The Reschini Blog: How to Avoid Being Zoom-Bombed

In the age of COVID-19, platforms like Zoom, Skype, Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Teams, and WebEx have been lifesavers for businesses, schools, and families.  But, regrettably, the emergence and widespread adoption of these wonderful tools have also enabled the rise of those who would use them to break in uninvited, to steal information and data for their own purposes.

Such video-conferencing hijackers practice what has been dubbed “Zoom-bombing,” or the act of disrupting a virtual meeting with graphic or threatening messages or actions, including hate speech or pornographic images. Beyond being incredibly annoying and hurtful, such intrusions can also cause liability exposure based on the highly offensive harassment.

Protecting innocent users against these disruptions is both a moral and legal obligation, as state and federal civil rights laws require businesses, organizations, and public entities to prevent discriminatory harassment.  So how can you avoid being Zoom-bombed?  Here are some suggestions:

  • Know and test the technology first.
  • Use options that require authenticated users only.
  • Make all meetings private, with controlled admission.
  • Only share the link to the room with those invited.
  • Disable the “join before host” setting.
  • Restrict screen-sharing options to the host only.
  • Use the latest technology with updated security enhancements.

Our society, educational system, and business communities have survived the pandemic by leveraging the incredible power of these video-conferencing tools.  Their staying power in a post-COVID world is guaranteed.  That makes it all the more essential for users to remain vigilant in protecting themselves and those who they invite to join them online.

Contact The Reschini Group for information on insurance-related matters affecting your organization.

Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Source: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/avoiding-zoom-bombing-in-the-new-age-of-meetings.aspx

The Reschini Blog: Nursing Home Turnover Presents Fresh Challenges

One of the more obvious ramifications of COVID-19 has been seen in high rates of staff turnover at nursing homes.  But that trend had been in place long before the pandemic, with the median staff turnover at U.S. nursing homes of 94% and a mean rate of 128% in 2017 and 2018, according to industry journal Health Affairs.

Mean rates exceeded 100% across all three primary employee types studied — registered nurses (140.7%), certified nursing assistants (129.1%), and licensed practical nurses (114.1%).

With facilities suffering this rate of turnover, exposure to lawsuits and insurance claims asserting wrongful termination or unsafe on-the-job conditions – especially in the era of pandemic – could escalate.  Take, for example, a claim filed in 2018 that was never pursued to resolution.  The claimant’s attorney picks up the case again in 2021, but the specifics of the situation have been lost to memory and time.

Refuting those challenges becomes difficult, if not impossible, opening the door to financial exposure for the nursing home facility.

Situations like this – which are not as rare as one might think – only serve to emphasize the need for diligent, comprehensive, up-to-date record keeping regarding all employees, their performance records, any disciplinary actions required, and the details of how their employment ends.  Only documentation like this can prevent or limit potential damages being charged to the employer.

An escalating rate of turnover cannot be used as an excuse for substandard record-keeping.

Contact The Reschini Group for information on insurance-related matters affecting your organization.

Download these resources about turnover and employment tracking:

Contact The Reschini Group with your questions or concerns regarding a need for Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI).

 


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Source: https://skillednursingnews.com/2021/03/nursing-homes-have-94-staff-turnover-rate-with-even-higher-churn-at-low-rated-facilities/

Benefits Blog: Be a Smart Health Care Consumer

They used to say there were only two sure things in life – death and taxes.  But another sure thing could be added today – rising health care costs.

That makes it imperative for every individual to become a smarter consumer of health care, by taking charge of your care and coverage, asking more questions, and doing more independent research.  Here are some specific steps:

Control out-of-pocket health care costs by carefully reviewing your health insurance plan options and selecting the ones that best meet the needs of you and your family.  Those needing more chronic care and medications may want to choose a lower deductible plan, while those younger and healthier needing less care could potentially get by with a higher deductible option.

Assert your rights as a patient and ask more questions of your doctor and pharmacist, such as:

  • Why is this treatment necessary?
  • How much will this treatment cost?
  • Are there equally effective options that cost less?
  • What is the current procedural terminology (CRT) code for this treatment, so that I can comparison shop my options?
  • How can I improve my condition?
  • Why are you suggesting this specific dosage?
  • Is this prescription on my insurance plan’s approved list, or is this a specialty drug?
  • Can you recommend a lower-cost or generic substitute?

Make every effort to choose in-network doctors when possible.  Health care providers within your plan’s network typically cost less than those out-of-network.  When selecting a plan, make sure your preferred doctors and hospitals are within the plan’s approved network.

Seek outpatient care when available, without sacrificing quality of care.  By avoiding being admitted to the hospital, the cost of your care goes down significantly.  Only select an outpatient option when the proper level of care can still be provided.

For more information on becoming a smarter health care consumer, contact the Benefits team at The Reschini Group today.

Download these resources about reducing health care costs:

How to Lower Health Care Costs Take Action – Preventive Care and Your Health Care Costs Take Action – Shop Around for Health Care


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

The Reschini Blog: Cybercrime Impacts All Industries

Working in IT today is like running a marathon sprint.

Not only do the digital professionals need to keep their systems and users running smoothly at a baseline level, they also need to stay up-to-date on new applications and software packages and how they could be used to advance the growth of their organizations.

And then there’s the ever-present specter of cybercrime – an unending and constantly expanding web of innovative and malicious attempts to steal information, hold data for ransom, and generally take control of the digital identity of companies.  What’s worse, no industry is immune to these dark forces, who can wreak havoc and extort enormous financial damages.

According to the Pittsburgh Technology Council, most CEO surveys rank cybersecurity threats as a top-five risk, regardless of industry type.  CEOs care about data breaches and ransomware attacks because those attacks have become so common, regardless of organizational size or IT staff experience.  Furthermore, CEOs know that a ransomware infection or a data breach can put the very life of their organizations at risk.

IT teams have trouble keeping a current and standardized set of security best practices, because to do so – with proper patches and policies amid a continuously changing environment – is time consuming, expensive, and downright difficult.  One solution comes in the form of enterprise cloud infrastructure platforms, which offer a secure-by-default cloud experience with best-in-class security features incorporated from the start.

Using advanced tools like this can free internal IT staffs, since they only need to work with the cloud infrastructure provider to select and configure features most relevant to the organization’s needs and vulnerabilities.  Those IT professionals can then spend their time more efficiently, working on strategic projects while reducing exposure to cybersecurity issues.

Keeping the bad guys at bay online doesn’t have to be a marathon sprint, where the best efforts simply can’t keep running at full capacity.  You can bring your cybersecurity exposure under better control, thereby improving your insurance coverage against losses.

The experts at The Reschini Group can provide specific guidance in this area.  Contact us today to learn more.


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

The Reschini Blog: Noise Monitoring a Vital Concern

The very process of manufacturing – especially heavy manufacturing – carries with it some inherent variables that can cause damage to those working onsite.  Most companies maintain diligent safety practices and procedures to protect workers from falls, hand injuries, accident enclosures, and the like.

The dangers of excessive noise must be in that same discussion.

The Reschini Group has specialists who consult and advise client companies about the importance of noise monitoring, including use of audio dosimetry at manufacturing facilities.  Our team works with manufacturers to conduct these tests, to see the impact of onsite noise and how best to safeguard those exposed to it.

Central to these efforts is guidance from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and its requirements for establishing a Hearing Conservation Program.  According to the OSHA website, this includes noise monitoring, audiometric testing, hearing protection, training, and recordkeeping.  OSHA requires companies to implement a hearing conservation program when noise exposure is at or above 85 decibels averaged over 8 working hours.

Exposure to loud noise kills the nerve endings in the inner ear, with prolonged exposure causing more dead nerve endings and permanent hearing loss that cannot be corrected with surgery or medicine. Noise-induced hearing loss limits your ability to hear high frequency sounds and understand speech, which seriously impairs your ability to communicate. Hearing aids may help, but they do not restore your hearing to normal.

Hearing conservation programs are meant to prevent initial occupational hearing loss, preserve and protect remaining hearing, and equip workers with the knowledge and hearing protection devices necessary to safeguard themselves.  Paying the proper level of attention to on-the-job noise issues also makes sense regarding avoiding exposure to lawsuits and insurance claims.

The team at The Reschini Group features experts in working with client companies to lessen this exposure.  Contact us today to learn more.


Related Resource from The Reschini Group

Contact The Reschini Group with your questions or concerns regarding Noise Hazards.


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Benefits Blog: Benefits Adjustments Based on COVID-19

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, national benefits experts have determined that 20% of employers need support in updating their benefits programs to accommodate the changes the virus has created.  Here are some of the most common changes being considered for 2021 and beyond.

Potential Cost Increases and Plan Designs – Health care premium costs have increased at a steady rate over the past few years, with the most recent average increase being around 6%. Despite many health care providers having waived fees associated with COVID-19 testing, those costs will likely trickle down in the long run.

Employers will need to evaluate their unique circumstances and consider whether they need to shift some of their cost-sharing burden with a new plan design.

Mental Health Benefits – According to a survey from a major mental health provider, nearly 7 in 10 employees cited the COVID-19 pandemic as the most stressful time in their careers.  As employees return to work, many are experiencing financial hardship, balancing new caregiving responsibilities, managing concerns over their physical and mental well-being. Employers should consider offering or revamping an existing employee assistance program (EAP) and expanding mental health resources.

Flexible Workplace Benefits – Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, employers were feeling the pressure to provide flexible workplace benefits.  As such, employees are likely looking for expanded flexible work benefits, including:

Work-from-homeWhile not always feasible, employees who may already be working from home due to the pandemic or are equally as productive from home may expect to continue to do so.

Flexible work hours – Flexible work hours or alternative schedules during these uncertain times and moving forward may help employees balance their various responsibilities, and prioritize their health.

Virtual Open Enrollment – Traditionally held in the office during a specific time frame, organizations could instead hold town hall meetings and provide regular communications on open enrollment, and plan to conduct it virtually as necessary.

For more information surrounding the employee benefits landscape post-coronavirus or how to prepare for an alternative open enrollment approach,  today.

Related Resources from The Reschini Group:

Idea sheet regarding helping reduce COVID-19 related stress in the workforce. Easing Employee Stress Surrounding the Coronavirus Pandemic_ The EAP and Return to Work plans post pandemic – a starting guide. Post-coronavirus Return-to-Work Plans and EAPs


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

The Reschini Blog: Cyburgh Event Offers Cybersecurity Insight

The Reschini Group prides itself on offering pertinent, credible, practical guidance to its business customers regarding the constant threat of cyber crime.  With a presence in One Gateway Center in Downtown Pittsburgh, our firm remains connected to the city’s growing reputation as a center of cybersecurity advances and trends.

One of those premier cybersecurity-related events is “Cyburgh,” an annual conference of national and international experts, sponsored by the Pittsburgh Technology Council (PTC).

According to the PTC, vulnerability affects the bottom line of the region’s businesses.  The Cyburgh initiative aims to advance Pittsburgh as an internationally recognized leader in cybersecurity.  Through presentations and idea exchanges, Cyburgh is a forum for cybersecurity professionals to engage with and learn from peers, thought leaders, and solution providers.

Now in its sixth year, Cyburgh is a virtual event, scheduled this year in three sessions from May 25 through May 27.  Participants will learn from thought leaders and subject matter experts from Pittsburgh and beyond. The focus will be on the business and strategic areas that leaders and technical professionals need to know about.

The event is geared toward Chief Executive Officers, Chief Operations Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Information Security Officers, Chief Privacy Officers, Practitioners, Business Leaders, and IT Managers in corporate, small business, academic, and non-profit organizations who want to gain vital insight about protecting their enterprises and mitigating risk.

Cybersecurity remains an ongoing issue for businesses of all sizes, in all markets, and across all industries.  Our team offers expert advice on protecting our customers through the proper insurance packages.  Events like Cyburgh open the door to a wider, deeper exploration of the many tentacles of cybersecurity, and we encourage all business owners to take full advantage of this special event.

You can register for Cyburgh 2021 at:

https://www.pghtech.org/events/2021Cyburgh_1#2021Cyburgh_1


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

The Reschini Blog: Preparing for COVID-19 Lawsuits and Claims

According to national human resources and legal experts, employers can expect to face many lawsuits and claims related to COVID-19 from infected or laid-off employees and families of deceased workers in the coming months.  Claims for gross negligence, wage and hour oversights, discrimination, and layoff-notice discrepancies are possible.

Workers Compensation claims are being submitted to insurers and tracked by rate-making or -reporting bodies at the state level.  WC laws vary by state, as they relate to communicable diseases, with some state legislatures enacting laws to expand statutes related to COVID-19 claims.

Uncertainty about whether workers’ compensation will apply to COVID-19-related illnesses remains at the federal and state levels.  For that reason, employers would be wise to do all they can to limit potential liability, legal experts advise.  The best way for employers to do this is by following all guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), state and local health departments, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Exposure to lawsuits and claims could take a number of specific paths:

  • Employers should expect a wave of workers’ compensation claims from employees who have contracted COVID-19, claiming that they contracted the virus while at work. Causation should be easier to prove with someone who worked at a facility that continued operating after multiple employees tested positive for COVID-19 than with an individual who worked at a site with one previously confirmed case in a location far from that person.
  • In states that exclude flu-like illnesses from workers’ compensation coverage, employees might still bring negligence claims, or their families could still allege wrongful death, since workers’ compensation laws’ exclusive remedy provisions wouldn’t apply.
  • Laid-off workers may claim discrimination. Reduction-in-force decisions can impact older workers disproportionately because they tend to be the most highly compensated.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act may come into play, as well, if an employer denies a COVID-19 related accommodation.
  • There also could be Occupational Safety and Health Act retaliation claims from workers who contend that they were let go after refusing to return to an unsafe workplace.

The best advice to policyholders is to submit all claims promptly to get an initial coverage determination.  Waiting makes it harder to gather critical information to manage costs and losses later.  The professionals at The Reschini Group can expertly advise any public or private company on crafting the proper coverage, or anticipating how current coverage terms will be able to handle COVID-19 related claims as they are presented.  Contact us today to learn more.

Related Resources from The Reschini Group:

Read an update from OSHA about COVID-related preparedness in the workplace.  OSHA Issues Prevention Guidance on COVID-19 in the Workplace 2.1.21 Read a primer about gathering information related to Workers Compensation Claims.  WCI- The First 24 Hours After an Injury Watch a video regarding latest trends in litigation related to COVID-19 and the resulting economic impact. (LINK: https://www.reschini.com/litigation-trends-regarding-covid-19/ )


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Source: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/legal-and-compliance/employment-law/pages/coronavirus-wide-range-of-lawsuits.aspx

Benefits Blog – Remote Control: Telemedicine Offers Wider Care Options

You can call up a quote from Shakespeare in seconds, send a message to the other side of the globe immediately, and even buy a car, all from your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.  So why not get checked by a physician?  Why not, indeed.

Such is the attraction of telemedicine – the practice of health care from a remote location, which has proven to be quite effective as an attractive option for many health care providers and their patients, especially given the Covid-19 pandemic.

Using live video transmission, typically through an online app designated by the provider, doctors and patients can see each other and talk in real time about any health care concerns or questions – all without needing to be in the same exam room together.  Although telemedicine is not a complete replacement for direct patient care, it can be a useful tool for a variety of medical services, such as evaluation, diagnosis, and prescribing treatment.

Patients benefit from staying in the comfort of their own homes, oftentimes with a caregiver taking part in the telemedicine session to provide additional information and follow-up care.  The potential spread of germs and infection in clinics and hospitals is minimized.  Those patients living in rural areas, or who have difficulty arranging transportation, can access quality medical care in a much more convenient manner.  And those patients recovering from surgery or severe illness can be readily monitored through telemedicine visits.

For many patients, obtaining medical care represents a significant cost in time, resources, and money.  Telemedicine helps lower those barriers, while helping to enhance the value of regular visits with the doctor.  As access to electronic medical records expands, physicians can combine this technology with telemedicine to bring patients even higher quality care.

Check with your benefits provider to see how telemedicine fits into your medical coverage, potentially lowering costs while improving the doctor-patient relationship.  The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help in this regard.


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice. To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.

Telemedicine Resources from The Reschini Group

Contact The Reschini Group with your questions or concerns regarding D&O Coverage.

The Reschini Blog: The Ramifications of Ransomware

It’s one of the oldest plots in the movies.  A person or object of great value gets kidnapped.  A demand for money or some other form of tribute is demanded.  And either the ransom gets paid, or a rescue ensues.  The end, curtain down, talk about the film on the ride home.  Nice and tidy.

Until it happens in real life, and the true impact of ransomware – the infiltration of your computer system, complete with unwanted access to your most sensitive information – becomes all too clear.

And don’t think it couldn’t happen to your small business.  Ransomware strikes at systems large and small.  In fact, a small contractor servicing a large corporation can serve as one of the easiest “back doors” for a hacker to make an enormous score.

In 2019, the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) received 2,047 complaints identified as ransomware, with losses in excess of $8.9 billion.  That’s billion.  With a “b.”  Even while citing those statistics, IC3 also insists that instances of ransomware remain vastly underreported, so the true total of losses is probably much higher.

Intricate, elaborate, expensive software systems designed to block sophisticated ransomware attempts can be effective, and have real value in the ongoing fight.  But it’s also important to remember that ransomware hackers can gain all the access they need by the simplest of methods, as well.  A targeted phishing attack that gains the credentials of top managers can parlay that information into a quick and substantial ransom payment.

So how to avoid the chilling and costly incidence of being held for ransom by outsiders capturing your proprietary data?  Establish a relationship with federal law enforcement authorities and trusted organizations like the non-profit National Cyber Forensics-Training Alliance (ncfta.net), conduct continuous employee awareness training that includes top officials of the company, increase knowledge of ransomware tactics and trends to stay ahead of the threat, and review your insurance coverage against losses attributable to ransomware attacks.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can work with you to audit your exposures and craft a policy package to provide the proper level of protection.  Because being held for ransom is not a plot device in a movie that you can walk away from.  It’s all too real.


Copyright 2021 The Reschini Group

The Reschini Group provides these updates for information only, and does not provide legal advice.  To make decisions regarding insurance matters, please consult directly with a licensed insurance professional or firm.