From the category archives: Insurance Protection Blog

Commercial

Umbrella Coverage: Protect Your Exposed Assets

There's no doubt that we live in a litigious society.  Jury awards continue to bankrupt individuals and many small companies.  Some trial lawyers constantly search for deep pockets, and reach far and wide for defendants.  Underwriters continue to be amazed to find seemingly unconnected insureds "invited to the dance." The most common protection for a business, or for an individual of means, to use against a crippling judgment, is an umbrella policy.  Umbrellas provide high limits of liability, usually with a small ($10,000 is typical-and this is sometimes waived) self-insured retention, above those offered by primary Commercial General Liability and Auto Liability policies.  Umbrellas may also provide coverage for certain losses not covered by primary policies.  Professional exposures such as Directors and Officers Liability or Errors and Omissions coverage, are excluded from "conventional" umbrella policies.  High limits for those risks are available from specialty markets ...
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Intellectual Property Liability Is Everywhere - But Where Is The Coverage?

It seems as though virtually anything created can be patented, copyrighted, trademarked or otherwise protected.  Oddly enough, even with patent protection there is danger. It is easy to believe that if you hold a patent, copyright or trademark you cannot possibly infringe on someone else's intellectual property - but that's not true. George Harrison certainly had a copyright on his song "My Sweet Lord" but that didn't prevent highly publicized and successful litigation against him due to its similarity to the old Shirelle's hit "He's So Fine" in the 1970's.   With an average cost of $1.2 million to litigate, patent infringement trials weigh in as one of the most expensive types of litigation in the US today.  What was once the realm of the individual like Ben Franklin or Thomas Edison, or the very nearly individual (think Wright Brothers), has now become big business.  IBM, which annually tops the list of companies applying for and receiving patents, has received over 22,000 patents ...
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Environmentally Friendly Insurance for Small Business

If you've ever considered owning a small business, or are considering owning one, you've probably heard all the usual advice.  Make sure you have enough capital.  Only let family run the cash register.  Don't take in a partner without an ironclad contract.   Location, location, location. What you may not have heard is this one: Be careful you don't get nailed with hazardous waste remediation and lose your shirt. How could that happen?  You're not opening a nuclear reactor, just an ice cream shop. Aha!  What if the site you select for your ice cream shop ends up being in a district where the water is found to contain too many parts per million of some noxious substance or another and you have to close down or move?  Or worse, be permitted to stay, but be required by local government to hang a sign at the order window telling customers they drink your sodas at their own risk?  It has happened to a shop in the town of Finksburg, Maryland. Fortunately, the local pop ...
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Managing Diversity - What An Employer Needs To Know

"Managing Diversity" is a critical human resources function for organizations large and small.  All too often, though, executives and managers lose sight of what diversity means from a legal and moral perspective, and the message then gets lost in the translation when it comes to the rank and file employee. In 1997 the Department of the Interior identified diversity for its workforce as a crucial issue and provided the following definition of diversity for its own management purposes: "The term 'diversity' is used broadly to refer to many demographic variables, including, but not limited to, racial, religious, color, gender, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age, education, geographic origin, and skill characteristics...  Managing diversity is a comprehensive process for developing a workplace environment that is productive for all employees... The term 'diversity' is also used narrowly in employment recruiting and retention efforts to refer to race/national origin, gender, or dis ...
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Understanding the Role of Loss Mitigation Insurance

Loss Mitigation Insurance transfers an unknown or unwanted exposure from one company to an insurance company for a price. LMI caps what would otherwise be an unknown amount and is particularly effective if the company with the liability is in the process of merging or being acquired. Employers of all sizes can benefit from a LMI policy. The coverage helps risk managers dispose of costly litigation that could damage the bottom-line and impair their ability to complete a refinancing arrangement. Before LMI, when an uncertainty in a merger or acquisition came up, both sides walked away until the lawsuit or financial impediment was resolved. One solution used in such cases required the seller to deposit funds into an escrow account to cover the estimated losses from the claim or lawsuit. This tied up capital and there was no guarantee that the amount deposited would be enough to cover the final settlement. With a LMI policy, these problems can be resolved and the transaction put on track again. LMI Takes Many ...
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Why Your Company May Need Product Liability Insurance

If your company manufactures any kind of product, from lemonade to engines, computers to clothing, it could easily find itself on the wrong side of a lawsuit by a plaintiff claiming your product(s) caused some kind of injury or damage. In today's litigious society, it is not even necessary for you to be the manufacturer of the product. Sellers are often sued alongside the manufacturers. It's only natural that people want to be safe from injury and property damage whether from food poisoning, getting into an auto accident due to tire failure, or having the foundation of their home crack, but how do protect your company from liability? The answer may be with product liability insurance. Most liability claims are covered as part of your company's commercial general liability (CGL) policy. However, products that are particularly likely to lead to liability may be handled separately. As part of a sound risk management program, you should know well in advance how your current coverage would respond to such clai ...
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Sarbanes-Oxley Act Changes Rules for Privately-Owned Businesses

Responding to a number of scandals involving fraud at publicly owned companies, the U.S. Congress in 2002 enacted a new law intended to make undetected fraud less likely to occur.  The law applies only to public companies, mainly those whose securities are registered in accordance with the Securities Exchange Act.  Even so, experts predict that it will have an enormous impact on private companies as well.  Among the changes many businesses, public and private, will undergo are creating mechanisms for fraud whistle blowing by employees, adapting to a different relationship with their external auditors, upgrading internal financial controls, becoming much more aggressive at preventing fraud, and improving audit committee accountability.  This magnitude of change is why the Sarbanes-Oxley Act has been variously described as "a paradigm shift" in how companies do business and "a whole new way of thinking about corporate governance."           ...
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Certificates of Insurance - A Prudent Means to Avoid Costly Claims

More and more companies are hiring independent contractors to handle not only administrative matters, such as benefits and human resources, but also sales and distribution. With this delegation of authority to third-party suppliers comes less direct control over these operations, and greater becomes the need for clients to demand that vendors provide them with timely Certificates of Insurance (COI). The COI proves that the insured (the third party) has purchased the insurance coverages as required by the outsourcing client. But, the COI also states that the holder of the certificate has no legal right to be covered by the insurance described in the COI, nor does it amend, extend or alter the represented coverage. The COI only shows that the outside contractor has the insurance coverage as explained on the certificate. This protects the business that has contracted with the third party against liability for negligence caused by the independent contractor up to the limits of the policy. It is the responsibili ...
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Workers' Comp Claims for Mental Illness May Be Difficult to Diagnose, But Are Real in Today's Workplace

When one thinks of workers' compensation, images of workplace accidents and occupational diseases come to mind. Though the vast majority of workers' compensation cases do involve claims for physical injuries and conditions, a small-but potentially growing-portion of workers' compensation cases are based on mental or psychological claims, particularly related to stress experienced on the job. Mental workers' compensation cases fall into one of three categories: physical/mental, mental/physical, or mental/mental. A physical/mental claim involves a workplace physical injury that has progressed to a mental condition or disability; an example would be a back injury that lingers, and that results in the worker lapsing into clinical depression. A mental/physical claim involves a psychological condition arising out of the worker's employment that has caused a physical illness; an example would be workplace-induced stress that causes ulcers. A mental/mental claim involves a psychological occurrence in the course of e ...
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Workers' Comp Claims for Mental Illness May Be Difficult to Diagnose, But Are Real in Today's Workplace

When one thinks of workers' compensation, images of workplace accidents and occupational diseases come to mind. Though the vast majority of workers' compensation cases do involve claims for physical injuries and conditions, a small-but potentially growing-portion of workers' compensation cases are based on mental or psychological claims, particularly related to stress experienced on the job. Mental workers' compensation cases fall into one of three categories: physical/mental, mental/physical, or mental/mental. A physical/mental claim involves a workplace physical injury that has progressed to a mental condition or disability; an example would be a back injury that lingers, and that results in the worker lapsing into clinical depression. A mental/physical claim involves a psychological condition arising out of the worker's employment that has caused a physical illness; an example would be workplace-induced stress that causes ulcers. A mental/mental claim involves a psychological occurrence in the course of e ...
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