Want to stand out in the insurance market? Here’s a tip: you won’t differentiate your brokerage by simply promising fewer losses, less severe accidents, or lower compliance costs.
Every organization wants the same results, and virtually every broker promises to deliver those results, but the assurance frequently turns out to be little more than marketing fluff. Only some brokers can effectively meet their clients’ risk management requirements. There may be nothing stopping a policyholder from switching to another provider once renewal time comes around.
To truly stand out, extricate yourself from the rat race, and become your clients’ broker of record, you need to impart real value. That can mean a lot of things—lower costs, for instance, or educational programs, or access to a proven, all-encompassing risk management solution.
But in today’s legal and regulatory landscape—particularly in states such as New York, Connecticut, and California—value is increasingly defined in 3 words: workplace harassment prevention.
New Anti-Harassment Laws for the Insured
Workplace harassment of any kind has been illegal in the United States since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. For many employers, however, October 2017 marked a turning point. That was the month the #MeToo movement brought renewed attention to sexual assault and sexual harassment. Since then, numerous states have enacted #MeToo-inspired legislation:
- On October 9th, 2018, New York adopted sweeping new anti-harassment laws. The updated regulations require all companies doing business in the state to (among other things) establish a sexual harassment prevention policy and provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training. In addition to the statewide laws, New York City passed its own legislation, collectively called the Stop Sexual Harassment in NYC Act, requiring mandatory yearly sexual harassment training, expanding NYC Human Rights Law employer coverage, lengthening the statute of limitations, and creating new notice and reporting requirements.
- On January 1st, 2019, a number of harassment prevention and non-discrimination laws, including what some call “the Mother Of All #MeToo Bills,” went into effect in California. In addition to new training and reporting requirements, the legislation covers everything from non-disclosure agreements to bystander intervention training, lactation accommodations, boardroom gender quotas, and human trafficking prevention.
- Last week, the Connecticut Senate passed the “Times Up Act,” which would hold companies in the state to rigorous new harassment prevention requirements. The legislation would not only create new training mandates (similar to those in New York and California) for employers, but give workers more time to file discrimination- and harassment-related claims, lawsuits, and criminal charges.
These are just a few of the jurisdictions in which employers face stricter harassment prevention laws. Other states—including Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, and Washington—have recently passed bills that require harassment prevention training, expand protections for victims of harassment, and limit the use of arbitration and non-disclosure agreements
Higher Risk Management Standards for Insurers
For brokers, the various new anti-harassment rules and regulations are opportunities to deepen relationships with new and existing clients, and provide greater value than the competition.
Many insurance companies specialize in either employee benefits or property and casualty liability. These days, clients need tools and expertise in both. Moreover, risk management needs have evolved beyond tangible and direct costs. Uncertainties such as workforce disengagement, turnover, reputational damage, lawsuits, and other potentially catastrophic situations matter as much—if not more than—a $500 fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or an $8,000 workers’ compensation claim.
Unusually broad language in some new state laws compounds these uncertainties. In California, for instance, a hostile work environment can now be defined as anything other than an “emotionally tranquil workplace”. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had an “emotionally tranquil” day for 14 years—and I work from home.
All of which is to say that as laws change, so do your clients’ worries and expectations. Businesses are looking for savvy brokers who are up-to-date on recent legislation and able to add value to the broker–client relationship.
Fortunately, if you’re reading this, you’re already far ahead of the competition. KPA’s white-label Risk Management Center provides brokers with a competitive edge to win new business and strengthen customer loyalty. Brokers who incorporate the RMC into their insurance sales arsenal are able to offer an effective and comprehensive risk management package other brokers cannot.