The RISC eNews Blast is intended to provide relevant and timely news information from a number of sources to member pool staff. If you see articles in the journals, email and sources you subscribe to that may be of interest to the RISC membership, please feel free to forward them to Erin Rian for inclusion in the eNews Blast. In this week's edition of the RISC eNews Blast:
DATA SECURITY & CYBER RISK
Your car may be invading your privacy (USA Today, 3/25/2013): Electronic systems in automobiles make it increasingly possible to obtain data about how and where a car is being driven. Some are installed voluntarily, in exchange for reduced insurance rates or to make automatic toll payments. Others are part of the car’s self-monitoring systems or provide services such as entertainment or emergency communication. The data stored by some systems are being used in post-accident litigation to establish behavior immediately preceding the accident. Cities that notify employees that they have no expectation of privacy when using city owned technology may want to consider whether the data recording technology in city owned autos falls into this same category and needs to be explicitly included.
Unintentional file-sharing a boon for hackers (Pittsburgh Tribune, 3/23/2013): People who sign up for file sharing services or peer-to-peer networks may unknowingly accept default security settings that expose other information on their computer. This could affect cities that permit their employees to join services on government computers. What is more likely is that employees in a “Bring Your Own Device” setting may expose city owned data if they use one of these services on a personal computer or mobile device that they also use to access confidential city information. Pools should include this risk in any cyber risk training or information they provide to their members.
In Massachusetts, ZIP Codes Constitute Personal Identification Information (Mondaq, 3/23/2013): The Supreme Court of Massachusetts has ruled that a zip code constitutes personally identifiable information.
Arkansas Lawmakers Advance Social Media Privacy Bills (Arkansas Business, 3/27/2013): Under proposed legislation, employers and colleges would be barred from asking current or prospective employees or students for passwords to private social media accounts, or to change the privacy settings to those accounts. Employers and college coaches, professors and administrators would also be prohibited from initiating a “friend” or “connect” request with an employee.
Justice Department Settles Sex Discrimination Suit Against Summit County, Ohio (U.S. Department of Justice, 3/27/2013): The U. S. Department of Justice has entered into a consent Decree with Summit County Ohio over a sex-segregated job assignment system that was implemented in 2012. This is the first pattern and practice lawsuit brought by the Justice Department as part of a joint effort with the EEOC to enforce Title VII against state and local governments through greater cooperation between the EEOC and the Civil Rights Division.
Water-Free Fracking Catching On in Texas (Property Casualty 360, 3/27/2013): Conventional fracking relies on water, but in Texas water scarcity is leading to try fracking with propane and other alternatives. There is also discussion about using other substances, like carbon dioxide and nitrogen. Currently there are no regulations for waterless fracking, and none are on the near horizon. The use of these new substances would appear to raise a new set of issues for local governments to consider if they become involved in approving the siting or operating conditions for fracking operations.
Connecticut bill advances banning fracking waste (Business Week, 3/27/2013): A bill that would ban the treating, discharging, disposing or storing of fracking waste in Connecticut is making its way through the Connecticut legislature. Although fracking is not being used in Connecticut, lawmakers are concerned that waste could be brought into the state.
Frac-sand mining controls proposed as demand grows (Wisconsin State Journal, 3/27/2013): A series of five bills in the state legislature would give local governments and property owners greater control over the location and operation of frac-sand mining. Among other provisions, the bills would strengthen local officials’ ability to negotiate conditions of operation, require a 30 day public notice to nearby property owners if the local government is considering a sand operation, and require a property seller to disclose any proposals for sand operations on neighboring property.
Iowa cities win appeal of EPA wastewater rule (Des Moines Register, 3/27/2013): The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has struck down two Environmental Protection Agency rules on the grounds the EPA did not give adequate notice and ability to comment.
Quake Tied to Oil-Drilling Waste Adds Pressure for Rules (Business Week, 3/27/2013): Researchers at the University of Oklahoma and the U.S. Geological Survey believe that the 2011 series of earthquakes centered near Prauge, Oklahoma is linked to the use of underground disposal wells for wastewater used in oil production. There has been an eleven-fold increase in seismic activity in the central U.S. as the use of disposal wells has increased. The Oklahoma Geological Survey maintains that the earthquakes occurred naturally.
MEDICARE SECONDARY PAYER
Connecticut Decision Demonstrates Scattered Opinions with Regard to MSP Compliance in Liability Settlements (Workers’Compensation.com, 3/26/2013): A Connecticut superior court has ruled that the parties to the settlement of a claim arising from an accident that caused the plaintiff to become a paraplegic are not required to set aside any of the settlement proceeds for future medical benefits. The court noted that the settlement agreement did not address future medical expenses, and that the settlement amount ($550,000) is a substantial compromise of the possible verdict range if the case went to trial. The defendants had asserted numerous special defenses, including the plaintiff’s intoxication at the time of the accident. The decision is available here.
PROPERTY & CASUALTY
How Obamacare Could Affect P/C Insurance (Insurance Journal, 3/28/2013): As health reform takes hold, property / casualty actuaries are trying to determine the impact of health reform on other lines of insurance such as workers’ compensation and medical malpractice. The impact may not be known for a while, but actuaries can begin gathering and analyzing data now to help them respond when changes do occur.
Flood Insurance Policyholders Told to Expect Big Premium Hikes (Insurance Journal, 3/28/2013): FEMA head Craig Fugate says that people who buy federal flood insurance will be seeing big rate hikes, in the wake of Congress’ decision that the program will have to pay for itself. The increased premiums will be phased in over three to four years.
Congressman Presses McRaith, FIO on Key IAIS Initiatives (Property Casualty 360, 3/27/2013): The House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance is asking the Federal Insurance Office to work with the Financial Stability Oversight Council to reject the recommendations by the International Association of Insurance Supervisors that it believes may harm U.S. insurers.
Bill that doubles state's liability headed to governor's desk (The Gazette, 3/25/2013): The present tort cap in Colorado is $150,000 for an individual and $600,000 per incident. The inadequacy of these limits was made clear by the North Fork Fire, a state led controlled burn that got out of control and caused an estimated $11 million in losses and killed three people. If signed the new cap will not apply retroactively, but the state has established a special legal process for victims of the North Fork Fire, which is not subject to the cap.
OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST
Managing Litigation By Fiat: Can An Insurer Impose Litigation Guidelines On Defense Counsel Hired To Defend A Potentially Insured Claim? (Mondaq, 3/27/2013): Courts may be reluctant to enforce defense counsel compliance with an insurer’s strict litigation guidelines if those guidelines interfere with the defense counsel’s ability to defend successfully the case on behalf of the insured.
Opinion Issued in Florida v. Jardines (SCOTUSblog, 3/26/2013): The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Florida Supreme Court finding that having a police dog sniff at the front door of a house where the police suspect drug activity is a search for purposes of the Fourth Amendment. The decision was 5-4. The majority opinion held that the police committed trespass when they went onto the front porch to search for drugs. They did not reach the issue of whether the dog sniffing at the front door was a breach of privacy. The dissenting justices disagreed that the police conduct was a trespass because the public, including the police, have a right to approach a front door. They also did not believe that sniffing at the front door invaded a reasonable expectation of privacy. A link to the full decision is provided.
Locked out of LinkedIn: A Federal Court Opens the Door to Employer Liability (Mondaq, 3/25/2013): The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania ruled in favor of an employee whose employer continued to use her LinkedIn account under her name for a period of 16 days after she was terminated. The court found for the plaintiff for unauthorized use of her name, invasion of privacy, and for misappropriation of publicity. However, the plaintiff received no award because the court found that she had not proved damages.
Sandy Set to Be 3rd Costliest Hurricane, but Storms of the Past Offer Perspective (Property Casualty 360, 3/22/2013): If the rankings are adjusted to reflect today’s exposures, however, Katrina would only be the sixth costliest hurricane, and Sandy would be below Katrina. A number of storms from the past, when development in the affected areas was lower, would be at the top of the list of costliest storms, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
TRIA Renewal an Uphill Climb, Associations Warn (Property Casualty 360, 3/22/2013): The Property Casualty Insurers Association of America says reauthorization of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) will be an uphill climb in Congress. The PCI CEO suggests involving the director of the Federal Insurance Office in the effort.
Below is a listing of job opportunities in governmental entity risk pools and/or risk management. To post a position contact Erin Rian.
Southeast Loss Control Conference (Annapolis, April 16-19, 2013): The 2013 SELC Spring Conference is scheduled for April 16-19, 2013 in Annapolis, Maryland. The two and one-half day agenda is packed with information you can take back to your pool, and plenty of time to network with loss control colleagues from other pools. Any NLC-RISC member pool is welcome to attend - not just those located in the southeast! View the agenda and registration information here.
NLC-RISC Marketing Communications Workshop (Denver, May 15-16, 2013): In today’s economic climate, pools are frequently viewed as a price-based commodity making brand loyalty an often-elusive goal. However, brand loyalty is of paramount importance in our customer/member-driven economy. This day and a half workshop for pool staff will offer many tools you can use to refresh your marketing strategy, redesign your visual and written message, and reconnect at every touch point with your current and prospective members. View the schedule and register for the workshop here. The deadline to register is April 15, 2013.
NLC-RISC Spring Trustees Conference (Denver, May 16-18, 2013): The NLC-RISC Trustee Conference provides trustees and pool administrators of state municipal league pools the opportunity to learn about industry trends, programs, services and pooling best practices, as well as opportunities to network with peers from across the country. Online conference and hotel registrations, as well as as preliminary agenda are available here. The deadline to register is April 15, 2013.