Pandemic Insurance Help

Help During the PandemicCourtesy of iii.org

U.S. insurers are meeting the challenges faced by their customers, communities, and employees amid the COVID-19 crisis, according to a fact sheet released April 3 by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I).

“The nation’s insurers continue to work actively on immediate and forward-looking solutions that will assist its customers and communities in recovering from COVID-19,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I.

The fact sheet, Insurers Offer Forward-Looking Solutions for COVID-19 Recovery, outlines how the industry is easing its customers’ financial burdens, working with government to create a COVID-19 Recovery Fund, and making sure it has the resources to pay future claims from events such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and wildfires.

Immediate Customer Solutions: Insurers are offering payment relief and extending coverage to customers who are in financial distress while at the same time keeping its employees on the job to serve these same customers, the Triple-I notes.

Government-Backed Solutions: Trade groups representing insurers have voiced support for the proposed COVID-19 Business and Employee Continuity and Recovery Fund. It would be financed by the federal government and provide essential funds to impacted employers and employees.

Facing Challenges Head-On: Workers compensation insurers in multiple states are covering the healthcare workers and first responders who face exposure to COVID-19 while auto, home, and business insurers are setting aside the resources needed to pay the claims arising out of future natural disasters even as insurer investment portfolios have faced their own headwinds. A Triple-I non-resident scholar predicted yesterday the likelihood of an ‘above-normal’ Atlantic hurricane season.

Insurers have also contributed financially to food banks and organizations providing medical supplies.

How Citizens are Helping Those in Need

Insurance Helping Those in NeedCourtesy of iii.org

Tough times bring out the best in many people, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no exception.

Citizens around the world are donating to crisis response organizations, sewing masks and gowns for medical workers, delivering groceries to homebound neighbors and boarding shelter animals.

Corporations also are rising to the occasion. MetLife (a Triple-I member company) is providing parking lots at its St. Louis office location for the local hospital, Mercy South to use for coronavirus drive-through testing.

And the MetLife Foundation has committed to donating $1 million to food banks across the U.S. to help them deal with increased demand for their services as a result of coronavirus.

Food banks face the challenge of getting shelf-stable food into people’s homes as quickly as possible, especially now that vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, have been advised to practice social distancing. In addition, food banks face greater need from families with children who no longer have access to meals at schools.

MetLife Foundation will donate funds to food banks in communities where MetLife, Inc. has a significant presence, such as the greater New York City area, Cary, N.C., Tampa, Fla., and Warwick, R.I.

“We want to help those impacted by coronavirus,” said Mike Zarcone, head of Corporate Affairs for MetLife and Chairman of MetLife Foundation. “That includes the communities where we work and live. We know that children out of school and seniors face food insecurity as a result of COVID-19, and we are committed to help.”

Prudential also is helping. Over the weekend, the Newark, N.J.-based insurer donated more than 150,000 protective face masks and respirators to the state.

The gift will benefit health workers, some of whom have complained about having to reuse surgical masks amid an increasing shortage of supplies.

“A least one New Jersey hospital” NJ.com reported, “is now down to a four-day supply of gowns and surgical masks.”

The masks and respirators, expected to provide a two-week respite for hospitals, were in storage at the company’s Newark headquarters. They had been stockpiled after the 9/11 terror attacks as part of the company’s emergency preparedness efforts.

If your company is helping those affected by the pandemic, email me at marias@iii.org and tell me about it.

Disasters & Homeowners Insurance Coverage

Homeowners Insurance Coverage TipsCourtesy of iii.org

For many people, their home is their greatest asset, so it is crucial to avoid being underinsured. To properly insure your home, it is important to ask your insurance professional four key questions.


1. Do I have enough insurance to rebuild my home?

Your policy needs to cover the cost of rebuilding your home at current construction costs. Unfortunately, some homeowners simply purchase enough insurance protection to satisfy their mortgage lender. Others confuse the real estate value of their home with what it would cost to rebuild it. Quite simply, you should have enough insurance to rebuild your home in the event that it is completely destroyed. Be sure to consider the following:

  • Replacement cost – Most policies cover replacement cost for damage to the structure. A replacement cost policy pays for the repair or replacement of damaged property with materials of similar kind and quality.
  • Extended replacement cost – This type of policy provides additional insurance coverage of 20 percent or more over the limits in your policy, which can be critical if there is a widespread disaster that pushes up the cost of building materials and labor.
  • Inflation guard – This coverage automatically adjusts the rebuilding costs of your home to reflect changes in construction costs. Find out if your policy includes this coverage or if you have to purchase it separately.
  • Ordinance or law coverage – If your home is badly damaged, you may be required to rebuild it to meet new (and often stricter) building codes. Ordinance or law coverage pays a specific amount toward these costs.
  • Water back-up – This coverage insures your property for damage from sewer or drain back-up. Most insurers offer it as an add-on to a standard policy.
  • Flood insurance – Standard home insurance policies provide coverage for disasters such as fire, lightning and hurricanes. They do not include coverage for flood (including flooding from a hurricane). Flood insurance is available through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (www.floodsmart.gov), but can be purchased from the same agent or company representative who provides you with your home or renters insurance. Make sure to purchase flood insurance for the structure of your house, as well as for the contents. Excess Flood Protection, which provides higher limits of coverage than the NFIP in the event of catastrophic loss by flooding, is available from some insurers. Keep in mind that there is a 30-day waiting period before the insurance is valid.

2. Do I have enough insurance to replace all of my possessions?

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for your personal possessions for approximately 50 percent to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your home. So if you have $100,000 worth of coverage on the structure of your home, you would be covered for $50,000 to $70,000 worth of the contents of your home, depending on the policy.

The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory, which details everything you own and the estimated cost to replace these items if they are stolen or destroyed by a disaster. Keep your home inventory in a safe place if you have physical copies; or store it in the Cloud if you are using a home inventory app.

You can insure your possessions in two ways: by their actual cash value or their replacement cost. Make sure you review with your insurance pofessional which type of coverage is best for your particular situation.

  • Actual cash value policy This coverage pays the cost of replacing your belongings minus depreciation.
  • Replacement cost policy This coverage reimburses you for the full current cost of replacing your belongings.

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To illustrate the difference between the two types of policies, suppose, for example, a fire destroys a 10-year-old television set in your living room. If you have a replacement cost policy for the contents of your home, the insurance company will pay to replace the TV with a comparable new one. If you have an actual cash value policy, it will pay only a small percentage of the cost of a new TV set because the old TV has been used for 10 years and is now worth a lot less than its original cost. Some replacement cost policies specify that the new item be purchased by the insurance company as they may be able to purchase at a bulk or special rate. The price of replacement cost coverage is about 10 percent more than that of actual cash value.

3. Do I have enough coverage for additional living expenses?

Coverage for additional living expenses pays the extra costs of temporarily living away from your home if you can’t live in it due to an insured disaster such as a hurricane. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals, transportation and other living expenses incurred while your home is inaccessible or being rebuilt. It is important to note that it covers only those expenses that are over and above your regular living expenses, so it would not cover your mortgage, or regular trips to the grocery store. 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.

Coverage for additional living expenses differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage for about 20 percent of the insurance on your house. Some companies will sell you a policy that provides you with an unlimited amount of loss of use coverage, for a limited amount of time.

Make sure you know exactly how much coverage you have for additional living expenses, and whether there is a time limit. If the standard coverage is not adequate, it can generally be increased for an additional premium.

4. Do I have enough insurance to protect my assets?

Although not a key element in disaster planning, it is also important to have adequate liability protection. This covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or your family members may cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by pets. Liability insurance pays for both the cost of defending you in court and for any damages a court rules you must pay—up to the limits of your policy. Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimum of $100,000 worth of liability insurance, but higher amounts are available.

It is important to purchase enough liability insurance to protect your assets. If the standard liability coverage in your homeowners policy is not sufficient, you may need an excess liability, or umbrella, policy, which provides additional coverage over and above what is covered in your home (and auto) insurance policy.

Emergency Plan for Your Household

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Health officials in the U.S. have advised businesses, schools and communities to prepare for a possible outbreak of the COVID-19 coronavirus. On Tuesday, February 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said a wider spread of the virus in the U.S. can be expected, but the agency is uncertain of the severity of the threat.

The disruption to everyday life could be severe.

“It’s not so much a question of if this will happen anymore but rather more a question of exactly when this will happen and how many people in this country will have severe illness,” said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the head of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC.

Being prepared for a pandemic should be a part of every household’s emergency plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Ready.gov website offers the following tips:

Before a Pandemic

  • Store a two-week supply of water and food.
  • Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.
  • Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
  • Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.
  • Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

During a Pandemic

  • Limit spread of germs and prevent infection.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • When you are sick, keep your distance from others to protect them from getting sick too.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Washing your hands often will help protect you from germs.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food.

Safety & Road Rage

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Road rage incidents are not only dangerous, they are exempted from coverage by many auto insurance policies. Understand your risks and take precautionary measures to avoid being a victim—or a cause—of aggressive driving accidents.


Crowded highways and traffic backups at times cause drivers to lose control and become extremely aggressive. Road rage is a real problem that can lead to serious accidents or even incidents of violence on the road.

It’s important to realize that road rage is listed as an exemption in many auto insurance policies. This is because any damage or liability stemming from aggressive driving isn’t considered an accident but rather as having been caused by risky behavior.

Rather than risk paying the consequences of road rage—one of which may be not having your auto insurance claim paid—it’s best to avoid a dangerous and costly aggressive driving incident in the first place.

If you encounter an aggressive driver on the road…

  • Stay as far away as possible. Slow down or change lanes if need be, let the driver pass you and give yourself room at intersections to drive away.
  • Record a description of the car and note the license plate number if possible so that you can report him or her to the police for the sake of everyone’s safety.
  • Do not engage with or challenge the offender in any way. Ignore the driver’s rudeness and don’t give into the temptation to react in kind or you might escalate the risky behavior.
  • Put your safety first. If an aggressive driver starts to follow you, keep your doors locked, and head to the nearest police station. Never stop and confront an aggressive driver.

If you have a short fuse yourself stay cool and…

  • Leave plenty of time to get where you need to go. When you’re in a hurry, your patience is short and you are much more likely to become aggravated.
  • Remember other drivers are not annoying you on purpose. People make mistakes or they might be driving more slowly for a reason—they might be lost, or their sight might be impaired by sun glare.
  • Don’t use hand—or single finger—gestures other than a wave to someone who lets you into your lane.
  • Don’t tailgate slow drivers. Hanging on another car’s back bumper is dangerous. If the car in front of you has to stop short and you rear-end it, the accident would be considered your fault.
  • Don’t honk your horn insistently. Leaning on your horn is a bad practice. While it might make you feel better to express your frustration in a traffic jam, it won’t make anyone go any faster, it’s annoying to other drivers and passengers and it increases everyone’s stress level, which may lead to more aggressive behavior.
  • Never stop to confront another driver. It could lead to a dangerous situation for all concerned.

What Is Business Flood Insurance?

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Natural disasters can be devastating to businesses. While damage caused by some types of natural events—such as lightning or wind—will usually be covered by commercial property insurance, you need a special policy if you want protection from flood damage. This Q&A will help you understand this type of coverage and determine whether your business needs it.

Frequently asked questions about flood insurance

Q. Does my commercial property insurance include flood coverage?

A. No. Damage from flooding, including flooding generated by hurricane-generated storm surge, typically is not covered under a standard commercial policy, including a Commercial Package Policy (CPP) or a Business Owners Policy (BOP). Flood insurance is available from the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Q. What does flood insurance cover?

A.Flood insurance covers damage to your building and contents caused by flood. This includes losses resulting from water overflowing rivers or streams, heavy or prolonged rain, storm surge, snow melt, blocked storm drainage systems, broken dams or levees, or other similar causes. To be considered a flood, waters must cover at least two acres or affect two properties. Generally if water comes from above—for instance from rain or melting snow overflowing gutters and leaking onto your inventory—you’ll be covered by your standard commercial property insurance.

Q. What isn’t covered by flood insurance?

A. Property outside your building generally will not be covered. For instance, landscaping and septic systems will not be covered. In addition, flood insurance will not cover damage to your business vehicles, but this can be included in the optional “comprehensive” portion of your business vehicle insurance. Financial losses caused by business interruption or loss of use of insured property are also not covered.

Q. Do I have to purchase flood insurance?

A. If your commercial property is located in a high-risk flood area and you have a mortgage from a federally regulated or insured lender, you are required to purchase a flood insurance policy.

Q. How do I determine my risk for flood damage?

A. Location is the most important factor for weighing your risk for flood damage. Is your business located in or near a flood zone? (Flood map search tools can be found online.) In what part of the building is your businesses equipment and inventory located? Anything housed on a lower floor, for instance, will be at greater risk.

Q. Where can I purchase flood insurance?

A. Flood insurance is available from the NFIP and some private insurers. However, NFIP coverage can only be purchased through an insurance professional; you cannot buy it directly from the federal government. To find a local insurance professional who is familiar with the National Flood Insurance Program, contact the NFIP at 888-379-9531 for an agent referral.

Q. How long does it take to get flood coverage?

A. Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from date of purchase before your policy goes into effect.

Q. Does my flood policy cover mold?

A. Damage from mold and/or mildew resulting from the after-effects of a flood is covered, but each case is evaluated on an individual basis. Mold/mildew conditions that existed prior to a flooding event are not covered, and after a flood, the policyholder is responsible for taking reasonable and appropriate mitigation actions to eliminate mold and mildew.

Q. How much flood coverage can I get?

A. Commercial flood insurance provides up to $500,000 of coverage for your building and up to $500,000 for its contents.

Q. What if I need more coverage?

A. You can purchase what’s called excess insurance coverage to rebuild properties valued above National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) limits. Excess coverage includes protection against business interruption.

Insurance Policy Reviews

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There are four events that should trigger a review of your policy:

1. When your policy comes up for renewal

Don’t just automatically send a check to your insurance company. Take the time to review your coverage and call your agent with any questions or concerns that you may have regarding your homeowners insurance. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Has the company made any changes in coverage since last year?
  • Does my policy now include a separate deductible for risks like hurricane or hail?
  • Should I raise the deductible to save money?
  • Am I taking advantage of all available discounts?
  • Do I need to raise the amount of coverage for liability, personal possessions or the structure?
  • Should I comparison shop for a cheaper rate?
  • Do I need flood, earthquake or an umbrella policy?

2. When you’ve made major purchases or improvements to your home

If you have made any major purchases, make sure that you have the proper coverage. And, don’t forget about gifts. If you have received a diamond engagement ring or if a member of your family has bought you expensive artwork or a computer, talk to your agent about either increasing the amount of insurance you have for your personal possessions or purchasing a floater/endorsement for these items. A floater will give you higher and broader coverage for these items than you have under your homeowners policy.

If you have made major improvements to your home, such as adding a new room, enclosing a porch or expanding a kitchen or bathroom, you risk being underinsured if you don’t report the increase in square footage to your insurance company. Don’t forget about new structures outside of your home. If you have built a gazebo, a new shed for your tools or installed a pool or hot tub, you need to speak to your agent. Keep receipts and records in case you need to forward copies to your company.

3. When you’ve made your home safer

If you have installed a state-of-the art fire/burglar alarm system or upgraded your heating, plumbing or electrical system, make sure that your insurance company knows about these improvements. You may qualify for a discount.

4. When you experience major lifestyle changes

Marriage, divorce, or adult children who move back into the family home, can all affect your homeowners insurance. When people move in or move out, they take their belongings with them. And you may need additional coverage if there is a sizable increase in the value of the belongings in your home.

Starting a home-based business can also trigger changes in your coverage. You will need to get additional coverage for business liability and equipment. If the business is your primary source of income, you may need a Businessowners Package Policy (BOP). You may also need professional liability coverage, which is excluded under in-home business and businessowners policies. For more information, see Business Insurance.

Car Insurance-8 Questions

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Make sure your car coverage reflects your needs and budget

The vehicle you own, your personal priorities and your budget all factor into your unique auto insurance needs. Before comparing policies and insurers, evaluate how you use your car and what risks you face to figure out what options make the best sense for you.

1. How much do you drive?

Do you absolutely need your car every day—for instance, to commute to work or drive the kids to school and activities? Do you drive 100 miles a month or closer to 1,000 or more? Make sure your policy reflects how much you use your car. If you don’t drive a lot, you may want to opt for mileage-based insurance.

2. Will you be using your car for work?

If you use your car not just to get to work, but to perform tasks for which you get paid, commercial auto insurance is a necessity. A personal auto policy will not provide coverage if you transport paying passengers through a ride-share service, deliver pizzas, drive as a courier or use your car for other commercial activities.

3. What type of car do you drive?

Insurers have mountains of data, and they know in precise detail what types of cars, makes and models are more—or less—likely to incur claims. A flashy sports car with a powerful engine may be more likely to be stolen and its bodywork costs will be more than on a mid-sized sedan—and your insurance will be priced accordingly. Some types of cars—such as modified or classic cars—require special insurance. By the same token, you may receive discounts if you have a “safe” car—one with the latest safety features and a good safety record.

4. How much do you love your car?

If you love the way your vehicle looks and take pride in its appearance, you’ll likely want it fixed perfectly—or replaced with the same model—if it gets damaged. That means you’ll probably to consider the fullest range of insurance—including collision, comprehensive and glass coverage. On the other hand, if you drive a beater, see cars merely as transportation and want to save on premiums, you might prefer to limit your policy to liability.

5. Where do you live—and park your car?

Where you live will impact your insurance rates—and it may be a factor in what coverage you purchase. For example, cars parked on the street in urban areas face a greater risk for theft or vandalism, so comprehensive coverage might be a good option. You may discover that your premium rates are lower if you move from a city to a suburb.

6. Who else will be driving the car?

Generally, your car insurance will cover other occasional drivers. However, if other drivers live with you and use your car—whether a spouse, a teen driver or a housemate—they should be listed on your policy.

7. What are your legal obligations?

Nearly every state requires that you carry minimum liability coverage for your car. At the very least, you need to make sure your policy complies with state mandates. However, the levels of required coverage are generally pretty low. Keep in mind that, if you are involved in a serious accident, you may be sued for a large sum of money. Depending on your assets and financial risk tolerance, to be safe, you’ll probably want to purchase a higher level of liability coverage.

8. Is your car financed or leased?

If you still owe money on your car or have to return it in good condition when a lease expires, you’ll likely be required to insure the car for its full value—and even for any gap between what you owe and the car’s market value. Collision and comprehensive will cover damage to your car—and supplemental gap insurance will cover the rest.

Keep in mind that your insurance options and costs will also be affected by your age, gender and driving record. Be aware too that your credit score can also impact your insurance rates. Once you’ve looked at your needs and priorities, and understood how insurance options will match them, you’ll be better prepared to make an informed decision about the types and levels of coverage to buy.

Epidemics & Personal Insurance

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In this article, we discuss how personal insurance policies address communicable diseases and epidemics. In a later article, we’ll look at how commercial insurance policies address these issues.

Coronavirus is all over the news. Measles are back with a vengeance. It’s gotten so bad in one New York county that the local government tried to ban unvaccinated children from public spaces.

Little known fact to people outside the insurance world: many personal insurance policies address communicable diseases and epidemics. Let’s walk through some of them.

Homeowners liability insurance: probably not covered

If you crack open your handy HO-3 standard homeowners policy and flip to Section II – Liability Coverages, you’ll notice that the transmission of a communicable diseases that causes any bodily injury or property damage is not covered by the policy. What this basically means is that if you (the insured) cause someone to get hurt (i.e. sick) via a communicable disease, whether you knew you were sick or not, then the policy won’t cover you for any liability if you get sued.

So if someone without a measles vaccination throws a party and ends up getting several guests sick, that person’s homeowners policy probably won’t cover any liability arising out of their actions. Doubly so if the person did this purposely: intentional acts are excluded from pretty much every insurance policy on earth.

Personal liability umbrella: probably not covered, but it depends

A personal liability umbrella policy is basically an extra layer of liability insurance. It will cover some types of liability your homeowners insurance excludes – and will also cover higher payments, sometimes up to $1 million (homeowners is often limited to $300,000).

Personal umbrella policies will also often exclude liability arising out of the transmission of a communicable disease. But not always, since what constitutes a communicable disease often depends on the specific policy. Some policies only exclude sexually transmitted diseases; others will exclude any communicable disease.

Travel insurance: could be covered, depending on the situation

Travel insurance policies can vary dramatically, depending on the insured’s needs. Two of the more common coverages are for trip cancellation and emergency medical treatment.

Will travel insurance cover you if a trip gets cancelled due to an epidemic or pandemic? Again, depends on the policy, but probably not. Many travel policies will exclude losses caused by disease outbreaks.

What if you get sick and need to cancel your trip? Unfortunately, you’re probably not covered if you got sick because of an epidemic. But for other diseases, you could be covered, depending on the insurer and a whole laundry list of conditions. For example, a sickness that would be covered often requires that the sick person be so ill that they can’t travel (a mild cough won’t pay out); the sick person is also often required to have a medical professional confirm that they were, in fact, too sick to travel.

If you have emergency medical treatment coverage, then you’ll be covered for any covered medical care, including illness. However, these kinds of policies can get very complicated; it’s important to talk to your agent to make sure you are getting the coverage that you need.

Umbrella Insurance Policy-What is It?

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If you are ever sued, your standard homeowners or auto policy will provide you with some liability coverage, paying for judgements against you and your attorney’s fees, up to a limit set in the policy. However, in our litigious society, you may want to have an extra layer of liability protection. That’s what a personal umbrella liability policy provides.

An umbrella policy kicks in when you reach the limit on the underlying liability coverage in a homeowners, renters, condo or auto policy. It will also cover you for things such as libel and slander.

For about $150 to $300 per year you can buy a $1 million personal umbrella liability policy. The next million will cost about $75, and $50 for every million after that.

Because the personal umbrella policy goes into effect after the underlying coverage is exhausted, there are certain limits that usually must be met in order to purchase this coverage. Most insurers will want you to have about $250,000 of liability insurance on your auto policy and $300,000 of liability insurance on your homeowners policy before selling you an umbrella liability policy for $1 million of additional coverage.