workers' comp myths

Workers’ Comp Myths: Fact vs. Fiction

Required by most states, workers’ compensation insurance serves to provide financial support for employees injured on the job. Workers’ comp is a valuable benefit for both employees and employers, yet many myths and confusion surround the insurance. To get the most from workers’ compensation insurance, this guide will present facts to dispel the pervasive myths associated with the insurance coverage.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance: A Brief Overview

Across the United States, workers are protected with an important employee benefit called workers’ compensation insurance – better known as “workers’ comp.” The purpose of this specialized form of insurance is to provide financial compensation for injuries occurring in the course or scope of employment. Becoming injured on the job can result in lost wages and medical expenses; workers’ comp is designed to help injured workers face these financial challenges and return to the workplace as quickly as possible. 

Some form of workers’ comp is required for nearly every employer and in nearly every state. The primary benefit for employers is that workers’ compensation insurance generally makes the employer immune from a range of liabilities associated with workplace injuries. 

Myth #1: Injuries 

Many workers believe they have to be injured while doing their jobs in order to be covered by workers’ compensation insurance. This is not accurate; workers must only suffer an injury in the course or scope of their employment, which can include both job-related and non-job-related tasks. Many workers are injured in the workplace, but not directly as a result of their actual work activities. These workers are still eligible for benefits under most policies. 

Myth #2: Where Injuries Occur

Almost as common as the first myth above is the misconception that workers have to be injured on a jobsite to qualify for benefits. The truth is that injuries can occur outside the workplace, such as during travel between jobsites or an injury happening at a remote location. As long as the worker was injured in the course or scope of their employment duties, they are eligible for benefits. 

Myth #3: Employer Assistance

A pervasive myth surrounding workers’ compensation insurance is that employers have an obligation to help injured workers maximize their benefits under the plan. The fact is that employers have very little to do with workers’ comp claims processing after the initial injury report is filed; the employer’s insurance company typically pays the benefits. In general, unless an injury claim is disputed by the employer, it is up to the injured worker to seek maximum benefits – employers simply do not play a major role in the process.

Myth #4: Qualifying Injuries

Workers often fear that their workplace-related injury will not be covered under their employer’s workers’ compensation benefits plan. This fear often leads workers not to file claims, instead using other healthcare insurance coverages to pay for medical expenses. Under most state workers’ comp guidelines, however, any injury that occurs at work will qualify for a claim, no matter how minor. If injured on the job, the injured employee can and should file a claim.

Myth #5: Retaliation

If you are a worker injured on the job and file a workers’ compensation insurance claim, can your employer fire you? Unfortunately, this is a common myth, leading many workers to avoid filing claims even for severe workplace-related injuries. The fear of employer retaliation looms large; thankfully, a myriad of local, state, and federal laws prevent employers from engaging in retaliation for a workplace injury claim. Injured workers have specific rights and are allowed to seek compensation for their workplace injuries. 

Workers’ Compensation Insurance Facts for Employers

Workers’ compensation insurance greatly reduces an employer’s risk exposures regarding employee injuries. The concept of workers’ comp began over a century ago as a cooperative agreement between employer and employee: the employer provides financial compensation for workplace injuries in exchange for the employee not filing a legal claim against the company. This holds true even today, protecting employers from the expense and hassle associated with employee lawsuits. 

Another important benefit for employers who maintain such coverage can avoid other penalizing issues, including regulatory fines and prison time for failing to provide this benefit to their workers. Workers’ comp provides concrete benefits for all parties, helping injured workers recover and get back to work as fast as possible and allowing employers to better manage their workplace risks. 

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.

AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Transportation Industry: Potential New Risks

The commercial transportation industry has seen dramatic changes over the course of the past decades. The industry has adopted emerging technologies to improve safety and efficiency in operations. As part of a broad risk management strategy, technology represents a means of reducing risk exposures as a supplement to the protections of transportation insurance. One of the technologies receiving attention within the transportation sector is that of artificial intelligence, or AI. The relationship between AI and transportation is growing at exponential rates and has the potential to help companies manage risks better than ever before.

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the concept that allows computers to make human-like decisions in solving problems. Sometimes referred to as machine intelligence or machine learning, AI technology has the ability to remember commands, respond to nuances in language, learn from experiences, and perform functions without direct input from humans.

Although the theoretical concept of AI has been around since the early days of the 20th century, it was not until computing technology was able to process complex commands that theory became reality. In the late 1950s, researchers were able to demonstrate the capabilities and promise of AI, and developments expanded rapidly throughout the 1970s and into today.

AI in the Transportation Industry

How is AI being incorporated into transportation industry operations? There are several promising applications in the transportation sector, including:

  • Autonomous or “self-driving” vehicles
  • Traffic and route management systems
  • Control over remote devices like drones
  • Life-saving systems aboard vehicles
  • Operational efficiency improvements in shipping, trucking, and rail transportation

The goal of incorporating this technology into transportation operations is to not only improve efficiencies, but to protect the lives and safety of employees, cargo, passengers, and business assets. In many ways, AI serves as an extension to the coverages of transportation insurance by reducing operational risks and their associated liabilities.

New Technologies, New Liabilities

Although AI has shown great promise in improving operational efficiency and safety within the transportation industry, the technology is not without its potential liabilities. In other words, while reducing certain risk exposures, AI may contribute to new risks. Any time new technologies are adopted, new liability exposures can emerge. For transportation, potential liabilities include:

  • Assigning responsibility in cases of traffic collisions, particularly when autonomous vehicles are involved. Who is liable in a crash caused by a vehicle without a human driver?
  • Data and cyber security risks, including data breaches or loss of sensitive business data.
  • Virtual hijacking, or the possibility that autonomous vehicles and AI-based systems can be compromised by hackers.

There are also unexpected or unforeseen risks, such as system-wide failures that lead to entire segments of the transportation sector to come to a stop. Imagine an AI-powered computer network managing a fleet of autonomous vehicles. Now imagine that network experiencing a critical hardware or software failure. Such a catastrophic failure could lead to vehicles losing control or becoming grounded. It could also lead to significant liabilities in terms of property damage, injury, and business interruption. Transportation insurance experts understand that new ways of thinking must be focused on the liability implications of AI. AI represents great promise, but insurance protections must also adapt to meet changing risks.

As AI technology matures, new applications will continue to be developed in all aspects of the commercial transportation industry. In the not-too-distant future, we may have fewer vehicle crashes, lower transportation costs, and more efficient traffic flows on our highways. Transportation industry players must balance the advantages of AI against liability risks. With transportation insurance protections and a better understanding of the advantages and risks of AI, companies can make more informed decisions about the future of their operations.

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 work

How Remote Work is Reshaping Recruiting with Technology

Telecommuting, or working from a remote location, has been a small part of the business world for many years. In the wake of COVID-19 and its significant health hazards, companies around the world ramped up their remote work options with innovative tools and technologies. Those same technologies are quickly revolutionizing recruiting and hiring practices as well. Just as staffing insurance protects human resources groups and staffing agencies against liabilities, remote recruitment technologies serve as a risk management tool to offer new ways to connect with and hire top talent.

Telework During the Pandemic

Prior to the deadly SARS-CoV-2 virus and its health effects, telecommuting was typically reserved for a small percentage of the American workforce. According to research compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in its 2019 National Compensation Survey, only about 7% of the estimated 140 million civilian workers in the U.S. had access to telework or remote workplace options. Of that 7%, most were manager-level or executive positions in white-collar roles.

As the coronavirus pandemic led to stay-at-home orders and business lockdowns, telework options expanded rapidly, not only for professionals but for employees of companies of all sizes and configurations. This shift to remote work may be permanent for many businesses, as the concept has been proven to be a viable work option for many companies.

Adopting Remote Work Technologies for Recruiting

Technology made it possible for businesses to make rapid shifts to telework for their employees. Standalone video conferencing programs like Zoom and Google Meet, virtual productivity suites like Microsoft Teams, and office management platforms like Asana and OnlyOffice allowed employees to efficiently work from home while collaborating with others.

Those very same tools have been adopted by those in the staffing and recruiting fields. Face to face interviews remain risky in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; being able to connect with qualified candidates through virtual video conferencing systems serves as a risk management tool, much in the way staffing insurance protects against business risks. Staffing professionals can easily create online events to reach out to candidates, conduct initial interviews, and complete hiring and onboarding procedures remotely.

Benefits of Remote Recruiting and Hiring

In addition to the safety of conducting recruiting, hiring, and onboarding functions remotely, HR managers have discovered several additional benefits to remote recruiting technologies. These benefits include:

  • More cost-effective processes, slashing the expenses associated with in-person meetings with candidates.
  • Improving recruitment of highly-qualified candidates who may otherwise not wish to relocate for work purposes.
  • Allowing the formation of expert team groups to solve complex business problems.
  • Expanding talent pools to a global level, giving recruiters the ability to connect with and expand business footprints.
  • Streamlining communication with candidates and new hires.
  • Facilitating outreach programs to identify and connect with a larger pool of qualified candidates.

As with any new technology in the workplace, concerns about data and personal security necessitate careful consideration. Businesses already rely on staffing insurance for protection against a range of employment-related risks; additional insurance protections and adoption of remote data security solutions will further solidify remote work technologies as a viable option post-pandemic. For now, it is clear that remote technologies have revolutionized many aspects of the modern business world. As these technologies evolve, new capabilities and new applications will continue to improve the recruitment and onboarding processes for staffing professionals.

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.

employment lawsuits

Common Employment Lawsuit Examples to Avoid

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about employment practices liability have taken on a new urgency for companies across the country. As millions of Americans return to the workforce after being terminated or laid off during the pandemic and as the economy begins its slow recovery, a rise in employment-related lawsuits has alarmed the business world. Not all legal claims are related to hiring practices; in some cases, these lawsuits target employers who were forced to fire or furlough workers. To protect against employment practices liability risks, employers must gain an understanding of common claims to avoid during their recruitment and hiring practices. In this guide, we will explore common employment lawsuits and provide tips on mitigating employment practices liability risks. 

Economic Upheaval and Massive Job Losses

When the coronavirus pandemic first touched American shores, the reaction was swift. Almost overnight, local, state, and federal governments imposed strict lockdown orders. Businesses were shuttered within days and millions of people lost their jobs to termination or were laid off, furloughed, or temporarily reassigned at reduced wages. According to the Congressional Research Service, unemployment figures reached nearly 15%, an unprecedented figure.

While the pandemic still raises health and safety concerns, the economic recovery is underway, and many of the people who lost their jobs are returning to the workforce. As job markets open, so too do the issues of employment practices liability. Employers must be ready to avoid common legal claims, both from those seeking jobs as well as those who lost their jobs to COVID-19’s effects on the economy.

Example #1: Employment Discrimination/Wrongful Termination

Myriad state and federal laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace. Workers and those seeking employment have certain rights under these laws, and most employers follow the rules. Still, lawsuits based on workplace discrimination, retaliation, wrongful termination, and harassment are some of the most common legal challenges employers will face. This is especially true of smaller businesses that do not use a human resources department for hiring processes. Regardless of the size or type of company, it is critical that employers remain in compliance with workplace discrimination laws to avoid employment practices liability risks. 

Example #2: Non-Employment Discrimination

Business owners may face discrimination lawsuits from individuals who are not employees of the company. Lawsuits may be filed by vendors, customers, contractors, and others with a business connection to the company. Companies have a duty to provide their products and services without discrimination; in the face of legal claims against the business, most employment practices liability insurance policies offer protection against this type of lawsuit.

Example #3: Wage and Hour Violations

In addition to the federal minimum wage, laws at the federal, state, and local levels protect employees with regulations regarding hours worked, overtime pay, and compensation for work outside normal operating hours. In many cases, lawsuits claiming a violation of wage and hour laws are filed by those who believe their employer has misclassified the workers as independent contractors or exempt employees. Unfortunately, these lawsuits are not always covered by general liability policies and may be excluded from other insurance coverages such as directors and officers liability or employment practices liability insurance. To remain in compliance, employers must ensure fair compensation that meets regulatory standards.

Example #4: Civil Rights Violations

In the business community, lawsuits filed against businesses are classified as torts, or violations of certain civil rights. Claimants are usually third parties with some business connection to the company in question or may be employees or managers of a given company. Torts may be unintentional, as in claims of negligence, or may be intentional in nature when a specific civil right violation is claimed. Employment practices liability policies do not typically cover torts, but general liability policies may. 

Example #5: Contractual Issues

Contracts between parties are an everyday aspect of business, especially in certain sectors like manufacturing, construction, or those that employ temporary workforces. If the business fails to honor its contractual obligations, a breach of contract lawsuit may be filed. This is a common legal challenge for business owners, and employment practices liability policies or other liability insurance products typically do not cover the expenses associated with this type of lawsuit. Business owners have other protections available to them, including surety bonds. To manage the risks associated with contracts, businesses can:

  • Ensure clarity in contractual language.
  • Follow contracts as described.
  • Develop contracts in adherence with all applicable laws.
  • Conduct background research on any individual who the company may enter into contract with. 

Employment practices liability insurance is an important component of risk management for business owners. By becoming aware of common employment-related lawsuits and the tools needed to avoid them, business owners can continue to thrive despite a sharp rise in legal claims by jobseekers and those who may have been displaced from the workforce by the pandemic.  

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.

staffing challenges

Staffing Challenges Expected Throughout 2021

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has upended world economies. Millions of people lost their jobs as hundreds of thousands of businesses closed their doors, often for good. As 2021 unfolds, experts are predicting significant staffing challenges in recruiting and hiring practices post-pandemic. While staffing insurance is a valuable part of risk management, staffing managers must be aware of the obstacles they will face throughout 2021, giving them the opportunity to succeed in quality talent acquisition.

 

A Grim Outlook for the Recruitment Landscape

With millions of people suddenly unemployed in the wake of COVID-19, staffing professionals often believed that the talent pool was ripe for opportunity. The reality is quite different; around the world, recruitment experts predict a significant shortfall of qualified candidates through 2030. An analysis of world markets expect a lack of about 85 million workers, despite the availability of candidates right now.

What is driving the shortfall in workers? There are several factors, including:

  • Hiring freezes
  • Competitiveness in available candidate pools
  • COVID-related slowdowns in hiring approvals
  • Demographic and skills changes in talent pools
  • Shifts to remote work environments
  • Streamlining or reducing workforces

There is one glimmer of hope for recruiters: that of skilled candidates who are now on the job market for the first time in years. Owing to layoffs, furloughs, and shuttering businesses, many professionals are scrambling to find employment. Recruiters, armed with the protection of staffing insurance and with the knowledge that candidates are eager to work, are ready to begin picking through the available talent.

New Challenges in Recruitment and Hiring Practices

The pandemic immediately shifted the way businesses recruit and hire new employees. At least temporarily, many businesses have done away with face-to-face interviews, job fairs, and outreach programs, instead leveraging video conferencing and online communication to locate and meet potential workers. Even new employee onboarding procedures have moved to a digital environment, with new hires receiving orientation and initial training without setting foot in the office.

These digital recruitment/hiring technologies have certain advantages, but they can be unfamiliar to many recruiters who are used to doing things the “traditional” way, leading to challenges. Hiring managers must be ready to adopt virtual recruitment and hiring systems, but must also be ready to receive training on how to best leverage these technologies. For business owners, this can require significant investments of time, money, and infrastructure to equip recruiters with the tools they need to succeed. As a risk management tool that supplements staffing insurance and other protections, technology represents a new way forward for recruiters.

Finding the Right Fit

A hiring trend that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic is the phenomenon of “fit”. Digital recruitment and hiring systems offer faster, more efficient processes, but they do not always identify the ideal candidate for a given role. “Fit” is the principle of finding the right person for the right job at the right time, and it is a critical aspect of the modern business world. In fact, many employers no longer put an emphasis on fit, resulting in declines in overall job satisfaction among hires.

In 2021 and beyond, recruiters must once again focus on identifying the perfect candidate for job openings. Expedience in filling jobs as the pandemic eases its grip on world economies is important, but by locating candidates that fit the given role, improved job retention serves to ease worker shortages. Fit influences many aspects of the work environment, improving efficiency, productivity, and retention. It requires recruiters to look beyond the resumes and online forms and to glean critical details from candidates before the hiring process really begins. Think of this practice as a form of staffing insurance: identifying ideal candidates, then moving through the hiring process, helps to insulate the company from the inefficiencies and lost productivity of employees who are simply a poor fit for the operation. This trend will continue to influence hiring practices throughout 2021. With flexibility, creativity, and due diligence, recruiters will continue to fill job openings with the talent they need to thrive during the post-pandemic economic recovery.

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.

cyber security

Cyber Security Forecast for 2021

2020 provided unique challenges to business owners around the world. The coronavirus pandemic forced dramatic changes in business operations, pushing many companies toward a digital presence. Stay-at-home orders and quarantine restrictions drove a significant increase in remote work systems and online retailing as both employees and consumers were left with few other choices. As a result, cyber criminality grew bolder in its efforts to compromise sensitive business data. Cyber insurance serves as the risk management foundation against criminal activity. As 2021 unfolds, business owners must learn about the trends in cyber security to supplement the protections of cyber liability insurance.

Sharp Increases in Cyber Attacks

The COVID-19 pandemic has been disruptive to business operations in incalculable ways. One of the leading sources of interruption has resulted from a strong increase in the frequency and severity of cyber attacks. Criminals posing as employees to breach networks or plant malware in computer systems were able to steal millions of sensitive records. Nearly every sector was affected, from business operations to governments, scientific research centers, and financial institutions. In some industries, the number of cyber attacks increased by 400% or more. In all, criminal activity in gaining unauthorized access to business network has resulted in billions of dollars in direct losses and a sharp increase in cyber liabilities. Cyber insurance is crucial in protecting business assets against the onslaught of cyber risks.

Forecast #1: Growth in Ransomware Attacks

In many cases, cyber criminals breach computer systems for one reason: to hijack control of sensitive business data. So-called “ransomware” is injected into business networks; criminals then attempt to negotiate a ransom to return access to the data being held hostage. This type of cyber attack has proved lucrative for criminals worldwide – in several highly-publicized cases, companies have paid millions of dollars in ransoms to recover their data. Industry analysts suspect that ransomware attacks will continue to increase in 2021 and beyond based on the success criminals have had in 2020.

Cyber insurance provides coverage against the financial losses associated with ransomware attacks. Companies can supplement those insurance protections by adopting rigorous computer security policies, training employees on safe network access, and implementing the latest software/firmware patches against hackers.

Forecast #2: Remote Infrastructure at Risk

As the pandemic spread throughout the business world, companies moved their employees from centralized offices to their homes by deploying remote access systems. IT departments were often underprepared to handle this new remote work environment, and many companies implemented systems before thoroughly evaluating the cyber risks these systems represented. Criminals exploited weaknesses in cyber security and were able to capitalize on them, particularly in virtual private network (VPN) attacks. Cyber security professionals expect to see continued criminal focus on remote work systems in 2021.

Forecast #3: Security Weaknesses in Smart Devices

The Internet of Things (IoT) has captivated the business world over the past decade. Smart connected devices ranging from office lighting and heating/cooling to automated manufacturing and logistical tools have been adopted across industries. Unfortunately, these systems often come with security weaknesses out of the box, and many companies have not fully realized the potential for cyber criminals to exploit those weaknesses.

In simple terms, the more devices connected to business networks, the potential for more entry points for criminals. Although smart devices are capable of robust security, it is imperative for companies to evaluate weak points to develop risk management strategies against cyber criminals. Here, the role of cyber insurance cannot be overstated; it provides financial protection against the losses incurred by criminal activity on business networks.

Forecast #4: Centralization

Companies continue to work with third-party service providers to deliver critical computer services across platforms. Some of the service providers have grown dramatically as a result; an example is Amazon Web Services (AWS), which powers thousands of business networks around the world. This centralization has its advantages, including scalability and more affordable terms. Unfortunately, this level of centralization can cripple thousands of companies at once if the centralized service is compromised by criminals. From data breaches to the failure of smart devices connected to third-party services, business operations can grind to a halt. Developing robust mitigation strategies include not only cyber insurance but a detailed evaluation whether centralized service provision’s benefits outweigh the potential risks.

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.

workers' compensation

How Has COVID Reshaped Workers’ Compensation?

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 continues to create outsized impacts on the business world. Companies of every size and type have been affected, and millions of people have lost their jobs. Still, the economy has kept going, with companies balancing employee safety with the necessity of remaining open for business. Essential workers, such as those in retail, food service, healthcare, and first response, face increased risks of contracting COVID-19. Workers’ compensation insurance policies may be utilized to provide financial relief for those affected by the disease. How has COVID-19 affected workers’ compensation, and what can companies do to mitigate their risks?

Dire Predictions Unrealized

Insurance experts from around the world began predicting a hardening of the workers’ compensation market in the wake of COVID-19. The expectation was that essential workers would overwhelm these policies with claims as they became infected in the workplace.

The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) analyzed potential impacts of COVID-19 claims on employers by running several scenarios. The financial picture revealed by the analysis is alarming, with loss rates in excess of three times current rates and an estimated $81 billion in losses if the worst-case scenario in the study is realized. In another scenario run by the NCCI, five percent the first responders and healthcare personnel who were eligible for workers’ compensation benefits became ill from COVID-19. In this scenario, if only 60% of the resulting claims were paid, employers could expect cost increases of $2 billion.

Thankfully, these grim scenarios have not manifested themselves. Although an increase in COVID-related claims was experienced, they were greatly outpaced by a significant decline of claims arising from a wide range of occupational injuries and illnesses. As a result, the workers’ comp market remains healthy and competitive.

Uncertainties Remain in the Workers’ Compensation Market

For years, the workers’ compensation market has experienced substantial growth. That growth trend shifted in late 2019 and into the early part of 2020. The market began to harden amidst this shift, attributed to factors including low interest rates, market surpluses, and an increase in both the severity and frequency of workers’ comp claims.

Premium volumes have decreased by as much as 20% in 2020, and industry analysts expect a lag of one to two years before the market resumes growth. Uncertainties remain in the market, however, as states implement regulations regarding the compensability or eligibility of workers to claim workplace infections from COVID-19. Insurance analysts also warn against an increase in fraudulent claims and recommend that every COVID-19 infection claim is thoroughly vetted.

Minimizing COVID-19 Claims Experiences

What can employers do to manage workers’ compensation claims arising from COVID-19? There are several risk management solutions. First, employers must carefully review their existing workers’ comp coverage to gain an understanding of what is and is not covered. If coverage gaps are revealed during review, alternative insurance plans like unemployment insurance or temporary disability insurance may be available.

Next, protecting employees in the workplace remains the most effective means of curtailing COVID claims. Employees should be provided personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, especially if they work in frequent/close contact with customers. Social distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) should also be followed. If possible, minimizing building capacities and avoiding group gatherings in the workplace should be implemented. Employees should be given training on hand hygiene and infection control practices in the workplace.

Finally, information on benefits outside of workers’ compensation insurance may be available for those affected by the coronavirus. The CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act can provide financial support for employees sickened in the workplace.

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.

truckers

Truckers Among High Priority Vaccine Deployment Group

America’s truckers are the lifeblood of commerce. As the coronavirus pandemic has tightened its hold on the U.S. economy, truckers are an essential component in delivering goods from manufacturing and production centers to end users. To help protect the nation’s trucking industry, a leading immunization advisory group placed truckers in the next priority group for COVID-19 vaccines. This move, coupled with the protection of comprehensive transportation insurance, helps to manage the risks truck drivers face in their daily operations.

Trucking Associations Weigh In

In mid-2020, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and the Canadian Trucking Alliance began to voice concerns about vaccine prioritization in the commercial transportation industry. The ATA sent position letters to the White House, the National Governors Association, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), arguing that as essential workers, truckers must be included among priority vaccination groups. Widespread infection with COVID-19 has affected workers in all corners of the country, including thousands of commercial vehicle operators. Based on their vital role in delivering not only goods, but the COVID-19 vaccines themselves, protecting truckers makes sense from economic and risk management perspectives. This move can only strengthen the protections of transportation insurance in the commercial trucking industry.

Phase 1b

The ATA’s concerns were addressed in December, 2020, when the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) hosted a virtual public meeting to address vaccine prioritization recommendations. In a 13-to-1 vote, the committee, a group of experts from the CDC and other disease prevention agencies, recommended that truckers be placed Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine deployment. Truckers join other essential workers in Phase 1b.

Final decisions on vaccine deployment are left to state authorities, but transportation industry analysts are confident truckers will gain this valuable protection once delivery of vaccines is made in the nationwide distribution rollout. The ACIP continues to study data from subsequent clinical trials in order to better prioritize vaccine distributions but stated that emergency action is needed to protect critical transportation workers.

Government Support for the Transportation Industry

Recognizing the vital role truckers play in restoring the U.S. economy, several other regulatory agencies have done their part. The most prominent of these is the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT), which has created hours-of-service regulation exemptions for trucking companies and their drivers. The exemptions apply to commercial drivers that provide direct emergency assistance.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration extended its own Emergency Declaration to ensure the efficient and speedy delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, medical supplies, and equipment needed to combat the pandemic. The Emergency Declaration, No. 2020-002, provides emergency relief from certain parts of the Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations, including rules governing empty vehicles and work break/rest requirements. By supporting the commercial trucking sector, federal and state regulators are helping to speed recovery while minimizing the burdens on truckers. These moves, coupled with vaccine prioritization and the protection of commercial transportation insurance, serve to provide a powerful risk management strategy for commercial vehicle companies and their operators.

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 and officers

Directors and Officers: Best Practices to Minimize Lawsuits

The directors and officers of a company bear the final responsibility for oversight and management of the company’s business affairs. These stakeholders manage a diverse set of governance challenges and experience significant risks in the discharge of their duties. Directors and officers (D&O) insurance serves as the foundation of risk management for corporate leaders. By ensuring adequate D&O insurance coverage, and by adhering to best practices in corporate governance, risks can be minimized – ultimately protecting the corporate and personal assets of its leadership team.

Challenges for Directors and Officers

Corporate governance is a complex field of business management, requiring a thorough understanding of the factors that influence fundamental business decisions. These factors include adherence to:

  • State laws – state laws of corporations may govern a variety of aspects of business management such as the fiduciary and liability duties of directors as well as requirements for shareholder notification.
  • Federal laws – the U.S. government imposes strict regulations on the governance of public companies that cover ethical and business decisions as well as auditing and compensation requirements for business leaders.
  • New York Stock Exchange/Nasdaq compliance regulations for publicly-traded companies – governance of public companies under these organizations requires practices that are in the best interests of company shareholders. These requirements may include specific shareholder rights, voting procedures, and the appointment of independent chairpersons.

Failures in any of these governance areas may result in steep regulatory penalties as well as reputational harm of the company and its leadership. These failures may also result in legal challenges by shareholders, potentially costing millions of dollars in judgements and settlements unless robust D&O insurance is in place to protect against these claims.

The Duty of Care for Directors and Officers

With the oversight and management of corporate strategy in the hands of directors and officers, the concept of “duty of care” comes into play. In simple terms, duty of care refers to the responsibility of exercising business decisions that are influenced by common sense, financial prudence, and careful consideration. Directors and officers must make decisions that are in the best interests of company operations and shareholders; to do so, decisions require investigation and due diligence on the part of leadership teams.

Best practices for directors & officers duty of care include:

  • Providing sufficient notice prior to board meetings to ensure adequate time to prepare.
  • Discussion of business decisions with management teams as well as legal and financial counsel.
  • Requesting and reviewing of documentation that describes the reasoning behind proposed transactional decisions.
  • Ensuring full participation of all directors and officers to allow for questions to be posed and to share relevant information.

Board Composition and Independence

The most successful corporations enhance the protections of D&O insurance by forming boards that are diverse, engaged, and independent. It is this latter aspect that is of the utmost importance; in fact, board independence is often a requirement of certain state and federal corporate governance regulations. Independent board members are those not influenced by direct company management, giving them the ability to be free of personal or business relationships.

Choosing the right board members is a crucial part of good corporate governance. A quality board member will be:

  • Engaged through the collection of information about the company and its management teams.
  • Ready to review materials for board meetings as well as the transactional details that influence business decisions.
  • Responsive, with clear communication especially in crisis situations.
  • Ready to ask difficult or complex questions to determine the best path forward for corporate decision-making processes.

Finally, board members should be knowledgeable in the requirements and regulations of corporate governance, including both federal and state laws as well as those imposed by stock-trading organizations. Adherence to these requirements on the part of boards serves as a critical component of risk management, helping to reduce potential lawsuits or other legal claims on D&O insurance policies. A strong and independent board works to lay the groundwork for continued business success.

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.