As Ebola threats continue, insurance options respond – or will they?

ebola_hospitalWhile the current Ebola pandemic still remains primarily isolated to West Africa, the death of Thomas Duncan earlier this month in Texas has raised many concerns relative to the potential spread of the disease globally. At this time, two nurses responsible for treating Duncan have both tested positive for the disease, raising questions about whether American hospitals and their staff are adequately prepared to contain the virus.

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Are your benefits plans ready for Ebola?

As the nation braces for a potential outbreak of one of the worst infectious diseases in modern history, employers and employees should carefully review their benefits contracts to ensure financial protection in the face of significant exposure. It’s obvious from the recent high profile cases that travel and treatment costs for a patient infected with Ebola can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but don’t assume that your standard copays and out of pockets will cover the costs. Why not?

WGA’s Employee Benefits Practice has compiled responses and alerts from carriers and their contractual wording for medical, life and disability, critical illness and travel products. Employers should review their contracts and seek written clarifications that specifically include Ebola, as well as a listing of other pandemic diseases.  Read more…

When pandemic strikes: does your company have an action plan?

October 17, 2014 Leave a comment

hazmatFollowing reports of the first Ebola transmissions on U.S. soil, the threat of the disease continues to escalate across the world. The Ebola outbreak is only the latest version of potential worldwide pandemics with serious economic impacts affecting supply chain and business operations for companies of all types. Industries like mining, agriculture and energy face the greatest risks with Ebola, since these groups have a high number of operation bases and workers in the affected nations. However, companies that do not operate in Africa may also experience business interruptions when employee access to the workplace is compromised.

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2015 Compliance To-Do’s: Is your checklist ready?

October 15, 2014 Leave a comment

aca_magnifying_glassAs 2014 winds down, employers are longing for a reprieve in benefits compliance after having to endure a year of new, often times complex, guidance related to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), HIPAA and same-sex spouses. Unfortunately, to-do lists are only going to get longer as employers review their plans and get ready for the approaching challenges and deadlines arising in the upcoming year. Below is a summary of three main compliance issues for employers to keep on their regulatory checklists in the coming year. Read more…

Cyber liability – the changing D&O risks

October 10, 2014 Leave a comment

d-and-o_cyberIn a sluggish world economy, hacking has unfortunately been a robust business. Recent reports issued by the Ponemon Institute, Symantec and others have detailed the stunning growth in cybersecurity breaches (such as a greater than 60% increase in breaches in 2013) and given vivid support to the now-common warning about breaches: “It’s not if, it’s when.”

The avalanche of cyber breaches has alarmed companies — and insurers. Cyber liability exposures include the following, among others:

  • First-party costs incurred in dealing with the breach (forensics, legal, notification, credit monitoring, call center, etc.)
  • Third-party exposures to individuals and entities affected by the breach
  • Regulatory enforcement (SEC, FTC)
  • Intellectual property exposures (often via corporate espionage)
  • Reputational exposures
  • Extortion exposures
  • Theft exposures (such as hacks of bank accounts or phishing-induced erroneous transfers of money)
  • Business interruption costs
  • Data restoration costs

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Phishing Claims – watch out for wire fraud transfers

October 7, 2014 Leave a comment

fraudBe aware – issues of cyber crime are becoming more prevalent in today’s business landscape, with instances of hackers running various email scams that target a company’s CFO, controllers or directors and officers. Posing as the President or Founder of the organization, the fraudsters request an immediate transfer of large sums of money, (oftentimes upwards of $500 thousand to $5 million) indicating it is required to facilitate an offshore payment of a foreign tax obligation or for the acquisition of a foreign subsidiary. After sending the email, the hackers often make a follow-up phone call to the recipients to assure them that the request is high-level, legitimate and kept fully confidential. Using social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as reviewing public company filings, the criminals gather as much data as they can to gain intimate knowledge of the company policies. As a result, the CFO or other targeted officers or employees come to trust these instructions and dutifully wire the money. Oftentimes, the wire fraud isn’t detected until the receiving bank questions the large transaction. Read more…

Ebola health risks escalate as it reaches U.S.

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

ebolaHaving already claimed the lives of nearly 3,000 people, the Ebola outbreak is not only affecting civilians in Africa, but those in other areas of the world as well. Just this week, the virus reached the United States when a man traveling from Liberia to Dallas was diagnosed with the disease.  The risks are also real for companies whose employees travel through the area. From quarantines to  border closings, the outbreak has exposed employers, expat workers and business travelers to unexpected health scares.  According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), based on the outbreak’s current trajectory, affected areas like Liberia and Sierra Leone could soon have over 20,000 cases without effective methods to contain it.  Read more…

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