The Emergence of a New Cyber Threat: “Vishing”

As remote employment has grown in popularity for the convenience and efficiency it provides business owners and employees alike, cybersecurity liabilities have equally expanded. With employees connecting to company servers from mobile devices or unsecured internet connections, the threat of cyberattacks has multiplied. In addition to concerns with malware, ransomware, and phishing attacks, vishing has emerged as a serious threat for the remote employee.

What Is Vishing?

The term vishing is taken from the words “voice” and “phishing.” In the realm of cybersecurity, phishing attacks target individuals through email or other digital means in an attempt to gain access to sensitive, personal data like passwords or financial payment details. Most often, the attack is formed through an organization or individual that appears legitimate. With vishing, the attacks occur over the phone.

Using automated voice technology and Voice over Internet protocol, many remote employees are being tricked into thinking they need to establish new login credentials with their virtual private networks. Attackers are then able to gain a foothold in the corporate network, where additional information is retrieved and used in new social engineering attacks. Vishing attacks continue to develop and become more sophisticated, making it an important consideration for businesses sending employees home to work.

What Protection Is Available?

There are many ways you can educate your clients about cybersecurity protection, but the most important thing you can do is inform them of their cyber liability insurance options. There are unique exposures addressed through an insurance policy that cannot be protected by other means. Primarily, the financial ramifications of a cybersecurity attack.

Cyber insurance providers recognize the many elements involved with cyber threats, both the internal exposures of employees mismanaging information or getting caught in a phishing trap and the external concerns of a network breach and data hack. As remote employees expose new weaknesses in cybersecurity strategies, business managers need to know the extent of their insurance coverage. As a broker, you have the ability to direct their attention to comprehensive solutions.

What Does a Cyber Insurance Policy Cover?

Cyber policies address the risks of exposure from data breaches, compromised networks, or other malicious cyber events. Insurance policies may address both first-party and third-party coverages, and your job as a broker is to see what form of coverage would be most beneficial to your client. There are various costs associated with cyberattacks, as a company can be sued for damages from several parties. Litigation to mount a defense, notify individuals, or payout settlements for any of these parties can be more than a company can bear. Cyber insurance steps in as the financial resource for these costs.

Vishing will continue to emerge as a cyber threat, and more advanced attacks can be expected. As a broker, informing your clients of their risks and their subsequent insurance options is the best advice you can give.

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.


Transportation Industry Increases Diligence and Efficiency to Maintain Viability Amid Pandemic

The idea of driving a truck may bring to mind images of the open road and freedom. However, in the wake of COVID-19, the entire transportation sector has been forced to change in order to survive.

Managing cash flow, running efficiently, and reducing expenses all require creativity on this pandemic-stricken planet. Investing in transportation sector insurance helps your haulage-focused clients protect themselves in this strange, new world. The pandemic has ushered in the need for multiple changes in this sector. Here are five examples of how the transportation industry has tightened up in a fight to survive in the face of COVID-19.

Postponed Expenditures

Several trucking companies have delayed making large purchases, such as new trucks for the fleet. Businesses have done so to preserve cash flow and avoid spending too much in these uncertain times. Another type of safety net the transportation sector relies on is commercial transportation insurance. Primary liability and physical damage coverage help fleet owners, managers, and drivers breathe easier.

En-Route Relays

Another way trucking companies have tightened up is by adopting relay schedules for haulage jobs. Drivers take cargo to pre-determined destinations where other drivers pick it up to take it to the next location. Each driver returns home after his or her route is finished, thus saving companies money by eliminating costs for hotels and incidentals. Commercial transportation insurance companies also help protect companies in the transportation sector with specialized cargo and vehicle coverage during the extended periods of time spent on the road.

Efficient Repairs

Trucking companies seek to complete repairs faster and leaner to reduce costs.

  • Renegotiating supplier costs
  • Performing more repairs internally
  • Capping labor hours

The idea is to maintain the fleets in the most efficient way possible without sacrificing safety. Transportation sector insurance gives fleet managers and owners the assurance of financial safety with comprehensive packages covering trailers and cabs. Your clients will benefit from the coverage provided by experienced commercial transportation insurance.

New Processes

Daily operations in many transportation companies are shifting as the need for social distancing is changing the way people work. Some jobs were lost while others shifted duties and began working remotely. This change helps segue to adopting new technologies for some aspects of business, including electronic bills of lading, toll management, and arranging bypasses for weighing stations. Commercial transportation insurance helps companies prioritize upgrading operational processes without fear of sudden financial ruin.

Transportation Sector Insurance

Companies specializing in commercial transportation insurance are the best choices for your clients because they are familiar with the various types of available coverage, and they know the unique needs of this industry. These days, peace of mind is a valuable commodity the transportation sector needs.

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 Industry

Top 3 Ways the Pandemic Has Altered the Staffing Industry

This generation had not seen a pandemic before late 2019, but it seems now the effects of COVID-19, caused by the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, China, may be here for some time. The pandemic has changed just about every aspect of public and commercial life. One of the societal processes changing during these unusual times is hiring; the staffing industry is evolving. With new waves of COVID-19 breaking out periodically nationwide, these changes are about more than numbers.

The staffing industry’s entire operational process has been altered and is adapting as new situations unfold. Employment agencies are especially seeking security through staffing industry insurance.

These are the three most notable effects the pandemic has had on the staffing industry.

An Altered Job Market

Staffing firms are facing a fundamental change in the overall job market in the wake of the pandemic. The spread of COVID-19 has dramatically reduced the number of applications in most industries. Furthermore, as businesses have closed, they have released or laid off large numbers of people, substantially raising the unemployment rate.

Another significant change for staffing firms involves remote work and access to global talent. As remote work is now the norm, the talent pool from which employers can choose extends throughout the entire world. With this dynamic change, your staffing clients require employment agency insurance now more than ever.

Different Hiring Needs

The pandemic has changed hiring needs for many companies. While some businesses have had to lay people off, others, such as delivery services, have needed to hire more workers. In the face of uncertainty during these changing times, specialized staffing industry insurance offers peace of mind to companies matching job seekers with employers.

What type of insurance does a staffing agency need? Employment agency insurance needs are complex and unique. Worker’s compensation packages and comprehensive liability coverage are essential. However, your staffing agency clients also need commercial property insurance and errors and omissions coverage, among others. Now is a great time to reach out to your staffing clients to ensure their portfolios are up to date.

New Recruitment Practices

In the wake of the pandemic, recruiters had to change the way they assess new candidates. Virtual recruiting has become standard practice, and comprehensive staffing industry insurance helps protect your clients from mistakes in paperwork and general operations that may occur as companies grow accustomed to this new way of doing business.

Staffing Industry Insurance

Employment agency insurance offers staffing businesses a safety net as the entire hiring industry shifts in response to the pandemic. This sector has specialized needs, and staffing companies need to be prepared for many contingencies by having proper coverage. For example, agencies focusing on medical staffing needs have different concerns than those specializing in landscaping and manufacturing jobs. However, all employment agencies have some requirements in common, and the right insurance package is vital for long-term 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.

Workers Comp

COVID-19 and the Reshaping of the Workers Comp Industry

Workers’ compensation insurance, more commonly known as “workers comp”, is a primary benefit for many American workers. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, this financial relief insurance has been called upon time and again for workers affected by the virus. The business sector has seen profound changes in recent months; COVID-19 and workers comp and the relationship between the two is poised for dramatic reshaping. Much of the initial response was due to fear of the unknown, but even this is driving change within the workers’ comp space.

Survey Reveals COVID-19 and Workers’ Comp Shifts

In late June, 2020, Health Strategy Associates completed its second survey on the relationship between COVID-19 and workers’ comp insurance. The survey, entitled “The Impact of COVID-19 and Employment Changes on Workers’ Compensation: A Follow-Up Survey of Payers and Service Providers”, illustrated sweeping changes within the sector. Among the results were:

  • COVID-19 related claims were relatively inexpensive; about 96% of all reported workers’ comp claims were estimated to cost $3500 or less.
  • New injury claims dropped by a range of 25-50% between the months of March and May, 2020.
  • Total claims are expected to decrease by about 20% for 2020.
  • Survey respondents indicated that less than 4% of COVID-19 claims accounted for most of the coronavirus-related costs.

In simple terms, much of the early concern regarding claims based on COVID-19 infections turned out to be not as impactful as feared. Rather, the changes in the workers’ comp landscape come from economic downturns, mass unemployment, and restrictive quarantine/stay-at-home orders. Payers are anticipating reductions in premium payments, driven in part by severe declines in payroll and outright closure of businesses.

Presumptive Benefits: A Minimal Effect

Another early concern for insurance firms and payers was the looming specter of presumption, or state laws that presume an illness or injury was work-related, making the affected employee eligible for workers’ comp benefits. Numerous states passed legislation pertaining to coverage of COVID-19 related workers’ comp claims, fearing that employees would become exposed to the virus on the job and be unable to receive financial compensation for medical expenses and lost wages. Not all employees were covered under presumption laws; typically, only first responders and front-line healthcare workers were protected by the new legislation.

Workers’ comp industry analysts note that presumption laws are not likely to have a major effect on insurance costs going forward. In the Health Strategy Associates survey, many of the reported claims examined were filed after a worker tested positive for the coronavirus, but remained asymptomatic. Only a small percentage of infected workers’ claims resulted in high expenses; the average cost per claim was close to $8000.

Looking to the Future of COVID-19 and Workers’ Comp

Owing to the above factors like high unemployment rates and business shuttering, insurers and insurance industry analysts suggest premiums will continue to drop well into 2021. Payers are alarmed, seeing fewer dollars now and expecting slower economic recoveries than originally predicted. Ultimately, the workers’ comp industry may have to tighten; among the possible effects of reduced premiums are:

  • Reductions in insurance workforces, including adjusters and claims processing professionals.
  • Closure of insurance firms or dramatic cuts in services.
  • Industry-wide scrambling to find alternative revenue-generating options.

COVID-19’s effects have touched every part of the U.S. economy. As the pandemic continues its stranglehold, businesses across sectors have had to innovate. The workers’ compensation industry is no exception. Changes in the way claims are handled are only part of the picture; insurers may have to seek new ways of making ends meet and to adapt to changing conditions in order to continue business 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.

How is Force-Placed Insurance Removed?

When a bank or other financial institution agrees to extend a loan for financing an automotive or property purchase, that institution faces significant risks. In most cases, buyers are required to obtain insurance to protect the loan. When that insurance is not obtained, or is otherwise insufficient, lenders can get their own insurance to protect the lender’s financial interests. This is known as force-placed insurance. Removing that insurance is a different matter; iForce-Placed Insurance

What is Force-Placed Insurance?

Much is at stake when a lender or mortgage/auto loan servicer enters into a loan agreement with a property or vehicle buyer. To protect its financial stake in a loan, force-placed insurance was developed to provide a hedge against loss of coverage on the part of the buyer. In simple terms, a force-placed insurance policy is placed by a financial institution when the borrower’s own insurance is insufficient or has lapsed. This specialized insurance policy is often referred to as:

  • Creditor-placed insurance
  • Collateral protection insurance
  • Lender-placed insurance

Why is Force-Placed Insurance Needed?

Most states and most lender agreements require borrowers to obtain property insurance as part of the lending process. Typically, this comes in the form of mortgage insurance or an auto loan insurance policy. There are numerous circumstances where the borrower is unable to obtain or maintain coverage, or coverage is deemed insufficient. Possible insurance scenarios include:

  • Failure of the borrower to pay annual premiums.
  • Policy expiration.
  • Cancellation of insurance policies by the insurer.
  • Withdrawal of adequate coverage.
  • Oversight on the part of the borrower.
  • Difficulty in securing insurance for a property located in a high-risk area.

When the borrower’s own insurance protection falls short, force-placed insurance steps in. Lenders have a legal obligation to ensure continuous and adequate insurance coverage for the properties they finance. J.B. Lloyd & Associates lender-placed insurance serves as a viable solution; it protects the financial interests of lenders.

Why Would Force-Placed Insurance Be Removed?

Under the typical fore-placed insurance policy, premiums are added to monthly mortgage payments, driving them higher. Unfortunately, many borrowers who find themselves with force-placed insurance are struggling financially; the extra cost associated with force-placed policies may be almost twice what homeowner-obtained mortgage insurance costs. There is a financial incentive to remove such a policy when it is no longer needed. Other removal scenarios include:

  • When a homeowner reinstates coverage that has lapsed or expired.
  • When a borrow finds an insurer willing to underwrite an appropriate policy for a high-risk property.
  • When outstanding premium payments have been caught up.

Most importantly, many force-placed insurance policies only cover the outstanding amount of the home or auto loan, and may not include personal property coverage. Borrowers can often get superior protection from a traditional mortgage insurance policy, so removing a force-placed policy makes economic sense.

Removing a Force-Placed Policy: Tips for Borrowers

When a force-placed insurance policy is no longer needed, borrowers must take several steps to ensure that it is removed. Removal can have significant financial benefits for the borrower.

First, the borrower must obtain a mortgage or loan insurance policy that meets the amounts required by the lender. Homeowners can choose the existing insurer or choose their own if available.

Next, all applicable documents must be provided to the lender. Adequate insurance in the form of a copy of the new policy is sufficient for proof. This should be sent to the lender via certified mail and also via fax or email, if available. Borrowers should obtain a letter of cancellation from the lender once the force-placed policy is no longer in place.

Force-placed insurance is designed to protect lenders from risk exposures resulting from home or auto loans. They are not always the ideal solution for the borrower. With the above steps, borrowers can remove an existing creditor-placed policy and replace it with appropriate insurance coverage, meeting lender requirements and state laws.

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.

Force-Placed Insurance

What is Force-Placed Insurance and What Does it Cover?

When a real estate property is financed for purchase, the purchaser is not the only entity with exposure to risk. The lender also faces substantial risks in these transactions. To help manage these risks, a specialized form of insurance known as force-placed insurance is often utilized. This insurance is designed to protect the financial interests of the banking or mortgage-lending institution. As such, it has been a part of the mortgage lending process for decades, offering peace of mind for lenders and homeowners alike. In this guide, we will explore what force-placed insurance is, how it works, and what it covers.

Many Names, Same Protection: An Overview of Force-Placed Insurance

Force-placed insurance is an insurance policy placed by a bank or mortgage servicer on a property where the mortgage borrower’s (the homeowner’s) own insurance coverage has lapsed or is deemed insufficient to adequately protect the lender’s interests. Force-placed insurance goes by several names, including:

  • Lender-placed Insurance
  • Creditor-placed Insurance
  • Collateral Protection Insurance

The purpose behind this insurance is simple: it protects the lender’s financial stake in a property loan. Homeowners are typically required to obtain their own mortgage insurance, but there are several potential scenarios where securing such protection is impossible or insufficient. These scenarios include:

  • Failure on the part of the homeowner to maintain coverage through annual premium payments.
  • Policy lapses or expiration.
  • Oversight on the part of the borrower.
  • Cancellation of existing policies.
  • Withdrawal of adequate coverage by insurers.
  • Failure to locate an insurer willing or able to underwrite a risky property, such as one located in an area where natural disasters are common or in high-crime areas.
  • Insufficient coverage under existing property insurance policies.

If any of these scenarios occur, the lender’s own financial assets may be at risk. From about the 1960s, most mortgages contain language allowing the lender to obtain insurance policies of their own on properties. In most cases, the lender is the only beneficiary of such coverage. In the event of a claim, the lender can choose to share proceeds from the force-placed insurance policy to help the borrower – the property owner – repair a damaged property. J.B.Lloyd & Associates, a Division of U.S. Risk, LLC, offers lender-placed hazard and flood coverage designed to provide robust protection for a range of potential claim scenarios.

How Does Force-Placed Insurance Work?

If a lender must obtain insurance on a property to protect its interests, insurers and mortgage borrowers must understand several factors. First, this insurance is only designed to cover the amount due to the lender. However, many force-placed policies offer the option of so-called “replacement coverage” if a property is lost due to fire or other covered peril. Second, force-placed insurance tends to be more expensive than similar policies obtained by the homeowner as mortgage insurance, and may offer less coverage for the price. Because of the risks inherent in the lending and mortgage servicing process, insurers sometimes charge higher annual premiums to help recoup any losses resulting from a claim. Additional costs of force-placed insurance typically appear in future mortgage payments, driving them up.

If a property becomes damaged or is lost, the lender with a force-placed policy files a claim just as with typical homeowner insurance. Depending on the policy language, the lender may recover the amount left due on the mortgage or may be able to recover replacement expenses.

Options for Financial Institutions and Mortgage Servicers

The typical force-placed insurance policy provides very basic protection, only covering the remaining amount due on a given property loan. This basic coverage may not be sufficient for lenders, however, so insurers have rolled out a series of options. Options in available force-placed insurance policies include:

  • Coverage for entire real estate investor portfolios.
  • Replacement coverage if a structure is lost.
  • Both residential and commercial property coverages.
  • Options for unique risks such as natural disasters (flood, earthquake, fire) and certain business liabilities experienced by the lender.
  • Risk management services.

Lenders have a legal obligation to ensure continuous and adequate insurance coverage for the properties they finance. J.B. Lloyd & Associates, a Division of U.S. Risk, LLC lender-placed insurance serves as a viable solution; it protects the financial interests of lenders. Even with the added expenses associated with such policies, homeowners ultimately benefit as well. This coverage can eliminate the uncertainty of a lapse in mortgage insurance or inadequate coverage, protecting the assets of lender and borrower alike.

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 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.


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.


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.