6 Emerging Supply Chain Risks You Should Know
The Wolf of RIMS
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.
Managing Construction’s True Risk Exposure
When it comes to the construction industry, the path to success is never easy.
After a long, deep recession of historic proportions, the sector is finally on the mend. But as opportunities to win new projects grow, experience shows that more contractors go out of business during a recovery than during a recession.
Skilled labor shortages, legal rulings in various states that push construction defects onto general liability policies, and New York state’s labor laws that assign full liability to project owners and contractors for falls from elevations that injure workers are just some of the established issues that are making it ever harder for firms to succeed.
And now, there are new emerging risks, such as the potential for more expensive capital, should the Federal Reserve increase its rates. This would tighten already stressed margins, perhaps making it harder for contractors and project owners to invest in safety and quality assurance, and raising the cost of treating injured workers.
Liberty Mutual’s Doug Cauti reviews the top three risks facing contractors and project owners.
“Our customers are very clear about the challenges they are facing in the market,” said Doug Cauti, the Boston-based chief underwriting officer for Liberty Mutual’s construction practice.
“Now more than ever, construction risk buyers – and the brokers who serve them – are leveraging our team’s deep expertise to find solutions for complicated risks. This goes way beyond what many consider the traditional role of an insurance carrier.”
Other leading risks facing contractors and project owners.
Given the current risk environment, firms that simply seek out the cheapest coverage could leave themselves exposed to these emerging risks. And that could result in them becoming just another failed statistic.
So what is the best way to approach your risk management program?
Understanding the Emerging Picture
Construction firms have been dealing with multiple challenges over the last several years. Now, several new emerging risks could further complicate the business.
After an extended period of historically low interest rates, the Federal Reserve is indicating that rates could rise in late 2015 or sometime in 2016. That would surely impact construction firms’ cost of capital.
“At the end of the day, an increased cost of capital is going to impact many construction firm’s margins, which are already thin,” Cauti said.
“The trickle-down effect is that less money may be available for other operational activities, including safety and quality programs. Firms may need to underbid and/or place low bids just to get jobs and keep the cash flow going,” Cauti said.
“Now more than ever, construction risk buyers – and the brokers who serve them – are leveraging our team’s deep expertise to find solutions for complicated risks.”
— Doug Cauti, Chief Underwriting Officer, Liberty Mutual National Insurance Specialty Construction
“Experience shows us that shortcuts in safety and quality often lead to more construction defect claims, general liability claims and workers’ compensation claims,” Cauti said.
Currently, the frequency of worker injuries is down on a national basis but the severity of injuries is on the rise. If those frequencies start creeping up due to less robust safety programs, the costs could grow fast.
And if this possible trend is not cause enough for concern, the growing costs associated with medical care should have the attention of all risk managers.
“Five years ago medical costs represented 56 percent of a claim,” said Jack Probolus, a Boston-based manager of construction risk financing programs for Liberty Mutual.
“By 2020, that medical cost will likely grow to 76 percent of an injured worker’s claim, according to industry experts,” Probolus said.
Rising interest rates and rising medical costs could form a perfect storm.
Focusing on the Total Cost of Risk
For risk managers, the approach they utilize to mitigate the myriad of existing and emerging risks is more important than ever. The ideal insurance partner will be one that can integrate claims management, quality assurance and loss control solutions to better manage the total cost of construction risk, and do it for the long term.
Liberty Mutual’s Doug Cauti reviews the partnership between buyers, brokers and insureds that helps better manage the total cost of insurance.
In the case of rising medical costs, that means using claims management tools and workflows that help eliminate the runaway expense of things such as duplicate billings, inappropriate prescriptions for powerful painkillers, and over-utilization of costly medical procedures.
“We’re committed to making sure that the client isn’t burdened in unnecessary costs, while working to ensure that injured employees return to productive lives in the best possible health,” Probolus said.
The right partner will also have the construction industry expertise and the willingness to work with a project owner or contractor from the very beginning of a project. That enables them to analyze risk on the front end and devise the best risk management program for the project or contractor, thereby protecting the policyholder’s vulnerable margins.
“We want to be there from the very beginning,” Liberty Mutual’s Cauti said.
“This isn’t merely a transaction with us,” he added. “It’s a partnership that extends for years, from binding coverage, through the life of the project and deeper as claims come in and are resolved over time,” he said.
In other words, it’s a relationship focused on value.
Today’s construction insurance market – with an abundance of capacity – can lead to new carriers entering the market and/or insurers seeking to gain market share by underpricing policies.
“We see it all the time,” Liberty Mutual’s Cauti said.
Where does this leave insureds? Frustrated at pricing instability, or by the need to find a new carrier. And wiser, having learned the wisdom of focusing on value, that is the ability to better control the total cost of risk.
“Premium is always important,” notes Liberty Mutual’s Cauti. “But smart buyers also understand the importance of value, the ability of an insurer to partner with a buyer and their broker to develop a custom blend of coverages and services that better protect a project’s or contractor’s bottom line and reputation. This is the approach our dedicated construction practice takes.
Why Liberty Mutual?
For more information on how Liberty Mutual Insurance can help assess your construction risk exposure, contact your broker or Doug Cauti at [email protected].
This article was produced by the R&I Brand Studio, a unit of the advertising department of Risk & Insurance, in collaboration with Liberty Mutual Insurance. The editorial staff of Risk & Insurance had no role in its preparation.