A State of Mind: Reinforcing a Safety Culture

Every organization has a culture, whether it realizes that fact or not.  The way people view themselves, each other, what is expected of them, what may be important or not – all represent factors that build into that culture.

Attitudes and behaviors surrounding safety fit into that mix, and in ways that can hit the bottom line.

According to OSHA, an established safety culture can reduce an organization’s injury and illness costs by 20 to 40 percent.  Regarding safety, OSHA provides the following statistics:

  • Employers pay nearly $1 billion per week for direct workers’ compensation costs alone, which comes straight out of corporate profits.
  • Injuries and illnesses increase workers’ compensation and retraining costs.
  • Lost productivity from injuries and illnesses costs companies approximately $63 billion annually.

A stronger safety culture can help alleviate many of those avoidable costs.  But how does a culture take root and begin to become part of the organization’s DNA?

One approach comes in tying safety behaviors to incentives and compensation.  Reward employees who err on the side of safety over speed.  It’s important to distinguish between reward and recognition, however, meaning that you don’t want employees doing something only because they know they’ll get something in return.  It must become routine behavior because of the deeper benefits – namely, that they and their co-workers can return home after every shift safe and whole.

A strong safety culture inspires people to look out for one another and point out unsafe situations or behaviors.  Establishing and reinforcing this level of mutual consideration, protection, and sense of responsibility leads to a culture where an organization can achieve its business goals because its people care about the team.

The Insurance professionals at The Reschini Group can help identify a roadmap to help your organization build and promote a safety culture that alleviates the cost of injuries and illnesses, but more importantly, keeps your people safe and productive.


Copyright 2019 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.

Staying Safe: Five Tips to Greater Cybersecurity

 

Cybersecurity practices remain a key focus for both the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).   An article* in Forbes magazine summarizes five best practices cited by these organizations to mitigate the risk of cyber attacks:

 

  1. Governance

FINRA has found that although Boards of Directors are actively focused on cybersecurity, during their regulatory exams up to two-thirds of companies were found to have deficiencies or weaknesses in their policies and procedures.  Cybersecurity policies need to be specific and articulate the procedures necessary for implementation.

 

  1. Risk Assessment 

Risk assessment should be an ongoing process as opposed to a single point in time. Companies should gather and evaluate indicators of potential risks on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. They should also look to what’s happening at other organizations and other industries, both to gain best practices ideas and to help thwart attackers’ plans.

 

  1. Cybersecurity Training

Because employees represent the biggest risk, training needs to be conducted regularly and be varied, both in method (such as in-person, email, blogs) and with different topics (such as passwords or visitor access).  Show employees what good cyber behavior looks like so they may bring those practices home with them to protect their families and personal systems, as well.

 

  1. Access Management

While the SEC watches how organizations conduct reviews of access rights periodically, it is estimated that about half either do not follow policies and procedures for terminating access rights, or inadvertently provide unauthorized system access to users contrary to established policy.  Best practice is for any remote access to a core network to be protected by two-factor authentication.

 

  1. Vendor Management

Risk from vendors needs to be addressed and constantly vetted and assessed.  One idea calls for the business to obtain permission before bringing on any new vendor that handles, touches, or stores data. To make it easier, create a list of pre-approved vendors.

The team of professionals at The Reschini Group can help assess your cybersecurity exposures and offer comprehensive insurance solutions to transfer cyber risk and protect your company.  Contact us to learn more.

* https://www.forbes.com/sites/joannabelbey/2017/06/30/how-to-avoid-cyberattacks-5-best-practices-from-sec-and-finra/#56ae09df1a16


Copyright 2019 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.

Make No Mistake: Best EPLI Coverage Gained as a Standalone Policy

You can’t be kind of pregnant.  You can’t be kind of deceased.  With some of life’s developments, you really don’t have a choice.  It’s all or nothing.

But in others, the choice remains open – yet, it might be best to go all-in anyway.  Such is the advice of professionals when it comes to Employment Practices Liability Insurance, or EPLI.

The International Risk Management Institute defines EPLI as: “A type of liability insurance covering wrongful acts arising from the employment process. The most frequent types of claims covered under such policies include: wrongful termination, discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. In addition, the policies cover claims from a variety of other types of inappropriate workplace conduct, including (but not limited to) employment-related: defamation, invasion of privacy, failure to promote, deprivation of a career opportunity, and negligent evaluation. The policies cover directors and officers, management personnel, and employees as insureds.”

Coverage can be issued through an addendum to a General Liability policy or as a separate endorsement.  EPLI also typically carries a warranty covering whether the policyholder is aware of any workplace issues related to harassment, discrimination, or any of the other issues cited in the definition above.

EPLI issued as a full standalone policy remains the preferred method, since the policy is designed to provide a more robust coverage with separate limits from the General Liability form.  Regardless of how you purchase it, having EPLI coverage is highly recommended.

There are some instances where it’s smart to go all-in, even when you have the option to take a smaller, easier course.  But don’t be fooled.  Be smart.  Be covered fully.  EPLI is one of those instances.

Contact the team of professionals at the Reschini Group for more information on how an EPLI policy can help protect your organization.


Copyright 2019 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.

Clearing the Air: The Value of Smoking Cessation Programs

Many employers may not realize the full cost that employee smoking incurs to their company. Smokers are much more likely to develop serious chronic medical conditions, visit the doctor more often, be absent from work with an illness, or have a short- or long-term disability—all of which are very costly to an employer’s health plan and productivity.

In fact, smokers cost private employers in the United States an extra $5,816 per year compared to nonsmokers, according to researchers at Ohio State University. Of that amount, $3,077 comes from smoking breaks, since smokers, on average, take approximately five breaks a day compared to the three breaks reserved for most workers. Excess health care expenses account for $2,056, and the remaining costs are due to increased absenteeism and lost productivity.  Implementing a smoking cessation program and incorporating benefits into your health plan can lower the number of employees who smoke and dramatically affect your bottom line now and in the future.

Studies have shown that employees are much more likely to quit when smoking cessation resources are included as paid benefits in their health plan. In addition, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that smoking cessation therapy is the most cost-effective health benefit that employers can offer.

Other strategies offered through an employer health plan and in the workplace to help promote smoking cessation include:

  • Establish smoke-free policies throughout your workplace
  • Incentive programs for employees who quit and stay smoke-free
  • Flexible spending program to reimburse smoking cessation counseling and 
prescription drugs (if your plan does not cover these items)
  • On-site counseling options (or counseling referrals)
  • Employee communications for education, promoting your program, and 
encouragement for those quitting
  • Participating in special events, such as the Great American Smokeout
  • Health risk assessments to identify employee smokers
  • Develop other creative ways to offer personal support and encouragement in 
the workplace for employees who are quitting
  • Consider including spouses and dependents in your smoking cessation 
benefits

The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help you fashion a smoking cessation Program for your particular situation.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 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.

It CAN Happen To You: Cybersecurity Claims Impacting All Levels of Business

The market for cybersecurity coverage remains competitive, and more business owners have decided to invest in insurance policies to protect from hackers and malware.  That’s the good news.

But the risk still outweighs the precautions taken, according to insurance industry watchers – and that’s the bad news.  Not enough clients are adopting the coverage, especially when proof continues to pile up that no organization is safe from a cyber event.

A 2019 Cyber Readiness Report from specialty provider Hiscox found that 53% of U.S. businesses reported a cyber attack in the previous 12 months, from 38% the previous year.  In all, 45% of those companies experienced three or more attacks in the past year.  Yet 27% of firms have no plans to adopt cyber insurance, according to the report.

Considering the potentially devastating cost of recovering from a cyber attack, that statistic becomes especially alarming.  According to McAfee’s 2018 Economic Impact of Cybercrime Report, the global cost of cybercrimes is estimated to be between $445 billion and $600 billion.  But less than 20% of all businesses have purchased cyber insurance.  That rate continues to increase, but not nearly to the degree to guard against harm to the level of exposure that remains.

Adopting a line of thinking that “It won’t happen to me” may be the biggest mistake of all, according to industry experts.  Business owners who only think of cyber attacks in terms of data breaches miss the other risks that exist, including extortion and business interruption – all of which represent serious and costly issues that need to be addressed through coverage.

The team at The Reschini Group can help put together the best package of cyber protection coverage for your business, regardless of size, scope, or industry.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 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.

‘Truthiness’ Isn’t Enough: Understanding Policy Warrants

Late-night host Stephen Colbert coined a term years ago to characterize the shiftiness of politicians concerning statements of dubious honesty and integrity.  Colbert called such examples instances of “truthiness” – statements that approximated the truth, but still left enough wiggle room for the person to escape blame or responsibility.

When it comes to securing insurance coverage, though, “truthiness” just won’t cut it.  Policy warrant statements make sure of that.

Warrants essentially establish that when a person or organization signs an application, he or she guarantees that information contained in the application is indeed truthful.  On occasion, such warrants put into a policy can later be used to decline losses if the insurer feels that the insured was not truthful in the application.

The International Risk Management Institute defines a warrant as “a statement of fact given to an insurer by the insured concerning the insured risk which, if untrue, will void the policy.”

The temptation to skirt uncomfortable facts or to gloss over or minimize the actual details of a less-than-ideal situation can be strong.  But taking that step in order to secure a more advantageous rate or terms of coverage upfront can – and most likely will – surely backfire, should the moment arrive when a claim is filed and investigated.

Miguel de Cervantes, in his classic novel from the 17th Century, “Don Quixote,” may have put it best four centuries ago when he wrote: “The truth may be stretched thin, but it never breaks, and it always surfaces above lies, as oil floats on water.”  In other words, the truth always comes out.  Best to tell it right at the start, even when dealing with something as ordinary as applying for an insurance policy.

The team at The Reschini Group can help put together the best package of coverage based on whatever your specific situation entails.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 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.

All Well and Good: Fashioning an Effective Wellness Program

A wellness program assists employees and family members in making voluntary behavior changes that reduce their health risks and enhance their individual productivity. Studies have shown that employees are more likely to perform well when they are in optimal health. The following are benefits of implementing a wellness program:

  • Lower health care costs, due to a healthier workforce and improved disease management
  • Enhanced recruiting by attracting the most talented workers
  • Reduced absenteeism
  • Improved on-the-job time utilization, decision making and productivity
  • Improved employee morale
  • Reduction in turnover

Because wellness programs must comply with state and federal law, legal review should precede a program’s introduction to employees.

The Wellness Council of America identifies these best practices for a successful workplace wellness program:

  1. Create committed and aligned leadership. A commitment from the top is key to the success of any wellness initiative, including commitment of adequate funding.
  2. Foster collaboration in support of wellness. Wellness teams should include a variety of people from all levels of your company.
  3. Collect meaningful data that will drive your health initiatives and wellness strategy. This may involve conducting a survey of employee interest in various health initiatives, health risk assessments, and claims analysis.
  4. Craft an operating plan. An annual operating plan is important for your program’s success and should include a mission statement along with specific, measurable short- and long-term goals and objectives.
  5. Choose appropriate health initiatives that support the whole employee. The health initiatives that you choose should flow naturally from your data, and support your goals and objectives.
  6. Create a supportive environment, policies and practices. A supportive environment provides employees with encouragement, opportunity and rewards.
  7. Conduct evaluations, communicate, celebrate and iterate. This allows you to celebrate goals achieved and to discontinue or change ineffective initiatives.

The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help you fashion a Wellness Program for your particular situation.  Contact us to learn more.


Copyright 2019 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.

Inside Job: Safeguarding Against Internal Cyber Threats

The Software Engineering Institute (SEI) at Carnegie Mellon University defines insider cyber threats as “the potential for an individual who has or had authorized access to an organization’s assets to use that access, either maliciously or unintentionally, to act in a way that could negatively affect the organization.”

As such, a team from SEI recently issued the sixth edition of its Common Sense Guide to Mitigating Insider Threats, where it lists the following 21 recommendations for businesses to deploy:

  • Know and protect your critical assets.
  • Develop a formalized insider threat program.
  • Clearly document and consistently enforce policies and controls.
  • Beginning with the hiring process, monitor and respond to suspicious or disruptive behavior.
  • Anticipate and manage negative issues in the work environment.
  • Consider threats from insiders and business partners in enterprise-wide risk assessments.
  • Be especially vigilant regarding social media.
  • Structure management and tasks to minimize insider stress and mistakes.
  • Incorporate malicious insider threat awareness into periodic security training for all employees.
  • Implement strict password and account management policies and practices.
  • Institute strict access controls and monitoring policies on privileged users.
  • Deploy solutions for monitoring employee actions and correlating information from multiple data sources.
  • Monitor and control remote access from all end points, including mobile devices.
  • Establish a baseline of normal behavior for both networks and employees.
  • Enforce separation of duties and least privilege.
  • Define explicit security agreements for any cloud services, especially access restrictions and monitoring capabilities.
  • Institutionalize system change controls.
  • Implement secure backup and recovery processes.
  • Close the doors to unauthorized data exfiltration.
  • Develop a comprehensive employee termination procedure.
  • Adopt positive incentives to align the workforce with the organization.

Many of these guidelines appear to be just common sense business practices, but establishing them firmly, communicating them clearly, and enforcing them consistently makes the difference.  Insuring against internal cyber threats carries its own set of parameters and requirements, as well.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help your organization protect your organization against losses from internal cyber fraud.  Contact us to talk more about this important consideration.

* https://resources.sei.cmu.edu/asset_files/TechnicalReport/2019_005_001_540647.pdf


Copyright 2019 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.

Nobody’s Home: Protection Using a Vacancy Clause

There are times when the phrase “The lights are on, but nobody’s home” can actually be pretty smart advice.  Vacant buildings are more prone to arson, theft of copper plumbing, vandals and water damage.  Vacant property, often an attractive nuisance, represents a liability.

The insurance coverage pertaining to vacant buildings needs to be understood and carefully managed.  In a typical homeowners policy, the vacancy exclusion applies after a home has been empty for 30 to 60 days, after which coverage begins to diminish.  For example, after 30 days vandalism may be removed, after 60 days fire damage is removed, and so on.

If the property is a home, it is considered “unoccupied” if the furnishings are there although the resident is elsewhere. A home is only considered “vacant” when the resident has moved out and removed the belongings.  Coverage differs depending on which designation applies.

A commercial building is seen as “vacant” unless at least 31% of its total square feet is occupied and operations conducted there must be those customary to the use of the building.  Standard commercial property policies state that if a building is vacant more than 60 days, no coverage will be provided for vandalism, sprinkler leakage, water damage, theft, or attempted theft.

Homes or commercial buildings should not appear to be vacant, if possible.  Owners should maintain the premises by making regular checks, mowing the lawn, picking up mail, putting lights on time switches, and leaving some furniture inside.

Homeowners and commercial insurance policies are not designed to protect vacant buildings indefinitely.  Special policies are available, with limited coverage such as covering fire and wind damage but not theft, vandalism or water damage.

The professionals at The Reschini Group understand the various options and conditions related to vacancy clauses for home and commercial properties.  Contact us to help determine the best approach to secure the right coverage for your specific situation.


Copyright 2019 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.

Prescription Drug Coverage: Options to Reduce Costs

While it may appear that so much of health insurance coverage is out of the direct control of businesses and the employees and families they protect, one element does in fact offer a level of control available to just about everyone – the cost of prescription drugs.

These costs can be reduced significantly, and mostly by using the same purchasing strategies applied to how consumers shop for other goods and services.  As more consumers comparison shop for drugs, more retailers will compete to win their business, which can drive costs lower.

Here are some tips on reducing the costs of prescription drugs:

  • Compare prices – Drug prices are not uniform, so consumers can save by shopping around.
  • Substitute drugs – When a doctor prescribes a drug, it pays to ask if a cheaper alternative can be used.
  • Buy in bulk – Purchasing drugs in larger quantities or for a longer period of time generally reduces the per-dose cost.
  • Use mail-order pharmacies – Mail-order or online pharmacies offer the best deals on prescription drugs, especially for patients with chronic conditions.
  • Explore an OTC option – Asking the doctor if an over-the-counter (OTC) drug would work as well as a prescription can cut costs. Many OTC drugs had previously been available only by prescription at first.
  • Insist on generic – Generic medications work the same as brand-name drugs and can cost from 20 percent to 80 percent less. This option applies to both prescription and OTC medications.
  • Inquire about assistance programs – Drug manufacturers and state governments offer drug assistance programs for elderly, low-income, and patients with disabilities.
  • Enroll in discount programs – National drug store chains and national insurance plans sometimes offer programs with additional discounts for a small monthly or annual fee.

Regardless of how one approaches efforts to reduce prescription drug costs, it remains important to never skip doses or stop taking medications based on financial issues.  Sticking to a medication schedule helps avoid more costly and potentially more complicated health issues later.

Check with your benefits provider to see how the cost of prescription drugs can potentially be lowered within the scope of your coverage.  The Benefits team at The Reschini Group can help in this regard.


Copyright 2019 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.