Tag Archives: liability risk

Liability considerations for arming school personnel

School districts and legislators across the United States are considering how best to protect children and school staff from gun violence at schools. At least 24 states across the country have policies that allow security personnel to carry weapons in schools, and at least nine states have policies that allow other school employees to do the same.

Arming school staff and allowing guns in schools pose challenging risk and liability issues. As with any legislation, the ramifications of a new policy can be complicated, and there are a variety of factors that governments and school boards must weigh as they debate this issue. This paper examines risk and insurance considerations for school districts and legislators tackling this difficult subject across the United States.

Uninsured subcontractors can increase insurance costs

Subcontractors benefit companies in various industries like utility and construction with specialized knowledge to ensure product quality at a lower cost. However, these companies need to consider the additional liability risks associated with a subcontractor’s work and safety. Careless subcontractors that do not obtain proper insurance coverage can increase a company’s liability and negatively affect its financial results.

What types of insurance coverage does a subcontractor need? What happens when a subcontractor is uninsured without a company’s knowledge? Milliman’s Rachel Soich provides the answers in her article “Subcontractors: How a common business practice could lead to a mountain of insurance costs.”

Wedding insurance: An infographic on getting hitched without the hitch

Spring has sprung, which means wedding season is just around the corner. But what if there is trouble in paradise—and someone calls off the wedding? Or weather prevents the parents of the groom from making it to the ceremony? Or the venue closes? Or the photographer gets lost?

The average wedding in the United States costs $35,329 (ranging from $12,769 in Mississippi to $88,176 in Manhattan). Pulling off a typical wedding involves a lot of variables—which all introduce the possibility of financial loss. So if you’re looking for information on wedding insurance—either buying it or offering it—check out our “Wedding Insurance 101” infographic, based on an article by Milliman consultant Elizabeth Bart.

Saying “I do” to wedding insurance

The average wedding in the United States costs $35,329. And organizing a wedding involves a lot of variables that introduce the risk of financial loss. In the article “Getting hitched without the hitch,” Milliman consultant Elizabeth Bart discusses wedding insurance coverage that can mitigate a couple’s financial risk.

Here’s an excerpt:

For such an important life event, at such a high price point, it’s worth protecting your investment. Many insurance companies have wedding liability products to help. Wedding insurance can combine a number of different coverages and can range from only $95 to $500 depending on the types and level of coverage provided. Wedding insurance is easy to purchase online (or over the phone). For example, Travelers offers a Wedding Protector Plan and has a quiz to help gauge the riskiness of your wedding (https://www.travelers.com/personal-insurance/wedding-insurance/why-wedding-insurance.aspx). Other insurers, such as WedSafe and Wedsure, also make it easy to find a quote and buy wedding insurance online.

The most commonly selected wedding coverage is liability coverage. This is typically purchased in situations where the selected venue requires the couple to cover property damage and bodily injury. In addition, certain venues may require the purchase of liquor liability coverage to protect against any alcohol-related incidents.

In the event of a necessary cancellation or postponement, financial losses can be mitigated by cancellation/postponement coverages. Massive amounts of rain and snow can cancel flights, close roads, and even damage or close venues. A severe illness or injury could befall the couple or a parent, grandparent, child, or officiant. Sudden military deployments can also cause wedding cancellations. All of these are “necessary” cancellations/postponements, and insurance exists to protect against any financial losses they may cause.

Pokémon GO and the non-augmented reality of risk

Pikachu and his friends have caused quite a frenzy recently. While people are enthralled with Nintendo’s Pokémon Go, the GPS-based augmented reality (AR) game presents several risks to its developer and its gamers. In his article “Pokémon Go and augmented reality: Not all fun and games,” Milliman consultant Michael Henk discusses some of these AR technology-related risks.

Concerning personal injury risks:

Firstly, AR products like “Go” provides yet another “distraction.” We’re all aware of the dangers of being “distracted.” Texting while driving is illegal in a number of cities and states throughout the country. However, drivers aren’t the only ones being distracted. Distracted walking is a growing problem, one that has arisen naturally with the increasing dependence on mobile electronic devices and one that “Go” is already contributing to. There are anecdotes all over social media about players so engrossed in catching virtual monsters that they’re running into walls and walking in traffic. …

…“Go” may lead to an increase in distraction-caused injuries and pedestrian-vehicle injuries, which is currently the fifth-leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 19. It’s not inconceivable to imagine an incident in which both the driver and the pedestrian are distracted, maybe by the same “rare” Pokémon.

What about cyber risks?

Aside from “IRL” (in real life) dangers, there’s a data security concern with some early installs. Some iOS installs of the software require the user to provide the app with full access to their google accounts, which allows access to their Gmail (theoretically being able to send e-mail from your account), files stored on Google Drive and Google Photos, among other content. The developer has responded and said this was done erroneously, and that permissions will be corrected soon, but it’s important to make sure that users know exactly what programs on their devices have access to. There are other concerns about downloading the program from non-official app stores as well, but that stands for all programs and is definitely not a “Go”-specific concern.

Legal risks?

…There’s a significant risk for trespass with AR games that utilize real-world locations. It remains to be seen whether an AR developer placing cyber-content on your property constitutes trespassing or if AR users are “engaged on a cyber plane on which you have no exclusive property claim.” There’s another legal concern with “attractive nuisance,” which states that property owners are responsible for eliminating dangerous conditions on their property which may attract children. “An individual who fails to rectify an attractive nuisance on their property is civilly-liable to injury a child sustains on it, even if the child was trespassing.” Sounds like something that may happen in the pursuit of a rare Pokémon.

The Baseball Rule: A hot dog cannot replace a ball

Carbone-WilliamThe rules of baseball have been under review quite often during the 2014 season. With the introduction of instant replay, pace of play concerns, and the protection of the catcher becoming hot topics, Major League Baseball (MLB) has had its hands full. However the issue of fan protection has also been a hot topic in the insurance world, and is commonly known as the “Baseball Rule.” Could a single flying hot dog have changed this rule, and the fan experience, forever?

The Baseball Rule is an oft referenced defense by landowners (i.e., stadium or arena owners) which limits their legal duty to protect spectators. The landowner’s liability is limited from injuries caused by risks inherent to the game as long as they have provided reasonable protection for fans in the most dangerous areas. This basic protection is usually in the form of protective mesh netting behind home plate and slightly up each baseline. This rule has commonly been applied to protect stadium owners from liability for injuries that are due to foul balls, broken bats, and errant throws into the stands. In a logical extension, the Baseball Rule has likewise been applied to other sports, most notably pucks leaving the ice at hockey games. While a majority of jurisdictions have accepted this tenet, recent cases and court decisions have challenged the standard assumptions. While most challenges have been regarding what areas need higher levels of protection, including farther up the baselines and concession areas in the stadium, the more interesting challenge has involved what constitutes a risk inherent to the game.

While fans in decent seats can expect balls to come their way during the course of a game, promotional items launched into the stands during breaks in play are another story. Flying t-shirts and hot dogs are not risks of the game of baseball, but court decisions to date have extended the Baseball Rule to limit the liability of landowners for injuries. The rationale is that they are not risks associated with the game, but with the ballpark experience. The most notable case to date involves the injuries sustained by John Coomer by a hot dog tossed by the Kansas City Royals mascot Sluggerrr.

Coomer was attending a Royals game in 2009 when he was struck in the head by a foil-wrapped hot dog during a break in play. Coomer suffered a detached retina and has decreased vision, but his case was initially denied under the grounds Coomer was unaware of the risks around him. Coomer was aware of the hot dog toss, a Royals tradition since 2000, but turned away from the mascot. However, in 2014, Missouri Supreme Court Judge Paul Wilson overturned the ruling, stating that the application of the Baseball Rule to promotional items, namely hot dogs, was a matter of law and should have been decided by a judge, not a jury. He also stated that hot dog tosses were not part of enjoying a baseball game like “hearing the crack of 42 inches of solid ash meeting a 95 mile per hour fastball.” While the judge’s familiarity with professional baseball games is questionable (no regular player has ever used a bat over 38 inches), his opinion has sent the case back to the lower court for reconsideration.

This ruling could have a far-reaching impact on the fan experience. If projectile promotional items are no longer covered under the Baseball Rule, the more powerful delivery methods may be scaled back to more traditional methods. Luckily for Sluggerrr, he has a few extra games this October to take his mind off his legal problems.