Private Firms Anticipate Employee Lawsuits and Theft

October 26, 2010 ( - Thirty-six percent of respondents to the 2010 Chubb Private Company Risk Survey indicated that an employment practices liability (EPL) lawsuit was the loss event that would cause the most financial damage to their company.

Employee theft (18%) and a breach of electronically-stored private customer data (15%) were also ranked as potentially damaging.

According to a press release, nearly one in five (16%) of survey respondents anticipated that an EPL charge would be lodged against their firm in the next 12 months; 21% experienced such an action during the past five years, with loss costs as much as $750,000. Fifty-four percent anticipated that employees would steal company funds, equipment, inventory or merchandise in the next 12 months, with 30% of companies experiencing such thefts in the past five years.

In addition, one in four (25%) of survey respondents indicated that their firm is likely to change their employee benefits plans in the next 12 months – an event which can spur fiduciary liability lawsuits.   

One in six company executives (17%) believe it is likely their company will experience a directors and officers (D&O) liability-related loss in the coming year. One in eight survey respondents (12%) experienced a D&O lawsuit within the past five years. Settlement and litigation costs averaged $225,682, with some losses approaching $5 million.  

The press release said 92% of Chubb survey respondents do not believe that it is likely that they would endure an electronic breach of confidential customer information that would require them to comply with costly notification laws in more than 40 states. Most (67%) of the companies in Chubb’s survey do not have an incident response plan for an electronic security breach.  

Despite these risk concerns, 44% of the executives who responded to the 2010 Chubb Private Company Risk Survey expect their firms to add jobs by year end. More than half (54%) plan to expand product or service offerings, and 12% anticipate completing a major acquisition.  

The Chubb Private Company Risk Survey was conducted by Pollara, an independent public opinion and market research firm, which interviewed decisionmakers at 451 U.S. for-profit companies, more than 90% of which had annual revenues of less than $25 million.