Coverage Spotlight

7 Questions for Karen Caulfield on Equipment Breakdown

In this coverage spotlight, an equipment breakdown underwriter sat down with R&I to discuss the ins and outs of covered losses due to mechanical or electrical breakdown.
By: | November 1, 2017 • 3 min read

Karen Caulfield, senior underwriting manager, equipment breakdown underwriting, Liberty Mutual Insurance, with more than 30 years of equipment breakdown underwriting experience, discusses the equipment covered under this type of insurance, how this coverage came to be and how it plays a role in businesses as small as a bakery to as large as a fortune 100 manufacturer.

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R&I: What is equipment breakdown coverage?

Caulfield: Equipment breakdown (EB) covers losses stemming from damage to key equipment caused by failure of mechanical, electrical or other components due to power surges, electrical arcing, steam explosion and other events. Such losses are typically excluded by standard commercial property forms.

EB pays for repairing or replacing damaged equipment as well as the resulting business income losses.

The coverage was originally developed to protect the steam boilers that powered large factories at the turn of the 20th century. Today, however, the business-critical equipment of any size company can be covered by this insurance, such as diagnostic equipment in hospitals, air conditioning and refrigerators in restaurants, and business and communications equipment in offices.

R&I: What is covered under equipment breakdown?

Caulfield: EB policies cover the cost to repair or replace key pieces of equipment. They can also pay for other expenses related to the loss, such as lost income, extra expenses needed to continue operations while the machinery is fixed, or the lost value of spoiled or contaminated products. A policy can even cover expenses incurred when normal operations are interrupted by the failure of off-site, non-owned equipment (contingent business interruption).

Karen Caulfield, senior underwriting manager, equipment breakdown underwriting, Liberty Mutual Insurance

R&I: Why is this coverage important today?

Caulfield: EB coverage should be a key part of any company’s insurance program, because both the frequency and severity of these claims are rising.

There are three reasons for this. First, technological advances in electronics have increased the complexity of equipment. Today, most equipment contains a range of sophisticated controls and sensors, internet connectivity and advanced electronic sub-components never imagined just five years ago.

Second, this new technology often requires specialized technicians to diagnose and fix the damaged equipment, increasing both downtime and repair costs.

Third, the nation’s aging electrical grid can cause fluctuating electrical supplies and outages, which can produce electrical surges that can seriously damage equipment.

R&I: What is the difference between equipment breakdown and property coverages?

Caulfield: EB is a type of property insurance that covers specific equipment damaged by mechanical and electrical failure and other events, which are typically excluded from property policies given the specialized underwriting and risk engineering resources needed to insure against these. EB was designed to fill the gaps in property policies.

R&I: Who can benefit from such coverage?

Caulfield: Any size company in any industry should consider EB as part of its risk management program.

From an office building to a main street bakery to a fortune 100 manufacturer, every company has sophisticated equipment that is key to generating output, and hence revenue. When that equipment grinds to a halt, revenue stops and the cost of continuing operations rises, further impacting the bottom line.

EB coverage protects a company’s bottom line by providing the resources to quickly repair or replace key machinery or for temporary production facilities.

R&I: What are current market conditions?

Caulfield: The EB market is healthy. Pricing, terms & conditions and capacity are stable. Interest in the product is shifting down market from large and mid-sized companies to smaller accounts.

R&I: What should brokers, agents and buyers look for in an equipment breakdown provider?

Caulfield: Brokers, agents and buyers should understand a potential provider’s complete equipment breakdown offering.

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It all starts with underwriting. Does the insurer have the experience to help define the exposure and develop plans for managing, mitigating and effectively pricing that risk?

Risk engineering is also critical. Does the carrier have the qualified, National Board-certified engineers who can help identify hazards and production bottlenecks, improve an account’s maintenance programs, infrastructure and business continuity plans, prevent unplanned downtimes, and allow a business to quickly recover from equipment failures?

One quick and effective measure of a potential carrier’s EB expertise is that insurer’s ability to offer its EB offering to other carriers so that those insurers can meet the full insurance needs of their customers.

Autumn Heisler is the digital producer and a staff writer at Risk & Insurance®. She can be reached at [email protected]

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

4 Companies That Rocked It by Treating Injured Workers as Equals; Not Adversaries

The 2018 Teddy Award winners built their programs around people, not claims, and offer proof that a worker-centric approach is a smarter way to operate.
By: | October 30, 2018 • 3 min read

Across the workers’ compensation industry, the concept of a worker advocacy model has been around for a while, but has only seen notable adoption in recent years.

Even among those not adopting a formal advocacy approach, mindsets are shifting. Formerly claims-centric programs are becoming worker-centric and it’s a win all around: better outcomes; greater productivity; safer, healthier employees and a stronger bottom line.

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That’s what you’ll see in this month’s issue of Risk & Insurance® when you read the profiles of the four recipients of the 2018 Theodore Roosevelt Workers’ Compensation and Disability Management Award, sponsored by PMA Companies. These four programs put workers front and center in everything they do.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top,” said Steve Legg, director of risk management for Starbucks.

Starbucks put claims reporting in the hands of its partners, an exemplary act of trust. The coffee company also put itself in workers’ shoes to identify and remove points of friction.

That led to a call center run by Starbucks’ TPA and a dedicated telephonic case management team so that partners can speak to a live person without the frustration of ‘phone tag’ and unanswered questions.

“We were focused on building up a program with an eye on our partner experience. Cost was at the bottom of the list. Doing a better job by our partners was at the top.” — Steve Legg, director of risk management, Starbucks

Starbucks also implemented direct deposit for lost-time pay, eliminating stressful wait times for injured partners, and allowing them to focus on healing.

For Starbucks, as for all of the 2018 Teddy Award winners, the approach is netting measurable results. With higher partner satisfaction, it has seen a 50 percent decrease in litigation.

Teddy winner Main Line Health (MLH) adopted worker advocacy in a way that goes far beyond claims.

Employees who identify and report safety hazards can take credit for their actions by sending out a formal “Employee Safety Message” to nearly 11,000 mailboxes across the organization.

“The recognition is pretty cool,” said Steve Besack, system director, claims management and workers’ compensation for the health system.

MLH also takes a non-adversarial approach to workers with repeat injuries, seeing them as a resource for identifying areas of improvement.

“When you look at ‘repeat offenders’ in an unconventional way, they’re a great asset to the program, not a liability,” said Mike Miller, manager, workers’ compensation and employee safety for MLH.

Teddy winner Monmouth County, N.J. utilizes high-tech motion capture technology to reduce the chance of placing new hires in jobs that are likely to hurt them.

Monmouth County also adopted numerous wellness initiatives that help workers manage their weight and improve their wellbeing overall.

“You should see the looks on their faces when their cholesterol is down, they’ve lost weight and their blood sugar is better. We’ve had people lose 30 and 40 pounds,” said William McGuane, the county’s manager of benefits and workers’ compensation.

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Do these sound like minor program elements? The math says otherwise: Claims severity has plunged from $5.5 million in 2009 to $1.3 million in 2017.

At the University of Pennsylvania, putting workers first means getting out from behind the desk and finding out what each one of them is tasked with, day in, day out — and looking for ways to make each of those tasks safer.

Regular observations across the sprawling campus have resulted in a phenomenal number of process and equipment changes that seem simple on their own, but in combination have created a substantially safer, healthier campus and improved employee morale.

UPenn’s workers’ comp costs, in the seven-digit figures in 2009, have been virtually cut in half.

Risk & Insurance® is proud to honor the work of these four organizations. We hope their stories inspire other organizations to be true partners with the employees they depend on. &

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