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Archive for March, 2015

As demand for wind turbines grows, take steps to mitigate risk

WindFarmSunsetFrom California to New York, wind turbine farms are popping up all over the country. The United States is second only to China in terms of installed wind power capacity, and the demand is increasing. Georgetown, Texas, with a population of 50,000 people, will be the first city in the Lone Star state to be completely powered by renewable energy. Why? Because, according to a U.S. Energy Department analysis, wind power will be less expensive than electricity produced from natural gas within the next 10 years, even without a federal tax incentive.

Wind farms provided 4.5 percent of U.S. power supplies in 2013. If that number increased to 35 percent by 2050, power prices would decrease and result in $400 billion in benefits related to reduced emissions of greenhouse gases, Bloomberg reports. Additional benefits include reduced water consumption by the power industry, 600,000 new jobs, and a drop in air pollution. Read more…

Misclassifying independent contractors could cost you

hailingacabAs the economy changes, we have seen an increased use of “independent contractors” in all areas of business as a way to try and reduce employer expenses.

Let’s take ride-sharing startups Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. as an example. A job as an Uber driver has many benefits. Drivers are their own bosses with the luxury of making their own schedules. But as independent contractors, they are responsible for myriad expenses. After car maintenance, gas, insurance, and taxes, plus a 20 percent commission to Uber, the driver’s pay is cut nearly in half, according to The Washington Post. In recent lawsuits filed in San Francisco, drivers claim the ride-sharing companies have been mislabeling them as independent contractors according to California’s labor law. The National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) notes that if drivers were declared employees and therefore entitled to workers comp benefits, there would be no disputing which policy – commercial or personal – would cover auto accidents. Additionally, as the employer, Uber would be responsible for covering fuel costs and other work-related benefits like paid sick leave and vacation days. Read more…

Cyberliability governance – early guidance for corporate directors

wyndham_lockWhen confidential personal or medical information is compromised or a computer network is breached, the event is typically described as a “failure” of data or network security. That is not an attractive characterization in realms where blame is assigned. Facing predicted increases in cyber-related shareholder lawsuits, corporate boards and their legal advisers have sought to determine what corporate directors and officers must do to avoid the personal liability that can result from shareholder claims. In an earlier blog post and white paper, I discussed the changing D&O risks associated with cybersecurity exposures. WGA’s Cyber Risk Hub also has an extensive section on cybersecurity corporate governance. Read more…

Prioritize cybersecurity – liabilities could fall to D&Os

March 20, 2015 Leave a comment

d-and-o_cyber

On Tuesday, Premera Blue Cross announced the health insurer fell victim to a security breach that exposed medical and financial information of 11 million customers – the most devastating cyber-attack in the health care industry to date. If this latest breach tells us anything, it’s that the necessity for cyber coverage has never been more essential. A recent study from the Ponemon Institute found that 43 percent of companies have suffered a data breach in the past year. Yet despite these numbers, a whopping 70 percent of security professionals consider their organizations safe from cyber-attacks, according to a separate survey published this week. These findings suggest not only a false sense of security among IT departments, but that many directors and officers may not realize their obligations related to cybersecurity.
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Rising healthcare industry brings stand-alone tail coverage to mind

March 19, 2015 Leave a comment

money_healthWhile technology, energy and other industry sectors often capture the headlines in the financial press and in the media, health care companies are a major economic force within the U.S. economy and growing. According to The World Bank, health care spending between 2010 and 2014 accounted for nearly 18% of U.S. GDP. This number is only expected to grow in the decade ahead. While some have argued that the PPACA will slow this trend, I find little evidence that it will do so in any meaningful fashion. All of this means that health care dollars spent in the U.S. will claim an increasing portion of our GDP. Read more…

Got it covered? Navigating the complexities of international emergency medical policies

March 16, 2015 Leave a comment

steth_globe2Most U.S. employers assume that when sending employees overseas for work, they will be covered for international emergency medical under a domestic (U.S.) plan. For example, if the U.S. employee were to have a slip and fall accident while in Germany and needed to go to the hospital or a doctor for treatment, the U.S. plan would cover the treatment. But what many employes may not realize is that under these policies, they are required to pay the expenses out of pocket first, and then get reimbursed by the U.S. carrier after submitting a claim along with verification of payment. Fortunately, there are international travel medical policies that are primary (meaning they pay first) that relieves employees of this problem. Read more…

Wellness programs in the workplace and the elements of their success

March 12, 2015 Leave a comment

appleNearly 95 percent of large US companies offer workplace wellness programs with a focus on improving health among a population. Today, most wellness programs focus on improving health engagement among a population. For example, employees can submit to a biometric screening and in turn pay less for health insurance. Or, attend a seminar and receive points towards rewards. The key to a program’s success is a focus on employee engagement rather than return on investment, laying the foundation for a long-term wellness approach sustained through interest and participation.
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