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Specialty Insurance

Three Things to Know About EPLI

It’s available, it’s affordable and it’s preferable to litigation.
By: | February 20, 2018 • 2 min read

With high-profile sexual harassment claims dominating today’s headlines, employers and their risk managers might want to take another look at their employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) — or lack thereof.

EPLI provides a defense against employment violations committed by employers and/or their employees, including sexual harassment, discrimination and wrongful termination.

“It’s important for employers to know that EPLI is one: available; two: affordable; and three: a policy costs less than a legal defense,” said Victoria Stone, senior vice president, Poms & Associates.

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“Irrespective of the validity of an allegation, it behooves employers to have a policy to provide for a defense, as well as a judgment,” Stone said. Client attitudes vary, but overall, they are begrudgingly receptive to such a policy.

“Some employers do resent having to pay for this type of policy,” Stone said. “My clients aspire to do the best they can. They are good people and good to their employees. But I recommend that they have EPLI, because these cases can be expensive to defend, even if you’ve got excellent documentation.”

Of course, having EPLI is not enough. Employers must work to create a culture where sexual harassment — or discrimination of any kind — is not acceptable. This includes providing training and education to employees, creating policies regarding behavior and reporting and making sure victims or witnesses know it’s safe to speak up.

Victoria Stone, senior vice president, Poms & Associates

As movements against sexual harassment gain momentum, some question whether EPLI negates corporate America’s motivation to change the culture that breeds abuse. Stone however, doesn’t consider that an issue. “It’s great to have insurance, but you don’t want to use it,” she said. “We want to help employers develop practices that prevent claims from arising; the goal is to keep this from happening.”

That prevention mindset is shared by Marie-France Gelot, SVP, insurance and claims counsel, Lockton Northeast, who believes a cultural shift is what’s needed.

“There needs to be a full overhaul of corporate culture,” she said. “This issue must be on the agenda of every corporate board. It starts at the top, at the board level and within the C-suite. Then legal, human resources and risk management must all be on board,” she added.

Calling for strong leadership and substance over form, Gelot said that the time for harassment-free workplaces has come, and those who do not act will damage their brands, reputations and ability to attract good talent.

“It’s time for the #WeToo movement,” she said. “I call it that because ‘we’ in corporate America must stand up and say, ‘We do not condone sexual harassment,’ ” she said. “Companies must truly commit to change; they must put their money where their mouth is and create a zero-tolerance culture,” she added. “We must take away the fear and stigma.” &

Mercedes Ott is managing editor of Risk & Insurance. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

The Profession

Curt Gross

This director of risk management sees cyber, IP and reputation risks as evolving threats, but more formal education may make emerging risk professionals better prepared.
By: | June 1, 2018 • 4 min read

R&I: What was your first job?

My first non-professional job was working at Burger King in high school. I learned some valuable life lessons there.

R&I: How did you come to work in risk management?

After taking some accounting classes in high school, I originally thought I wanted to be an accountant. After working on a few Widgets Inc. projects in college, I figured out that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. Risk management found me. The rest is history. Looking back, I am pleased with how things worked out.

R&I: What is the risk management community doing right?

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I think we do a nice job on post graduate education. I think the ARM and CPCU designations give credibility to the profession. Plus, formal college risk management degrees are becoming more popular these days. I know The University of Akron just launched a new risk management bachelor’s program in the fall of 2017 within the business school.

R&I: What could the risk management community be doing a better job of?

I think we could do a better job with streamlining certificates of insurance or, better yet, evaluating if they are even necessary. It just seems to me that there is a significant amount of time and expense around generating certificates. There has to be a more efficient way.

R&I: What was the best location and year for the RIMS conference and why?

Selfishly, I prefer a destination with a direct flight when possible. RIMS does a nice job of selecting various locations throughout the country. It is a big job to successfully pull off a conference of that size.

Curt Gross, Director of Risk Management, Parker Hannifin Corp.

R&I: What’s been the biggest change in the risk management and insurance industry since you’ve been in it?

Definitely the change in nontraditional property & casualty exposures such as intellectual property and reputational risk. Those exposures existed way back when but in different ways. As computer networks become more and more connected and news travels at a more rapid pace, it just amplifies these types of exposures. Sometimes we have to think like the perpetrator, which can be difficult to do.

R&I: What emerging commercial risk most concerns you?

I hate to sound cliché — it’s quite the buzz these days — but I would have to say cyber. It’s such a complex risk involving nontraditional players and motives. Definitely a challenging exposure to get your arms around. Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll really know the true exposure until there is more claim development.

R&I: What insurance carrier do you have the highest opinion of?

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Our captive insurance company. I’ve been fortunate to work for several companies with a captive, each one with a different operating objective. I view a captive as an essential tool for a successful risk management program.

R&I: Who is your mentor and why?

I can’t point to just one. I have and continue to be lucky to work for really good managers throughout my career. Each one has taken the time and interest to develop me as a professional. I certainly haven’t arrived yet and welcome feedback to continue to try to be the best I can be every day.

R&I: What have you accomplished that you are proudest of?

I would like to think I have and continue to bring meaningful value to my company. However, I would have to say my family is my proudest accomplishment.

R&I: What is your favorite book or movie?

Favorite movie is definitely “Good Will Hunting.”

R&I: What’s the best restaurant you’ve ever eaten at?

Tough question to narrow down. If my wife ran a restaurant, it would be hers. We try to have dinner as a family as much as possible. If I had to pick one restaurant though, I would say Fire Food & Drink in Cleveland, Ohio. Chef Katz is a culinary genius.

R&I: What is the most unusual/interesting place you have ever visited?

The Grand Canyon. It is just so vast. A close second is Stonehenge.

R&I: What is the riskiest activity you ever engaged in?

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A few, actually. Up until a few years ago, I owned a sport bike (motorcycle). Of course, I wore the proper gear, took a safety course and read a motorcycle safety book. Also, I have taken a few laps in a NASCAR [race car] around Daytona International Speedway at 180 mph. Most recently, trying to ride my daughter’s skateboard.

R&I: If the world has a modern hero, who is it and why?

The Dalai Lama. A world full of compassion, tolerance and patience and free of discrimination, racism and violence, while perhaps idealistic, sounds like a wonderful place to me.

R&I: What about this work do you find the most fulfilling or rewarding?

I really enjoy the company I work for and my role, because I get the opportunity to work with various functions. For example, while mostly finance, I get to interact with legal, human resources, employee health and safety, to name a few.

R&I: What do your friends and family think you do?

I asked my son. He said, “Risk management and insurance.” (He’s had the benefit of bring-your-kid-to-work day.)

Katie Dwyer is an associate editor at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]