Insurtech CEO says data, technology to evolve small business insurance in 2022

➤ Business interruption coverage is likely to stay a “fairly nascent” product until more data can better determine pricing for severity and frequency, Coterie’s CEO said.

➤ Coterie’s top executive expects further advancements around business interruption, a product that can be difficult for many business owners to afford.

A few years before the COVID-19 pandemic started, CEO David McFarland co-founded Coterie, an insurtech that focuses on small business insurance. The company recently completed a $50 million series B financing round.

S&P Global Market Intelligence spoke with McFarland to discuss how small business insurance might evolve in 2022, Coterie’s future plans and the impact COVID-19 had on the company’s products and operation.

S&P Global Market Intelligence: How did the pandemic lead to an evolution in the products you offer?

Coterie CEO and co-founder David McFarland
Source: Coterie

David McFarland: Before the pandemic hit, we were pretty much at the beginning of

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2. Data breaches hit the insurance brokerage sector

Advising companies on how to protect their data from cyberattacks has been one of the fastest growing business lines for insurance brokers in recent years, but in 2021 some of those companies found they needed help themselves.

One of the more nefarious side effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the increase in cybercrime. Experts blamed the rise in part on the huge number of people who quickly moved from a corporate office to a home office — or kitchen table — as lockdowns were enforced. Outside of a controlled environment, information technology staff could not protect company systems as effectively as before the pandemic.

Insurers and brokers were among those companies targeted by hackers, and a story about an April data breach at Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. was the second most read risk management-related story on Business Insurance’s website in 2021.

Marsh McLennan said the breach affected

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6. CNA disconnected systems after March cyberattack

The rise in ransomware attacks over the past year hit some cyber liability insurers from multiple directions.

CNA Financial Corp. said in March it had been the target of a “sophisticated cybersecurity attack” that led it “out of an abundance of caution” to disconnect certain systems from its network. The story detailing the attack was the sixth most read risk management-related story on Business Insurance’s website in 2021.

The insurer alerted law enforcement and brought in a team of third-party forensics experts to investigate and determine the incident’s full scope.

That was far from the end of the matter, however. It was not until two weeks later that CNA said its website was functioning again and that its corporate email system had been restored.  The attack was reported to have been carried out by a hacker group known as Phoenix.

The insurer reportedly paid $40 million to regain control

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7. Texas nonsubscriber told to pay $1 million to worker

Texas’ position as the only state that allows employers not to carry workers compensation coverage can create unusual legal wrangles for companies.

In January a nonsubscriber to Texas’ workers compensation insurance program was ordered to pay $930,000 in damages to a worker injured on the job by a forklift.

In Load Trail LLC v. Julian, the Texas Court of Appeals, Sixth District, in Texarkana affirmed a trial court’s ruling upholding an arbitrator’s decision that the employer negligently failed to provide a safe workplace.

Texas does not require most private employers to have workers compensation insurance coverage. Those that choose not to provide such coverage are referred to as nonsubscribers and can become liable for employee injuries.

“Nonsubscribers lose important legal protections, including immunity from most lawsuits by injured employees. They could also be forced to pay high damage awards if an injured employee can prove in court that the

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3. Executive’s death chilled insurance sector

The insurance industry lost a dedicated executive in 2021 when Heidi Hull was killed in a family tragedy. 

Ms. Hull was an operations senior vice president, Cleveland operations manager, for insurer FM Global when she and her two children were killed in an apparent murder and suicide involving her husband.

The story about her death was the third most read story on Business Insurance’s website in 2021.

Less than a year before her death, Ms. Hull had been named one of the Business Insurance Women to Watch. She began her career at FM Global as a temporary employee and worked there almost 20 years, becoming the first woman to be promoted to senior vice president-operations manager in the company’s 185-year history. 

She was passionate about her role at FM Global and believed strongly in her work and helping businesses and communities achieve economic resilience. 

In an interview when she

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Rebuilding residents, business owners face intimidating insurance situation

Residents and business owners who lost everything in the Marshall Fire face a daunting insurance situation in which skyrocketing property values and supply-chain shortages make it unlikely that many home or business insurance policies will cover the full cost of rebuilding.

“Statewide, we’ve had all these increases in property values, and very often the policies don’t keep up,” said Brad Levin, partner at the Denver law firm Levin Sitcoff Waneka. “It’s a real problem.”

Levin and Nelson Waneka, also a partner at Levin Sitcoff Waneka, represent policyholders against insurance companies. Their experience includes representing people who lost their homes in the October 2020 East Troublesome Fire, the second-largest fire in Colorado’s recorded history. They spoke to BizWest on Friday about the difficulties rebuilding homeowners and business people face when dealing with insurance companies.

“I feel confident in saying the vast majority of Coloradans are underinsured for their homes,” Waneka said.

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Boeing suspends vaccine mandate for US employees

(Reuters) – Boeing Co. suspended its coronavirus vaccination requirement for U.S.-based employees, the U.S. plane-maker said on Friday, capping weeks of uncertainty as thousands of workers sought exemptions and challenges to a federal mandate played out in court.

In an internal announcement, Boeing said its decision came after a review of a U.S. District Court ruling earlier this month that halted the enforcement of President Joe Biden’s vaccine requirement for federal contractors.

Some big healthcare chains and companies such as General Electric, Spirit AeroSystems, and Amtrak have also suspended vaccine mandates for workers.

In recent weeks, the number of Boeing employees seeking a vaccine exemption on religious or medical grounds had reached more than 11,000 – or nearly 9% of its U.S. workforce – a level many times higher than executives initially estimated, Reuters first reported.

The fact that the vast majority of applications were on religious grounds thrust one

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Fewer fatal occupational injuries in 2020, Latino deaths climb

There were 4,764 fatal work injuries recorded in the United States in 2020, a 10.7% decrease from 5,333 in 2019 and the lowest annual number since 2013, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Thursday in its annual report on workplace deaths.

The fatal work injury rate was 3.4 fatalities per 100,000 full-time equivalent workers, down from 3.5 per 100,000 FTE in 2019, according to the data are from the Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.

On cause of fatality, transportation incidents remained the most frequent type of fatal event with 1,778 fatal injuries, accounting for 37.3% of all work-related fatalities yet such incidents fell 16.2% from 2,122 in 2019. Fatalities due to violence and other injuries by persons or animals decreased from 841 fatalities in 2019 to 705 fatalities in 2020, a 16.2% drop. The largest subcategory, intentional injuries by person, decreased 14.5%to 651 in 2020. Exposure to harmful substances

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No benefits for widow of worker who committed suicide

The Iowa Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that a worker’s widow was not entitled to death benefits for his suicide after he was terminated for insubordination.

The worker had been employed by Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC for 28 years when in August 2016, he reportedly disobeyed supervisory directives and got caught lying about it. The man was suspended due to his insubordination and later fired, according to documents in No. 21-0017, filed in Des Moines.

Shortly after he was informed of his termination, his wife found he had committed suicide.

According to court records, the man had a well-documented history of substance abuse and mental disorders.

His widow filed a claim for death benefits, supported by an opinion from a doctor who opined that the worker “was suffering psychologically and that work provided a considerable amount of structure for him and helped with mood self-regulation” and that his suicide

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