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Joseph Boren

Joseph Boren
Joseph L. Boren is Chairman of the Environmental product line at Ironshore Holdings (U.S.) Inc., Executive Vice President of Ironshore Insurance Services, LLC, President of U.S. Field Operations and Director of Strategic Relations. He has experience in every segment of the environmental market; a regulator, practitioner, and insurer. Joe can be reached at joe.boren@ironshore.com.

Risk Insider: Joe Boren

Do You Want Dirty Water?

By: | August 14, 2014 • 2 min read
Joseph L. Boren is Chairman of the Environmental product line at Ironshore Holdings (U.S.) Inc., Executive Vice President of Ironshore Insurance Services, LLC, President of U.S. Field Operations and Director of Strategic Relations. He has experience in every segment of the environmental market; a regulator, practitioner, and insurer. Joe can be reached at joe.boren@ironshore.com.

I had dinner with a few old friends last night. While we have slightly different views on a myriad of subjects — we are those old friends who would argue over whether Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle was  New York’s best centerfielder.

We always talk baseball and we always talk politics.  My pal Sandy started to deliver his usual over-regulation-of-America speech.  I let it go for a while. Until I no longer could.

I asked Sandy if he wanted his children to be able to continue drinking clean water.  Simple question: When you turn on the tap, do you want clean water or toxic water?

Imagine you live in Toledo, Ohio, and you wake up and hear the drinking water is contaminated.  Don’t drink it.  Don’t bathe in it.   According to the New York Times a half million residents had no water.

Try living without water for one day and maybe then you will feel like a resident of Toledo, or those in West Virginia, where the spill from Freedom Chemical poisoned that water supply.

 My pal Sandy started to deliver his usual over-regulation-of-America speech.  I let it go for a while. Until I no longer could.

Think this is only happening in Toledo or West Virginia?  Think again.

Of all the Great Lakes, it so happens that Lake Erie is surrounded by the most development. The poison ends up in the drinking water supply as a result of leaky septic systems, fertilized farms and cattle feedlots.  It gets washed into the ground water, into the lake, into someone’s water supply.

Toledo is not an isolated situation.  We have many other areas affected by lakes and rivers around our great country that are exposed to the same pollutants.

This past April was the 20th anniversary of the cryptosporidium — a parasite outbreak in Milwaukee.  According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 403,000 people in the five county metropolitan area were sickened and 69 people with weakened immune systems died.

The parasite was caused by farm runoff into the water supply and through a water treatment plant that had some defects.  Milwaukee learned a major lesson, spent the necessary money on its infrastructure and has avoided a recurrence of this problem.

So when you think about over regulation, ask yourself if you want farm runoff in your water supply?  Water that is then sent to a defective water treatment plant because we haven’t spent the necessary money on our infrastructure.

Our industry will provide insurance for these facilities, water treatment plants are an example, but only if we are comfortable they are being regulated and made to correct defects. We will also insure industries as someone did for Freedom Chemicals.

However, in the future, obtaining coverage will depend on the insurance industry knowing that regulators are doing their job.

As for me, I want my children and grandchildren to turn on the tap and get a clean healthy water supply.

Read all of Joe Boren’s Risk Insider contributions.

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Risk Insider: Joe Boren

Climate Change is Real and Hurts Our Industry

By: | June 19, 2014 • 2 min read
Joseph L. Boren is Chairman of the Environmental product line at Ironshore Holdings (U.S.) Inc., Executive Vice President of Ironshore Insurance Services, LLC, President of U.S. Field Operations and Director of Strategic Relations. He has experience in every segment of the environmental market; a regulator, practitioner, and insurer. Joe can be reached at joe.boren@ironshore.com.

While many aspects of managing environmental risks are very complicated, sometimes the direct relationship of a cause and its effect is clear.

In October of 1948, a historic air inversion over Donora, Pa., acted like an upside down fish bowl and trapped a layer of pollution from the local zinc and steel plants. Sulfuric acid, nitrogen dioxide, fluorine and other poisonous gases that usually were dispersed into the atmosphere mixed with fog to create a deadly smog. Twenty people died and 7,000 became ill, some seriously. Sixty years later, the New York Times described it as “one of the worst air pollution disasters in the nation’s history.” (Nov. 1, 2008)

 As I tell my friends, “if you want to be a climate change denier, do it quietly, alone, so others don’t know how foolish you are!” 

Dr. Devra Davis, director of the Center for Environmental Oncology of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, after a long study, concluded that the pollutants trapped by stagnant air were the primary cause of deaths (Pittsburgh Gazette, Oct. 21, 2008).

While the science behind climate change is on a much larger scale than the Donora smog, the cause and effect are still the same. When we put a lot of “bad stuff” into the environment over a period of time, we are not going to like the results.

And who puts that “bad stuff” in the environment?  Man does. We do.  Climate change is man made, man caused. As I tell my friends, “if you want to be a climate change denier, do it quietly, alone, so others don’t know how foolish you are!”

In the recently concluded National Climate Assessment, White House Science Advisor John Holdren said, “The study is the loudest and clearest alarm bell to date signaling the need to take urgent action to combat the threats to Americans from climate change.” If you need more persuading, read the report here.

Most of us probably studied something other than science in school. That is not a reason to dismiss science. Science gave us a cure for polio, put a man on the moon and an iPhone in your pocket.

I can only guess at the motivations of some politicians who think climate change is a hoax, but we are an industry that studies facts, patterns and prior results. When you study the facts about climate change, I have no doubt you will be in agreement — climate change is real. It is happening.

Changing weather patterns are having an effect on our business. Droughts, wildfires, hurricanes, etc. … I understand energy fuels our economy. I would not advocate not using oil, coal or gas, which all generate emissions. I just believe they need to be used in a cleaner way. At the same time, wind, solar and nuclear have a role to play as well.

Not dealing with the issue of climate change has and will continue to have an adverse effect on our business.

When our industry sounds an alarm, people usually listen. It is time to clang the alarm.

Read all of Joe Boren’s Risk Insider contributions.

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Risk Insider: Joe Boren

The Wolf of RIMS

By: | May 5, 2014 • 2 min read
Joseph L. Boren is Chairman of the Environmental product line at Ironshore Holdings (U.S.) Inc., Executive Vice President of Ironshore Insurance Services, LLC, President of U.S. Field Operations and Director of Strategic Relations. He has experience in every segment of the environmental market; a regulator, practitioner, and insurer. Joe can be reached at joe.boren@ironshore.com.

RIMS just concluded in Denver, and I had a few observations.

It was cold, very cold. Given that the Spencer/Gallagher Golf Tournament is always a part of RIMS, why isn’t the conference held in cities with much better weather? Who could forget Chicago a few years ago, where the golf tournament lasted three holes because of the snow and those who chose Cubs opening day didn’t fare much better. I know we can never really guarantee the weather but we might want to increase the chances of a good climate for a great meeting. Eighteen holes of golf in the sun beats three holes in the cold any day.

And then there was the keynote speaker – Jordan Belfort, the author of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” I actually couldn’t believe RIMS would pick him to speak at our convention. Let’s see, his redeeming values were abusing drugs, denigrating women and maybe worst of all stealing money from at least 1,500 people. Nobody should have money stolen from them, but Belfort concentrated mostly on the weak and vulnerable, retirees or people just getting by. Nice guy, our motivational speaker.

So I was thinking, is this the best our industry could do for a keynote speaker? Was there a lesson RIMS wanted to teach, like “Greed is Bad”?

Of course, people deserve a second chance, so I did a little research after I learned Belfort was the keynote speaker. Nancy Dillon from the Daily News wrote, “according to Federal prosecutors, Belfort failed to live up to the restitution requirement of his 2003 sentencing agreement. The agreement requires him to pay 50 percent of his income towards the 1,500 clients he defrauded.” The Federal government filed a complaint since Belfort had an income of $1,767,203 in 2013 from his book/movie rights and another $24k from speaking engagements like the one at RIMS. Yet, According to Ben Child of the guardian.com he has only paid back $11.6 million of the $110.4 million he was ordered to pay as restitution.

For more details of just how rotten Belfort is, read this NY Times article by Joel M.Cohen who prosecuted the case.

So I was thinking, is this the best our industry could do for a keynote speaker? Was there a lesson RIMS wanted to teach, like “Greed is Bad”? Most of us saw Michael Douglas in Wall Street, some lived it. Couldn’t we as an industry have done better?

In the last year, I saw some great conference speakers such as Garrison Wynn, author of “The Real Truth About Success” as well as Lt. Col. Rob Waldman, a highly decorated fighter pilot, author and businessman and wonderful motivational speaker. And we got a guy who stole money from people and has yet to pay it back. Belfort would be a solid choice if we we motivating crooks, however I like to think a bit more highly of our community

Maybe Albert Einstein said it best when he said “the value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.”

There are plenty of good, decent people who give back to society – why don’t we stick with them as our guest speakers!

Read all of Joe Boren’s Risk Insider contributions.

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