Workplace Bullies May Be Next On Insurers’ Watchlist, Insurance Journal Reports

June 20, 2006

From the playground to the classroom to the office — bullies can be found in all walks of life, but new anti-harassment legislation in some states could put an end to bullying in the workplace that can be costly for employers. In this week’s (June 19) magazine, Insurance Journal’s Andrea Ortega-Wells takes a look at what constitutes a bully and bullying behavior in the workplace and the employer liability insurance implications.

“We define bullying as strictly repeated health harming mistreatment,” Dr. Gary Namie of the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, an advocacy group that supports anti-bullying legislation, told Ortega-Wells. Namie and his organization have supported anti-bullying legislation, or the “Healthy Workplace Bill,” since the first bill was introduced in California in 2003. He says bullying in the workplace “undermines legitimate business interests.”

While bullying is not currently a protected category under harassment law, Johan Lubbe, a partner at Jackson Lewis LLP law firm, says bullying is likely the next “evolutionary” step in harassment law. He advises businesses to understand what workplace bullying conduct is and to develop preventative strategies that prohibit such conduct in the work environment.

Coverage for bullying claims may already exist under some employment practices liability policies, according to Gregg Draddy, assistant vice president of employment practices liability at The Hartford. Draddy says “there are issues around bullying/harassment that are covered, whether it’s under other workplace harassment, infliction of emotional distress, or other areas that are covered under wrongful acts under EPLI policies.”

Robert Cap, associate product manager for EPLI and nonprofit D&O, at Shand Morahan, a part of the Markel Corp. Group, argues that the problem in coverage for workplace bullying “is that if the allegation was simply one of workplace bullying, it’s hard to do that negligently — it’s really an intentional act.”

That’s precisely why anti-bullying legislation is needed, says WBTI’s Namie.

EPLI excuses and event planning
Also, in Insurance Journal’s national edition, Francis Huver of Rockwood Programs Inc. based in Wilmington, Del., says even in today’s litigious climate only one in four eligible employers purchases valuable employment practices liability insurance.

“One would only have to look at the recent trends in employment-related litigation to determine that EPLI coverage is an essential part of any company’s risk management strategy,” Huver writes. There is no more room for excuses, businesses need EPLI, he says.

As vacationers set sail for summer trips around the world, one insurance broker who specializes in special events coverages tells his tale of how one of the nation’s largest summer festivals, Austin City Limits Music Festival, gears up for its comprehensive risk management plan. After more than a year of planning, including assessing the threat of an approaching Cat 5 hurricane, James Chippendale, president of CSI Entertainment Insurance based in Dallas, Texas, can safely tell his client, “Yes, we have it covered.”

In Alan Shulman’s monthly column, Growing Your Property Casualty Agency, he discusses nine fears that could cause an agency to lose a young producer.

Regional editions
Unique among insurance publications, Insurance Journal regionalizes the content of its magazines to serve readers in five regions of the country. The June 19 regional editions tackle everything from insurance political action contributions to systems for mapping wildfires.

Insurance Journal-South Central reports on just how much the industry spent in the South Central region the last few election cycles and which parties and issues were the big winners when it comes to receiving the industry’s dollars. There is also a report on a recent Texas court ruling that has created difficulties for the mostly beneficial, sometimes tricky relationship between insureds, insurance companies and defense counsel.

Midwest editor Susan McKenna caught up with Illinois Director Michael McRaith for an exclusive interview. McRaith may be the new kid on the block for some, but the freshman regulator isn’t shy about giving his perspective about how 2005 catastrophes have affected the insurance landscape in Illinois and the Midwest — particularly on Allstate’s move to drop earthquake coverage. He also adds his two cents on broker compensation issues “now in the laps of carriers,” and what he thinks of the idea of an optional federal charter.

Insurance Journal-West notes that firefighters in Colorado are using mapping systems and computer software to help them decide which homes to defend and which to sacrifice to the flames. Insurance companies in the Denver area are watching the system to increase rates or drop coverage.

California insurance agents are not happy that they could be required to verify odometer readings for new and renewal auto policies. The Department of Insurance has proposed regulations to specify how annual mileage can be estimated. Agents say the rules are not necessary.

Also in the West edition, Dave Zwiener of The Hartford, shares what “keeps him awake nights.” Among his worries: the increase in major disasters, ratings, technology, the industry’s ability to sell itself to the public and potential employees, and the need for a federal regulator.

“We don’t need taxpayer funds. Insurers can handle natural disasters — as long as they constantly refine their risk models and are free to price risk adequately.” So says Wendy Baker, president of Lloyd’s America, in her bylined forecast for the Northeast that can be found in this week’s East edition.

Also, Massachusetts Rep. Ronald Mariano, D-Quincy, and his committee staffers who crafted his auto insurance competitive rating bill, tried to sweeten the deal by throwing some bon bons into the box. But even with all of the extra goodies, the bill isn’t selling. “We are still opposing it,” Daniel Foley, of the Massachusetts Association of Insurance Agents, told East editor Andy Simpson, who writes about why the reform drive is being blocked by agents and others.

The East edition also reports on how New Hampshire’s positive climate frees insurers to focus on competition and technology and why more self-insured workers’ compensation groups are closing their doors in New York.

Gov. Jeb Bush recently vetoed the state’s no-fault auto insurance law but Florida legislators are vowing to place the issue on the front burner again this spring. Southeast editor Dave Kaiser reports on the politics of no-fault and on a new rule permitting the use of credit scores that Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty is enforcing over insurers’ protests.

Also in this week’s Southeast edition, there is a special report on how catastrophe modeling, reinsurance and conservative management practices have kept Florida’s domiciled insurers healthy and in business, despite the state’s troubled insurance market and its insurers. These insurers wrote their highest share of the voluntary market in 2005 and stand to gain even more in 2006.

Source: Insurance Journal

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