Workers Compensation Florida

A recent development in Florida has jumped that state to the front of the age old workers comp debate between employers and their workers. On August 13, Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto declared the state’s workers’ compensation exclusive remedy statute (440.01 et seq.) unconstitutional on the grounds that the benefits given to injured employees by the law no longer provide a fair exchange for the surrender of an employee’s right to sue the employer for negligence damages. “The benefits in the act have been so decimated that it no longer provides a reasonable alternative,” said Judge Cueto.

For years, workers rights attorneys in Florida have been asking judges to strike down the Florida workers compensation law. They argue that successive state legislatures have continually eroded the benefits that injured employees receive under the workers comp system. Employers and some legislators counter that high workers comp insurance premiums have those changes necessary in order to stabilize the state’s economy.

For now, Judge Cueto’s ruling will not impact areas outside of Miami-Dade’s judicial circuit. Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who has received criticism for not directly intervening in the Miami-Dade case on behalf of the state, has filed an appeal to Judge Cueto for a rehearing. If that appeal is denied, as seems likely, then the case could eventually make its way to the Florida Supreme Court. Should the Supreme Court uphold Judge Cueto’s ruling then workers throughout the state will be able to settle their workers compensation claims, then file a civil claim to recover additional benefits.

This case will join other cases challenging parts of Florida’s workers comp statutes. The state Supreme Court is considering an appeal from an injured firefighter who was left with no income after his temporary wage-loss benefits expired.


NEW YORK — More than $1 million was raised for the Spencer Educational Foundation at its gala dinner yesterday, when over 750 industry executives gathered to celebrate insurance industry education. This year’s dinner at the Waldorf Astoria set records for both attendance and dollars raised, Spencer said.

Proceeds from the event will help pay for scholarships for students and professionals studying risk management and insurance, as well as provide funds for the foundation’s grant programs. Since 1979, the foundation has awarded more than $5.3 million in scholarships to undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate students and risk managers and provided more than $2.2 million in grants.

The event also honored John Q. Doyle, CEO of Global Commercial Insurance for AIG (below left), and Warren J. Mula, CEO of Aon Broking for Aon Risk Solutions (below right), for their contributions to the insurance profession.

“The impressive numbers that we have generated this evening speaks to the incredible generosity of this industry,” Mula said during his remarks. “The many insurance companies and brokers, agents and clients that are assembled here today celebrate this special industry of ours.”

He continued, “Clearly the world today is more complex in many ways and much more fragmented than it was when my grandfather began his career. Obstacles to achieving business objectives and seizing opportunities for growth are more complex. To empower economic possibility requires everyone to be smart, agile and involved around the topic of risk. This is the tremendous responsibility we have in our industry. The bar has indeed risen as the magnitude, speed and complexity of risk increases.”

Mula said that the job of risk managers is to minimize risk in order to help organizations take risk. He added that attracting and retaining talent for the industry has become increasingly difficult. “Brilliant minds are needed to create technology to deal with the incredible amounts of data that we are all confronted with daily,” he said.

Doyle noted that the industry is all about people and trust and he pointed out that a wide variety of skills and talent are needed for the industry to flourish.

Spencer Educational Foundation Chairman Brion Callori said in a statement,  “We are very appreciative of all the support that the industry continues to provide the Spencer Educational Foundation which allows us to fulfill the educational and professional goals of the next generation of industry leaders. We look forward to another 35 years of delivering exceptional opportunities through our scholarship and grant programs that directly benefit the entire industry.”

In addition to the honoring Mula and Doyle, the gala also featured remarks by:

• St. John’s University senior and this year’s Spencer Scholar, Bailey Noone, who shared her story of how the Spencer Educational Foundation has impacted her life.

• St. Francis College’s Academic Dean, Allen Burdowski, who spoke about the foundation’s $50,000 grant that has helped fund the development of the school’s risk management and insurance curriculum.

• Debra Rodgers, senior vice president of global risk management for Aramark, who spoke of her participation in the internship program and how the grant she receives from the foundation allows her to secure resources to train  future risk management leaders.


WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, Canada – After decades of working undercover for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Customs Service, crime and risk expert Chris Mathers knows where companies are vulnerable and what it takes to protect them.

“In a world where popular culture tells us that the ends justify the means, crime is all about perception,” he said in a keynote address at the 2014 RIMS Canada Conference. “Young people are bombarded with it all the time, but we are in business, too. So the question is, how vulnerable is your business?”

Mathers, who joined the forensic division of KPMG and was later named president of corporate intelligence, shared his insight into how companies can best guard against “the business of crime, and crime in business.”

During his 20 years dealing with drug traffickers, money launderers and members of organized crime syndicates, Mathers developed what he calls a “10/80/10” theory – 10% of the population is truly bad, 10% is truly good and would never lie (but you will probably never meet), and the other 80% is everywhere in between. Identifying and managing the risks of that 80% requires far more work than employers are currently doing, he said.

Background checks may be the single biggest thing companies can do better, Mathers said. While most businesses perform background checks when an employee is hired, such investigations are seldom conducted during the course of employment. As an example, he cited a case where a company had a director who was serving jail time on the weekends. Due to Canadian privacy laws, however, the case was never reported, so no one knew he had been convicted and imprisoned while on staff. In addition to possible reputation implications, the company could have been exposed to liability if any incidents had occurred at work.

While searching for criminal records of new hires is an excellent start, periodic checks should be implemented for all employees. High levels of drug use in the workplace in industries like manufacturing can be further compounded by the lack of drug testing in Canada, Mathers said. Further, 90% of corporate theft cases he have involved perpetrators who were gamblers.

He suggested that investigations should examine whether employees: have extreme views, use or are addicted to drugs, exhibit signs of alcoholism, are addicted to gambling or participate in illegal gambling, frequent prostitutes, or have relatives or a spouse associated with a criminal organization.

Associating with criminals can be a significant risk factor, regardless of the nature of the relationship. “Prostitutes are criminals and associate with criminals,” Mathers said. “They are around that activity and more likely to engage in it, which may mean they steal a client’s wallet or steal the sensitive intellectual property he’s carrying.” Similarly, an administrative assistant who is married to a member of the Hell’s Angels can introduce far more than just reputation risk if the spouse gets involved in illegal activities like drug smuggling.

Employees within a company can also rationalize criminal behavior. In the case of a man found to have stolen thousands of dollars through expense account fraud, for example, Mathers said the company faced a wrongful dismissal suit from the thief. He was never told that he could not steal, the man said, claiming the practice was an “unofficial bonus program.” Further, he claimed his boss had been doing it for years. “People see that behavior and come to think it is OK because they become accustomed to seeing it,” Mathers said. Maintaining regular internal investigations and ensuring compliance does not just bust wrong-doers, but prevents others from developing, especially as new technology continually emerges to make theft easier to commit and harder to track.

“There are no new crimes – they’re the same crimes, they’re just using new techniques to get them to you,” he said. Companies need to keep updating their monitoring strategies to match.



eric noel canada towards 2030

Photo: Hilary Tuttle

WINNIPEG, MANITOBA, Canada — In keeping with this year’s RIMS Canada Conference theme, “Crossroads: Changing Landscapes,” Eric Noël, senior vice president of Oxford Analytica in North America and initiator of the Canada Towards 2030 Project, presented research and projections on the top trends that will shape the nation’s future.

“Risk managers cannot afford to freeze in the face of uncertainty or change, and the longer a difficult decision is delayed, the higher its cost, so this is a call for action,” Noël said. “Remember that failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Yet projecting out 16 years introduces many ideas and problems that cannot accurately be planned for today. Instead, the planning he encourages is strategic and much broader in scope, examining broad trends, then drilling down into specific political, economic, and environmental implications. For example, Noël said, “Black swans will be the dictator of geopolitical change.” While such events cannot be planned for specifically, it is critical to consider long-term questions of how to engage in global power systems and what areas of primary strength the nation should focus on.

canada towards 2030In other areas, key trends and questions for strategic risk management planning include:

• The most important population trend in Canada is migrations and the resultant political shift. Because of the tremendous shift west and the allocation of votes, a future prime minister could be elected without a single vote from Quebec, bringing dramatically different priorities into office than a candidate who requires the support of the East.

• Aging will not only impact the workforce and demands on the medical system, but will also signal changes in the country’s median income, sovereign debt ranking, and provincial budgets. A larger number of retirees and elderly citizens will increase retirement benefit spending to 13% of Canada’s GDP, and the provinces must start setting aside billions now to pay for that care.

• The first group of less financially-prepared, due to changes in saving practices, will soon be retiring. This will prompt deleveraging and scaling down, whether that means selling their vacation homes or cutting back on lifestyle spending. Further, for those with the financial means, there will be an increase in the number of people with the ability to snowbird. This will have a significant impact on Canada, at the city level, when thousands of residents depart for several months every year.

• Canada’s booming oil industry may be a double-edged sword due to finite resources. The addiction to fuel is becoming an addiction to fiscal incomes for parts of the country as oil royalties surge.

• Political risk is underrated in emerging markets, and emerging markets are quickly becoming divergent markets. “The next economies trying to achieve that $1 trillion level in the future are countries transitioning from the hundreds of billion in GDP such as Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Argentina, etc,” said Noël. ”They have nothing in common with our current $1 trillion economies clients in terms of stability and due to their particular political systems will have us re-assess our risks more than just once quantitative easing is gone or China has slowed down. Political risk matters a lot for the future of globalization.” BRIC-centric thinking will no longer suffice and current global powers will have to adapt to cooperate with these new players, or they may opt to ally more closely with similar nations instead.

The Canada Towards 2030 Project is an apolitical, independent and non-prescriptive initiative dedicated to creating and sharing long-term research about Canada’s future. According to the group, “Uncertainties should not frighten or paralyze us; they should help us anticipate and prepare. Avoiding or minimizing a risk—as well as finding and maximizing a new opportunity—requires imagination and leadership.”

To that end, Noël and his team aim to use research and non-prescriptive thought leadership on some of the biggest topics shaping the future of the country, including labor, agriculture, governance, oil production and consumption and water supply. “The mission of the C2030 project is to offer a high quality forward-thinking experience to people interested in exploring the future of Canada, increasing their awareness of long-term trends, helping them improve their ability to anticipate change and facilitate the creation of or adaptation to the future they want,” the website explains.