Outlook for 2018 Atlantic Hurricanes

Courtesy of iii.org

Colorado State University (CSU) released its updated outlook for the 2018 Atlantic hurricane season today, and they are now calling for a below-normal season with a total of 11 named storms (including Alberto which formed in May), four hurricanes and one major hurricane (maximum sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater; Category 3-5 on the Saffir-Simpson Wind Scale) (Figure 1). This prediction is a considerable reduction from their June outlook which called for 14 named storms, six hurricanes and two major hurricanes. Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) and Net Tropical Cyclone (NTC) activity are integrated metrics that take into account the frequency, intensity and duration of storms.

Figure 1: July 2, 2018 outlook for the forthcoming Atlantic hurricane season.

CSU employs a statistical model as one of its primary outlook tools. The statistical model uses historical oceanic and atmospheric data to find predictors that worked well at forecasting prior year’s hurricane activity and has shown considerable skill based on data back to 1982 ). The statistical forecast for 2018 is calling for a below-average season.

CSU also uses an analog approach, whereby the team looks for past years with conditions that were most similar to what they see currently, and what they predict for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-October). The forecast team currently anticipates below-average to near-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the tropical Atlantic and warm neutral to weak El Niño conditions in the eastern and central Pacific. This averaging of the five analog seasons also calls for a below-average season .

The primary reason for the reduction in the seasonal forecast was due to continued anomalous cooling of the tropical Atlantic. Most of the Atlantic right now is much cooler than normal. (Figure 4). In fact, current sea surface temperature anomalies in the tropical Atlantic are colder than any year since 1994. In addition to providing less fuel for storms, a cooler tropical Atlantic is also associated with a more stable and drier atmosphere as well as higher pressure. All of these conditions tend to suppress Atlantic hurricane activity.

CSU also believes that the chance has increased for a weak El Niño event developing to coincide with the peak of Atlantic hurricane season. El Niños tend to reduce Atlantic hurricane activity through increases in upper-level winds that tear apart hurricanes as they are trying to develop. The dynamical and statistical model guidance is about evenly split between El Niño and neutral (neither El Niño nor La Niña) conditions for the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season (August-October)

Coastal residents are reminded that it takes only one storm to make any hurricane season an “active” one. For example, CSU correctly predicted a quiet Atlantic hurricane season in 1992. The season, in fact, was very quiet, with only seven named storms, four hurricanes and one major hurricane—but that major hurricane happened to be Hurricane Andrew, which tore across south Florida as a Category 5.

Tornado Tips

Courtesy of iii.org

Warnings/watches

Remember that a watch means that weather conditions are favorable for tornadoes and a warning means one has been spotted in your area.

  • Learn the warning signals used in your community. If a siren sounds, that means stay inside and take cover.
  • Consider setting up a neighborhood information program through a club, church group or community group. Hold briefings on safety procedures as tornado season approaches. Set up a system to make sure senior citizens and shut-ins are alerted if there is a tornado warning.

Seeking shelter

Do not try to outrun a tornado. Instead, stay calm and seek shelter.

  • At home or work, seek shelter in the central part of the building, away from windows. Basements are the best havens. If this is not an option, take cover in the bathroom, closet, interior hallway or under a heavy piece of furniture.
  • If you are in your car, abandon your vehicle and seek shelter in the nearest ditch if no other facility is available.
  • People living in mobile homes should vacate the premises and seek shelter elsewhere.

Protecting your property

  • If a tornado watch has been issued, move cars inside a garage or carport to avoid damage from hail that often accompanies tornadoes. Keep your car keys and house keys with you.
  • If time permits, move lawn furniture and yard equipment such as lawnmowers inside. Otherwise they could become damaged or act as dangerous projectiles causing serious injury or damage.
  • Make an inventory of your possessions and store it off the premises. If your belongings are damaged, this list will help facilitate the claim filing process.

2018 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast

Courtesy of iii.org

On Thursday April 5th Philip J. Klotzbach and Michael M. Bell, scientists with the Colorado State University, issued their 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast. The forecast anticipates slightly above-average activity for the 2018 Atlantic basin hurricane season.

There is slightly above-average probability of a major hurricanes making landfall along the continental United States coastline and in the Caribbean.

Klotzbach and Bell estimate that 2018 will have 7 hurricanes (median is 6.5), 14 named storms (median is 12.0), 70 named storm days (median is 60.1), 30 hurricane days (median is 21.3), 3 major (Category 3-4-5) hurricane (median is 2.0) and 7 major hurricane days (median is 3.9). The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 120 percent of the long-period average.

Probabilities for at least one major hurricane landfall on each of the following coastal areas:

  • Entire continental U.S. coastline – 63% (average for last century is 52%)
  • U.S. East Coast Including Peninsula Florida – 39% (average for last century is 31%)
  • Gulf Coast from the Florida Panhandle westward to Brownsville – 38% (average for last century is 30%)

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.

Click here for the full forecast.

Dr. Philip Klotzbach is a non-resident scholar for the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)

School & Sports Safety

Courtesy of iii.org

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

Bicycle crashes

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

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

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

Sports injuries

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

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

Watercraft accidents

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

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

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

 

 

Homeowners & Wildfires

of iii.org

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

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

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

Insured wildfire losses

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

Causes of wildfires

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

Wildfire prevention and mitigation

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

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

Properties at risk for wildfires

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

Charts and graphs

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

($ billions)

StateLowModerateHighVery high
Arizona$9.64$0.98$1.76$1.57
California75.8461.9289.3516.10
Colorado18.6311.5314.5813.91
Idaho9.205.563.712.62
Montana14.634.432.292.40
Nevada4.245.194.570.16
New Mexico11.654.627.072.46
Oklahoma31.9216.770.030.00
Oregon8.249.4911.913.20
Texas59.53147.6848.266.33
Utah2.853.930.770.01
Washington84.0718.082.880.51
Wyoming3.682.620.490.33
Total, states shown$331.27$292.81$187.66$49.61

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

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

View Archived Tables

Top 10 Most Wildfire Prone States, 2017

By householdsBy percent
of households
RankStateHouseholds at high
or extreme risk
from wildfires (1)
RankStatePercent of households
at high or extreme
risk from wildfires
1California2,044,8001Montana28%
2Texas715,3002Idaho26
3Colorado366,2003Colorado17
4Arizona234,6004California15
5Idaho171,2005New Mexico14
6Washington154,9006Utah14
7Oklahoma152,9007Wyoming14
8Oregon148,8008Oklahoma9
9Utah133,1009Oregon9
10Montana133,00010Arizona8

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

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

View Archived Tables

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

(2016 $ millions)

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

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

View Archived Graphs

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

($ millions)

EventNumber of relevant events (2)FatalitiesOverall lossesInsured losses (3)
Severe thunderstorm37114$13,400$9,600
Winter storms and cold waves11984,7003,500
Flood, flash flood12863,8001,100
Earthquake and geophysical00minorminor
Tropical cyclone2510060
Wildfire, heat waves and drought19144,4001,900
Other47minorminor
Total85324$26,400$16,100

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

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

View Archived Tables

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

RankStateNumber of firesRankStateNumber of acres burned
1Texas9,3001Oklahoma767,780
2California7,3492California560,815
3Georgia5,0863Alaska496,467
4North Carolina4,0074Idaho361,649
5Alabama3,9235Texas356,680
6Florida3,0676Kansas349,829
7Missouri2,6107Arizona308,245
8Arizona2,2888Washington293,717
9Tennessee2,1659Nevada265,156
10Montana2,02610Oregon219,509

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.

View Archived Tables

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

($ millions)

Estimated insured loss
RankDateName, LocationDollars when occurredIn 2016 dollars (2)
1Oct. 20-21, 1991Oakland Hills Fire, CA$1,700$2,746
2Oct. 21-24, 2007Witch Fire, CA1,3001,488
3Oct. 25-Nov. 4, 2003Cedar Fire, CA1,0601,362
4Oct. 25-Nov. 3, 2003Old Fire, CA9751,253
5Nov. 28-30, 2016Great Smoky Mountains Fire, TN938938
6Sep. 12-14, 2015Valley Fire, CA921933
7Nov. 2-3, 1993Topanga Fire, CA375578
8Sep. 4-9, 2011Bastrop County Complex Fire, TX530572
9Oct. 27-28, 1993Laguna Canyon Fire, CA350540
10Jun. 24-28, 2012Waldo Canyon Fire, CO450477

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

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

Protecting Small Businesses from Cyberattack

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Insurance Options for Valuable Jewelry

Courtesy of iii.org

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

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

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

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

 

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

Save Money on Your Car Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

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

1. Shop Around

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

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

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

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

2. Before You Buy a Car, Compare Insurance Costs

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

3. Consider Higher Deductibles

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

4. Reduce Coverage on Older Cars

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

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

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

6. Maintain a Good Credit History

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

7. Take Advantage of Low Mileage Discounts

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

8. Ask About Group Insurance

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

9. Seek Out other Discounts

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

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

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

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

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

Identify Theft Report

Courtesy of iii.org

The scope of identity theft

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

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

Identity theft and fraud complaints

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

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

Cybercrime

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

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

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

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

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

2018 No-Fault Insurance in Florida

Courtesy of iii.org

The Florida Legislature is again looking at ending no-fault auto insurance in Florida. Sound familiar? Tweaking no-fault (also known as personal injury protection ? PIP) is a frequent topic for legislative debate.

You may recall a fix to fight no-fault fraud came in 2012. Regulators issued a report in 2015 that said the fix appeared to be working. Regardless, it seems the desire to do something about rising auto insurance rates may be driving the desire to abolish no-fault. Florida is one of 12 states with a no-fault law. Proponents say it allows those injured in a car crash to recover costs for medical treatment under their own insurance policy, without needing to determine who is at fault for the accident. Among the proponents are hospitals, which say about one-third of the people they treat for auto injuries only have no-fault coverage. Critics discount that view, saying no-fault duplicates coverage that most people already have with medical insurance.

What will replace no-fault/PIP if the legislation becomes law? A requirement for bodily injury coverage, which applies to injuries you as a driver cause to someone else. This may cost more than no-fault coverage for some people. With this change, the Legislature is also considering raising the compulsory financial responsibility limits. Any time most people hear the word “raising” they think it might cost more money, and it might ? but here’s the other side of that:

Florida has the lowest financial responsibility requirement of any U.S. state. That means we set the bar very low for the responsibility drivers have if they cause a car crash with injuries. And, the end result is that too many people are not fully compensated, so while they are trying to recover physically from injuries caused by another, they may also be suffering financially. Raising that bar is about accountability.

A reminder: Insurance of any type (auto, home, health, business) is about protecting your assets. Always, always (always!) make sure you have insurance equal to the total value of the assets you own.