The Corporate D&O Implications of COVID-19

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As the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts life in the United States and around the world, company after company has issued corporate statements regarding the virus.

These statements are important. Given the rapidly changing and high stress nature of the situation, however, it is easy to say the wrong thing. In some cases, these statements could even open the door to directors and officers (D&O) exposures.

The Hardening D&O Market

D&O is a type of liability insurance that covers the directors and officers of a company. It covers a range of claims related to the management of the organization, including shareholder suits and breach of fiduciary duty.

As we’re currently seeing with many other commercial insurance lines, D&O rates have been rising. According to Property Casualty 360, several factors are at play, including securities action lawsuits with higher settlements, social issues including the #MeToo movement and leadership coverups, and growing cyber security issues.

Now COVID-19 could add to the list.

The Coronavirus Impact

According to Carrier Management, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact D&O litigation. In fact, at least two lawsuits have already been filed. One is against Norwegian Cruise Lines, and it alleges that the cruise line used unproven or false statements about COVID-19 to encourage customers to purchase cruises. The other lawsuit is against Inovio Pharmaceuticals, and it alleges that the CEO made inaccurate claims regarding its work on a COVID-19 vaccine, causing the company’s stocks to soar before dropping.

This may be just the beginning. As the pandemic continues, more lawsuits could emerge. Businesses should proceed carefully to reduce their liability.

Avoiding Lawsuits      Read More 

IRS Issues Guidance on Tax Credits for Coronavirus Paid Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

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Small and midsize employers may begin using two new refundable payroll tax credits to obtain reimbursement for the costs of providing coronavirus-related leave to their employees, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced on March 20, 2020.

This relief is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Act), which was enacted on March 18, 2020. The Act provides funds for employers with fewer than 500 employees to provide paid leave, either for their employees’ own health needs or to care for their family members. The Act aims to help employers keep workers on their payrolls while ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Highlights of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Paid Leave Requirements

The federal coronavirus relief law requires employers to provide paid sick and family leave for COVID-19-related reasons, including lack of child care.

Employer Tax Credits

Eligible employers may claim two tax credits based on the COVID-19-related paid leave that they provide between April 2 and Dec. 31, 2020.

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M. Brant Watson
Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers
D:  (925) 295-2506
M:  (925) 330-1151
Email brantw@heffins.com

Why Business Should Prepare Now for Insurance Market Hardening

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You might not realize it, but times have been pretty good for insurance customers. Although there have been some exceptions, for the most part, premiums have been steady or even reducing for years now. This may be about to change.

Why are market conditions changing? Because insurers are experiencing higher than expected losses. According to the 2019 A.M. Best Market Segment Report, the reported combined ratio for the P&C insurance industry has been above 100 – indicating an underwriting loss – since 2016. In 2017, the combined ratio reached 104.

If these losses continue, rate increases will follow. Securing coverage may become more challenging. Essentially, we may be looking at a hard market.

What’s driving higher-than-expected losses?
With property insurance, natural disasters are mostly to blame. The A.M. Best report says that Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria contributed to near-record high U.S. catastrophe losses in 2017, with net catastrophe losses of $53 billion. Then in late 2018, the U.S. was hit with Hurricane Michael as well as the California wildfires, resulting in net catastrophe losses of more than $37 billion.
How can you prepare for a hard market?
Brant Watson
Senior VP
D: 925.295.2506
C: 925.330.1151

How Employers Can Help Fight Opioid Addiction

Opioid addiction has reached a crisis point, and the impact is reaching workplaces around the country. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety:

  • Opioids killed more than 47,600 people in the U.S. in 2017.
  • Two-thirds of self-reported illicit opioid users were employed either full or part time.
  • In 2017, 272 overdose deaths occurred in the workplace, a 25 percent increase from 2013. This accounts for 5.3 percent of all occupational injury deaths.
  • Workers with substance use disorder miss 14.8 days each year on average, and workers with pain medication use disorder miss 29 days on average. For most employees, the average number of missed days is only 10.5.
The Causes of Addiction      Read More 

Want more information contact me.
Best Regards,
M. Brant Watson
Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers
D: (925) 295-2506
M: (925) 330-1151

Social Inflation: A Concerning – and Costly – Trend

Social inflation generally refers to the rising costs of insurance claims that are a result of societal trends and views toward increased litigation, broader contract interpretations, plaintiff friendly legal decisions, and larger jury awards.
What is causing social inflation?
There are four major factors that are driving social inflation in the United States today. They are litigation funding, the erosion of tort reform, negative public sentiment toward larger businesses and corporations, and desensitization to large jury awards.
There are four major factors that are driving social inflation in the United States today. They are litigation funding, the erosion of tort reform, negative public sentiment toward larger businesses and corporations, and desensitization to large jury awards.
Leverage your insurance partners. This means working with an independent insurance agent to make sure he or she understands your business and associated risks, and assists you in updating your insurance coverages and limits accordingly.

Just Contact me.
M. Brant Watson
Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers
Office 800-234-6787
Mobile  925-330-1151

Workplace Harassment Prevention

We’ve partnered with ThinkHR to offer a solution to clients who are required to comply with this new law. ThinkHR has developed a completely new product to meet state requirements called Workplace Harassment Prevention.  Workplace Harassment Prevention gives employers access to new and existing mandated training courses and best practices for updating policies and procedures, reporting incidents, and following up on complaints within each state they operate.
What Every Employer Needs to Know

California has expanded its current sexual harassment training standards for employers beginning January 1, 2019. The newly expanded law requires all employers with five or more employees, including temporary and seasonal employees, to train all supervisory and non supervisory employees in California by January 1, 2020.
As part of your People Risk Management strategy, ThinkHR offers workplace harassment prevention courses for both managers and employees, including specialized harassment training for the states of California, Connecticut, Maine, and New York. Each course incorporates the necessary state references to meet the standards for California’s sexual harassment prevention training.
Want to know more about the California law? Read more here.
Want more information contact me.
Best Regards,
M. Brant Watson
Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers
D: (925) 295-2506
M: (925) 330-1151

What is Social Inflation?

Social inflation generally refers to the rising costs of insurance claims that are a result of societal trends and views toward increased litigation, broader contract interpretations, plaintiff friendly legal decisions, and larger jury awards.

What is causing social inflation?
There are four major factors that are driving social inflation in the United States today. They are litigation funding, the erosion of tort reform, negative public sentiment toward larger businesses and corporations, and desensitization to large jury awards.
There are four major factors that are driving social inflation in the United States today. They are litigation funding, the erosion of tort reform, negative public sentiment toward larger businesses and corporations, and desensitization to large jury awards.
Leverage your insurance partners. This means working with an independent insurance agent to make sure he or she understands your business and associated risks, and assists you in updating your insurance coverages and limits accordingly.
Just Contact me.

 

M. Brant Watson
Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers
Office 800-234-6787
Mobile  925-330-1151

Life Insurance for Every Life Phase

family-life

Life insurance is an important financial planning tool – but it’s not actually one single tool. There are many different types of life insurance, and they have different advantages and disadvantages. What works well for you in one phase of life may not be the most suitable option in another phase. As your needs change, your coverage may need to be updated.

Life Insurance for Children

Buying life insurance for children can seem strange at first, but there are some practical benefits. Sometimes people (often the grandparents) purchase permanent life insurance for a young child. While this policy could cover funeral expenses if the child were to pass away, this is not generally the primary intention.

A permanent life insurance policy, such as whole or universal life insurance, can last for the entire length of the insured’s life, as long as the premiums are kept up with, and purchasing one early can lock in good rates. These policies also accumulate a cash value that can be borrowed or withdrawn for any purpose. If the policy is purchased for a very young child, it will have time to accumulate a cash value as the child matures, and the cash value may be used for any purpose, such as paying for college or putting a down payment on a first home.

Life Insurance for Young Adults and New Parents

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Five New Resolutions for Better Employee Safety (and how to actually keep them!)

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With a New Year and a new decade kicking off, it’s time to reflect on where we’ve been, where we’re headed, and how to improve ourselves in the coming years.

Sound familiar? It’s always the same with New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight. Eat healthier. Work smarter. We have the best of intentions. Still, study after study shows that most of us never keep these resolutions. Many of you have already abandoned on yours.

But when you resolve to improve safety in your business, you can’t afford to give up.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5,250 workers died on the job in 2018. That’s an average of more than 100 a week, or more than 14 deaths every day. Can you make your business a safer place? Here are five New Year’s resolutions for creating a safer work environment, along with some tips on how to actually keep them.

  1. Conduct an honest assessment. Take a hard, honest look at your operation to identify all safety risks. Check equipment such as fire extinguishers and personal protective gear. Thoroughly review records of safety violations, accidents, injuries, fatalities, and claim trends. Find out exactly where you are and what needs to be improved.
  2. Create a doable to do list. If you try to fix everything at once, you risk getting bogged down in a black hole of to-dos that never get done. Start by creating a short list of practical action items to achieve in the current year such as scheduling regular safety meetings.
  3. Improve communication. Have you created an environment in which every employee feels comfortable voicing concerns to managers about safety issues? If not, make it a goal. Open, robust communication is an essential component for any safety program.
  4. Turn near misses into opportunities. Near miss incidents are indications that something is wrong. Don’t sweep them under the rug. Learn from them so you can fix whatever caused them. If you don’t, the next incident might be a serious accident, injury, or even fatality.
  5. Take advantage of free resources. You don’t have to go it alone when it comes to implementing effective safety measures. There are many helpful resources available such as OSHA’s Recommended Practices for Safety and Health Programs. Your insurance advisor is also a great resource for risk management advice.

Once you’ve made these resolutions, how do you keep them from going the way of most New Year’s resolutions? Here are a few tips:      READ More 

Your nonprofit has an important mission to carry out.


Making a Difference

Your nonprofit has an important mission to carry out. Every dollar you spend either supports or depletes your ability to serve. Most organizations work with a limited budget, but all face exposures and risk management challenges that need to be met. In short, you need a broker experienced in nonprofit insurance with your mission in mind.
Heffernan’s Nonprofit Practice cares about your mission and understands your unique insurance needs. Serving more than 4,000 nonprofit clients nationwide, Nonprofits Insurance CHOICE is a division of Heffernan Insurance Brokers offering exclusive products and services not available through any other agency. Our alliances with nonprofit-focused insurers are among the best in the industry, ensuring you have access to the best programs and the most competitive prices.
Heffernan’s reputation and success was built through niche practice business such as nonprofit, construction, healthcare, transportation, hospitality, food industry, real estate and technology. With ten branch offices coast-to-coast and approximately 450 staff, Heffernan’s reach spans virtually every industry.
M. Brant Watson| (925) 330-1151 |E-mail | Website
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