The Insurance Buzz

Written By: Scott Costello

It goes without saying that people love talking about insurance. Accordingly, I’m extremely popular at parties because people are dying to know the latest happenings in the thrilling world of insurance and risk management. Let not your heart be troubled, dear reader, because you no longer have to feel awkward stalking me at an upcoming party as I intend to share the cutting edge, heart-pounding developments from the world of insurance with you. You’re welcome.

Cyber Liability– Also known as privacy or data breach liability, this has become the product du jour in the marketplace. It doesn’t take long to find headlines decrying the latest breach in customer or employee data that costs a medical facility or financial firm thousands in notification and third party expenses. But, this exposure is not confined to the mega-firms. According to VISA, 85 percent of data breaches occur at the small-company level. The good news is that coverage is more and more available, and it has become fairly inexpensive relative to the early pricing. If you have any type of database, store personal information about customers or employees or transact business online, you likely have an exposure. We recommend that, at the very least, you talk with your agent about potential exposures for both first- and third-party losses. Failure to do so could result in tens of thousands of dollars worth of notification expenses alone.

Employment Practice Liability- This was the hot new coverage about 10 years ago, but the marketplace has now matured. Simply put, this liability coverage can come to the aid of employers who find themselves on the wrong side of wrongful termination, harassment or discrimination suits from employees, former employees and third parties. We’ve seen the frequency of these types of claims escalate year to year on a steady basis. Unfortunately, we’ve seen pricing for this type of coverage also increase as a result. Additionally, coverage is being trimmed back with exclusions instituted for common sources of claims like the Fair Labor Standards Act (Wage and Hour). Those with claim activity are also being offered higher deductibles. These policies are not created equal among insurance companies, so be sure you’re talking to an agent who can compare coverage forms on your behalf.

Workers Compensation Underwriting– With rates staying relatively flat in Florida from 2013 to 2014 and medical costs rising, profits are being squeezed for carriers writing workers’ compensation. We are seeing higher instances of pullbacks on dividends being offered by carriers to their customers who have few or no claims. We’re also seeing underwriting tightening across the board. Further, those with an experience modifier and less-than-stellar claims experience are feeling the pinch of dramatic increases in their modifiers. Carriers are looking for companies with strong commitments to workplace safety. Regular safety meetings, written safety manuals, pre-employment physicals and formal “Back to Work” programs are all attractive to underwriters. Beyond that, they are the best means of getting rising experience modifiers under control.

Flood Insurance- A new provision of a 2012 federal act involving flood insurance took effect on Oct. 1, 2013, and removed federal subsidies for an estimated 20 percent of flood policyholders. Florida lawmakers, including Gov. Scott and Senator Bill Nelson have publicly lambasted the law’s impact on Floridians, but, with the mess in Washington, there is no clear solution in sight.

There you have it, you’re now equipped to dazzle and amaze at your next cocktail party. Remember, when in doubt about a conversation starter, always lead with insurance!

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