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Global expansion brings unfamiliar risks for middle-market firms


For middle-market companies, expanding into the global marketplace has never been more accessible, but international opportunity also brings significant exposures to unfamiliar risks, experts say.

In the Business Insurance webinar “International Expansion Risks for Middle-Market Firms”—now available on demand at—Bill Skapof, Philadelphia-based head of commercial-international initiatives at Zurich North America Commercial, explored how events such as geopolitical conflicts, societal and cultural challenges, economic instability and natural disasters are becoming more pervasive in the global marketplace.

In such a tumultuous environment, Mr. Skapof warned that the impact of an uninsured loss on the middle-market environment can be “devastating, if not life-threatening.” Among other risk mitigation strategies, Mr. Skapof stressed the importance of working with local brokers and insurers to make certain that an insurance program is in place and that it complies with local rules and laws.

Because middle-market firms often are subject to tighter risk management budgets, Shawn Burnsworth, Atlanta-based vp-practice leader of international at Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc., listed a variety of free and low-cost ways to mitigate and avoid risk during international expansion, such as including hold-harmless agreements in contracts with international customers and providers.

“Once you've established a risk management program and approach to your business, inclusive or exclusive of insurance, be sure to document your crisis or event protocol,” Mr. Burnsworth said during the webinar. “This will always prove the most beneficial and critical step in managing any event.”

Business Insurance Associate Editor Matt Dunning moderated the webinar. The free, 60-minute webcast can be viewed on demand at