Risk Insider: Warren Berey

The Importance of Duty of Care for International Employers

By: | March 6, 2017 • 2 min read
Warren Berey is SVP of Multinational Insurance at Generali Global Corporate & Commercial U.S.A., overseeing the development of international casualty and package insurance solutions for U.S. companies and U.S. subsidiaries of foreign companies. He can be reached at [email protected]

Among the more difficult tasks corporate risk managers face is identifying possible threats to employees that engage in business travel and international assignments.

While most firms ostensibly recognize that they have a moral obligation to ensure the safety of employees working in foreign areas, some do not understand the scope of these responsibilities and are ill prepared to deal with the possible fallout of disaster scenarios.

This may seem like a straightforward issue that any qualified risk management team should be able to handle on its own, but it’s not. Implementing a comprehensive program to ensure appropriate worldwide coverages and services that address potential scenarios is a complicated, detailed process.

Putting together the right solution often requires a tremendous amount of input from risk management experts inclusive of experienced global brokers and insurers that work on behalf of a given company on a case-by-case basis.

Quite simply, there is no one-size-fits-all risk management solution to ensure all duty of care obligations are met around the world. What qualifies as reasonable coverage in one country or for one organization’s needs may be entirely inadequate in another instance.

Therefore, risk managers must go the extra mile to ensure their international workforce is fully protected. If they don’t, the company could face long, drawn-out lawsuits capable of inflicting tremendous financial and reputational damage. While there are obvious risk management protections, lawsuits can arise from a wide range of occurrences – from everyday accidents to complex global threats.

In fact, there are countless instances where organizations failed to implement adequate risk management policies to address their duty of care and keep employees safe with respect to the potential hazards of each location. The fallout of such failures is severe, not only for families who have experienced devastating loss, but also for companies forced to deal with the legal, financial and reputational consequences.

This may seem like a straightforward issue that any qualified risk management team should be able to handle on its own, but it’s not.

Therefore, the importance of comprehensive international risk management policies to address adequate duty of care responsibilities should be abundantly clear. And in order to implement the best solutions, it is essential to partner with the right insurer.

Working with an experienced carrier with a global network that can coordinate local policies around the world ensures flexible, cost-effective solutions that optimize coverage and service. Unfortunately, companies often develop patchwork strategies that rely on fragmented programs put together by unrelated insurance brokers and carriers, which can lead to inefficiencies and dangerous gaps in coverage.

Experienced global insurers utilize a mature network of providers to ensure service, regulatory and legal compliance, risk engineering, and expert claims handling. Further, companies with a seasoned network have local operations that rely on established strategic relationships with thoroughly vetted legal, security, medical and other providers. This in turn allows carriers to offer flexible solutions, optimize the response to damages and threats, keep claim expenses in line and policy costs competitive.

Having the right resources in place can mean the difference between an expensive payout and walking away from a questionable lawsuit or fraudulent claim.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

2017 Teddy Awards

The Era of Engagement

The very best workers’ compensation programs are the ones where workers aren’t just the subject of the program, they’re a part of it.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 5 min read

Employee engagement, employee advocacy, employee participation — these are common threads running through the programs we honor this year in the 2017 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Awards, sponsored by PMA Companies.

A panel of judges — including workers’ comp executives who actively engage their own employees — selected this year’s winners on the basis of performance, sustainability, innovation and teamwork. The winners hail from different industries and regions, but all make people part of the solution to unique challenges.

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Valley Health System is all-too keenly aware of the risk of violence in health care settings, running the gamut from disruptive patients to grieving, overwrought family members to mentally unstable active shooters.

Valley Health employs a proactive and comprehensive plan to respond to violent scenarios, involving its Code Atlas Team — 50 members of the clinical staff and security departments who undergo specialized training. Valley Health drills regularly, including intense annual active shooter drills that involve participation from local law enforcement.

The drills are unnerving for many, but the program is making a difference — the health system cut its workplace violence injuries in half in the course of just one year.

“We’re looking at patient safety and employee safety like never before,” said Barbara Schultz, director of employee health and wellness.

At Rochester Regional Health’s five hospitals and six long-term care facilities, a key loss driver was slips and falls. The system’s mandatory safety shoe program saw only moderate take-up, but the reason wasn’t clear.

Rather than force managers to write up non-compliant employees, senior manager of workers’ compensation and employee safety Monica Manske got proactive, using a survey as well as one-on-one communication to suss out the obstacles. After making changes based on the feedback, shoe compliance shot up from 35 percent to 85 percent, contributing to a 42 percent reduction in lost-time claims and a 46 percent reduction in injuries.

For the shoe program, as well as every RRH safety initiative, Manske’s team takes the same approach: engaging employees to teach and encourage safe behaviors rather than punishing them for lapses.

For some of this year’s Teddy winners, success was born of the company’s willingness to make dramatic program changes.

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Delta Air Lines made two ambitious program changes since 2013. First it adopted an employee advocacy model for its disability and leave of absence programs. After tasting success, the company transitioned all lines including workers’ compensation to an integrated absence management program bundled under a single TPA.

While skeptics assume “employee advocacy” means more claims and higher costs, Delta answers with a reality that’s quite the opposite. A year after the transition, Delta reduced open claims from 3,479 to 1,367, with its total incurred amount decreased by $50.1 million — head and shoulders above its projected goals.

For the Massachusetts Port Authority, change meant ending the era of having a self-administered program and partnering with a TPA. It also meant switching from a guaranteed cost program to a self-insured program for a significant segment of its workforce.

Massport’s results make a great argument for embracing change: The organization saved $21 million over the past six years. Freeing up resources allowed Massport to increase focus on safety as well as medical management and chopped its medical costs per claim in half — even while allowing employees to choose their own health care providers.

Risk & Insurance® congratulates the 2017 Teddy Award winners and holds them in high esteem for their tireless commitment to a safe workforce that’s fully engaged in its own care. &

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More coverage of the 2017 Teddy Award Winners and Honorable Mentions:

Advocacy Takes Off: At Delta Air Lines, putting employees first is the right thing to do, for employees and employer alike.

 

Proactive Approach to Employee SafetyThe Valley Health System shifted its philosophy on workers’ compensation, putting employee and patient safety at the forefront.

 

Getting It Right: Better coordination of workers’ compensation risk management spelled success for the Massachusetts Port Authority.

 

Carrots: Not SticksAt Rochester Regional Health, the workers’ comp and safety team champion employee engagement and positive reinforcement.

 

Fit for Duty: Recognizing parallels between athletes and public safety officials, the city of Denver made tailored fitness training part of its safety plan.

 

Triage, Transparency and TeamworkWhen the City of Surprise, Ariz. got proactive about reining in its claims, it also took steps to get employees engaged in making things better for everyone.

A Lesson in Leadership: Shared responsibility, data analysis and a commitment to employees are the hallmarks of Benco Dental’s workers’ comp program.

 

Michelle Kerr is associate editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]