Terrorism Risk, Flood Insurance and Green Building Hot Topics for Risk Managers: RIMS

By | April 23, 2013

Renewal of the Terrorism and Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) was a much talked about topic at the annual Risk and Insurance Management Society conference on Tuesday, a four-day conference in Los Angeles, Calif., that includes panels focused on a variety of risk-based topics.

More than 9,000 insurance industry professionals and people involved with risk management were at the conference, which included 376 exhibitors, according to RIMS Executive Director Mary Roth.

A hot topic at the conference was TRIA, and its pending expiration date, which is high on RIMS’ legislative radar this year, according to Carolyn Snow, board liaison to RIMS External Affairs Committee.

“We are very concerned about the renewal of TRIA, which expires in 2014,” said Snow, who talked about the importance of not waiting until next year to renew the act to avoid potential coverage gaps.

RIMS lobbyist and members started meeting to develop a campaign to push for a quick renewal of the act, which will include polling members this summer, according to Nathan Bacchus, RIMS senior government affairs manager.

“That’s our No. 1 national issue right now,” he said.

Panels on Tuesday included energy, the restaurant industry, technology, transportation, workers’ compensation, sustainable buildings and real estate.

Risk in the casino industry must be weighed against the odds that whatever enterprise is being undertaken by the casino operator will prove worth it.

That was according to panelists on a panel focused on the casino industry, which included Christian Ryan, senior vice president of Willis, Joy Sinberg, deputy director of risk management for the Seminole Tribes of Florida, and Doug Wyrsch, executive director of insurance for MGM Resorts International.

Sinberg outlined the areas of exposures with which casino operations are concerned, including entertainment, pyrotechnics, environmental exposures, product liability and security.

Entertainment is a risk, she said, because a casino operator can go out and book a big act that might draw droves of ticket payers and would be gamblers, but it’s crucial to weigh whether that act was worth it.

“What are they bringing to the table,” is an essential question to ask, she said. Acts that draw rowdy crowds, or entertainers demanding to be paid too much are not worth it, she added.

Conversely, one added feature brought to her attention recently was a “Dinner in the Sky” event in which dignitaries, VIPs and big spenders were hoisted on a platform via crane high in the air for a dinner and a view of the casino and surrounding area.

It was a risk consideration, but the marketing value was worth it, she said.

In a real estate panel speaker Jeff Alpaugh, managing director of the global real estate practice for Marsh & McLennan Cos., talked about the lessons learned from Superstorm Sandy, which racked up $20 billion in insured losses and counting.

Among the struggles amid the recovery from the massive storm that slammed into the Eastern Seaboard in 2012 has been a struggle to understand what was and was not covered under the National Flood Insurance Program, he said.

“There’s a lot of confusion about NFIP and what it covers,” Alpaugh said.

Among the other impacts are new flood maps in which new assets are becoming part of a new flood hazard zone, and increased pricing, he said.

In a panel on green construction Stephen Grossmark, a partner in Tressler LLP, said interest in obtaining LEED certification is picking up, and that green standards should be considered dynamic, although achieving the minimal level of LEED is not difficult.

“It’s not whether you’re going to get a LEED certification it’s how green you’re going to be,” he said.

The next version of LEED standards are due out by the end of the year, he noted.

James McLnerney, a vice president at Leopardo Cos. Inc. sees the green trend as just at the beginning.

“What’s interesting about the sustainable movement is it’s unknown,” he said. “It’s still in its infancy.”

He also said he sees more interest in LEED as costs to build sustainably continue to come down.

According to his figures, it adds roughly between 5 percent and 8 percent to a building’s cost to achieve platinum certification, the highest level of LEED. To get to gold it adds 3 percent to 5 percent and silver adds 1 percent to 3 percent. To get a basic LEED certification the cost is minimal, he said.

During the conference RIMS also announced the formation of its 81st and 82nd chapters: RIMS Australasia Chapter headquartered in Melbourne and RIMS Peru Chapter in Lima. RIMS now has more than 11,000 members, operating in more than 60 countries. The Society’s 82 Chapters are located in the United States, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Australia and Peru.

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