Wednesday, October 28, 2009

EMC-BC-COOP: Insurance companies “don't get it”

I recently sent emails or Web messages to several insurance companies (AIG, Fireman's Fund, GEICO, Mass Mutual, and State Farm) asking each one very simple question:

Does your company give discounts to organizations that have business continuity plans?

A simple Yes or No answer was in order.

If the answer was “yes,” the next question was “How do you evaluate the plan?”

It's been about a week and so far I have responses from Fireman's Fund, GEICO, Mass Mutual, and State Farm.

GEICO's Donna Giordano, a Rewrite Supervisor, wrote that “Currently we do not have a partner that offers business continuity insurance.”

I didn't ask if GEICO SOLD business continuity insurance; only if its 'business customers could get a DISCOUNT if they had a business continuity plan.

State Farm's Internet Customer Response Team referred me – twice in response to one request – to its Winter Haven Operations Center (because I reside in Florida).

My question was global in nature and had nothing specifically to do with Florida. Worse, the Internet Customer Response Team advised me that it was “unable to provide the requested information via email.” Worse still, there was no phone number or contact person provided in the email.

Fireman's Fund's Cindy Umsted of Customer Service in the Commercial Insurance Division, wrote that “As you may know, Fireman's Fund uses the American Independent Agency System to sell our products. Based on the information you provided, below is a preferred agent in your area you may contact about your needs.”

To Ms. Umsted's credit, she did provide a local phone number – but I don't want to buy insurance; I want I*N*F*O*R*M*A*T*I*O*N.

Someone at Mass Mutual (I'm sure it used to be Massachusetts Mutual, but with the economy in the tank and the cost of ink . . . ) forwarded my inquiry to Michael E. Klavan, a partner in the Eppy Financial Group in Fort Lauderdaale; he in turn sent me an email asking that I call. (When I did I talked to his voice mail.)

Mr. Klavan's email gave me a clue that whoever read my message at Mass Mutual – like those at the other companies – didn't get it; he wrote that “I have been forwarded your request for information regarding MassMutual and various business coverages.”

The question I asked requires a corporate-level response. Why should it make a difference where my organization is located in order to provide a generic Yes or No answer. Granted, an insurance company may not want to write insurance in a specific geographic area or the discount may vary by location, but again, the question remains:

Does your company give discounts to organizations that have business continuity plans?

Why do I care?

As an Enterprise Risk Management (Business Continuity – COOP) practitioner, it would be nice to tell my clients that in addition to greatly increasing the organization's survivability, there might be an insurance discount available.

It's good for me as it means someone – hopefully a qualified someone – vets my plan, and it may mean more business; it's good for my clients, and it's good for the insurance companies (since the claims would be reduced).

If this is how insurance companies handle inquiries, I wonder how they handle claims.

John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management Practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida
JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

ERM-BC-COOP: Affordable protection for the Mom and Pop shop

Enterprise Risk Management, a/k/a Business Continuity, usually is thought of as something only the Big Organizations can afford.

In a sense, that's right.

Most Big Organizations that understand ERM have at least one full-time practitioner; some have staffs.

This luxury is not in a Mom-n-Pop, small to medium business, budget.

Even bringing in an experienced consultant to create a complete plan, to set up an on-going program, may strain the budget to the breaking point. Bringing in an inexperienced consultant, although easing the strain on the budget, jeopardizes the enterprise.

What to do?


Mom and Pop can build their own Business Continuity plan.

But that's akin to a lawyer defending himself – or herself – before the Bar. Foolish.

But there is a way.

I put a two-part article on my Web site that tells Mom and Pop and other small business managers how to create a basic plan. It is not a plan, but a “get started in the right direction” instruction.

Let's be honest; ERM is not brain surgery; that you can do “by the numbers.” ERM takes thought; it means playing the “what it” game, and that takes experience to ferret out most – you never get them all – of the threats to an organization and, moreover, how to deal with the threats.

If Mom and Pop will get together with the two-part article and then call in a consultant (I'm available) to vet their plan, then the small business can have a survival plan without killing the budget.

The article, “Mom and Pop need Business Continuity, too,” is linked from .

John Glenn, MBCI
Enterprise Risk Management practitioner
Hollywood/Fort Lauderdale Florida
JohnGlennMBCI at gmail dot com

Monday, October 5, 2009

Zombies get everyones' attention

The following "incident" got a lot of national (and maybe international) press attention. The attention many not have been particularly good for the author, but it DID gain attention for Emergency Management - perhaps we, Enterprise Risk Management practitioners - can use a similar approach to gain attention for our efforts. jg


A University of Florida manager posted a plan to deal with zombies on the school's Web site.

From the Gainesville FL Sun

By Nathan Crabbe
Staff writer

Forget swine flu: The University of Florida's latest plan of attack concerns the off chance its employees become flesh-eating zombies.

A plan to deal with a campus zombie attack was posted among disaster preparation exercises on the university's e-Learning Web site before being removed late Thursday afternoon.

The plan included medical information on "zombieism" and a form allowing UF employees to explain why they killed infected co-workers, such as those workers making "references to wanting to eat brains."

"Obviously it was meant to be humorous," Doug Johnson, manager of UF's e-Learning Support Services and author of the plan, said Thursday before it was removed.

He said the plan was meant to reduce stress in the office as well as inspire thinking about how to handle a campus closure. With swine flu raising the possibility of such a scenario, he said, the office is making plans including holding a test run by operating its e-Learning services from off campus.

After word of the zombie plan broke Thursday morning, it received national media attention before it was ordered pulled later in the day. No disciplinary action will be taken against Johnson because he wrote the plan on his own time, UF spokesman Steve Orlando said.

Johnson said he has insomnia and that the idea for the plan came to him as he lay awake around 1 a.m. He said he wrote until about 4 a.m., mining Wikipedia for zombie information and using knowledge culled from his own reading of the novel "World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War" and previous viewing of movies such as the zombie comedy "Shaun of the Dead."

Zombies are a longtime horror-movie staple that have exploded into a pop culture phenomenon, from the Jane Austen parody "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" to the new movie "Zombieland." The UF zombie plan included footnotes referring to previous zombie movies such as "Night of the Living Dead" and "28 Days Later" as documentaries.

The six-page document listed "tentative action items" such as equipping offices with easily barricaded doors and giving employees weapons to defend themselves.

"Some employees may prefer weapons such as chain saws, baseball bats and explosives that have been shown to be effective against zombies," the plan said. "Given the stress on staff to be anticipated during a zombie outbreak, employees should be given the flexibility to choose their own weaponry thereby diminishing anxiety."

The plan concluded with an "infected co-worker dispatch form" that included a place to list the co-worker's symptoms such as "lack of rational thought (this can cause problems confusing zombies with managers)." At the end, employees were to note whether housekeeping had been notified to clean up the dead zombie and whether human resources had been told to stop salary payments to the zombie and its victims.

Johnson said his office has actual disaster plans to deal with a hurricane and disease pandemic and is working on one to address a campus closure. Workers will do their jobs from home in the next several weeks as a test run, he said.

His office also puts course materials online for about 3,000 instructors teaching about half of UF's classes.

"Sometimes that can be stressful," he said. "One of my goals was to give the group a laugh."

To read the zombie attack plan, check Nate's blog @

Key Documents: Zombie Attack: Disaster Preparedness Simulation Exercise ( - 36kb)