Judge Considering Requiring PG&E in California to Turn off Power More Often

A federal judge overseeing Pacific Gas & Electric’s criminal probation said Tuesday that he is considering requiring the utility to be more aggressive about turning off its electricity lines near tall trees, a plan that could double the number of power outages for some Northern California counties over the next decade.

The proposal outlined during a two-hour court hearing is the latest effort to prevent the utility’s equipment from sparking more deadly wildfires by reducing the likelihood that trees could fall into the utility’s long-neglected electrical equipment. U.S. District Judge William Alsup is overseeing PG&E’s safety precautions as part of the utility’s criminal probation after its natural gas lines blew up a suburban neighborhood south of San Francisco in 2010.

Making Proactive Strategic Changes to Address Risk

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations operate, introducing a host of business risks. To better understand this dynamic risk environment, AuditBoard surveyed more than 2,000 attendees at our recent virtual conference about the risks they will face in 2021. Respondents felt that three major risks will require the bulk of their attention moving forward: economic threats impacting [business] growth, cybersecurity threats, and business continuity and crisis response. Organizations that take proactive measures now to address these risks will give themselves a better chance to succeed as we continue to navigate the pandemic.

Major Risks Have Ripple Effects on Businesses
Unsurprisingly, economic threats impacting growth was the number one risk on most respondents’ minds. Business leaders outside of the sample group echoed this concern, with CEOs of major companies expecting financial hardships to continue through the end of 2021 and beyond. Recessions squeeze everyone’s margins, impact demand, and make it tough to hire and retain employees. The current economic landscape has led to bankruptcies, contractions, and layoffs.

California to Establish Home And Community Hardening Standards for Insurance

California Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara on Monday announced a new partnership between the California Department of Insurance and Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Administration to establish statewide standards for home and community hardening aimed at reducing wildfire risk, protecting lives and property and making insurance available and affordable to residents and businesses.

Analysts Say Cat Models Would Encourage Wildfire Mitigation Measures

Predictive modelers told California regulators on Thursday that the state’s antiquated rules for calculating wildfire risk when setting property insurance rates discourage innovative mitigation measures that could ultimately reduce losses.

Nancy P. Watkins, a principal and consulting actuary for Milliman, said during a webcast on “home hardening” hosted by the state Department of Insurance that California is one of only three states that doesn’t allow insurers to use catastrophe modeling to determine wildfire risk. Rates must be based on historical losses.

Watkins said that is a “very simple” method of ratemaking. “It’s kind of like expecting the Rocky Mountains to be flat because we just drove through Kansas and Missouri,” she said.

P/C Insurers Face Workforce, Risk, Policy Challenges as Pandemic Continues

Given that business-as-usual is unlikely to return soon due to the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. property/casualty insurers will continue to face challenges related to virus-related insurance losses and premium volume declines in 2021, according to Fitch Ratings.

The operational and risk management challenges of managing workforce flexibility, limiting risk aggregations and reducing claims exposure through clarity of policy terms will endure beyond the pandemic and become “new normal” longer-term drivers of the industry, contend analysts James Auden and Christopher Grimes, authors of “The Next Phase: U.S. Property/ Casualty Insurers.”

California Quake Alerts Will Come Standard on Android Phones

California’s earthquake early warnings will be a standard feature on all Android phones, bypassing the need for users to download the state’s MyShake app in order to receive alerts, the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services said.

The state worked with the U.S. Geological Survey and Google, the maker of Android, to build the quake alerts into all phones that run the commonplace operating system. The deal was expected to be announced Tuesday.

Tips for Reopening Businesses After COVID-19

By now, all states and local municipalities are back to work in either a full or limited capacity. For most businesses, this is a welcome sign, but reopening does not occur without some risks. Employers and employees will now need to consider both new and old risks before reopening their doors. For a business to successfully open, the organization will need to prioritize three goals: 1) reduce the likelihood of transmission within the workplace, 2) resume and maintain business operations, and 3) continue to promote a healthy and safe work environment. These three goals are unachievable without developing a thorough, comprehensive business resumption plan and addressing the potential business disruptors.

Government-Produced Flood Maps May Have Underestimated Properties at Risk

First Street Foundation, a nonprofit agency, is making accurate climate change-adjusted flood scores available for every property in the U.S. today. There are government-produced maps showing 8.7 million homes and properties at significant flood risk—and it turns out those may have underestimated the amount of real estate at risk by 67%. Or, in other words, an additional 6 million properties face a significant risk of flood.

Before these individual property scores were available, there was no easy way for your average homeowner or buyer to understand the flood risk associated with specific properties. That’s particularly problematic because climate change is causing flood risk to increase; there are more extreme rain events and coastal flooding than there used to be.

Disneyland Workers in California Say Proposed July Reopening May Be Too Early

Unions representing 17,000 workers at Walt Disney Co.’s Disneyland Resort in California have told the state’s governor they are not convinced the theme park will be safe enough to reopen by the company’s July target date.

In a letter to Governor Gavin Newsom on Thursday, the unions said they had been in discussions with Disney since mid-March when Disneyland was closed to help curb the coronavirus pandemic. The resort in Anaheim, in southern California, houses the Disneyland theme park and the California Adventure Park, both of which the company aims to reopen July 17.

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