Dave Hazel and Ingrid Klein-Hendriks on legal support for risk management

“Identifying gaps between current regulations and insured practice”

 

Is your company sufficiently insured against fire and other risks? Consider the fact that an insurance policy can unwittingly exceed its expiration date. New laws and regulations may very well have ‘caught up’ with the insurance policy, resulting in insufficient coverage. Riskonet offers legal support to clients in order to identify any costly gaps between the insurance policy and the new reality. Dave Hazel, Managing Partner at Riskonet, talks to attorney Ingrid Klein-Hendriks about the tense relationship between theory and practice.

11 July


A company’s management believes it has its affairs in order. After all, the company is successful and management has adopted a prudent policy. The company buildings and systems from ten years ago are properly secured and insured. But if a major fire destroys a large part of the company buildings, there’s no turning back. The property may have been well insured – but according to the laws and regulations of ten years ago. Dave Hazel, Managing Partner at Riskonet, explains, “In the meantime, the government has made changes to all kinds of regulations and implemented new rules. These have costly consequences and, obviously, company management would have preferred to stay two steps ahead of the game.”

 

Old rules no longer fully relevant

After a fire, insurance will cover the damage based on the situation at the time the policy was issued – not the extra costs incurred when rebuilding in compliance with the latest legislation and regulatory requirements. Hazel continues, “If you plan to rebuild after a fire, you may be in for a nasty surprise that can have serious financial consequences for a company in funding the renovation work. A specialised legal expert can identify any discrepancies in the policy and current situation – preferably before the fact.”

 

Critical gap

“Due to the new situation, the effects of a fire can have a significant impact on a company that believed it had considered all possible scenarios in terms of risk management. Our services are intended to anticipate such consequences,” adds Ingrid Klein-Hendriks from the law and mediation firm of Klein-Hendriks Advocatuur + Mediation in Dordrecht. “The gap lies between the situation ten or more years ago and today. In other words, today’s requirements versus the requirements of a decade ago.” She shares a few examples from her practice. “Over the years, the requirements of the Dutch Building Decree have become much more stringent; systems must be much more sophisticated and the permitted roof load has increased. Companies need to consider the new environmental legal requirements, which have also become more stringent in terms of external safety. If, for example, a company has an ammonia system, there are now more rules for external safety than 15 to 20 years ago. Finally, environmental legislation has also been updated with new requirements in terms of odour and new laws have been introduced for Substances of Very High Concern (SVHC), including requirements related to filtering, emissions and strict discharge regulations.”

 

Complementing Riskonet services

When is it worthwhile to call on the services of Klein-Hendriks? “The reasons are varied,” she says. “A company may be interested in expanding and hopes to be able to do so under the existing permit for environmental activities, but the government claims that a new permit is required. In this case, you really need to ask yourself about the rights granted by the current permit. Where do we stand and what are the options? These questions can become highly relevant when the authorities arrive for an inspection. Or if an incident occurs or problems arise with the local residents. Or if an incident has already occurred. These are all situations in which you want to know what the permit covers and what your options are.”

Hazel mentions an “important addition to Riskonet’s expertise”. “We are very skilled at identifying the technical aspects of risk management. Our clients sometimes struggle with obligations and requirements imposed by the authorities. Some clients who store hazardous substances have experienced a tremendous increase in regulatory pressure. So it can be very worthwhile for these companies to have a legal expert determine which measures are absolutely necessary and which are not.”

 

Impact on continuity

Klein-Hendriks adds, “Screening all permits and insurance policies together with Riskonet in light of new legislation and new government requirements enables a company to be compliant, but also reveals any insurance-related consequences. You need to determine whether, in the worst-case scenario, these could jeopardise the continuity of the company. My added value lies in clarifying the legal requirements for company management, also for those without a technical background or legal expertise.”

 

Klein-Hendriks’ work sometimes ends up with a request to join Riskonet in meeting with the company to provide advice. She explains, “It can be very beneficial for the company’s policy and measures to discuss the consequences of new regulations and the risks run by the company. And, more importantly, the possibilities to do something about those risks.” Hazel continues, “We bring together the best of both worlds in this kind of dialogue: the technical and legal aspects, which together result in the best possible risk management advice.”