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How Insurance Can Protect You in a Pandemic with Austin Morris, Jr.

Podcast published: April 24, 2020

Austin Morris, Jr. is an insurance broker that really knows his stuff! And in this episode, he’s going to run through all sorts of different insurance policies you have or should have, and how they might be able to protect you from some losses during COVID-19. He makes it clear that policies are pretty clear when it comes to viruses, but that doesn’t means there’s nothing you can do. (And no, Austin is not an attorney and is not offering specific advice or counsel.)

Contact Austin

Show Notes

General insurance considerations for COVID-19

  • “Insurance policy is a contract”
    • Refer to your policy and your agent!
  • Understand your losses and your policies. These clauses could protect you:
    • First party property – losses and damage 
    • Contingent losses – Damage due to vendor actions or issues
    • Coverage due to order of the government
  • The main question is, “Does the presence of COVID-19 cause any property damage or cause losses?”
    • This could be affected services that needed to close.
    • It could also be ontingent business interruptions
  • There are usually exclusions of biological agents
    • Viruses / Bacteria / Both
    • However, Insurance is governed by state laws
  • Lawsuits are arguing that “COVID-19 is similar to a natural disaster,” which often is covered by insurance.

2. What about other types of insurance?

  • Worker’s Comp
    • Is COVID-19 an occupational disease?
    • It would arise out the scope of the work. 
    • Illness must arise from order of the work, and unique to the particular work as compared to the gen po. 
    • Grocery Store personnelle might not be, but Health Care Workers could be covered
  • Auto Insurance
    • Almost All companies are returning premiums because people are driving less. 
  • Cyber Security Policies 
    • Everyone should have this!
    • Cyber Crime is going through the roof. Hear more about that in Episode 2 with Erik Gudmundson.
    • Investment in cyber security is going down. 

3. Insurance as a Contract

  • Carefully read the policy language so you know what’s covered. 
  • You should see insurance as an investment, not a cost.

Intro: Hey, everybody. And welcome to another episode of Start Local, a podcast focused on helping small businesses in Chester County, PA, and the greater Philly area navigate through this COVID-19 economy. 

I’m Joe Casabona. I’m here with my co-host, Liam Dempsey. Liam, how are you today? 

Liam Dempsey: Joe, fantastic. Thanks.

Joe Casabona: Awesome. Awesome. Glad to hear it. And today, our guest is Austin Morris Jr. He’s an insurance broker at Morris Risk Management, LLC. And we’ll be talking about insurance policies and how they relate to what’s going on these days. Austin, how are you? 

Austin Morris Jr: Very good today, Joe. It’s a nice sunny day. I’m glad to have this opportunity to share some thoughts with you and Liam and the audience.

Joe Casabona: Absolutely. Thank you so much for joining us.

Liam Dempsey: Austin. Great to be with you. Thank you for your time.  I wanted to talk to you,  given your experience as an insurance broker and about what are some general insurance considerations with respect to COVID-19, what do business owners need to be aware of? What should they be thinking about as the economy continues to evolve in ways that are very well?

Austin Morris Jr: Oh, Thank you, Liam. It’s a great question. First, I’d like to say that during this pandemic, I hope that the audience and their loved ones, their friends, their neighbors and colleagues are healthy and are feeling optimistic because we all need to feel that way.

And I would say that that insurance is one of the most vital industries that there is. It’s often not in the headlines, and it’s often not something you see a lot of day to day, but it’s really important to help protect people, their businesses, their organizations, and so forth. 

And I want people to think that an insurance policy is really a contract. So the thoughts that I share in this podcast are general in nature. And if anybody has any specific questions about your situation or your coverages, please refer to your policies, and/or a trusted advisor. And I’m not an attorney, so I don’t give any legal advice, but I’ll be happy to share some thoughts today.

The best way to effectively assess your business right, to insurance coverage for anything related to Covid-19 losses is to understand your losses and your policies. And I thought a good place to start would be with what we’ll call general insurance policies. That’s where most of the activity has been related to claims and things like that since the pandemic started. We know those policies as commercial property insurance policies, They have other names, but I can tell you that every insurance company who offers this kind of coverage has been, has had teams meeting every day. And there are times when a pandemic like this could actually provide some kind of coverage for losses. But it will depend on the policy and the insured’s unique situation. 

Most business policies have something called First Party Property Insurance Coverages. And that’s really coverage for property damage and lost profits resulting from damage. Think of that as business interruption because you had a fire in the building or something like that. 

And then there’s also another coverage called Contingent Business Interruption. That’s damages to the property of a customer or supplier or a supplier-supplier, but it’s always damaged to the property. And there’s also times when we can’t do business because of order of a civil authority, like government. We’ll think about how the government has ordered the closure of a lot of public gathering places. We can’t go to restaurants these days. And as I was mentioning with Joe before, I need a haircut, but I can’t go to the barbershop. So there’s plenty of things that we can’t do that are out of the norm and are affecting businesses and individuals across our country.

So one of the things people should think about is, does the presence of coronavirus cause any property damage, and has it played a part in the loss of income to the business or organization? It’s often really important to smaller businesses, and that’s where this is often an area of very big concern. So the question would be, has that happened? And if there’s no permanent physical damage to the property, there could be some infected surfaces, and there could be some kind of property damage without experiencing structural alteration. So that would be things to look at to see if there’s any kind of coverage. 

And then there could be times when there’s contingent business interruption because a supplier or a customer is affected. And then sometimes people will say, well, what about my policy? Well, we want to read our policies individually and have them properly reviewed by people who know how to do that.  

Some of the things that go on both sides would be there are insurance policies for many almost 15, 20 years now. It’s pretty standard that have exclusions of damage caused by biological agents. They’re not excluding if you had damage for the fire or somebody, you know, grab a truck to the wall or things like that happening. There’s not the broken windows, burglary, vandalism, all those things that just happen regularly in the business world. But there are exclusions for in fact, biological agents that would be things like viruses and bacteria or both. And, generally, viruses exist for a short period of time on a surface. So cleaning could be a remedy. And that would often mean that we really didn’t have a big loss. But, there are a lot of times when we’re not able to get to the office because of these things, or get to the restaurant, or get to the barbershop, or the bar. And that’s a question of what would happen then. 

And there are some government regulations, legislation and bills right now and possibly some applicable case law that could lead to and is leading to some lawsuits in various courts across the country. Joe and Liam, please know that insurance Is governed pretty much by state law. There’s not really that many things that the federal government does related to insurance concerning property. So each state has its own laws. And in general, many of these policies have been reviewed by state regulators and have been vetted and said we approve them. So there’s not a lot of surprises there. 

And I mentioned sometimes the language will clearly say we have exclusions for viruses or bacteria or both. And a standard commercial insurance policy offers coverage against numerous risks and they get reviewed pretty regularly by the state regulators. And we definitely want to have stability within the insurance markets because that’s how we’ll be able to pay for claims of all types and traditional and emerging in the future and in the far future. So then the question is, does the policy contain any kind of exclusion for a viral pandemic? Well, that probably hasn’t been considered. If it has been, it’s been covered under the viruses and bacteria exclusion. But the insured premises could have been contaminated by Covid-19. And that could lead to somebody saying, well, we can’t go to our office or we’re working together and it’s going to continue to spread. 

So what I’m going to say is that for each person, company who has a policy, may or may not be able to have a claim related to Covid-19 for their general commercial property insurance. It’s all going to depend on their property language but it’s worth looking into. And they’ll look into what exclusions they have. And if they feel like they have something that should be covered, they absolutely should talk to an expert and probably should file the claim if they feel like they should be covered, the carrier could review the claim and decline it,. And then there’s remedies for people who still have a second thought about that. But never take the step that you don’t think you have coverage when there’s still a question mark in your mind because businesses are looking for remedies. 

On the other hand, though, these policies for many years, also, as I mentioned, reviewed and approved by government regulators have said they have these certain exclusions for bacteria, viruses, and things like that. 

On to other topics, I’d like to get into some other topics in a little bit, which would be…

Joe Casabona: Austin, I’m going to, I’m going to stop you right there for a minute. Cause I think that there was a lot to unpack. And I do want to reinforce a couple of points you made if that’s okay, that’s not gonna great. 

So, you mentioned insurance policy is a contract, and of course it’s important to understand your policies. But it sounds like, they’re, again, this is a big, a big depends on your policy, the business’s policy. But there could be some protection in the event that you have contingent losses that is losses based on a vendor that you work with. If you possibly cannot go to your place of work because of a government order or because of COVID-19 contamination, you may or may not have a claim.,But it’s important to just maybe check with your insurance broker, right, to see, do I have a claim? Don’t just assume you don’t. Is that a kind of the big takeaway there?

Austin Morris Jr: Yes, Joe. You, in most cases, the policy will exclude a coverage for this because it was not intended to cover it. And that’s been in the language, that standard language has been in the policies for 15 or more years. But, there are many carriers out there, many insurance companies. They all have their own policy language. They all have their own ways of underwriting things and reviewing things and offering their products. So, there is no uniform policy out there, but there are uniform languages. Some people use something called ISO (Insurance Services Office), and that is a government reviewed process where they actually say it’s standardized language. But I would say that each person who thinks that company, who thinks they may have a potential claim and are looking for some kind of relief would review their language and they feel like they have a gray area or something that is worth arguing about. They may want to talk to a professional who, in that case, may say, you know what, let’s proceed with getting more information or filing a claim.

The worst that can happen is they get declined and they may have said, you know, here’s the reasons why. And they find that to be a suitable explanation. But never assume that you don’t have coverage if you think there’s an area where you potentially have a claim. I’m not encouraging claims because many of them are clearly going to be not viable, but if somebody has a legitimate claim because their language is gray in their policy or it’s not clear about what would, how this would be handled, then it’s always in the best case of the insured to look out for their best interest and see what they can get regarding some kind of relief.

Liam Dempsey: Austin, I want to talk a little bit about that lawsuit that you were talking about or the various lawsuits or pending lawsuits. And I wonder if you can explain just in a minute or two, what’s the nature of that? Is that that historically there have been these exclusions that say bioagents viruses and bacterias will not be covered or damages caused by that won’t be covered and because the coronavirus is such a new and different entity that insurance policy holders are claiming that this is new and therefore those old exclusions of use previously described don’t pertain in this immediate case. Am I understanding that correctly? 

Austin Morris Jr: Well, here’s what I would say in that case Liam. Again I’m not, I’m definitely not a regulator or a legislator and i’m not an attorney as I mentioned. But what some people are arguing is that COVID-19 is similar to a natural disaster. So, an insurance policy could be triggered by a hurricane. Think of the property damage that caused. So you have a business and it’s affected by a hurricane or a tornado, a natural event like that. And is that similar to other major catastrophic events that have happened and that would that have triggered insurance. Some people are arguing that right now that again, this is fresh, fresh conversation happening. And there are some lawsuits being filed saying that covid-19 is a natural disaster and it’s similar to other historic major events. And that this is something that should be covered even though it was not intended to be covered or not, or the carriers would think it would not apply. But that’s where some of the lawsuits are getting started. And I am not an attorney, but they are starting saying this is very similar to other catastrophic events. 

So from that, there are some groups who are filing some class action suits. And I don’t know where that will lead because there’s limited case law. And, right now we are just at the forefront of seeing what could happen. This is new and this is not something that happened 15, 20 or 30 years ago, because this is our first pandemic of our lifetimes. 

Liam Dempsey: Excellent. Thank you for clarifying that. I guess I want to ask you…

Austin Morris Jr: Oh, thank you for the question.

Liam Dempsey: No, my pleasure. I want to ask you a question again. Maybe you just touch on each one of these, just briefly: Around the directors and officers insurance and cyber insurance and auto insurance and workers comp. How is Covid-19 affecting those and what are some considerations? I know it’s a lot to cover in a short period of time. But if you just touch on it briefly, that’d be great. 

Austin Morris Jr: Thanks Liam. We’ll go with, I’ll start with Workers Comp first, because people are getting sick. Now, Workers Comp insurance, the question would be for the employer and for the employee to be asking to determine whether Covid-19 is an occupational disease. Now, Workers Comp is different than a person who has health insurance or is coming to the emergency room and it’s just depending upon public services. 

And workers compensation really comes down to two things. It generally should be that the illness arises out of the course and scope of employment. We’ll think about things traditionally. A coal miner without proper protections all of his or her life has worked in the mines and is inhaling coal dust. 

Another thing would be illnesses must arise out of or be caused by the conditions particular to the work, and not an ordinary disease of life to which the general public is exposed. All right. So that says something interesting there. So we actually are saying it has to be something that is unique to the particular work. But what’s an example where unique to the public particular work could happen? Well, there are general exceptions for people. Let’s say a doctor or a nurse and they’re working in the health care industry. And I would say that the regulators may say that coronavirus could be considered an occupational disease because of the increased exposure. So the average person who maybe went to a supermarket and unfortunately picked up the virus and now is infected, even though they have a job and earned workers compensation policy, they would have not be able to claim that this illness or disease is occupational mean that it came out of the course of their employment. But somebody who was working in a situation where it’s likely to potentially cause problems because of their occupation would be different.

So I think the big takeaway for workers compliant is that it varies between jurisdictions and professions, it’s state by state. And every state has its own requirements about occupational disease or illness. And I think the takeaways would be please everybody keep your employees safe, practice good hygiene, common sense, travel, don’t go to high risk areas. And again, work to have safe workplace rules. But if it is something that could be an occupational disease, there could be coverage under Workers Comp.

Joe Casabona: Austin, real quick, real quick there. I want a little bit of a specification. Maybe because my wife is a nurse and I’m generally curious. When you said somebody, did you say somebody who goes to the grocery store or works at the grocery store? Cause I think that’s an important distinction, right? 

Austin Morris Jr: I think that we can say that a person who’s, and I’m not an attorney, but the people who are working at the grocery store may or may not have coverage in this case. Cause there is not that you don’t have this. I don’t think you have the same amount of people who are infected coming into a grocery store as people who are going into the emergency room where a doctor nurses are caring for people. But there could be somebody who actually finds that to be the case, and then they actually have that be, you know, be determined that way. So, I would say that really can comes back to the occupation. And we know that some businesses are definitely likely to have health issues and Workers Comp claims tied to their occupation. But I can’t go too much deeper into that, Joe, because I really don’t, I’m not an expert in what the courts or what the regulators would rule on a state by state basis regarding that situation. 

Joe: Thank you very much. Sorry to interrupt. 

Austin Morris Jr: That’s okay. No problem. Yeah. I think a couple other areas which one is actually a positive note for everybody. This is there’s always positives in everything because people are in the auto world for auto insurance. Because people are driving so much less and there’s less accidents. Almost all the insurance companies are returning premium money to people who are drivers who have their policy, their cars insured. Some of them are returning a couple months worth of premiums. They’re all have their different scales and ratios, but because his cars are sitting in the driveway and there’s less trucks on the road and less of everything happening and less par accidents, less repairs, there’ll be money coming back to people from their auto policies in most cases. 

And I think an interesting area where this could lead to more litigation and potential claims is in the directors and officers market that’s also known as Management Liability. That is where directors and officers products are pretty broad and could encompass many things. They’re meant to cover a lot of things. They’re really among the broader policies in the insurance market.

And there are dozens and dozens and dozens and types of insurance out there. So we’re going to cover a few here, but the insurers are going to probably face some claims in the, you know, market because some insurance customers of theirs will possibly be filing bankruptcy. There’ll be lawsuits by people who are suing the company who went bankrupt because shareholders will be suing in that area. There will be people saying, you know what, this company didn’t do this or didn’t do that and thus led to other lawsuits, like maybe deaths among their workforce or other accidents that happened. Could they have done something differently? I don’t know, but that could lead to lawsuits. There’s anticipated to be in what’s already a tough market for directors and officers already because of lawsuits tied to people’s in you know, the me too movement and derivatives and everything else out there. There are definitely likely to be more claims in the DNO Market andI do suspect that some insurers will be pulling back on capacity because the amount of claims they’ll have In the coming, you know months and years.

And then another area which i’d like to touch on because it never goes away. So some things are not happening much. We’re not driving our cars as much. And hopefully we’re out walking, getting exercise and taking care of our health and our emotional well being. But the cyber problem never goes away. And almost every organization should have a commitment to cyber security. They should always prioritize cyber security and they should have a cyber insurance policy in almost every case.

While we’re working from home or not at the office, some businesses are not doing enough to focus on their business resilience. We now have expanded attack services because people are working from home. We are more dependent on technology and a lot of them are unproven, untested technology. Just hey, we’re using this new technology to get through the day and do what we have to do. But there’s increasing vulnerabilities as your organization is facing. There are financial problems impacting companies and that will impact their investment in and commitment to cyber security. And cyber security, cyber crime is going through the roof and is increasing day to day. The scope and the frequency and the severity of the attacks and complexity of them is increasing regularly. And that’s common knowledge in the cyber security space. And we do a lot of work in that area. I think that people should always know how to access your coverage. If you don’t how to get your coverage cause your likely to have an event,  make sure you know where your policy is. Do you have a copy online that you can reach? If you’re not in the office, do you have a copy of your details of who, what you’re covered for? Because an event happens, you don’t want to say who’s responsible. Everything you did when you were going to the office should still be done and prioritized while you’re away from the office because a cyber attack could happen anytime and is really a ruthless thing, particularly if it’s ransomware and a business is shut down and not even able to go into their office. So, there’s just a couple thoughts on. The other couple of the lines of coverage that I think will be are being impacted or will be impacted. The attackers are aware of how much is happening.

Regarding businesses, not being able to go to the office and people using all types of devices to connect often not secure. So, the amount of cyber crime is increasing. Across the board. I think that this will be a challenging and interesting time for the insurance industry with new claims coming in and also some probably arguments that people are making for lost coverages under lawsuits. 

On the other hand, though, the policies have been out there for a long time and people have been working with them. So I think it’ll be interesting to see where this goes. I just want people to focus on knowing what their insurance policy says. What they should be doing to protect themselves and also to know that if they need advice, we’ll be happy to talk with them.

Joe Casabona: Gotcha. Thank you. So I know we have one more big question, but I just want a quick point of order. You’ve mentioned kind of like lawsuits and claims a lot. Are lawsuits just because this is an extra litigious area or are all clean like, is lawsuit synonymous with claim?  

Austin Morris Jr: Joe, I would know most of insurance actually goes flows pretty smoothly. They, Harrison has insurance policy. And they have a claim and most claims are paid. That’s not even something is debatable. 

What gets in the news is when there’s some gray area or the insurance company declines, and I’ll give an example. There was a couple of cyber policy, separate cyber claims recently last yea, and the one or two carriers declined the coverage. Although they’re paying like 99% of the claims or 95%. That’s what the industry studies show. And also independent analysis shows that, but they didn’t actually have a cyber policy. They had another type of policy, but they’re hoping to get some coverage. 

And the reason I bring it up is because it wasn’t really a cyber policy, but they actually were hoping to find some remedy in a tough time. They should have had what they should have had, which was a full standalone, high quality with a top rated carrier cyber policy. So we’ll go take that picture to why this is in the area of potential potential lawsuits related to coronavirus and COVID 19. 

When people are having a hard time, they turn to a business start, turn to the government for relief. They’re looking to maybe not pay the rent for a month or two or longer. They may say to their suppliers we’re gonna be behind and our payments to you. And also they’re thinking was anyway, I can get some help from the insurance company. And the insurance companies have generally been mentioned excluding this thing, but not all of them have the same language. And that’s why, if somebody does think they have reason for a claim, or think that they actually would have a lawsuit, then they would jump on that and see where it takes them. I just always think the company should look out for their best interest. And hopefully they had the right policies to help them. If they don’t, the insured understands why the coverage is not there. But in general, these policies are meant to cover most things. It’s unclear to almost everybody in the government and the industry right now whether they’re actually going to legally have to cover any parts of the COVID-19 if it’s already been excluded.

Liam Dempsey: Austin, thank you. I want to hearken back to a topic you and I were chatting about before we we hit the record button earlier today, and you shared a concept that really struck me as insightful and something that just wouldn’t occur to me because I don’t work in insurance. I do marketing and design. And you referred to insurance as a contract. It’s not a product. It’s not a service in the sense of marketing consultancy or law firm selling its expertise and the like. And I wonder if you could kind of dive into that a little bit because yeah, you started to wax quite poetical on it and I thought it would be insightful for our listeners to hear about it.

Austin Morris Jr: Oh, thank you, Liam. Well, what happens is the insurance is something that businesses depend upon often as their number one safety net when things go wrong. There’s many things they do and there’s many things they plan for from properly run business. They’re looking at their risk management. They’re looking at who their vendors are and who their partners are and always looking to work with the best and looking to make sure they reduce their chances of having a small or major disaster. And that’s the best thing because that leads to business continuity. And out of that comes better resilience. So an organization can be more likely to succeed and proceed through tough times, whether, wherever they may come from, if they’ve been thoughtful about how to protect themselves.

A big piece of that is insurance, but insurance is something that people have said, okay, for years insurance, one of the older industries in the world, and it’s actually one of the largest industries in the world, and it can cover almost anything we can conceive of, including some markets. So, you would literally put your coffee cup down and say, no way. They can ensure that, but they do. 

But for most people, their insurance comes down to their personal insurance, and the business insurance they have around their operations. And the example I gave before about the commercial insurance, that commercial property insurance is designed to cover the loss of income incurred by your organization to like a slowdown or suspension of its operations or premises under certain circumstances. Well, that’s a nice thing to say, but somebody has to describe what are the premises, what are the circumstances and what is the suspension of operations. 

So over the years, many, many years, there’s just been the constant refinement of language in the policies. And that policy is created by the insurance company. So they’re actually the one who wrote the policy language. And then in some cases, they filed that with the state regulators who read it and say it. That makes sense. And other times, they don’t have to file it. It all depends on the category of insurance. But it becomes a contract. 

So Liam, to answer your question, when somebody buys their policy, they are expecting that what’s in that policy is a contract. And should things that are covered under that policy occur, and there’s no fraud or anything else wrong. Just literally something happened. And it was just, you know, a random event. Then they would expect to have the insurance company meet all of its obligations. And that’s what the insurance companies intend to do. And that’s why many of them are more than 100, 150 years old. Many of them are literally that old because they’ve been doing what they’re supposed to do for a long time where it gets challenging is when somebody wants coverage after. And it wasn’t in the policy, or it wasn’t meant to be covered, or the carrier has a different interpretation. 

So that’s why whenever somebody buys insurance, it’s best beneficial to them to read carefully, read their policy language. Take time to read it. They’re not exciting to read, but it will help you fall asleep if you have insomnia. And it would be certainly comforting to know, it’ll be comforting to know that you actually know what you’re covered for. Because what I think about insurance is that…you want to get the best quality insurance you can get and the proper amount. And you want to have it with the right kind of carrier who’s a leader in their space and not just somebody who’s me doing it and you say, Okay, now I’ve done everything I can on the insurance side. What are we doing as far as, you know, employee benefits? What are we doing as far as team building all the other things that businesses do? What are we doing as far as finding new supply chain methods and all? But the insurance is a contract. So take the time to read it and understand it. 

And many times, not always, they could be modified to change some language or sometimes add some things that would help the insured if they knew what to do. And that’s what it comes down to policy, but also the contract. And sometimes they can be for quite lengthy and detailed. But when things go wrong, you want to pull it out of your drawer off your computer and say, Hey, Thank goodness we have the proper insurance in place. And now the insurance company’s duty is to make us whole and help us in ways that would be unimaginable to succeed if we were doing out of our own pocket or with our own capabilities. The insurance really brings a lot of resources in. You just wanna make sure you have the right insurance. and it always comes back to what’s in that contract.

Liam Dempsey: So it’s really about seeing insurance as integral to the business, as an investment and not just a cost. And if we’re going to invest money, then we need to invest intellectual capital to make sure that we really do pay attention to the finer points of the contract to get the coverage that we need. To make sure that we read the policies, we ask questions. Does this mean that will cover that? Does this mean that this will cover this other situation? So that we really understand what we’re signing and what we’re getting. And perhaps equally importantly, what we’re not getting.

Austin Morris Jr: Yes, that’s correct. Liam, people can’t anticipate every single thing that could happen, but they could say in general, would this be covering my business? And there are different forms of insurance that are well suited for specific industries. For instance, I see you as being in the technology industry. There are forms of insurance that are specific to the technology industry. Sometimes we come across companies who we work with, who had generic insurance that would be the same insurance policy as if they were working for a florist or they were working for a wedding planner. Nothing too different and bad about those businesses. But there’s specific industry insurance for law firms or specific insurance for doctors. We know that as medical malpractice and hospitals have that and doctors have that. And there’s insurance for architects, and there’s insurance for engineers, specific types of policies. And there’s different companies and different carriers offering different products, but it’s specific for those industries.

So, I think a starting point is to know that you have the right insurance for your industry. That means language and policy forms and endorsements, all the things that create that contract we’re talking about. All that is suitable for your industry. It’s not generic. Then you go and say, okay, what do we have here that fits my situation? No, nothing is going to be perfect for your business because nobody wrote a policy only for your business because otherwise they’d be writing literally a hundred thousand different contracts a year for one industry. What they are doing saying what can we do that most covers things and broadly covers them. And that’s the intention of the policies.

And again, most time claims are paid. It comes down to where the gets out there in the news that there’s some dispute, and the insurance company often wins in court. Not always, but often wins in court because the courts say that was never meant to be covered and you’re not, you didn’t, the insurer didn’t do something they’re required to do. 

So back to your point, find the best quality insurance you can get. Get the right amount of it, understand what’s in the policy, and really, regularly talk to your insurance broker, actually communicate and know, let them know what’s happening in your business. If a change is happening, you’re going to do an acquisition, you’re thinking about adding employees, we might be producing some new technology where whatever it may be, that communication allows for fresh information to be transferred to the insurance company to keep your insurance up to date. Insurance to me is a living thing that should be required to what we all do is as humans communicate and not just seen as I check the box and I have one policy in the drawer. 

Liam Dempsey: Austin, you have shared a plethora of valuable information today. And I have to apologize to you because I was so excited to get access to the information in your head that I totally forgot to really spend any time introducing you to our audience.

Can you tell us a little bit about Morris Risk Management, LLC? And the types of services and clients with which you work.

Austin Morris Jr: Oh, thank you, Liam. We’d be proud to…Well, since 2007, Morris Risk Management has been a leader in cyber insurance and other coverages, including technology errors and emissions insurance, health care insurance, directors and officers, also known as management liability insurance, lawyer’s professional liability insurance, crime and fiduciary liability insurance, media liability, and a big piece of our business also is disability insurance and life insurance.

And we have always focused on we’ll call professional liability coverages. Those are the ones I previously mentioned. It’s just some of them. We get into more exotic things like kidnapping, ransom and so forth. But those are the core things we do and we serve several industries, predominantly professionals in different categories like health care and technology and legal professions. And we often are working with consultants. 

And another thing we do, which I think is unique about us. Bluecross is that we provide unbiased advice on cybersecurity matters, and we frequently participate in national cybersecurity communities. One of the fundamental things that I think makes us unique and we feel proud about is that we strive always to be on the cutting edge, including learning about emerging risks and best practices and identifying and prioritizing risks, and leading insurance products and offering strategic solutions. We do not just say here’s insurance. Our goal is to understand what the insured customer, the organization or the individual needs, what’s unique about them. And then bring the best and most up to date and high quality insurance products to them to see, show them the fit, and hopefully that leads to a relationship.

But that’s our goal was always to be on the cutting edge. And we put passion into that. And that’s, I think, what’s will help us to grow. And as an organization may be proud to be able to share some thoughts with you guys today. The role you’re all very general, of course, because it’s such a complex area. We’re not talking about a particular case, but just in general, we were thankful for the opportunity to speak with you guys today.

Joe Casabona: Yeah, this has been great, Austin. Thank you very much. And, we’re gonna close it out here by asking, where can people find you?

Austin Morris Jr: Okay. We have two ways to reach us. Our main number at the office which will forward to somebody who may not be in the office right now because the office is closed because of the pandemic. Our main phone number, Joe, is (215 947 9200). We have several phone numbers. That main number will get you started (215 947 9200). 

And our website is [www.morrisrisk.com]. And we’ll be putting some new content on there pretty soon. Actually, we’re spending some time next week to update the content because there’s a lot to say about what’s happening with the current pandemic and we want to keep people informed. So, please visit business either at the website or buy a phone call. And we’d love to talk with anybody who has questions and be happy to provide unbiased feedback. 

Joe Casabona: Fantastic. Well, thank you again so much for joining us today. We’re going to add those to our website, the show notes. You can find those over at [startlocal.co]. 

Austin Morris Jr: Thanks so much for your time. 

Liam Dempsey: Austin, thanks so much. We’ll talk to you soon. Have a great afternoon.

Austin Morris Jr: Thank you, gentlemen. Appreciate your time too. 

Joe Casabona: Thanks so much to Austin for joining us today. I think that he talked about a wide array of things. We’ll have some detailed notes over at [startlocal.co] for this episode because there was a lot of stuff to unpack.

But, I think the biggest takeaway is that don’t just assume your insurance policy doesn’t cover you at all.  See, reach out to your insurance broker or your agent and see if there’s anything that your insurance policy covers because you are losing business or taking losses due to COVID-19. 

So, once again, thank you to Austin Morris, Jr. for joining us this week. 

If you liked this episode, please leave us a rating and review in Apple podcast or wherever you listen to podcasts. It really helps people discover the show.

And until next time. Stay safe out there.

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