National / International News

Who needs insurance? GM paying victims on its own.

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-14 02:00

General Motors says it will settle claims stemming from its defective ignition switch with its own cash, not through liability insurance. Why would an insured company pay millions of dollars — and maybe more — out of pocket?

Well, there are lots of potential reasons.

First, there’s precedent for creating compensation funds with your company’s own money, according to Robert Hartwig, president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry-funded group.

“BP, in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, was completely self-insured,” says Hartwig. “Generally speaking, what it paid, and what it continues to pay, is completely out of its own pocket.”

It’s common for companies to self-insure when they get to be the size of GM, according to Peter Viscardi, senior advisor with Hanover Stone Partners LLC, an insurance risk management consulting firm.

“Many of these companies have assets greater than insurance companies. Their balance sheets are strong enough to absorb a certain degree of losses on their own,” Viscardi says.

These big companies, like BP, often set up captives: wholly owned insurance subsidiaries. A trade publication called Business Insider describes GM as largely self-insuring prior to bankruptcy. Big companies can also purchase insurance on top of their in-house resources.

GM won’t disclose the exact terms of its coverage, though a spokesman says it has insurance.

Experts say there are several reasons why GM might not draw on outside insurance to pay for the ignition switch compensation fund.

The claims arose over a long period of time. If GM didn’t inform its insurers about potential liabilities while renewing policies, there could be consequences for the automaker. Also, it’s unclear which liabilities remain post-bankruptcy.

But a lot of it comes down to expedience.

Insurance companies scrutinize claims for extenuating circumstances like, “Was the driver speeding? Was the driver impaired?” Hartwig says.

Kenneth Feinberg, the director of GM’s compensation fund, has explicitly said those factors won’t be considered now.

Not tapping insurance means GM can expedite the compensation process, lessening what analysts see as a bigger risk: further damage to its reputation.

Host: General Motors says it will pay victims of its defective ignition switch with its own cash … not through liability insurance. Why would an insured company pay out of pocket? Kate Davidson explains.


There’s precedent for creating a compensation fund with your own money, says Robert Hartwig. He heads the Insurance Information Institute … an industry funded group.

Hartwig: BP in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster was completely self-insured. Generally speaking, what it paid, and what it continues to pay, is out of its own pocket.

Risk management consultant Peter Viscardi says a lot of companies self-insure when they get to be the size of GM.

Viscardi: Many of these companies have assets greater than insurance companies. Their balance sheets are strong enough to absorb a certain degree of losses on their own.

They often set up captives … wholly owned insurance subsidiaries. GM won’t disclose the terms of its coverage … though it says it has insurance. Still, there may be reasons not to use it. Robert Hartwig says insurance companies scrutinize claims:

Hartwig: Was the driver speeding? Was the driver impaired?

Not tapping insurance means GM could lessen what analysts see as a bigger risk: more damage to its reputation. I’m Kate Davidson, for Marketplace.



Scotland confirm rematch with England

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:58
Scotland will host England in a friendly at Celtic Park on 18 November and play Republic of Ireland at the same venue.

UK broadband 'not fit for purpose'

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:35
The Federation of Small Businesses criticises the government's "unambitious" broadband targets and calls for a rethink.

Butler-Sloss urged to stand aside

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:34
A former solicitor general says Baroness Butler-Sloss should step aside as head of an inquiry into alleged historical child abuse.

Friend finds missing woman in Spain

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:27
A woman from Northern Ireland who was missing for over a year is found after a childhood friend spotted her asleep under a tree in Spain.

Jayawardene to retire from Tests

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:18
Ex-Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene says he will retire from Test cricket after the series against Pakistan in August.

Europe: Big jobs and low growth

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:13
New eurozone jitters overshadow EU top jobs rivalry

Doctor Who footage leaked online

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:11
Rough footage from the new series of Doctor Who featuring Peter Capaldi is leaked on the internet, just six weeks before it is due to be broadcast.

Dolphin attacks on bay porpoises

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:06
Dolphin attacks on porpoises in Cardigan Bay leave marine scientists scratching their heads.

Apple trademarks store layout, genius idea dries up

Marketplace - American Public Media - Mon, 2014-07-14 01:00

Another one of my genius ideas has just bitten the dust.   

A headline hit the news wires that that Apple can have a trademark on the layout of its stores. Obviously, Apple has a trademark on the fruit-shaped logo that’s on its stores. Now, a court in Brussels says that the design of the store itself is a trademark, meaning it’s a sign: If you see a retail layout with a lot of white and glass, flat tables with electronics gear and a Genius bar, then that tells you it’s an Apple store -  not a lingerie store, a plumbing supply store, or a Samsung store.

It turns out Apple already had a trademark on its store layout in the U.S. This is sad for me because I had a fabulous concept that was going to make me rich. What about setting up a Genius Bar that serves drinks? It would feature, wait for it, the Apple-tini. (Note to Apple lawyers: that’s a joke, just a joke. My grandfather owned a bar in Brooklyn but I have no plans).

The story of the Apple store is interesting because it highlights the different ways people can protect their creations in an economy increasingly driven by intellectual property. Apple’s store layout isn’t an invention, so it wouldn’t get a patent. Apple’s store layout is not a tangible expression of a work of authorship, like a book, a photograph, or a song which could get copyright protection. In America, a trademark is a phrase, a design, or words that distinguishes Apple stores from another store. And these things can be worth a fortune.

At the dawn of the Internet when I was hosting Marketplace, I got sick and tired of the overused metaphor to describe the emerging web. It was “information superhighway” just about every time. Every innovation was an “onramp to the information highway,” or a glitch was a “broken down truck on the information superhighway.” So I asked Marketplace listeners to suggest an alternative metaphor.

Back then, one (genius) listener had a fabulous suggestion. Instead of the information superhighway, why not call it the ELVIS: The Electronic Linkage for Video and Information Services? So I mentioned this listener suggestion on the radio, as a joke.  Ha, ha, one Marketplace listener wants to call the information superhighway the ELVIS instead.

And as night follows day, Marketplace received a cease and desist letter from Elvis Presley’s lawyers, warning us that this would violate the King’s intellectual property. At one level? Give me a break, this wasn’t a going concern we were calling The ELVIS, it was a line in a listener response segment of a radio show. On the other hand, maybe they were smart to write the letter, because calling the Internet The ELVIS was the kind of very clever idea that could have had legs. Mind you, this was in 1994 - way, way before people were pumping video through the Internet. That was a listener with some serious foresight.

What are other creative ways people have used intellectual property law?  The top NBA draft pick from a couple of years ago, Anthony Davis, got a copyright on his unibrow. Obviously he didn’t invent the concept of eyebrows that flow together, so he couldn’t patent it. He didn’t compose the unibrow symphony, so copyright wouldn’t work. But when it comes to distinguishing himself from other sports figures, the “basketball guy with the unibrow” was judged to be a way to distinguish his brand from the competition.

Take the quiz below to see if you can guess which signature sayings and brands are trademarked. var _polldaddy = [] || _polldaddy; _polldaddy.push( { type: "iframe", auto: "1", domain: "", id: "is-it-trademarked", placeholder: "pd_1405330315" } ); (function(d,c,j){if(!document.getElementById(j)){var pd=d.createElement(c),s;;pd.src=('https:'==document.location.protocol)?'':'';s=document.getElementsByTagName(c)[0];s.parentNode.insertBefore(pd,s);}}(document,'script','pd-embed'));

New combat jet fails to take to sky

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 00:58
The F-35 combat jet due to be used on the UK's new aircraft carriers will not make its UK debut on the first day of the Farnborough Airshow.

Monday's gossip column

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 00:41
Arsenal close in on Ospina, Aspas set to leave Liverpool, Vertonghen could exit Tottenham, plus more.

Eggman hatches out of his craft

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 00:31
The artist who spent a year in a floating "egg"

To Make Children Healthier, A Doctor Prescribes A Trip To The Park

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 00:28

To get his young patients moving, Dr. Robert Zarr whips out his pad and prescribes a park. And not just any park. One chosen for the child from a 380-park database.

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Israel Downs Drone As Gaza Conflict Enters 7th Day

NPR News - Mon, 2014-07-14 00:18

Israel's military said it downed a drone along its southern coastline on Monday, the first time it encountered such a weapon since its campaign against the Gaza Strip militants began last week.

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Walker rescued after cliff fall

BBC - Mon, 2014-07-14 00:15
A walker is rescued after falling from a cliff-top coastal walk in Caithness.

Switzerland's Lindt To Buy Russell Stover Candies

NPR News - Sun, 2014-07-13 23:55

Swiss chocolate maker Lindt & Spruengli says it is buying U.S. manufacturer Russell Stover Candies, Inc., for an undisclosed sum. Lindt says it will become the No. 3 chocolate maker in North America.

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VIDEO: Close-up view of Costa salvage op

BBC - Sun, 2014-07-13 23:38
The BBC's Matthew Price takes a ferry to Giglio past the Costa Concordia as the operation to raise the boat gets underway.

Saskawhat? A Novel Berry From Canada Takes Root On Michigan Farms

NPR News - Sun, 2014-07-13 23:34

Some rookie farmers in northern Michigan are growing saskatoon, an imported shrub from Canada that looks like blueberry. They're also experimenting with it in the kitchen — in jams and pies.

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How Banning One Question Could Help Ex-Offenders Land A Job

NPR News - Sun, 2014-07-13 23:28

Some say the box on job applications that asks, "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" prevents ex-offenders from getting a fair shot. New laws prohibit firms from asking about a criminal record.

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