Financial disaster preparedness begins with a thorough understanding of the risks facing the organization. As an organization grows and its operations become more intricate, its risks change and tend to become more complex. Accordingly, risks need to be assessed continuously, an exercise typically orchestrated by the risk manager with support from throughout the company.
Beyond the many challenges of physical recovery following a catastrophe, additional problems affecting financial recovery often occur because key areas of risk were overlooked or their potential impacts were not fully understood. For example, a real estate services provider had adequate liability coverage for cyber breaches but did not anticipate the potential financial impact of an interruption of its IT systems. The company experienced a cyber intrusion that shut down its servers for 24 hours, resulting in a multimillion-dollar loss that was only partially covered by insurance.
Risks that are not identified or clearly understood in advance are difficult to manage in a cost-effective manner following a catastrophic event. Such risks expose an organization to unexpected and often avoidable financial losses. The process of risk identification, analysis, mitigation and transference is a critical part of the financial preparedness process.
Once risks have been identified and analyzed, seven key areas of financial preparedness must be addressed:
1. Planning for business continuity
The foundation of financial preparedness, business continuity planning entails understanding how, and to what degree, your organization will be able to service its customers and maintain solvency in the event of a major shutdown of operations or other catastrophic event. This can include a variety of actions, such as fulfilling orders using existing inventory, receiving support from other company locations, outsourcing production and/or services, and setting up a temporary location. These actions help ensure continuity of operations and, in doing so, also help mitigate the loss.
In planning for business continuity, it is important to consider unexpected occurrences and challenges. Catastrophic losses can occur in ways that were not anticipated or previously experienced by an organization. For example, as a result of Superstorm Sandy in 2012, a company lost two of its major data centers, one located in New York City and a backup center located miles away in New Jersey. The company’s management never anticipated the possibility of a hurricane impacting both data centers at the same time. Organizations must explore a wide range of possible causes of loss and the resulting impacts when assessing both the maximum possible and the maximum probable loss.
2. Understanding employee retention
Retaining key employees and other members of the workforce following a catastrophic event is essential to the continuity and restoration of a company’s operations. Organizations must assess whether or not insurance will be necessary to cover labor costs following a catastrophic loss.
3. Understanding and mitigating costs
In addition to labor, there are many other costs that will continue following a catastrophic loss. The key to managing these costs is assessing the organization’s (and each facility’s) structure of variable and fixed costs and determining how they will likely be impacted following a partial or complete shutdown of operations.
By understanding and assessing continuing costs, the organization can better plan for mitigation of those expenses and required insurance coverage. The preparation of a simple business interruption values worksheet does not typically go deep enough—the process requires a detailed understanding of operations and related costs, and ways they will be impacted following a loss.
4. Identifying other sources of potential funding
Insurance is typically the first line of defense following a catastrophic loss, but other sources of funding may also be available. For example, if the president formally declares a disaster, state and local government entities, eligible nonprofits (including hospitals, colleges and universities) and Native American tribes may qualify for federal disaster relief, including Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Public Assistance Program grants, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery grants, and Federal Highway Administration disaster grants.
In the case of FEMA Public Assistance grants, the documentation and reporting processes can be onerous, with a multitude of eligibility requirements that address the applicant, facilities, work performed and costs incurred. FEMA also has many insurance requirements, particularly for organizations that have received FEMA funding for previous disasters. Developing an understanding of these and other federal guidelines and implementing necessary procedures and controls before a disaster occurs can help ensure that maximum funding is secured in a timely manner, and can also help withstand audits by federal agencies.
5. Assessing liquidity needs
It is critical to maintain liquidity following a loss event. A careful assessment of the amount and timing of potential recovery from insurance and other sources of funding, consideration of continuing costs and extra expenses to maintain operations, and the need for capital to rebuild operations can shed light on the requirements for cash reserves and access to credit during an extended operational shutdown. While insurers may provide advances following a catastrophe, final settlement often takes longer than expected. Planning in this area can help avoid unexpected cash shortages that put business continuity at risk.
6. Developing a loss response team
Before a loss occurs, it is essential to identify and train the team that will support the organization following a loss event. Internal resources should include a broad spectrum of resources spanning the risk, legal, finance and accounting, operations, sales, engineering, and procurement departments. Additional external resources may include debris removal companies, general contractors, engineers, attorneys, accountants and other consultants. Developing your team and outlining their roles before a loss occurs will help expedite the recovery process, increasing its overall effectiveness and saving costs.
7. Assessing insurance coverage
An organization must conduct a review of its coverage at least annually and even more frequently when faced with significant changes in operations. Often, companies discover too late that their insurance policies do not provide sufficient coverage for property damage, business interruption and extra expenses. Many also discover unclear or ambiguous policy language that creates settlement issues.
An annual policy review should provide an understanding of the risks covered, sublimits, exclusions, deductibles, waiting periods and coinsurance requirements. This process can help ensure that risks are covered in the manner intended by management. Following annual renewals, it is also important to determine if any risks need to be further addressed and mitigated due to changes in coverage that may have occurred during the underwriting and renewal process.
The review should include an assessment of the organization’s covered locations and confirmation that the policy lists (or contains appropriate blanket coverage for) all existing locations, especially recently added ones. It should also include an assessment of the statement of values to determine whether property values are current. Property values may need to be updated as companies add, upgrade or sell equipment, invest in new capital, and change physical structures.
The organization’s business interruption values should also be assessed. This means, at a minimum, assessing each location and operation to determine the organization’s exposure to a loss of net income and expenses that would likely continue following a catastrophic event. As your business grows or declines or margins change, business interruption values will likely change as well. Failing to update these values could result in a gap in coverage due to insufficient policy limits, or potentially trigger a coinsurance penalty if designated in the policy.
In assessing insurance, it is important to pay close attention to sublimits, exclusions, waiting periods and deductibles, all of which can significantly impact an organization’s level of financial recovery. As an example, a large entertainment facility experienced a significant loss when an electrical outage led to the cancellation of a show on a busy weekend. Management was surprised to learn that the loss was not covered due to a 48-hour waiting period for “service interruption.”
The period of indemnity specified in a policy may also have a major impact on recovery. Insurance policies typically define the period of indemnity as beginning on the date of loss and extending through the period during which the property can be repaired, rebuilt or replaced, with reasonable speed, to the condition that existed prior to the loss (or, alternatively, the date business is resumed at a new location). Many policies also provide an “extended period of indemnity” of 30 days or more to give the business additional time to restore normal operations. This extended period can provide critical support for financial recovery.
It is also crucial to understand your needs with regard to employee payroll following a catastrophic loss. Business interruption insurance policies may provide full, limited or no coverage for “ordinary payroll” following a catastrophic loss. Ordinary payroll refers to payroll expenses of employees other than executives, department managers, employees under contract and other employees deemed vital to continuing operations. Companies with a critical need to keep such employees after a loss typically require this type of coverage in their policy.
Coverage for extra expense should also be assessed and considered in light of potential actions following an interruption of operations. This coverage generally addresses expenses incurred during the period of restoration to avoid or minimize the suspension of operations at either the current location or temporary locations.
A variety of special coverages are available to cover other areas of risk and may be appropriate for risks specific to the organization, such as insurance for contingent business interruption (to cover losses sustained by your organization as a result of physical damage occurring at your suppliers’ or customers’ facilities), supply chain disruption and cyber incidents.
Source: Risk Magazine
Author: Allen Melton
Author: Michael Speer
So, what’s next for the Trump administration’s handling of health data privacy and security issues now that the 100-day milestone has been reached?
So far, despite the overall anti-regulatory tone of the new administration, it appears that enforcement of HIPAA is moving along at the same or perhaps even a slightly more aggressive pace than what was taken by the Department of Health and Human Services under the Obama administration.
“Congress established OCR to adapt to new technology – and to protect it.”
In one of his first speeches, Roger Severino, who last month took on the job of director of HHS’s Office for Civil Rights, promised to keep HIPAA privacy and security enforcement a top priority.
“I came into this job with an enforcement mindset,” Severino said on April 27 during a session at the Health Datapalooza conference in Washington, according to HealthcareITNews. “Congress established OCR to adapt to new technology – and to protect it.”
But will that mindset continue? A lot likely depends on the resources OCR gets for fiscal 2018. The staff has been stretched thin in recent years, especially as OCR has been digesting the findings of more than 200 HIPAA compliance audits of covered entities and business associates. Plans to launch a smaller number of more comprehensive audits in early 2017 have already been delayed until later this year. And who knows if that will even happen?
Privacy attorney David Holtzman, the vice president of compliance at security consulting firm CynergisTek who formerly was a former senior policy adviser at OCR, notes that so far this year, in terms of enforcement actions taken by OCR, the agency could break its aggressive record of 2016, which included 12 settlements and one civil monetary action – not to mention the relaunch of audits.
“OCR has continued its stepped-up enforcement of the HIPAA privacy, security and breach notification rules. Thus far in 2017, the agency has announced negotiated settlements or levied penalties in seven cases that have resulted in covered entities and business associates paying over $14.3 million,” he says.
“In all but one of these cases, organizations have also been saddled with multiyear corrective action plans in which HHS will exercise oversight of their compliance with the HIPAA standards. At this pace, OCR will eclipse its record-setting performance of 2016, in which there were 13 formal enforcement actions that had covered entities and business associates paying $23.5 million in fines and penalties for HIPAA violations.”
But it’s still unclear how the Trump administration will handle bigger-picture health data privacy and security issues.
“I believe it is important to distinguish between broader policy decisions and the day-to-day operations of the department’s mission,” he says. “While we have not seen evidence of how administration policy on health data security and privacy issues will develop, there is ample evidence that it is business as usual in OCR’s administration of the HIPAA privacy and security standards.”
While meeting HIPAA compliance requirements doesn’t necessarily equal the kind of robust security efforts needed to effectively safeguard data – including data that goes beyond patients’ protected health information – OCR’s recent enforcement ramp-up likely will help nudge security laggards out of their complacency.
But it’s also important to remember that the OCR enforcement actions we’re seeing have been in the works for years. Looking ahead, will OCR be spending less time investigating major breaches that get reported now? Let’s hope not.
Here’s an updated look at the sobering breach stats: As of April 28, there were 1,921 major breaches affecting nearly 173.4 million individuals reported to OCR since September 2009, according to HHS’ “wall of shame.” And to date, OCR has issued 47 HIPAA settlements and two civil monetary penalties.
So, while there’s been an a slight uptick in the number of enforcement actions taken by OCR over the last year or two, the reality is that there are still slim odds that you’ll end being smacked with a financial penalty related to a breach.
And the odds could grow even slimmer if OCR finds itself with a barebones budget for fiscal 2018. President Trump has proposed big cuts to HHS’ overall budget for the next fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1, and he has also instructed federal agencies to plan reducing their workforces near term.
In the meantime, OCR likely will keep picking and choosing cases for settlements that highlight common mistakes entities make in safeguarding patient information. Plus, the HIPAA enforcement agency will continue to release guidance that addresses confusing and critical security and privacy issues.
Hopefully, the healthcare sector will continue to learn from these cases and guidance and make it a higher priority to bolster their overall risk management programs to better safeguard all data against evolving threats.
Author: Marianne Kolbasuk McGee
The threats posed by cyber attacks and identity theft continue to grow as cyber criminals always seem to be on offense while consumers and insurers are on defense.
A study recently released by Javelin Strategy and Research found that cyber criminals stole more than $16 billion from over 15 million U.S. consumers last year.
A new risk assessment tool, the Identity Threat Assessment and Prediction (ITAP) model developed by the University of Texas at Austin Center for Identity, provides unique insights based on research into the behaviors and methods of identity threats, and aggregates the information to help risk managers assess dangers and vulnerabilities. The information in the ITAP database is collected from news stories and other sources, and the repository currently holds data from more than 5,000 incidents that occurred between 2000 and 2016. Researchers apply a number of analytical tools to this information in order to compare threats, and identify trends and losses.
As a result of their examination of the information, researchers have identified six key takeaways, as well as other data that help to paint a broader picture of the impact of identity theft on consumers and businesses. Here is a look at some of their findings.
1. People make mistakes
The researchers found that human error is a major driver when it comes to identity theft and that hackers frequently exploit vulnerabilities created by mistakes people make. However, approximately 17 percent of the incidents where personally identifiable information (PII) was compromised were termed “non-malicious” or not instigated by hackers, but by individuals without malicious intent.
2. Impact is usually local
Despite the activities of hackers around the globe, the impact of identity theft where PII was compromised seems to be more localized to specific cities, counties, states and regions. The study found that over 99 percent of the cases were limited to either a local geographic area or a particular type of victim. Only 0.36 percent of the theft incidents actually involved the entire country like the Target or Home Depot breaches.
The states with the greatest number of cases of compromised PII were California, Texas, Florida, New York, Georgia, and Illinois according to the ITAP model.
3. The cost is not always monetary
While there are very real financial costs associated with any type of data breach or loss of PII, a larger number of individuals who become victims suffered from emotional stress than those who had actual monetary losses. The University of Texas at Austin researchers found that the “emotional impact is consistently higher than other types of loss.”
The ITAP model identified four different types of loss and the percentages of loss experienced by victims: Emotional distress (72 percent); financial (57 percent); property (56 percent) and reputation (41 percent).
Annual income of the victims doesn’t really seem to come into play either, although 73 percent of adults had their PII compromised as compared to 8 percent of teenagers and 21 percent of seniors.
4. Insiders pose a serious threat
While unknown hackers or foreign countries perpetrate the majority of attacks (62 percent), the researchers found that one-third (34 percent) of the incidents involving compromised PII originated from company employees or family members of affected individuals.
Perpetrators utilize a number of resources to steal the information including computers, databases, computer networks, malware and stolen credit cards. ITAP also differentiates between the various perpetrators involved in identity crimes. Hackers tend to exploit digital or computer-based vulnerabilities, while fraudsters are usually involved in exploiting the information which has been stolen by the actual thieves.
5. Cybersecurity isn’t always the cause
More than 50 percent of the incidents involving identity theft, fraud or abuse identified by the ITAP did not originate from vulnerabilities that were exploited.
Financial losses were associated with particular attributes as part of the ITAP analysis. These were the top five identified: Magnetic stripe ($28.9 million); ATM pin ($24.2 million); fake identification card information ($15.1 million); financial information ($13.7 million) and age ($11.9 million).
6. Identity crime affects all industries
Hackers are indiscriminate when it comes to choosing victims. The ITAP analysis found that a wide range of public and private sectors are impacted with the top five sectors identified as: consumer/citizen; healthcare and public health; government facilities, education and financial services.
The research effort was support by several organizations that focus on cyber protection: LifeLock, TransUnion, Safran, LexisNexis, HID, Generali Global Assistance, and Applied Fundamentals Consulting.
Source : Property Casualty 360
Forecast Fire Indices
The wildfires burning across the state of Florida this month highlight the increasing danger a changing climate poses in the southern United States for this type of catastrophic event.
Wildfire risk is generally perceived to be a western United States problem, and the majority of major insurance losses caused by wildfires to date have occurred in California; but southern U.S. states have been plagued by wildfires in recent years, including the more than 100 wildfires actively raging across Florida this month.
“Traditionally, we see the wildfire exposures in the western half of the United States, but recently the South is experiencing warmer-than-average temperatures and drier-than-average seasons,” said Jim Clifford, director of safety and prevention programs for insurer USAA based in San Antonio, Texas. “Florida has a history back and forth, having a drought occasionally, and the Everglades have extensive forest — and they tend to burn quite easily when there’s a little bit of a drought.”
Climate change is causing increases in temperature across the Southeast, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Heavy downpours have increased in the Southeast, but the region has also experienced periods of extreme drying, according to the agency.
On April 11, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency because of the wildfires and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue this year as forecasts predict hotter and drier conditions than normal in the state during the coming months.
“That’s really peculiar for Florida, because one of the things wildfires hate is humidity,” said F. Douglas Hoyle, Philadelphia-based loss control director at Pennsylvania Lumbermens Mutual, an insurer of wood and related products. “The humidity has been down significantly in Florida this year, and that’s what experts are saying has led to significant wildfires in Florida.”
Florida wildfires have burned 250% more acreage during the first three months of 2017 than during the same time period last year.
“Three months out, it looks like there might be some hope on the horizon, but the next month in Florida looks to be the worst,” Mr. Clifford said, citing data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center. “Central Florida looks really bad as far as the drought persisting for the next month or so.”
The major modeling firms do not currently have plans to forecast insurance losses related to the Florida wildfires. Wildfires tend to be less costly from an insurance perspective than hurricanes, with the largest estimated insurance loss in the United States caused by wildfire being the $1.7 billion due to the 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, according to Property Claim Services, a Verisk Analytics business.
However, the Fort McMurray fire in the province of Alberta, Canada, became the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history last year, causing a CA$3.6 billion ($2.67 billion) loss, more than twice the cost of the previous largest natural disaster: the 2013 southern Alberta floods, which cost CA$1.7 billion ($1.3 billion) in insurance claims, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
“Wildfire losses are typically dominated by residential properties,” Tammy Viggato, Boston-based scientist at AIR Worldwide, said in an emailed statement. “This is because most wildfires impact the outer regions of an urban area, but don’t penetrate into the center of urban areas where more commercial properties are located, although notable exceptions would be the fires in Fort McMurray and Gatlinburg.”
The 2016 wildfires in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, caused $842 million in insurance losses, according to the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance.
“The Gatlinburg fire burned into the downtown area, and there were a number of businesses that were lost in that fire,” said Steve Quarles, chief scientist for wildfire and durability, Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center in Richburg, South Carolina. “That was an eye-opener for the business community.”
In addition to the property losses, business interruption losses can be sizable, as the areas are evacuated and roads are closed, meaning both visitors and employees will likely not be able to access the businesses for some time, which could lead them without enough cash to pay their bills, according to experts.
“People don’t think of all those ripple effects,” said Michele Steinberg, wildfire division manager for the National Fire Protection Association in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Home and business owners can minimize the risks to their properties by creating setback distances between the properties and burnable fuels such as mulch, which is critical because lit embers can come in contact with flammable material and set the property on fire, according to experts.
“To protect businesses, it’s important to do things that minimize the opportunity for these embers landing on or near the building” and resulting in ignition, Mr. Quarles said.
USAA offers a discount on insurance premiums for communities in seven Western states participating in the NFPA’s Firewise Communities program, which recognizes those that take steps to prepare for and mitigate wildfire risks. The insurer covers the risk in standard property policies with no differences in contractual limitations or deductibles compared to other covered perils, he said.
“Wildfire losses tend to be pretty easy to adjust,” Mr. Clifford said.
Source: Business Insurance
How are climate-related risks and opportunities affecting your organization’s businesses, strategy and financial planning? Increasingly, companies are asking themselves that question to prepare for an uncertain future.
Indeed, the impact of climate risk is a topic that regulators are considering as well. The Financial Stability Board set up the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures “to help identify the information needed by investors, lenders and insurance underwriters to appropriately assess and price climate-related risks and opportunities.”
These voluntary disclosures would give stakeholders a clearer picture of how companies perceive and are addressing climate risks. And the National Association of Insurance Commissioners’ Insurer Climate Risk Disclosure Survey, adopted in 2010, is now mandatory for larger insurers.
The Actuaries Climate Index (ACI), a monitoring tool launched in November 2016 by four North American actuarial organizations, may be helpful to insurance companies in answering these types of questions and in managing climate-related risks and opportunities.
Why are actuaries weighing in on climate risk?
Actuaries are experienced in the assessment and mitigation of the financial consequences of risks and in the summarization and presentation of complex data for decision-making. A changing climate is having a financial impact on insurance consumers and providers, and actuaries are well positioned to conduct deep analysis to map out what has been happening in recent decades. The Actuaries Climate Index was developed by the Climate Change Committee, a joint effort of the American Academy of Actuaries, the Canadian Institute of Actuaries, the Casualty Actuarial Society, and the Society of Actuaries.
What is the Actuaries Climate Index?
The ACI is an educational tool designed to help inform actuaries, public policymakers and the general public about climate trends and their potential impact. A quarterly measure of changes in extreme weather events and sea levels, the ACI is based on analysis of quarterly seasonal data for six different index components collected from 1961 through the latest available season, compared to the 30-year reference period of 1961 to 1990. The ACI is available online at ActuariesClimateIndex.org.
The ACI divides the continental United States and Canada into 12 different regions. Higher index values indicate an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events.
The risk measured by the ACI is relative to the average frequencies during the reference period of 1961–1990. The data is from neutral, scientific sources, generating objective, evidence-based results on extreme weather events. According to the data analysis, 1.02 is the current five-year moving average value for the index. The index value remained below 0.25 during the reference period, reached a value of 0.5 in 1998, and first reached 1.0 in 2013. These values indicate an increase in the frequency of extreme weather occurrences and changes in sea levels to a sustained level above any single season (out of 120) during the reference period.
The ACI data is available for free on the website, which shows graphs and maps of the data by region and component. There is a guided tour to the website and documentation explaining how the index was developed and how it is calculated.
A second index, the Actuaries Climate Risk Index (ACRI), is based on the historical correlations of economic losses, mortality, and injuries to the ACI data, and is expected to be launched later this year. Regions used in the ACI follow state and provincial borders as shown in Figure 2.
The six components of the Actuaries Climate Index are:
- Warm temperatures (above the 90th percentile)
- Cold temperatures (below the 10th percentile)
- Heavy precipitation (maximum 5-day rainfall in each month)
- Drought (measured by consecutive dry days)
- Wind (above the 90th percentile)
- Sea level
For the purpose of combining the six components, the seasonal differences versus the reference period are divided by the statistical measure of variability in the reference period, the standard deviation. This approach allows such inherently different quantities to be combined in a single index while preserving the accuracy of the components. For each component, the index value indicates how unusual that season’s value is, compared to the reference period mean and standard deviation for that season. Hence, each component is in units of the standard deviation of that quantity.
The index components are approximately normally distributed, therefore, about one-third of the time one expects that index values will be outside the interval ±1, and one-sixth of the time it will be greater than +1. When it comes to the composite ACI, constructed as a combination of the components, the standard deviation is significantly less than 1, and thus a composite index value of 1 indicates a more unusual event than a similar value at the component level.
How insurers can use the Actuaries Climate Index
Data by region and component can be used to focus on areas where claim activity is most important to an insurance company. Concerned about sea levels or heavy rain in the northeastern United States? Data for the Central East Atlantic region (CEA) will show that sea level rise has been greater there than in any other region and that periods of heavy precipitation have been much more significant in recent years. Seasonal data underlying graphs such as Figure 3 could be modeled against claims data to help assess the risk — and then companies can incorporate their insights into pricing, underwriting, product development or claim department strategy. Monthly ACI data is also available.
The risk management implications of climate change will only continue to grow if current trends continue. Companies that incorporate climate data in their strategic planning will have a competitive edge. They will also be better able to answer climate disclosures and provide convincing information to regulators, shareholders and lenders that will demonstrate that they are effectively managing risks.
Climate change will have varying effects by class of business; property, casualty, life and health insurers will identify different risks and opportunities. Reinsurers will also be interested to know how their reinsureds are monitoring this aspect of their business. The ACI should also be useful to non-insurers in their financial planning and risk management.
Coverage decisions, such as where and whether to provide property or flood insurance, can be informed by historical climate statistics. Actuaries are increasingly using predictive models to measure correlations and trends for use in pricing, underwriting, claims management, marketing and enterprise risk management. The Actuaries Climate Index data is an important new input to these models. Where possible, the index components measure extremes, rather than averages, because extremes have the largest impact on people and property.
Some might say that climate change is gradual and should be a manageable risk for the insurance industry. At a presentation to actuaries in 2015, the audience was polled about how concerned the property and casualty insurance industry should be about the risks of climate change. Of the 121 poll respondents, 43 percent indicated that the risks of climate change are inadequately addressed. Is your company in this group?
The Actuaries Climate Index and the Actuaries Climate Risk Index will be useful additions to the analytical toolkit of insurers and other companies as they look to manage the risks of a changing climate.
Douglas J. Collins is a retired actuary and chair of the Casualty Actuarial Society’s Climate Change Committee. He worked for eight years at The Travelers, and spent the remainder of his career as a consulting actuary and principal with Tillinghast, Nelson & Warren, and its successor organization, Towers Perrin in the U.S., Bermuda and Europe.
Source: Property Casualty 360
The robots are coming. In fact, in many places, they have already arrived.
Some consider software automation such as robo-advisors to be robotics, but there is also considerable progress in the world of the physical, tangible robots that are very similar to the ones made popular by a century of science fiction stories.
We are headed toward a future of robots all around us — on land, sea, and air; in our homes, businesses, and communities. Today, we are witnessing the first glimpses of this robot revolution. The rate of robot proliferation and adoption is astounding, which means that a future with billions of robots may not be that far off.
The International Federation of Robotics reports that there are expected to be 31 million household robots in service by 2019. There are already millions of industrial robots in use; over a quarter of a million were sold just last year. Add that to the millions of drones being sold and robots in business, agriculture, and other settings, and it becomes clear that robots are delivering good value and market acceptance.
Recent examples of robotics pilots and implementations demonstrate some of the future potential:
- Takeout food delivery: There are current pilots underway in which small mobile robots deliver takeout orders from restaurants in Washington, DC and Hamburg, Germany.
- Robotic prostheses: 3D printing and AI advances have enabled low costs and customization of robotic arms, hands, and legs. Wearable robotic gloves that allow the disabled or elderly to have hand function are now available.
- Robotic kitchen assistant: A robot called Flippy has been proven to cook burgers at a fast food restaurant more efficiently and at less cost than humans.
- Insurance sales: Meiji Yasuda Life will use 100 humanoid robots in branch locations to answer sales and service questions and support sales personnel.
At issue now is how the new wave of robots will alter risks in the world and what that means for the insurance industry. It’s easy to jump to a vision of the world of the future controlled by robots, à la the Terminator movie series. But right now, Elon Musk, among other prominent tech figures, is truly worried about an AI apocalypse in which robots and other AI driven devices run amok and destroy the world and civilization as we know it.
While it is advisable and even imperative to think about these long-term possibilities and establish the right governance today, the truth is that robots are already affecting risks — both positively and negatively. Insurers should consider these aspects of a world with more and more robots:
- Job loss: Robots are likely to replace human workers in many different professions and in many different industries.
- Worker safety: Robots can operate in dangerous environments, where there may be toxic chemicals or otherwise unsafe conditions for humans. Robots can also work alongside humans, handling tasks that could help to reduce workplace injuries and accidents.
- Elder/disabled care: Robots in homes and healthcare settings may allow more individuals to live independent lives and reduce the need for assisted living facilities.
- Increased cyber exposure: Robots will collect and create vast amounts of data about the world around them. Like any other environment with electronic data, these will be subject to hacking and criminal abuse.
- Robot-caused injuries: Malfunctioning robots in industrial or residential settings could inadvertently cause injury or death to humans. There are examples of this already, and the potential increases as robots become pervasive.
It should be evident from these few examples that insurance coverages will need to evolve correspondingly. In some cases, the use of robots will decrease risks and can be leveraged for loss control. In other cases, new risks will emerge and will demand insurance solutions for individuals and businesses.
No one can predict with accuracy how rapidly robots will be adopted and spread across the world. But wise insurers will begin planning for a robot revolution, today.
Source: Property Casualty 360
Author: Mark Breading
As the calendar turns to April, families gear up for spring break car trips or college visits. With better weather, more drivers take day trips or plan weekend getaways. This all adds up to more drivers on the road, and more potential for distracted driving – which also increases the odds of traffic accidents with bodily injuries.
But April is also Distracted Driving Awareness Month, the time of year when the National Safety Council and other organizations join forces to heighten awareness of distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) distracted driving is defined as any activity that diverts attention from driving, including talking or texting on your phone, eating and drinking, talking to people in your vehicle, or fiddling with the sound, entertainment or navigation system — anything that takes your attention away from the task of safe driving.
NHTSA calls texting “the most alarming distraction” because tests show that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for five seconds. At 55 mph, that’s the equivalent of driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed, NHTSA explains.
According to Driver Electronic Device Use in 2015, a Sept. 2016 report from NHTSA, the percentage of passenger vehicle drivers text-messaging or visibly manipulating handheld devices remained constant at 2.2 percent in 2015. Driver handheld cell phone use decreased from 4.3 percent in 2014 to 3.8 percent in 2015, but NHTSA says this was not a statistically significant decrease.
The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) is joining nationwide efforts to promote the importance of distracted driving awareness. One of the most frightening trends, PCI says, is the ubiquitous use of smartphones behind the wheel.
“Distracted driving is thought to be one of the leading causes for the rise in vehicle accidents. Whether it’s making a quick call, firing off a text, or adjusting the navigation system, in that short lapse of focus, all too often drivers can cause or fail to avoid a crash. And our increasingly congested roads compound the problem,” said Bob Passmore, PCI’s assistant vice president, personal lines policy.
The implementation and enforcement of distracted-driving laws, which discourage texting while driving and ban handheld cellphone use, are important first steps, PCI says.
“Auto safety is a top issue for auto insurers. We hope the dialogue on distracted and impaired driving will continue, and we urge lawmakers and other industry thought leaders to continue addressing the impact of motorist behavior as an important part of the safety equation,” added Passmore.
Employers and distracted drivers
Not only is distracted driving dangerous for individuals, the Insurance Information Institute ( I.I.I.) points out, but there is a growing concern among business owners and managers that they may be held liable for accidents caused by their employees while driving and conducting work-related conversations on cellphones. I.I.I. explains that under the doctrine of “vicarious responsibility,” employers may be held legally accountable for the negligent acts of employees committed in the course of employment. Employers may also be found negligent if they fail to put in place a policy for the safe use of cellphones.
Here are the top 7 safety tips from PCI and I.I.I. to help you, your employees, your family members and your clients avoid distracted driving.
1. Wear your seat belt.
Whether you’re taking a weekend get-away or just running errands around town, PCI encourages you to buckle up, drive safely and try to be prepared for those who may not. All passengers should be buckled up, even in the back seat.
Seat belts save lives and help prevent injuries. Also, make sure children are in the proper car or booster seats.
2. Plan ahead and allow extra travel time.
With more people on the roads, often driving in unfamiliar territory, the potential for a traffic crash increases. PCI encourages motorists to plan their routes in advance when traveling to new destinations, be patient, and allow for extra travel time.
Some auto accident reconstruction experts suggest that blindly following GPS systems has caused increases in accidents. If you’re going to use an electronic navigation system, check the directions before you start driving to be sure you understand where the system is taking you and where the turns are.
3. Observe speed limits, including lower speeds in work zones.
Stay focused on the road and be aware of changing traffic patterns caused by construction.
Be cautious of the construction workers themselves, who are often in close proximity to the highway—and at great risk.
Many states have increased fines in work zones, yet another reason to be more cautious.
Also, be aware that construction on major highways often takes place at night, when there is less traffic, but reduced visibility.
4. Avoid distracted driving.
When the entire family is traveling in the car, the opportunity for distraction is multiplied.
Remember to put the phone down, and never text while driving.
Be careful when eating on the run, as lunch can be just as distracting as a cell phone. As I.I.I. notes, eating takes both your hand off the wheel and your eyes off the road, so don’t do it. Furthermore, spills can easily cause an accident. If you have to stop short, you could also be severely burned.
Buckle up or secure pets in the back of the car. Never allow your pet to ride in your lap while you’re driving.
5. Have a plan for roadside assistance.
If an accident occurs, be wary of unscrupulous towing companies. Have the phone number for your insurer or a roadside assistance program ready so you know who to call.
Some towing companies take advantage of drivers after an accident, and you could find yourself facing excessive fees or complications recovering your car from the tow yard.
6. Update your proof of insurance.
Before hitting the road, make sure to replace any expired insurance identification cards so you can prove you have insurance in the event of an accident or a traffic stop.
You should also check traffic laws for any states that you’ll be driving through or staying in.
7. Use safe phone habits.
I.I.I. advises drivers to pull off the road to a safe location if you must use the phone or text with someone.
If you must dial from the road, use voice-activated dialing. Program frequently called numbers and your local emergency number into your phone and use voice-activated dialing.
Let your voice mail pick up your calls while you’re driving. It’s easy — and much safer — to retrieve your messages later on.
If you must make or receive a call while driving, keep conversations brief so you can concentrate on your driving. If a long discussion is required or if the topic is stressful or emotional, end the conversation and continue it once you are off the road.
Source: Property Casualty 360
Photo: Shutter Stock