Archive for November, 2010

Ask the Experts: How to choose a dental plan

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Anita Verheul discusses a recently interview for an article that appeared in the Boston Business Journal regarding how employers are looking at dental plans relative to the rest of the benefit package that they offer.

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FBI’s probe for potential insider trading has hedge funds concerned

November 24, 2010 1 comment

When the FBI stormed the offices of Level Global Investors, Diamondback Capital and Loch Capital earlier this week, it triggered concern on the part of hedge funds that regulators are increasing the intensity of their scrutiny of the industry. These recent more aggressive regulatory efforts have also increased the level of concern of many hedge fund executives with respect to their liability. As executives focus on their liability, they are also now focusing on how (and if) their insurance will protect them.

The insurance policy garnering their attention is broadly referred to as General Partnership Liability. This policy is designed to provide both Directors’ & Officers’ as well as Errors & Omissions Liability when general partners, advisers, directors, members, officer, et al, of the funds are accused of “wrongful acts”, in addition to settlements. While it is not intended to cover criminal charges directly, a well scripted policy should provide defense costs and coverage for some of the regulatory actions.

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William Gallagher Associates is a leading provider of insurance brokerage, risk management and employee benefits services to firms with complex risks and dynamic needs, within industries that include technology, life sciences, financial risks, health care, renewable energy & clean technology, and environmental services. WGA has offices in Boston, MA; New York, NY; Hartford, CT; Princeton, NJ; Columbia, MD; and Atlanta, GA.

‘Tis the season to beware of pharmaceutical thieves

November 22, 2010 2 comments

Over the past few weeks we have received various warnings from cargo and transit insurance companies along with FreightWatch International regarding potential thefts of drugs and pharmaceutical shipments. Intelligence was released last week by the N.E. Transportation Security Council that five members of a Florida-based cargo theft crew were arriving in New Jersey on Wednesday with the intent of committing a cargo theft somewhere in the Northeast (NJ, PA, MD, NY, IL, CT, OH). Assuming they already scouted the target location in the past and will commit the theft over the next several days or the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Back on November 10th, a full truckload of pharmaceuticals was stolen from a rest area in Kentucky when it was left alone alongside the exit ramp because the parking spaces were full. The truck was reportedly left unattended Read more…

Exploring the nuance of “grandfathering”

November 15, 2010 1 comment

Just when the concept of “grandfathering” seemed clear – there is always some nuance to keep us all on our toes.  Grandfathering a plan means to basically keep it the same, and in doing so, the employer gets to avoid certain mandates of the national healthcare reform law.  In some cases grandfathering is meaningful to employers and in some cases it is not.  More than anything, the opportunity to grandfather a plan seems to provide more of a transition period to the Affordable Care Act than a long-term solution. A survey released by Hewitt recently suggested that nine out of ten employers expect to lose grandfather status.  But still, if there is interest in the marketplace to do this, we need to be clear on the circumstances under which a plan can be grandfathered.  Indeed, the law outlines permissible changes Read more…

MHA says no to hiring tobacco users – a precedent to expand lifestyle hiring bans?

November 11, 2010 Leave a comment

In early November the Massachusetts Hospital Association (MHA) announced that it would not hire tobacco users beginning in January of 2011. This announcement has gotten a lot of attention locally and has created a fire storm of controversy, with equal measures of supporters and detractors. Although this practice isn’t commonplace it isn’t entirely new either. A number of employers have adopted so-called ‘lifestyle bans’ over the last few years. Most have cited concern over rising health care costs, a commitment to health and wellness initiatives, or both. In response, over half of our states have adopted laws against the practice of employers making hiring decisions based on the applicant’s off duty activities. Currently, Massachusetts doesn’t have any specific bans against employers implementing lifestyle statutes as part of its hiring practice.

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Wood pellet and biomass fuels could see benefits from QE2

The Fed recently announced a second round of Quantitative Easing (QE2) that would pump an additional $600bn into the ailing U.S. economy. But while this move is intended to stimulate the economy, it has caused both a decline in the dollar and a rise in commodity prices. As the dollar continues to weaken, oil prices will likely rise further from their current level of $86 per bbl. OPEC has gone on record as saying that if the Fed did pull the trigger on QE2, they would seek an oil price of $100 per bbl. Oil prices at this level will cause consumers and business to seek alternatives to petroleum heating sources.

While the demand for wood pellets and biomass fuels has been sluggish over the past two heating seasons, the Fed’s move will likely stoke increased demand and mills need to prepare and position themselves for growth. Pellet demand has had some wild swings over the past several years. Sharp up ticks due to Hurricane Katrina and the meteoric petroleum price escalation Read more…

Dana-Farber sues over anti-lung cancer drug

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

The Boston Globe reports that Dana Farber Cancer Institute is in the middle of a legal dispute concerning an anticancer molecule discovered by researchers there. The report outlines that Dana-Farber had agreements with two different companies, pharmaceutical giant Novartis and start-up Gatekeeper Pharmaceuticals of Millbrae, CA that appear to be in conflict.

The molecule is targeted at non-small-cell lung cancer with specific gene mutations that make the cancer resist some existing market treatments for the disease. The drug has not yet been through clinical trials.

Disputes over licensing agreements are less well-tested than those concerning patents and other intellectual property. Lawsuits between Gatekeeper and Novartis may be covered by liability insurance depending upon the language of the complaint and the insurance purchased, in particular by start-up, Gatekeeper. Novartis likely self insures this type of risk.