Dr. Karl J. Duff, Ph.D., J.D.
Principal and LLC Manager
PLC’s contract review services can be subdivided into two categories: internal contract review and external contract review.
Internal Contract Review
Internal contract reviews consist of examining the client’s standard forms of agreement for its services. As will be the case with all PLC services, feedback will be provided to the client (and its broker) and to the client’s insurer if the client so requests. This process typically has three areas of impact:
External Contract Review
External contract reviews relate to terms and conditions the client encounters in the marketplace from the client’s own clientele. Assessment of these contracts by PLC during the client’s negotiation process can help clients identify unusual risks. At the same time, the process of identifying such risks is usually “educational” for the client’s risk management team in terms of lessons learned for future reviews. The value-added nature of PLC’s services also usually assists in facilitating a sense of “being on the same team” with the client. Lastly, this exercise also provides useful information to the client’s risk management team (via PLC’s reports) about the client’s reaction to unusual/new risks.
Either (or both) of the above services can be provided on a stand-alone basis, or as part of a larger set of reviews. Contract audits are distinct services from contract reviews and are typically part of a more involved risk management audit process or other service packages (discussed below).
These services can be subdivided into three different categories:
Contract audits can be very revealing. They can be conducted on-site at the client’s facilities, or via review of client-forwarded agreements. Experience teaches that on-site random selection of files for review provides much better information. Typical information goals in contract audits are:
RM Process Reviews
RM process reviews should, by definition, include a contract audit. These reviews also examine internal protocols (if any) as to when certain risks are elevated for more intense review by more senior members of the client’s risk management team. A comparison is made between the existing risk management process and the actual day-to-day operation of the process. This comparison is of significant value to the client.
RM Process Designs
RM process designs are appropriate where the client acknowledges that either it has no existing risk management process, or it wants to scrap an ineffective process and implement a new process. These designs are always undertaken with support and involvement of the most senior management of the client’s “C-Suite” personnel. Risk management process revision work can also be especially helpful where there is an extant, functioning process which needs updating or improvement. It should be noted that all RM design services are created specifically for the client, and that the client plays an active participatory role in the design process.
Custom training activities can be of great value to clients. Typically, a two-to-three hour period of time during an already-scheduled meeting of the targeted training population is the best way to deliver these services. Consultation with the broker and the client’s risk management team is required by PLC in order to prepare an effective and useful training product.
All training procedures are tailor-made for the client, with the client’s active participation, although some of the topics raised by clients may already be covered by existing materials in the PLC presentation library. Of course, over time, PLC and the client would build a client library of presentations based on the client’s needs.
It must be acknowledged that some clients may choose to have PLC propose risk topics, in which case PLC typically defaults to its top five issues for construction and environmental risk: standard of care, indemnities, limits of liability, third party risks and the evolving ethics risks associated with disclosures of information, both in terms of ethical canons for P.E.’s/P.G.’s and the strictures of NDA provisions.
If the client wishes to engage in the training design, then teleconference discussions illuminate risk topics which are of concern to various stakeholders and actors in the client’s risk management process. The targeted training population is identified by the client, and the topics for discussion are refined. On occasion, the broker, counsel (internal or external) of the client, or senior managers may want (or insist upon) the opportunity to participate in the presentation.
The proposed training materials are circulated electronically among the client’s risk management team, and revised as needed until all stakeholders approve of the materials. Experience teaches that this process enhances the utility of the training product and overall management “buy-in.” PLC’s on-site training has been uniformly well-received since its inception in 1998.
Pre-claim / potential claim services. Pre-claim/potential claims services are available from PLC. We are well experienced in the early assessment of potential claim situations and can readily assist a client (in preparation for discussions with its carrier) in evaluating initial client/broker opinions as to severity and complexity, as well as providing early-on maps of strategies and tactics for possible resolutions.
Claim audits are free-standing services which can be folded into a variety of other products (RM assessments, designs, etc.) PLC’s broad experience (on all sides of claims) can be brought to bear in providing a fulsome understanding of individual or multiple claims and the larger organizational/situational contexts impacting the origination, prosecution and resolution of claims. Claim audits can be focused on particular situations which appear to be difficult and not susceptible to efficient resolution, or they can be broadened to include a number of open and/or closed claims. Subrogation considerations should be part of both pre-claim/potential claim work and claim audit work. If PLC is engaged to work on a presently pending matter, it should be engaged by the client’s internal or external counsel and report directly to such counsel.
A broad range of other specialized services can be provided by or through PLC. For example, PLC has experience in addressing certain highly confidential matters relating to the area of Homeland Security. PLC has provided assistance in the assessment of insurance mechanisms for the cleanup of badly contaminated sites in (and outside of) the U.S. PLC has assisted in the retention, training and mentoring of new internal counsel for clients.