Open Offices and Holidays: A Parade of Risks

‘Tis the season for many businesses to stay open through the holidays and for some to take part in the tradition of partying or watching a parade warmly from behind office windows. That’s why businesses located near public events should inform employees of how their offices will be impacted during the holiday season.

Parades pose various operational risks to property owners and businesses, both inside and outside their buildings. On Nov. 23 alone, at least five large parades will inch their way through the streets of major cities like Chicago and Detroit. Macy’s anticipates 3.5 million spectators to pack New York City’s streets for its annual Thanksgiving Day Parade. That means 2.5 miles of barriers and street closings in the “frozen zone” between 77th and 34th streets, and businesses in the country’s most congested city should prepare for some disruption.

Theresa Morzello, the managing director for asset services for CBRE in New York City, has advised many companies who stay open or host events coinciding with parades and holidays. She said the first steps in mitigating disruption involve communicating with the event organizers and disseminating that information to tenants.

“This way they’ll know, for example, if one of their building’s entrances will close because of a parade,” Morzello said. “We also make sure that employees and their guests know the protocol for providing documentation for entering and exiting. That is usually handled in advance and lists are provided to security. And there are protocols for what to do when someone doesn’t have it. These are all things we do on a daily basis, but amped up a few levels because of the holidays.”

Morzello also said that property managers often try to utilize vacant office space because there is less potential for damage or disruption there. Wherever the gathering takes place within CBRE’s properties, she advises tenants to consider the following:

Hire elevator operators to help keep guests on their assigned floors.

  • Obtain a temporary alcohol license, if necessary.
  • Confirm that outside caterers are insured.
  • Address if the windows are operable and ensure they are kept closed.

But parades and crowded events are not relegated to big cities, as many major retailers take part in the festivities. Acadia Realty Trust manages hundreds of retail and office properties in the U.S. and Kellie Shapiro, vice president of risk management said clearing a physical path is the first step to mitigate safety risks during a high-traffic season.

“We issue a moratorium on any work during the holiday season. We email tenants reminding them to get everything done before Thanksgiving,” she said. “From then until New Year’s is not the time to have scaffolding and things like that.” She added that capital improvements are suspended across most of Acadia’s portfolio to avoid interfering with tenants’ operations during their busiest season.

Businesses can easily lose track of who’s coming and going during the busy holiday season, Shapiro noted. Acadia’s focus is on knowing its vendors, and she reminds tenants to be diligent about vetting third-party contractors for the sake of safety and reputation.

“You can protect your company by being diligent about who you bring in to your site. You should know who your contractors are – you don’t want to let some criminal just walk right in because you handed over the keys to your building,” Shapiro said. “You would hope tenants, if they saw something suspicious, would pick up the phone. We’d all like to secure something 100% but you have to know your limitations.”

Public safety in the U.S. has been headline news, considering the recent high-profile violence involving weapons and automobiles in just the last two months in Las Vegas, California, Texas and Manhattan. In a recent interview with Risk Management Monitor, Rezwan Ali, risk solutions group head of security at Falck Global Assistance, discussed how businesses and employees should review their emergency plans during high-volume times. He maintained, however, that the odds of being impacted by a terror attack is very low.

“When participating in larger events, such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York, people tend to focus only on the parade and their phones taking pictures and posting on social media,” said Ali. “However, it is important to stay alert and aware of one’s surroundings. Not just to be prepared for terror, but also to prevent being a victim of crime. It is recommended to download apps either provided by the authorities or by media outlets that generate alerts allowing you to get direct notifications should anything happen in your vicinity.”

Terrorism Incidents Down, Disruption Up in 2015

A number of high-profile terrorism attacks worldwide have raised people’s fears this year, but the reality is that the number of attacks and deaths from such attacks actually decreased in 2015, according to Marsh’s 2016 Terrorism Risk Insurance Report.
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The report summarizes terrorism risk insurance trends, benchmarks terrorism insurance take-up rates and pricing, and offers risk management solutions for terrorism exposures.

The more current attacks, often perpetrated by a single individual or small group, are different from those carried out in the 1990s and 2000s when high profile locations were targeted. Individuals carrying out the more recent attacks may have no direct contact with a known terrorist organization, but could be drawn to them through writings and video, particularly on the internet, Marsh said.

These events can be very disruptive to operations in some companies. In the travel industry, for example:

  • About 10% of American travelers canceled booked trips due to the recent attacks in Egypt, France, Lebanon and Mali, which impacted $8.2 billion in travel spending, according to a survey by YouGov.
  • Booking losses for Air France were estimated to be €50 million ($56 million), the company said in a statement.
  • Airlines, hotel chains and travel websites experienced drops in their stock prices after this year’s airport bombing in Brussels.

In the United States, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2015 (TRIPRA) offers businesses a federal backstop against terrorism-related losses. While the overall take-up rate for TRIPRA coverage in the U.S. increased slightly in 2015, it has remained in the 60% range since 2009, Marsh said.

Managing terrorism risk requires a combination of strategies that protect people, property and finances. On the financial side, the choice is whether to retain or transfer the risk with insurance. But the changing pattern of terrorism risk has some companies asking if they are adequately insured for business interruption and related losses. They also wonder how to prepare for potential losses from cyber terrorism and other events.

Other key takeaways from the report include:

  • As small group and “lone wolf” terrorist attacks appear to be the changing face of terrorism, many organizations are assessing their coverage for indirect losses stemming from business interruption risks.
  • Following the 2015 passage of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act (TRIPRA), take-up rates in the US edged up for TRIPRA terrorism coverage embedded in property programs.
  • Among industry sectors, media organizations had the highest take-up rate for terrorism insurance in 2015.
  • Workers’ compensation markets for terrorism risks generally stabilized.
  • The number of Marsh-managed captives accessing TRIPRA increased by 17% from 2014 to 2015, but many captives that could offer a terrorism program do not.
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Foo Fighters Sue Lloyd’s Over Terrorism Coverage

Foo Fighters
The Foo Fighters said they are suing Lloyd’s of London for failing to reimburse them for scheduled concerts that were called off after the November terrorist attacks in Paris.
Loss adjuster Robertson Taylor is also part of the suit, which was filed on June 13 in federal court in Los Angeles.

The group canceled scheduled shows in Turin, Italy; Paris and Lyon, France; and Barcelona, after the Islamic State attacks because of threats, according to the Associated Press. Immediately following the Paris attacks, the Foo Fighters said, their website was hacked and the ISIS flag was displayed with an automatic weapon and a threat to “be prepared.”

The AP reported:

The band says in the suit that it believes it will be paid for the Paris and Lyon cancellations but alleges that Robertson Taylor advised underwriters against paying for canceled shows in Italy and Spain despite ISIS releasing a video threatening additional attacks in Europe.

The band is also suing the insurers for not paying for three canceled shows related to group leader Dave Grohl’s injured leg after a fall from a stage in Sweden last June.

Performers cancel shows for a number of reasons, but whether they are covered depends on details in their cancellation insurance policy. Terrorism is listed as a cause of loss by K&K Insurance. Other triggers include:

  • Power failure
  • Damages to leased or rented venues
  • Damage to surrounding venues or infrastructure resulting in lack of access
  • Natural catastrophe such as earthquake and flood
  • Adverse weather conditions (coverage is broader than rain insurance and there are no rain gauge requirements)
  • Non appearance of a principal speaker or entertainer
  • Inability to erect facilities at a venue
  • Disease outbreak (certain exclusions may apply)
  • Labor dispute/strike risks
  • Failure of TV broadcast
  • Any other previously unforeseen cause not excluded under the wording.

For more information about recent cases involving event cancellation, check out our recent article in Risk Management Magazine.

EgyptAir Flight MS 804 Crash Confirmed, Killing 66

Egyptian authorities believe they have found debris from EgyptAir Flight MS 804, but the search remains on for the wreckage of the Airbus A320 traveling from Paris to Cairo that vanished from the radar and crashed into the Mediterranean early this morning.

According to the Greece’s defense minister, Greek controllers attempted to contact the aircraft when it crossed through the country’s airspace but could not get a response. The plane made “sudden swerves” before dropping from 37,000 to 15,000 feet and disappearing from radar. The small commercial jet was about half full, carrying 66 passengers from a range of nations, including 30 from Egypt, 15 from France, two Iraqis, and one person each from Britain, Belgium, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Chad, Portugal, Algeria and Canada.

egyptair map reuters

No cause has been officially identified, but many security analysts and government officials believe that an act of terrorism may have downed the plane. There were no documented red flags before the plane disappeared: local weather was good, the plane was on its fifth flight of the day, the pilot and copilot had logged a significant amount of flying experience, and Greek aviation officials said the pilots did not mention any issues.

According to Reuters, Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said it was too early to rule out any possible explanation, and French President Francois Hollande told reporters, “No hypothesis can be ruled out, nor can any be favored over another.” Egypt’s civil aviation minister said a terrorist attack was more likely than a technical failure, however. Two U.S. officials told CNN that the government is operating on an initial theory the flight was taken down by a bomb, but cautioned this is not yet supported by a “smoking gun.” No terrorist groups have yet claimed responsibility for the crash.

As Time noted:

Egypt has been the victim of terrorism in the skies relatively recently. Last October, a Metrojet charter plane filled with Russian tourists crashed into the Sinai Desert shortly after taking off from the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, headed to St. Petersburg, Russia. All 224 passengers died in the crash. Investigators quickly speculated that a home-made bomb had been placed aboard the aircraft and in February the Islamic State, or ISIS, claimed responsibility, saying that it had indeed smuggled an explosive device aboard the aircraft.

In March, a passenger aboard an EgyptAir plane flying from Alexandria to Cairo hijacked the plane wearing a fake suicide belt, an incident that raised deep concerns among aviation authorities about the anti-terrorist measures in place on EgyptAir flights, and at Egyptian airports.

Beyond the region, a number of high-profile losses have hit the aviation industry as a whole over the past two years, including the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and the crash of MH17, a Boeing 777 shot down over Ukraine. As we reported at the time, however, crashes actually continue to decrease. While the insured losses from a plane crash can be significant, the capacity in the aviation insurance market has continued to keep rates stable and relatively low.

In the terrorism insurance market, recent losses have also not yet borne out a concrete impact on rates or capacity. While some European markets have recently reduced their underwriting appetite, terrorism coverage has primarily broadened, with significant capacity and rates that remain relatively low.

As Business Insurance recently reported, the terror attacks in Paris and Brussels have prompted an increase in the take-up rate for event coverage to add to buyers’ terrorism insurance programs. Tim Davies, head of sabotage and terrorism at London specialty insurer Sompo Canopius, told the magazine that many buyers have been adding liability and event cancellation coverage, prompted by the continued relatively low rates. Despite the spike in attacks in Europe, Richard Sawyer, director and head of North American terrorism at Aon Risk Solutions, told AM Best last week that rates for terror coverage should remain relatively stable unless the frequency of attacks escalates.