There are two reasons why reviewing Business Interruption coverage regularly is important:
When reviewing Business Interruption coverage, there are several factors to consider:
Taking the time to review coverage and the firm’s financial statements with our professional insurance agents will pay dividends after a loss. Proper Business Interruption coverage could make the difference between a business re-opening, or closing forever after disaster strikes.
Personal Tragedy Affects the Workplace - Personal tragedy, such as an employee, co-worker, or family member’s death or illness; an employee filing bankruptcy, or incidences of home or workplace violence, also commonly have an effect in the workplace. These personal tragedies are typically less public than national tragedies, but there’s still the same sense of wanting to help and not being sure what to do.
Regardless of the type of tragedy, it usually has a substantial impact on workers. There are organizations that provide a support system to help people cope with tragedy and the helplessness and grief that often follows. There are also actions that employers can take to help employees as they experience tragedy in the workplace:
Ensure Safety. In cases where the incident occurs in the workplace, safety is the primary concern. The disaster plan should be implemented immediately. Be sure that the disaster plan includes emergency evacuation routes and a designated meet-up location. Be sure to account for the safety of all employees with an attendance call at the designated meet area.
Assess For Personal Involvement. Offer time off, transportation, moral support, assistance getting more information, and such if the tragedy affects a worker on a personal level. There might also be a need for shelter, compensation, or relocation if the tragedy is something that impacts the workplace on a widespread level, such as a local natural disaster.
Be Understanding. Naturally workers can’t instantly return to everyday work after hearing about a tragedy, or at least not in a productive and safe manner. Distracted and distraught workers are very likely to make errors and poor decisions. So, be understanding and tell the workers that it’s okay to focus their attention on what’s happening. In doing so, workers can resume work safely once their need for information is met.
Offer Information. Information can help workers process whatever is going on. If possible turn a radio, television, or computer into an information portal for the employees to stay informed. This might be confined to a break room only, but it’ll still be an information source. Keep employees as up-to-date as possible, without divulging confidential information. Do recognize that employees might want to call friends and family to gain or share information.
Offer a Talking and Gathering Location. Some find comfort in being close to others during a tragedy. A quiet conference room can provide just such a gathering point. It might also be helpful to provide employees an opportunity for interaction, sharing of grief, encouragement, and support by bringing a lunch for employees to eat in a central location. Encourage a brown bag or potluck lunch for the next few days, as some might take longer than others to share their suffering.
Have a Meeting to Share Information. Regarding personal tragedy, it’s crucial that confidentiality isn’t compromised. Keeping that in mind, it’s important to offer as much factual information as permitted. This will not only keep the rumors down, it’ll also mean that employees will spend less time seeking information from other sources. The meeting might also include how employees or the company can help those involved in the tragedy.
Offer Ways to Help. As evidenced by the overwhelming amount of people that volunteered after Hurricane Katrina and 9/11, many take comfort in easing the pain of others and helping to solve issues. Depending on the context of the tragedy, a company fundraiser event, blood drive, charitable donation, offering of flowers or food, and such might be applicable.
Encourage Employees to Utilize Resources. Make sure that employees are aware if there’s an Employee Assistance Program or counseling through the company health plan available.
Have HR Staff and Managers Available. These staff members are critical during a tragedy and should be visible and available. It’s helpful for key staff members to be seen in all work areas and stop to listen and support those that need it.
Be Prepared. All companies should have a disaster plan that includes plans for any disaster that could occur in the area - fire, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc. Every employee should be trained to know appropriate disaster and personal injury actions. It’s too late to make the plan once the disaster has occurred!
Include Grief Training As Part the Training Program. Many are unsure what actions to take after a tragedy; for example, employees might be unsure what to say or do once a widowed worker returns to work. Employees should have grief training that includes such points as the stages of grief, dealing with self-grief, and grief of others. Having this training will help support positive workplace morale and decrease the long-term effects of tragedy.
Everyone will experience some sort of tragedy at some point in life, and those tragedies are very likely to find their way into the workplace. Hopefully, these tips will offer an effective starting point for employers to address tragedy as it unfolds in the workplace.
Ask yourself: How much risk are we prepared to accept for our business? Essentially, anything that you are not prepared to take on needs to be covered by suitable insurance coverage.
To measure the amount of risk in evaluating the insurance needs of your company, there are a number of key areas you need to examine -- in conjunction with one of our knowledgeable insurance agents. The primary areas you should re-evaluate annually are:
General Liability. How much liability protection does your company currently require? The amount of coverage you had purchased previously was probably adequate at the time, but remember: Your business has changed since then and so has your liability exposure. What was suitable for your needs last year might no longer be sufficient if your company has grown and expanded. The larger your growth, the more you become exposed to potential, increased, and significant liability.
Property Insurance. Business property evaluations go up and down as commercial real estate values fluctuate. You could now be paying too little or too much for the necessary coverage. The same applies to your equipment, machinery, and your inventory. Adding or subtracting in these three areas, while factoring in appreciation or depreciation, can affect not only the premiums you pay, but also your overall Property insurance coverage in the event of a significant loss, such as a fire or natural disaster.
Workers Compensation. The premium you pay is largely dependent on the roles of each and every employee -- from the shop floor to your managerial staff. If the roles of your personnel have changed relative to how your business has grown, shrunk, or evolved, then you need to re-evaluate these changes relative to the premium rate you pay for each worker. The premium cost changes and/or differences can be substantial.
Business Interruption Insurance. You might have enough insurance to get your business re-built and your equipment replaced in the event of a disaster, but did you also factor in your business operating expenses? Many companies neglect that part of the equation and fail to develop a disaster recovery plan. Even if your company has a plan, what about the vendors that are key to the survival of your business? Your own business might be fine, but in some other part of the state or country, a key manufacturer or supplier could get nailed. Did you know that you could extend your coverage to cover this circumstance, too?
Insurance Protection of Executives. The size of your company doesn’t matter. If you have employees, you can face claims for sexual harassment or wrongful dismissal. You might not have considered the need to purchase Employment Practices Liability insurance before, but if your company has grown, that expansion has increased your risk to potential claims. Similarly, if you sponsor a 401(k) plan for your employees, and its performance has not met expectations or an employee feels the investment was mismanaged, do you have adequate Directors & Officers Liability to handle such claims?
Summary. To safeguard your business from potential risk, an annual insurance audit is a must. You might discover that changes in your business might have exposed you to new risks. Likewise, insurance premiums are a significant expense, and you might find that you are paying too much or covering exposures that are no longer relevant.
More than 50 years after the first wave of asbestos-related lawsuits and 40 years after strict regulation curbed the use of this fire-resistant material used for building insulation, business has never been better for plaintiffs' attorneys specializing in asbestos litigation.
You've probably seen those TV or online ads from law firms wanting to know if you, or a family member, have faced exposure to asbestos. (For example, a recent survey found that 15 of the 100 most expensive keyword search phrases for Google click-through ads was "mesothelioma," the fatal cancer triggered by asbestos exposure.
The number of asbestos-related suits has picked up in recent years -- and the payouts for plaintiffs who prevail have soared. One study of jury verdicts and settlements found that the average award in these cases soared from $6.3 million in 2009 to $10.5 million in 2011, averages far higher than a decade earlier.
Claims by victims against trusts created by companies that went bankrupt from asbestos liabilities have escalated so rapidly that many are paying only a few cents on the dollar -- while others have had to suspend settlements.
Meanwhile, insurers have boosted their asbestos-claim reserves by hundreds of millions of dollars.
Some experts believe the recent flood of asbestos litigation has been triggered by the emergence of "asbestos wives and daughters" exposed to male relatives in industries that used the mineral. However, data from the National Cancer Institute shows that the incidence of mesothelioma has remained flat from1980 to 2008, with the rate for females one-sixth that of males.
More and more plaintiffs are targeting a new class of "tertiary defendants" -- deep-pocketed companies that used asbestos products made by others or have an indirect link to asbestos. According to a leading plaintiffs' attorney, settlements in these cases are averaging a hefty $15 million to $25 million.
If you believe your business has -- or might have -- an exposure to asbestos litigation, feel free to get in touch with us.