Archive for June, 2015

Subtle change in PA law has big potential for professional liability market

opEd-obamacareA recent bill signed by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf will allow a group of medical professional liability insurers to convert from reciprocal exchanges, to stock companies after final approval by the Pennsylvania Department of Insurance. This change in the law will affect the future landscape of medical malpractice insurance in Pennsylvania.

Introduced as House Bill No. 159 by several Republican members of the Pennsylvania House, the law affects several malpractice carriers that were started shortly after the last significant “medical malpractice crisis” that happened around the turn of the century. Four of the more prominent members of this “class”, Healthcare Providers Insurance Exchange (“HPIX”), Professional Casualty Association (“PCA”), Positive Physicians Insurance Exchange (“PPIE”) and Physicians’ Insurance Program Exchange (‘PIPE”) would all potentially benefit from this new law. The goal of the legislation is to allow these insurers to convert their legal status to a stock company and, as a result, potentially gain access to new capital and expand their operations. However, this all comes with certain requirements and limitations. Read more…

Employee benefits for same-sex couples changing as states legalize marriage

June 25, 2015 1 comment

same-sex_marriageAs the number of states with legal same-sex marriage climbs to 37 plus the District of Columbia, some employers are informing their staff that they must wed in order to continue providing health-care coverage for their partners. According to a federal tally, approximately one-third of public- and private-sector employees in the U.S. have access to benefits for unmarried same-sex partners. However, a Supreme Court ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage in all 50 states will likely cause more employers to drop same-sex partner benefits in favor of spousal benefits.

Over the past decade, more and more companies offered coverage for employees and their partners as a way to provide equal benefits for couples who could not wed legally. However, some employers who offer benefit coverage for same-sex partners are now saying it is only fair to require these couples to marry, where legal, in order to extend coverage. Read more…

Kidnap and ransom policies become necessary as demand figures cracks $1 billion mark

kidnap_ransomCrimes that involve kidnap and ransom have become a lucrative and prosperous practice with the rise of the Islamic State in the Middle East, and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea off the west coast of Africa. The scale of for these crimes can be massive, with media reports estimating global ransom demand figures above $1 billion per year. Crisis response firm Olive Group estimates that there are about 100,000 kidnappings every year, 40 percent of which involve a ransom demand.

Experts claim that most kidnappings go unreported because victims and their families fear retribution, or have been warned not to do so by the authorities or company responsible for securing the release. Chuck Regini, director of global response at crisis response company Unity Resources Group, states that approximately one in 10 kidnappings actually gets reported. He also warned that there has been a noticeable increase in the number of incidents over the past 10 years. In particular, he has seen a rise in kidnappings of foreigners working overseas this year across all business sectors and socioeconomic groups. As a result of this spike, premiums written in this area have risen, and at least 75 percent of Fortune 500 companies now hold Kidnap & Ransom (K&R) policies according to industry estimates. Read more…

The legal issues surrounding the independent contractor business model

legal_independent_contractorsThe on demand economy, which consists primarily of tech startups, allows consumers to conveniently purchase goods and services via an app on their computers, tablets, and smartphones. In addition to being one of the fastest growing types of commerce, delivery speeds are lightning fast due to a large pool of contract workers who are available to provide goods and services around the clock. These workers are flexible enough to numerous jobs per day as a primary source of income, or a few per week as a secondary source. They are classified under most state laws as independent contractors rather than employees, and are able to decide when and where they perform work for these online or app-based companies.
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The increasing necessity for product recall insurance

Blue Bell Creameries of Brenham, Texas made the decision to voluntarily recall all of its products on after two chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream samples tested positive for Listeria, a potentially fatal bacteria. The extensive recall includes ice cream, sherbet, frozen yogurt, and other frozen snacks distributed in 23 states and internationally. This development comes after Blue Bell issued a more limited recall in March after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) connected ice cream contaminated with Listeria to three deaths in Kansas. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that 10 people in total from four states have contracted Listeria as a result of this outbreak.
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Leading the charge against cyber privacy violations

ediscoveryJay Edelson’s firm, Edelson PC, has been lead plaintiff counsel in highly publicized class-action suits brought against technology companies on the grounds of privacy violations. His firm has targeted early stage start-ups to technology giants like Amazon, Apple, and Google.

In early April, Edelson filed a lawsuit against Facebook on the basis that the social media site has “secretly amassed the world’s largest privately held database of consumer biometrics data.” Having this data provides Facebook with the ability to recognize faces, and automatically name members and their friends in pictures that have been uploaded to the site. Edelson PC’s suit claims that Facebook violated Illinois’ Biometric Privacy Act by storing images of its members’ faces without their knowledge or permission. It also claims that the social media site failed to indicate how long these images would be stored. Facebook has stated that the lawsuit is “without merit,” and users can turn off the feature at any time. By turning it off, the data that suggests tags to others is subsequently terminated.
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