Archive for the ‘Company News’ Category

Cyber Attacks: Revenue vs. Reputation

How big a problem are cyber attacks for businesses today?

Consider this — last October, while appearing on CBS’s 60 Minutes, FBI Director, James Comey said, “there are two kinds of big companies in the United States…those who have been hacked by the Chinese and those who don’t know they’ve been hacked by the Chinese.” Which are you?

In the last 18 months some of the country’s most revered brands have been targets of cyber attacks. No one knows exactly who is responsible for the cyber attacks on Neiman Marcus, Target, Home Depot, and Dairy Queen. But according to Trustwave, a cyber security firm, large retail brands, banking, insurance and manufacturing are especially vulnerable.

The growing number of attacks and costs are staggering. In several instances, cyber security firms with sophisticated tracking equipment and expertise are working to pinpoint potential customer and revenue damage for major brands who have been successfully hacked, but the bottom line is – it’s extremely difficult to detail the full extent of the losses, except to underscore that it was huge.

Equally alarming, customers have been slow to return. Thus, leaving the companies attacked with the arduous task of rebuilding consumer loyalty, trust and revenue.

If you were to calculate the net worth of your company, how much is the reputation of your brand worth?

Big successful brands are built over time with investments totaling billions of dollars.They’re also built upon trust and performance, as there’s an invisible brand promise every customer has with the brands they choose. When that promise is fulfilled, loyalty, advocacy and brand equity occurs. But when the brand promise is broken, when trust comes into question, the damage to the brand’s reputation is immense.

While hacking used to be more about individuals stealing money, now many cyber attacks are the work of foreign governments. Their intent is to steal intellectual property and create an environment of chaos and economic disruption. This produces constant national media coverage and analysis about the potential impact and damage of the attack. All of which causes a firestorm of negative publicity and a hemorrhaging of the brand’s customer base and stock price.

The net result — a huge loss of revenue and a tarnished reputation that can’t be measured in mere dollars and cents. Which begs the question — how can companies like yours protect against this new age of brand terrorism?

Research indicates that 95% of all data breaches are attributed to some kind of human error.

It used to be that businesses protected themselves from hackers with firewalls, intrusion detection and the ever-evolving availability of anti-virus software. Yet today, employee mistakes have become a huge concern.

Not huge mistakes, either, but simple errors such as not using appropriate passwords, or responding to an email that contains a virus that attacks your cyber security, which is called phishing often occur. Other mistakes include transferring corporate data outside of the company or not deleting data, thus leaving it vulnerable to data leaks that are costly to your organization

No matter what business category you’re in, you can’t ignore the increased risk of cyber terrorism. Thus, sophisticated cyber security is a must.

The best defense against cyber attacks and data breaches may be your employees. A diligent training effort will help prevent carelessness, breaches, and help reduce costs. Here’s a short list of best practices:

  • Reaffirm to employees how important confidentiality is and train them on how to handle it.
  • Investigate what’s available in data loss prevention technology to protect sensitive data.
  • Commit to employing and actively using encryption and multi-factor authentication solutions.
  • Make a plan with specific steps–including client notification–in the event of an incident.

If you have any questions or need additional information on cyber security, please contact one of our Hays Cyber Specialists: Dave Wasson, or Michelle Carter,

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Product Liability + Company Growth

Authored by Brandon Schuh, VP and Product Liability Professional at Hays Companies

Product liability is an area that can rapidly change from the period of time when a company first launches to when they’ve truly penetrated the marketplace.  With consumer products, the reach is to a very large audience.  When the masses begin using a product, especially products that have more inherent risk, claims and litigation follow quickly regardless of how well the product is manufactured.

This scenario creates problems for manufacturers and importers of consumer products because they are not ready for the influx of claims.  Claims are the biggest driver of premium costs.  If your claims are low or non-existent, your premium will likely be small or inconsequential.  If you have an inherently more dangerous product: ladders, power tools, trampolines, sporting goods, outdoor equipment or even office furniture, claims will occur and your premium increases as a result.

This is an unwelcome surprise, suddenly claims are an everyday event and there is a new expense item on the budget.  Many companies, when they first start their business, buy very basic insurance policies with very small deductibles.  Small deductibles are attractive because of the limited financial risk for the manufacturer.  They simply transfer their risk to the insurance company.  The problem with small deductibles in a high frequency claims environment is that insurance becomes something that you use every day instead of something for a worse case scenario.  This is accentuated by the rapid growth of the organization; the more products in the hands of consumers, the more potential for accidents.  When a policy is used frequently, the premium increase year over year become dramatic.   The premium increase is further inflated by high allocated expenses driven by the carrier hiring counsel that are not experts in defending consumer product litigation. Thereby settling claims rather than denying or defending.  This has a downward spiraling effect if not properly contained.

Total Cost of Risk (TCOR) is a term that’s overused in the insurance industry, however, consumer goods product liability is one area it is truly necessary. Your risk cannot be summarized in one line item on your P&L.  The cost of insurance is not your only cost of risk.  A manufacturer of inherently dangerous consumer products should always take retained risk (i.e. they should always have skin in the game).  You know your product better than anyone, therefore you should have more control over the defense of those products with experts that specialize in this area. This is accomplished by maintaining a larger deductible or Self Insured Retention (SIR) where you, as the owner of the company, take a part in the cost of defense.  This creates another line item (defense costs) and should be added to your calculation of TCOR.

The benefit to doing it this way is eliminating some of the carrier losses and doing your part to keep loss runs clean of nuisance claims and litigation.  Again, claims drive the premium; if you positively influence claims by disposing of some yourself, you are in a far better position to keep your premium costs down.

Naturally, this process requires a strong team of legal practitioners, insurance and supporting players.  Defense strategies, policies and procedures are also crucial to effectively producing good results.  However, the end result is dramatically more economical than continuing to pay the premium for a low deductible/high claim frequency fueled by growing sales.  With control over the process, you are in a far better position to affect positive cost savings.

Employee Benefits Compliance Webinar

Code 6055, Code 6056…The administrative requirements of the Affordable Care Act continue to “roll-out.” On March 5, 2014 the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued final regulations on the employer information reporting requirements. Final forms 1094-C and 1095-C for 2014 have been released by the IRS and now we have draft forms for 2015. Now is the time to determine how your organization will comply with this new administrative burden. The webinar will cover:

1. Background and effective date
2. Employers subject to reporting
3. Delivery and filing requirements
4. General reporting method and required information
5. Reporting codes

Hays Companies has scheduled a one hour webinar to cover these issues and more. We are presenting this webinar four times over four different days to allow you to pick the time and date that best fits your schedule.

Ben Graves, Director of Research & Compliance and Nicholas Karls, Associate Director of Research & Compliance, both of Hays Companies, will be presenting this complimentary webinar.

Please click here to register!

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Hays Companies of Wisconsin Named One of the Top Workplaces

For the fifth straight year, Hays Companies of Wisconsin has been named as one of southeastern Wisconsin’s Top Workplaces by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

The Journal Sentinel invited over 1300 companies to participate in this survey. Each participant’s employees were polled on their overall job satisfaction in a myriad of areas. Each company is then ranked based upon their responses and individual comments. Here are just a few of the comments that helped Hays Companies of Wisconsin earn this status in 2015:

“It offers me the opportunity to help people learn in a positive, professional environment.”

“Our principals do really care about each employee as a person first. I feel that we all succeed because the environment fosters team work.”

At Hays Companies, we’ve created a synergy between teams that’s unmatched in the industry. Our employees thrive within the innovative environment that our founding partners helped to cultivate, providing a rich and meaningful workplace that ultimately best benefits our clients.

Hays Companies is one of the fastest growing property & casualty and employee benefits advisors in the country. As a privately held company owned by its managing employees, there are no outside interests or agendas to distract our employees from the business of insurance and risk management.  We focus exclusively on meeting the goals established by our clients. Hays Companies is built to be flexible and we collaborate with clients to find business efficient solutions that can be improved upon incrementally over time.  Our 700+ team represents a dynamic, entrepreneurial assembly of the best and brightest in the industry.

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Cyber Attacks. What Do They Damage Most: Revenue or Reputation?

Cyber attacks are a serious global problem. The number of successful attacks has risen drastically to an average of 138 per week.*  The constant national media coverage of high profile data breaches has brought cyber insurance into the spotlight. Companies hacked have the arduous task of rebuilding consumer loyalty, trust and revenue.

In this issue of FOCUS, we tackle the question of how companies can protect themselves against this new age of brand terrorism to stave off a cyber attack or lessen its impact.  We also explore how the government is attacking cyber and why the underwriting cycle might be different this time based upon market performance and trends.

Click here to view FOCUS. You may also view as an e-magazine.

To request a hard copy, please email

* Survey by the Ponemon Institute

Client Stories: Christensen Farms

At Hays Companies, we know the risks and concerns facing companies in the food and agribusiness industries. Something such as an E. coli contamination incident and subsequent product recall can leave your company reeling and scrambling to save your reputation. Our expert team at Hays is here to provide the assistance you need to stay on top of your industry.  Watch how we act as an extension of your risk management team in our client story:






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Hays Companies Opens New York City Office

Hays Companies, one of the nation’s fastest growing risk management, insurance and employee benefits advisors in the country, recently opened an office in New York, New York. This new location will allow Hays Companies to better serve existing clients and future partners in the Northeastern United States.

“Hays Companies strong, steady growth and our expanding national footprint is a real tribute to the talent of our people,” says Jim Hays, CEO of Hays Companies. “Our consultants have an exceptional ability to work with clients to generate great value.”

The New York City office is a natural extension of Hays Companies Northeast office system, which includes offices in Jericho, NY, Boston, MA, Nashua, NH, Morristown, NJ and Philadelphia, PA. “New York offers a strong platform for developing deeper relationships with a host of current and prospective clients throughout the Northeast. We’re excited to have a greater presence in this large and growing market and look forward to serving a range of new clients,” said Mike Egan, President of Hays Companies.

Hays Companies has been providing risk management services for over twenty years. The company was founded in 1994 through the entrepreneurial spirit of Jim C. Hays and five senior level individuals from major insurance brokerage firms. They were determined to fill the void of customer service and creative new ideas in the marketplace. Today their vision remains alive and well. Hays Companies has grown to become a nationally recognized insurance broker with over 700+ insurance professionals located in 35 offices. In addition, Hays Companies currently ranks as the 18th largest insurance brokerage in the country (as ranked by Crain’s Business Insurance).

For more information contact Andrea Field (

Hollcroft Named Safety Professional of the Year

The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently honored Hays team member Bruce Hollcroft with the Region I Safety Professional of the Year Award. The prestigious award for the West Region was based upon technical expertise, innovations to advance the safety profession, community involvement and endorsements from within the safety community.

ASSE represents the largest professional safety organization in the world with nearly 40,000 members worldwide. Congratulations Bruce on your significant impact on the safety profession!

An Educational Seminar on Drones

Join us via webcast on Tuesday, February 3, 2015 at 10:00 AM CT for our seminar on “Drones: The Future is Now.”

In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act was signed, which included a requirement that the FAA develop regulations for the licensing of commercial drones by September 2015. While licensing is still underway, drones are already being used non-commercially by governmental entities for border surveillance, scientific and university research and public safety, etc.

Why Should You Attend:
The commercial drone market is on the horizon. If commercial drone use is approved; the FAA projects that 30,000 drones could be operational as early as 2020. This is a hot-button topic for the aviation industry, as well as a wide array of businesses seeking advantages of drone technology. The commercial use of drones presents traditional and non-traditional exposures for companies.

Highly-respected, veteran aviation attorney, Donald Chance Mark, Hays Companies Aviation Team, as well as Mark Plummer of Allianz who will provide market insight.

You may register for the complimentary seminar here. Limited seats remain.


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The Hidden Costs of Terrorism.

Terrorism. It could easily be the most alarming word in the English language. In our first issue of FOCUS, we tackle the hidden costs of terrorism and what it takes to manage the risk today.  We also showcase our new analytical resource that provides valauble information on market performance and trends.

Read more here.

To request a hard copy, please email

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