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$36,000 in Golf Tournament Funds Presented to LLS & UCP

Group Check Pic
On January 8th, 2015, a special lunch was hosted by Warren G. Bender Co. and Westlake, Grahl, and Glover as we presented the checks to the charities benefiting from the 1st Annual Charity Fall Classic Golf Tournament, held October 17th, 2014. Representatives from both the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) attended to accept the checks as well as reminisce on the many successes of the event.

A 2015 tournament date has been set and will be hosted again at Timber Creek Golf Course in Roseville. Mark your calendars for Friday, September 18th and help us make this year’s tournament even more of a success. To secure a foursome or sponsorship opportunity, contact Jillian Bender-Cormier:

Filed under: Blog,Community Outreach — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:30 pm January 23, 2015

P&C Insurance Prices Expected to Decline for Some in 2015

The property and casualty insurance market is expected to soften in 2015, giving commercial insurance buyers improved pricing conditions and coverage options throughout the year. The softening is due to ongoing price reductions as well as a lack of major catastrophes.

Overall, losses have been low, save for the August 2014 earthquake in Napa, California, which was the strongest earthquake in northern California in 25 years. The economic loss was estimated to be more than $1 billion.

The insurance industry pricing cycle alternates between periods of soft and hard market conditions. In a hard market, coverage is harder to place and premiums grow. A soft market indicates premiums are stable or falling, and insurance may be more readily available. The insurance market cycle is affected by a variety of factors including economic downturns, catastrophic events, supply and demand.

To understand what the softening market means for you and your insurance coverages, contact Warren G. Bender Co. today. We can help you prepare for any changes down the road.

Filed under: Blog,Property & Casualty — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:18 pm

Marijuana in the Workplace

In November 2014, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia joined Colorado and Washington state in legalizing the use of recreational marijuana. Twenty-one other states have also legalized the use of medical marijuana.

The changing legal and social acceptance of marijuana use can create uncertainty for companies when creating and enforcing workplace drug policies. Understanding the legal status of marijuana use, as well as being aware of pending court cases regarding marijuana in the workplace, can reduce the uncertainty.

The use of marijuana, which is classified as a Schedule I substance under the Controlled Substances Act, is prohibited by federal law. However, many states have legalized medical and/or recreational marijuana.

In general, workplace drug policies can still maintain a zero-tolerance stance for marijuana use and impairment in the workplace. However, you should consult legal counsel before terminating an employee based on marijuana use, especially if medical marijuana is legal in your state and/or the employee tested positive for the drug but did not show signs of impairment.

Depending on the laws in your state, you may have to consider the following:
• Anti-discrimination laws – If your state allows medical marijuana, you may also have to navigate medical marijuana antidiscrimination regulations.
• What constitutes impairment – If an employee tests positive for delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary active chemical in marijuana, but is not actually impaired in the workplace, you may or may not have justification for termination, depending on your state’s laws.

Thus far, courts have generally upheld employers’ rights to zero-tolerance drug policies. However, pending cases and new laws could change that, so proceed with caution when determining your policy for dealing with positive drug tests and marijuana use, especially when dealing with medical marijuana use in states that have legalized medical marijuana.

Filed under: Blog,HR — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 4:09 pm

All About the Sony Hack

Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked in late November by a group called the Guardians of Peace. The hackers stole a significant amount of data off of Sony’s servers, including employee conversations through email and other documents, executive salaries, and copies of unreleased Sony movies. Sony’s network was down for a few days as administrators worked to assess the damage.

According to the FBI, the hackers are believed have ties with the North Korean government, which has denied any involvement with the hack and has even offered to help the United States discover the identities of the hackers. Various analysts and security experts have stated that it is unlikely that the North Korean government is involved, claiming that the government likely doesn’t have the infrastructure to succeed in a hack of this magnitude.

The hackers quickly turned their focus to an upcoming Sony film, “The Interview”, a comedy about two Americans who assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The hackers contacted reporters on Dec. 16, threatening to commit acts of terrorism towards people going to see the movie, which was scheduled to be released on Dec. 25. Despite the lack of credible evidence that attacks would take place, Sony decided to postpone the movie’s release. On Dec. 19, President Obama went on record calling the movie’s cancellation a mistake. The movie was released online and in a limited number of theaters.

Although much of the attention over the hack centered on the cancellation of “The Interview”, information has been released that claims Sony knew its network was prone to a large cyber event. In late 2013, the company was warned that hackers were stealing data on a weekly basis, and then encrypting it to hide their tracks. This discovery was made as part of a review of Sony’s cyber security practices after the company struggled with security on its PlayStation network. The personal data of 77 million PlayStation Network users was compromised in 2011, but, according to two people familiar with the incident, Sony did not conduct an audit afterwards to determine just how much data was stolen.

In addition, an audit of Sony by PricewaterhouseCoopers from July 14 to Aug. 1 found that one firewall and more than 100 other devices were not being monitored by the company’s corporate security team, but instead by the studio’s in-house group. Auditors alerted Sony that this inefficiency could lead to slow response times, should an attack occur. Results of the confidential audit were released as a part of the hack in late November.
Security experts believe the hack could cost Sony a minimum of $100 million, possibly even reaching double that amount.

The attacks on Sony just reiterate what security experts have been saying for years—prepare for the worst by implementing strict cyber security protocols and having a sound cyber security insurance policy for the worst case scenario. Contact Warren G. Bender Co. today to discuss your cyber security insurance options.

Filed under: Blog,Cyber Liability — Jillian Bender-Cormier @ 3:57 pm