sense solutions that serve his insureds’ best interests.”
–Chris Rackers, Attorney at Law
“Mark is a thoughtful, analytical, and conscientious litigation manager. He has been striving to protect Shelter’s insureds and ‘do the right thing’ for Shelter for nearly 20 years.”
–Clay Crawford, Principal