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Category Archives: Business

“Reading the Policy” Means Reading Every Word

Every insurance professional has had experience with small policy language changes that have big effects (usually negative) on coverage. Sometimes it’s a single word—added, deleted, or altered—that fundamentally changes the way a policy will respond to a given loss exposure, and those language differences are obviously the hardest to deal with, or even to find.

Take a look, for example, at this phrase from a modified commercial general liability (CGL) policy “aircraft, auto or watercraft” exclusion: “… the ownership, nonownership, maintenance, use or entrustment to others of any auto.…”

The term nonowership, of course, has a long tradition in commercial automobile insurance. It provides liability coverage for automobiles the insured does not own, hire, lease, rent, or borrow but that are used in connection with the named insured’s business. It includes autos owned by employees, partners, or members of their households used in connection with the business. So, it’s not a strange coverage term … in an auto policy. But remember, the policy under discussion is a CGL policy.

A knowledgeable CGL insured doesn’t expect to have coverage for liability arising out of the ownership, maintenance, or use of autos. But that same insured will expect to have CGL coverage in connection with auto-related exposures when some unrelated third party—for whose activities the insured does not otherwise have any legal responsibility—is the owner, operator, or user of an auto. (The use of vehicles by an independent contractor doing work for the insured is a common example. In such situations, the insured’s liability arising out of the nonownership of an auto is an important feature of CGL coverage, although few people would be likely to describe the exposure using that term.)

In this instance, the CGL insurer that was excluding coverage for the “nonownership of any auto” was one that markets its policies to firms with large land holdings, industrial operations, or retail establishments with substantial vehicular traffic. Warehouses, industrial sites, timber operations, quarries, and entertainment venues are examples. These risks typically have heavy traffic on their premises and perhaps personnel directing traffic in and out. An exclusion applicable to the “nonownership” of autos wipes out general liability coverage for these common exposures.

The modified exclusion in question was imposed in the middle of 1 of 23 pages of endorsements to a standard CGL policy. While it resulted in a material, and important, reduction in coverage, it could easily have gone unnoticed by an insured—or that insured’s insurance professional—unless every word of the policy and its endorsements were read carefully.

Source: International Risk Management Institute, Inc. (IRMI)


Contingent Business Interruption Insurance

Just one brief business interruption can be incredibly costly for an organization, often leading to serious reputational damages or long-term closures. Standard business interruption policies are vital in these instances, providing protection against a variety of common interruptions, including natural disasters, equipment damage and vandalism.

But what happens when one of your suppliers or customers experiences an interruption that derails your operations? To help address this concern, contingent business interruption (CBI) insurance is crucial.

What is CBI Insurance?

Unlike traditional business interruption insurance that compensates the policyholder for a loss resulting from damage to its own property, CBI insurance lets businesses transfer the risk of certain losses to the property of a third party. CBI insurance is an optional extension of business interruption insurance that reimburses lost profits and extra expenses resulting from an interruption of business at the premises of a customer or supplier. Coverage is typically triggered by physical damage to a customer’s or supplier’s property, or to property on which the insured company depends.

In the policy itself, the covered third party property may be specifically named, or the coverage may simply blanket all customers and suppliers. There are a variety of scenarios where this type of coverage is useful:

  • When an insured business depends on a single supplier or a handful of suppliers for materials. In these instances, CBI insurance can help the insured stay afloat should they experience a break in the supply chain.
  • When a business relies on a single or a few key customers to purchase goods or services. For instance, if a natural disaster affects your primary customers and they are no longer able to purchase your goods, CBI insurance can provide coverage for lost revenue.
  • When a business depends on a nearby attraction or neighbouring commercial operation for customers. For instance, if your business is located next to an amusement park that attracts new customers to your store and that park closes down, CBI insurance can respond in kind and help keep your doors open.

When in place, CBI insurance can help employers cover ongoing expenses—like payroll and rent—should the insured’s revenue stream be impacted by interruptions at a third party. In many cases, it is not necessary that the customer’s or supplier’s property be totally shut down to trigger CBI insurance.

CBI coverage is provided for a covered loss during the “period of restoration.” This is a time frame specified by the insurer and relates to the reasonable amount of time it should take for the affected property to repair any damages and resume normal operations.

Evaluating Your CBI Needs

To truly understand your CBI insurance needs, it’s important to assess your exposures. CBI exposures will differ depending on the industry you operate in, but are most common in manufacturing, retail, hospitality and professional services.

Prior to meeting with your insurance broker and securing coverage, ask yourself the following:

  • If there is a temporary production stoppage at one or more of my suppliers, can my business survive? How long?
  • How much of my company’s operations rely on another entity?
  • Do I have alternative suppliers in place should an interruption occur?
  • Do I rely on one or a few customers to purchase the bulk of my products? Do I rely on a neighbouring business to attract customers to me?

To get started or to learn more about CBI insurance, contact your insurance broker today.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved


Reduce Your Exposures During Work Events

Businesses host parties for a variety of reasons, including the holidays and organizational accomplishments. While these events are fun, team-building opportunities, they can create a number of risks for the hosting company. In fact, in the event that an employee is injured at the party or causes property damage, the employer is usually the one held responsible. This can lead to costly litigation and reputational harm that can affect a company for years.

To avoid major losses, it’s not only important for employers to secure the right insurance coverage for every individual risk, but to also have a thorough understanding of common holiday party exposures.

Alcohol

Anytime you provide alcohol to individuals in a non-commercial manner, you are considered a social host. This is important to note, as a social host may be responsible for the acts of their guests should their conduct create harm. These risks are compounded when alcohol is served, and employers may be liable for damages following a drunken driving accident or similar incident.

While the best way to reduce alcohol liability risks is to avoid serving it altogether, this isn’t always feasible. To promote the safety of your employees and guests at company-sponsored events, consider the following:

  • Hold the event off-site at a restaurant or hotel.
  • Provide plenty of food and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the night.
  • Serve drinks to guests rather than offering a self-serve bar. Limit the amount of alcohol you will serve. Require servers to measure spirits.
  • Set up bar stations instead of having servers circulate the room. Place table tents at each bar that remind employees and guests to drink responsibly.
  • Don’t price alcohol too low, as it encourages overconsumption. Offer a range of low-alcohol and alcohol-free drinks at no charge.
  • Close the bar an hour before the scheduled end of the party. Do not offer a “last call,” as this promotes rapid consumption.
  • Entice guests to take advantage of safe transportation options by subsidizing taxis or promoting a designated driver program.

Marijuana Consumption

Similar to alcohol use, marijuana and other drug consumption can directly affect the safety of your party guests. In fact, according to the most recent data from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, approximately 34 per cent of vehicle crash deaths can be linked to drug-impaired driving, which is nearly as many as those related to alcohol.

Marijuana contains hundreds of chemicals, many of which act directly on the body and brain. Individual sensitivity to marijuana can vary, but the general effects include the following:

  • Dizziness, drowsiness, light-headedness, fatigue and headaches
  • Impaired memory, concentration and ability to make decisions
  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Suspiciousness, nervousness, anxiety, paranoia and hallucinations
  • Impaired motor skills and perception
  • Dry mouth, throat irritation and coughing
  • Increased heartbeat

These health effects can last long after an employee smoked, increasing the potential for accidents or major health concerns. In addition, federal, provincial and local laws may prohibit marijuana use in certain areas, making it all the more important to educate employees on behaviour expectations.

To keep your party guests safe and avoid any liability concerns, consider making clear rules for marijuana use at your party. Remind employees that even though they are at a social event, they are still attending a work function and workplace policies on the use of marijuana still apply.

Workplace Harassment and Discrimination

Even when holding company-sponsored events off-site, employers are expected to enforce their workplace policies and safeguard their employees. In particular, employers must pay extra care to prevent issues of harassment and discrimination at their events, as they can lead to employment claims and costly litigation.

To help keep employees safe at company parties, employers should ensure all of their policies related to harassment, violence, discrimination and code of conduct are up to date and account for company-sponsored events. Policies should be specific as to what is and is not tolerated, and redistributed them as thoroughly as possible.

In addition, employers should:

  • Consider making the event a family party where employees can bring their spouse, significant other, children or a friend. This can help deter inappropriate behaviour.
  • Keep event themes and decorations appropriate. Parties should be neutral and not make reference to specific religions or beliefs. In addition, plan your party on a day that does not conflict with religious holidays.
  • Consider having just one entrance to your party. This will allow you to control who enters the venue and ensure that uninvited guests do not attended.
  • Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behaviour. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
  • Avoid making attendance for company-sponsored events mandatory.

Food Exposures

Food is a staple of many company-sponsored events, and can actually be a useful way to keep party guest sober and limit alcohol-related liability (starchy foods can help reduce the absorption of alcohol). However, when serving food, there are a number of risks employers should consider.

For instance, employers need to be wary of potential food allergies. In the event that a guest gets sick from the food, they could sue the employer for negligence.

To help protect against this, employers should ask party guests to disclose any of their allergies, either in their RSVP or by contacting the event coordinator directly. In addition, you should specify what ingredients are in every food item, both on the menu and on display cards near the food itself.

For added protection against illnesses, it’s critical that employers promote safe food preparation and handling practices. Moreover, when working with a third-party provider, employers should do their due diligence to ensure they are securing reputable vendors.

Property Damage

Property damage can occur at just about any kind of party, even small, company-sponsored events. As the host, it’s your job to ensure your guests remain safe, behave appropriately and respect the venue and its contents.

To do so, employers should:

  • Set behaviour expectations before the party.
  • Have supervisors and managers chaperone the event, looking closely for inappropriate behaviour. Hire third-party security personnel as needed.
  • Remove valuable items from the party area wherever possible. Make sure any areas that you don’t want guests to enter are locked, roped off or secured in some way.
  • Review your liability insurance and know what it covers.
  • Ensure the venue is equipped to handle the number of individuals invited to the party.

Secure the Coverage You Need in Advance

Even if you take all the appropriate precautions, incidents can still occur. As such, it’s important for all organizations to secure adequate insurance.

Each business is different, and may require additional policies to account for all of their exposures. Contact your insurance broker to learn about your coverage options when it comes to hosting a party.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved


Conducting Workplace Investigations

Workplace investigations are crucial when it comes to establishing a safe and welcoming work environment. There are many reasons you may have to conduct a workplace investigation, including:

  • Employee behaviour, including concerns of discrimination, harassment or threats
  • Suspected substance use
  • Violations of workplace rules and workplace theft

Investigations are often complex and can involve navigating sensitive topics and disputes. More than ever before, companies face irreversible reputational damage and negative publicity if they mishandle workplace investigations.

To navigate workplace investigations properly, detailed interviews are key. Interviews can provide a clear understanding of an incident and help employers determine what, if any, disciplinary action should be taken. Employers will want to decide:

  1. Who to interview—Interviews should be conducted with respondents, complainants and witnesses at a minimum. It’s a good idea to only interview those who have information relevant to the case. It may also be helpful to have more than one investigator present during the interview.
  2. What order to interview—Employers should be cognizant of the interview order. Generally, businesses should interview the complainant first, any witnesses second and the respondent third. Schedule follow-up interviews as needed. Each subject should be informed that the interview process is confidential.
  3. What to ask during interviews—Questions should be written and prepared ahead of time. These questions should be a mix of open- and close-ended questions. Above all, interview questions should help investigators gather details related to times, dates, locations, individuals involved and other witnesses. Sample questions include:
    1. What happened? When and where did it happen?
    2. Who was present? Who did or said what?
    3. Why did it happen? Is there evidence? Who else may have relevant information?

Interview responses and other relevant details should be recorded throughout the investigative process. Investigators should take detailed notes, which will help during the review process.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved


5 Tips to Make Your Passwords More Secure

Because identity theft and data breaches are becoming an ever-growing problem, it’s important to not only have a different password for each account, but to make those passwords easy to remember and hard to guess. The following are tips you can use to make your password harder to crack:

  1. Change your passwords every 90 days. This might seem like a hassle at first, but hackers have a better chance at cracking your passwords if they never change. It’s also a good idea to avoid reusing passwords.
  2. Make your passwords at least eight characters long. Generally, the longer a password is, the harder it is to guess.
  3. Don’t use the same password for each account. Hackers target lower security websites and then test cracked passwords on higher security sites. Make sure each account has a different password.
  4. Include uppercase letters and special characters in your password. Special characters include symbols like “#,” “*,” “+” and “>.” These symbols can make your password more complex and harder to guess.
  5. Avoid using the names of spouses, kids or pets in your password. All it takes for a hacker to crack passwords that include these things is a little research on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.

© Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved


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