Tag Archives: Reputation risk

@united: Do You Have A Reputational Risk Policy?

While the social media firestorm following the forcible removal of a passenger from a United Airlines flight highlights the importance of crisis and reputation risk management, it also underscores the potential liability airlines face from balancing duties to their customers, employees and to shareholders.

USA Today reports that three things govern a carrier’s relationship with its passengers: contracts of carriage, the U.S. Department of Transportation and laws approved by Congress:

United’s dispute with a passenger forcible removed from a Sunday flight shines a spotlight on the contracts that set rules and expectations between carriers and travelers.

“Those contracts are well thought through. They are generally fair and balanced, and they reflect the market,” said Roy Goldberg, a partner at Steptoe & Johnson who practices aviation law in Washington, D.C. “As a general matter, passengers have rights, but airlines have rights, too.”

A Reuters analysis of federal data shows U.S. airlines are bumping passengers off flights at the lowest rate since 1995.

Many insurers and brokers offer reputational risk policies that include crisis management and PR services to assist companies before, during and after a crisis.

More on the story in today’s I.I.I. Daily, via the Wall Street Journal:

On April 11 Oscar Munoz, head of United Airlines, apologized for the forcible removal by the police of Dr. David Dao, a passenger, from United Express Flight 3411 in Chicago. The apology came two days after the altercation led to the widespread expression of anger on social media, including millions of angry posts in the airline’s rapidly growing market in China. Politicians in Washington, D.C., also condemned the airline’s forcible removal of a passenger. Munoz sent a message to employees of United Continental Holdings Inc. apologizing for an incident he characterized as horrific and acknowledging the general public outrage, which he said he shared. The message was in sharp contrast to Munoz’s initial response.

FAA guidance for planning and preparing for your next airline trip here.

Allergic Reaction: EpiPen Needed to Restore Reputation

As the mother of a young child with a life-threatening nut and sesame allergy, it’s hard to remain objective and impartial when it comes to a company increasing the price of EpiPen, the life-saving allergy injector, by more than 400 percent since 2007.

However, the latest example of a company facing a public backlash, political pressure and social media storm due to its business practices illustrates the importance of having the necessary resources in place to mitigate the effects of a reputational risk crisis if and when it occurs.

As we’ve noted before in an earlier blog post, reputational risk is among the most challenging categories of risk to manage. A survey from ACE Group found that 81 percent of companies view reputation as their most significant asset—and most of them admit that they struggle to protect it.

The survey suggests that organizations need a clear framework for managing reputational risk that reduces the potential for crises, taking a multi-disciplinary approach that involves the CEO, PR specialists and other business leaders.

Mylan, the company at the center of the EpiPen controversy, has moved quickly to respond to the angry mob and to stem the drop in its share price which has so far lost investors $3 billion.

Yesterday, Mylan’s CEO Heather Bresch went on CNBC to announce the company was increasing financial assistance to patients to offset out-of-pocket costs of the EpiPen.

However, as The New York Times reports, Mylan did not say it would lower the list price — which has risen to about $600 for a pack of two EpiPens, from about $100 when Mylan acquired the product in 2007.

By the way, actress Sarah Jessica Parker also announced she is ending her relationship with Mylan after the pricing debacle broke.

Wherever you stand in this debate, the reality is the pharmaceutical industry is for-profit, as noted by Ms Bresch, and in the absence of a competitor or a generic, EpiPen is the latest example of a company trying to maximize profit.

Reputational risk is not covered by a standard business insurance policy, but companies can purchase coverage via a stand-alone policy which typically would pay fees for professional crisis management and communications services; media spending and production costs; some legal fees; other crisis response and campaign costs including research, events, social media and directly associated costs.

Newer reputation insurance products have also been developed that would cover a company’s financial losses due to reputational and brand damages.

In the mean time, in a climate of increased public, regulatory and investor scrutiny, the Mylan case is a good example of why companies need to be more proactive than ever to respond to challenges before they do serious damage to their brand and reputation.

Companies Behaving Badly

Whether it’s the VW emissions scandal or rebuilding a company’s reputation after a cyber attack, we’re reading a lot about the challenges of managing reputation risk in the business world.

How important–and valuable–a positive reputation and ethical C-suite leadership is for an organization to attract talent is highlighted by recent findings of a survey of 1,012 U.S. adults by Corporate Responsibility Magazine and Cielo Healthcare.

(Hat tip to the WSJ’s Risk & Compliance Journal for flagging this survey.)

The research identified bad behaviors most harmful to a company’s culture and reputation as:

  • Public exposure of criminal acts (33 percent);
  • Failure to recall defective products (30 percent);
  • Public disclosure of workplace discrimination (21 percent);
  • Public disclosure of environmental scandal (15 percent).

What’s the true cost of a bad corporate reputation? According to the survey, companies perceived as unethical face a potential talent shortage and increased recruiting costs as they struggle to successfully recruit women and millennials.

Only 67 percent of employed Americans surveyed would take a job with a company that had a bad reputation if they were offered more money, compared to 70 percent in 2014.

In contrast, 92 percent would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company with an excellent corporate reputation.

It would also take a substantial pay increase for many to take a job with a company with a bad reputation, with 46 percent of survey respondents needing a pay increase of 50 percent or more to consider moving to an unethical company.

Women are more motivated to work for an ethical company, the survey found. Some 86 percent of women who responded said they would not join a company with a bad reputation compared to only 67 percent of men.

In contrast, 92 percent of men and women would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company with a stellar corporate reputation.

Check out the I.I.I. online resource for business insurance here.

VW: Reputation Risk Report

We’re well into the second week of the VW emissions scandal fallout and as we scan the latest news headlines it appears that reputation risk-related matters remain front and center.

Multiple  auto manufacturer reputations are on the line especially with the news that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now broadened its investigation to  look into  at least 27 diesel vehicle models made by BMW, Chrysler, General Motors, Land Rover and Mercedes-Benz.

From ignition switch defects, to exploding air bags, to unintended acceleration and now diesel emissions test cheating the beleaguered auto industry continues to face record recalls and massive reputation damage, not to mention the associated financial impact on stock prices and corporate profits.

After all, more than 25 percent of a company’s market value is directly attributable to its reputation, according to the World Economic Forum.

A global survey of 300 executives by Deloitte notes that a company’s reputation should be managed like a priceless asset and protected as if it’s a matter of life and death.

Some 41 percent of companies that experienced a negative reputation event reported loss of brand value and revenue, Deloitte found.

In the case of VW, the struggle to regain consumer trust in its product and to rebuild its tattered reputation is likely to be protracted and costly.

Criminal investigations, civil fines and penalties and a mounting pile of lawsuits add to the rising volume of liability costs the company will face. Some analysts even estimate the total cost to VW could reach $87 billion.

Consider the following:

–Some €29 billion wiped off VW’s market capitalization in a matter of days after its deception was uncovered, a cost which far outweighs the savings VW made by cutting corners on its diesel vehicles in the U.S., as the New York Times DealBook reports here.

–A refit of 11 million diesel VW and Audi vehicles that have the illegal software, a fix which some analysts have estimated could cost more than $6.5 billion, according to this Reuters report.

–U.S. lawsuits filed against VW are seeking billions of dollars in damage, the Wall Street Journal reports. More than 34 lawsuits filed by U.S. vehicle owners, shareholders and dealerships have been noted so far, and that number is set to grow.

–More than $18 billion in civil penalties and fines, plus other fees for violating the Clean Air Act, based on the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notice of violation.

The resignation and replacement of VW’s CEO Martin Winterkorn (now the subject of his own criminal investigation) and widespread criticism of VW’s supervisory board leads us to the potential directors & officers’ exposure facing VW.

A Business Insurance article here explains why VW’s exposure to D&O lawsuits may be limited in the U.S. More on this topic in an excellent post by Kevin La Croix of The D&O Diary blog.

The Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) explains why a business should consider purchasing D&O insurance here.

Uber-money, Uber-problems (or: “So a Loose Cannon Threatens To Blow up My Business. Now What…?”)

Reputational risk is among the most challenging to insure, says I.I.I.’s  VP of Communications Loretta Worters in this timely tale of Uber shenanigans:

There’s no such thing as bad publicity, the old saying goes. But the publicity ridesharing company Uber is getting lately may not just harm its image, but can hurt its bottom line. And for a business valued by some at north of $50 billion, that’s a world of hurt!

The latest trouble for the beleaguered rideshare titan started earlier this week when SVP of Business Emil Michael was reported by BuzzFeed to have said that the company should initiate a million-dollar “smear campaign” against journalists. Worse still was CEO Travis Kalanick’s response, a rambling 13-tweet condemnation of Michael’s on-the-record screed. (To date, however, Michael still has his job.) Jumping into the fray was Uber investor Ashton Kutcher, who defended the company for “digging up dirt” on journalists.

A company’s reputation is core to its profitability and long-term competitiveness. And the challenges from social media and other interactive online platforms often force businesses to respond immediately. This in part explains why damage from reputational risk events oftentimes does not result from the initial crisis, but from how well the company responds to it.

This isn’t exactly the first time Uber has “stepped in it.” However, leaving aside Uber’s occasional self-destructive missteps, how vulnerable is Uber or any other company with a capricious C-suite?

Reputational risk is among the most challenging categories of risk to manage, according to 92 percent of companies responding to a survey from ACE Group. Fully 81 percent of respondents view reputation as their most significant asset–and most of them admit that they struggle to protect it. The report also suggests that organizations need a clear framework for managing reputational risk that reduces the potential for crises, taking a multi-disciplinary approach that involves the CEO, PR specialists and other business leaders.

While Uber’s Kalanick acknowledged his company needs to repair its image, he clearly would benefit from reputational risk insurance and the expertise of a risk manager–even if that risk manager’s counsel amounts to: “dude, shut UP!”

Reputational risk is not covered under a typical business policy, but companies can purchase coverage as a stand-alone policy which typically pays fees for professional crisis management and communications services; media spending and production costs; some legal fees; other crisis response and campaign costs such as research, events, social media, and directly associated activities.

New reputation insurance products have started to emerge in the marketplace that cover financial losses caused by bad news that harms a company’s profits. For example, Aon with Zurich, Willis and Chartis among others have come out with policies that address the exposures of reputational risk and offer risk management services to help corporations keep their reputations intact.

One thing is clear: as the rideshare business grows more competitive, Kalanick will need to do better at projecting a positive image. And if he took a cue from his own product, and let somebody else do the driving for a change, Kalanick would be following the lead of many a troubled CEO before him.

For information on the insurance implications of ride-sharing, check out this handy Q&A.