Recall Mitigation Relies on Risk Managers
This is turning out to be a record year for auto-related recalls and, with the astronomical costs associated with them, insurance companies that offer accidental contamination or malicious product tampering policies are on alert.
This type of insurance is primarily used by food manufacturers, distributors, retailers and auto parts suppliers to cover business expenses related to a recall. And in light of recent events, you can be sure that parts suppliers are working closely with their insurers to see what losses are covered and what the damage will be to their bottom line.
Those with insurance are the lucky ones, as the costs associated with a recall can be significant, but even for those organizations, the results of the recall and subsequent insurance coverage rely heavily on the assessments of risk managers.
One of the key concerns for risk managers is cost containment.
Typically, an insurance company becomes engaged with the manufacturer when the recall is about to happen or has just happened. To get started on remediation, the insurer must determine the total loss of product and what services are needed.
Then, the insurer will pull impacted lots and have them tested by an independent company to confirm that a full recall is necessary. Risk managers must ensure that lot sizes and distribution channels are optimized to minimize the impact on the bottom line depending on the likelihood of a recall.
Throughout a recall event, a lack of effective risk management can cause manufacturers to make missteps that cost millions of dollars and negatively impact insurers.
For example, if organizations don’t have the ability to identify and isolate contaminated products from safe ones, they may end up crediting a retailer for the full lot and not just the impacted products – resulting in a cash loss.
Also, manufacturers may incur compliance fines as they scramble to meet all of the regulatory requirements surrounding recalls. Lastly, the complex logistics involved in a recall may prolong the process and expose the brand to greater risk.
Here are some best practices for risk managers to consider when faced with a recall:
• Ensure access to good data and tracking on impacted products, including information on where it is located and what the value of lost product is.
• If the origin of the recall is known, contact the source to see what damages they will pay and determine if legal action is needed.
• Encourage the organization to be recall-ready with a designated recall team and plan, and an understanding of the supply chain partners’ recall protocol.
As the global supply chain continues to become more complex, risk managers need to be vigilant when preparing for internal and supplier issues.
And for companies of all sizes, product contamination is a loss exposure that cannot be ignored. It’s occurring with alarming frequency in the U.S. and globally catching many organizations by surprise.
Companies that fall victim to these incidents often incur staggering costs in damage control and significant lag time in restoration of profits and reputation.
The Real Impact of Baby Boomers
The average workers’ compensation claim costs for injured employees 45 and older have recently skyrocketed. I see it taking a toll on many companies’ bottom lines. This is evidence that businesses should take a deeper look at their organization, drilling down into the impact of an aging workforce on not only workers’ compensation claim costs but also the physiological impact of aging on its employees’ ability to perform work. This is referred to as ageonomics.
Recent research points to remarkable and somewhat disturbing trends regarding the prevalence and impact of age in the workplaces and the diminishing health of the U.S. workforce. Let’s take a look at the facts, according to the Center for Disease Control and the Bureau of Labor Statistics:
- Forty-four percent of the U.S. workforce is 45 or older.
- Of this group, the number of people in the 45 to 55 age group has increased 49 percent over the last decade.
- Nearly 40 percent of workers age 45 and older suffer from the impacts of obesity, which not only can impact the healing process after an injury but complicate health issues leading to a future occurrence.
- With age comes decreased muscle strength, lower dexterity, reduced fitness level and aerobic capacity, poor visual and auditory acuity, and slower cognitive speed and function.
As to the impact on an organization’s bottom line, a 2013 study of more than 100 companies revealed workers’ compensation claims for the 45 and older age group were on average more than 70 percent more costly. The study revealed these claimants were away from work on average more than two and a half weeks longer following a serious injury and the claims were 40 percent more likely to involve litigation.
Additionally, a 2013 Gallup poll indicated 37 percent of working Americans expect to retire after age 65 compared to 22 percent of respondents in a similar poll just 10 years ago. To me, this brings to light that an aging workforce is not a short term issue. In fact, age demographic trends have researchers predicting this issue will be prevalent well beyond 2025.
I have seen proactive organizations respond positively to this workforce shift by rethinking the physical and cognitive demands placed on workers and modifying post injury medical management and return to work efforts. Common workplace modifications include simple solutions, such as improved lighting to accommodate reduced pupil size of the older worker and adjusting shelf heights in storage areas to adapt for reductions in range of motion and spinal strength.
Companies are also beginning to use advanced predictive modelling techniques to improve medical management and shorten days away from work following an injury. Finally, with the large number of baby boomers staying in the workforce, companies are beginning to align wellness efforts and resources to improve the health of an aging America.
I suggest organizations of all sizes seek to understand the true impact of an aging workforce and explore the options that can help keep your bottom line even in the era of ageonomics.
5 & 5: Rewards and Risks of Cloud Computing
Cloud computing lowers costs, increases capacity and provides security that companies would be hard-pressed to deliver on their own. Utilizing the cloud allows companies to “rent” hardware and software as a service and store data on a series of servers with unlimited availability and space. But the risks loom large, such as unforgiving contracts, hidden fees and sophisticated criminal attacks.
ACE’s recently published whitepaper, “Cloud Computing: Is Your Company Weighing Both Benefits and Risks?”, focuses on educating risk managers about the risks and rewards of this ever-evolving technology. Key issues raised in the paper include:
5 benefits of cloud computing
1. Lower infrastructure costs
The days of investing in standalone servers are over. For far less investment, a company can store data in the cloud with much greater capacity. Cloud technology reduces or eliminates management costs associated with IT personnel, data storage and real estate. Cloud providers can also absorb the expenses of software upgrades, hardware upgrades and the replacement of obsolete network and security devices.
2. Capacity when you need it … not when you don’t
Cloud computing enables businesses to ramp up their capacity during peak times, then ramp back down during the year, rather than wastefully buying capacity they don’t need. Take the retail sector, for example. During the holiday season, online traffic increases substantially as consumers shop for gifts. Now, companies in the retail sector can pay for the capacity they need only when they need it.
3. Security and speed increase
Cloud providers invest big dollars in securing data with the latest technology — striving for cutting-edge speed and security. In fact, they provide redundancy data that’s replicated and encrypted so it can be delivered quickly and securely. Companies that utilize the cloud would find it difficult to get such results on their own.
4. Anything, anytime, anywhere
With cloud technology, companies can access data from anywhere, at any time. Take Dropbox for example. Its popularity has grown because people want to share large files that exceed the capacity of their email inboxes. Now it’s expanded the way we share data. As time goes on, other cloud companies will surely be looking to improve upon that technology.
5. Regulatory compliance comes more easily
The data security and technology that regulators require typically come standard from cloud providers. They routinely test their networks and systems. They provide data backups and power redundancy. Some even overtly assist customers with regulatory compliance such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).
1. Cloud contracts are unforgiving
Typically, risk managers and legal departments create contracts that mitigate losses caused by service providers. But cloud providers decline such stringent contracts, saying they hinder their ability to keep prices down. Instead, cloud contracts don’t include traditional indemnification or limitations of liability, particularly pertaining to privacy and data security. If a cloud provider suffers a data breach of customer information or sustains a network outage, risk managers are less likely to have the same contractual protection they are accustomed to seeing from traditional service providers.
2. Control is lost
In the cloud, companies are often forced to give up control of data and network availability. This can make staying compliant with regulations a challenge. For example cloud providers use data warehouses located in multiple jurisdictions, often transferring data across servers globally. While a company would be compliant in one location, it could be non-compliant when that data is transferred to a different location — and worst of all, the company may have no idea that it even happened.
3. High-level security threats loom
Higher levels of security attract sophisticated hackers. While a data thief may not be interested in your company’s information by itself, a large collection of data is a prime target. Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) attacks by highly skilled criminals continue to increase — putting your data at increased risk.
4. Hidden costs can hurt
Nobody can dispute the up-front cost savings provided by the cloud. But moving from one cloud to another can be expensive. Plus, one cloud is often not enough because of congestion and outages. More cloud providers equals more cost. Also, regulatory compliance again becomes a challenge since you can never outsource the risk to a third party. That leaves the burden of conducting vendor due diligence in a company’s hands.
5. Data security is actually your responsibility
Yes, security in the cloud is often more sophisticated than what a company can provide on its own. However, many organizations fail to realize that it’s their responsibility to secure their data before sending it to the cloud. In fact, cloud providers often won’t ensure the security of the data in their clouds and, legally, most jurisdictions hold the data owner accountable for security.
Risk managers can’t just take cloud computing at face value. Yes, it’s a great alternative for cost, speed and security, but hidden fees and unexpected threats can make utilization much riskier than anticipated.
Managing the risks requires a deeper understanding of the technology, careful due diligence and constant vigilance — and ACE can help guide an organization through the process.
To learn more about how to manage cloud risks, read the ACE whitepaper: Cloud Computing: Is Your Company Weighing Both Benefits and Risks?