School & Sports Safety

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Young people aged 5 to 14 accounted for 51 percent of the football injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2015, according to data from the National Safety Council. This age group accounted for 79 percent of gymnastics injuries, 51 percent of baseball and 40 percent of track and field injuries treated in emergency rooms the same year. (see chart below).

Bicycle crashes

Bicyclist fatalities had been declining steadily since 1975, and fell to a record low of 621 in 2010, according to a report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association. By 2015, Bicyclist fatalities were up 12.2 percent to 818 compared with 2014. The report, which was compiled with funding from State Farm Insurance, notes that bicyclists have consistently accounted for at least 2 percent of all traffic fatalities, which rose 7.2 percent in 2015. The average age of bicyclists killed in traffic crashes was 45 years old in 2014 and 2015, up from 42 in 2010 and 39 in 2005, based on data from the Fatal Accident Reporting System at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Through 1989, teens between the ages of 16 and 20 had accounted for the greatest number of bicyclist traffic deaths. Eighty-five percent of bicyclist deaths were among males compared with 15 percent for women in 2015. The proportions for injuries were 80 percent for males and 20 percent for females. Warm-weather, large population states had the highest numbers of bicyclist deaths. The GHSA says that Florida, California and Texas accounted for 40 percent of all bicyclist deaths in 2015.

Biking is the third most dangerous sport after basketball, based on estimates of injuries treated in hospital emergency departments compiled by the National Safety Council. In 2015, 488,123 people were treated for injuries sustained while riding bicycles. According to the Breakaway Research Group, 34 percent of Americans, or 103.7 million people between the ages of 3 and older, rode bicycles in 2015. Bicycles are increasingly being used for more than recreation. The percentage of adults who biked to work grew from 0.4 percent in 2005 to 0.6 percent in 2013, according to the Alliance for Biking and Walking. Large cities saw the largest increases in biking to work: the percentage increased from 0.7 percent to 1.2 percent from 2005 to 2013.The FBI reports that 180,123 bicycles were stolen in 2015, down 0.2 percent from 2014. The average value of a stolen bicycle was $444 in 2015.

The report also found that lack of helmet use and alcohol impairment continue to be major contributing factors in bicyclist deaths. In 2012 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that 17 percent of fatally injured bicyclists were wearing helmets, 65 percent were not and helmet use was unknown for the remaining 18 percent. A large number of fatally injured bicyclists had blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, the legal definition of alcohol-impaired driving, including 28 percent of those aged 16 and older. The percentage of bicyclists with high BACs ranged from 23 percent to 33 percent during the period 1982 to 2012.

Sports injuries

Basketball was the most dangerous sport in 2014, with 522,817 injuries reported followed by biking, with 502,104 injuries and football, with 396,457 injuries.

The National Safety Council reports that there were 179,188 swimming injuries treated in emergency rooms in 2014. About 42 percent of the injuries involved children between the ages of five and 14. A report by the Consumer Product Safety Commission found that 174 children between the ages of one and 14 drowned from Memorial Day to Labor Day in 2014. There has been growing concern about the risks of sports-related concussions as lawsuits filed by injured professional football players have generated national headlines. The problem also affects thousands of young people who engage in a variety of sports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2009, an estimated 248,418 children (age 19 or younger) were treated in U.S. emergency departments for sports and recreation-related injuries that included a diagnosis of concussion or traumatic brain injury.

Watercraft accidents

Federal law requires owners of recreational boats and watercraft (non-commercial) to register them. In 2016 there were 11.9 million registered recreational watercraft, about the same number as in 2015. A recreational boating accident must be reported to the U.S. Coast Guard if a person dies or is injured and requires medical treatment beyond first aid; if damage to the boat or other property exceeds $2,000; if the boat is lost or if a person disappears from the boat. Out of the 4,463 accidents reported in 2016, 684 occurred in Florida. Other states with a high number of accidents were California (386), New York (188), Texas (176) and Maryland (150).

Fatalities increased by 12.0 percent to 701 in 2016 from 626 in 2015. The rate per 100,000 registered watercraft was 5.9, up from 5.3 in 2015. The number of accidents rose in 2016 to 4,463 from 4,158 in 2015, up 7.3 percent. Injuries rose to 2,903 in 2016 from 2,613 in 2015, or 11.1 percent. Property damage totaled $49 million in 2016, up from $42 million in 2015.

The U.S. Coast Guard says that alcohol, combined with typical conditions such as motion, vibration, engine noise, sun, wind and spray can impair a person’s abilities much faster than alcohol consumption on land. Operators with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above 0.10 percent are estimated to be more than 10 times more likely to be killed in an accident than watercraft operators with zero BAC. Alcohol was a contributing factor in 350 recreational watercraft accidents in 2016 (7.8 percent of all accidents), accounting for 133 deaths (19.0 percent of all deaths) and 335 injuries (11.5 percent of all injuries). Other primary contributing factors were operator inexperience, resulting in 62 deaths; and operator inattention accounting for 45 deaths.



Homeowners & Wildfires


Fire plays an important role in the life of a forest, clearing away dead wood and undergrowth to make way for younger trees but the risk wildfires pose to people and property is growing as more people move into forested areas once largely uninhabited. These areas, known as the Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI), contain about 44 million houses in the lower 48 states, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Rising temperatures are also believed to contribute to large, destructive blazes. Warmer weather contributes to wildfire conditions in several ways: dryer and more combustible vegetation, more frequent lightning strikes, an extended fire season; and more intense winds.

Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences researchers have concluded that by 2050 the number of wildfires in the West could rise by 50 percent, and across the U.S. the number would double.

Insured wildfire losses

Damage caused by fire and smoke are covered under standard homeowners, renters and business owners insurance policies and under the comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. Water or other damage caused by fire fighters to extinguish the fire is also covered under these policies. In California, the California FAIR Plan covers residential and commercial properties located in brush and wildfire areas. Properties in those areas are subject to higher rates due to increased risk of fire.

Causes of wildfires

As many as 90 percent of wildland fires in the United States are caused by humans, according to the U.S. Department of Interior. Some human-caused fires result from campfires left unattended, the burning of debris, negligently discarded cigarettes and intentional acts of arson. The remaining 10 percent are started by lightning or lava.

Wildfire prevention and mitigation

Researchers are discovering that embers blown by the wind during wildfires cause most of the fires that burn homes. Also, homes that are less than 15 feet apart are more likely to burn in clusters. In such cases, fire is often spread by combustible fences and decks connected to houses, a study by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) found.

Among the preventive features recommended in the IBHS study were noncombustible siding, decking and roofing materials; covered vents; and fences not connected directly to the house. In addition, combustible structures in the yard such as playground equipment should be at least 30 feet away from the house and vegetation 100 feet away.

Properties at risk for wildfires

According to Verisk?s 2017 Wildfire Risk Analysis 4.5 million U.S. homes were identified at high or extreme risk of wildfire, with more than 2 million in California alone.

Charts and graphs

Total Potential Exposure To Wildfire Damage By Risk Category, 2014 (1)

($ billions)

State Low Moderate High Very high
Arizona $9.64 $0.98 $1.76 $1.57
California 75.84 61.92 89.35 16.10
Colorado 18.63 11.53 14.58 13.91
Idaho 9.20 5.56 3.71 2.62
Montana 14.63 4.43 2.29 2.40
Nevada 4.24 5.19 4.57 0.16
New Mexico 11.65 4.62 7.07 2.46
Oklahoma 31.92 16.77 0.03 0.00
Oregon 8.24 9.49 11.91 3.20
Texas 59.53 147.68 48.26 6.33
Utah 2.85 3.93 0.77 0.01
Washington 84.07 18.08 2.88 0.51
Wyoming 3.68 2.62 0.49 0.33
Total, states shown $331.27 $292.81 $187.66 $49.61

(1) Reconstruction value of single-family residences at risk.

Source: CoreLogic, Inc., a data and analytics company.

View Archived Tables

Top 10 Most Wildfire Prone States, 2017

By households By percent
of households
Rank State Households at high
or extreme risk
from wildfires (1)
Rank State Percent of households
at high or extreme
risk from wildfires
1 California 2,044,800 1 Montana 28%
2 Texas 715,300 2 Idaho 26
3 Colorado 366,200 3 Colorado 17
4 Arizona 234,600 4 California 15
5 Idaho 171,200 5 New Mexico 14
6 Washington 154,900 6 Utah 14
7 Oklahoma 152,900 7 Wyoming 14
8 Oregon 148,800 8 Oklahoma 9
9 Utah 133,100 9 Oregon 9
10 Montana 133,000 10 Arizona 8

(1) Number of households is based on data from the 2010 U.S. Census.

Source: Verisk Insurance Solutions ? Underwriting and Verisk Climate units of Verisk Analytics®.

View Archived Tables

Wildfire Losses In The United States, 2007-2016 (1)

(2016 $ millions)

(1) Adjusted for inflation by Munich Re based on the Consumer Price Index.

Source: © 2017 Munich Re, Geo Risks Research, NatCatSERVICE.

View Archived Graphs

Natural Catastrophe Losses In The United States, 2015 (1)

($ millions)

Event Number of relevant events (2) Fatalities Overall losses Insured losses (3)
Severe thunderstorm 37 114 $13,400 $9,600
Winter storms and cold waves 11 98 4,700 3,500
Flood, flash flood 12 86 3,800 1,100
Earthquake and geophysical 0 0 minor minor
Tropical cyclone 2 5 100 60
Wildfire, heat waves and drought 19 14 4,400 1,900
Other 4 7 minor minor
Total 85 324 $26,400 $16,100

(1) As of February 2016.
(2) Events that have caused at least one fatality or losses of $3 million or more.
(3) Based on property losses including, if applicable, agricultural, offshore, marine, aviation and National Flood Insurance Program losses and may differ from data shown elsewhere.

Source: Munich Re NatCatSERVICE; Property Claim Services®, a unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® business. © 2016 Munich Re, NatCatSERVICE.

View Archived Tables

Top 10 States For Wildfires Ranked By Number Of Fires And By Number Of Acres Burned, 2016

Rank State Number of fires Rank State Number of acres burned
1 Texas 9,300 1 Oklahoma 767,780
2 California 7,349 2 California 560,815
3 Georgia 5,086 3 Alaska 496,467
4 North Carolina 4,007 4 Idaho 361,649
5 Alabama 3,923 5 Texas 356,680
6 Florida 3,067 6 Kansas 349,829
7 Missouri 2,610 7 Arizona 308,245
8 Arizona 2,288 8 Washington 293,717
9 Tennessee 2,165 9 Nevada 265,156
10 Montana 2,026 10 Oregon 219,509

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

View Archived Tables

Top 10 Costliest Wildland Fires In The United States (1)

($ millions)

Estimated insured loss
Rank Date Name, Location Dollars when occurred In 2016 dollars (2)
1 Oct. 20-21, 1991 Oakland Hills Fire, CA $1,700 $2,746
2 Oct. 21-24, 2007 Witch Fire, CA 1,300 1,488
3 Oct. 25-Nov. 4, 2003 Cedar Fire, CA 1,060 1,362
4 Oct. 25-Nov. 3, 2003 Old Fire, CA 975 1,253
5 Nov. 28-30, 2016 Great Smoky Mountains Fire, TN 938 938
6 Sep. 12-14, 2015 Valley Fire, CA 921 933
7 Nov. 2-3, 1993 Topanga Fire, CA 375 578
8 Sep. 4-9, 2011 Bastrop County Complex Fire, TX 530 572
9 Oct. 27-28, 1993 Laguna Canyon Fire, CA 350 540
10 Jun. 24-28, 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, CO 450 477

(1) Property coverage only for catastrophic fires. Effective January 1, 1997, ISO’s Property Claim Services (PCS) unit defines catastrophes as events that cause more than $25 million in insured property damage and that affect a significant number of insureds and insurers. From 1982 to 1996, PCS used a $5 million threshold in defining catastrophes. Before 1982, PCS used a $1 million threshold. Does not include wildfires in 2017.
(2) Adjusted for inflation through 2016 by ISO using the GDP implicit price deflator.

Source: The Property Claim Services® (PCS®) unit of ISO®, a Verisk Analytics® company

Protecting Small Businesses from Cyberattack

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More than half of U.S. small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) experienced a cyberattack within the past year, yet only 14 percent of businesses felt prepared and protected, according to a recent white paper from the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

The white paper, Protecting Against #Cyberfail: Small Business and Cyber Insurance, examines how insurers are addressing the threat cyberattacks and data breaches pose to SMBs through a combination of innovative insurance products, risk management techniques and employee training.

“Insurers foresee substantial growth coming from the SMB segment, as these companies become aware of the possibilities of liability, especially a breach and resulting response costs arising out of the possession of private data,” said Sean Kevelighan, chief executive officer, I.I.I.

The vast majority of cyber insurance claims involved the loss, exposure, or misuse of sensitive personal data. About half (48 percent) of the data breaches of U.S. small businesses in 2016 were caused by either a negligent employee or contractor, according to the Ponemon Institute.
U.S. insurers reported collecting $1.35 billion in direct premiums written for cyber insurance in 2016, according to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners. Stand-alone cyber insurance policies accounted for $921 million of that total (68 percent), while the balance came primarily from endorsements on either a small commercial or businessowners policy (BOP).

Typical cyber-related policies cover the costs arising from either a cyberattack or a data breach, such as responding to lawsuits, repairing damaged infrastructure, and paying the ‘ransom’ demanded by cyber extortionists, among other potential exposures, such as business interruption expenses.

“Creating an affordable product that SMBs will be willing to buy is a key component in the insurance offering. Since different industry sectors represent different levels of exposure, pricing will vary depending on the type of SMB,” the white paper, co-authored by James Lynch, the I.I.I.’s chief actuary, and the I.I.I.’s Claire Wilkinson, a consultant, states.

The I.I.I. has a full library of educational videos on its YouTube Channel.

Home-Based Business & Insurance

Courtesy of iii.orgWhether you’re running a part-time, seasonal or full-time business from your home, you’ll want to carefully consider your risks and insurance needs. Starting a business—even at home—can be a challenging venture, and having the right insurance can provide a financial safety net and peace of mind.

Your insurance choices should, in part, be based on the type of business you operate. For instance, if you’re a sole practitioner home-based accountant, you’ll have very different insurance needs than your neighbor who runs a childcare business. When considering insurance for your business, here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What type of business do I run? What are the potential risks faced by your type of business?
  • What is the value of my business property? Do you have expensive equipment, such as cameras or commercial printers? Do you stock valuable business inventory, such as gemstones?
  • Does my business have employees?
  • Do customers or contractors visit my business at my home?
  • Do I use my car or other vehicles in the course of my business operations?
  • Does my business store customers’ financial and personal information on a computer or through a cloud computing service?

The answers to these questions will guide which types of insurance to purchase—and how much coverage you’ll need. For your home-based business, the main types of insurance to consider include the following:

Property and liability insurance

Depending on the nature of your home-based business, you’ll need insurance to protect the value of your business property from loss due to theft, fire or other insured perils. You’ll also need liability protection to cover costs if someone is injured as a result of visiting your business or using your product or service. Your homeowners insurance may provide some protection for your business, but it may not be sufficient. Options for property and liability insurance for home-based businesses include:

  • Adding an “endorsement” to your homeowners policy
  • Stand-alone home-based business insurance policies
  • A Business Owners Policy—or BOP—which combines several types of coverage

Business vehicle insurance

Your personal auto insurance may provide coverage for limited business use of your car. But if your business owns vehicles or your personal vehicle is primarily used for business purposes, you’ll need business vehicle insurance.

Workers compensation insurance

If you have employees, you’ll want to strongly consider purchasing workers compensation insurance to cover costs if an employee is hurt on the job. Workers compensation insurance provides wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured in the course of employment, in exchange for relinquishing the right to sue the employer. In some states, workers compensation insurance is mandatory, so be sure to check your state’s workers compensation website for local requirements.

Other types of insurance may be suitable for your home-based business as well. Your insurance professional can help you evaluate your needs and select insurance to meet your budget.

Insurance Options for Valuable Jewelry

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A standard homeowners policy includes coverage for jewelry and other precious items such as watches and furs. These items are covered for losses caused by all the perils included in your policy such as fire, windstorm, theft and vandalism.

However, there are special limits of liability for certain valuable items, such as the theft of jewelry. To keep coverage affordable, because jewelry can be easily stolen, the standard policy has a relatively low limit of liability for theft—generally about $1,500. This means that the insurer will not pay more than the amount specified in the policy for any given piece of jewelry or other valuable item.

If you own valuable jewelry, furs, collectibles or other items that would be difficult to replace, there are two ways you can increase coverage:

  • Raise the limit of the liability. This is the less expensive option; however, the amounts are still limited for both individual pieces and overall losses. For example, limit to a claim for the loss of an individual piece could be $2,000, with the overall limit at $5,000.
  • Purchase a floater policy and “schedule” your individual valuables. While more costly, this option offers the broadest protection for valuables. Floaters cover losses of any type, including those your homeowners insurance policy will not cover, such as accidental losses—say, dropping your ring down the kitchen sink drain or leaving an expensive watch in a hotel room. Before purchasing a floater, the items covered must be professionally appraised; you can ask your insurance professional to recommend a reputable appraisal firm.


Next steps: Don’t know what you own? Here are good reasons to take a home inventory.

If You Need to a Locate Life Insurance Policy

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Locating life insurance documents for a deceased relative can be a daunting task—for one thing, as of this moment there are no national databases of all life insurance policies. However, with a little sleuthing, you can successfully navigate the paper trail.

Here are some strategies to help simplify your search.

1. Look for insurance related documents

Search through files, bank safe deposit boxes and other storage places to see if there are any insurance related documents. Also, check address books for the names of any insurance professionals or companies—an agent or company who sold the deceased their auto or home insurance may know about the existence of a life insurance policy.

2. Contact financial advisors

Present or prior attorneys, accountants, investment advisors, bankers, business insurance agents/brokers and other financial professionals might have information about the deceased’s life insurance policies.

3. Review life insurance applications

The application for each policy is attached to that policy. So if you can find any of the deceased’s life insurance policies, look at the application—will have a list of any other life insurance policies owned at the time of the application.

4. Contact previous employers

Former employers maintain records of past group policies.

5. Check bank statements

See if any checks or automated payments have been made out to life insurance companies over the years.

6. Check the mail

For the year following the death of the policyholder, look for premium notices or dividend notices. If a policy has been paid up, there will no notice of premium payments due; however, the company may still send an annual notice regarding the status of the policy or notice of a dividend.

7. Review income tax returns

Look over the deceased’s tax returns for the past two years to see if there is interest income from and interest expenses paid to life insurance companies. Life insurance companies pay interest on accumulations on permanent policies and charge interest on policy loans.

8. Contact state insurance departments

Twenty-nine state insurance departments offer free search services to residents looking for lost policies. The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has a “Life Insurance Company Location System” to help you find state insurance department officials who can help to identify companies that might have written life insurance on the deceased. To access that service, go to the NAIC’s Life Insurance Company Location System.

9. Check with the state’s Unclaimed Property Office

If a life insurance company knows that an insured client has died but can’t find the beneficiary, it must turn the death benefit over to the state in which the policy was purchased as “unclaimed property.” If you know (or can guess) where the policy was bought, you can contact the state comptroller’s department to see if it has any unclaimed money from life insurance policies belonging to the deceased. A good place to start is the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administration.

10. Contact a private search service

Several private companies will, for a fee, assist you with the search for a lost life insurance policy. They will contact insurance companies on your behalf to find out if the deceased was insured. This service is often provided through a websites.

11. Might the policy have originated in Canada?

If you think the policy might have been purchase in Canada, try contacting the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association for information.

12. Search the MIB database

There is no central database of policy documents, but there is a database of all applications for individual life insurance processed since January 1, 1996. (nb: There is a fee for each search and many searches are not successful; a random sample of searches found only one match in every four attempts.) For more information, go to MIB’s Consumer Protection page.

Save Money on Your Car Insurance

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The price you pay for your auto insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending what type of car you have and the insurance company you buy your policy from. Here are some ways to save money.

1. Shop Around

Prices vary from company to company, so it pays to shop around. Get at least three price quotes. You can call companies directly or access information on the Internet. Your state insurance department may also provide comparisons of prices charged by major insurers. (State insurance department phone numbers and Web sites can be found on the back cover.)

You buy insurance to protect you financially and provide peace of mind. It’s important to pick a company that is financially stable. Check the financial health of insurance companies with rating companies such as A.M. Best ( and Standard & Poor’s ( and consult consumer magazines.

Get quotes from different types of insurance companies. Some sell through their own agents. These agencies have the same name as the insurance company. Some sell through independent agents who offer policies from several insurance companies. Others do not use agents. They sell directly to consumers over the phone or via the Internet.

Don’t shop by price alone. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations. Contact your state insurance department to find out whether they provide information on consumer complaints by company. Pick an agent or company representative that takes the time to answer your questions. You can use the checklist on the back of this brochure to help you compare quotes from insurers.

2. Before You Buy a Car, Compare Insurance Costs

Before you buy a new or used car, check into insurance costs. Car insurance premiums are based in part on the car’s price, the cost to repair it, its overall safety record and the likelihood of theft. Many insurers offer discounts for features that reduce the risk of injuries or theft. To help you decide what car to buy, you can get information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (

3. Consider Higher Deductibles

Deductibles are what you pay before your insurance policy kicks in. By requesting higher deductibles, you can lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive coverage cost by 15 to 30 percent. Going to a $1,000 deductible can save you 40 percent or more. Before choosing a higher deductible, be sure you have enough money set aside to pay it if you have a claim.

4. Reduce Coverage on Older Cars

Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverages on older cars. If your car is worth less than 10 times the premium, purchasing the coverage may not be cost effective. Auto dealers and banks can tell you the worth of cars. Or you can look it up online at Kelley’s Blue Book ( Review your coverage at renewal time to make sure your insurance needs haven’t changed.

5. Buy Your Homeowners and Auto Insurance From the Same Company

Many insurers will give you a break if you buy two or more types of insurance. You may also get a reduction if you have more than one vehicle insured with the same company. Some insurers reduce the rates for long-time customers. But it still makes sense to shop around! You may save money buying from different insurance companies, compared with a multipolicy discount.

6. Maintain a Good Credit History

Establishing a solid credit history can cut your insurance costs. Most insurers use credit information to price auto insurance policies. Research shows that people who effectively manage their credit have fewer claims. To protect your credit standing, pay your bills on time, don’t obtain more credit than you need and keep your credit balances as low as possible. Check your credit record on a regular basis and have any errors corrected promptly so that your record remains accurate.

7. Take Advantage of Low Mileage Discounts

Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive a lower than average number of miles per year. Low mileage discounts can also apply to drivers who car pool to work.

8. Ask About Group Insurance

Some companies offer reductions to drivers who get insurance through a group plan from their employers, through professional, business and alumni groups or from other associations. Ask your employer and inquire with groups or clubs you are a member of to see if this is possible.

9. Seek Out other Discounts

Companies offer discounts to policyholders who have not had any accidents or moving violations for a number of years. You may also get a discount if you take a defensive driving course. If there is a young driver on the policy who is a good student, has taken a drivers education course or is away at college without a car, you may also qualify for a lower rate.

When you comparison shop, inquire about discounts for the following:*

Antitheft Devices
Auto and Homeowners Coverage with the Same Company
College Students away from Home
Defensive Driving Courses
Drivers Ed Courses
Good Credit Record
Higher deductibles
Low Annual Mileage
Long-Time Customer
More than 1 car
No Accidents in 3 Years
No Moving Violations in 3 Years
Student Drivers with Good Grades

*The discounts listed may not be available in all states or from all insurance companies.

The key to savings is not the discounts, but the final price. A company that offers few discounts may still have a lower overall price.

Identify Theft Report

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The scope of identity theft

The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. In the past six years identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.

Following the introduction of microchip equipped credit cards in 2015 in the United States, which make the cards difficult to counterfeit, criminals focused on new account fraud. New account fraud occurs when a thief opens a credit card or other financial account using a victim’s name and other stolen personal information.

Identity theft and fraud complaints

The Consumer Sentinel Network, maintained by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), tracks consumer fraud and identity theft complaints that have been filed with federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and private organizations. Of the 3.1 million complaints received in 2016, 1.3 million were fraud-related, costing consumers over $744 million. The median amount consumers paid in these cases was $450. Within the fraud category, debt collection complaints were the most reported and ranked first among all 30 types of complaints identified by the FTC. They accounted for 28 percent of all the complaints reported to the FTC and 66 percent of all fraud complaints. In 2016 thirteen percent of all complaints were related to identity theft. Identity theft complaints were the third most reported to the FTC and had increased by more than 47 percent from 2013 to 2015 but fell about 19 percent from 2015 to 2016.

Identity Theft And Fraud Complaints, 2013-2016 (1)


As businesses increasingly depend on electronic data and computer networks to conduct their daily operations, growing pools of personal and financial information are being transferred and stored online. This can leave individuals exposed to privacy violations, and financial institutions and other businesses exposed to potentially enormous liability if and when a breach in data security occurs.

Interest in cyber insurance and risk continues to grow as a result of high-profile data breaches and awareness of the almost endless range of exposure businesses face. A 2016 data leak, called the Panama Papers in the media, exposed millions of documents from the electronic files of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseka. In 2015, two health insurers, Anthem and Premera Blue Cross, were breached, exposing the data of 79 million and 11 million customers, respectively. The U.S. government has also been the target of hackers. Recent breaches at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Internal Revenue Service follow multiple breaches in May 2015 of the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of the Interior where the records of 22 million current and former U.S. government employees were compromised.

Cyberattacks and breaches have grown in frequency, and losses are on the rise. Breaches hit a new record in 2016, soaring to 1,093, up from 780 on 2015, but the number of records exposed fell to about 37 million from 169 million in 2015. The majority of the data breaches in 2016 affected the business sector, with 494 breaches or 45.2 percent of the total number of breaches. Medical/healthcare organizations were affected by 377 breaches (34.5 percent of total breaches) while the education sector sustained 98 breaches (9.0 percent of all breaches) and government/military breaches totaled 72 (6.6 percent), according to the Identity Theft Resource Center.

The Center says there have been 1,339 breaches in 2017 so far (as of December 27), surpassing the 2016 record of 1,093 breaches. There were 174 million records exposed so far in 2017. The business sector accounted for 51 percent of the 2017 breaches and 91 percent of records exposed. These figures do not include the many attacks that go unreported. In addition, many attacks go undetected.

In 2014 McAfee and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) estimated annual global losses from cybercrime fall between $375 billion and $575 billion. The costs of cybercrime are growing. An annual study of U.S. companies by the Ponemon Institute cites estimated average costs at $15 million in 2015, up 21 percent from $12.7 million in 2014. These costs ranged among the 58 organizations surveyed from a low of $1.9 million to a high of $65 million each year per company. Cyber insurance evolved as a product in the United States in the mid- to late-1990s as insurers have had to expand coverage for a risk that is rapidly shifting in scope and nature. More than 60 carriers offer stand-alone policies in a market encompassing $2.75 billion in gross written premiums in 2015. By mid-2016 gross premiums written was estimated at $3.25 billion.

Family Employees & Business Insurance Tips

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One might think that family-owned and operated businesses would be relatively immune from employee lawsuits, but that?s not the case according to a recent Gen Re article.

The reasons family-owned businesses get sued include: most family owned businesses employ at least one non-relative; the non-relative is likely to be first to be fired when the business is struggling; and family members are reluctant to discipline each other for bad workplace behavior, especially if the family patriarch is the one misbehaving.

The article gives several examples of lawsuits against family businesses and the awards paid out, concluding that a family-owned business would benefit from including employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) as a part of its insurance package.

According to GenRe:

These workplace scenarios and settlement amounts mirror those we see for all businesses. Discrimination and sexual harassment – as well as wrongful termination, violations of privacy and other employment wrongdoing – are not limited to any type, place or structure of business.

When it?s time to evaluate insurance for the family business, be sure that Employment Practices Liability insurance is not overlooked. The chances of needing EPLI protection are no less than for a slip and fall or fire loss. It?s all relative.

Do You Have Adequate How Much Homeowners Insurance?

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If disaster strikes, you’ll want enough homeowners insurance to rebuild the structure of your home, to help replace your belongings, to defray costs if you’re unable to live in your home and to protect your financial assets in the event of liability to others. Use these guidelines to help determine the coverage and amounts you need.

Determine how much insurance you need for your home’s structure

Standard homeowners policies provide coverage for disasters such as damage due to fire, lightning, hail and explosions. Those who live in areas where there is risk of flood or earthquake will need coverage for those disasters, as well. In every case, you’ll want the limits on your policy to be high enough to cover the cost of rebuilding your home.

The price you paid for your home—or the current market price—may be more or less than the cost to rebuild. And if the limit of your insurance policy is based on your mortgage (as some banks require), it may not adequately cover the cost of rebuilding.

While your insurer will provide a recommended coverage limit for the structure of your home, it’s a good idea to educate yourself as well. To make sure your home has the right amount of structural coverage, consider:

Major factors that will impact home rebuilding costs

  • Local construction costs
  • The square footage of the structure

For a quick estimate of the amount of insurance you need, multiply the total square footage of your home by local, per-square-foot building costs. (Note that the land is not factored into rebuilding estimates.) To find out construction costs in your community, call your local real estate agent, builders association or insurance agent.

Details that can impact home rebuilding costs

  • The type of exterior wall construction—frame, masonry (brick or stone) or veneer
  • The style of the house, for example, ranch or colonial
  • The number of bathrooms and other rooms
  • The type of roof and materials used
  • Other structures on the premises such as garages, sheds
  • Special features such as fireplaces, exterior trim or arched windows
  • Whether the house—or a part of it—was custom built
  • Improvements you’ve made that have added value to your home, such as the addition of second bathroom, or a kitchen renovation


Other considerations

Whether or not your home is up to code

Building codes are updated periodically and may have changed significantly since your home was built. In the event of damage, you may be required to rebuild your home to the new codes and homeowners insurance policies (even a guaranteed replacement cost policy—see below) generally won’t pay for that extra expense. If you suspect that elements of your home are not up to current building codes, consider getting an endorsement to your policy called an Ordinance or Law, which pays a specified amount toward bringing a house up to code during a covered repair.

Whether your home is older with hard-to-replace features

Lovely, special features on older homes—like wall and ceiling moldings and carvings—are expensive to recreate and some insurance companies may not offer replacement policies for that reason.

If you own an older home, you may have to buy a modified replacement cost policy. This means that instead of repairing or replacing features typical of older homes—like plaster walls—with like materials, the policy will pay for repairs using today’s standard building materials and construction techniques.

Allowing for possible increased cost of building materials

Inflation can impact rebuilding costs. If you plan on owning your home for a while, consider adding an inflation guard clause to your policy. An inflation guard automatically adjusts the dwelling limit to reflect current construction costs in your area when you renew your insurance.

After a major catastrophe such as a hurricane or tornado, construction costs may rise suddenly because the price of building materials and construction workers increase due to the widespread demand. This price bump may push rebuilding costs above your homeowners policy limits and leave you short. To protect against this possibility, a guaranteed replacement cost policy will pay whatever it costs to rebuild your home as it was before the disaster. Similarly, an extended replacement cost policy will pay an extra 20 percent above the limits (possibly more, depending on the insurance company).

Determine how much insurance you need for your possessions

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your belongings at about 50 to 70 percent of the insurance on your dwelling. However, that standard amount may or may not be enough. To learn if you have enough coverage:

Conduct a home inventory of your personal possessions

In order to accurately assess the value of what you own, it’s highly advisable to conduct a home inventory. A detailed list of your belongings will not only help you figure out how much insurance you need, but it will also serve as a convenient record. In the event any or all of your stuff is stolen or damaged by a disaster an inventory will make filing a claim much easier.

There are several apps available to help you take a home inventory, and our article on how to create a home inventory can help, as well.

While you’re reviewing your possessions, think about whether you want to insure them for actual cash value (where the policy would pay less money for older items than you paid for them new) or for replacement cost (which would cover to replace the items). The price of replacement cost coverage for homeowners is about 10 percent more but is generally a worthwhile investment in the long run. (Note that flood insurance for belongings is only available on an actual cash value basis.)

If you think you need more coverage, contact your insurance professional and ask about higher limits for your personal possessions.

Take stock of your expensive items

There are limits on how much a standard homeowners insurance policy will cover for items such as jewelry, silverware, collectibles and furs. For example, jewelry coverage may be limited to under $2,000. Some insurance companies may also place a limit on what they will pay for computers.

Check your policy (or ask your insurance professional) for the limits of your coverage for any expensive items. If your home inventory includes items for which the limits are too low, consider buying a special personal property floater or an endorsement. This will allow you to insure valuables individually or as a collection, with significantly higher coverage limits.

Determine how much additional living expense insurance you need

Additional Living Expenses (ALE) is a very important feature of a standard homeowners insurance policy. If you can’t live in your home due to a fire, severe storm or other insured disaster, ALE pays the additional costs of temporarily living elsewhere. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other living expenses incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

If you rent out part of your house, this coverage also reimburses you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.

Many policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house. But ALE coverage limits vary from company to company. For example, there are policies that provide an unlimited amount of coverage, for a limited amount of time, while others may only set limits on the amount of coverage. In most cases, you can increase ALE coverage for an additional premium.

Determine how much liability insurance you need

The liability portion of homeowners insurance covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members or pets cause to other people, as well as court costs incurred and damages awarded.

You should have enough liability insurance to protect your assets. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available and, increasingly, it is recommended that homeowners consider purchasing at least $300,000 to $500,000 worth of liability coverage.

If you own property and or have investments and savings that are worth more than the liability limits in your policy, consider purchasing a separate excess liability or umbrella policy.

Consider an umbrella or excess liability policy

Umbrella or excess liability policies provide coverage over and above your standard home (or auto) liability policy limits. These policies start to pay after you have used up the liability insurance in your underlying policy. In addition to providing additional dollar amount coverage, umbrella or excess liability often offers broader coverage than standard policies.

The cost of an umbrella policy depends on how much underlying insurance you have and the kind of risk you represent. The greater the underlying liability coverage you have, the cheaper the umbrella or excess policy. To write an umbrella or excess policy, most companies will require a minimum of $300,000 underlying liability insurance on your standard homeowners policy.