Insurance Liability, Risks, and Options in Augmented Reality: Catch ‘Em All

Kevin Doherty, Kevin Bruno and James S. Carter

Kevin R. Doherty Kevin J. Bruno Carter, James S.The rising Pokémon Go sensation has dramatically increased the popularity of augmented reality games, but it has also brought with it increased risks and liabilities for both game users and developers alike. For those who don’t know, Pokémon Go is a mobile app that, although released just last month, has already been downloaded over 75 million times, generated more than $75 million in revenue, and boasts daily usage statistics that have exceeded Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. It’s a location-based augmented reality game that allows users to partake in virtual scavenger hunts. Using the user’s GPS and mobile camera, players are encouraged to explore their surroundings, seek out animated characters in real world places, and “catch ‘em all.” The characters are overlaid on the player’s screen and displayed as if they exist in reality. Unfortunately, distracted players on the hunt can end up wandering (or driving) into places they shouldn’t be, and becoming injured or injuring others as a result.

The number of Pokémon Go calamities increases daily, with incidents ranging from the mundane to the absurd and dangerous. In the few short weeks since its debut, users have experienced or caused numerous personal injuries, property damage, and car accidents. Some users have become stuck in trees and locked in cemeteries, while more serious incidents involve users straying onto train tracks, falling off cliffs, or entering restricted nuclear power facilities—all while on the hunt for Pokémon characters. Still others in pursuit of Pokémon have trespassed on private property, and some users have even been robbed after being targeted and led to specific locations using the app. Continue reading “Insurance Liability, Risks, and Options in Augmented Reality: Catch ‘Em All”

The Sharing Economy: Are You Covered If Something Goes Wrong?

Charrise L. Alexander

Charrise L. AlexanderCompanies like Airbnb and Uber are considered pioneers in this new era of the “sharing economy.” This innovative way of doing business, allowing individuals to commercialize what ordinarily is for personal use, has created an entirely new marketplace in many cities around the world. However, as with most emerging markets there are new and unexpected risks. Airbnb,  Uber, and other new companies who operate in these emerging markets are challenged to respond to change and manage these unforeseen risks quickly. Airbnb is currently receiving pressure from numerous states to be more proactive in managing and curing potential risks.home_car_sharing_shutterstock_175014590

Of late, Airbnb has been in the headlines due to a devastating death at a rental in Texas.[1] Many questions are being asked. One of the biggest is, “Who is responsible for keeping renters safe?” And whoever that is, do they have adequate insurance coverage? Continue reading “The Sharing Economy: Are You Covered If Something Goes Wrong?”

Nuclear Power International Panel: Economics, Policy, and Regulation

Erin L. Webb

On December 9, 2014, I participated as one of the speakers on a panel at the Nuclear Power International conference in Orlando, Florida. The session focused on the unique regulations and procedures that workers and plant operators must follow in order to keep the public and the staff safe. We also discussed the market conditions affecting nuclear power, including the challenges the industry faces from competing power generating sources such as natural gas. Rick Higginbotham of GE Power & Water and Clayton T. Smith of Fluor served as co-chairs and led the discussion.

In my presentation I talked about industry-specific insurance issues concerning nuclear power plants, and explained the available options for liability and property damage insurance. I also provided important tips to keep in mind in the event of a property damage claim. Understanding how these policies work, and the importance of prompt notice as well as the often complicated and technical process of filing a detailed proof of loss with the insurer, can be key to maximizing a policy’s value. Finally, I discussed some emerging issues that may have significant impacts on future insurance products, such as the development of small modular reactors and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s recent action concerning continued storage of spent nuclear fuel. Changes in technology, as well as changes to the applicable regulatory scheme, can spur changes to the exposure and risk a plant faces, and should be addressed in the insurance policies purchased to mitigate those risks. Continue reading “Nuclear Power International Panel: Economics, Policy, and Regulation”

PAX Dev: Insurance 101 for Video Game Developers and Publishers

Erin L. Webb

On August 28, 2014, I presented with insurance broker Sara Owens of GNW Evergreen, a division of HUB International, at PAX Dev in Seattle, Washington. PAX Dev is a conference devoted to the video game developer community and the topic of game making. Conference tracks focused on programming, design, business, art, music and more.

During our session, which was part of the business track, we talked about basic insurance concepts relevant to developers and publishers in the video game industry, including how to buy insurance and what to do in the event of a loss. Continue reading “PAX Dev: Insurance 101 for Video Game Developers and Publishers”

Exelon-Pepco Merger Highlights Importance of Insurance Coverage Analysis in Mergers and Acquisitions

Erin L. Webb

Exelon Corp., the largest United States nuclear operator, announced recently that it would agree to purchase Pepco Holdings, Inc. for $6.8 billion in cash. Pepco no longer generates its own power, but serves utility customers from Washington, D.C. to New Jersey. Bloomberg reports that this merger, if approved, would create the largest electric and natural gas utility in the Mid-Atlantic region.

The merger will require approval by both the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the public service commissions in the relevant states and the District of Columbia. It will also need to pass antitrust review by either the Department of Justice or the Federal Trade Commission. Lawyers, consultants, and accountants for both companies will undoubtedly conduct extensive diligence reviews. Continue reading “Exelon-Pepco Merger Highlights Importance of Insurance Coverage Analysis in Mergers and Acquisitions”

Target Data Breach Highlights Importance of Insuring Cyber Risks

Erin L. Webb

While cyber risks are sometimes thought of as “online” or Internet risks, a massive information theft recently occurred at Target’s brick-and-mortar stores when customers swiped cards and entered PINs while making in-store purchases. On December 19, 2013, Target disclosed that it was the victim of a serious data breach from at least November 27 to December 15 of 2013. More than 40 million debit and credit card numbers were stolen. Hackers stole customer names, card numbers, card expiration dates, the embedded codes on the magnetic strips on the backs of cards, and in some cases PINs for debit cards used at Target.

The card information has reportedly already begun to flood the black market, selling for between $20 and $100 per card. Target has stated that it will offer free credit monitoring services to affected customers. Continue reading “Target Data Breach Highlights Importance of Insuring Cyber Risks”

N.J. Supremes: Insureds Are Not Obligated to Pay an Insolvent Insurer’s Carter-Wallace Allocated Payment Obligation Before Accessing NJPLIGA’s Statutory Benefits

Jared Zola

Zola, JaredIn a September 24, 2013 ruling, the New Jersey Supreme Court addressed whether liability insurers covering a long-tail environmental contamination loss may seek contribution from the New Jersey Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Association (“NJPLIGA”) for the Carter-Wallace shares of insolvent insurers. Perhaps most important to insureds, the court rejected the position that the insured bears the burden of the insolvent insurer’s Carter-Wallace allocated payment obligation to the extent NJPLIGA was not required to pay. Instead, the payment burden rests solely with solvent insurers on the risk.

Farmers Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. New Jersey Property-Liability Insurance Guaranty Assoc. involved two insurers (Farmers Mutual and Newark Insurance Co.) that insured properties that suffered soil and groundwater contamination caused by underground storage tank leaks. Farmers Mutual paid all of the remediation costs and, after Newark was deemed insolvent in 2007, sued NJPLIGA for contribution seeking to recover Newark’s Carter-Wallace share of the remediation costs. Continue reading “N.J. Supremes: Insureds Are Not Obligated to Pay an Insolvent Insurer’s Carter-Wallace Allocated Payment Obligation Before Accessing NJPLIGA’s Statutory Benefits”