Archive for July, 2011

Why our obesity problem should worry you

As a society, Americans obsess about weight. The diet “industry” is a multi-billion enterprise. “The Biggest Loser” and otehr weight-loss reality shows are ratings hits. Many of us are aware that we need to lose some weight. Yet two recent studies — “F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future” and a poll conducted by Life Goes Strong — show we continue to put on weight, with the Baby Boomers being the worst offenders.

Obesity and weight related issues are intrinsically related in the battle to control health costs. It’s really a simple equation: caloric intake + lack of physical activity = weight gain.

The statistics are voluminous, hard to dispute and alarming, all at the same time. Read more…

Limiting your liability when you own a vacation home is smart risk management

July 19, 2011 1 comment

Summer is here, and many of us are heading off to a much anticipated vacation. But before we do, we’d like to share a few helpful tips on limiting your liabilty and protecting your family.

If you are lucky enough to own your own vacation home, you may want to consider setting up a Limited Liability Company (LLC). This arrangement can protect family members from personal liability associated with ownership of the property. This is even more important if the property gets rented out to non-family members. Our friends at Hemenway & Barnes LLP, personal advisors and legal cousel, have provided the WGA’s Private Client Group with some insight on the advantages of setting up an LLC.

And speaking of vacations, the team at Chubb has provided these tips for Read more…

Zip code information requests leads to litigation

Insurers are facing a growing number of lawsuits brought by clients who want defense coverage for allegations of violations of consumer privacy relating to zip code information. Over one hundred cases have been filed in California against retailers alleging that retailers who request zip code information are engaging in practices that violate privacy statutes. Cases have also been filed in Massachusetts. In turn, the retailers are seeking coverage for legal bills defending these cases under their General Liability Insurance policies.

Defendants in the lawsuits include many of the top retailing names in the country. Michaels Stores, Best Buy, Tiffany & Co., Home Depot, Crate & Barrel, Coach, Nordstrom and J.C. Penney are just some of the big monikers on the line in these cases.

The Wall Street Journal estimated that “(I)f courts rule against insurers, as they have done with some asbestos and mold claims, it can result in billions of dollars in claims Read more…

Data Security: It’s not just personal (information)

July 11, 2011 2 comments

Most businesses are now aware of the financial and reputational risks they face from breaches of their confidential information. Each week, sometimes even everyday, there are reports describing the theft or loss of sensitive data from companies, healthcare and educational institutions, or governments. Many of these incidents receive considerable media attention, such as the serial breaches at Sony. Security experts speculate about the costs companies incur in connection with data breaches, ranging from the hundreds of thousands to the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Much of the media attention is understandably directed at breaches of confidential consumer information. Those involve the compromise of personally identifiable information that can be used to engage in identity theft and cause terrible personal financial Read more…

Palliative care debate continues in New York – it ought to be a law

The State of New York last year addressed a growing concern that patients who are terminally ill are not routinely offered options for palliative and end-of-life care by passing legislation that requires such a discussion. The New York Palliative Care Information Act requires physicians to adequately inform patients diagnosed with a terminal condition of their palliative and end-of-life care options. Physicians argued vehemently that this restricted their patient-provider relationship. They said that the legislation does not take into account individual circumstances. The New York State legislature countered saying if physicians were truly concerned about the quality of care for terminal patients, they would be offering such information without the need for such a law. This debate continues months after the law’s February 2011 implementation.

Hospice care is becoming far more accepted and utilized than it was in decades past; but, it is all too often being used ineffectively. The average length of stay in a hospice setting (including home hospice) is about two weeks. Generally speaking, this is because the medical provider waited to discuss Read more…

Quick check to see if your confidential information has been hacked

The recent avalanche of news about stolen email addresses and/or passwords (Epsilon, Sony, Sega) is making people wonder if their confidential information has been wrongfully obtained by hackers. A new website, conveniently named “Should I Change My Password?” , makes it easy to see if your sensitive consumer information is in 13 publicly available databases that contain more than 800,000 stolen records. These databases have been published by hackers, such as LulzSec and Anonymous, who claim to be hacking for fun or to make a political point.

This site was created by a technology professional who says he wanted to give people an easy way to see if they have been affected by recent hacks, and also some basic advice about creating and using passwords safely. To check if your information is in the database Read more…