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7 months ago · by · 1 comment

Creating a Workers’ Compensation Process

For the unprepared, workers’ compensation (WC) issues can be both confusing and costly. Fortunately for employers, there are ways to actively engage WC issues to influence their outcomes.

Through management controls and active involvement in the WC process, your organization can effectively influence related costs. To do so you will have to establish a number of your own processes that guide decision making throughout your organization.

By developing a cohesive workers’ compensation process, you can play an active role in reducing related costs.

Areas requiring WC management can be divided into three main categories. These categories include facets that may range from the simple to the complex, but as a whole, address vital issues that can negatively influence WC costs in your company.

Workplace Safety Means Fewer Claims

Simply put, reducing claims reduces costs. Establishing a safety-minded culture throughout every level of your company is essential to keeping workers injury free. However, establishing such a culture isn’t an overnight solution. To be successful, an ongoing commitment to safety must be made. Such a commitment must be supported by management and given the necessary resources to succeed.

Developing comprehensive safety policies for employees builds a firm foundation for your safety culture to grow. Such policies also encourage OSHA compliance, further improving your safety efforts while helping you avoid costly fines.

Mitigate Loss After an Injury

Unfortunately, even with all the right programs in place, it is still possible for accidents to happen. When a workplace incident occurs how you respond can greatly influence the outcome of the claim. Prompt claim reporting is essential to keeping costs down.

It is also important to have a designated injury management coordinator, someone who can supervise open claims and work with both employees and medical personnel to facilitate the timely recovery.

The longer an employee is out of work the more expensive their claim will be. Return-to-work programs that allow injured employees to come back to work at a limited capacity during the recovery process, are one of the most effective tools business owners have to reduce the severity of a claim.

Managing Your Mod

Insurers use what is known as an experience modification factor, or mod, to calculate the premiums you pay for workers’ compensation coverage. By managing your exposures and promoting safety it is possible to manage your mod and decrease your premium rates.

Like a good safety program, controlling your mod is an ongoing process. To reap the benefits of lower premiums you will have to keep in regular contact with your insurance provider to ensure they have the most accurate data to use in their calculations.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Cyber Risks and Liabilities

McAfee Report Projects Top Cyber Threats of 2016

The McAfee Labs 2016 Threat Predictions report identifies top threats for the coming year as well as predictions for future cyber threats through 2020. The following is a summary of the report’s findings:

Hardware

Attacks that exploit flaws in both hardware and firmware components are expected to continue; security experts recommend being mindful of this potential avenue of exploitation below the level of the operating system.

Ransomware

Target Agrees to Pay a Nearly $40 Million Settlement

Target has just agreed to settle another huge class-action lawsuit stemming from the retailer’s 2013 data breach. Read on to learn who is getting paid and just how costly that data breach has been for the company.

Target has agreed to pay $39.4 million to settle a class-action lawsuit stemming from its 2013 data breach. The suit was filed on behalf of card issuers, banks and credit unions that had to give new cards to customers after their data was stolen from the retailer. This is just one of a number of lawsuits that have been filed since the data breach, and Target claims that it’s paid about $290 million in costs related to the breach.

Survey Finds Global Companies Worried About Cyber Threat Detection and Defense

According to EY’s Global Information Security Survey (GISS) 2015, “Creating trust in the digital world,” 88 percent of global organizations believe that their information security architecture doesn’t meet their current security needs. In fact, 36 percent aren’t confident that they even have the ability to detect sophisticated cyber attacks.

When asked about the source of cyber attacks, respondents named criminal syndicates (59 percent), employees (56 percent) and hacktivists (54 percent) as their top concerns. To meet this threat, 69 percent of respondents said that they’d like to increase their cyber security budgets by as much as 50 percent.

Cyber Information Sharing Act Passed as Part of Spending Bill

The Cyber Information Sharing Act (CISA), a significant piece of cyber security legislation, was added to the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama last month. CISA is designed to encourage companies to cooperate with one another and with governmental agencies when disclosing and sharing information about identified cyber security threats, in part, by offering immunity to companies as a result of sharing that information.

Proponents of CISA say that sharing information will allow both the government and the private sector to respond to threats more quickly and efficiently. Critics, however, worry about the privacy of sensitive customer and patient data.

Ransomware attacks will likely become more common and more sophisticated. “Ransomware-as-a-service” is expected to continue growing, which will allow inexperienced cyber criminals access to the ransomware. Additionally, experts predict that ransomware will expand beyond Windows and also start targeting the increasingly popular Mac OSX.

Wearables

Wearable devices are becoming much more popular. While these devices don’t store very sensitive data themselves, they do connect to smartphones via Bluetooth, offering criminals a new potential “back door” into a user’s smartphone. The report suggests that cyber criminals might, for instance, use GPS data gathered from a user’s fitness tracker to create spear-phishing email attacks that the user is more likely to open.

Automobiles

Wired magazine stunned the automotive world in July 2015 when it ran a feature story outlining how a couple of enterprising hackers remotely commandeered a Jeep Cherokee. Experts predict a rise in the number of exploited zero-day vulnerabilities, but even identified threats pose a problem, because some companies cannot issue remote updates to certain car models.

Integrity

Integrity attacks represent a new, and potentially costly, type of cyber attack that most companies have seen in the past. Unlike other cyber attacks in which criminals simply damage or steal data, integrity attacks involve criminals selectively and surgically altering data in communications or transactions in ways that benefit them.

Experts anticipate integrity attacks will heavily affect the financial sector in 2016 as criminals find methods of intercepting and redirecting their targets’ legitimate transactions to their own bank accounts.

The report also mentioned that employees’ home systems, Cloud services and cyber espionage are likely cyber threats in the coming year. Regardless of the source, it’s clear that guarding yourself from cyber attacks involves identifying your exposures and developing strategies to protect yourself from each developing risk. Contact your advisor at Scurich Insurance today to ensure your cyber risks are appropriately covered.

Moody’s to Consider Cyber Attacks in Credit Assessments

Moody’s Investors Service announced recently that cyber attacks are becoming a larger part of the agency’s credit assessment and analysis processes. While Moody’s made it clear that it doesn’t consider cyber risk a principal credit factor, the agency has begun assessing cyber attacks as “event risks.” An event risk is a rare but potentially severe risk, much like a storm or other natural disaster that the company includes in its stress tests as it runs its credit analyses.

The growing number and severity of cyber attacks have made such a move necessary, as companies find themselves sometimes paying hundreds of millions of dollars to counteract the damage of a single data breach. Moody’s has released a report highlighting three important areas for companies to think about when considering the credit impact of a cyber attack:

  • The type and importance of the affected asset or business
  • The duration of the service disruption
  • The scope of the business or assets affected by the cyber attack

For help assessing your cyber liabilities, contact Scurich Insurance today.

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7 months ago · by · 0 comments

Is Using Social Media Right for Your Business?

Social media and networking websites are extremely popular. Creating a social media presence for your company is something that should be thought through carefully, taking into account many factors. Interacting on social media just because “everyone else is doing it” is not a good enough reason when you consider the risks social media presents. However, the benefits can include the ability to help your company connect with tech bloggers, current and future clients, and potential job candidates.

Social networking has the ability to get your message across to thousands of people very quickly, which makes it a priceless public relations and viral marketing tool. However, popular social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter, can present a significant hazard to your company and its reputation, depending on how you and your employees use them.

Social networking sites can help your company connect with clients and recruit job candidates. The key to social networking is to use it in a way that not only gets your name out there, but maintains a positive image of your company.

Industry leaders are constantly recommending social networking sites as places to advertise, and as tools to interact and connect with current and future customers. Although, not all publicity is good publicity. It is important to project a positive company image, which you can do through setting up your own social networking account; but it is just as imperative that you control other users’ conversations about you.

What Others Are Saying About You

Facebook, the largest social networking site today based on monthly unique visitors, has more than one billion active users. According to Facebook’s user statistics, the fastest-growing group of users is people older than 35, which means it is becoming increasingly likely that your workforce is getting involved with social networking.

While this has many potential benefits, you also want to be careful no one — whether it is a competitor, former or current employees — is tarnishing your company’s name or reputation. The same holds true for blogs, where damaging content may appear without your consent.

The key to keeping your risk low is identity management. The best way to prevent Internet buzz from becoming a hazard is to monitor the use of your company name. Set up an alert or periodically type it into a search engine to make sure that your official website is the top hit and that nothing offensive comes up in the first 20 hits, which is statistically as far as most people will dig in a search.

If you do find references to your company name in the first 20 hits that could be hazardous to your business or your reputation, you have a few options. If social networking sites are the culprit, consider enacting a policy prohibiting employees from mentioning the company name on their personal sites. Explain the negative outcomes this could have for business and help employees understand how acting as poor representation of the company through scandalous photos or negative comments on a social networking site could affect them directly.

How to Handle the Negative

If negative or derogatory comments about your company have seeped into other sites outside the control of your employees, however, the risk to your business is even greater. What’s more, this type of hazardous publicity is more difficult to manage. One approach is to try to increase the amount of positive information about your company on the Internet so that the negative write-ups are no longer within the top search results. Contacting sites and asking them to remove fictitious and defamatory material is another option.

If you have a serious public relations issue and your company’s reputation or legitimacy is on the line because of material on the Internet or social networking sites, it could cost you thousands of dollars in lost business. Consider hiring an identity management or public relations company, which will help organize, analyze and control the information about your organization that appears on the Internet.

Using Social Networks to Learn More About Candidates

The practice of using social networking sites to further research potential employees and weed out candidates based on content in these sites is risky. Not only does it cause you to dabble in issues of legality, but it also could place you in thorny situations when it comes to personal differences you become aware of via social networking tools.

A study conducted by Harris Interactive for CareerBuilder.com revealed that 45 percent of employers are already using social networking sites to screen job candidates. This is nearly double the number of employers who did this one year ago. Before you engage in this practice, know what types of hazards you face.

The most obvious problem with this practice is how difficult it is to draw lines between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. According to the Harris Interactive study, more than half the employers interviewed said provocative photos on a social networking site were the largest contributing factor when a potential employee was not hired.

But who gets to define what constitutes provocative, and does the candidate have the right to find out this is the reason he or she was not hired? Social networking is such a new trend, especially among the older workforce, that there are currently no ethical benchmarks in place.

By using social networking sites as a filtering tool, you are exposing yourself to potential lawsuits. Many users post personal information such as their religion and age. Even if you decide not to hire them for legal reasons, such as improper educational qualifications, the candidate could accuse you of basing the decision not to hire on information obtained from their social networking site.

There is no right or wrong answer regarding whether Internet research on candidates is a good idea, so it is up to your company to weigh the options. Whatever you choose, remember to examine the underlying risks and consider all feasible scenarios and outcomes to make the most informed decision possible.

Please contact Scurich Insurance for more information about this increasingly popular trend.

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Scurich Insurance Services
Phone: (831) 661-5697
Fax: (831) 661-5741

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783 Rio Del Mar Blvd., Suite7,
Aptos, Ca 95003-4700

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PO Box 1170
Watsonville, CA 95077-1170

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(831) 661-5697

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