KANSAS CITY, MA, ”Released today by national law firm Lathrop GPM.

The survey asked questions of 100 U.S. agribusiness executives active in litigation and risk management. Nearly two-thirds predict that food safety claims will increase next year by 80% who say their organizations are prepared for that increase. However, less than half are evaluating their business processes with external consultants, only 57% review their insurance policies annually, and only 43% have internal risk management teams to handle insurance issues.

“We’ve known for a long time that many businesses do not have the resources to hold a deep bench of risk management talent,” said Kim Winter, partner and head of the insurance practice and consulting group at Lathrop GPM. “In an environment where claims to food safety are growing and change is coming rapidly and from almost every direction, business leaders should consider investing in dedicated risk management professionals, or at least, ensuring that “Someone within the company is assigned to know what coverage they have, when policies are renewed and what types of notification policies and requirements are in place. These seemingly common details can be the difference between millions of dollars in coverage and zero coverage.”

Food Safety requirements on the rise, but preparation delays

The survey was conducted in the first quarter of 2021, almost a year after the official declaration of the COVID-19 pandemic. Reflecting on the turbulent year, 60% of respondents noticed an increase in food safety claims since the onset of the pandemic, and only 53% expect a return to pre-pandemic operating practices.

The report found that more than 90% of respondents believe that pollutant-related risks are important to their businesses, but only a third are receiving guidance from external advisors on those risks. In particular, regulatory, legal, and public pressures have increased on per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances, otherwise known as “chemicals forever.”

“It’s good to see that pollutants are the main mind – especially given the growing number of PFAS lawsuits, which have been used for decades in everything from non-stick cookware to stain-resistant fabrics,” says Mara. Cohara, partner and environmental leader and torture practice group at Lathrop GPM. “PFAS will be a major focus for regulators this year – and as a result there is likely to be increased litigation. “Business leaders need to seek guidance from polluters before they find themselves defending their companies against such claims.”

Managers have no guidance from the external advisor on critical issues

When it comes to outsourcing, 23% of respondents say they use insurance brokers as opposed to outside advisors to counter coverage denials. Thirty-seven percent said they rely on external advisors on these issues, but most do not receive advisor guidance on important issues, including resolving insurance claims, environmental practices and regulations, pollutant risks, and food safety issues. .

“External advice may not be essential to any insurance claim, but there are certainly cases in food processing where obtaining coverage can be seen as a fiduciary task, such as with massive food safety issues,” said Nancy Sher Cohen. , a partner and leader in the Lathrop GPM insurance consulting and recovery team. “In those cases, processors need not only guidance, but also determined, skilled advocacy – something they cannot get from their intermediaries.”

Other key findings:

  • Thirty-three percent of respondents agreed, and 43% strongly agreed, that COVID-19 systematically influenced their company’s approach to worker safety.
  • The most worrying food safety risks for respondents were changes in food production and technology (67%) and the threat of foodborne illness (59%).
  • Seventy-one percent believe they have adequate insurance coverage and that they understand how to best use coverage to mitigate risk. But only 43% have in-house teams to handle insurance claims.
  • Forty-six percent filed more than 10 insurance claims last year and 70% filed at least one. But 36% did not challenge the denials.