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The claims process for employment practices liability stemming from the #MeToo movement has gone relatively smoothly, say experts.
Mark Azzolino, Hartford, Connecticut-based head of management and professional liability at Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., said because of their impact on both victims and organizations, there is “just a general care around the claims,” with insurers and legal counsel conducting their investigations thoughtfully and helping to get the process to a resolution “as quickly and fairly as they can.”
There is “no rush to judgment” but “a recognition that oftentimes these situations involve significant emotional distress.” There is “a desire to make sure these circumstances are handled in a kindly but appropriate way,” Mr. Azzolino said.
But there will probably be “significant coverage issues” with claims that were not previously reported, or predated the policy, said MarieFrance Gelot, New York-based senior vice president and insurance claims counsel for Lockton Cos. LLC.
However, said Kelly Thoerig, Richmond, Virginia-based U.S. employment practices liability product leader for Marsh LLC, “I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the way in which the EPLI markets have dealt with this increased claims activity and claims payments that they are making.” By and large, EPLI insurers “appreciate the changed dynamics of what it costs to actually resolve these claims,” she said.
There is “going to be back and forth with the carrier around valuation of the claim,” particularly when the employer wants a quick settlement to avoid potential bad publicity and reputational damage, and follow-on copycat claims by other employees, she said.
“There’s a tension there,” said Ms. Thoerig. But it is “no different than the way things were handled pre-#MeToo,” she said.
Employment practices liability claims stemming from the #MeToo movement continue to increase and have not yet reached their peak, experts say.