Sexual Harassment and Its Damaging Effects for Your Workplace

When sexual harassment occurs in the workplace it is emotionally traumatizing to the victim.  In addition to this, news of the harassment creates a negative workplace environment, can lead to health problems for the victim and can compromise workplace safety.  Financial losses can also directly and indirectly impact companies resulting from absenteeism, decreased productivity, increased healthcare costs, low morale and high employee turnover.  Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the employer and their employee can both be held liable for the sexual harassment

Understanding sexual harassment is the first step in preventing it.  Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem and reports reveal that it is on the rise.  In fact, one in four women will reportedly experience sexual harassment on the job.  One in eight men file a sexual harassment claim.

The definition of sexual harassment is evolving and now broadly includes any form of sexual conduct that interferes with work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. 

Sexual harassment can occur by men towards women, women towards men or among members of the same gender.  The harasser does not need to be the victim’s superior.  It can occur between co-workers or even those who do not work for the same company.  The abuse can be physical, verbal or even more conspicuous such as exposing others to offensive photographs.  Even sexual banter, pranks or remarks can be construed as sexual harassment if someone finds them offensive. 

Because sexual harassment has become so widespread the OSHA has taken notice and classified it as a form of workplace violence because of the health and safety effects involved.  These can include a variety of physiological ailments for the victim ranging from headaches and stomach problems to increased risk of heart attack.  Victims also often find it difficult to focus on performing their tasks safely and correctly due to increased stress.  Also, when involved in a pattern of intimidation, victims often receive inadequate training and may even be reluctant to raise valid safety issues for fear of further ridicule.

The best way to eliminate workplace sexual harassment is to create a workplace environment that discourages it.  Employers should make it clear that sexual harassment will not be tolerated.  To further discourage sexual harassment and to stop it quickly if it does occur, companies should establish a complaint process and always respond promptly and appropriately to such grievances.

Should Your Business Be Concerned About Silica Lawsuits?

In America, asbestos litigation has become a huge problem for both businesses and insurance carriers. According to a study released in May 2005 by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, more than 730,000 people filed claims for asbestos-related injuries from the early 1970s through 2002.

The study also stated that the number of asbestos claims increased dramatically through the 1990s and into 2002 because of suits filed by people who are claiming non-cancerous injuries. These cases account for 90 percent of all new claims, adding to the large numbers of asbestos litigation brought by the cancer-stricken.

In the midst of this there is a new threat that promises to be as big a player in the litigation arena as asbestos has been. That threat is silica.

Silica is a major component of sand, rock and mineral ores. Overexposure to dust containing microscopic particles of crystalline silica can cause scar tissue to form in the lungs. The scar tissue reduces the ability of the lungs to extract oxygen from the air. This condition is called silicosis, which is disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal.

According to A Guide To Working Safely With Silica, published by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Each year, more than 250 American workers die with silicosis. More than 1 million U.S. workers are exposed to crystalline silica. There is no cure for the disease, but it is 100 percent preventable if employers, workers and health professionals work together to reduce exposures.”

Working in a dusty area increases the possibility of your employees becoming exposed to silica as does working in certain occupations such as construction, mining, foundry work, glass manufacturing and stone cutting.  Despite the occupation, following some basic procedures can reduce silica exposure:

·                      Be sure that employees use the engineering controls you have installed to reduce silica dust levels, and make sure they are properly maintained.  Employees should report any malfunction immediately.

·                      Minimize dust by following good work practices, such as removing dust with a water hose or a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate filter rather than blowing it clean with compressed air. Wet sweeping is preferable to dry sweeping.

·                      Use less hazardous materials than crystalline silica for abrasive blasting.

·                      To reduce exposures below permissible levels, insist that employees wear and correctly use approved particulate respirators when engineering controls alone are not adequate.

·                      Remind employees that facial hair interferes with the respirator seal to the face, making most respirators ineffective.

·                      If you must sandblast, use type CE positive pressure abrasive blasting respirators.

·                      Participate in air monitoring, medical surveillance, and training programs.

As important as it is to monitor silica exposure on the jobsite, it is just as important to monitor your employees to see if they are practicing good silica hygiene before, during and when they leave work. Train them to change into washable work clothes on site. If possible, provide them with a shower so that they can wash and change into clean clothing before leaving. Insist that they avoid eating, drinking, or using tobacco products in work areas where there is dust or other toxic materials.  Most importantly, they should wash their hands and face before eating or drinking.

To further help you prevent silica exposure; OSHA has developed The Silica eTool. It includes current information that will assist businesses owners in identifying potential silica hazards by choosing correct sampling and analytical techniques, comparing monitoring results with acceptable exposure limits, and selecting appropriate control options. To download it, log on to http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/silica/index.html.

Protect Your Company from Identity Theft Liability

If your business does not properly dispose of personal information from customers or employees you could be fined, sued or involved in a costly class action lawsuit.  Effective June 1, 2005, the new strict information Disposal Rule changed the way nearly every business in the United States must handle sensitive personal information. 

Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America.  The Federal government has recognized that improper disposal of sensitive information is a key cause of identity theft and is firm in its commitment to prevent identity thieves from obtaining personal information. 

The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act is an amendment to the Fair Credit Reporting Act.  The new Disposal Rule portion of the law requires companies to properly dispose of all paper or electronic personal data by reasonable measures such as shredding or burning for paper records.  Third party companies that specialize in proper information disposal can be contracted to handle this responsibility.

If you do not comply with the new Disposal Rule, your company could be subject to civil liability for actual or statutory damages as a result of your inaction leading to the identity theft; class action lawsuits, if a large number of employees or customers are involved; and federal fines of up to $2,500 for each violation, and state fines of up to $1,000 for each violation.

When implementing information disposal practices, consider the following:

– Have a valid reason for requesting the information that you gather.

– Acquire data in a private manner that cannot be seen or overheard.

– Install effective security on systems that store personal data.

– Make sure that sensitive data is treated as highly classified and is access controlled.

– Make all paper and electronic documents unreadable before disposing of them.

– Train all personnel in proper procedures for identifying, handling and disposing of personal information.

– Consider conducting background checks on all employees with access to identifying information including mailroom staff, clean-up crews, customer service technicians and temporary workers.

– For your protection in case of a lawsuit, formalize your information disposal program including maintaining detailed documentation of each security measure you establish.

Is Stress a Ticking Time Bomb in Your Company?

There seem to be very few constants in modern life; but one thing we’re able to count on is that stress is a normal part of our world.  It permeates almost every part of our lives and sometimes the best we can hope for is to keep it under control.

Finding ways to keep stress under control is a major priority for business owners when they are developing their Human Resources policies.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) have researched how much time is lost at the workplace due to employees missing work to deal with stress and anxiety disorders.

When compared with all nonfatal injury and illness cases, the anxiety, stress, and neurotic disorder cases involved a higher percentage of long-term work loss.  In 2001, 42.1% of these cases involved 31 or more days away from work, with the average number of days lost totaling 25.  Compare that to the average number of days lost for all other nonfatal injury and illness cases, which was 6.

There is also the issue of compensation claims that are filed for stress-related illnesses. An employee cannot sue in court for these types of claims if the stress is the result of the ordinary course of work.  However, if the employee can prove that the stress is the result of on the job harassment or discrimination, they can then pursue that claim in court.

If an employee is filing a stress claim that cannot be litigated, they have two options.  If they are seeking a monetary award, they file through workers’ compensation.  In this instance, they must prove that the stress has risen to a level, which makes it impossible for them to continue to work.

If they are merely seeking unpaid leave, they file under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).  Under this statute, they must prove that the level of stress is high enough to meet the definition of a medical condition as outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act.  This may or may not be the way it is defined by the American Medical Association.  If they prove their case, they are entitled to three months leave.  Keep in mind that your company must have 50 or more employees for one of your staff members to file under the FMLA.

For companies with 15 to 49 employees, workers can file stress claims under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA).  They can be awarded leave time sometimes over and above what FMLA provides.  However, historically the courts have not been welcoming of stress-related claims filed under the ADA unless the employee can prove discrimination.

What can you as an employer do to lessen the number of stress-related claims?  Begin by making the fair treatment of employees at every level a cornerstone of your Human Resources policy.  You should also be sure that your Human Resources Department has an open-door policy when it comes to employee grievances.  This means that employees can file complaints or grievances against any member of the staff without fear of retribution.  Finally, consider instituting an employee counseling program managed through your health insurance carrier.

The importance of any steps you take to alleviate workplace stress will be of special importance if you are hit with a stress-related claim.  Documentation is key to winning such a case.  The other important factor in your success is turning over the claim to your workers’ compensation carrier in a timely manner to give them as much time as possible to investigate the legitimacy of the claim.

Stress Management Programs Decrease Worker Illness, Increase Productivity

Lowering the stress level of your corporate environment may not only improve your employees’ well being but also boost your bottom line.  The demands on today’s workers are increasing and along with it, workplace stress.  Decreased productivity and morale and increased sickness, absenteeism and accidents are just a few of the side effects that can be counteracted by making yours a “healthy organization.”

Job stress, as defined by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), is the harmful physical and emotional responses that occur when the requirements of the job do not match the capabilities of the worker.  A stressful corporate environment should not be confused with a challenging work environment, which can actually energize employees to master new skills.  When, however, the job demands cannot be met, the excitement of challenge turns to exhaustion and stress. 

Stress causes the body to go into its programmed, biological “fight or flight” response where the nervous system is aroused and hormones are released.  Unresolved stressors keep the body in this activated state leading to physiological wear and tear.  Some of the early signs of job stress include mood and sleep disturbances, upset stomach and headache, and disturbed relationships with family and friends.  This sets up a scenario for increased illness and accidents.  In fact, the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine reports that health care expenditures are nearly 50 percent greater for workers who report high levels of stress. 

Both working conditions and worker characteristics cause workplace stress.  It is true that what is stressful for one person may not be for another. However, scientific evidence suggests that certain working conditions, such as excessive workload demands and conflicting expectations, cause stress to most people. 

NIOSH researchers examined so-called “healthy organizations,” or those that have low rates of illness, injury and disability and are also competitive in the workplace.  NIOSH found that these companies have the very positive combination of low-stress work and high productivity.  Specific organizational characteristics that were identified included recognition of employees for good work performance, opportunities for career development, an organizational culture that values the individual worker and management actions that are consistent with organizational values. 

While it is helpful to provide stress management training and employee assistance programs to help your employees cope with difficult work situations, also implementing organization change to become a more “healthy organization” has been shown to cause the most direct, long-lived results. 

To create a “healthy organization,” NIOSH suggests that companies:

– Ensure that workload is in line with workers’ capabilities and resources;

– Design jobs to provide meaning, stimulation and opportunities for workers to use their skills;

– Clearly define workers’ roles and responsibilities;

– Give workers opportunities to participate in decisions and actions affecting their jobs;

– Improve employee communications;

– Provide opportunities for social interaction among workers; and

– Establish work schedules that are compatible with the demands outside the job.

There is no one-size-fits-all program to achieve these goals.  Factors such as the size and complexity of the organization as well as available resources and unique types of organizational stress must be considered.  In all situations, however, the process for developing effective stress prevention programs should include problem identification, intervention and evaluation.  Employers can either hire outside consultants or work through the process internally. 

In the identification stage, information should be gathered about employee perceptions of their job conditions and level of stress and satisfaction.  This can be accomplished through group discussions or formal surveys.  If possible, objective measures such as absenteeism, illness and turnover rates should also be considered.  The collected information should help identify the offending job conditions and the location of stress problems.

Next a set of intervention strategies should be designed and implemented.  Before any intervention occurs, employees should be informed about the changes.  The last step is evaluation to determine if the desired effects are being achieved.  Interventions should be evaluated on both a short and long-term basis as some steps may produce initial effects but not long-lasting change.  To create true and permanent organizational change, evaluation must be a continuous process.

Taking the Worry Out of Using the Internet

Asset protection is a major consideration for any business.  As you well know, assets come in both the tangible and intangible variety.  And when you talk intangibles, the first thing that usually comes to mind is data.

The majority of companies doing business today rely upon the Internet.  While it has opened up global-sized opportunities, it has also exposed businesses to proportionate risk.  Understanding what the risks are and managing them is crucial to a company’s survival.

Depending upon your exposure, your standard property and commercial general liability insurance may not adequately cover the risks of an external cyber attack or network security failure due to natural causes.  If your business is heavily dependent upon Internet usage or if your company performs the majority of its basic functions electronically, you may want to consider specialized cyber-risk coverage as a stand-alone policy.  Each policy is geared to specific company requirements, including the technology being used and the level of risk involved; and both first- and third-party coverages are available.

Typical aspects of coverage include:

·                    Loss/Corruption of Data – This coverage deals with damages to or destruction of vital information resulting from viruses or malicious code.

·                    Business Interruption – If a company’s network is attacked and that attack limits its capability to conduct business, the loss of income is covered.  Coverage also includes extra expenses, forensic expenses and business interruption losses.

·                    Liability – This coverage includes legal defense costs, settlements, judgments and, in certain circumstances, punitive damages that a company may suffer as a result of breach of privacy due to theft of data; transmission of a computer virus which causes financial loss to third parties; a breakdown of security which results in network systems being unavailable to third parties; providing IT professional services; and allegations of copyright or trademark infringement, libel, slander or defamation in the company’s Web site.

·                    Cyber Extortion – This covers the resolution of an extortion threat against a company’s network, and the cost of hiring a security firm to track down and negotiate with blackmailers.

·                    Public Relations – This covers those costs associated with restoring public confidence in the company after a cyber attack.

·                    Cyber Terrorism – This coverage includes terrorist acts covered by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act of 2002 (TRIA) and, in some instances, it may cover terrorist acts beyond those stated in TRIA.

·                    Identity Theft – This provides access to an identity theft call center to report stolen customer or employee personal information.

The cost for coverage varies with the type of coverage required. A company can purchase a policy that covers a limited number of threats to its system’s integrity for a few hundred dollars, or it can spend thousands of dollars on a policy that covers the gamut of high-tech dangers.  It is generally believed that cyber insurance policies will become less expensive as they become more widely needed.

Helping Employees Make Their Comeback After a Work-Related Injury or Illness

The fallout from an extended injury or illness can devastate employees and their families financially, physically and mentally.  Trying to live on decreased income from a workers’ compensation claim, coupled with family members having to take on additional responsibilities the disabled person cannot perform, can put a real strain on relationships.  As time passes, the additional problem of becoming increasingly isolated from their former life raises tension levels in an already highly charged situation.

This scenario occurs more often than you might think. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2002, a total of 1.4 million injuries and illnesses in private industry required recuperation away from work beyond the day of the incident.  What’s even more surprising about the Bureau’s findings is that injuries and illnesses to workers aged 20 to 44 accounted for 64 percent of all injured workers.  Workers aged 65 and over accounted for only 1.7 percent of total injuries and illnesses.  The fact that the majority of workers on extended leave are workers who will need to return to work clarifies how important setting the stage for their comeback really is.

Leslie Yerkes, an organizational behaviorist and president of Cleveland, Ohio-based Catalyst Consulting Group, Inc. notes, “Finding and keeping good people provides a competitive advantage for organizations.  So, keeping the bond strong when employees are on family leave, working virtually or out on workers’ compensation is critical to not losing that employee to a competitor and to facilitate a rapid and smooth transition back into the workplace.”  She recommends the following steps for maintain a strong connection and facilitating a smooth re-entry:

·  Clarify expectations with the employee early on as to what they can and want to do.  If job reassignment will be necessary upon their return, let them know that you are willing to explore possible options.  Get a feel for the kinds of jobs they might be interested in and realistically explore how and where they can fit in.

·  Assign a communication buddy to the individual who can commit to having a regular weekly update conversation with the absent employee.  Make sure that the employee has a means to receive critical information while absent from the organization.

·  Include the absent employee via phone teleconferencing in key events that will affect them directly.  This is critical when it comes to changes in company/departmental policies or revisions in work floor procedures.  You don’t want an employee to return to work only to be reprimanded the first day back for violating a policy change that they were unaware of.  It increases the feeling that they have been left behind.  Those negative feelings might continue to grow until the employee feels compelled to find another job.

·  Encourage the work group to stay connected and communicate to the disabled employee that they care about their recovery.  It’s like Hallmark always says, “When you care enough to send the very best.”  Make sure an absent employee knows that they are truly missed by their co-workers. And most importantly, make sure the employee knows that their bosses are among those people!

The lesson to be learned from all of this is simple.  Transitioning back into the workplace begins as soon as the employee starts their leave.  If you plan for their re-entry from the outset, it will be as seamless as it should be.

Employers Potentially Liable for Accidents Caused by Employees Using Cell Phones

Cell phones now allow employees to conduct business from nearly any conceivable location, but when that location is a vehicle moving at 60 miles per hour, a dangerous situation can occur for which employers are liable. 

Cell phone distraction causes 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries every year in the United States according to a study in the Journal of Human Factors, a scientific, peer-reviewed publication.  Employers across nearly every industry are now highly exposed to this potentially costly liability. 

Huge settlements, including those in the multi-million dollar range, have been awarded to individuals who have been injured in accidents caused by drivers conducting business on their cell phones. An employer can potentially be liable even for accidents that occur during personal phone calls if a company provides a cell phone to its employees or if a cell phone is necessary or encouraged as part of their job.

State governments throughout the country are acknowledging this danger and are reacting with new legislation.  Some states prohibit talking on a cell phone while driving unless a “hands-free” device is used.  Other jurisdictions are prohibiting all cell phone use while operating a moving vehicle for certain classes of drivers, such as young drivers and bus drivers. 

In order to help protect the safety of employees and others on the road, and also to help mitigate a company’s exposure, employers are strongly urged to develop cell phone usage policies and conduct employee cell phone safety training programs. 

Being very cautious, some companies are now strictly prohibiting the use of cell phones for business purposes while driving or requiring a “hands-free” phone.  Employers should know, however, that research including a 1997 study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that the likelihood of having an automobile accident increases four-fold when talking on a cell phone regardless of whether it is a “hands-free” phone. 

Other specific safety guidelines that can be incorporated into a cell phone usage policy include:  dialing only while the car is stopped; not making calls while in traffic or inclement weather; not having stressful conversations while driving; and use of speed dialing when possible.  A strong policy should list the disciplinary consequences of not following the cell phone usage guidelines. 

Additional measures include equipping company-owned cell phones with a sticker warning of the dangers of driving while talking on a cell phone.  Employers can also add language to their cell phone bill reimbursement forms requiring employees to certify that they did not break company policy in using their cell phone. 

While there is no guaranteed release from this new area of liability, companies with strong cell phone policies and training programs do put themselves in a much better legal position.  To maximize their protection companies need to strictly enforce cell phone policies and maintain current documentation.   Such documentation should include written acknowledgement of each employee’s receipt of the policy and training, and also records of any violations and disciplinary action.

Workers’ Comp Alone May Not Fully Protect Your Business from Workplace Liability

Workers’ compensation is designed as a trade off between the interests of employers and injured employees.  In most circumstances, employers receive immunity from lawsuits by workers who are injured on the job or the survivors of those who are killed in work related events.  In return, injured workers are not forced into an unpredictable system of lawsuits with long waiting periods for damages and no guarantee of compensation.  They receive medical expenses and compensation for lost wages, or when work-related injuries or disease lead to death.  Benefits are guaranteed to the worker’s survivors.

For the most part, the system works just as it was designed. There are a few exceptions, however, when courts allow workers who have on-the-job injuries or occupational disease, or their survivors, to pierce the employer’s immunity and file a personal injury lawsuit.  As workers’ compensation is a matter of state law, the rules as to when courts permit these lawsuits will vary somewhat from state to state.  Most importantly, they will be based on the unique facts of each case.  Nevertheless, there are general circumstances that make courts more likely to find in favor of an injured worker, or his or her survivors.

The key issue the courts usually consider is whether the employer intentionally created a situation that would be, in the words of one court, “substantially certain” to lead to a worker’s injury or death.  On this basis, an Oregon court held that an employer could lose its workers’ comp immunity by ordering an employee to perform a task that the employer knows is unreasonably dangerous, such as doing work without safety equipment, and thus is substantially certain to cause injury.

If evidence exists verifying the employer knew it was substantially certain employees could be seriously injured or killed, and then deliberately concealed the information from them, the courts are even more likely to permit an injured employee to sue.  This is what happened with companies that manufactured or installed asbestos.  Ordinarily, workers’ compensation would have been the employees’ exclusive remedy for lung disease and cancer caused by working with asbestos.  But in some instances, workers were able to show that the employers had known about the diseases and nevertheless told them there was little risk or need for safety precautions.

In another example, a Florida employer occasionally and deliberately shut off a workplace ventilation system and misrepresented the potential harm of toxic fumes and the need for safety equipment.  The court ruled that due to the employer’s deliberate misrepresentation, injured employees were not limited to workers’ compensation as their exclusive remedy, but could also sue.  Similarly, a New Jersey court held that an employer lost the exclusive remedy protection of workers’ comp when it removed the warning labels and safety devices from machinery. 

Liability for concealment of risks can even be based on an employee’s inability to read or understand warning labels or safety instructions, according to a South Dakota court.  The court’s ruling held that if the employer does not clearly explain the hazards and safety precautions so that the employees understand them, it might lose workers’ comp immunity. 

In certain cases, the employer can protect itself if it can show the worker fully understood the risks and decided to do the job anyway.  In one case, a widow sued the employer after her spouse fell to his death on a construction job, arguing that the numerous citations the employer had received for failure to provide guard rails showed that the employer should be liable for her husband’s death.  But a Florida appeals court rejected her claim, finding that the danger of working on an elevated construction site without a guardrail was, or should have been, obvious to an employee.  Therefore, the deceased had chosen to accept the risk and the widow’s exclusive remedy was workers’ compensation benefits.

However, not all risks are obvious, and where they are not, courts are likely to find that the employer has a better understanding of the risks than the employee.  

There is one other situation that almost always exposes the employer to potential lawsuits by injured employees:  failure to maintain workers’ compensation insurance.  If the employer doesn’t have insurance, injured workers or the survivors of those who die from job-related injuries have no barrier to filing a lawsuit, which can be a very costly proposition.

We can help you identify and manage potential risks, which may not be covered by your workers’ comp policy.  Give us a call today for more information.

Understanding the Difference Between Claims Made & Reported and Pure Claims Made

Under a claims-made policy, the insured is required to file claims during the policy period or during the extended reporting period (ERP), if applicable. However, there are two distinct types of claims-made policies. One is the “Claims-Made & Reported Form” and the other is the “Pure Claims-Made Form.” While the differences of the policies are subtle, not understanding the differences can have a significant impact on your coverage.

The most commonly used claims-made policy is the “Claims-Made & Reported Form.” This policy requires that not only must the claim be made during the policy period or ERP; it must also be reported during this same period. This means that the insured has a designated time frame within which claims can be filed.

The “Pure Claims-Made” Form is less prevalent. It also requires that a claim be made during the policy period or the ERP. However, the major difference between this and the “Claims-Made & Reported Form” is that under this type of policy, the insured is only required to report the claim as soon as possible. This means that the report of a claim may happen after the policy’s expiration.

If your company’s professional liability policy is a “Claims-Made & Reported Form,” then time is an important factor when a claim needs to be filed. It is your obligation to report a claim or a potential circumstance that could lead to a claim to your carrier within the policy period or the ERP. If you attempt to handle the situation internally to avoid reporting it to your carrier, the delay could negatively affect your coverage. Professional liability polices are very specific as to how and where to report a claim. Failure to comply with these provisions can negate your coverage. The “Pure Claims-Made” policy, on the other hand, only requires that the claim be reported as soon as practical, which allows for more flexibility. This means that the claim can be reported at any time in the future even after the policy expires.

In addition to the issue of claim reporting time, many “Claims-Made & Reported Form” policies have an awareness provision that allows the insured to report any circumstance that may lead to a future claim. Such notice must also be given during the policy period or ERP.

When a circumstance is reported, it’s considered to have been reported during that policy period even if it results in litigation after the policy has expired. Because each policy has a different reporting provision, it is important that you know your policy’s reporting requirement to ensure your coverage remains in effect.

Keep in mind that any extended reporting period provided by the policy only extends the period in which a claim may be reported. The wrongful act that precipitated the claim must have taken place before the policy expired.