Archive for January, 2013

Job bias charges reported to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) remained close to a record high of nearly 100,000 in fiscal year 2012, even as the volume of cases fell.

The EEOC confirmed that it received a record 99,412 charges of private sector employment discrimination in fiscal year 2012, down slightly (-0.5 percent) from last year’s total.

Monetary relief obtained for victims totaled $365.4 million – the largest amount of monetary recovery from private sector and state and local government employers through its administrative process, the EEOC said.

The year-end data show that retaliation (37,836), race (33,512) and sex discrimination (30,356), which includes allegations of sexual harassment and pregnancy, were, respectively, the most frequently filed charges.

Retaliation charges under all statutes enforced by the EEOC again rose by 1.3 percent in FY 2012, after increasing by 3 percent in FY 2011.

The number of charges alleging sex discrimination (30,356) increased by 6 percent, while charges based on disability discrimination (26,379) were up 3 percent.

The EEOC also received 280 charges under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of genetic information, including family medical history.

In a press release, the EEOC said it achieved a significant reduction in its charge inventory for a second consecutive year, something not seen since 2002. The pending inventory of private sector charges was reduced by 10 percent from fiscal year 2011, bringing the inventory level to 70,312.

Business Insurance has more on this story.

The EEOC numbers again underscore the importance of employment practices liability insurance for businesses. Check out I.I.I. facts and statistics on EPL insurance.

Customers are increasingly satisfied with their auto claims experience, as repairable and total loss claims are being paid faster, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study—Wave 1.

Overall, claimant satisfaction with the auto claims process in the fourth quarter of 2012 increased by six points to 861 (on a 1,000-point scale) from the fourth quarter of 2011, primarily due to an 11-point increase in settlement satisfaction.

J.D. Power noted that slight increases in the ratings of fairness of the claim settlement and timing of the settlement, contributed to the improvement in settlement satisfaction.

The study finds that the average time to pay claimants decreased to 13.9 days in the fourth quarter of 2012, down from 16.4 days in the same period of 2011.

While the average time to pay claimants for a repairable claim (11.8 days) decreased by 1.3 days from the fourth quarter of 2011, the largest decrease is in the time it takes to pay total-loss claims, down by an average of 5.1 days to 18.5 days.

Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates, commented:

Regardless of the claim type, the faster the claimant is paid and can move forward with a repair or to replace their vehicle, the more likely they are to be satisfied.

In addition, satisfaction with the claims professional is at an all-time high, indicating that the process is becoming smoother, with more frequent updates throughout contributing to a much more satisfying experience.”

The study measures claimant satisfaction with the claims experience for auto physical damage loss. Depending on the complexity of the claim, a claimant may experience some or all of the following, which are measured in the study: first notice of loss; claim service interaction; damage appraisal; repair process; rental experience; and settlement.

The 2013 U.S. Auto Claims Satisfaction Study–Wave 1 is based on responses from more than 3,000 auto insurance customers who settled a claim within the past six months. It excludes claimants whose vehicle incurred only glass/windshield damage or was stolen, or who only filed roadside assistance claims.

Check out this I.I.I. video for five steps to follow to make the auto insurance claim process quicker and simpler.

A new report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) has found a strong correlation between organized crime and staged auto accidents.

Covering the period from January 1, 2008, through June 30, 2012, analysts reviewed 13,014 questionable insurance claims.

Questionable claims (QCs) are claims that NICB member insurance companies refer to NICB for closer review and investigation based on one or more indicators of possible fraud. A single claim may contain up to seven referral reasons.

For this report, just QCs with a referral reason of “organized group/ring activity” (OGA) were identified.

Overall, there were 13,014 OGA QCs referred to NICB during this period. The top five states that generated the most were: Florida (3,530), California (2,679), Michigan (1,080), Texas (1,050) and New York (765).

The top five cities generating the most were: Los Angeles (752), New York (595), Miami (575), Detroit (545) and Tampa (545).

The insurance policy type most represented in the NICB analysis was “personal automobile,” accounting for 10,659 referrals. NICB says:

This suggests a rather strong correlation between the kinds of alleged fraud schemes most perpetrated by OGAs —staged and caused accidents.”

Further proof of this connection is evident when looking at these QCs by loss type. The referral reason most often coupled with the OGA referral was by far “staged/caused accident” — indicated 4,347 times. The loss type with the most referrals was bodily injury with 4,401 referrals.

NICB notes:

The results of this QC analysis correlate with what NICB agents and analysts are seeing in their cases—particularly in the no-fault, personal injury protection (PIP) states like Florida, Michigan and New York.”

The NICB defines organized crime groups as “any specific group made up of entities and/or individuals who systematically and repeatedly conduct pre-planned activities for the purpose of generating fraudulent insurance schemes.”

Staged/caused accidents are perpetrated by individuals who are skilled in committing insurance fraud. Those “accidents” set the stage for subsequent acts of fraud ranging from faked or exaggerated injuries to unnecessary or excessive medical treatment.

Check out this I.I.I. backgrounder for more info on no-fault insurance fraud, and insurance fraud in general.

The size of the Top 10 jury awards rose again in 2012, according to the latest annual report from Lawyers USA.

The 10 largest jury verdicts in 2012 totaled $2.03 billion, an increase of 10 percent from $1.84 billion in 2011.

Lawyers USA noted that the average award for 2012 increased by nearly $20 million, rising to $203 million from just under $184 million the prior year. By contrast, the average award for 2011 increased by around $27 million over 2010.

While the top award in 2012 was substantially greater than the top verdict the prior year – $716.5 million versus $482 million in 2011 – the drop this year was much steeper to the No.2 award of $179.7 million, and the No. 3 award of $178 million.

Other key takeaways include:

– All of the verdicts in this year’s Top 10 were greater than $100 million. The lowest award was $109 million, some $19.4 million more than the No. 10 award in 2011.

– In the year’s top verdict, a convenience store was hit with a massive $716.5 million verdict for selling alcohol to a teenager who plowed into another vehicle, killing its occupant.

– The #2 verdict went to three workers burned in an explosion at a grain silo who were awarded more than $179 million against ConAgra Foods for failing to clean up stored wheat that became combustible.

Lawyers USA compiles the Top 10 Jury Verdicts each year applying certain ground rules. Verdicts must be to an individual plaintiff, defined as a single person, family or small group of individuals injured in a single incident who had their claims tried in one case before the same jury.

The list does not include business-against-business suits, class actions or consolidated suits. Cases must have been defended and default verdicts and suits against incarcerated individuals are not included.

Check out I.I.I. info on the liability system.

Piracy on the world’s seas has reached a five-year low, with 297 ships attacked in 2012, compared with 439 in 2011, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) International Maritime Bureau (IMB) global piracy report revealed today.

Worldwide numbers fell thanks to a huge reduction in Somali piracy, though East and West Africa remain the worst hit areas, with 150 attacks in 2012, according to the IMB report.

Globally, 174 ships were boarded by pirates last year, while 28 were hijacked and 28 were fired upon. IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre also recorded 67 attempted attacks.

The number of people taken hostage onboard fell to 585 from 802 in 2011, while a further 26 were kidnapped for ransom in Nigeria. Six crewmembers were killed and 32 were injured or assaulted.

A press release cites Captain Pottengal Mukundan, Director of IMB:

IMB’s piracy figures show a welcome reduction in hijackings and attacks to ships. But crews must remain vigilant, particularly in the highly dangerous waters off East and West Africa.”

In Somalia and the Gulf of Aden, just 75 ships reported attacks in 2012 compared with 237 in 2011, accounting for 25% of incidents worldwide. The number of Somali hijackings was halved from 28 in 2011 to 14 last year.

IMB says navies are deterring piracy off Africa’s east coast, with pre-emptive strikes and robust action against mother ships. So too are private armed security teams and crews’ application of “Best Management Practices”.

But the threat and capability of heavily armed Somali pirates remains strong.

Follow the IMB record of piracy and armed robbery incidents on Twitter and view latest attacks on the IMB Live Piracy Map.

The Washington Post has more on this story.

The 17th annual Property/Casualty Insurance Joint Industry Forum will be held tomorrow at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City.

The Forum, sponsored by 16 leading property/casualty insurance trade associations, was created to provide p/c insurance and reinsurance company leaders with an opportunity to meet and discuss topics of general interest.

Thomas J. Donohue, president & CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, will be the keynote speaker at the event.

A panel of experts will first discuss the insurance industry from the perspective of those who regulate, analyze and write about the business.

This will be followed by the CEO panel where industry leaders will discuss general trends in industry services.

You can follow the Insurance Information Institute’s live Twitter feed on Tuesday.

There are many takeaways from the World Economic Forum Global Risks 2013 report – too many for one blog post.

One of this year’s key findings is that the world is more at risk as persistent economic weakness saps our ability to tackle environmental challenges.

The report is developed from a survey of over 1,000 experts from industry, government, academia and civil society who were asked to review a landscape of 50 global risks.

The global risk that respondents rated most likely to manifest over the next 10 years is severe income disparity, while the risk rated as having the highest impact if it were to manifest is major systemic financial failure.

There are also two risks that appear in the top five of both impact and likelihood: chronic fiscal imbalances and water supply crisis.

Unforeseen consequences of life science technologies was the biggest mover among global risks when assessing likelihood, the WEF says, while unforeseen negative consequences of regulation moved the most on the impact scale when comparing the result with last year’s.

The report also introduces three risk cases, based on an analysis of survey results: Testing Economic and Environmental Resilience, Digital Wildfires in a Hyperconnected World and The Dangers of Hubris on Human Health.

Over at the Forum blog, a post titled Global Risks 2013 by numbers offers some revealing facts and figures from this year’s report.

The report is published in cooperation with Marsh & McLennan Cos, Swiss Re, the Wharton Center for Risk Management and Zurich.

The composite rate for U.S. commercial lines finished out the year with a 5 percent increase in December 2012, according to the latest analysis from online insurance exchange MarketScout.

Commercial auto led the way, with a 6 percent increase, followed by commercial property and general liability increasing at 5 percent.

MarketScout noted that after seven plus years of a soft market, the property and casualty industry finally showed consistent rate increases in 2012:

Beginning January 2012, the composite rate was up 1 percent but steadily increased over the course of the year. By year end, the average rate increase on property and casualty business in the U.S. was up 5 percent.”

Commenting on the 2012 year, Richard Kerr, CEO of MarketScout observed:

This market turn is not like the last hard market of 2001 to 2005 when rates spiked up as much as 30% in the early stages. For the 2012 market turn, rates have adjusted slowly and steadily without any dramatic spikes. This slow and steady pace could foretell rate increases at a more sensible pace and for a longer period of time.”

Check out I.I.I. information on industry financial results and market conditions.

Hurricane Sandy is the second costliest storm in insurance history after Hurricane Katrina, according to latest estimates from Munich Re.

In its 2012 Natural Catastrophe Year in Review Webinar hosted in partnership with the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.), Munich Re noted that Hurricane Sandy, which made landfall in New Jersey, became the worst storm to hit the northeastern U.S. since the Great New England Hurricane of 1938, causing insured losses in excess of $25 billion.

This estimate would place Sandy second only to Hurricane Katrina which caused insured losses of $62 billion in 2005 dollars, according to Munich Re.

The webinar noted that insured losses due to natural catastrophes in the U.S. in 2012 totaled $57.9 billion – far above the 2000 to 2011 average loss of $27 billion (in 2012 dollars).

Insured losses from natural catastrophes in the U.S. in 2012 were also the second highest on record after 2005, and 2012 was also the third costliest year for the insurance industry worldwide (after 2011 and 2005).

Natural catastrophes caused $160 billion in overall losses and $65 billion in insured losses worldwide in 2012, Munich Re said. The U.S. accounted for some 69 percent of overall losses and 90 percent of insured losses, well above the respective long-term averages of 32 percent and 57 percent.

Check out articles by the Wall Street Journal and PC360 for more on this story.

See I.I.I. president Dr. Robert Hartwig’s presentation on the financial strength of the insurance industry here.

A just-released list of the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2012 by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) is as good a place as any to start the New Year.

Heading the list? An intoxicated Florida driver who pleaded guilty to manslaughter and then sued the victim he killed.

In a blog post, ILR President Lisa A. Rickard notes:

This poll reminds us that as a society, we sue too much. In turn, these abusive lawsuits inflict harm on lives, jobs, and our economic growth.”

The ILR puts together the top ten ridiculous list from votes cast throughout the year by visitors to FacesOfLawsuitAbuse.org. The lawsuits were selected from those featured in the website’s monthly polls for 2012.

Here’s the complete list of the Top Ten Most Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2012:

1. Intoxicated Florida driver pleads guilty to manslaughter, then sues victim he killed
2. Michigan woman files $5 million suit for the leftover gas still in her repossessed car
3. 13-year-old Little Leaguer sued by spectator who got hit with baseball
4. Maximum security inmate who went to jail with five teeth sues prison for dental problems
5. Anheuser Busch sued when longneck bottle used as weapon in bar fight
6. National Football League fan sues Dallas Cowboys over hot bench
7. California restaurateur sued for disabilities act violations in parking lot he doesn’t own
8. Colorado man wins $7 million blaming illness on inhaling microwave popcorn fumes
9. $1.7 billion suit claims City of Santa Monica wireless parking meters causing health problems
10. Bay Area parents sue school after their son was kicked out of honors class for cheating

Check out additional facts and statistics from the I.I.I. on litigiousness.