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Risk Scenario

Swarmed

Lack of pre-loss planning leaves a manufacturer and its supply chain vulnerable in the face of disaster.
By: | November 2, 2015 • 9 min read
Risk Scenarios are created by Risk & Insurance editors along with leading industry partners. The hypothetical, yet realistic stories, showcase emerging risks that can result in significant losses if not properly addressed.

Disclaimer: The events depicted in this scenario are fictitious. Any similarity to any corporation or person, living or dead, is merely coincidental.

Big Waters

Jill Heald is a woman that loves to focus and hates distractions.

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Heald paid close attention when an earthquake struck Japan in 2011 and a typhoon flooded Thailand that same year.

The press and the trade press laid out the gory details. Major companies; auto manufacturers, electronics companies and telecommunications companies were hit with supply chain losses they did not see coming. And the losses were big.

As the risk manager for Auto-Spire, an electronics manufacturer that makes integrated circuits used in the automotive industry, the Thailand and Japan losses made a deep impression on Heald. She vowed to herself that that sort of thing would never happen to her company.

Post-2011, shifts in Auto-Spire’s procurement process resulted in the company sourcing semi-conductors from an up and coming Malaysian manufacturer. Looking ahead to 2016, Heald in mid-2015 began thinking about and seeking approval for an ambitious contingent time element coverage insurance package.

“How big are we talking?” her broker asked her when she first sketched her plan in a phone call.

“Based on a brief meeting I had with Auto-Spire procurement folks, I believe a $25 million program should be sufficient, given the redundancy of our supply chain,” Heald told her broker.

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“Well, we’re not going to get it all in one place,” the broker said. “Let me make some calls,” he said.

“How about we set up some face-to-face meetings with some of the underwriters?” Heald said.

“No need,” the broker said. “This is what you’re paying me for,” he said.

Unease gnawed at Heald after she hung up with the broker. It would make her feel a lot better to meet with the underwriters and some of their claims teams.

But the broker was who he was. Nobody had his contacts and he was a wizard with carrier relationships, or so everybody said.

Two days later the broker called her back.

“Okay I’ve got some ideas but we’ve got some work to do,” the broker said.

The nut was this: The CTE program that Heald was envisioning was going to require the participation of two, maybe three carriers. The way the broker presented the story, he’d been burning the midnight oil to connect with underwriters in the U.S. and Bermuda.

“So let me see if I’ve got this straight,” Heald said.

“We’ve got one U.S. carrier on the primary layer at $15 million.”

“Correct,” the broker said.

“And two carriers in the second layer at $5 million a pop. Both based in Bermuda,” Heald said.

“Again, correct,” the broker said.

They both agreed the premium prices were historically very good. The location of the semi-conductor maker was not a high flood risk. And the soft property market was another blessing.

Heald and her broker bound the coverage before Thanksgiving for the year 2016.

In April of 2016, Typhoon Lumba-Lumba, Malaysian for dolphin, strikes Malaysia as a CAT 4.

Confusion

The morning after the typhoon strikes, Heald is online and on the phone trying to determine if the city where the Auto-Spire semi-conductor supplier is located was heavily damaged in the storm.

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The good news is that it did not appear to be. The bad news comes within days when deliveries of semi-conductors from Malaysia to Auto-Spire’s U.S. factories slow to a crawl.

“Do we know what’s going on?” Heald said to an Auto-Spire executive in procurement at the end of the week.

“The communication there is horrible Jill,” the procurement executive said. “I wish I could tell you more, but right now I have next to nothing.”

“How could you have next to nothing?” Heald said to no one after she hung up with procurement. “It’s your job.”

Using her broker’s more robust international contacts, Heald pushes hard and gets some information. It’s just that the information she gets is not comforting.

The information is sketchy but it appears that several suppliers to the semi-conductor maker were knocked out by the typhoon.

Facing millions in lost sales, Heald and her broker file a claim on their CTE coverage for $20 million.

Heald is immediately descended upon by underwriters for the three carriers. The underwriters are demanding answers to a number of questions.

“We see there is no claims handling agreement associated with this program. Who’s the adjuster of record?” an underwriter for the U.S.-based carrier on the primary layer asked Heald.

“Adjuster of record? I’ve never heard of the phrase,” Jill Heald said.

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With no claims handling agreement in place between Auto-Spire and the carriers on the CTE program, Heald spends weeks responding to the various carriers’ document requests.

Three weeks after the storm struck, Heald’s broker calls her with his version of good news.

“Hey, I talked to Ajax Ltd., they’re going to cut you a check for $1 million as an advance while these CTE claims get sorted out,” the broker said.

With semi-conductor shipments from Malaysia at a trickle, Heald takes little solace in this.

“Really? I guess I’ll take it,” Heald says. But the truth is that she’s worn down to a nub in all the back and forth between the carriers.

The lack of a claims handling agreement has translated into weeks of delays in getting claims information filed and adjusted. Each carrier has a different process for adjusting the claim.

All three carriers use the services of outside forensic accountants. Unfortunately, each carrier uses a different accounting firm.

There are also different terms and conditions between the different policies. Whether there could be coverage gaps created by those differing terms and conditions is an ongoing source of stress for Heald.

“There’s got to be a better way to do this,” she told her broker on the phone one day. “We should have had transparency into this ahead of time.”

“Look Jill, I’ve been doing this a long time,” the broker said.

“I don’t care how long you’ve been doing it. You and I could have done it better,” Heald shot back.

And one million is looking like a drop in the bucket next to lost sales to the automakers that are starting to reach into the tens of millions.

It’s now six weeks after the storm hit and the Malaysian supplier is still not fully back up to speed.

A Hellish Grind

The typhoon that struck Malaysia and clipped Auto-Spire’s supply chain resulted in $45 million in lost sales.

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Heald heaps the blame on herself, even though this is an organizational failure. Heald was led to believe that $25 million of CTE was sufficient but Auto-Spire’s dependence on third party suppliers was increased due to the recent shift in its procurement process.

It wasn’t that the carriers on the program didn’t pay the claim, they eventually did. But the delays caused by the lack of a claims handling agreement created serious tension between Heald and the Auto-Spire C-suites. Not to mention cash flow problems on top of the lost sales due to the crimp in Auto-Spire’s supply chain.

“A promise to pay is a promise to pay…. in a timely manner,” her CFO thundered at her when she broke the news to him that due to delays in adjusting the Malaysia claims the carriers still hadn’t cut Auto-Spire checks.

“They are going to pay Jim, it’s just that the claims process got extended more than we would like,” Heald told him.

“It’s not the carriers’ fault,” she added.

“How do you mean?” he said.

“It’s my fault actually,” Heald said.

“I should have had a pre-loss claims handling agreement in place. That would have streamlined the process much more and given all parties a clearer picture of the claims handling process.

“But you didn’t do that,” the CFO said.

“No, I didn’t,” Heald said.

“What about your broker, shouldn’t he have put something like this in place?”

“I don’t want to blame him either. The fact is that we didn’t do it,” Heald said.

“So how much time do you think that cost us, in terms of getting paid,” the CFO said.

“Hard to say,” Heald said. “Six weeks minimum,” she added.

“Do you know what it costs to borrow $20 million for six weeks?” the CFO said.

“Not off of the top of my head,” Heald said.

“A lot,” the CFO said. “A lot.”

It is also clear to Heald that she needs to develop a better channel of communication with the procurement group so that she can be in a better position to procure adequate insurance for the needs created by Auto-Spire’s supply chain.

She thought she was doing the right thing in putting together a substantial CTE program. Now it all feels like a cruel joke.

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Risk & Insurance® partnered with FM Global to produce this scenario. Below are FM Global’s recommendations on how to prevent the losses presented in the scenario. This perspective is not an editorial opinion of Risk & Insurance®.

What to Do Before a Loss

In most cases, you’ll receive no warning before disaster strikes. If you experience a sizable loss, the loss itself may be your smallest issue. You might also be worried about injuries, deaths, lost market share, revenue stream, notifying shareholders or something else.

When a loss happens, it is similar to the start of a professional sports game. It is a culmination of all the practice leading up to the game, only the practice is the pre-loss planning. That’s why pre-loss planning is so important. Before a loss occurs, work with your broker and/or insurer(s) to develop a plan for loss management that is carefully tailored to meet your unique needs.

The following is a list of the key information your loss management plan should cover:

  • procedures and guidelines for handling loss, including a clear delineation of who will report the loss to your insurance partner(s).
  • a detailed list of names and contact information of members of your emergency response team
  • key contacts at your subsidiaries and remote offices
  • contingency arrangements with emergency services and critical suppliers
  • tailored loss-handling and claims cooperation agreements with other program participants
  • global coordination requirements
  • assignment of emergency duties for local plant personnel, your corporate insurance department, your broker and others
  • a designated liaison to work with the adjuster

Without pre-loss planning, there can be fear of the unknown. However, with pre-loss planning it can be reassuring to know that you just have to pick up the phone and make only one call when a loss occurs, know who is coming to your site and know how your insurer will respond.

Many emotions come with an actual loss. Pre-loss planning can provide you that much needed level of confidence when you need it most in your job.





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Dan Reynolds is editor-in-chief of Risk & Insurance. He can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Insurtech

Kiss Your Annual Renewal Goodbye; On-Demand Insurance Challenges the Traditional Policy

Gig workers' unique insurance needs drive delivery of on-demand coverage.
By: | September 14, 2018 • 6 min read

The gig economy is growing. Nearly six million Americans, or 3.8 percent of the U.S. workforce, now have “contingent” work arrangements, with a further 10.6 million in categories such as independent contractors, on-call workers or temporary help agency staff and for-contract firms, often with well-known names such as Uber, Lyft and Airbnb.

Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

The number of Americans owning a drone is also increasing — one recent survey suggested as much as one in 12 of the population — sparking vigorous debate on how regulation should apply to where and when the devices operate.

Add to this other 21st century societal changes, such as consumers’ appetite for other electronic gadgets and the advent of autonomous vehicles. It’s clear that the cover offered by the annually renewable traditional insurance policy is often not fit for purpose. Helped by the sophistication of insurance technology, the response has been an expanding range of ‘on-demand’ covers.

The term ‘on-demand’ is open to various interpretations. For Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO of pioneering on-demand insurance platform Trōv, it’s about “giving people agency over the items they own and enabling them to turn on insurance cover whenever they want for whatever they want — often for just a single item.”

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“On-demand represents a whole new behavior and attitude towards insurance, which for years has very much been a case of ‘get it and forget it,’ ” said Walchek.

Trōv’s mobile app enables users to insure just a single item, such as a laptop, whenever they wish and to also select the period of cover required. When ready to buy insurance, they then snap a picture of the sales receipt or product code of the item they want covered.

Welcoming Trōv: A New On-Demand Arrival

While Walchek, who set up Trōv in 2012, stressed it’s a technology company and not an insurance company, it has attracted industry giants such as AXA and Munich Re as partners. Trōv began the U.S. roll-out of its on-demand personal property products this summer by launching in Arizona, having already established itself in Australia and the United Kingdom.

“Australia and the UK were great testing grounds, thanks to their single regulatory authorities,” said Walchek. “Trōv is already approved in 45 states, and we expect to complete the process in all by November.

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group.” – Scott Walchek, founding chairman and CEO, Trōv

“On-demand products have a particular appeal to millennials who love the idea of having control via their smart devices and have embraced the concept of an unbundling of experiences: 75 percent of our users are in the 18 to 35 age group,” he added.

“But a mass of tectonic societal shifts is also impacting older generations — on-demand cover fits the new ways in which they work, particularly the ‘untethered’ who aren’t always in the same workplace or using the same device. So we see on-demand going into societal lifestyle changes.”

Wooing Baby Boomers

In addition to its backing for Trōv, across the Atlantic, AXA has partnered with Insurtech start-up By Miles, launching a pay-as-you-go car insurance policy in the UK. The product is promoted as low-cost car insurance for drivers who travel no more than 140 miles per week, or 7,000 miles annually.

“Due to the growing need for these products, companies such as Marmalade — cover for learner drivers — and Cuvva — cover for part-time drivers — have also increased in popularity, and we expect to see more enter the market in the near future,” said AXA UK’s head of telematics, Katy Simpson.

Simpson confirmed that the new products’ initial appeal is to younger motorists, who are more regular users of new technology, while older drivers are warier about sharing too much personal information. However, she expects this to change as on-demand products become more prevalent.

“Looking at mileage-based insurance, such as By Miles specifically, it’s actually older generations who are most likely to save money, as the use of their vehicles tends to decline. Our job is therefore to not only create more customer-centric products but also highlight their benefits to everyone.”

Another Insurtech ready to partner with long-established names is New York-based Slice Labs, which in the UK is working with Legal & General to enter the homeshare insurance market, recently announcing that XL Catlin will use its insurance cloud services platform to create the world’s first on-demand cyber insurance solution.

“For our cyber product, we were looking for a partner on the fintech side, which dovetailed perfectly with what Slice was trying to do,” said John Coletti, head of XL Catlin’s cyber insurance team.

“The premise of selling cyber insurance to small businesses needs a platform such as that provided by Slice — we can get to customers in a discrete, seamless manner, and the partnership offers potential to open up other products.”

Slice Labs’ CEO Tim Attia added: “You can roll up on-demand cover in many different areas, ranging from contract workers to vacation rentals.

“The next leap forward will be provided by the new economy, which will create a range of new risks for on-demand insurance to respond to. McKinsey forecasts that by 2025, ecosystems will account for 30 percent of global premium revenue.

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“When you’re a start-up, you can innovate and question long-held assumptions, but you don’t have the scale that an insurer can provide,” said Attia. “Our platform works well in getting new products out to the market and is scalable.”

Slice Labs is now reviewing the emerging markets, which aren’t hampered by “old, outdated infrastructures,” and plans to test the water via a hackathon in southeast Asia.

Collaboration Vs Competition

Insurtech-insurer collaborations suggest that the industry noted the banking sector’s experience, which names the tech disruptors before deciding partnerships, made greater sense commercially.

“It’s an interesting correlation,” said Slice’s managing director for marketing, Emily Kosick.

“I believe the trend worth calling out is that the window for insurers to innovate is much shorter, thanks to the banking sector’s efforts to offer omni-channel banking, incorporating mobile devices and, more recently, intelligent assistants like Alexa for personal banking.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.”

As with fintechs in banking, Insurtechs initially focused on the retail segment, with 75 percent of business in personal lines and the remainder in the commercial segment.

“Banks have bought into the value of these technology partnerships but had the benefit of consumer expectations changing slowly with them. This compares to insurers who are in an ever-increasing on-demand world where the risk is high for laggards to be left behind.” — Emily Kosick, managing director, marketing, Slice

Those proportions may be set to change, with innovations such as digital commercial insurance brokerage Embroker’s recent launch of the first digital D&O liability insurance policy, designed for venture capital-backed tech start-ups and reinsured by Munich Re.

Embroker said coverage that formerly took weeks to obtain is now available instantly.

“We focus on three main issues in developing new digital business — what is the customer’s pain point, what is the expense ratio and does it lend itself to algorithmic underwriting?” said CEO Matt Miller. “Workers’ compensation is another obvious class of insurance that can benefit from this approach.”

Jason Griswold, co-founder and chief operating officer of Insurtech REIN, highlighted further opportunities: “I’d add a third category to personal and business lines and that’s business-to-business-to-consumer. It’s there we see the biggest opportunities for partnering with major ecosystems generating large numbers of insureds and also big volumes of data.”

For now, insurers are accommodating Insurtech disruption. Will that change?

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“Insurtechs have focused on products that regulators can understand easily and for which there is clear existing legislation, with consumer protection and insurer solvency the two issues of paramount importance,” noted Shawn Hanson, litigation partner at law firm Akin Gump.

“In time, we could see the disruptors partner with reinsurers rather than primary carriers. Another possibility is the likes of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple, with their massive balance sheets, deciding to link up with a reinsurer,” he said.

“You can imagine one of them finding a good Insurtech and buying it, much as Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods gave it entry into the retail sector.” &

Graham Buck is a UK-based writer and has contributed to Risk & Insurance® since 1998. He can be reached at riskletters.com.