News & Media

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

[INDUSTRY NEWS] Turmoil in Ukraine highlights need for political evacuation insurance

Across the world, international organizations have numerous staff members placed in high-risk, dangerous locations. Political turmoil and instances of violence could occur at a moment's notice, forcing the company to make the tough call about when and how to best evacuate its employees.

In few places is this more relevant today than in Ukraine. Political upheaval and uncertainty about the future climate of the country has placed many expats and members of international organizations in danger. As a result, a number of operations have ceased and workers have left the country in a hurry. If this is the case for your company, a lack of political evacuation insurance might leave you footing the bill for each staff member, costs which would be significant for any organization.

However, the right insurance coverage can provide financial relief and assistance developing an emergency response strategy, so all employees are safe and secure in the event of political turmoil.

Unrest spreads in Ukraine
The situation in Ukraine shows few signs of slowing down anytime soon. According to The Guardian, the acting president - Oleksandr Turchynov - has asked that all military operations against pro-Russian forces resume in the eastern part of the country. This comes on the heels of an alleged report that two men were tortured to death by the separatists.


"The terrorists who effectively took the whole Donetsk region hostage have now gone too far, by starting to torture and murder Ukrainian patriots," said Turchynov, the media outlet reported. "These crimes are being committed with the full support and connivance of the Russian Federation."

While tensions are high in Ukraine, representatives from the U.S. and Russia, along with Ukraine, have been engaging in discussions to solve the growing crisis. However, little progress has been made as of yet, leading to uncertain and volatile security situations across the country.

Peace Corps evacuates members
In response to the current political climate in Ukraine, the U.S. Peace Corps has announced that it has evacuated all of its members based in the country. Before the situation changed, more than 200 volunteers were working with youths in the areas of education and community development.


The mass evacuation began at the end of February, and the Peace Corps released a statement confirming that all volunteers were safe and accounted for. As time passes, the organization vowed to monitor the situation with the hope of returning in the near future. At the moment, though, that seems unlikely, as the Peace Corps noted that the safety and security of its members are a top priority.

Clements Worldwide has over 60 years of experience helping international organizations protect themselves with political evacuation and other forms of specialty insurance. Call us at 202 872 0060 or email request@clements.com to learn more. 

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Monday, April 28, 2014

Inside Counsel Magazine Interview with Tarun Chopra, Clements CFO

Compliance step one: Know the difference between a disaster and a crisis
Clements Worldwide CFO explains how companies should embrace, not challenge, corporate compliance

BY RICH STEEVES APRIL 28, 2014
Inside Counsel


Tarun Chopra, Chief Financial Officer of Clements Worldwide

For Tarun Chopra, chief financial officer of Clements Worldwide, a global insurance provider, corporate compliance is a matter of “practice what you preach.”
Chopra notes that, in this day and age, compliance is a necessity, so it is essential for the companies he works with – companies that operate in 170 different countries and in some of the highest-risk regions in the world – that they embrace compliance rather than challenge it, seeing the value proposition in a robust compliance program. 
While Clements advises its companies on their own compliance programs, it’s essential, Chopra says, that the insurance provider gets its own house in order first, so it can be seen as practicing what it preaches. To that end, Chopra states that Clements sees three distinct categories of compliance.
First, there is financial compliance, which usually comes down to a matter of by-the-book audits. It is, therefore, the clearest type of compliance for most companies. Then there is the slightly more complicated matter of regulatory compliance, which has many facets. With regulatory compliance, there are specific tasks concerning matters of corporate governance, licensing and more, that vary from industry to industry. When companies operate internationally, these matters become even more complex.
The final category of compliance is business compliance, which covers a wide spectrum. Companies need to consider a business continuity plan, a way to secure data, and other matters that allow them to deal with any losses that may occur. This, says Chopra, is the keystone of any compliance program. 
“Companies need to know the difference between a disaster and a crisis,” he explains. “A disaster is an event; a crisis is a situation. You recover from a disaster, but you need to manage a crisis. These are very different.” 
The biggest mistake companies can make in this area is to wait until something happens and figure it out from there. That might work in the case of a disaster, like an earthquake, but a crisis like a rogue employee is far more complex and requires preparation.
In dealing with companies like international aid agencies that work in the most challenging areas of the poorest nations in the world, Chopra finds that a lot of decision makers in these organizations lack the foresight that would help them avoid risk. They do business in areas that are often lawless and rife with turmoil. If a high-profile event, such as a terrorist bombing, should occur, insurance rates with skyrocket for late adopters. 
To that end, risk management plays a huge role in compliance programs, which is why Clements offers discounts for companies with strong compliance records. According to Chopra, companies need to start looking at compliance as a way to create value and decrease variability, which businesses hate. “Risk management is a way of reducing variation,” Chopra explains. And understanding a range of outcomes can help any company deal with ever-changing regulations and business factors that can upset the apple cart.


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Clements President Chris Beck Speaks to CNBC about Oil and Gas Insurance

Oil firms' answer to global calamity: Insurance
Sunday, 27 Apr 2014 | 6:00 AM ET
CNBC.com

The crisis in Ukraine has provided a reminder of an an old story: The world is a dangerous and unstable place—and some of the most volatile places on earth are oil-producing areas where oil companies are compelled to drill.

That stark backdrop means oil companies must insure against any number of adverse developments, all while prospecting for black gold in countries like VenezuelaIraq and Nigeria. In a world where risks are mounting, threats are increasingly less conventional.

"While there's a lot going on in the U.S., the new exploration is all occurring in the most challenging countries and most high-hazard environments out there," said Chris Beck, president of Clements Worldwide, an insurance company that sells coverage to global energy companies. 

"The reality of a lot of those countries is there a tremendous amount of economic instability and inequality," Beck said in an interview. Russia will continue to "re-establish its dominance in the region, and that will have a destabilizing impact on other countries" in Eastern Europe and central Asia, he said.

While political uncertainty has been the order of the day in oil-producing countries, Beck said calamity can come from anywhere. Scenarios can include anything from a tanker hijacked off the coast of Africa, to a pipeline explosion in the perennially unstable Middle East, or even cyber terrorism.

Despite soaring domestic production that has sent U.S. oil reserves to their highest level in nearly 40 years, the U.S. is far from immune from instability abroad. International demand means major oil companies must explore in unsavory places.

A recent report by Securing America's Future Energy and Roubini Global Economics underscores how vulnerable the U.S. is to supply disruptions abroad. The survey noted that rising domestic production has helped the world's largest economy become more secure, "but heavy oil use leaves the economy vulnerable to high and volatile oil prices."

The report added that outages in Iran, Iraq, Nigeria and Libya have driven global spare capacity down to 1.7 million barrels per day – a level that gives "a very limited amount of flexibility in the event of further outages."

Beck echoed those findings, saying that domestic production alone was not enough to insulate big oil producers from unstable markets.

"It's not just the U.S.'s energy needs…it's the global need," Beck said. "Irrespective of relative energy needs in the US, there will be a significant ramp-up in other places. That requires [U.S. oil companies] to be in these hazardous environments."

That can cost a pretty penny. Beck said oil and gas companies can pay tens of millions for premiums to insure against a host of disasters, with prices determined by several factors. In hotspots like Libya and Iraq, pipeline security is a big issue, as are ransom and kidnappings, to name a few. 

"It's not just about pricing, it's about risk management," Beck said, adding that Clements' strategy is to "develop processes and procedures to prevent there being a loss, as opposed to simply reimbursing them after a loss."

The ability of oil companies to hedge against global risk is complex because the nature of those threats is diffuse and unpredictable. Beck, however, said they have one element in common.

"The roots of instability are all economic," he said. "It's that level of economic instability and insecurity that we have to pay close attention to now as we look at pricing of political violence coverage, and policies to protect operations in that developing part of the world."


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Friday, April 25, 2014

5 Tips for Living and Working Abroad

While there is a certain allure to traveling the world and experiencing new countries and cultures, many people forget is that there is a very big difference between being a tourist and being an expat. The latter often brings more legal requirements, paperwork, responsibilities and risk. However, the rewards are great, as long as the proper steps are taken beforehand.

One of those includes acquiring adequate international insurance coverage. A long-term stay and potential employment opportunities bring a set of problems unlike those that domestic workers experience. Therefore, having the right protection in place can make life overseas more comfortable for you.

In addition to international insurance, here are five tips to live and work abroad:

1.  Do research ahead of time
Kerry Hannon, a contributor to Forbes, wrote that doing a little homework before making the move abroad can be beneficial. She explained that there are many elements that go into being an expat, such as getting visas, setting up bank accounts, taxes and the language barrier. Figuring out which country works best for you can help you find a job, open a business and live safely.


2. Go on a vacation
Before becoming an expat, you may want to take an extended vacation as a tourist, Hannon noted. This step could be exactly what you need to figure out which country is the one you want to move to. Spending several months abroad will shed light on the pros and cons of a new nation, and it will allow you to really feel confident in buying a home and taking the plunge.


3. Embrace the culture
In many countries, business etiquette is quite different than in the U.S. and the U.K. Your home country may be built upon quick meetings, rapid results and a demand for efficiency. However, that may not be the case abroad. Instead, take the time to learn the culture and embrace it. Doing so could help you find work and build a network overseas.


4. Know your rights
Rica Facundo, a contributor to Rappler, wrote that working abroad is often more complicated than the life of a tourist. It requires contracts, paperwork and permits. With that in mind, she recommended that you know your rights before moving overseas. For example, your stay could often be decided by the length of your employee contract. Once that expires, so too does your work permit. Then, you'll have to find another way to legally stay in the country.


5. Always save money
Saving money is never a bad idea, especially for expats. Facundo explained that working overseas requires a frugal mindset, even for younger adults. The job market in many countries could be volatile, which means it is smart to have a little extra cash nearby in case of emergency.



In addition, coverage - such as individual term life insurance - can help guarantee financial protection if something does go wrong. Having coverage is a good idea because it can prevent you from having to pay large expenses out of pocket, and mitigate risks while living abroad.

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Monday, April 21, 2014

Clements CFO Tarun Chopra featured in Wall Street Journal

How Companies Are Using Insurance Against Piracy, Terrorism, Kidnap
Tarun Chopra, chief financial officer at insurance broker Clements Worldwide, talks to Risk & Compliance Journal about covering companies and their employees for risks including piracy, war and terrorism, kidnap and ransom.

Tarun Chopra, CFO, Clements Worldwide.

What kinds of companies are seeking out these types of insurance?
Mr. Chopra: What we see more and more are international organizations who run the risk of experiencing severe losses from operations abroad, companies like humanitarian non-profit- organizations, relief and development organizations.
On the for-profit side are multinationals like oil and gas or government subcontractors in engineering or construction, or security firms who provide services in conflict zones. Also, international schools that work in different parts of the world by definition have staff and employees exposed to the local environment. We tend to work best with global companies who understand their risk profiles and have a good understanding of their own operations and provide us detailed information about their employees and assets.
What kind of information are you seeking from clients?
Mr. Chopra: What is the profile of the company, what regions within a country will they be working in, as there could be conflict zones and safe areas. What kind of activities are they undertaking so we can assess–is it just property at risk, or property and employees? What other assets, like if they have vehicles moving throughout the region. All that is type of information is needed.
In what parts of the world are you seeing an increase in business?
Mr. Chopra: Africa, we’ve really seen increased demand from development and aid organizations as well as companies in mining and oil and gas. We have seen risk coverage premiums double since 2011 and in terms of the number of companies, they have more than doubled. We have a lot of smaller aid organizations making inroads into Africa from a client perspective.
The other big area is the Middle East, where demand has been consistently high in the last decade, particularly in the reconstruction, shipping, transit and cargo areas. What has changed is there used to be a lot more security work going on…now it has transitioned into construction and rebuilding efforts and the security associated with that. Demand hasn’t gone down, it’s just the nature of the industry has shifted a little.
How have premiums changed in this space?
Mr. Chopra: Demand for this coverage goes up when a particular incident happens, and that is probably the worst time for any company to be thinking about insurance. This week’s bombing in Nigeria created demand for insurance like personal accident, political violence, war and terrorism and other lines. When companies look at an incident like that it is more often after the fact they realize they need better insurance, and then it’s too late.
How do compliance issues factor into this?
Mr. Chopra: Ideally, if going into a new country they are expected to be compliant with the local regulations. Having said that, the compliance piece is very complicated. It is ever changing and that’s where it becomes challenging, making sure they are fully covered. In some cases it is dictated by the local authority and what the minimum level of coverage an organization is expected to have. As long as a company maintains that minimum level of coverage they are covered. The challenge comes when the rules are not clear, then we have to figure out what kind of “compliant” set of coverage they need.
How do you do that?                     
Mr. Chopra: By virtue of writing business in over 170 countries we are well versed with rules and regulations at a very general level. There are instances when we will not have all the in-house expertise and then we reach out to subject-matter experts. If we do that we make sure we have an opinion on file so we are covered and the clients are covered. We want to do the right thing for clients and make sure they are well protected, not just from an insurance standpoint but from a compliance standpoint. If they can’t conduct business in a conflict zone then we don’t get their business in that conflict zone.
Another thing we always preach to our clients is to embrace compliance. It is always better to have a good understanding of what the particular set of rules are meant to achieve, that is what we strive to understand. I wouldn’t say in all cases we know the answers, and at that point we make a best-guess estimate based on past history and any additional resources we can count on.
What are some trends that could change this market in the future?
Mr. Chopra: One trend all companies should be aware of is the risks from political violence. These are more and more frequent, including the flash mobs in London recently, the speed with which they happened and the extent of damage they caused. There is more instability in the world, and therefore more likelihood of political violence.
Another point is in terms of businesses and their approach to compliance and risk management. If it is a run-of-the-mill company it tends to follow the economist view of compliance. Economists talk in terms of maximizing function—the value of a company—and everything else is a constraint. They see compliance as a constraint. But if it is a well-managed company with a world-class approach to insurance risk management, they embrace compliance and make conscious efforts to create strong risk management programs. Risk management is a complicated, time-consuming effort that demands a lot of resource commitment, but it pays off in the long run.

Write to Ben DiPietro at ben.dipietro@dowjones.com, and follow him on Twitter @BenDiPietro1.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

[INDUSTRY NEWS] Terrorism in North Africa

Terrorist attacks and acts of war are becoming increasingly common across the world. Whether domestic or international, these incidents pose a serious security risk to expatriates living and working outside their home country.

If you are heading overseas soon, you should consider comprehensive international war and terrorism insurance coverage. This type of indemnification is ideal to help mitigate the financial impact of such a violent act, and without it, you could be exposed to substantial monetary harm. In addition to insurance, it is also important to understand the terrorism hot spots that have been appearing around the globe. While some of the most dangerous locations are in the Middle East, incidents of terrorism could also occur in other regions.

Surge in violence reported in Northern Africa
Today, one of the most active hotbeds for terrorist activity is a stretch of land spanning the width of Northern Africa, called the Sahel region. This zone stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and encompasses many countries, including Senegal, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Cameroon and Sudan. Currently, Africa's Sahel has also come under international scrutiny thanks to increased outbreaks of violence, terrorism and religious extremism.


According to media outlet Voice of America, a number of factors have contributed to the rise in terrorist attacks reported in the Sahel region over the past decade. These include a proliferation in the number of extremist organizations, changing political and economic conditions and poor education, among others.

"It is clear that an arc of instability is emerging across Africa's Sahel which has opened a path for al-Qaida to shift its center of gravity from Afghanistan and Pakistan to a new sanctuary and has created a potential launching pad much closer to US and European shores," Yonah Alexander, senior fellow at Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, outlined in his annual report on terrorism in North Africa.

In order to combat these rising dangers, Voice of America stressed the importance of regional and international cooperation. Governments from across the world should coordinate with African nations to improve security, and it may take a broad strategy and a comprehensive approach to make Africa's Sahel region safer.

Be prepared in case of attack
While governments can take measures to decrease the threat of terrorism, you should still be prepared in case an attack does occur. Even in low-risk countries incidents are possible, so it is important to be ready wherever you end up in the world, including taking out an international war and terrorism insurance policy.


According to U.K.'s Foreign and Commonwealth Office, terrorist attacks can include suicide operations, hijackings, bombings, shootings and the use of chemical or biological weapons, among others. Due to the wide range of potential attacks, you must take steps to mitigate your risk. Firstly, be aware of any changes in security levels in your current country. Increases in terrorist activity are often announced by the government. As an added layer of precaution, make sure you also follow along to current news in both the country and the region.

In addition to these steps, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommended that you remain vigilant in all public areas, especially those frequented by tourists, expats and Westerners. For example, common terrorist targets include hotels, restaurants, bars and local businesses. Better yet, take steps to vary your routine. Falling into a pattern could further expose you to danger. Anything suspicious you notice while in public should immediately be reported to the authorities.

Above all else, make sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage in place. An international war and terrorism insurance policy can provide financial relief following an attack, wherever you are in the world. Paying attention to your surroundings and being aware of current trends will also help you stay safe while abroad.

Clements Worldwide has over 60 years of experiencing helping expats and international organizations with war and terrorism insurance. Call us at 202 872 0060 or email request@clements.com to learn more. 

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Friday, April 11, 2014

[INDUSTRY NEWS] Ebola outbreak takes hold in West Africa

Ebola virus disease is one of the most dangerous health hazards in the world. It brings with it an extremely high fatality rate, and has been known to affect hundreds of people each year.

Historically, one of the most impacted parts of the world has been in Africa. Unfortunately, this trend has held true recently, and a new outbreak of the disease has already claimed the lives of more than 100 people in Guinea and Liberia, with the potential to spread to other parts of West Africa in the coming months. This outbreak highlights the importance of proper safety procedures and international health insurance for expats. Everyone living nearby is at risk of contracting Ebola, and should prepare accordingly. 

Number of Ebola cases on the rise
Over the past month, the number of Ebola cases in West Africa has been on the rise. According to the World Health Organization, a total of 158 cases have been officially reported as of April 9. In addition, 101 deaths have also occurred. Laboratory testing is ongoing to further determine the extent of the outbreak. 


Two countries that are most affected so far have been Liberia and Guinea. For example, six districts in Guinea have reported patients, including Conakry, Guekedou, Kissidougou, Dabola and Djingaraye. The most reported cases have been in Guekedou so far, at 96 total and 32 confirmed. In order to combat this outbreak, local health organizations have been working to establish assessment and training programs in major hospitals. The World Health Organization is also on hand to lend support. 

Unfortunately, it seems that the reported cases of Ebola won't remain confined to those two nations. New cases have already appeared in neighboring regions, and other countries close by are also at risk. 

Outbreak impacts local businesses, daily life
The threat of Ebola has already caused problems for local businesses and other parts of the economy in West Africa. Problems could even arise for expats, and it is especially important to have comprehensive international health insurance available in case of an illness.


According to Bloomberg, hotels in the region have already experienced a decline in business since the outbreak was reported. At the Grand Hotel de L'Independence in Conakry, the capital of Guinea, patrons have been calling nonstop to cancel all reservations.

"At least 80 percent of our reservations have been canceled," Ibrahima Capi Camara, general manager of the hotel, told the media outlet. "Clients are scared to come because of Ebola."

In addition to the impact on local businesses, expats may also have to be aware of changes with nearby borders. 

Many countries have taken measures to prevent the outbreak from spreading, Bloomberg noted, even though WHO doesn't support border closings as an effective method. For instance, Senegal recently closed its border with Guinea, and the Ivory Coast has prevented buses from traveling to both that country and Liberia. 

As a result, area residents and employers now have to contend with a fearful population. That has led to increased business disruptions and the potential for economic damage. Above all else, residents at risk should make sure to avoid contact with those that are infected, be careful when making travel arrangements and take out adequate international health insurance.

Clements Worldwide has been helping to protect expats globally for over 65 years. Contact 1-800-872-0067 or email request@clements.com for your comprehensive international health insurance plan now. 

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

[INDUSTRY NEWS] Spotlight on global piracy

Piracy across the world continues to be a very real threat for international organizations, with hundreds of attacks reported each year. As a result, those involved in shipping have placed an increased importance on international maritime liability insurance and other preventative measures to ensure safe operations abroad.

However, a recent industry report indicated that the number of global piracy attacks decreased in 2013, and that trend is expected to continue well into 2014. This decrease is due in part to a higher level of global awareness about one of the world's biggest piracy hot spots: Somalia.

Deterring attacks
Late January marked the first time Somali pirates were active off the coast of Africa this year, according to a bulletin from Dryad Maritime Intelligence. This segment of piracy has historically been very dangerous, with a high number of incidents and particularly aggressive attacks on vessels.


Despite the hazards posed by shipping off the coast of Somalia, this initial attack was successfully thwarted by the mariners involved. Dryad Maritime Intelligence reported that the on-board security team acted quickly and appropriately to deter the attackers and prevent any property loss or injuries. The team's first course of action was to tell the pirates to turn back. That was ignored, and the Somali pirates then fired on the ship. The subsequent return fire from the crew was enough to deter the attack and force the men to retreat.

Dryad Maritime Intelligence noted that the shipping industry has a lot of power to prevent future instances of piracy. For example, mariners who are have chosen the appropriate international insurance coverage that meets industry regulations are better positioned to protect themselves in the event of an attack. In addition, the presence of armed security guards on board has quickly become one of the most effective methods to deter piracy. 

Global piracy rates decrease but constant vigilance is still recommended
While piracy is common in waters all across the world, the East Coast of Africa, and Somalia in particular, are some of the most dangerous locations for the shipping industry. However, a focus on security, international insurance and prevention in this specific area has helped to limit the number of attacks worldwide. 


The International Chamber of Commerce International Maritime Bureau reported that incidents of piracy at sea have declined to their lowest levels in six years. At the heart of the decrease has been the drop in Somali piracy, now 40 percent below its peak in 2011.

"The single biggest reason for the drop in worldwide piracy is the decrease in Somali piracy off the coast of East Africa," said IMB director Pottengal Mukundan. "It is imperative to continue combined international efforts to tackle Somali piracy. Any complacency at this stage could re-kindle pirate activity."

While piracy rates have been on the way down over the past year, constant vigilance, proper safety and contingency plans and a comprehensive maritime insurance solution are highly recommended for any organizations seeking to operate in waters where piracy is a common threat.

Clements Worldwide has over 60 years of experiencing helping international organizations manage risks like piracy and other threats. Call us at 202 872 0060 or email request@clements.com to learn more. 

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