7 Emerging Technology Risks
The Risk List is presented by:
The High Cost of Fraud
Workers’ compensation fraud is prevalent and is costing employers and insurance carriers significant dollars each year.
There are many degrees of fraud. There are blatantly false claims, such as someone faking a fall or accident, to more subtle examples, such as complaining of false or lingering pain to get more time off of work.
All forms of fraud cost money. Recognizing fraudulent claims and controlling them can be difficult. Below are two of the many ways that workers’ compensation fraud can be controlled.
Get the Facts
The initial investigation is the first step, and one of the most important in preventing and controlling fraud. When an employee reports an injury, ensure that an accurate report is received.
Investigate every claim in detail. No matter how minor the injury, it is important to complete a thorough investigation.
How many times has that “minor” claim turned into a large exposure? An effective way to investigate is by interviewing the employee. Question the employee about how exactly the incident happened, who witnessed it and what could be done to avoid it in the future.
Specifically ask them to name all body parts that were injured. One form of fraud is an attempt to add non-related injuries to the claim by expanding reported injuries to different body parts as time goes on.
Ask them questions about their life. What are their hobbies, do they have other employment, and do they have a spouse and children?
These questions help document the accident and provide great information if there is a need to investigate the validity of the claim. Having their version of the accident in writing makes it less likely that the facts will change.
Nurse Case Management
Nurse case management is useful in many ways to help ensure proper treatment, mitigate costs and return the worker to full duty. It is also a way to help manage situations where there is suspected claims fraud.
The nurse can observe and establish a relationship with the claimant. The nurse should attend medical appointments with the injured worker and ensure the worker is being forthright with the doctor about their injury and job duties.
He/she should have a detailed job description so there is no question what restrictions the doctor should or shouldn’t place on the injured worker. The nurse can present information to the doctor about the worker’s hobbies and lifestyle.
If investigation reveals that an employee is performing activities that he/she states they cannot do, the nurse can present this to the doctor in the hope of getting a full duty release.
There are numerous ways to reduce or prevent claims fraud. Initial investigation and nurse case management are valuable tools.
While some fraudulent claims are prosecuted, most are not. The evidence of fraud can be used to limit exposure of the claim.
Use the information to bring the worker back to full duty as soon as possible. These tools can help shorten the length of a claim and save the company money.
Electronic Waste Risks Piling Up
The latest electronic devices today may be obsolete by tomorrow. Outdated electronics pose a rapidly growing problem for risk managers. Telecommunications equipment, computers, printers, copiers, mobile devices and other electronics often contain toxic metals such as mercury and lead. Improper disposal of this electronic waste not only harms the environment, it can lead to heavy fines and reputation-damaging publicity.
Federal and state regulators are increasingly concerned about e-waste. Settlements in improper disposal cases have reached into the millions of dollars. Fines aren’t the only risk. Sensitive data inadvertently left on discarded equipment can lead to data breaches.
To avoid potentially serious claims and legal action, risk managers need to understand the risks of e-waste and to develop a strategy for recycling and disposal that complies with local, state and federal regulations.
The Risks Are Rising
E-waste has been piling up at a rate that’s two to three times faster than any other waste stream, according to U.S Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Any product that contains electronic circuitry can eventually become e-waste, and the range of products with embedded electronics grows every day. Because of the toxic materials involved, special care must be taken in disposing of unwanted equipment. Broken devices can leach hazardous materials into the ground and water, creating health risks on the site and neighboring properties.
Despite the environmental dangers, much of our outdated electronics still end up in landfills. Only about 40 percent of consumer electronics were recycled in 2013, according to the EPA. Yet for every million cellphones that are recycled, the EPA estimates that about 35,000 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium can be recovered.
While consumers may bring unwanted electronics to local collection sites, corporations must comply with stringent guidelines. The waste must be disposed of properly using vendors with the requisite expertise, certifications and permits. The risk doesn’t end when e-waste is turned over to a disposal vendor. Liabilities for contamination can extend back from the disposal site to the company that discarded the equipment.
Reuse and Recycle
To cut down on e-waste, more companies are seeking to adapt older equipment for reuse. New products feature designs that make it easier to recycle materials and to remove heavy metals for reuse. These strategies conserve valuable resources, reduce the amount of waste and lessen the amount of new equipment that must be purchased.
Effective risk management should focus on minimizing waste, reusing and recycling electronics, managing disposal and complying with regulations at all levels.
For equipment that cannot be reused, companies should work with a disposal vendor that can make sure that their data is protected and that all the applicable environmental regulations are met. Vendors should present evidence of the required permits and certifications. Companies seeking disposal vendors may want to look for two voluntary certifications: the Responsible Recycling (R2) Standard, and the e-Stewards certification.
The U.S. EPA also provides guidance and technical support for firms seeking to implement best practices for e-waste. Under EPA rules for the disposal of items such as batteries, mercury-containing equipment and lamps, e-waste waste typically falls under the category of “universal waste.”
About half the states have enacted their own e-waste laws, and companies that do business in multiple states may have to comply with varying regulations that cover a wider list of materials. Some materials may require handling as hazardous waste according to federal, state and local requirements. U.S. businesses may also be subject to international treaties.
Developing E-Waste Strategies
Companies of all sizes and in all industries should implement e-waste strategies. Effective risk management should focus on minimizing waste, reusing and recycling electronics, managing disposal and complying with regulations at all levels. That’s a complex task that requires understanding which laws and treaties apply to a particular type of waste, keeping proper records and meeting permitting requirements. As part of their insurance program, companies may want to work with an insurer that offers auditing, training and other risk management services tailored for e-waste.
Insurance is an essential part of e-waste risk management. Premises pollution liability policies can provide coverage for environmental risks on a particular site, including remediation when necessary, as well as for exposures arising from transportation of e-waste and disposal at third-party sites. Companies may want to consider policies that provide coverage for their entire business operations, whether on their own premises or at third-party locations. Firms involved in e-waste management may want to consider contractor’s pollution liability coverage for environmental risks at project sites owned by other entities.
The growing challenges of managing e-waste are not only financial but also reputational. Companies that operate in a sustainable manner lower the risks of pollution and associated liabilities, avoid negative publicity stemming from missteps, while building reputations as responsible environmental stewards. Effective electronic waste management strategies help to protect the environment and the company.
This article is an annotated version of the new Chubb advisory, “Electronic Waste: Managing the Environmental and Regulatory Challenges.” To learn more about how to manage and prioritize e-waste risks, download the full advisory on the Chubb website.
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Chubb. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.