We realized we had a new liability exposure and Trust & Safety concepts became essential for keeping customers safe

For this client our services include Outsourced Risk Manager.  A few years ago we realized we had a new liability exposure.  This developed as a result of an evolution in technology known as sentiment analysis (SA).

Here’s how this developed:

The Risk:

This client sends health providers into homes for wellness services which are procured by our customers through a mobile app.

In the early days of the business our background checks of our providers and customers included the typical, i.e. credit checks, criminal history, MV records, employment history, etc.  A few years ago we began receiving a couple times a year letters from attorneys claiming we should have anticipated and therefore are responsible for the affects of bad behavior on either the provider or the customer.  Over time we also realized that background checks can include SA which enables us to anticipate bad behavior.

Sentiment Analysis is the process, through  machine learning, statistics and linguistics, of a comperter classifying on line text such as in social media.  The classification can be by polarity, i.e. positive, negative nd neutral emotional state of the opinions of the writer of the text.

Bad behavior can include sexual harassment, minority hate speech, sexual and/or physical assault, threats of violence and every other such harmful activity.  This is especially threatening when exhibited by provider because they have been in the home of the customer who feels security of their home has been or will be violated.

In the last few years the number of such attorney letters increased about 20% a year.

Risk Mitigation:

SA and “related protocols”* enable us to respond to these attorney demand letters that “we have taken every reasonable measure to avoid physical and/or emotional injury”.  In every case we have negotiated minimal indemnity settlement (one attorney had a $10m demand) and no more than $10k in legal expenses.  For most cases no indemnity was necessary and a few thousand in legal fees was incurred.  A claim management worse case scenario is we take a tough stand against the attorney and have our insurer take over the matter.  We have had minimal insurer involvement because the attorney is informed of our T&S protocals forcing a realization their case is weak and the battle will be tough and expensive.

Though our actual legal liability is yet to be determined by a jury we felt we had to be concerned about safety and security of customers, our reputation, our brand and the legal costs of managing these claims.  Also, having such T&S protocols in place makes the plaintiff’s attorney realize that we won’t be an easy defendent and it would be difficult to show – ultimately in court – that we were somehow negligent.

*”Related protocols”

  • We also had to learn how to handle situations where background check results and especially SA fall into a gray area.  These are situations where if we preventably act in a negative way against provider or customer we invite allegations of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, etc.
  • An example of gray area is when a report shows a history of aggressive speech, bordering on hate speech, but there is no indication that there is any intention or threat to take harmful action.
  • For these we have helped T&S teams develop  protocols for arriving at a course of preventative action that is documented so that the action can be justified – theoretically to a jury – if we ever have to go into litigation.



This T&S Team has provided a safe and secure environment, protected the brand and become an essential ingredient for good customers relations.  The team has fostered positive experiences for our customers, customer loyalty and long term success of the enterprise as well as cost control of our liability insurance premiums.

For more information please see “Trust and Safety” in the Inspiration section