Numerous factors are transpiring that have resulted in strikingly higher petroleum prices, and businesses and consumers need to prepare themselves. Oil prices had crashed in 2008 due to the financial crisis and subsequent recession. The global economy continues to recover, the U.S. Federal Reserve just revised their 2011 US GDP forecast from 3.4% to 3.9%. This is in addition to emerging economies such as China and India that were relatively unscathed by the 2008 crisis and have seen GDP growth of 10%. Higher global economic activity increases demand for petroleum products which will in turn lead to higher prices.
The second and more immediate concern is the wave of political turmoil sweeping the Middle East, with populist revolts having struck Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Iran and Morocco. Read more…
A recent survey of 1,502 Americans by the non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation finds increasing support for specific parts of health care reform, but also divisions or outright opposition to other components. Some of the key findings:
- 62% of Americans oppose withholding funding for implementation of health reform, the primary tactic that House Republicans are now using, while 33% support that approach.
- 85% support closing the Medicare part D prescription drug “doughnut hole”
- 79% support subsidies for people between 113% and 400% of the Federal Poverty Read more…
As the winter months and the bitter cold continues with no end in sight; many companies are inquiring about whether it is “okay” to have employees use portable/space heaters in the office. It depends on a few different factors. Space heaters can prove to be a hazardous to your employees and the company’s property. These units can increase the chance of a fire within the office and have the potential to burn employees.
Before agreeing to allow space heaters in the office, it is critical to check with your local fire department to ensure that having the space heater in a commercial environment is not breaching any municipal or state fire codes. If in fact the fire department has cleared the use of the space heater, every company should talk with their Building Manager to make sure the having a Read more…
What sounds like an esoteric battle between obscure government agencies has some significant implications for the Property and Casualty Insurance industry. Outlined in a recent New York Times story is a battle of the bureaucrats over the value of a single human life. The number, used to calculate the effectiveness of certain risk management and loss prevention steps, has jumped under the Obama administration.
Depending upon the agency in question, the value of a life has moved to over $9 million. This figure is important to the Property & Casualty (P&C) community since wrongful death claims under Products Liability and General Liability claims scenarios may rely on this benchmark in making settlements with litigants. A higher federal benchmark equals bigger payouts from P&C insurers.
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With the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Bahrain, employers are encouraged to review their travel polices to ensure that their duty of care obligations are being met. This is not only a moral obligation, but a legal obligation as well. The legal issues surrounding duty of care are very complex, but one way to mitigate the risks is to partner with a vendor that specializes in international security and medical assistance. As we speak, these specialty vendors are forming local crisis teams to evacuate employees and bring them home safely. They are also tracking employees, providing on the ground security, and taking employee assistance to the concierge-level. This goes beyond your traditional business travel accident plan, and is quickly becoming a best practice amongst multinational employers. For those with globally mobile employees, an international security plan should be made a top priority—not only for peace of mind but for managing the risks associated with duty of care. In today’s uncertain world (and litigious society) you can never be too careful.
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.
The risks to ships transiting the pirate-infested waters off the coast of Somalia are on the rise. Last year, the average ransom paid to Somali pirates was $5.4 million compared with $150,000 in 2005. Just last week, Somali pirates captured a U.S.-bound tanker carrying around $200 million worth of crude oil in the Indian Ocean in one of the biggest hijackings in the area to date. The Irene SL, taken along with 25 crew members on board, was carrying 2 million barrels of oil which amounts to one-fifth of daily U.S. crude imports. The hijacking came a day after an Italian tanker carrying oil worth more than $60 million was also taken by Somali pirates.
The Boston Globe ran a front page article last week explaining some new health plans that are being implemented as a means to control health costs. These plans are known as tiered or limited network plans that require a deductible if an employee wishes to be treated at these designated high cost facilities. The purpose of the plans is to drive employees to the lower cost facilities; however, employees can choose the higher cost facilities should they agree to pay the deductible associated with these providers or hospitals.
Typically, the deductibles for these plans can range from $500 to $2,000 per visit. These plans are different from the high deductible plans that have been available for a number of years. The high Read more…