2018-How Bad Was the Hurricane Damage?

Courtesy of iii.org

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season was less active than the 2017 season but still caused extensive property damage across the southeastern United States, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

The 2018 hurricane season officially concludes tomorrow (Nov. 30) and saw the formation of 15 named storms. Eight of the 15 became hurricanes, and two (Florence and Michael) became major hurricanes, according to Philip Klotzbach, Ph.D., a research scientist with the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University (CSU). Klotzbach is also a non-resident scholar with the I.I.I.

The original CSU forecast for 2018, presented in April, predicted slightly above-average hurricane activity with three major hurricanes. The seasonal outlooks CSU subsequently released in the summer envisioned less hurricane activity, with CSU forecasting 12 named storms, five hurricanes, and one major hurricane on Aug. 2.

“Even in what ended up as an average year for major hurricane activity, 2018 was record-setting, with Hurricane Florence spurring statewide rainfall records in North and South Carolina. In addition, Hurricane Michael was the first time on record a Category 4 hurricane made landfall in the Florida Panhandle,” said Sean Kevelighan, I.I.I. CEO. “As financial first responders, the insurance industry continues to be on the ground, helping to rebuild our customers’ livelihoods and economies more broadly. Nonetheless, these extraordinary hurricanes highlighted for coastal residents and businesses the importance of disaster preparedness, building resilient structures and insuring properties against both flood and wind-caused damage.”

A named storm is considered a hurricane when its sustained wind speeds are at least 74 miles per hour. Major hurricanes are those that are designated as a Category 3 storm or higher, with sustained wind speeds of at least 111 mph.

Florence made landfall as a Category 1 storm on Sept. 14 near Wilmington, North Carolina. It was categorized as a major hurricane in the Atlantic Ocean, but the storm’s wind speeds diminished significantly before striking the U.S. coastline. The weather system lingered for days in the Carolinas, dumping as much as 36 inches of rain in North Carolina and 24 inches in South Carolina, the most ever recorded there after a hurricane.

Michael made landfall on Oct. 10 near Mexico Beach, Florida. More than 85,000 of the 125,000-plus claims Florida’s insurers received as of Nov. 16 as a result of Hurricane Michael were for insured residential properties, and the total estimated insured claim payouts currently are estimated at $3.4 billion.

An average Atlantic hurricane season produces 12 named storms and six hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. The 2017 hurricane season had 17 named storms. Ten of the 17 reached hurricane strength and six became major hurricanes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Sleep & Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

I came across this from Swiss Re around 2 a.m., which helps explain why it caught my (sleepy) eye:

Consider these two facts: Firstly, two out of three man-made losses worldwide are due to human failure. Based on Swiss Re’s sigma research, this would mean that people trigger a loss volume of around USD 3 billion per year.

Secondly, life insurance generated premiums of USD 2.6 trillion in 2017. These two facts are linked because tired people make more errors and insomniacs are at a greater risk of dying earlier than would otherwise be the case.

That’s right – the insurance angle on sleep.

The lack of sleep is associated with increased rates of heart attacks, strokes, obesity and other diseases. Sleeping less can also contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s. And recent research found that chronic sleep restriction increases risk seeking behaviour.

If these trends change the loss patterns in property and casualty or mortality rates, this could have a multi-billion dollar impact on the insurance industry in the long run.

The lack of sleep has caused some high profile accidents, the most notable in my world being a New Jersey Transit train that in 2016 crashed into Hoboken terminal because the engineer, suffering from sleep apnea, zoned out at a crucial moment. One woman died, dozens were injured.

Swiss Re posits that society, ever accelerating, robs us of ever more sleep. The less we sleep, the woozier we become. And the more errors we make. (Our bodies wear out faster too, becoming susceptible to the maladies Swiss Re mentions above.)

A good dose of resilience helps here. New York area railroads are installing (by federal mandate) positive train control systems, which automatically stop trains in any sort of peril, including that of a tired engineer. The illustration above describes how the system works.

As for my own struggles – an e-book of white text on black background, and perhaps a cup of chamomile tea.

Facts on Distracted Driving

Courtesy of http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/distracted-driving

Activities that take drivers’ attention off the road, including talking or texting on cellphones, eating, conversing with passengers and other distractions, are a major safety threat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) gauges distracted driving by collecting data on distraction-affected crashes, which focuses on distractions that are most likely to affect crash involvement such as dialing a cellphone or texting and being distracted by another person or an outside event. In 2013, 3,154 people were killed in distraction-affected crashes, and 424,000 people were injured. There were 2,910 distraction-affected fatal crashes, accounting for 10 percent of all fatal crashes in the nation, 18 percent of injury crashes and 16 percent of all motor vehicle crashes in 2013.

FATAL CRASHES AFFECTED BY DISTRACTED DRIVERS, 2013

CrashesDriversFatalities
Total fatal crashes30,05744,57432,719
Distracted-affected fatal crashes
Number2,9102,9593,154
Percent of total fatal crashes10%7%10%
Cellphone in use in distracted-affected fatal crashes
Number411427445
Percent of fatal distracted-affected crashes14%14%14%

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Tables

NHTSA says that in 2013, 14 percent of distraction-affected crashes occurred while a cell phone was in use. The chart below shows driver hand-held phone use by age.

DRIVER HAND-HELD CELLPHONE USE BY AGE, 2005-2014 (1)

 

(1) Percent of drivers using hand-held cellphones.

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

View Archived Graphs

NHTSA’s website, Distraction.gov has more information on distracted driving. “It Can Wait”, a public awareness campaign funded by four by wireless carriers, provides resources on the dangers of distracted driving, including “From One Second to the Next”, a film by director Werner Herzog profiling the victims of distracted driving.

Insuring a Classic Car

Courtesy of iii.org

A classic, custom, collectible or antique car requires insurance that reflects your vehicle’s uniqueness and value. If you own—or are thinking of owning—a special set of wheels, find out about the kind of policy you need.


What types of vehicles need special insurance?

A classic, collectible or antique car is no ordinary car—and regular auto insurance is not sufficient to protect such a vehicle against damage or loss.

That said, there is no uniform definition of a classic car. If a car’s value exceeds its original selling price, then it might be considered collectible and a candidate for specialized classic car insurance. In general, vehicles that might warrant classic car auto insurance include:

  • Antique and classic cars, usually at least 25 to 30 years old
  • Hotrods and modified vehicles
  • Exotic and luxury autos—think James Bond
  • Muscle cars
  • Classic trucks

You might also seek specialized insurance for vintage military vehicles, classic motorcycles and antique tractors.

Qualifying for classic car coverage

A car’s age is not enough to qualify for specialized classic car insurance. While requirements differ from company to company, most cars need to meet the following criteria in order to qualify:

  • Limited use – Your classic car cannot be used for everyday commuting or errands, and your policy may include mileage limitations and proof the car is being properly garaged if you do travel with it. In some cases, insurers may require that you also own a primary car for everyday use.
  • Car shows and meetings – The limited use provision of a classic car policy allows for travel to car shows and auto club meet-ups; however, this coverage may be restricted by some insurers. If this is the case, there are insurers that can provide specialized coverage for car shows and meetings. Before choosing a classic car insurer, it’s worth checking whether they have travel restrictions if you plan to take your car on regular, multi-day, high mileage drives.
  • Secure storage – When not in use, your special vehicle must be stored in a locked, enclosed, private structure, such as a residential garage or storage unit.
  • A clean driving record – You may be disqualified from classic auto insurance if you have serious offenses on your driving record, such as reckless driving, repeat speeding violations or driving while intoxicated.

Not every vehicle, however special, will meet the qualifications of every insurer. For instance, some insurers may not cover vintage off-road vehicles. Insurers may also decline to insure vehicles that are in poor condition or have been previously damaged.

What you should know about classic car policies

Your classic car policy will include provisions found in standard auto insurance policies, notably property damage and bodily injury liability coverage. But there are some differences, as well:

  • Your car’s value – Because each car’s condition is unique, there is no set “book value” for specific makes and models. The first step in insuring your classic car is for you and your insurer to reach an agreement on the value of the vehicle. This value will be specified in your policy and your car will be covered up to that value without depreciation.

Note that, unlike everyday vehicles that depreciate over time as you add miles to them, classic cars may gain value. Make sure you adjust your coverage as the value of your auto appreciates.

  • Specialized repair or restoration – Your policy should you the flexibility to bring your vintage Mercedes, Ferrari or Corvette to a specialist—even if the rates may be twice, or three times, the cost of a typical car repair at a traditional auto body shop.
  • Special towing and spare parts – Coverage for towing is commensurate with the special demands of transporting a classic car. Spare parts coverage, too, needs to be aligned with the cost of replacing valuable and perhaps hard-to-find vehicle components, such as wheels, transmissions, and engine parts.

Liability and Parties

Courtesy of iii.org

Whether you’re hosting a Super Bowl party for 50 or greeting the New Year with a few friends, if you’re planning to serve alcohol at your home take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you have the proper insurance.


Social host liability is the legal term for the criminal and civil responsibility of a person who furnishes liquor to a guest. Social host liability can have serious consequences for party throwers.

Social host liability law

Also known as “Dram Shop Liability,” social host 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 the guest is also negligent), the host can be held liable for harm to third parties, and even for passengers of the guest who have been injured in their car.

Social host liability—insurance considerations

Homeowners insurance usually provides some liquor liability coverage, but limits are typically $100,000 to $300,000, which, depending on your assets, might not be enough. Before planning a party in your home, speak to your insurance professional to review your homeowners coverage for any exclusions, conditions or limitations your policy might have that would affect your social liability risk.

Protect yourself and your guests

Remember that a good host is a responsible host. If you plan to serve alcohol at a party, promote safe alcohol consumption and take these steps to reduce your social host liability exposure:

  • Make sure you understand your state laws. These laws vary widely from state to state (see final chart). 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.
  • Limit your own alcohol intake as a responsible host/hostess, 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.