The coronavirus pandemic has rendered 2020 one of the most tumultuous years in modern history. A record-breaking hurricane season, civil unrest, digital insecurities and more have added to the risks faced by businesses and individuals over the past 12 months. Take a look back at some of 2020’s most significant headlines from the U.S. and Canada and explore their potential insurance implications.
2020 Insurance Timeline : A Perilous Year for Businesses, Individuals
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Severe storms affect large swath of U.S.
11 lives are lost when a powerful storm system sweeps through the South and Midwest, bringing heavy snow, ice, tornadoes and flooding. In Kiowa, Oklahoma, a man drowns in floodwaters, and at Port Milwaukee, on Lake Michigan in Wisconsin, high winds, massive waves and flooding cause millions of dollars in damage.
“Many homeowners are not aware that flood is not covered by their Homeowners Insurance policy. Flooding is one of those perils that can be the most devastating.” –Brad Turner, National Product Manager, Flood, Burns & Wilcox, Morehead City, North Carolina
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial); Residential Property; Primary and Excess FloodNovel coronavirus hits the U.S.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announce a 30-year-old Washington State man is the first confirmed U.S. case of infection with the novel coronavirus.
Source: The New York Times97,000-plus gallons of wine spill in California
A 97,000-gallon winery tank door pops open at Rodney Strong Vineyards, and 46,000 to 96,000 gallons of cabernet sauvignon flow into the Russian River, about 65 miles north of San Francisco. A mechanical failure is believed to have caused the door to open.
“Every business has an environmental exposure and recognizing that is critically important.” –Jude Sutton, Senior Broker, Environmental, Burns & Wilcox, Denver, Colorado
Featured Solutions: Environmental; Management LiabilityNovel coronavirus hits Canada
At a news conference, Ontario health officials confirm a male resident who returned to Toronto on Jan. 22 after visiting China is the first confirmed “presumptive” case of the novel coronavirus in Canada.
Source: ReutersU.S. declares public health emergency
U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II declares a public health emergency in response to the 2019 novel coronavirus.
Source: HHS.govOverturned tanker truck spills 5,000 gallons of hazardous material, prompts evacuation
Homes were evacuated and hazmat crews called after a tanker truck carrying 5,000 gallons of butyl acrylate overturned on a bridge. The driver was not injured in the accident, which occurred on the Buck Creek Road bridge in Whitley County, Kentucky, about five miles south of Williamsburg. The driver blames GPS for directing him to use the bridge.
“It is important that cargo carriers understand what they are hauling and to what degree it can be considered a hazardous material.” –John Woods, Vice President, National Practice Group Leader, Transportation, Burns & Wilcox, Scottsdale, Arizona
Featured Solutions: Transportation and Garage; Environmental; Liability (Personal)Election results delayed due to alleged app failure
A smartphone app marred by alleged technical and design flaws is being blamed for a days-long delay in reporting results from the February 3 Iowa U.S. presidential election caucus.
“When app developers must rush their processes to meet their clients’ needs, the likelihood for errors increases considerably. While quality controls and sound risk management procedures are essential, they do not address or mitigate every potential error or circumstance that could arise.” – Derek Kilmer, Manager, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured Solutions: Cyber/Privacy/Technology/MediaMultiple tornadoes rip through Tennessee, Kentucky
The tornadoes were rated EF-0 to EF-4 and claimed the lives of 24 Tennesseans on March 3. CoreLogic estimates the total damage to residential and commercial structures to exceed $1B.
Sources: News Channel 5 Nashville – WTVF; CoreLogic
Featured Solutions: Commercial Property; Residential Property; Personal Articles Floater; Primary and Excess FloodCoronavirus crisis highlights cybersecurity hazards of remote work, telemedicine
As employees transition to working remotely during COVID-19 stay-at-home orders, cybersecurity vulnerabilities that could lead to data breaches include unsecured wireless networks, home hardware, third-party videoconferencing services and inadequate antivirus software.
“You are only as good as your weakest link. By challenging the status quo and merging cybersecurity resources with insurance under one digital risk offering, you can harden your infrastructure and improve your cyber risk footprint.” –Matthew Lefchik, Director, Cyber Risk Management, Node International, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured Solutions: Cyber/Privacy/Technology/MediaBusinesses evolve to face challenges posed by COVID-19
To meet a surge in demand for suddenly-scarce medical equipment and other health care-related products, manufacturers shift to making items like hand sanitizer, personal protective equipment for care providers, respirators and ventilators. To serve customers during shutdowns, restaurants and other businesses implement new delivery services and begin carrying new product lines.
Featured Solutions: Casualty (Commercial); Manufacturing and Distribution; Errors and Omissions (E&O); Property (Commercial)FDA orders Zantac pulled from the market
The Food and Drug Administration announces it has halted sales of the popular drug in the U.S., pending the results of its ongoing investigation. It now appears that the levels of the contaminant increase over time and when stored at higher-than-normal temperatures.
Featured Solutions: Manufacturing & Distribution; Product RecallWalmart sued by family of worker who died from COVID-19
The family of Wando Evans, a 51-year-old stock and maintenance associate who worked at the same store for 15 years, files a lawsuit alleging the company did not respond properly to COVID-19 symptoms exhibited by several workers at a Chicago-area Walmart store, including failing to share information about associates’ symptoms with their coworkers, provide them with gloves, enforce appropriate distancing and other measures.
“Companies and board members need to have very sound communication practices and be responsive. Clear communication has never been more critical. Without it, companies are highly vulnerable to litigation.” –Nicole Greene, Associate Vice President, National Brokerage Operations, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured Solutions: Management LiabilityMeatpacking plant closures expected to disrupt supply chain
Tyson Foods announces it is closing its largest pork plant. Major shutdowns at plants all over the country due to coronavirus lead to shortages, causing prices for meat products to soar and prices for animals to plummet.
Source: CBS 2 Pittsburgh – KDKA
Featured Solutions: Manufacturing & DistributionSenior living facilities face major risks, challenges
The state of New York mandates no visitors in senior living facilities, requires PPE and temperature checks for employees, isolating COVID-19 positive patients, designating staff members to care for coronavirus patients, and transferring COVID-19 patients to another facility if they are unable to care for them. In Michigan, the state’s Department of Health and Human Services begins releasing facility-specific COVID-19 information and Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order requires nursing homes to report COVID-19 cases and outlines procedures for isolating patients.
“Care providers are under a tremendous amount of stress. Not only do they worry about their residents, they worry about their own health and safety as well as their family’s health and safety. This stress is magnified with additional concerns over potential malpractice lawsuits as they do their best to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic.” –Margaret Karnick, Senior Underwriter, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois
Featured Solutions: Professional LiabilityFDA clears Remdesivir for coronavirus treatment
The antiviral drug, manufactured by Gilead, is granted an emergency use authorization following a modestly successful trial of the drug showing patients treated with the drug recovered more quickly, in an average of 11 days versus 15 days for patients who received a placebo.
Source: The New York TimesExpansion of workers’ compensation benefits for COVID-19 sparks concerns
California Governor Gavin Newsom signs Executive Order #N-62-20, which presumes that employees who develop COVID-19 and meet certain criteria are eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Featured Solutions: Workers’ CompensationHeavy rain, dam failures unleash ‘500-year flood’ in Mid-Michigan
The damage is tied directly to severe weather, as heavy rains caused catastrophic dam failures. Dow Chemical Company’s main plant in Midland, which is downstream from the breached dams, activates its local emergency center in Michigan and implements “its flood preparedness plan, which includes the safe shutdown of operating units on site.”
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial); Residential Property; Primary and Excess FloodThefts surge at businesses shuttered by COVID-19
Commercial properties left vacant during coronavirus-related shutdowns increasingly become the target of burglaries, adding another challenge for businesses already facing mounting hardship. As overall crime rates plummeted globally, New York City sees a 169 percent spike in commercial burglaries and Vancouver reports a 147 percent increase in commercial break-ins.
“Reduced staffing and businesses operating at limited hours mean more opportunities for burglaries.” –John Heaner, Associate Managing Director, Underwriter, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Tampa, Florida
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial)Backyard pool sales, dog adoptions spike amid pandemic stay-at-home orders
Sales of pools, trampolines and other backyard recreational items surge as families try to salvage a summer marred by camp closures, community pool shutdowns, travel restrictions and continued anxiety over the COVID-19 crisis. U.S. and Canadian vendors sell out of above-ground pools and trampolines and luxury backyard amenities like hot tubs and outdoor fire features become increasingly popular. Pet adoptions rise dramatically, in a “pandemic puppy” trend that has families taking advantage of extra time at home to train a new dog.
“If you do decide to invest in warm-weather amenities, be sure to also invest in the proper liability coverage to protect yourself and the possibility of injury among guests, neighbors and family, in addition to your property coverage.” –Kate Wright, Associate Vice President, Regional Practice Group Leader, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Indianapolis, Indiana
Featured Solutions: Residential Property; Liability (Personal)Property damage from Minneapolis looting assessed at least $55 million
Looting in Minneapolis following the May 25 killing of George Floyd is estimated to have caused at least $55 million in property damage, local leaders say. At least 220 buildings were damaged.
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial); Casualty (Commercial)Class-action status sought in suit over health care company breach
Attorneys file a complaint in U.S. District Court in Albany, New York, on behalf of one of two patients pursuing class-action status for their lawsuits against a Colonie, New York health care company and its accounting firm over a 2019 data breach that reportedly exposed the sensitive information of 170,000 patients. The lawsuits allege BST & Co. CPAs, the accounting firm for Community Care Physicians, experienced a ransomware attack in December 2019 and failed to disclose the incident to affected patients for more than two months. The patients claim they face significant and long-lasting impacts, including persistent anxiety and future expenses.
“Patients may not trust a health care facility going forward if they feel their data is not being properly protected.” –Erica Rangel, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois
Featured Solutions: Cyber/Privacy/Technology/Media; Management LiabilityPatrons, clients, patients increasingly asked to sign COVID-19 liability waivers
In addition to mask requirements and temperature checks, some companies require customers to sign a waiver of liability for potential coronavirus exposure.
“There are so many different angles and facets to these situations that no two circumstances will be identical. This is why it is imperative to consult someone with experience and expertise in writing insurance policies for your type of business.” –Joseph Sweeney, Broker, Burns & Wilcox, New York, New York
Featured Solutions: Casualty (Commercial); Workers’ CompensationHand sanitizers recalled due to risk of toxic methanol
Dozens of hand sanitizer products are recalled or recommended for recall for potentially containing methanol, which can be toxic when ingested or absorbed through the skin. The FDA first alerts consumers in June about the presence of methanol, also known as wood alcohol, in nine products and expands the warning to include 59 types of hand sanitizer, all reportedly produced in Mexico. Health Canada also issues recalls for hand sanitizers potentially contaminated with methanol or ethyl acetate.
Featured Solutions: Manufacturing and Distribution; Casualty (Commercial)U.S. hits 10th billion-dollar weather disaster earlier than any previous year on record
2020 marks the sixth consecutive year with 10 extreme weather events, which is also a record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The 10 storms include tornadoes, damaging winds and hail. Seven of the 10 storms occurred in the South or Southeast, where an Easter Sunday tornado outbreak of 190 tornadoes killed 36 people.
“If you have a $1 million home and you do not increase your replacement costs for inflation for three years in a row, you could be underinsured by $200,000. Not many homeowners could afford that.” –Ian Hanson, Associate Vice President, Underwriting Director, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, San Francisco, California
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial); Residential Property; Primary and Excess FloodTwitter hackers target Elon Musk, Barack Obama, other major accounts in Bitcoin scam
The hackers behind the attack receive 400 payments in bitcoin equal to $121,000. The scammers gained access to high-profile accounts and tweeted that they would double payments in bitcoin sent to a certain cryptocurrency wallet.
Featured Solutions: Cyber/Privacy/Technology/MediaGeorgia governor signs bill allowing liquor home delivery
The legislation allows stores and some restaurants to deliver beer, wine and liquor to homes. It won final approval in the Georgia House on June 25.
“With states changing regulations, it is very important that businesses make sure they are adequately insured, that the insurance company is aware of their intentions to provide home delivery, and that there are no gaps in their policies.” –Aaron Pfister, Associate Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, Scottsdale, Arizona
Featured Solutions: Hospitality; Casualty (Commercial)Life Time Inc. offers “distance learning support camps” as child care option, new revenue source
While gyms and in-person classes are shut down in many areas, 100 Life Time locations nationwide open as child care centers for kids aged 4-12. The centers require all children and adults to wear masks and temperatures to be taken twice daily. Enhanced safety and cleaning protocols are implemented, according to a news release. At the same time, companies implement on- and off-site child care services for employees with children and parents create in-home “learning pods” where children meet in small groups for supervised online learning.
Featured Solutions: Casualty (Commercial); Property (Commercial); Residential Property; Liability (Personal)Cold snap destroys millions in marijuana plants as cannabis sales soar
Early cold temperatures and snow in Colorado destroy millions of dollars in outdoor marijuana plants. The drop of about 70 degrees happens too early in the growing season for farmers to harvest the plants. The extreme weather challenges follow a period of record-setting cannabis sales.
Featured Solutions: Cannabis; Manufacturing and Distribution; Casualty (Commercial)Hurricane-force winds flip 45 semi trucks in 20 minutes
Wind gusts of nearly 100 miles per hour blasted portions of Utah last week, causing major damage and killing one person. At least 45 semi-trucks were blown over by the windstorm, sending four truck drivers to the hospital with injuries.
“A freak event like this illustrates the importance of making sure organizations have the proper insurance at all times, to cover the value of their trucks and the value of the cargo they are hauling for others.” –John McGlynn, Director of Transportation, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario
Featured Solutions: Transportation and GarageWoman killed in tragic elevator accident at Boston apartment building
Boston University French lecturer Carrie O’Connor, 38, perishes from “traumatic asphyxia” when an elevator in her new apartment building plunges from the first floor towards the basement as she tries to transport a large package. The elevator for the apartment building, which was built in 1920, had been inspected and certified prior to the incident.
Featured Solutions: Habitational; Commercial General LiabilityWoman dies during ransomware attack on German hospital
The death could be the first death directly linked to a cyberattack on a hospital, according to reports. Although the ransomware attack was not intended for the hospital and was addressed to a nearby university, the hospital was unable to accept emergency patients because of the attack and the woman had to be sent to a health care facility 20 miles away.
Source: The Verge
Featured Solutions: Cyber/Privacy/Technology/MediaGlass Fire rages across Northern California, destroying multiple vineyards
More than a dozen operations in Napa Valley are partially or completely destroyed due to the wildfire. The Glass Fire burns more than 66 square miles, damages or destroys over 100 structures, and forces tens of thousands of people to evacuate. One winery loses about 900 bottles of wine valued at $60 to $200 per bottle from the year’s harvest.
“If a winery loses $5 million worth of wine and that stock is not adequately insured, it could face significant challenges paying its growers, operating costs, loans and any other expenses. That kind of shortfall can easily lead to filing for bankruptcy.” –Rich Gobler, Corporate Senior Vice President, Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, San Francisco, California
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial); Casualty (Commercial); Residential Property; Personal Articles Floater; Wildfire Defense SystemsAccident at Ohio construction site triggers gas line blast
The accident starts when a truck backs over a gas line and strikes a utility pole. The surrounding area is rocked by the blast as the gas ignites, sending flames and smoke into the sky for hours and forcing nearby buildings to be evacuated. No injuries are reported.
Featured Solutions: Property (Commercial); Casualty (Commercial)Peloton recalls pedals on 27,000 bikes after reports of injuries
The recall applies to pedals on bikes sold between July 2013 through May 2016. The brand had received reports of 120 pedal breakages and 16 injuries before issuing the recall.
“From a financial standpoint, if a company is involved with a product, especially one that has the potential to cause bodily injury or property damage, that company needs Product Recall Insurance coverage.” –Angela Tam, Vice President, Brokerage Manager, Burns & Wilcox, San Francisco, California
Featured Solutions: Manufacturing and Distribution; Casualty (Commercial)Kroger announces COVID-19 rapid antibody testing program
Testing to detect past coronavirus infection to be available at 2,200 pharmacy locations and 220 clinic locations for $25, with results in 15 minutes. Kroger launched a self-administered COVID-19 testing program in August aimed at helping employers reopen safely.
“The greatest liability lies in the products used to provide and interpret the test.” –Greg Wideman, Brokerage Manager, Healthcare, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois
Featured Solutions: Casualty (Commercial)Pfizer announces promising Phase 3 vaccine trial results
The vaccine trial reports an unexpectedly high success rate in preventing COVID-19 infection—more than 90 percent effective. Concerns are raised about the requirements that the vaccine be stored at about -75 degrees Celsius (-100 degrees Fahrenheit), around 50 degrees colder than any other vaccine currently in use in the U.S. Some states and hospital systems rush to purchase new freezers to accommodate the vaccine, creating potential supply shortages, and some experts warn of potential major glitches when frontline workers must handle large amounts of dry ice, which is also in short supply in many parts of the country.
Source: CNNChipotle opens its first digital-only restaurant
Chipotle Digital Kitchen in Highland Falls, New York will consist of only a lobby for off-premise orders and food pick-up. Orders will be placed online, through the Chipotle app, or third-party delivery partners.
“Anytime there is a change in the landscape of a business, its cybersecurity plan must also change in response.” –Rahmad Bauldrick, Director, Regional Practice Group Leader, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois
Featured Solutions: Cyber/Privacy/Technology/Media; Errors and Omissions (E&O)Family sues Publix over deli worker’s death from COVID-19
The family of a 70-year-old man who died of COVID-19 complications files suit against his employer after he was allegedly prohibited from wearing a face mask at work. Gerardo Gutierrez was employed at a Publix grocery store in Miami Beach, Florida when he was infected with coronavirus in early April. At that time, Publix had mask-wearing restrictions in place for workers in its deli, meat and seafood departments. Gutierrez family’s lawsuit alleges that the store’s mask policy led to his death.
Featured Solutions: Management LiabilityRestaurants get creative with outdoor dining structures
In Michigan, where indoor dining is paused until at least Dec. 9, the owners of Brass Ring Brewing build “craft beer shanties” inspired by fishing shanties to allow customers to comfortably dine outdoors. The restaurant is among many establishments in the U.S. and Canada pursuing temporary outdoor dining structures including pole tents, igloo domes and elaborate “streeteries” made from plywood and complete with lighting and heating.
“Building a structure for guests to dine outside may defeat the purpose of being outside. Before committing to the extra costs to build a structure, they need to make sure it is within government guidelines and advise their insurance company to confirm coverage.” –Patricia Sheridan, Director, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario
Featured Solutions: Architects and Engineers; Errors and Omissions; Casualty (Commercial); Property (Commercial)
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U.S. Capitol Riot
The attack, reportedly aimed at disrupting the certification of 2020 election results, leaves five individuals dead.
Source: New York TimesInauguration of the 46th President of the United States
Joe Biden becomes the 46th president of the United States. Kamala Harris is sworn in as vice president.
Source: New York TimesTom Brady Rookie Card Fetches a Record $555,988 at Auction
An autographed Tom Brady rookie card is purchased at auction on eBay for $555,988, one day after the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback helped his team secure a spot in Super Bowl LV.
“These are items that are priceless, really, and they require a higher level of coverage than what a Homeowners Insurance policy can provide.” –Danielle Alessandrini, Associate Vice President, Underwriting Director, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Personal Articles FloaterCOVID-19 Cases Exceed 100 Million Worldwide
A global tally shows more than 100 million cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed.
Source: CNNConsulting Firm Agrees to $1.75 Million Settlement in Water Treatment Plant Suit
A consulting firm will pay $1.75 million to settle claims of breach of contract and professional negligence related to the design and construction of a large, lined pond that was part of a $13 million water treatment plant. The settlement was finalized on January 27.
“Mistakes can happen in any professional service, but those in the design and construction industry can be particularly costly. The bigger the project, the bigger the potential price tag to correct any errors.” – Kenneth Labelle, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, Chicago, Illinois
Featured solutions: Errors and Omissions; Professional Liability InsuranceRobinhood Faces Over 30 Class-Action Suits for Pausing ‘Meme Stock’ Buys
The online and app-based stock trading broker Robinhood faces at least 34 class-action lawsuits as of Feb. 2 over its decision to prevent purchases of shares in GameStop and several other so-called “meme stocks” like AMC Entertainment and BlackBerry at the end of January 2021.
“Even cases with a seemingly clear-cut defense and low likelihood of settlement carry defense costs, so having a D&O Insurance policy to mitigate those costs is crucial.” –Marvin Cigarroa, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, San Diego, California
Featured solutions: Management Lability; Directors and Officers InsuranceBitter Cold, Heavy Snow Slam Homeowners, Businesses Across U.S.
Collapsed roofs, caved-in foundations and broken windows are evidence of the destruction caused by bitterly cold temperatures and powerful winter storms that have hammered the U.S. and parts of Canada in recent weeks.
“When heavy snow accumulates, there is a risk of roofs buckling or even caving in—especially on older homes.” –Daniel Verdun, Senior Underwriter, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Parsippany, New Jersey
Featured solutions: Commercial Property; Residential Property; Flood InsuranceStorm Damage Costs Could Be Highest in Texas, U.S. History
The winter storm that knocked out power for millions amid frigid temperatures and spawned a rash of water-related disasters is expected to be the costliest weather event in the history of the state.
“While severe weather and power outages are beyond their ability to control, homeowners can take advantage of monitoring technology to help reduce the impact of such events.” –Bill Gatewood, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Personal Insurance Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured solutions: Homeowners InsuranceU.S. Rejoins Paris Climate Agreement
The United States officially rejoins the international treaty on climate change, which President Joe Biden says is a “global, existential crisis.”
Source: New York TimesPopular ‘Vaccine Selfies’ Pose Cybercrime Risks
Data security experts sound the alarm to warn those engaging in the latest social media trend of sharing celebratory COVID-19 “vaccine selfies” depicting themselves holding their Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination record card. Including these records in such photos, experts caution, could expose the kind of information — such as full name and date of birth — criminals use to commit identity theft and even home robbery.
“The relief and enthusiasm that inspire vaccine selfies are certainly understandable; however, exercising restraint is imperative. Sharing even the most basic personal details publicly could lead to devastating consequences if that information falls into the wrong hands.” –Danion Beckford, Underwriter, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario
Featured solutions: Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance; Homeowners InsuranceProlonged Pandemic Strains Health Care Providers, Heightens Error Risks
More than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, the relentless pressure on health care workers continues to exact a toll.
“Unfortunately, there is a great possibility of litigation surrounding pandemic-related overcrowding and access to care. Almost 2 years into the COVID pandemic, we still witness widespread instances involving very ill individuals having to wait hours and hours to receive the level of care they required or hospitals not able to provide elective procedures; when there are those types of delays, the potential for harm to patients escalates.” –Karl Olson, Vice President, Professional and Management Liability Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, San Francisco, California
Featured solutions: Healthcare; Cyber and Privacy Liability InsuranceCargo Ship Blocks Suez Canal for Nearly a Week, Spotlighting Trade Vulnerabilities
The MV Ever Given, a massive cargo ship, gains notoriety for running aground amid high winds on March 23 and completely blocking the Suez Canal.
“The ripple effect on trade of all the other ships barred from passing through the canal during that period may have been substantial.” –Patrick Barco, Manager, Ocean Marine, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario
Featured solution: MarinePresident Biden’s Dog ‘Major’ Involved in Second Biting Incident
One of the White House’s two canine residents is involved in a biting incident on March 29: the Bidens’ German Shepherd, Major, reportedly nipped a National Park Service employee.
“Anyone with a dog in their home assumes liability for the dog’s actions… The liability portion of a Homeowners Insurance policy’s coverage could offer assistance with expenses related to a dog bite.” –Deborah Coleman, Associate Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, Baltimore, Maryland
Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Personal Umbrella InsurancePiney Point Wastewater Cleanup Near Tampa Bay Could Cost $200 Million
Wastewater disposal, site cleanup and complete closure of a former phosphate mining facility in Manatee County, Florida could cost up to $200 million, Florida state officials say.
“Everybody who was involved in the chain of title on that property, as well as anyone who disposed of waste there if it was a disposal site, could be responsible for a loss.” –Timothy Donnellon, Senior Broker, Environmental, Burns & Wilcox, Charleston, South Carolina
Featured solutions: Environmental InsuranceU.S. Expands COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility to All Ages 16+
The CDC announcement comes after months of tiered eligibility guidelines. Over half of U.S. adults have now had at least one vaccine dose.
Source: ReutersTrucking Industry Imperiled by Spike in ‘Nuclear Verdicts’
Jury awards that exceed $10 million, also known as “nuclear verdicts,” are on the rise in the trucking industry and could make it more difficult for transportation companies to stay in business.
“If they do not have high enough insurance limits, they risk losing their company because they may pay the judgment one way or another. As the insurance becomes much less affordable, you will see additional companies go out of business and additional consolidation.” –John Woods, Vice President, National Practice Group Leader, Transportation, Burns & Wilcox, Scottsdale, Arizona
Featured solution: TransportationSpaceX Rocketship Launches Four Astronauts to International Space Station
It is the third crewed flight for SpaceX and the first to use a recycled rocket booster and spacecraft.
Source: CNNBillion-Dollar Hail Loss Underscores Risk of ‘Unpredictable’ Severe Weather
Parts of Texas and Oklahoma are still assessing the toll of destruction after hail reportedly as large as softballs left swaths of damage to homes, cars and other property on April 28.
“We are starting to see weather becoming less predictable than it had been in the past. The normal wildfire season, for example, is starting earlier and ending later. Last year with hurricanes, we saw them starting earlier and lasting later, and coming in numbers that we had not seen before.” –Bill Gatewood, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Personal Insurance Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Flood InsuranceCompany Fined Over $234,000 After Worker’s ‘Preventable’ Injury in Water Test Pit
Xylem Inc. is fined $234,054 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a 2020 incident.
“Workers’ Compensation Insurance protects the business from financially going under due to employee lawsuits, and it protects the employees in knowing they are going to get the treatment they need.” –Justin Dorman, National Product Manager, Workers’ Compensation, Burns & Wilcox, Charleston, South Carolina
Featured solution: Workers’ CompensationColonial Pipeline Ransomware Attack Exposes Severity of Cyber Threats
The ransomware attack that shut down one of the largest fuel pipelines in the U.S. and set off gas shortages and panic-buying is indicative of growing cyber risks.
“It is really important for these companies to not lose sight of risk management in pursuit of compliance. A lot of these contracts were written before the emergence of the cyber exposures that we see today. This is a good opportunity for business owners to reevaluate their coverage based on their actual exposure, rather than just compliance.” –Alex Krcmarik, Senior Broker, Environmental, Burns & Wilcox, Denver, Colorado
Featured solutions: Cyber and Privacy Liability Insurance; EnergyU.S. Begins Vaccinating Kids Ages 12-15
The new authorization makes about 17 million U.S. children eligible for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.
Source: New York TimesWorkers Injured as Metal Beams Fall ‘Like Dominoes’ at Construction Site
Two workers narrowly avoid serious injuries after being thrown from horizontal metal beams at a construction site on the Boston University campus on May 14.
“A major portion of a construction company’s risk is bodily injury to employees or subcontractors that are working out on the site. A worker may try to prove that had it not been for the owner or general contractor’s negligence or unsafe work site, they would not have gotten hurt.” –Nicholas Freeman, Associate Managing Director, Broker, Casualty, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, Dallas, Texas
Featured solutions: Commercial General Liability Insurance; Construction; Architects and Engineers; Workers’ CompensationFire at Historic Mackinac Island Home Causes $1 Million in Damages
A historic home on Michigan’s famed Mackinac Island catches fire on May 30, leaving more than $1 million in damages to the 120-year-old cottage.
“Any home that is older, historic, or has unique finishes really needs the correct insurance policy in place so that if something like this does happen, they are properly covered.” –Sarah Chandonnet, Manager, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Farmington Hills/Detroit, Michigan
Featured solutions: Homeowners Insurance; Builder’s Risk InsuranceRestaurant Labor Shortages Strain Recovery Efforts, Escalate Risks
Despite moderately increased sales and rising consumer confidence in the safety of dining out, restaurants in the U.S. and Canada still face a major hurdle with staffing.
“Anytime you put inexperienced workers in any role, there is always a greater risk for injury to the employee or for service to suffer. You can transfer some of that risk by buying insurance. At the end of the day, you are trying to protect the financial interest of your company.” –Bonnie Steen, Vice President, Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, New Orleans, Louisiana
Featured solutions: Hospitality; Commercial Property Insurance; Commercial General Liability InsuranceSix Flags Ride Accident Demonstrates Liability Risk of Summer Fairs and Events
Two amusement park visitors are taken to the hospital on June 13 after a ride malfunction at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson Township, New Jersey.
“If you are the one hosting an event, there is a risk that if something were to happen, they could come back and sue the company. There are a lot of potential risks that businesses may not think about when they are considering hosting an event.” –Travis Verdino, Associate Managing Director, Underwriter, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Las Vegas, Nevada
Featured solutions: Commercial General Liability Insurance; Special Events Insurance; Liquor LiabilityDozens of Lawsuits Filed After Condo Collapse in Florida
The sudden collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo building in Surfside, Florida on June 24 tragically causes at least 95 deaths and leaves 14 residents still missing.
“This may be one of the worst building collapses that the U.S. has seen. It has really highlighted the need to have the proper insurance in place. When something goes wrong with the maintenance or the upkeep of a building with a homeowners association, there will be liability questions directed at that board.” –Marvin Cigarroa, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, San Diego, California
Featured solutions: Directors and Officers Insurance; Architects and Engineers InsuranceCustomer Sues McDonald’s Over Voice Recognition Technology
A new lawsuit against McDonald’s accuses the company of violating an Illinois privacy act by using voice recognition technology on customers without their consent.
“The pandemic has accelerated digitization and the use of technology; companies had to evolve in order to survive. With the increasing privacy litigation, it makes for a lot of change and compliance that organizations need to get their arms around.” –David Derigiotis, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Professional Liability Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured solution: Cyber and Privacy Liability InsuranceNeutrogena, Aveeno Sunscreens Recalled After Carcinogen Found in Samples
A variety of Neutrogena and Aveeno sunscreen sprays are recalled by Johnson & Johnson after trace amounts of benzene, a known carcinogen, were found in product samples.
“From the first step of identifying the issue to conducting the recall, and finally business continuity planning, those can all be very expensive costs to a business. A Product Recall Insurance policy is able to include all of that.” –Derek Kilmer, Manager, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured solutions: Product Recall Insurance; Products Liability Insurance‘Airbnb for Backyard Pools’ Trend Raises Liability Flags for Homeowners
An increasing number of homeowners are renting out their backyard pools to earn extra cash, the Wall Street Journal reports.
“Business activities in general are typically excluded from a Homeowners Insurance policy form. It could be very risky to get involved with this, and I would caution homeowners to check with their insurance agent first to see whether they would have any coverage.” –Michelle Allemang, Manager, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois
Featured solution: Homeowners InsuranceU.S. Cannabis Sales Could Exceed $30 Billion By 2022
Legal cannabis sales in the U.S. could exceed $30 billion by 2022, marijuana analytics company Headset project in an updated long-term forecast.
“The more profitable cannabis companies become, the more they are thinking about how they can protect their assets and their business.” –Emily McDaniel, Broker, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Denver, Colorado
Featured solution: Cannabis108 Wildfires Rage Across U.S. as Fires Leave More Homeowners Vulnerable
At least 108 active wildfires burn in the U.S. as of Aug. 10, involving over 2.4 million acres of land in 15 states.
“Wildfire risk continues to increase each year, year over year. Conditions are getting dryer—and dry vegetation continues to persist. As we can now see, it is not just California; a lot of the Western states are experiencing more wildfires, as well.” –Pamela Alphabet, Regional Practice Group Leader, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Scottsdale, Arizona
Featured solution: Homeowners InsuranceSustained Labor Shortages Increase Liability Risks to Businesses
As labor shortages continue across the U.S., multiple industries feel the impact.
“Companies are doing more with fewer workers — not because they want to, but because they have to. Even if they make the transition to become more automated, the learning curve to implement such resources are still prone to errors which can translate to additional causes of disruptions, loss of income and clients, if it is not carefully monitored.” –Rahmad Bauldrick, Associate Vice President, Regional Practice Leader, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Chicago, Illinois
Featured solutions: Directors and Officers Insurance; Errors and Omissions Insurance; Employment Practices Liability InsuranceCatastrophic Flooding Claims Lives, Washes Away Homes in Middle Tennessee
At least 22 individuals are killed and many more remain missing after a flash flood ravages the rural town of Waverly, Tennessee on Aug. 21.
“This was a catastrophic flood. It is devastating from a loss of life standpoint, and loss of property as well.” –Brad Turner, Associate Vice President, National Product Manager, Flood, Burns & Wilcox, Morehead City, North Carolina
Featured solution: Flood InsuranceWhite House Pushes for Cybersecurity Standards Amid Rising Digital Threats
The U.S. government is working with the private sector to bolster the country’s cybersecurity, the White House announces.
“More companies are aware that they need a Cyber & Privacy Liability Insurance policy, but they may not have it yet, and they may not be aware of the risk management tools our markets are looking for nowadays.” –Allison Arnold, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Indianapolis, Indiana
Featured solution: Cyber and Privacy Liability InsuranceSemi-Truck Strikes Crane Resulting in Highway Construction Tragedy
A road construction worker is tragically killed on I-94 in Michigan on Aug. 27 after a semi-truck strikes the crane that the worker was operating.
“Road construction is definitely one of the most hazardous classes of business for Workers’ Compensation Insurance because the severity of the claims tends to be very high.” –Justin Dorman, National Product Manager, Workers’ Compensation, Burns & Wilcox, Charleston, South Carolina
Featured solutions: Construction; Workers’ Compensation; Commercial General Liability InsuranceHurricane Ida Linked to Over 2,000 Water Pollution Reports
An 11-mile-long oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico is one of more than 2,000 reports of water pollution being investigated by authorities in Louisiana after Hurricane Ida tore through the region.
“It is very common to have pollution releases due to a hurricane — oil spills, chemicals, you name it. Hurricanes are devastating.” –Gina Jones, Vice President, Director, Environmental Programs, Burns & Wilcox, Denver, Colorado
Featured solution: Environmental InsuranceBooming Real Estate Market Could Mean Increased Error Risk for Agents
A real estate agent and realty company are sued for their handling of a $4.6 million home sale in Sarasota, Florida.
“With E&O policies, the trigger is a third party claiming financial loss. If a third party lost money or was forced to pay additional funds stemming from an error or omission on the part of a real estate professional, those would be considered E&O claims.” –Melissa Martin, Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Featured solution: Real Estate Agents Errors and Omissions InsuranceChildren Given COVID Vaccine Instead of Flu Shot at Walgreens Pharmacy
A family of four is reportedly vaccinated against COVID-19 by mistake on Oct. 4 when they tried to get their flu shots.
“To administer a vaccine to a child that has not been approved to receive it could potentially be serious. We really do not know at this time how the COVID-19 vaccine could affect these small children in the future, let alone right now.” –Greg Wideman, Manager, Healthcare, Burns & Wilcox, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Featured solution: Medical Professional Liability Insurance; General Liability Insurance; Products Liability InsurancePedal Pubs Prompt Concerns After Falls and Injuries
A recent video that shows a man stumbling off a Tennessee pedal pub and falling into a moving car is adding to growing concerns over the safety of open-air bike bars.
“Some of these vehicles have seat-backs, some have seatbelts, and others have just a plain bicycle seat. After someone has had a few drinks, their balance may not be the best. The situation almost lends itself to injuries if the unit does not have certain safeguards in place.” –Christian Stefanut, Broker, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, San Francisco, California
Featured solution: Commercial General Liability Insurance‘Rust’ Movie Set Shooting Likely to Prompt Major Lawsuits
The accidental shooting resulting in the tragic death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of the film Rust could lead to a tremendous legal fallout. Reports indicate that Hutchins died after producer and actor Alec Baldwin fired a prop gun that contained a live round.
“At the end of the day, somebody is accountable for what happened. It is a tragic event. Someone did not do their job properly.” –Matt Lawford, Broker, Advertising and Film Production, Chesterfield Group, a subsidiary of H.W. Kaufman Group
Featured solutions: Feature Film Production Insurance; Commercial General Liability Insurance; Errors and Omissions InsuranceOnion Recall Expands After 800 Sickened With Salmonella
A recent recall of fresh onions is now linked to at least 808 salmonella infections and includes onions from multiple sources, including HelloFresh and EveryPlate meal kits.
“Any organization engaged in manufacturing or moving goods and services through our market economy needs to really be thoughtful about both Products Liability Insurance and Product Recall Insurance.” –Linda Koos, Managing Director, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan
Featured solutions: Products Liability Insurance; Product Recall InsuranceFDA Authorizes COVID Vaccine for Younger Children
Kids ages 5 through 11 are authorized to receive a pediatric dose of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccination.
Source: FDALaptop Charging on Bed Ignites Apartment Fire in Northwest Austin
A bedroom fire at an apartment complex in northwest Austin, Texas, on Nov. 4 is reportedly caused by a laptop left charging on a bed. The blaze displaces one resident but no one is injured. Officials say property damage is estimated at $8,000.
“With an apartment fire, you are looking at not just damage to the tenants’ property but also the integrity and the structure of the building itself. If you are underinsured and face a million-dollar loss, for example, it can be career-ending if you have to pay for the loss out of your own pocket.” –Dylan Kamen, Broker, Commercial Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Denver, Colorado
Featured solutions: Commercial Property Insurance; Commercial General Liability Insurance; Pollution Legal Liability InsuranceU.S.-Canada Border Reopens for Non-Essential Travel
Families celebrate after 19 months of pandemic-related travel bans.
Source: BBCFirst Case of Omicron Variant Identified in U.S.
The individual diagnosed with the new variant is a traveler who recently returned from South Africa, CDC reports.
Source: CDCToy Stores Under Pressure as Supply Chain Concerns Dominate Holiday Shopping Season
Supply chain shortages linked to seaport backlogs, a lack of truck drivers and other constraints could mean toy stores are unable to keep up with holiday shopping demands this year.
“It is a tough time to be in business and there are a lot of difficult decisions to make. This might be an unprecedented event for any business owner.” –Ryan Ascenzo, Senior Broker, Professional Liability, Burns & Wilcox Brokerage, New York, New York
Featured solutions: Directors and Officers Insurance; Employment Practices Liability Insurance; Errors and Omissions InsuranceAmazon Responds to Supply Chain Problems and Shipping Deadlines
As the supply chain crisis overwhelms companies on a global scale, industry giants like Amazon turn to high-risk delivery methods like chartered ships and long-haul planes, opening them up to new forms of liability in the already volatile transportation industry.
“Supply chain issues are just catapulting Amazon into setting up their own supply chain, and thus not being subject to other entities’ timelines to get their merchandise to the market.” –John Gambino, Cargo Manager, RB Jones, Marine, New York, New York
Featured solutions: Transportation; Marine