Workers compensation market

Workers’ Compensation Market Predictions 2021

Last winter, the world was plunged into a period of deep uncertainty, unpredictability, and instability as the novel coronavirus spread rapidly across the globe. By spring, widespread lockdowns forced businesses to modify operations or shutter their doors. Workers lost jobs in numbers not seen since the Great Depression, with April’s peak reaching 14.7%. As restrictions lifted in many areas, workers began returning to jobs, reducing the unemployment rate to 6.7% in November.

While there are many industries that have been able to make the switch to remote work, a large percentage of the workforce is still required to report to on-site jobs. With the onset of cold weather and the holidays, the pandemic is seeing a second surge that is impacting every corner of the country. This leaves a significant number of people at increased risk for contracting COVID-19, including while on the job.

This, along with other factors, has the potential to impact employers and the workers’ compensation market into 2021.

Predictions for 2021

The impacts of coronavirus on workers’ compensation are varied, as coverage eligibility depends on industry risk variables and state guidelines. Each state has its own rules in place for workers’ compensation insurance, so the stipulations that relate to the pandemic could be significantly different from one state to the next. Regardless, the coronavirus will have a significant impact on the 2021 landscape.

Claims Predictions

Normally, workers’ compensation does not cover contagious diseases, but it may or may not cover employees who contract COVID-19. Employees whose jobs place them at greater risk than the general public can typically make a successful case for filing for workers’ compensation. There has already been a rise in claims filed due to the coronavirus, which has led to significant losses for some providers. The winter surge is just getting underway, and, thus far, widespread lockdowns have not been ordered. As such, it is quite likely that claims will continue to increase, potentially dramatically, in the first quarter of 2021 and then start lowering as more individuals become vaccinated.

Pricing Predictions

Prior to the pandemic, rates had been on a downward trend. There is some indication that employers should expect that trend to reverse in the coming year. However, the reversal is not necessarily strictly due to virus impacts. The market was already showing signs of change before the pandemic. Other factors contributing to losses need to be considered, as those causes are not likely to change once the health crisis has passed.

Solvency Predictions

One factor that could significantly impact workers’ compensation markets is the state of their investments. COVID-19 has led to a particularly volatile stock market, which has had a negative impact on investment incomes. The markets may not stabilize until well into 2021. As such, insurers may find that they have to make adjustments to their portfolios to mitigate damages caused by plunging stocks.

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.

EPLI market

EPLI Market in 2021 Shows Increased Risks

It has been nearly a year since the first recorded COVID-19 case in the U.S. was announced, and the virus continues to take a devastating toll on the country. In addition to the obvious health impacts, the pandemic has had a tremendous effect on the economy, infiltrating nearly every sector. The insurance market is one arena that is beginning to experience the ripples of instability, uncertainty, and increased risks that fluctuating guidelines and rising infection and death rates have wrought.

While industries that were able to move their employees to remote work did so at the beginning of the pandemic, numerous employers were unable to do so due to the nature of the work. In addition, as restrictions lifted, some remote workers were sent back to the workplace. As a result, employers could see a significant increase in claims related to COVID-19. As such, the outlook for the  employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) market shows an increase in risks for 2021.

What Is EPLI?

One question that frequently gets asked is, “Is employment practices liability insurance the same as workers’ compensation?” It is not. EPLI coverage provides employers protection against claims that are filed for wrongful employer practices or acts. There are four major claim categories EPLI policies usually cover, though some policies may cover others:

  • Privacy rights
  • Negligence
  • Discrimination
  • Employment status

What Does COVID Have To Do With EPLI?

At first glance, it may not seem like any of these types of claims would have any relevance to the pandemic. However, there are several coronavirus-related claims that do have the potential to fall within the employment practices liability insurance coverage. One type of case, in particular, could fall within EPLI policy provisions.

While these policies typically don’t cover claims related to injuries or illnesses, they generally cover policy rights infringement cases. This is relevant because when someone in the workplace contracts COVID-19, contact tracing is conducted. During this process, other employees inevitably discover that a coworker has the virus. Thus, claims alleging unlawful disclosure of health information could result.

What Are the Risks for 2021?

EPLI insurance carriers may see a rise in the number of cases filed. In addition to potential increases in privacy rights claims, one other category of professional liability coverage likely to see increased risks for claims is director’s and officer’s liability insurance. The economic downfall from the pandemic is primed to continue and deepen in the new year. Small businesses in particular will face significant financial hardships, as they have so far.

Larger corporations often have surplus capital to withstand business interruptions while supporting employees, at least to some extent. The same is not true for small businesses. As such, it is quite likely that more D&O claims will be filed in 2021 due to increased litigation. Furthermore, it is entirely possible that courts will order higher payouts because of a widespread perception that companies should have been better prepared for the scenario the country is currently facing.

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.

data breach

How to Respond to a Data Breach

The best way to prevent a data breach is to be prepared for one. Implementing strong cybersecurity measures, maintaining them, and conducting regular updates are critical steps in securing systems. Educating staff about cybersecurity and training them on what they need to do to protect data and information are also crucial. Human error and carelessness are two of the primary causes of a cyberattack. Finally, your clients need a formalized plan for how to deal with an attack should one occur.

No matter what preventive measures your clients take, complete protection is not guaranteed. It is nearly impossible to stay ahead of cybercriminals. Cyberattacks are on the rise, with incidents in 2020 reaching as many as 4,000 per day. Procuring cyber liability insurance has never been more imperative to protect a business if it was to experience a data breach. So, what should a company do after a data breach? If an incident occurs, your clients need to be able to respond effectively and efficiently.

The Initial Response

A cyberattack can be daunting, but panicking will not help solve the problem. A data breach response plan helps your clients remain focused so that they know what initial steps they should take. Activate the response plan immediately. Take note of the date and time the breach was discovered, and when the response was initiated. Within the next 24 hours, your clients should also:

  • Alert members of the response team.
  • Secure the area to prevent access to evidence.
  • Take operations offline to prevent further data losses, but do not turn off the power or tamper with any technology.
  • Assess any additional risks and prioritize steps needed to reduce those risks.
  • Call in the cyber forensics team to begin investigations into when and how the cyberattack happened.
  • Consult with the legal team and notify law enforcement when necessary.
  • Notify the cyber liability insurance provider.

The Next Steps

After your clients complete the initial steps, they must document everything that has occurred thus far to ensure their company stays on track to recover and reopen. At this point, a team should begin resolving the issues to prevent future attacks. It is essential to carefully consider your client’s company’s vulnerabilities and address any issues that need to be remedied.

Service providers, encryption measures, and network segmentation should all be examined. The forensics team can ascertain whether any of these played a role in the attack. Identify everyone who may have been affected by the breach and what information was stolen. The forensics experts will remove any tools the hackers used to access the system.


Once affected businesses and individuals have been identified, it is imperative that they notify them as quickly as possible and let them know what information may be at risk. Make sure, however, that your clients consult with the lead investigator to time their notifications so that they do not impede investigations. Note that if the data breach involved health information, they are required to alert the Federal Trade Commission.

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.


d&o insurance market

How Has COVID-19 Impacted the D&O Insurance Market?

From its very beginning, the coronavirus pandemic has had a dramatic effect on the global economy. In the United States, businesses were forced to make difficult decisions, including shuttering operations and laying off workers. These decisions are often accompanied by emerging risk exposures. Risks associated with COVID-19 concerns have sparked concern within the directors & officers (D&O) insurance market. Scrutinizing operations in the hopes of holding corporations accountable for the weakened economy has meant that many large business owners are in the crosshairs – facing legal challenges that will have long-range impacts.

Litigation Against Corporate Interests

Lawsuits against corporations began in earnest in May, 2020. The first, a complaint by shareholders against cruise ship giant Carnival Corporation, alleged that the company had mislead investors about its responses to the coronavirus. The suit also alleges that Carnival had violated port authority regulations regarding the number and severity of COVID-19 infections on board its cruise ships. While D&O insurance is designed to protect businesses against lawsuits of this nature, high-profile litigation further interrupts operations as companies attempt to restore their economic prospects in the wake of the pandemic.

Sorrento Therapeutics was the target of another shareholder lawsuit. The California company had made an announcement that its research had uncovered an antibody effective against the novel coronavirus. As a result, the company’s share price skyrocketed, and investors clamored to purchase its securities. Soon after, another research organization claimed that Sorrento’s antibody claims as sensational, leading to a dramatic drop in share price. One of the shareholders who had purchased securities in May then filed a legal claim against the corporation.

A Tidal Wave of D&O Insurance Claims?

The Carnival and Sorrento lawsuits are only the tip of the litigation iceberg, according to insurance industry analysts. Many analysts expect numerous additional claims against both public and private corporations – claims that target the directors and officers of these businesses. Potential claims run the gamut from misleading or false statements that drove up stock prices and purchasing interest to financial mismanagement, failure to produce desirable investment returns, or mass layoffs that harm business operations.

Most concerning in the D&O insurance market is the government protections associated with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which provides emergency funding for smaller business operations in the United States. Shareholders may argue that larger, better-funded corporations should have had more robust financial procedures and reserves in place to protect against economic hardships. This perception of mismanagement may open the door to dozens, if not hundreds, of new legal challenges, potentially overrunning even the most comprehensive D&O insurance protections.

Insurance Carriers React

Faced with the prospect of covering a spate of D&O insurance claims, insurance carriers have tightened their underwriting guidelines. Many carriers have also raised premium costs, added COVID-related exclusions, and introduced higher retentions.

Insurance agents are being advised to be proactive with their business clients, encouraging them to share financial management and coronavirus response information long before policies reach renewal. By doing so, this can help lock in favorable premium rates for clients. It is also critical that agents convey any potential changes in the policy language, such as reduced limits or new exclusions related to financial management regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. For existing insureds with high limits, it is recommended that agents discourage companies from reducing their limits to save on premium expenses; this is particularly true for companies that have D&O insurance coverage written as a claims-made form. Failure to retain existing higher limits may result in staggering expenses down the road.

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.

EPLI lawsuits

EPLI Lawsuits on the Rise Due to COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 had both immediate and far-ranging effects on business management. Employers struggled to keep afloat while making critical changes in the way business operations were conducted. Some of these changes revolved around procedures and policies governing remote work options for employees. Others included the implementation of safety procedures, reduced hours, and cuts in payroll. Unfortunately, rapid evolution of the pandemic workplace has resulted in a sharp increase in employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) lawsuits. Employers need to gain an understanding of the factors behind these legal challenges, helping them to manage the risks that employment practices liability insurance is designed to cover.

A Spate of Employee Lawsuits in the Wake of the Pandemic

As the pandemic spread across the United States, state lockdown orders and social distancing recommendations meant that employers had to make exceedingly difficult decisions. Many businesses were forced to curtail operations altogether, while others were able to reduce hours and workforces to make ends meet. So-called “essential” businesses such as gas stations, grocery stores, and pharmacies could remain in operation, but the spread of the coronavirus in cities across the country put employees at risk.

COVID-19 took its toll on essential workers, with thousands reporting illness and still others dying from complications of the infection. The first EPLI lawsuit filed in the U.S. occurred on March 25, 2020. The estate of a deceased Walmart employee sued the retailer, alleging managers knew that several of their employees and customers were infected with COVID-19. Negligence on the part of the store and its managers were alleged to include:

  • Failure to adopt and promote social distancing/quarantine guidelines mandated by state and federal authorities.
  • Failure to adequately clean and sterilize store areas to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Failure to provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to the deceased employee and others in the store.
  • Failure to develop a response plan for infections.
  • Failure to provide warnings to employees who may have been exposed to COVID-infected individuals.

A Looming EPLI Crisis?

After the Walmart negligence lawsuit was submitted to courts, other employee lawsuits followed. In Texas, the family of a deceased meatpacking employee sued the company for negligence, alleging that the employee had been told to report to work despite exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19 under threat of dismissal. In that lawsuit, filed in April 2020, other employees claimed that the meatpacking company took no precautions against the spread of infection, potentially putting plant workers at risk of illness or death.

Since then, dozens of similar lawsuits were filed, putting strains on even the most comprehensive employment practices liability insurance. As the pandemic continues, business analysts expect hundreds, if not thousands, of legal claims against employers for failing to take precautions against the spread of COVID-19. The defense costs of lawsuits alone can negatively harm business assets; paying claims or settlements for failing to protect employees may bankrupt employers who have struggled throughout the pandemic. EPLI coverage may protect many employers, but even this insurance protection may not be enough to withstand repeated legal claims.

Managing COVID Risks in the Workplace

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) is one of the cornerstones of a robust risk management program for employers. Protecting the business and its employees supplements the coverage afforded by this valuable insurance. Employers facing legal claims against their employment practices must do more to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. Business owners must also evaluate their existing insurance coverages, pinpointing exclusions and coverage gaps that may come back to haunt them if employees were to become infected.

The pandemic has created significant challenges; smart business owners took the steps needed to prevent infections from harming business operations, while others may have unnecessarily put their workers at risk of illness or death. By adopting stringent risk management practices, including following the guidelines of infectious disease agencies and state/federal officials, employers may weather the challenges imposed by COVID019 while helping to keep their workers safe.

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 threats

Top 5 Cyber Threats for 2021 & Beyond

2020 was a difficult year for businesses around the globe. The coronavirus pandemic caused mass layoffs as the world economy came crashing down. For those business operations that were able to remain operational, a new threat emerged: cyber crimes. Cyber criminals stepped up their attacks on targets in the banking, utilities, and healthcare industries, causing billions of dollars in damages and lost productivity. Cyber liability insurance has become a critical risk management strategy for modern business operations, especially in the wake of increased criminal activity. For 2021 and beyond, business owners must gain knowledge about the top cyber threats they may face in the coming years.

What’s Old is New Again: Phishing Attacks

For nearly as long as computer devices were networked together, so-called “social engineering” hacks have plagued network administrators. Phishing, or the practice of having victims click a malicious link, open an infected email attachment, or reveal passwords and login credentials to attackers, has seen a sharp uptick during the pandemic. Hackers use phishing attacks to embed code into business computer networks or use credentials to gain access to sensitive data.

Ransomware: A Perennial Threat

Not quite as old as phishing, but still familiar to IT professionals is the ransomware attack, where cyber criminals will gain unauthorized access to a network and hold it hostage until a ransom payment is made. Malicious software is placed on targeted networks, particularly in the financial and healthcare sectors. These attacks interrupt business continuity and may result in the loss or destruction of critical data, straining even the best cyber liability insurance coverage.

Breaches in the Cloud

Cloud computing has revolutionized business networks across industries. Data can now be stored offsite and accessed from anywhere in the world. As a result, this has created new risk profiles for business owners – risks that cyber liability insurance is only now catching up to. Whether it is the cloud storage host or the end user, configuration errors are the most common source of unlawful data breaches. With access to sensitive business data, cyber criminals may intercept personally-identifying details, create fraudulent accounts, or sell data to the highest black market bidder. Again, these breaches can cost millions of dollars in recovery and damaged reputations.

The Internet of Things (IoT)

Every electronic device connected to a business network represents a potential weak point. The Internet of Things (IoT) has increased the ability of criminals to find and to exploit weaknesses. IoT is used to remotely manage business infrastructure or to capture and process data. Unfortunately, many of these devices are not equipped with robust security measures, making them a preferred target of cyber criminals. By exploiting weaknesses, criminals can gain access to business networks, giving them the ability to steal or erase data with a few strokes of a keyboard. Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect businesses from the losses associated with illicit criminal activity on company networks, but understanding the nature of IoT and the weaknesses it represents is a crucial risk management step.

Remote Work Environments: Prime Targets for Criminals

As the pandemic spread across the globe, resourceful employers added remote work options for their employees. Employees could log onto company networks from home using devices ranging from desktop and laptop computers to smartphones and tablets. Unfortunately, network security was often unable to keep pace with criminal activity, and remote workers were targeted by cyber thieves. Primarily, workers are responsible for keeping their own devices up to date in terms of antivirus and anti-intrusion software. Password management is another hot button issue for network administrators in the remote work environment. Each of these weaknesses is readily exploited by criminals and as a result, high-frequency and high-severity claims against cyber liability insurance policies have piled up.

To protect sensitive business networks, business owners must work with information security professionals to patch systems, increase monitoring, and train employees on safe access practices. These business owners must also carefully assess the coverages and limits of their cyber liability insurance policies. This insurance serves as a fallback in case of unauthorized or criminal computer activity. With this insurance and with information security practices in place, business owners can more readily protect sensitive data and computer networks from theft.

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.

second shutdown

How a Second Shutdown Could Impact Big Cities

The coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has caused dramatic upheavals in everyday life. The spread of the potentially deadly COVID-19 virus necessitates new ways of conducting business operations – if keeping businesses open is even possible in the wake of the pandemic. During and after an initial shutdown, businesses throughout the United States faced dire economic conditions. A second shutdown looms on the horizon as the virus spreads unchecked, and this second shutdown could devastate the economies of some of the country’s largest cities. COVID-19 impacts will be felt long after the pandemic is over. Business owners need to take steps to understand the potential of another COVID-related second shutdown and how it will affect business operations.

Economic Uncertainty in the Wake of COVID-19

Beginning in February 2020, COVID restrictions had an almost immediate effect on world economies. Businesses were shut down, causing the losses of millions of jobs and hundreds of thousands of furloughs. Consumer spending decreased dramatically, with a decline of nearly 9%. Although COVID restrictions began to be lifted in some states in May, the economy was slow to gain its footing. Numerous businesses were forced to operate at partial capacity to comply with social distancing and stay-at-home orders. Thousands more businesses were unable to survive the initial lockdown. Will a second COVID lockdown be the final nail in the coffin of the businesses that are struggling to survive?

Second COVID Shutdown Looming

Since businesses were allowed to resume operations, the United States has experienced a sharp increase in the number of COVID infections and deaths. By October 2020, the average seven-day daily infection rate reached 69,000 individuals, with as many as 3,000 people succumbing to the virus every day—more than two a minute. Many businesses and schools remain closed from COVID impacts, and restrictions on movement mean that people are spending less, further weakening an already strained economy.

Public health officials are calling for tighter restrictions, including a second shutdown. The result of this move could be devastating, including the loss of even more jobs and billions of dollars in revenue. Those businesses that were able to survive the first lockdown—and were on the road to recovery when restrictions were lifted—may not be able to withstand a second. Larger cities throughout the U.S. are feeling the economic pinch. Federal subsidies, like interest-free loans as part of the Payroll Protection Program and extensions of unemployment benefits, have not been renewed by Congress. As these sources of emergency income are depleted, the economic prospects for many business owners are grim.

Phased Restrictions: The “Circuit Breaker” Approach

The European Union, facing economic hardships in many of the largest European cities, has explored the concept of “circuit breakers,” a series of short-term lockdowns lasting two to three weeks and occurring once every two to three months. These short lockdown periods would allow infection rates to fall. Reopening businesses after the short lockdowns would become a priority, allowing business owners to resume operations.

Studies have indicated that a two-week “circuit breaker” shutdown could potentially halve the deaths associated with COVID impacts. While this model is not perfect, it makes more economic sense than a longer uncertain-duration lockdown that would crumble cities’ struggling economies. Based on early research into the circuit-breaker concept, U.S. lawmakers are examining their options.

For now, business owners must make do with the revenue and subsidies they can access. Business protection insurance, particularly general liability and business continuity policies, will help manage existing and emerging risks. COVID impacts will continue to alter the way American companies do business. By avoiding another full shutdown, and with approved coronavirus vaccines nearing public release, the economies of large U.S. cities may once again regain their status as global drivers of commerce.

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.


Cryptojacking: What It Is and How to Prevent It

In the digital age, businesses face numerous risks associated with computer and technology systems. Highly publicized data breaches of major corporations have captivated the attention of business leaders; these breaches have also cost billions of dollars in forensic analysis, recovery, and reputational harm. While cyber liability insurance serves as the foundation of risk management, business leaders need to understand cyber risks. One of the emerging risks is that of “cryptojacking,” which exposes affected companies to the potential for severe liability claims. In this article, we will explore cryptojacking and provide information on how to prevent this cyber crime from harming your business operations.

What is Cryptojacking?

Cryptojacking refers to the illegal practice of hijacking someone else’s computer for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency, or digital/virtual currency like Bitcoin. Cyber criminals gain access to computer networks or spoof victims into installing cryptomining code onto computer systems. The code runs in the background and is difficult to detect. While the scripts used to mine cryptocurrencies do not in themselves damage computer systems, their placement represents a breach in network security. Once hackers gain access, they may attempt to hijack sensitive business data or commit other cyber crimes, putting the business at risk.

It is unclear how much cryptocurrency has been mined through this unauthorized hijacking of computers, but its value is estimated to be billions of dollars. In 2018 alone, a single cryptojacking incident infected more than 500,000 computers in Asia, netting criminals as much as $4 million. Computer security analysts indicate that the cryptojacking technology is relatively easy to master and expect significant growth in sophistication in the coming years. Cyber liability insurance is crucial for business owners who rely on computer systems and the sensitive data those computers contain.

Preventing Cryptojacking

By working in the background and being difficult to detect, cryptojacking may go unnoticed for long periods of time. The anonymous nature of the criminal act, and the fact that nothing was stolen from the infected computers, gives little incentive for businesses to pursue legal remedies. Nevertheless, network intrusion by cyber criminals is a serious threat and can lead to the loss of sensitive business data, not to mention the expenses associated with prevention and recovery. While cyber liability insurance is designed to provide protection from criminal activity and their expenses, preventing cryptojacking in the first place is the key to risk management.

As with any cyber criminality, monitoring unusual computer activity is the first step in preventing unauthorized intrusion. Computer security professionals recommend regular monitoring of systems and hardware for any signs of tampering. Updating security software and applying patches to systems also reduces the potential for unlawful network access.

Training employees in detecting fraudulent activity is another key component of risk management. Cryptojackers often use a technique called “phishing” to fool someone into clicking on a web link or email that looks legitimate. Clicking that link loads malware or cryptomining applications onto the computer network. Identifying and avoiding phishing attempts should be an integral part of employee training.

IT professionals should also receive specific training on cryptojacking practices and detection. In many cases, an increase in the number of employee complaints related to slow computer performance is an indication that cryptomining scripts are infecting computers. Training for all stakeholders is an important approach that can help prevent criminal hacking from harming business operations.

Because criminals sometimes infect legitimate websites with spoofed ads, security professionals recommend installing ad-blocking browser extensions on computers connected to the internet. Some third-party ad-blocking apps already incorporate tools to detect cryptomining.

Finally, business owners must carefully assess their current insurance protections. Cyber liability insurance is designed to protect business assets from losses from illegal computer activity. With the right security practices, and insurance policies and coverages in place, businesses can rest assured that their critical networks are secure from cyber criminals.

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 trends

Staffing Trends for 2021 & Beyond

Staffing agencies throughout the United States could not have predicted the challenges faced by the coronavirus pandemic of 2020. The pandemic created fundamental shifts, not only in how businesses operated, but how employees were protected from infection. Staffing professionals scrambled to find solutions, allowing them to fulfill their roles while keeping employees safe. Understanding the challenges and recognizing emerging trends in staffing is a powerful risk management tool, supplementing the protections of staffing industry insurance. Here are staffing trends that provide insights into the coming year and that inform decision-making processes for staffing agencies across industries.

COVID Challenges and Remote Staffing

Staffing agencies were forced to downsize operations as the economy faltered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite these economic hardships, staffing analysts in the GRID 2020 COVID-19 Staffing Industry Impact Survey noted that about 30% of survey respondents indicated no real shift in business performance from 2019 to 2020.

Early pandemic lockdowns and stay-at-home orders caused many staffing agencies to transition their placements into remote work, and this served to buoy the industry. In fact, remote work options were highlighted as a priority for agencies going into 2021. Agencies are reporting a greater demand for remote workers, and this trend is expected to continue well into the future as more corporations gain a greater understanding of the efficiencies and cost savings remote employment represents.

Customer-oriented challenges faced by staffing agencies included:

  • Dwindling demand
  • Inability of clients to make payments
  • Slowdowns in new client acquisition
  • Ever-changing job requirements, including a renewed focus on higher-skilled employees

Staffing agencies worked hard to adjust their business models, often attempting to do more with less in terms of resources and personnel. Many agencies also had to bolster their staffing industry insurance policies to reflect emerging risk profiles. As the economy strengthens, these modifications to the business model have proved beneficial, allowing agencies to regain some of the business lost to the pandemic.

Putting Clients First

Perhaps the most important trend in the staffing field is a newfound attention to client needs. As demand, talent pools, and new client acquisition shrank, smart staffing firms took the opportunity to strengthen relationships with existing clients. Relationships were bolstered by improved communications, assessing the needs and concerns of clients, and remaining in contact with clients that had implemented hiring freezes. When the freezes end, staffing operations can continue seamlessly without the need for rebuilding communication channels. Client-oriented services are always a part of a successful business model, and by focusing on this critical aspect, many firms were able to weather the economic downturns.

Candidates: The Lifeblood of Staffing

Mass layoffs and business closures during the early part of the pandemic led to a massive pool of unemployed workers. Despite this surplus, finding top talent proved difficult for many companies, including staffing placement agencies. To counter this challenge, staffing agencies embarked on two initiatives that will trend well into the next year.

First, improving the candidate experience was identified as a goal for agencies. Streamlining the application and hiring processes is central to improving the agency-candidate relationship. Communication improvements were also made, helping candidates remain in contact with agencies throughout the acquisition process. Remote recruiting and onboarding practices were implemented, helping to keep candidates safe from infection exposure. An unexpected benefit of remote hiring and onboarding is that it allowed staffing agencies to reduce overhead costs, including being able to downsize office space as remote operations took the place of in-person interaction. Finally, remote hiring practices reduced the potential liability exposures of agencies, helping them to avoid claims on staffing industry insurance policies.

Second, staffing agencies targeted improvements in hiring diversity and inclusion as important goals for the coming year. While diversity programs have gained traction over the past decade, 2020 saw a widespread public outcry for more inclusive hiring practices and operations, including placing more people of color into leadership roles. The agencies that made improvements in diversity initiatives noted two benefits: an increase in public trust, and a greater market share from companies seeking talented individuals who have been under-represented in the American workforce.

The COVID pandemic certainly created new challenges for the staffing industry. As solutions to overcoming these challenges are trending, the industry is regaining its footing in a turbulent economic landscape. Maintaining client- and candidate-oriented programs is one part of the puzzle, as is ensuring staffing industry insurance is comprehensive enough to withstand emerging risk exposures.

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 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.