Cyber Liability

Healthcare Faces Lingering Cyber Threats Amid COVID-19

The healthcare industry has undergone many changes in recent years, particularly centered on new technologies for managing patient encounters and to facilitate treatment. Electronic patient records and telemedicine options are some of the primary technologies adopted by healthcare facilities. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, these technologies allow healthcare delivery without direct contact between caregivers and patients. Unfortunately, with new technologies come new risks; healthcare cyber liability concerns related to criminal activity have risen dramatically. Many experts believe these emerging cyber liabilities will continue to linger far beyond the end of the pandemic, necessitating a careful look at the risk management strategies available to healthcare organizations. 

Cyber Criminals Targeting Enterprise Systems and Patient Data

Across industries, information technology professionals have experienced a sharp uptick in cyber criminality. In the healthcare sector, hackers have intruded into networks to interfere with information-sharing between health organizations. In the Czech Republic, the hospital responsible for managing COVID-19 testing for the country was the victim of a cyberattack, necessitating the shutdown of the facility’s network. Similar attacks targeted the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). 

Healthcare systems have been a prime target for criminals, owing to the value of patient records which may contain Social Security numbers, banking information, and sensitive personal details. When criminals gain access to patient data, this information is often sold on the black market, netting millions of dollars in illicit profits. Healthcare cyber liability exposures may include:

  • Malware – programs designed to look like legitimate apps, but redirect network traffic or data to criminal enterprises.
  • Ransomware – holding data or networks hostage until a ransom is paid to cyber criminals.
  • Distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks – flooding healthcare networks with traffic to foil operations.
  • Social engineering hacks – individuals posing as members of an organization to gain access to sensitive passwords and healthcare data. 

Healthcare Cyber Liabilities: Emerging Threats

The COVID-19 crisis has ushered in new operational practices, including those used in the healthcare industry. Remote work has become an integral part of many businesses, allowing employees to work from the safety of their own homes. Unfortunately, because these remote work options are relatively new and unfamiliar to many employees, hackers have taken advantage of weak security practices to gain entry into critical networks. This trend is expected to continue after the pandemic is contained, potentially costing healthcare organizations millions of dollars in insurance claims, forensic investigations, and legal exposures. 

The “Internet of Things”(IoT) is also a potential weak point for cyber criminals to exploit. Internet-connected medical devices and mobile communication and computing technologies often exist under a patchwork of security settings and protocols, or may be relatively exposed to criminal activity. The pandemic has only increased the reliance on these connected devices. Once a hacker gains entry to a network from a connected medical device, access to enterprise and patient data is but a few mouse clicks away.

Managing Healthcare Cyber Liability

Healthcare organizations know that the COVID-19 pandemic has altered business operations, forcing employees and managers to approach work in new ways. With the adoption of technologies to make the transition smoother, cyber criminals have leveraged security weaknesses to gain access to enterprise systems.

It is imperative that organizations address their healthcare cyber liability exposures, employing robust risk management strategies backed by comprehensive cyber liability insurance solutions. Training employees on secure computer access practices and password management can foil many malware, ransomware, and social engineering hacks. Adopting best practices in terms of IT network intrusion detection and security go a long way toward eliminating criminal activity. It is a good idea for healthcare organizations to carefully review existing insurance coverages and to identify any coverage gaps that may lead to liability exposures. With these practices, healthcare facilities can stop cyber criminals in their tracks, protecting sensitive business and patient data and helping to ensure business continuity. 

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Fiduciary Liability

Fiduciary Liability: What it is and Why Your Clients Need it

Financial institutions that offer employee benefit plans to their workers face significant risks. As the regulatory landscape of banking corporate governance shifts, risk exposures also shift. Litigation related to the management liability of employee benefits programs is growing; as a result, the need for fiduciary liability insurance coverage has become extremely important. In this guide, we will present an overview of fiduciary duty and discuss the ramifications of management liability exposures as they relate to protecting your insurance clients in the financial sector from liability claims.

An Introduction to Fiduciary Duty in Employee Benefits

Companies and organizations of nearly every structure often provide their employees with benefits plans. Banks and other financial services firms are some of the many business operations that extend benefits to employees; these benefits plans may include:

  • Healthcare and welfare insurance policies
  • Profit-sharing structures
  • Savings and retirement plans
  • Pension plans
  • Stock options

The teams of people tasked with managing and administering benefits plans have what is called fiduciary duty, which is defined as “acting in a way that will benefit someone else financially.” In other words, benefits administrators must act with good faith, prudence, and care on behalf of the employees who receive these benefits.

Unfortunately, fiduciary and management liability issues arise when fiduciary duty is breached or benefit plans and programs are mismanaged. Legal claims may also be centered on errors and omissions in the administration and management of benefits plans. In 1974, the concept of fiduciary liability was made even more complex by the passage of ERISA, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. In Section 409 of the Act, fiduciaries may be held personally responsible for mismanagement of employee benefits plans, putting personal and corporate assets at risk. Under ERISA, employee benefits plan participants have the right to sue their employers for any breaches of fiduciary duty.

Protecting Clients with Fiduciary Liability Insurance Solutions

Management liability exposures can cost companies millions of dollars in judgments and settlements as well as the expenses associated with defending against claims of fiduciary mismanagement. Faced with rising claims, more employers are taking hard looks at their existing liability insurance coverages.

The foundation of any liability risk management program is insurance. For employee benefits, fiduciary liability insurance policies serve as the “security blanket” which protects business assets and the personal assets of directors and officers tasked with administering and/or managing benefits plans. Any company that offers benefits plans such as healthcare, dental, retirement, or pension programs to their employees must consider fiduciary liability coverage. The reason for this insurance protection is simple: no matter how carefully benefits are administered, mistakes can be made. Even false claims of breach of duty made by employees can result in expensive litigation. Fiduciary liability coverages include protection against claims like:

  • Conflicts of interest
  • Prohibited financial transactions
  • Wrongful denial of benefits
  • Failure to administer plans according to plan documents
  • Improper advice or counsel
  • Failure to monitor third-party benefits service providers
  • Mismanagement of investments
  • Errors and omissions in plan administration/management

Most management liability insurance plans also include coverage against legal expenses and the penalties or fees imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor for breaches of fiduciary duty. Sharing the advantages of these insurance solutions with your clients can help to reinforce business relationships. Risks associated with fiduciary duties can devastate any business operation, so it makes sound financial sense to implement risk management programs backed by comprehensive insurance policies.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Retaliation

Staffing Firms: Preventing Retaliation Claims

Staffing agencies serve as the conduit between employers and employees. As such, they face a complex landscape of regulatory requirements, including laws that govern employment practices. Employment practices are a hot-button issue, particularly in regard to discrimination in the workplace. Claims of employees being retaliated against by employers are on the rise in the United States, triggering a corresponding increase in claims on staffing firm insurance policies. In this guide, we will explore the role of staffing firm insurance and present ways to mitigate the risks associated with employee retaliation claims.

Employment Retaliation Claims on the Rise

Employees who believe they are being discriminated against in the workplace often complain to their employers or staffing agencies. These complaints often lead to claims of employer retaliation filed with state and federal authorities. These claims are on the rise and have exhibited a sharp increase over the past decade. Of the 72,675 discrimination claims filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) in 2019, just over 39,000 were related to employer discrimination. That figure represents over half of all discrimination claims filed with the agency.

What is Employer Retaliation?

If an employee complains about certain workplace practices, such as unlawful discrimination based on sex, orientation, or race, they are protected by federal and state laws against retaliation. Unfortunately, employers may violate these protective laws either inadvertently or on purpose. In simple terms, employer retaliation is the practice by which employees who complain about workplace discrimination are penalized for filing a complaint or for participating in investigations of discrimination. Retaliation can take several forms, including:

  • Negative performance reviews
  • Undesired transfers to other positions or workplaces
  • Demotions
  • Harassment or mistreatment by supervisors and coworkers
  • Termination of employment

When a worker believes he or she has experienced workplace discrimination and is being retaliated against for filing a complaint, this can create an emotionally-charged situation. Staffing firms are often caught in the middle, potentially opening the door to expensive liability claims.

Preventing Claims of Retaliation

Staffing firm insurance is the foundation of risk management for employment staffing and placement agencies. When it comes to preventing claims of employee retaliation, staffing agencies must adopt rigorous procedures to support the protections of their insurance policies. These procedures must include:

  • Supporting documentation – staffing firms must thoroughly document any incidents that lead to an employee’s demotion or termination. Documentation must include information regarding timing, whether a complaint was filed, and whether the demotion or termination was otherwise justified.
  • Education of employer clients – staffing agencies and their clients must work in close concert with one another, particularly in regards to handling temporary or contracted employees who may not be performing up to standards. Educating clients through the use of feedback is critical; clients must be prepared to share information about expectations and employee performance, and the staffing agency must ask for this feedback as well.
  • Third-party assistance – employment law is a complex and ever-changing aspect of the modern business world. Employers and staffing agencies alike may become overwhelmed with the myriad regulations governing employment practices. It is a good idea to establish a relationship with an employment attorney as well as to alert staffing firm insurance carriers whenever retaliation claims are filed.

Staffing agencies and employers facing claims of workplace discrimination and/or retaliation must also set policies to manage their risk exposures, especially during investigations. Policies can include:

  • Establishment of confidentiality rules – during investigations, all interviews with affected parties must be kept confidential at all times.
  • Setting temporary preventative measures to protect both employer and employee during a discrimination/retaliation investigation. This can include temporary reassignments, paid leaves of absence, or changes in supervisory control of the affected individuals.
  • Ensuring consistency in employee discipline – workplace policies must apply to all employees, and this includes the steps taken to discipline employees. Failure to remain consistent in these policies can aggravate claims of discrimination or retaliation, and may increase the strains on staffing firm insurance and other liability protections.

With these measures and policies in place, employers and employees both enjoy their benefits. Workplace discrimination claims have only increased in recent years. While staffing firm insurance is designed to protect against the financial burdens of defending against such claims, managing risks through stringent practices helps to protect staffing agencies, their clients, and their employees.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

COVID-19

The Impacts of COVID-19 on the Trucking Industry

In 2020, the coronavirus pandemic dominated headlines around the world. COVID-19 affected all areas of commerce, including the transportation industry. Ever-shifting consumer demands, coupled with significant challenges associated in supply chains and driver personnel presented unforeseen risks to trucking operations. As a fundamental part of risk management, commercial transportation insurance helps to ease some of the financial impacts truckers face in the wake of COVID-19. Industry analysts suggest that the impacts of the pandemic on the trucking industry may continue to influence this critical commerce sector long into the future. Here’s how.

Consumer Demands and Supply Chain Interruptions: Symptoms of the Pandemic

Consumer demands shifted dramatically as a result of the pandemic. Certain essential commodities, including disinfectant products, medical supplies, and groceries experienced wild swings in demand; personal protective equipment like masks and gloves were also eagerly sought out by consumers. Manufacturers and producers are sometimes unable to keep up with those demands, and that weakness in the supply chain directly affected the transportation industry. Initially faced with too many truckers and not enough cargo, shipping rates plummeted. The “spot market”, which covers approximately 20% of the commercial freight-hauling industry in the United States, experienced an upheaval. This spot market is a system by which cargo is paired with available trucking operations; when cargo loads exceed available transportation options, shipping rates rise. With breaks in the supply chain caused by uneven consumer demands and failures in production, trucking companies saw a significant decline in rates, ultimately affecting their business continuity.

Infections in the Trucking Workforce

As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to spread across the country, a new risk exposure to the transportation industry was revealed: illnesses among truckers. COVID-19’s profound health effects grounded thousands of truckers, keeping them from contributing to the flow of consumer goods. In the early part of the pandemic, there were more truckers than available cargo loads. Increasing infection rates in most states took their toll on the transportation sector, and in some cases resulted in halting of trucking operations.

Regulators took note of the looming shortages in the trucking workforce, and made provisions to ease restrictions in an effort to get more truckers onto America’s roadways. One agency, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, waived certain licensing regulations for a three-month period, allowing those with a commercial learner’s permit to take to the road and reducing the staffing shortages faced by so many trucking operations.

Long-Range Effects on Trucking Operations

Not all of the effects of the coronavirus on the American transportation industry are negative. Some have had positive effects, and will influence trucking operations for years to come. One of the leading effects that has emerged in the pandemic has been that of widespread adoption of technology solutions to reduce physical contact between stakeholders. So-called “contactless” and paperless technologies like electronic bills of lading, payments, and virtual communications between trucking salespeople and vendors/manufacturers have served to protect truckers and end users from the potential spread of infection. They also help to streamline operations, reducing paperwork-related issues.

Trucking office management has also benefited from remote-work technologies such as video conferencing and virtual communications systems. Managers forced to work from home during the pandemic can easily remain in contact with vendors, employees, and contractors. Remote working has been shown to improve the work/life balance as well, and analysts from numerous industries suggest this solution will have long-ranging benefits far after the COVID-19 pandemic is past.

New driver onboarding procedures have seen significant changes due to the health risks associated with the coronavirus. Portions of new driver orientation operations have been moved to an online environment, reducing the costs associated with in-person orientation. Orientation sessions are streamlined as well, being able to be completed in less time and with less overhead. Still, there are certain advantages to in-person interaction, and many transportation industry companies are creating hybridized orientations with both virtual and in-person components.

It is expected that many of the changes being experienced in the trucking sector will remain long after the pandemic, as in addition to the health-protective benefits of adopting technologies and revamping procedures, the cost benefits far outweigh any potential drawbacks. These changes will drive down the costs associated with commercial transportation insurance claims and are a valid part of the post-pandemic risk management model. COVID-19 has been difficult for many in the transportation industry, but has served as a learning and growing experience for many forward-facing trucking firms.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Commercial bank risks

Common Commercial Bank Risks

In every business and industry, there are risk exposures that must be addressed. The banking sector is no exception. Banks and other financial institutions face a wide range of risks, including several unique exposures to this important component of the world economy. There are many stakeholders involved in managing banking risks, including government entities. Commercial banking liability insurance forms the backbone of a robust strategy as a means of managing commercial bank risks. To further the role of risk management, understanding the risks inherent in the banking sector can help businesses protect the financial and information assets of their companies and their customers.

Systemic Versus Bank-Specific Risks

To begin our exploration of common banking risks, it can be valuable to learn the differences between the two primary categories of risk. Systemic risks, sometimes referred to as macro risks, affect the banking industry as a whole. Examples of systemic risks include the financial crisis in 2008, the implosion of the housing market the same year, and the financial challenges faced across the sector caused by economic instability in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Micro risks, on the other hand, affect specific institutions or groups of similar institutions. Certain banking practices, including accidental or intentional acts on the part of banking employees, can be considered micro risks. Others may include cyber crimes like malware or ransomware attacks that attempt to access banking information unlawfully. Commercial banking liability is a complex field, but one factor is apparent; although the effects of macro and micro risks on banking institutions may differ, management of these risk exposures often takes similar approaches.

Typical Risk Exposures in Banking

Risks have evolved in the banking industry as new technologies and new business models have fundamentally changed daily operations. Information technology is the primary driver of this evolution; computer-based systems are used for data storage, electronic transfer of assets, and delivery of personalized banking services. While the goal of adopting technology in banking was to streamline operations, it opened the door to an entirely new class of risk: cyber liability. In fact, cyber criminality stands as the leading risk exposure across the banking industry. In 2019 alone, over 25% of all malware attacks reported to authorities targeted banks and financial institutions. The theft or unauthorized access of banking data has cost the banking sector billions of dollars in losses, including commercial banking liability claims, forensic investigations, recovery efforts, and regulatory fines.

Cybercrime is certainly not the only risk banks face in the modern era. There are risks associated with many banking practices, and these risks must be considered when selecting commercial banking liability insurance and risk management solutions. Typical banking risks include:

  • Risks to banking directors and officers from the actions of shareholders.
  • Claims of non-compliance of regulatory banking provisions.
  • Employee fraud and theft, including unauthorized access to or creation of accounts and embezzlement.
  • Liability claims arising from physical loss or damage of assets.
  • Derivative claims.
  • Liability claims of unfair, discriminatory, or predatory banking and loan practices.
  • Errors and omissions claims centered on wrongful transactions, foreclosures, and similar banking mechanisms.

The Role of Commercial Banking Liability Insurance

The banking sector experiences varied and ever-changing risks. When presented with the sheer volume of risks these financial institutions face, it becomes clear that a robust risk management approach is not only financially prudent but can mean the survival or loss of even the largest banking operations.

Not every bank is the same, however, and each institution faces its own unique risk exposures. For commercial banking liability insurance, one-size-fits-all insurance solutions may not be sufficient to mitigate the varied risks. To best protect the interests and assets of banks and their customers, specialized risk insurance brokers with in-depth industry knowledge are critical. Banking liability insurance offers protection in several significant areas, including:

  • Fiduciary liability
  • Errors and omissions (E&O) liability
  • Employment practices liability
  • Management liability
  • Cyber liability
  • Directors & Officers (D&O) liability
  • Property and physical assets liability

In simple terms, commercial banking liability insurance is a foundational approach to risk management. With the right insurance protections in place, banks can continue to provide economy-driving services to businesses and individuals.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Remote Hiring

A Guide to Remote Hiring for Staffing Agencies

The COVID-19 pandemic has created powerful and long-lasting effects around the world. In addition to the coronavirus’s health impacts, the economy has suffered, with many people losing their jobs. As the economy begins its recovery, more job seekers are turning to the Web for help. Remote workers are taking the place of many traditional in-person employment roles, and companies are increasingly leveraging remote working and recruitment technologies to restart their operations. Staffing agencies and human resources departments need to understand industry best practices for remote hiring and managing. Here’s how.

The Benefits of Remote Recruitment and Hiring Practices

Recruiting and hiring talented employees has always been a challenge for companies of every size and type. In the wake of COVID-19, this challenge has only increased. Many companies have had to revamp their recruitment and hiring practices to meet emerging risks, and staffing agencies are no exception. There are significant benefits to using remote recruitment and hiring practices, even in more favorable economic conditions. Benefits include:

  • Remote recruitment allows companies to bring in skills that may be hard to find in their current location.
  • These systems cost less than in-person recruiting workshops and in-person interviews, particularly if a candidate does not wish to relocate for work or has difficulties in traveling to visit potential employers.
  • Remote systems tend to be more flexible, allowing greater availability and access for employers and candidates.

Recruiting Remotely: Tips for Staffing Agencies

Now that the pandemic has changed the playing field for recruitment, how can staffing agencies leverage new tools and technologies? The process begins with recruitment, or attracting quality applicants to a given firm.

The key to success is for an employer to have a robust online presence with an excellent reputation and easy-to-find information on available jobs, locations, benefits, and corporate culture. It can also be extremely beneficial for companies and staffing agencies to maintain attractive social media accounts. These attributes help potential candidates visualize themselves as part of the work team and learn more about the company and its industry niche.

Staffing agencies may also use job-search platforms to connect with potential candidates. LinkedIn remains one of the most popular tools for this purpose, allowing a direct connection between employers and qualified candidates. Other remote worker-oriented platforms include Doist, FlexJobs, RemoteOK, and Working Nomads are available. Finally, global job boards such as Monster and Indeed offer employers a chance to connect with candidates and for candidates to search jobs from the comfort of home or office.

Hiring Best Practices

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced significant changes in the way companies and staffing agencies conduct the hiring process. For safety reasons, many employers have eliminated face-to-face interviews with candidates, at least temporarily. Many human resources professionals suggest that this trend may continue long after the pandemic is under control; remote interviews and hiring processes are more efficient and less costly than direct in-person meetings.

Assessing candidates remotely can be a challenge – and this is where technology has stepped forward to streamline the remote process. Video conferencing platforms, including Zoom, Skype, and Google Meet are used increasingly to interview qualified candidates. Alternatively, some staffing agencies use platforms like Jobma and HireVue to allow candidates to answer interview questions on their own time and at their own pace, then submitting recordings to potential employers.

One thing that has not changed in the wake of COVID-19 is the value represented by recommendations. Candidates can be assessed by requesting recommendations from mentors, previous employers, and industry contacts. Recommendations may also be posted on candidates’ LinkedIn or Indeed profile pages and should be considered part of the vetting process.

Remote Working Management for Staffing Agencies

One final tip to share with staffing agencies and companies looking to bolster their remote workforce is how such remote work is managed. The key here is to set expectations early and in a transparent manner. Not everyone is familiar with the demands of remote work environments and maintaining operations while adopting new technologies and practices has been challenging for many firms. With expectations understood by all parties, work can continue to flow efficiently.

Communication must be robust and flexible, allowing employers and their remote working staff to remain connected. Again, video conferencing technologies can be used to keep team efforts on track. Email and telephone calls also continue to be vital components of the remote work environment.

Remote working can create improved work-life balance in employees. Gallup’s poll suggests that over 50% of all employees value a better work-life balance, and remote working may satisfy that need. COVID-19 has forever changed many aspects of the business world. By remaining flexible, adopting new technologies, and embracing new practices, employers and staffing agencies can continue to recruit and hire talented individuals.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Directors & Officers

A Closer Look at Directors & Officers Insurance

In any corporation, the company’s leadership team is comprised of a group of executives entrusted with managing the business. These leaders must often make difficult decisions that influence the financial stability and growth of a given company. The duty to manage the company comes with significant risk exposures, necessitating specialized liability insurance protection. That is where Directors & Officers (D&O) liability insurance plays a vital role, protecting the personal assets of corporate executives and their families. Here is a closer look at D&O insurance, how it works, and how it can give peace of mind to corporations across industries.

What is Directors & Officers Liability Insurance?

Known in the insurance world as “D&O” insurance, Directors & Officers Liability Insurance is one part of a comprehensive risk management strategy for corporations. In simple terms, this insurance is designed to protect the personal assets of corporate leaders and their spouses in the event they are sued by other parties for any alleged or actual wrongful acts committed while managing the company. Personal suits for alleged or actual mismanagement can come from employees, customers, vendors, and investors in the company as well as many other third-party sources.

In addition to protecting the personal assets of corporate leaders, D&O insurance typically provides coverage for the legal expenses, judgements or settlements, and other costs associated with legal claims.

What are the Risks Directors and Officers Face?

The executive leaders of a company have an obligation of corporate governance, or the actions needed to keep the company healthy and secure. Unfortunately, this obligation comes with substantial risks. Anyone who believes that the directors and officers of a company are failing in their roles in corporate governance or financial duties may wish to file a legal claim against them. Common legal claims include:

  • Lack of or negligence in corporate governance
  • Failure to comply with workplace and employment laws
  • Misuse of corporate funding
  • Misrepresentation of the company’s financial assets
  • Breaches in fiduciary duty, including financial losses or bankruptcies
  • Claims from competitors, including theft of intellectual property or patents as well as poaching competitors’ customers

Under most D&O policies, criminal acts or illegality are not covered. While allegations of fraud are a common type of legal claim filed against corporate leaders, legitimately fraudulent behavior on the part of these leaders is generally not covered under D&O insurance.

Who Needs D&O Insurance Coverage?

For many years, D&O insurance has been associated with the largest corporations, such as prominent Fortune 500 firms. In reality, nearly every business that has a corporate board of directors or a management advisory committee can benefit from the protections afforded by D&O liability insurance. This can include both profit and non-profit companies as well as public agencies or organizations. If an organization has a directors group, any of those leaders can be personally sued for the myriad of reasons illustrated above. Investing in D&O insurance makes sound financial sense, protecting the assets of leaders and their families.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

Cybersecurity

5 Measures for Effective Cybersecurity After COVID-19

Around the world, the coronavirus pandemic has had powerful effects on industries of all types. Businesses were forced to adapt quickly to protect their customers and their employees. Because COVID-19 required stringent social distancing and self-quarantine restrictions, many businesses shifted to online work environments to remain in operation. Other companies focused on e-commerce, allowing them to continue delivering the goods and services consumers needed. Cybersecurity, then, became ever more important, as remote employee access and online shopping took center stage in many business operations. As an effective risk-management strategy, business owners must leverage the protection of cyber liability insurance plans and industry best practices to keep their networks and their sensitive data safe. 

Challenges and Risks During the COVID-19 Pandemic

As businesses revamped their operations, moving to remote work environments for their employees, challenges and risks for cybersecurity professionals and business leaders grew rapidly. Some of the challenges include:

  • Access to critical business networks via personal computing devices and on less-secure home networks.
  • Employees unfamiliar with cybersecurity practices, making them vulnerable to social engineering hacks and similar cyber criminality.
  • Targeted attacks by criminals on already-strained networks, particularly critical services such as healthcare and banking operations.
  • A change in perceptions about anomalous network behaviors. Prior to the pandemic, these behaviors were seen as evidence of criminals attempting to breach computer security. Now, with so many people working from home, anomalous behaviors are the norm rather than the exception, making actual criminal activity harder to spot. 
  • Flaws in security on popular productivity software products, including video conferencing platforms like Zoom. 

Most importantly, business leaders may not be fully aware of the cyber risks their companies face in the dramatic upheaval of the pandemic and its aftermath. While cyber liability insurance is designed to protect against many risks associated with network breaches and data loss, it is critical that leadership understands these risks and makes efforts to manage them effectively.

The 5 Measures: Cybersecurity Now and Post-Pandemic

In response to the unprecedented cyber risks exacerbated by the pandemic, the World Economic Forum (WEF) published a report entitled “Cybersecurity Leadership Principles: Lessons Learnt During the COVID-19 Pandemic to Prepare for the New Normal”. The report’s aim is to shape adequate responses to growing cyber threats, and contains five measures that will shape the future of cybersecurity. The five measures are:

  1. Fostering a culture of cyber resilience: As risks grow and wane, resilience is the key to continued data safety. Implementing proactive risk management practices and developing strategies to recover from cyber attacks are among the recommendations of the WEF.
  2. Focusing on protection of critical assets and services: It is impossible for businesses to protect every aspect of an operation. Instead, identifying and prioritizing those assets and services that are critical for business continuity while maintaining compliance with privacy and data security regulations is the better course of action.
  3. Balancing risk-informed decisions within the pandemic and in the future: Implementation of new systems and practices always come with new risks. Leaders must balance those risks and may have to make difficult decisions as they adapt to the “new normal”. Maintaining flexibility by continual reassessment of existing and emerging risks will help balance risk exposures.
  4. Updating and practicing response plans, including those designed for business continuity: While many companies have created business continuity and data breach response plans, these are not static documents. Risks evolve, and even the best plan is useless without testing its capabilities. By updating and practicing the plans, deficiencies can be uncovered and remedied before an actual response is needed.
  5. Strengthening collaboration throughout the business ecosystem: Establishing and building partnerships between public and private entities regarding cybersecurity is the key to continued success. Sharing information between partners in a transparent manner is the goal of this collaborative effort. By leveraging the power of collaboration, business leaders can more quickly identify emerging threats and take the steps needed to manage or eliminate those threats before they can cause an embarrassing and expensive data breach. 

The future is uncertain, but what is certain is that cyber criminality will continue to threaten the business world. In addition to protecting assets and systems with robust cyber liability insurance plans, insurance agents must provide their clients with the information and practices designed to manage risks going forward. The COVID-10 pandemic has been a challenging time, but it has also provided an important learning experience for industries around the world. These lessons will shape the direction of  cybersecurity response for years to come. 

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

American Offices

The Future of American Offices After COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has dramatically altered our perceptions of the world around us. Self-quarantine and stay-at-home orders impacted business environments, forcing many to adapt rapidly to meet public health guidelines. The economic hardships brought on by COVID-19, and the fundamental changes in the way companies do business, will resonate for years to come. Rather than a “return to normal”, many companies are rethinking office spaces in an effort to protect employees and to ensure smooth operations. American offices are sure to be transformed in both novel and familiar ways in the coming years, with the modern workplace offering a bit of new and old.

Before the Pandemic: Office Work Environments


Beginning around the time of the “dot com” era, or around the mid-1990s, office-oriented businesses began to explore new ways of arranging office work spaces. The goal was to get more employees into smaller spaces while fostering a collaborative environment. The cubicles so ubiquitous of offices around the country were discarded in favor of open-concept work areas. Modern workplaces were open and inviting, with few physical barriers between workstations. This open atmosphere allowed easy collaboration between office workers and subconsciously reinforced team-building efforts on the part of office managers and staff.

Frequent in-person meetings were another hallmark of the “new” office environment. Most offices had dedicated conference rooms for small gatherings and for full team collaborations. In the wake of COVID-19’s effects on offices, open plans and in-person conferences have come under scrutiny for their potential in increasing infection risks among office workers.

A Path Forward: Adopting New and Time-Honored Solutions in the Office Environment

Cubicles, or workstation systems that function like them, may be making a comeback in American offices. Post-pandemic, modern workplaces may feature transparent dividers, helping to reinforce the social distancing guidelines published by public health agencies. Although the dividers will keep office workers separate from each other, the overall look and office atmosphere will remain open, unlike the cubicles of old. Dividers may appear in common areas as well, including bench workstations, restroom sink counters, and eating areas in break rooms.

New – or reimagined – office tech is transforming the modern workplace as well. Companies are leveraging remote access technologies to reduce the number of workers in an office at any one time. By splitting offices into shifts, some workers can telecommute while others report to the office. The shift teams then switch work locations according to a rotating schedule. Video conferencing platforms are also taking the place of in-person conferences, even within the office itself. Participants can remain at their own socially-distanced workstations instead of reporting to a closed-off conference room, reducing direct contact between groups of people.

Finally, many companies are taking steps to enhance office cleaning, with advanced disinfectants to wipe down common areas, high-touch equipment, and fixtures, UV light systems, and antibacterial coatings on equipment items that are handled frequently. HEPA air filtrations systems, already popular in many office environments, will see further adoption. Surfaces that are difficult to keep clean or to sanitize, such as carpeting and fabric upholstery, will be discarded in favor of solid surfaces, including tile, woods, and plastics. These surfaces are more easily wiped down with disinfectant products as needed.

By blending traditional office layouts with new technologies and strategies for improving office safety, American offices are witnessing a transformation. The post-pandemic office will be designed and maintained to help workers avoid the spread of infection, allowing them to keep operations running with a minimum of workplace-related illness claims. Ultimately, these new office environments will promote productivity while managing insurance costs – and workers benefit from improved safety in their modern workplaces.

About U.S. Risk

U.S. Risk, LLC. is a wholesale broker and specialty lines underwriting manager providing a wide range of specialty insurance products and services. Headquartered in Dallas, Texas and operating 16 domestic and international branches, U.S. Risk and its affiliates would like to help you access a world of new markets and products. For more information, contact us today at (800) 232-5830.

COVID-19 Workers Comp Considerations

What Employers Should Consider Regarding COVID-19 and Workers Comp

The coronavirus pandemic gripping the globe has had profound effects on businesses of every size and type. Millions of people have been laid off in the wake of economic turmoil. Still, many employees of companies have been forced to balance work with safety considerations, potentially leading to serious risks regarding their personal health. Workers in establishments deemed “essential,” including retail, healthcare, and foodservice operations, are at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 in the workplace; in these cases, workers’ compensation insurance may be called upon to provide financial relief for affected workers. In this guide, insurance agents can learn what their clients should consider following the economic devastation of COVID-19 and the effects it has had on workers’ comp claims.

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