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.

Property & Casualty Blog: Covid-19’s Impact on D&O Coverage

Among its many other ripple effects, the Covid-19 pandemic may impact Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance, as public and private companies fight to stay afloat amid calamitous economic conditions.  There is no assurance that shareholders, employees and customers will let companies – or their offices – off the hook, even for a worldwide health disaster.

Coronavirus-related “event-driven” litigation and shareholder derivative suits have begun to arise, alleging “a series of false and misleading statements and concealed material information” about its health and safety protocols and its alleged “role in facilitating the transmission of the virus” against cruise line provider Carnival Corporation.  Also, Sorrento Therapeutics and its officials have been accused of making misleading comments about a COVID-19 “cure” that led to a near-tripling of its share price, before the company recanted and modified its claims.

As a result, according to industry experts, both public and private companies will need to pay close attention to their D&O insurance.  Said one such expert, “Many small businesses have had to close their doors temporarily because of the coronavirus, and they lack the surplus of capital needed to sustain their operations through those mandatory closures.

“We’re seeing a lot of smaller retail businesses and restaurants suffering from economic hardships, which can lead to possible D&O lawsuits down the line. The larger publicly traded companies will likely weather this storm a bit better because they have a higher surplus of capital to see them through. However, if they fail to weather the storm and they end up closing some of their operations, we anticipate that there could be an uptick in D&O lawsuits related to mismanagement.”

Terms of D&O coverage may need to be adjusted, as well, with the proviso that – given the radical economic shifts that Covid-19 has introduced – companies may have to contend with higher premiums for similar coverage, or lower coverage at the same premiums.  The variables continue to multiply.

Yet regardless of how all of this plays out, companies still need to provide the best D&O coverage possible to protect their officers and top managers.  The professionals at The Reschini Group can expertly guide any public or private company through the forest of potential pitfalls and existing or new opportunities to meet this critical objective.  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.

Benefits Blog: Dealing with Identify Theft

The very act of conducting business in the modern world by necessity includes collecting and holding personally identifying information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and the like about customers, employees and business partners.

Should this information fall into the wrong hands, it could put these individuals at risk for identity theft.

Medical identity theft is a growing concern for individuals and employers, as well, with more than 2.3 million Americans becoming victims annually.  This represents an average loss of more than $22,000 per incident in terms of lost employee productivity and through the fraudulent overuse of health plan benefits.

The financial impact of medical identity theft can include lost money, unpaid bills, collection agency letters, and tarnished credit reports. Finding and correcting records can be a lengthy process, often taking as long as a year to complete.

The messy consequences of inaccurate medical records and insurance claims can be both a time-consuming nuisance as well as a threat to the victim’s health. The medical repercussions for medical identity theft victims can include misdiagnosis, conflicting prescriptions, missed symptoms and other harmful consequences.

If personal information – whether of a medical nature or not – becomes comprised, it can easily and quickly result in meaningful harm to a person or business.  If identity theft is suspected, call your local police department immediately.  If your local police department is not familiar with investigating information compromises, contact the local office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or the U.S. Secret Service. For incidents involving mail theft, contact the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

If account access information (credit card or bank account numbers) has been stolen and you do not maintain the accounts, notify the institutions that do so that they can monitor these accounts for fraudulent activity.  If you collect or store personal information for other businesses, notify them of any information compromises immediately.  If the information involved the improper posting of personal information on your website, immediately remove the information and contact the appropriate search engines to ensure that they do not archive personal information that was posted in error.

If names and Social Security numbers have been stolen, contact the three major credit bureaus for additional information and advice. When calling, advise the credit bureau that you will also be alerting the affected parties to place a fraud alert on their files.

For more information on how to protect your business from potential security breaches, contact The Reschini Group.  We have additional risk management tools to assist you in handling identity theft.


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: The Scope of Cybercrime

“Cybercriminals and certain foreign nations are not only at the door; they are inside our walls, and often have been for quite some time.  Defending our most valuable information should be of paramount importance for our citizens, businesses, and academic institutions.”  – Matt LaVigna, President and CEO, National Cyber Forensics Training Alliance (NCFTA).

While the fact of cybercrime can hardly be news, the scope of it recently made worldwide news, as multiple departments across the federal government were discovered to have been infiltrated by foreign actors, sometimes for months before being detected.  In that time, untold volumes of sensitive documents impacting U.S. homeland security, relations with countries around the world, financial and diplomatic secrets, and much more may have been compromised, perhaps permanently.

The same dynamic impacts businesses of all sizes, across all industries and locations.  Malicious actors with an abundance of skill and lack of ethics can many times forge their way into an organization’s cyber presence.  Their ability to monetize information can be just as shocking in its effectiveness as the way they break codes and seize data.

The NCFTA reports that, while cybercrime is a relatively underreported event, consider that over the last five years, the Internet Crime Complaint Center received more than 1.7 million complaints and, in 2019 alone, reported losses exceeding $3.5 billion.

The coronavirus pandemic’s impact on cybersecurity may be that, as pressure increases on budgets as companies recover, resources dedicated to cyber protection get reduced.  Sharing information among peers about cybersecurity best practices helps, as do specific tactics to protect software, hardware, employee activities, regular backups and encryptions.

But not to be forgotten in this collection of cybercrime defense is having adequate and appropriate insurance coverage.  As the types and levels of potential damage from cybercrime can vary, so do the insurance options available to organizations.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can assist you in evaluating your exposure to cybercrime, and in fashioning a coverage package that keeps you and your organization safe.  Because the threat is everywhere, and growing.


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 Claims

Covid-19 has placed a spotlight on insurers, who have been preparing for the waves of inquiries and claims across multiple categories of coverage.

Many insurers, following the 2003 SARS outbreak, introduced exclusion clauses for communicable diseases and epidemics/pandemics into most non-life products such as business interruption and travel insurance.

Because business interruption policies usually pay out only if physical damage occurs to an organization’s assets or operations, coronavirus-related claims may not be covered.  Claims and related litigation have already begun and the marketplace is reacting.

Travel insurance may offer cover if a customer is diagnosed with the virus before or during a trip, but not for travel cancelled because of the pandemic.  The lone exception would be if the policyholder has taken out premium “any cause” cover, but very few do.  The pandemic may actually spur increased interest in such premium policies.

Two major areas to watch are trade credit insurance and workers compensation.

Trade credit insurance covers businesses against debts that can’t be paid by customers or suppliers.  Small-to-medium sized businesses could be hit hard due to supply chain disruption and a crunch in business levels. The cost may hinge on the extent of the pandemic and government restrictions on non-essential businesses.  Claim activity in this sector could spiral quickly.

Regarding workers’ compensation, claims could rise from employees asserting they were not adequately protected by their employers against exposure to the virus brought about by their normal working duties.  Insurers offering this type of coverage to employers should prepare for this level of increased activity.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can guide you in determining how best to safeguard your organization against exposure in the wake of Covid-19.

Source: https://home.kpmg/xx/en/home/insights/2020/03/do-insurers-have-covid-19-covered.html


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.

Sidelined: Loss-of-Use Coverage for Vehicles

We come to rely on our machines – so much so, that we take them for granted, and when they wear out, malfunction, or just plain quit, our reaction can be surprise, anger, or even despair.

Imagine having a vehicle – a truck or car – serving as your business’ sole lifeline to your enterprise.  Making customer deliveries, transporting products as part of the manufacturing process, making sales calls.  Everything depends on that vehicle working reliably and safely, every day.  Then, suddenly, it’s out of service.

Whether for days, weeks, months, or permanently, the loss of that vehicle means loss of your income.  That’s where loss-of-use coverage comes into play.

Loss-of-use coverage essentially provides reimbursement if a vehicle is out of commission while undergoing repairs after an incident. This coverage is not included in policies by default, such as liability coverage.  A loss-of-use claim follows the original accident claim, meaning that your policy would pay for substitute transportation costs. Insurers usually set their own coverage limits by either capping the number of days or providing a per-diem amount for reimbursements.

The terms of a loss-of-use policy can be tricky.  It’s one thing to recover the cost of renting a replacement vehicle.  It’s another to recover lost income.  If your vehicle is your lifeline to making a living, it’s worth checking into what a loss-of-use policy can do for your business.

The professionals at The Reschini Group can help.  Contact them today.


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.thezebra.com/auto-insurance/insurance-guide/what-is-loss-of-use-coverage/

Benefits Blog: Are you an ALE?

The definition of what constitutes an “applicable large employer,” or ALE, can have a significant impact on how that enterprise must arrange for and cover the cost of health care coverage.  Be sure you know whether your organization qualifies as an ALE in the eyes of the federal government, especially the Internal Revenue Service.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires ALEs to offer affordable, minimum value health coverage to their fulltime employees or pay a penalty. This employer mandate is also known as the “employer shared responsibility” or “pay or play” rules.

To qualify as an ALE, an employer must employ, on average, at least 50 full-time employees, including full-time equivalent employees (FTEs), on business days during the preceding calendar year. All employers that employ at least 50 full-time employees, including FTEs, are subject to the ACA’s employer shared responsibility rules, including for-profit, nonprofit and government employers.

A Full-Time Employee is an individual that works, on average, 30 or more hours of service each week. For this purpose, 130 hours in a calendar month is treated as the monthly equivalent of 30 hours of service per week.

Equivalent Full Time Employee counts are determined by looking at part-time employees. Hours worked by employees with fewer than 30 hours per week must be counted—and then divided by 120 per month—to determine the number of FTEs. The number of FTEs is then added to the actual full-time employee count

As you might expect, the definitions surrounding what constitutes affordable, minimum value health coverage can become intricate and technical, as well.  But if you’re an ALE, it’s your responsibility to know the rules and abide by them.

Contact the Benefits Team at The Reschini Group for more information and guidance.


Copyright 2020 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.

Testing Cyber Security Systems

Cybercrime is set to cost companies more than $6 trillion per year by 2021.  That’s trillion, with a T.  Nobody wants to be in that pile.  That’s why testing your systems for cyber security makes a lot of sense.

Three main tests are used to safeguard businesses against cyber attacks:

Vulnerability scannersThis approach assesses the computers in your business network for weaknesses: entry points that can be exploited by cybercriminals hoping to gain access to your data.  Vulnerability scanners act like hackers to investigate these potential vulnerabilities. The aim of a vulnerability scan is to build a strong sense of the state of your cybersecurity setup from an internal and external perspective, identify weaknesses, and improve your security to better protect against these risks.

Penetration testingHere, cybersecurity experts purposefully ‘attack’ a network to review how secure it is. It simulates a real attack, but in a controlled way. As such, the term ‘ethical hacking’ is sometimes applied to penetration testing. While vulnerability scans highlight any weaknesses in your business network, penetration tests take this a step further by determining what kind of malicious activity is possible if those weaknesses are exploited.

Program update checksThese are important because software that is not regularly updated gives attackers more chances of infiltrating your system and your business.  Some program settings may allow automatic software updates, and others will ask your permission. All users should regularly check to ensure that all available updates are accepted (or scheduled for a convenient time) on every device they are responsible for.

The continuously and rapidly evolving cyber world offers tremendous competitive advantages and cost efficiencies.  The dark side of cyber operations moves just as swiftly, though.  Check the status of your cybersecurity insurance by contacting the professionals at The Reschini Group.


Copyright 2020 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.

Excerpted from: https://blog.avast.com/cybersecurity-tests