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Thursday, September 22 2016

The federal government has contracted with private reinsurers to improve the National Flood Insurance Program’s claims paying ability and reduce the need for the NFIP to borrow from the U.S. Treasury to cover future claims.  The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which oversees the flood program, said it is transferring $1 million in NFIP risk to private reinsurers.  The catastrophe property excess of loss reinsurance agreement contains two coverage layers.  Under the first layer, the reinsurers agree to indemnify FEMA $1,000,000 for flood claim losses that exceed $5,000,000.  Under the second layer, the reinsurers agreed to indemnify FEMA $1,000,000 for flood claim losses when the total flood losses from a single event exceeds $5,500,000,000.  Each reinsurer agrees to assume 33 1/3 percent of the total coverage secured under the arrangement, according to FEMA.

“While the early January program will reduce NFIP’s overall risk, the NFIP will continue to bear the majority of its risk. It will take many years to build up a reinsurance program in which the reinsurance markets bear a significant portion of the NFIP risk,” the agency said on its web site. “This program with FEMA is an important first step and reflects the priority to mitigate the impact of natural disasters by building resilient communities and helping Americans recover when damage occurs,” said Tim Brickett, strategic product manager with Munich Re US, one of the reinsurers on the program, in a release. “I commend the Administration and FEMA for creating the NFIP reinsurance program and the financial protections it will afford taxpayers,” Frank Nutter, RAA president, said. “The RAA has long advocated a private reinsurance market for flood, and this is a significant milestone for the industry.”

Wednesday, September 21 2016

Commercial auto continues to be a challenging line for buyers, agents and brokers. According to the Insurance Services Office, auto loss costs increased a cumulative 20% from 2012 to 2015, driven by increased claims frequency and severity. Some reasons behind this are medical cost inflation and higher costs for new replacement vehicles. In addition, as the economy moves upward, there are more vehicles on the road. This increased activity, combined with phone and other behind-the-wheel distractions, lead to more accidents and claims. 

Companies with strong fleet management programs can minimize the potential negative consequences of these trends on their total commercial auto costs. Here are some risk management best practices to help businesses better protect their drivers, fleets, and bottom lines:,1559875&pc=136554493&c2=adid,309051246&cr=69082496&c3=userid,noval&c4=agentdept,hillholliday_libertymutual&ce=DART&rnd=1520166851Establish and use motor vehicle record (MVR) criteria when hiring drivers.

Criteria can vary by business type and driver responsibilities. A business that transports passengers should have tougher criteria than one whose vehicles are only used by sales representatives. Most companies will not hire drivers with more than two violations in the previous three years. But not all violations are treated equally; driving 6 to 10 miles per hour (MPH) over the posted limit may be handled more leniently than driving 20+ MPH over the limit.

Document employees authorized to operate vehicles on company business.

This applies to all businesses. If your business needs to send an employee out on a critical errand, having an approved driver list can help avoid selecting someone without a valid driver’s license or enough insurance coverage.

Establish minimum standards for non-owned vehicles.

Your fleet safety program should apply to all vehicles used for company business ‒ even personal ones. If employees uses their own cars, make sure each employee has a current license, carries adequate policy limits, and accepts the responsibility to keep his or her vehicle well maintained. 

Establish policies on distractions and scheduling.

Prohibit texting behind the wheel and consider banning phone use altogether. Studies show that a hands-free device is no less of a distraction than a handheld one. And don’t unintentionally encourage employees to disobey your policy by having dispatchers and others call while drivers are on the road. When scheduling, make sure drivers have enough time to complete their routes safely and limit time behind the wheel to reduce the risk of fatigue. 

Document fleet safety program expectations; regularly communicate them to employees.

A big part of effective communication is how a business owner or manager frames the conversation. There’s a difference between, “It’s not safe to talk on the phone when you drive” and “We have a policy about not using the phone when you drive.” It is not about the message, but rather clearly setting expectations for the drivers.

Establish and follow crash report protocols.

Make sure drivers know what to do when accidents occur. Should they contact someone at the company or report accidents directly to the insurance company? What information should they gather at the scene?

Partner with the right insurer to monitor and improve program performance

A knowledgeable insurer can offer tools to help you assess your fleet program and provide feedback on how to improve it. Tools like Liberty Mutual’s Managing Vital Driver Performance can leverage existing telematics data to monitor driver behaviors and identify the root causes of poor driving. Carrier tools such as those often include frequency calculators that estimate a customer’s expected accident frequency based on a range of information (vehicle type, location, industry, etc.) and benchmarks it against actual performance.

When it comes to improving performance, driver training is important, but it may not have the impact on safety outcomes some expect. Behaviors such as alcohol use, speeding, and not using seatbelts are contributing factors in fatal accidents — risks all drivers understand even without training. Having a fleet safety program that addresses behaviors and clearly sets expectations is critical to protecting your employees, vehicles and business.

Tuesday, September 20 2016

The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation on Friday announced that its commissioner, David Altmaier, has approved a range of rate increases for policyholders of state-run Citizens Property Insurance.

Rates for multi-peril homeowners policies, the most common line, will rise 6.4 percent on average, just under the 6.8 percent average rate increase sought by Citizens.  The latest rate increase was spurred by a sharp increase in rising water-related claims tied to “assignment of benefits,” Citizens said. That is when homeowners in need of repairs, often for water damage such as from a broken pipe, assign responsibility for the repair to contractors to pursue payments from insurance companies. This spike in water-related claims was originally centered on South Florida but has spread, insurers say.

Property insurers statewide, including Citizens, wanted the Legislature to restrict the practice, which they say has been ripe for fraud and increased litigation. Often the damage has already been repaired before insurers are contacted, making it hard to determine the validity of claims. Contractors and attorneys have said assignment of benefits lets them more quickly make repairs. In response to the spike in claims, Citizens also recently made changesin the terms of its policies. “The 2017 rates reflect the growing challenge of rising water loss claims and the disturbing increased costs associated with assignment of benefits,” Citizens president Barry Gilway said in a statement. “Unless the legislature takes action, our policyholders can expect these increases for years to come.”

Homeowner wind-only policies will rise 8.2 percent and so-called fire policies will increase 5.3 percent. Multi-peril insurance for mobile homes will rise 5.7 percent. Mobile homes with wind-only coverage will see an average 10.3 percent increase. Rate filing decisions for the commercial residential and commercial non-residential accounts are still pending. Nearly 11 years free of hurricanes has pumped up Citizens’ surplus. Hurricane Hermine happened after the rate request was filed and is not expected to have a major impact on insurers.

The effective date for both new and renewal rates is Feb. 1.

Thursday, September 08 2016

$43.6 billion (in 2015 dollars) - Total insured losses from the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania, including property, life and liability insurance claim costs.

$123 billion - Estimated economic loss during the first 2-4 weeks after the World Trade Center towers collapsed in New York City, as well as decline in airline travel over next few years.

$60 billion - Estimated cost of the World Trade Center site damage, including damage to surrounding buildings, infrastructure and subway facilities.

$40 billion - Value of the emergency anti-terrorism package approved by the U.S. Congress on Sept. 14, 2001.

$15 billion - Aid package passed by Congress to bail out the airlines.

$1 billion - Damage to a portion of the Pentagon.

$970 million - Total Federal Emergency Management Authority money spent on the emergency.

$750 million - Total cost of cleanup at Ground Zero.

$385 million - Cost of the loss of four civilian aircraft on Sept. 11, 2001.

$500,000 - Estimated amount of money it cost to plan and execute the 9/11 attacks.

1.8 million - Tons of debris removed from the World Trade Center site.

146,100 - Number of jobs lost in New York after the attacks.

3,051 - Estimated number of children who lost a parent on Sept. 11, 2001.

2,976 - The total number of people who perished in the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania, excluding the 19 hijackers.

1,640 - World Trade Center victims' remains that have been positively identified, according to the medical examiner's office, as of August 2016.

1,609 - Number of people who lost a spouse or partner in the attacks.

343 - Number of firefighter and paramedics killed. 

98 -
Number of Fire Department of New York vehicles destroyed.

Wednesday, September 07 2016

Common areas - are the stairs, hallways, swimming pool, clubhouses and walkways, with each unit owner’s interest measured by the proportionate value the unit bears to the total value of all units.

Limited common areas are areas shared between some, but not all units, for example, a shared patio area between units or a balcony. The common areas are managed by the condominium association.

Although all unit owners belong to the association, a group of owners manage its affairs as a board of directors while a property management company generally takes care of the daily operations of the condo community.

Property Coverage - Unit owners need their own individual property insurance policy, designed specifically for condominiums. It is in some ways a cross between a homeowners’ and a tenant policy. Like a tenant policy, there is no responsibility for the outside structure. The unit owner doesn’t have to worry about replacing the roof or siding; the association takes care of that.What is the concern of the owner is the unit itself. A tenant’s policy covers the tenant’s personal property and any additions and alterations the tenant may add.

For condominiums it’s a little more complicated. The following are considered part of the dwelling:
• Alterations, including the addition of wall-to-wall carpet or hardwood floors.
• Appliances, such as stoves, refrigerators, furnaces and hot water heaters.
• Fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, tubs and other built-in features.
• Improvements that are part of the building within the “residence premises.”

Loss assessment - The policy covers amounts the association would charge the unit owner for damage to property owned by all members collectively. The loss must be by a peril insured against. Assessments that are the result of actions of a governmental body are not covered.

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