Magazine for Senior Financial Executives: Protecting against violence

Protecting against violence – Insurance

Don Durfee

THE FIGURES ARE GRIM. Each workday, approximately 16,400 threats are made on the job, 723 workers are attacked, and 43,800 are harassed, according to the Workplace Violence Research Institute. More than 1,000 workplace homicides are committed annually.

Beyond the high human cost, workplace violence imposes an immense financial burden on U.S. businesses–an estimated $36 billion annually, including costs for medical bills, legal liabilities, lost revenues due to business interruption, and property damage, among others. “When you combine all of the costs, it’s exorbitant;’ says Paul Viollis, managing director of Citigate Global Intelligence & Security LLC, a firm that specializes in preventing and responding to incidents of workplace violence.

Insurance is now available to address the problem. A number of insurers, including MG Inc., The Chubb Corp., and The ACE Group, offer workplace-violence coverage. One such policy is MG’S Workplace Assurance product, which covers business interruption, consulting fees, death and dismemberment, and a variety of related expenses, such as temporary security measures, says Jim Dwane, senior vice president of AIG WorldSource. It also covers mandatory training on how to prevent workplace violence, and a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Are such policies really necessary? After all, many of these expenses are already covered by a firm’s existing patchwork of policies, including general liability, property and casualty, and workers’ comp. The problem, says Dwane, is that existing coverage has major gaps; companies are usually not insured for business interruption orthe expenses associated with responding to an incident. (The new policies have some gaps of their own: MG’S, for example, has a terrorism exclusion.)

Best of all, a policy may help prevent a violent event in the first place. According to Steve NyBlom, an assistant director for Aon Risk Services Inc., most acts of workplace violence are avoidable, but few companies take the necessary steps.

COPYRIGHT 2003 CFO Publishing Corp.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group