Memorial Day Weekend Road Safety Tips

Memorial Day Driving TipCourtesy of iii.org

The Memorial Day weekend brings masses of holiday travelers out on the road, and that unfortunately means more accidents. One recent study found that Memorial Day is the deadliest of all holidays, with drivers and passengers four times as likely to die in a traffic accident over the holiday weekend as over a regular weekend. And while these grim statistics should not dissuade you from traveling by car this weekend, here are some driving safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drive if you’re drunk or high; that’s a no-brainer. But also ask yourself if you are tired, sick or drowsy. If you’re impaired in any way, do not hit the road.
  • Make sure your car is in good condition. Are you up-to-date on maintenance, are your tires inflated properly and does your windshield give you a clear view?
  • Practice defensive, safe driving tactics including: buckling your seatbelt; stay aware of other drivers; maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you; and observe speed limits and traffic signals.
  • Be ready to focus on driving.  Distracted driving accounts for an increasing number of crashes.  Whether it’s talking to passengers, switching radio stations or texting, anything that takes your concentration from the task at hand can lead to an accident.
  • Be prepared. What is the weather like? Is a storm likely? Do you have emergency supplies in the car like water, a first-aid kit, flashlight, blanket, map and a roadside safety kit? Here is a checklist of items you should keep in your car.

Have a safe holiday weekend, all!

Memorial Day Stay Safe!

Memorial Day Driving TipCourtesy of iii.org

The Memorial Day weekend brings masses of holiday travelers out on the road, and that unfortunately means more accidents. One recent study found that Memorial Day is the deadliest of all holidays, with drivers and passengers four times as likely to die in a traffic accident over the holiday weekend as over a regular weekend. And while these grim statistics should not dissuade you from traveling by car this weekend, here are some driving safety tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t drive if you’re drunk or high; that’s a no-brainer. But also ask yourself if you are tired, sick or drowsy. If you’re impaired in any way, do not hit the road.
  • Make sure your car is in good condition. Are you up-to-date on maintenance, are your tires inflated properly and does your windshield give you a clear view?
  • Practice defensive, safe driving tactics including: buckling your seatbelt; stay aware of other drivers; maintain a safe distance from the car in front of you; and observe speed limits and traffic signals.
  • Be ready to focus on driving.  Distracted driving accounts for an increasing number of crashes.  Whether it’s talking to passengers, switching radio stations or texting, anything that takes your concentration from the task at hand can lead to an accident.
  • Be prepared. What is the weather like? Is a storm likely? Do you have emergency supplies in the car like water, a first-aid kit, flashlight, blanket, map and a roadside safety kit? Here is a checklist of items you should keep in your car.

Have a safe holiday weekend, all!

Watercraft, Insurance and You

Watercraft, Insurance and YouCourtesy of iii.org

Living in Florida means boating season never ends. With the right insurance protection, your boating days can be as carefree as a day at the beach. The type of insurance coverage you get depends upon the boat.

If you have a small boat, such as a canoe or kayak, you may have coverage under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home’s insured value. That amount of coverage includes the small boat, motor and anything you may use to tow it. It does not typically include liability insurance.

Extra liability coverage for boaters makes good sense. Some insurers exclude liability coverage for jet-skis under standard property insurance policies because of the high rate of accidents and injuries. Check with your insurer to see what’s covered and ask about additional protection that you can purchase through an endorsement. If you own a jet-ski or plan to rent one, check out our jet-ski safety video.

People who own small boats need to “go large” on safety. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2013 Boating Statistics, eight of 10 boaters who drowned were in vessels of less than 21 feet. And, 84 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Alcohol use is the leading contributor to boating accidents, along with operator inattention and inexperience. Not unlike the statistics for highways.

To cover physical loss for larger boats (and those valued above $1,000), you need broader coverage. With a watercraft policy or an endorsement to your existing homeowners policy, you’ll be covered for every type of loss or damage to your boat, including theft. There are a few coverage exceptions (such as normal wear and tear). Many boat owners choose a discounted package that covers the boat, motor and trailer.

Some people may decide to go without insurance on their boat because it’s paid in full, so no lender is “forcing” them to get coverage. That’s always an option, I guess, if you can afford to sink your investment. Back in 2004, when Florida experienced multiple hurricanes, you probably saw images of boats slammed together near marinas or flung into streets by high winds, resting a block from the ocean. I remember talking to a woman after Hurricane Ivan who said she had just sunk $10,000 into remodeling her yacht, which was found smashed to bits in a parking lot. “That’s not covered under my homeowners insurance, is it?” she asked. She knew the answer before asking the question, and now so do you.

In Florida, It Is Boating Season

Watercraft, Insurance and YouCourtesy of iii.org

Living in Florida means boating season never ends. With the right insurance protection, your boating days can be as carefree as a day at the beach. The type of insurance coverage you get depends upon the boat.

If you have a small boat, such as a canoe or kayak, you may have coverage under your homeowners or renters insurance policy. Coverage is usually about $1,000 or 10 percent of the home’s insured value. That amount of coverage includes the small boat, motor and anything you may use to tow it. It does not typically include liability insurance.

Extra liability coverage for boaters makes good sense. Some insurers exclude liability coverage for jet-skis under standard property insurance policies because of the high rate of accidents and injuries. Check with your insurer to see what’s covered and ask about additional protection that you can purchase through an endorsement. If you own a jet-ski or plan to rent one, check out our jet-ski safety video.

People who own small boats need to “go large” on safety. According to the U.S. Coast Guard’s 2013 Boating Statistics, eight of 10 boaters who drowned were in vessels of less than 21 feet. And, 84 percent of drowning victims were not wearing a life jacket. Alcohol use is the leading contributor to boating accidents, along with operator inattention and inexperience. Not unlike the statistics for highways.

To cover physical loss for larger boats (and those valued above $1,000), you need broader coverage. With a watercraft policy or an endorsement to your existing homeowners policy, you’ll be covered for every type of loss or damage to your boat, including theft. There are a few coverage exceptions (such as normal wear and tear). Many boat owners choose a discounted package that covers the boat, motor and trailer.

Some people may decide to go without insurance on their boat because it’s paid in full, so no lender is “forcing” them to get coverage. That’s always an option, I guess, if you can afford to sink your investment. Back in 2004, when Florida experienced multiple hurricanes, you probably saw images of boats slammed together near marinas or flung into streets by high winds, resting a block from the ocean. I remember talking to a woman after Hurricane Ivan who said she had just sunk $10,000 into remodeling her yacht, which was found smashed to bits in a parking lot. “That’s not covered under my homeowners insurance, is it?” she asked. She knew the answer before asking the question, and now so do you.

Liability Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

Do you or your business provide professional services or advice to other businesses or individuals? Could your counsel or service lead to losses by your client for which you could be held responsible? If so, you’ll likely want to purchase professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O).

Claims not covered by general liability insurance that are covered by professional liability insurance include negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice.

What types of businesses need professional liability insurance?

In some states, professional liability insurance is required, especially for attorneys and doctors. Legal and medical malpractice insurance policies are special types of professional liability insurance. Other professionals that should consider professional liability insurance include:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Graphic designers
  • Information technology (IT) consultants
  • Insurance professionals
  • Investment advisors
  • Management consultants
  • Real estate agents and brokers
  • Software developers

This list is not exhaustive. Consult with your insurance professional or inquire with your profession’s trade association to determine if you might need professional liability coverage.

What’s covered… and what’s not

There are two types of professional liability polices: claims-made and occurrence. Most professional liability insurance policies are “claims-made,” meaning that the policy must be in effect both when the event took place and when a lawsuit is filed for a claim to be paid. If, however, you change careers or retire, you may want to purchase an “occurrence” policy that will cover any claim for an event that took place during the period of coverage—even if the suit is filed after the policy lapses.

Professional liability insurance will pay the cost of legal defense against claims and payment of judgments against you, up to the limit of the policy. In general, coverage does not extend to non-financial losses or losses caused by intentional or dishonest acts. Other fees, such as licensing board penalties, may also be included. Policies will generally have a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The amount of professional liability insurance you will need and how much it will cost depends upon the size of your business and the level of risk it poses.

You may be able to include professional liability coverage in a Commercial Package Policy (CPP) as an endorsement. Note, however, the professional liability coverage is not included in an in-home business policy or Business Owners Policy (BOP).

Professional Liability Insurance and You

Courtesy of iii.org

Do you or your business provide professional services or advice to other businesses or individuals? Could your counsel or service lead to losses by your client for which you could be held responsible? If so, you’ll likely want to purchase professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance (E&O).

Claims not covered by general liability insurance that are covered by professional liability insurance include negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice.

What types of businesses need professional liability insurance?

In some states, professional liability insurance is required, especially for attorneys and doctors. Legal and medical malpractice insurance policies are special types of professional liability insurance. Other professionals that should consider professional liability insurance include:

  • Accountants
  • Architects
  • Engineers
  • Graphic designers
  • Information technology (IT) consultants
  • Insurance professionals
  • Investment advisors
  • Management consultants
  • Real estate agents and brokers
  • Software developers

This list is not exhaustive. Consult with your insurance professional or inquire with your profession’s trade association to determine if you might need professional liability coverage.

What’s covered… and what’s not

There are two types of professional liability polices: claims-made and occurrence. Most professional liability insurance policies are “claims-made,” meaning that the policy must be in effect both when the event took place and when a lawsuit is filed for a claim to be paid. If, however, you change careers or retire, you may want to purchase an “occurrence” policy that will cover any claim for an event that took place during the period of coverage—even if the suit is filed after the policy lapses.

Professional liability insurance will pay the cost of legal defense against claims and payment of judgments against you, up to the limit of the policy. In general, coverage does not extend to non-financial losses or losses caused by intentional or dishonest acts. Other fees, such as licensing board penalties, may also be included. Policies will generally have a deductible ranging from $1,000 to $25,000. The amount of professional liability insurance you will need and how much it will cost depends upon the size of your business and the level of risk it poses.

You may be able to include professional liability coverage in a Commercial Package Policy (CPP) as an endorsement. Note, however, the professional liability coverage is not included in an in-home business policy or Business Owners Policy (BOP).

Prepare for 2020 Hurricane Season

Hurricane Season 2020Courtesy of iii.org

The start of what may be an “above-normal” 2020 Atlantic hurricane season is a month away and the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) is recommending homeowners, renters, and business owners prepare now.

“As much as we are living today with the unimaginable impact of COVID-19, we must remind residents along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to remember it takes only one hurricane or tropical storm to ravage communities and to shatter lives,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I. “During National Hurricane Preparedness Week (May 3-9), we encourage residents to take a moment to ensure you have adequate financial protection for your property and possessions while also taking steps to make your home or business is more resilient to wind and water. Since we are all needing to stay home more, it’s even more important to make ourselves more resilient to natural catastrophes like hurricanes.”

The Atlantic hurricane season begins on June 1 and continues through Nov. 30.

Review Your Insurance Coverage
Make sure you have the right type – and amount – of property insurance. The Triple-I recommends you conduct an annual insurance review of your policy(ies) with your insurance professional.

Standard homeowners insurance covers the structure of your house for disasters such as hurricanes and windstorms, along with a host of other disasters. It is important to understand the elements that might affect your insurance payout after a hurricane and adjust your policies accordingly.

At the very least, review the declarations page of your policy. This one-page information sheet offers details on how much coverage you have, your deductibles and insights into how a claim will be paid.

“You should ask your insurance professional if you have the right amount of insurance coverage to rebuild or repair your home, to replace its contents, and to cover temporary living expenses if your property is uninhabitable,” Kevelighan said. “You should also ask about flood insurance, which is separate and additional to traditional homeowners and small business insurance. Ninety percent of natural disasters involve flooding.”

Flood insurance, which is a separate policy from your property coverage, is offered through FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and several private insurers.

Another common exclusion from a standard homeowners policy is sewer backup (also not covered by flood insurance). Backed up sewers can cause thousands of dollars of damage to floors, electrical systems, walls, furniture and other belongings. Sewer backup insurance is especially beneficial in hurricane-prone areas.

Protect Your Vehicles
Comprehensive auto, which is an optional coverage, protects your vehicle against theft and damage caused by an incident other than a collision, including fire, flood, vandalism, hail, falling rocks or trees, and other hazards.

Make Sure Your Possessions are Adequately Protected
Imagine the cost of repurchasing all your furniture, clothing and other personal possessions after a hurricane. Whether you have homeowners insurance or renters insurance, your policy provides protection against loss or damage due to a hurricane.

Creating an inventory of your belongings and their value will make it easy to see if you are sufficiently insured for either replacement cost or cash value of the items. When you create a photo or video catalog of your home’s possessions, it will also help expedite the insurance claims process if you sustain damage from a storm.

Make Your Property More Resilient
Invest in items that will harden your property against wind damage, such as a wind-rated garage door and storm shutters. The Triple-I also recommends you have your roof inspected annually by a licensed and bonded contractor to make sure it will hold up to high winds and torrential rains.

Other hurricane season preparation tips from the Triple-I include:

  • Preparing a hurricane emergency kit with a minimum two-week supply of essential items such as non-perishable food, drinking water and medications for every family member.
  • Creating an evacuation plan well before the first storm warnings are issued.

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.

Do You Need Renters Insurance? Here’s Why!

Courtesy of iii.org

Hey guys, I know you’re busy having fun watching football, but it’s time for us to have a talk about renters insurance. Why? Because the I.I.I. found that only 37 percent of renters have renters insurance. Which is bad, because renters insurance is important and good.

One of the most important things renters insurance covers is damage to your personal property. Your landlord’s insurance probably doesn’t cover any of your personal belongings if a covered loss happens to the apartment.

(Covered losses usually include fire, water damage from an overflowing sink, theft, vandalism, and a few other things. But be sure to talk to an agent and read your policy because different companies often vary in their wording.)

It’s important because you own things

The first objection I often hear about renters insurance is “Lucian, I don’t need it because I don’t own a lot of stuff.” Yes, we’re all about minimalist Instagram chic – in theory. But in practice, we own a lot of stuff, because we’re human beings who need clothes and dishes and sometimes we even own a couch.

Think about clothing for a minute. Unless you live by Miami Beach and only need a bathing suit, you own more than one set of clothes. A few pairs of pants. Blouses. Underwear (presumably). Maybe you own a suit or nice dress for work. If you live up north, you probably also have an entire winter wardrobe.

Now imagine you lost all your clothes in a fire. It could cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to replace them. Because you own a lot of clothes.

Nothing is free – especially not replacing all your stuff

Another objection I often hear is “Lucian, won’t I just be giving those big insurance companies free money if nothing bad happens to my stuff?”

First, premiums are often pretty reasonable. The most I’ve ever paid for renters insurance was around $25 a month, and that was in a part of New York City where I was still probably getting a bargain. Some of the new app-based companies charge premiums as low as $5 a month. Your budget won’t hate you for that kind of expense.

Besides, no one ever says “at last, I can finally cash in on those insurance premiums I’ve been paying!” after their apartment building burns down and they lose everything.

Which leads me to my second point: an intangible value of insurance is peace of mind. People like to know that they don’t have to spend all their disposable income replacing everything they own. Odds are, you’re also one of those people.

Like life itself, renters insurance is about more than just the things you own

But let’s pretend for a minute you don’t actually own any stuff. Renters insurance also usually covers:

  • Your liability expenses if someone gets hurt in your apartment. Imagine someone is over at your apartment that has no furniture in it because you don’t own any stuff. Now imagine that someone gets hurt after slipping on your uncarpeted tiled floor because you don’t own carpets and they sue you. Your renters insurance will probably cover some legal costs. And even if they don’t sue you, your insurance can cover certain medical expenses for your injured guest.
  • Increased living expenses. Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean your insurer will cover your rent increase. But it does mean that if a covered loss (think: apartment fire) makes your apartment uninhabitable, your policy could reimburse you for food and temporary housing. You don’t want to be that person without renters insurance standing outside their burning apartment building in 20-degree January weather with no place to go.

It’s really easy to buy

We’re all busy, but applying for renters insurance takes maybe 15 minutes, tops. Many companies let you apply via an app, so while your train is hopelessly delayed you can use that time to protect yourself and your stuff. That way, if your apartment building catches fire while you’re at work, you can rest (relatively) easy knowing that you’ll have help buying replacement stuff and having a place to stay while you find a new apartment – for about the price of a coffee or four a month.

Seriously, get renters insurance.

2020 Hurricane Predictions

Courtesy of iii.org

2020 Hurricane Forecast

The 2020 Atlantic hurricane season activity is projected to be “above normal,” according to Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach.

Dr. Klotzbach, an atmospheric scientist at Colorado State University (CSU), and his team have issued an early forecast of 16 named storms, eight hurricanes, and four major hurricanes for the year, with above-average probability for major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.

A typical year has 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes. Major hurricanes are defined as Category 3, 4, and 5 storms, where wind speeds reach at least 111 miles per hour.

The forecast is based partly on the fact that El Niño conditions are unlikely this summer and fall.

“El Niño is warmer-than-normal water in the Central and Eastern Tropical Pacific,” Dr. Klotzbach said. “When it occurs, it tends to increase upper-level westerly winds that tear apart hurricanes when the try to develop.”

The chart below shows 2020 hurricane probabilities for 18 coastal states.

A lot can change between now and the peak of the season though, so an updated forecast will be issued on June 4.

As is the case with all hurricane seasons, coastal residents are reminded that it only takes one hurricane making landfall to make it an active season for them. They should prepare the same for every season, regardless of how much activity is predicted.

For the full forecast report click here:
https://tropical.colostate.edu/media/sites/111/2020/04/2020-04.pdf

For information on hurricane-proofing your home and business, check out the following:

Flood Policy Renewal Period Extended

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced it is extending the grace period to renew flood insurance policies from 30 days to 120 days to help policyholders who may be experiencing financial difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. The extension applies to National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies with an expiration date between February 13 and June 15, 2020.

Said David Maurstad, the FEMA administrator who oversees the NFIP, “We want to make sure that policyholders don’t have to worry that their policy will lapse during the spring flood season or into the start of hurricane season.”