Nice Gifts-Be Sure to Protect Them Today!

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The holidays are a time of giving and receiving gifts, but would you be able to replace those gifts if they were destroyed in a fire or other disaster? A home inventory is the best way to protect your personal possessions, yet only 50 percent of homeowners said they had an inventory in a 2016 Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) survey. That’s where Know Your Stuff®, the free, award-winning home inventory app can help.

The I.I.I.’s Know Your Stuff® home inventory app allows you to enter information on mobile or desktop and syncs across all your devices so you can access it anywhere, at any time. It can help you:

  • Purchase enough insurance to replace the items you own, if they are stolen or damaged.
  • Get insurance claims settled faster.
  • Substantiate losses or charitable donations for tax purposes.
  • Keep track of items that require maintenance or repair.
  • Declutter and organize your home.

“With the average property damage and liability claim costing more than $9,000 and about one in 15 insured homes having a claim each year, it’s important for homeowners to protect their assets,” said Loretta Worters, a vice president with the I.I.I. “Renters should also consider taking a home inventory.”

To simplify the task of creating an inventory, the Know Your Stuff® app allows you to take photographs of your possessions and organize them according to the room in which the items are located.

With the Know Your Stuff® Home Inventory app, you get:

  • Secure free cloud storage of your inventory data. You can also store and manage all your insurance policy information, including contact information for your insurance professional and your policy numbers.
  • Downloadable reports for easy recordkeeping and claims filing.
  • A tool that is backed by the expertise of the I.I.I., a leading independent insurance research and communications organization.

Know Your Stuff® also allows you to keep track of multiple properties and insurance policies. An opt-in service provides integrated weather alerts for your area as well as updates and tips on how to prepare your home against severe weather.

Did Your Hurricane Insurance Claim Get Paid?

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The 2016 hurricane season is a wrap, and you are probably seeing a few news stories detailing the number of insurance claims from Hurricane Matthew, as well as the insurance claims from Hurricane Hermine. More than 87 percent of claims from Hermine are closed; almost 78 percent of claims from Matthew are closed. But the news headlines do not focus on that positive note. Instead, they point out that about a third of claims from the storm are unpaid. You have to read down six paragraphs in the newspaper story to find out why. I’ll tell you in the second paragraph below.

There are two primary reasons claims are closed without being paid:

Storm damage was minor and under the amount of the hurricane deductible, or
The damage was not covered by the policy.

Everyone knows headlines don’t tell the whole story. They are designed to attract attention and are not written by the reporter, but by someone looking to grab the reader. To be truly informed, we have to look beyond the headline, true?

Insurers have encouraged policyholders to report storm damage even if it is minor because Florida has a calendar year hurricane deductible. That means storm damage from more than one storm in a season counts toward the deductible amount.

Damage not covered from the storms would include falling trees that do not damage an insured property, such as your house or fence.

Now you know rest of the story.

Be a Safe Host

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Whether you are hosting a Super Bowl party or greeting the New Year with friends in your home, if you are planning to serve alcohol at any type of party it is important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you have the proper insurance.

Social host liability, the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest, can have a serious impact on party throwers. Social host liability, also known as “Dram Shop Liability” laws vary widely from state to state, but 43 states have them on the books. Most of these laws also offer an injured person, such as the victim of a drunk driver, a method to sue the person who served the alcohol. There are circumstances under these laws where criminal charges may also apply.

While a social host is not liable for injuries sustained by a drunken guest (as they are also negligent), the host can be held liable for third parties, and may even be liable for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.

Before planning a party in your home, it is important to speak with your insurance agent or company representative about your homeowners coverage and any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have for this kind of risk. Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but it is typically limited to $100,000 to $300,000, depending on the policy, which might not be enough.

Most importantly, whether you are hanging out with a small group of friends for cocktails or throwing a big family bash, remember that a good host is a responsible host, and takes steps to ensure guests get home safely if they have been drinking.

How to Protect Yourself and Your Guests

If you plan to serve alcohol at a party the I.I.I. offers the following tips to promote safe alcohol consumption and reduce your social host liability exposure:

  • Make sure you understand your state laws. Before sending out party invitations, familiarize yourself with your state’s social host liability laws. These laws vary widely from state to state. Some states do not impose any liability on social hosts. Others limit liability to injuries that occur on the host’s premises. Some extend the host’s liability to injuries that occur anywhere a guest who has consumed alcohol goes. Many states have laws that pertain specifically to furnishing alcohol to minors.
  • Consider venues other than your home for the party. Hosting your party at a restaurant or bar with a liquor license, rather than at your home, will help minimize liquor liability risks.
  • Hire a professional bartender. Most bartenders are trained to recognize signs of intoxication and are better able to limit consumption by partygoers.
  • Encourage guests to pick a designated driver who will refrain from drinking alcoholic beverages so that he or she can drive other guests home.
  • Be a responsible host/hostess. Limit your own alcohol intake so that you will be better able to judge your guests’ sobriety.
  • Offer non-alcoholic beverages and always serve food. Eating and drinking plenty of water, or other non-alcoholic beverages, can help counter the effects of alcohol.
  • Do not pressure guests to drink or rush to refill their glasses when empty. And never serve alcohol to guests who are visibly intoxicated.
  • Stop serving liquor toward the end of the evening. Switch to coffee, tea and soft drinks.
  • If guests drink too much or seem too tired to drive home, call a cab, arrange a ride with a sober guest or have them sleep at your home.
  • Encourage all your guests to wear seatbelts as they drive home. Studies show that seatbelts save lives.

Cyber Risk Services

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This white paper examines the current exposure to cyberrisk and how insurers are responding:

  • Interest in cyber insurance and risk continues to grow beyond expectations in 2016 in part due to high profile data breaches, but also due to awareness of the almost endless range of exposures businesses face.
  • Attacks and breaches have grown in frequency, and loss costs are on the rise.
  • Insurers are issuing an increasing number of cyber insurance policies and becoming more skilled and experienced at underwriting and pricing this rapidly evolving risk. More than 60 carriers now offer stand-alone cyber insurance policies, and it is estimated the U.S. market is worth over $3.25 billion in gross written premiums in 2016, with some estimates suggesting it has the potential to grow to $7.5 billion.

Some observers believe that exposure is greater than the insurance industry?s ability to adequately underwrite the risk. Attacks have the potential to be massive and wide-ranging due to the interconnected nature of this risk, which can make it difficult for insurers to assess their likely severity. The underreporting of attacks means that accurately evaluating exposures is challenging. Several insurers have warned that the scope of the exposures is too broad to be covered by the private sector alone, and a few observers see a need for government cover akin to the terrorism risk insurance programs in place in several countries.

Click here to download Cyberrisk: Threat And Opportunity, October 2016, a companion slideshow, that highlights key findings from this white paper. (Access limited to I.I.I. Members and subscribers)

Please click on the file name below to view the white paper in PDF format. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the file.

Download cyber_risk_wp_102716-91.pdf

You can download Adobe Acrobat Reader, free of charge, from the Adobe website (http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/readstep.html).

Note: Printer fonts may vary by browser and version of Adobe Reader.

Learn More About Motorcyle Insurance

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While surveying the motorcycles on display at the New York Motorcycle Show this weekend, keep in mind that motorcyclists who travel on public roads or highways need an insurance policy that meets their state’s requirements as well as their individual needs, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“Motorcycle insurance coverage can be purchased as either a stand-alone policy or as an endorsement to a personal automobile policy,” said Michael Barry, vice president, Media Relations, at the I.I.I.

Insurers will be among the exhibitors at the Progressive International Motorcycle Show, to be held between Friday, December 9, and Sunday, December 11, 2016, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street, New York City.

As with cars, some insurance coverages are required for motorcyclists whereas others are optional.

  1. Required coverages: Most states require motorcyclists to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, to cover bodily injury and property damage costs caused to other people involved in an accident. In addition, uninsured/underinsured (UI/UIM) motorist coverage is recommended, or even required, in many states as part of a motorcyclist’s insurance policy to cover expenses for damage caused by another driver who does not have insurance or whose insurance is inadequate.

    The mandatory minimum liability limits for these coverages in states where they are required for motorcyclists are generally similar to those required for automobiles.

  1. Optional coverages:
    a) Collision?covers damage resulting from a collision with another vehicle, an object or as a result of flipping over.

    b) Comprehensive?covers damage caused by events such as fire, flood, falling objects, theft or vandalism.

    c) First-party medical coverage?covers your own medical expenses if they were incurred in an accident while operating your motorcycle.

    c) Emergency road service?covers towing and roadside assistance costs.

    d) Accessories and customization?covers the repair or replacement of accessories, like helmets and safety jackets, and customized equipment added to the motorcycle after purchase, such as exhaust pipes, saddle bags, and seats.

Beyond the types and amount of coverage purchased, several other factors will also affect how much you pay for motorcycle insurance, including:

  • Your age and driving record
  • Where you live
  • The model, make and horsepower of your motorcycle
  • Where you store and drive your motorcycle

2016 Big Year for Storms

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The 2016 Atlantic hurricane season concluded on November 30th with 15 named storms generating seven hurricanes, three of which were considered major ones, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said it was the busiest Atlantic hurricane season since 2012, when 19 named storms developed, and 10 of the 19 became hurricanes. Major hurricanes are those that are designated a Category 3 storm, or higher, with sustained wind speeds of at least 111 miles per hour. A named storm is considered a Category 1 hurricane when its wind speeds consistently exceed 74 miles per hour.

Hermine and Matthew were the only two named storms to make landfall in the U.S. in 2016 as hurricanes. Both caused extensive property damage and flooding, with property/casualty (P/C) insurer claim payouts from Hermine and Matthew combined totaling more than $700 million in Florida alone, according to the state?s Office of Insurance Regulation. Hermine was a Category 1 hurricane when it struck near Tallahassee, Florida, on September 2. It was also the first hurricane to make landfall in the Sunshine State since Hurricane Wilma in 2005. Matthew arrived north of Charleston, South Carolina, on October 8, as a Category 1 hurricane.

Even before the two hurricanes made landfall on the U.S. mainland in the second-half of 2016, U.S. property/casualty insurer claim payouts for natural disasters stood at $14.5 billion for January 1 ? June 30, 2016, up significantly from the $11 billion in natural disaster-caused insurer claim payouts in the first six months of 2015.

Besides Hermine and Matthew, there were five other 2016 Atlantic hurricanes: Alex, Earl, Gaston, Nicole and Otto. Claire Wilkinson offered additional analysis on the just concluded season on the I.I.I.?s award-winning Terms + Conditions blog yesterday (November 30).

Wind damage from both tropical storms and hurricanes is covered under standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies. Flood damage resulting from storm surge caused by hurricanes is excluded under these policies; flood coverage is available, however, from FEMA?s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from a few private insurance companies.

Damage to cars from either tropical storms or hurricanes is covered under the optional comprehensive portion of an auto insurance policy. This includes wind damage, flooding and falling objects such as tree limbs.

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

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FIRE LOSSES

Great strides have been made in constructing fire-resistant buildings and improving fire-suppression techniques, both of which have reduced the incidence of fire. However, in terms of property losses, these advances have been somewhat offset by increases in the number of and value of buildings. In 2015, on average, a fire department responded to a fire every 23 seconds in the United States, according to the National Fire Protection Association. A structure fire occurred every 63 seconds, a residential structure fire occurred every 86 seconds and an outside property fire occurred every 52 seconds.

HOLIDAY FIRE LOSSES

Fireworks

Almost half of all reported fires on July 4th were started by fireworks between 2009 and 2013, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In 2013 fireworks caused an estimated 15,600 reported fires, including 1,400 total structure fires, 200 vehicle fires, and 14,000 outside and other fires. Other NFPA key statistics include:

  • In 2013 fireworks fires resulted in an estimated 30 civilian injuries and $21 million in direct property damage.
  • In 2014 U.S. hospital emergency rooms treated an estimated 10,500 people for fireworks related injuries; 51 percent of those injuries were to the extremities, and 38 percent were to the head, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • The risk of fireworks injury is highest for children ages 5 to 9 followed by children ages 15 to 19.

Home Fires

  • The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) says Thanksgiving Day is the leading day for home cooking fires, with three times as many occurring on Thanksgiving as any other day of the year. In 2013, there were 1,550 fires on Thanksgiving, a 230 percent increase over the daily average.
  • U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated annual average of 210 home structure fires that began with Christmas trees from 2009 to 2013, according to a fact sheet from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
  • Home Christmas tree fires caused an average of seven civilian deaths, 19 civilian injuries and $17.5 million in direct property damage annually from 2009 to 2013.
  • Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 38 percent of the home Christmas tree structure fires. About one-quarter (24 percent) occurred because some type of heat source was too close to the tree. Decorative lights were involved in 18 percent of these incidents. Eight percent of home Christmas tree fires were started by candles.
  • The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year?s Day and Christmas Eve, according to another NFPA fact sheet.
  • During the five-year-period of 2009-2013, the NFPA estimates that decorations were the item first ignited in an estimated average of 860 reported home structure fires per year. These fires caused an estimated average of one civilian death, 41 civilian injuries and $13.4 million in direct property damage per year, according to an NFPA fact sheet.

For information about Holiday Safety and Preparedness, see our Pinterest board.

Why Did My Car Insurance Go Up

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Auto insurers price their policies based on a number of factors. Sometimes these cost factors go up, and sometimes they go down. In most states, costs are currently rising. Your actions, as a policyholder, can affect what you pay, too. For instance, if you add another car, or a teenaged driver to your policy, your costs will increase. Alternatively, your costs will decrease if you drop either a car or a driver from your policy.

But there are also other factors outside of your control that could cause rates to increase, such as the crashes other people are involved in. The number of crashes, and the cost of these crashes, are a component of auto insurance pricing in every state. For example, drivers living in large metropolitan areas are likely to pay more. This is simply because more cars, therefore more crowded roadways, increase the number of car crashes in those cities. On top of all that, speed limits are also being raised. Speed is the single-biggest contributor to crashes in which driver error is cited as the cause. Distracted driving is an issue everywhere. In big cities and small, people texting, talking or otherwise occupied with another activity while driving is being blamed in part for more crashes.

Auto insurance covers more than vehicle repair. It also covers the cost of injured crash victims? medical care and lost wages as well as the repairs and/or replacement of vehicles and any property damaged in a crash. In recent years, medical and auto body repair costs have increased at a rate much faster than inflation. Legal costs have gone up, too.

Another trend affecting the cost of auto insurance is that with the unemployment rate falling, more people are driving both to and from work. And with more disposable income, they are presumably driving more for leisure. They also have the means to purchase more expensive cars. And while many of these cars have all types of safety features that might help in accident avoidance, these cars? often high-tech components are also more expensive to fix and replace once damaged.

Auto insurers are committed to reducing U.S. crash rates. They fund the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), support efforts to combat distracted driving as well as drunk or drugged driving. In addition, auto insurers offer discounts to policyholders who take defensive driving courses or drive fewer miles.

Consumers can take proactive and positive steps to reduce auto insurance costs. Talk to your insurance professional to make sure you?re getting all of the discounts to which you?re entitled. And if you?re not satisfied, shop around to see if another auto insurer offers you a policy which meets your needs at a lower cost.

Stop Car Theft

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Car thieves love Honda Accords. They are also rather fond of the Honda Civic. Both models are ranked as the top two most-stolen cars in America. The fact they are also among the most popular cars has a lot to do with it, of course. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) keeps track of this data, and there?s quite a lot to keep up with since a car is stolen about every 46 seconds.

The statistics on auto theft note that some newer models are stolen less frequently, thanks to the improvements made in anti-theft technology. But here?s a new wrinkle: People seem to be leaving their keys in the car to make the heist that much easier. The NICB says theft of unlocked cars with keys inside is up 31 percent. What?s up with that?! A quick hop inside the coffee shop with the car running outside could prove to be the start of a long day. Protecting yourself against auto thefts starts by taking the keys with you and locking the car doors ? every time.

Two other important tips: Don?t leave your garage door opener and your vehicle registration with your address in the car. Think about it: Thieves have your car, know where you live and can get into your house before you get home.

Car thieves often cultivate local tastes in preferred vehicles. They steal Hondas in Florida, too, but seem to be partial to Ford pickups.

Water Damage & Mold

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Returning to your home after a flood is a big part of getting your life back to normal. But consumers and small businesses may be facing a new challenge: mold. What can you do to get rid of it? How do you get the mold out of your home or office and stay safe at the same time? CDC has investigated floods, mold, and cleanup, and offers practical tips for homeowners and others on how to safely and efficiently remove mold from the home.

In 2005, thousands of people along the Gulf Coast were faced with cleaning up mold from their homes after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. One of our first concerns was to let homeowners and others know how they could clean up mold safely. After Hurricane Sandy in 2012, we teamed up with other federal agencies to provide practical advice on mold cleanup. This guidance outlines what to do before and after going into a moldy building, how to decide if you can do the cleanup yourself or need to hire someone, and how you can do the cleanup safely.

Prepare To Clean Up

Before you start any cleanup work, call your insurance company and take pictures of the home and your belongings. Throw away, or at least move outside, anything that was wet with flood water and can?t be cleaned and dried completely within 24 to 48 hours. Remember, drying your home and removing water-damaged items is the most important step to prevent mold damage.

Protect Yourself

We offer specific recommendations for different groups of people and different cleanup activities. This guidance educates people about the type of protection (think: gloves, goggles, masks) you need for different parts of your mold cleanup. It also identifies groups of people who should and should not be doing cleanup activities.

Be Safe With Bleach

Many people use bleach to clean up mold. If you decide to use bleach, use it safely by wearing gloves, a mask, and goggles to protect yourself. Remember these four tips to stay safe:

  • NEVER mix bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning product.
  • ALWAYS open windows and doors when using bleach, to let fumes escape.
  • NEVER use bleach straight from the bottle to clean surfaces. Use no more than 1 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water when you?re cleaning up mold. If you are using stronger, professional strength bleach use less than 1 cup of bleach per gallon of water.
  • ALWAYS protect your mouth, nose, skin, and eyes against both mold and bleach with an N-95 mask, gloves, and goggles. You can buy an N-95 mask at home improvement and hardware stores.

You can take steps to keep yourself and others protected while cleaning up mold after a flood. Make sure to follow CDC?s recommendations so you can return home safely.

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