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.

The Holidays & Car Theft

Courtesy of iii.org

The FBI includes the theft or attempted theft of automobiles, trucks, buses, motorcycles, scooters, snowmobiles and other vehicles in its definition of motor vehicle theft. About $5.9 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2016. The average dollar loss per theft was $7,680. Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 236.9 per 100,000 people in 2016, up 7.6 percent from 2015 but down 35.1 percent from 2007.

Vehicle thefts have been trending downward in the 23 years since they peaked at 1,661,738 in 1991, falling 58 percent to 699,594 in 2013, according to a 2014 report from the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). As a result, 56 percent of Americans rarely or never worry that their car will be stolen, according to a 2014 Gallop poll. The NICB credits law enforcement efforts, along with the creation of specific antitheft programs, technology and insurance company-supported organizations such as the NICB for contributing to the theft reduction.

Despite the reduction in vehicle thefts over the past two decades, industry observers caution that thieves constantly devise new and sophisticated means of stealing autos. Tactics include acquiring smart keys, which eliminated hot-wiring to steal cars; switching vehicle identification numbers; and using stolen identities to secure loans for expensive vehicles. The number of vehicles stolen with the key or keyless entry device left inside by the owner climbed 22 percent in 2015 to 57,096, according to the NICB.

Motor Vehicle Theft In The United States, 2007-2016

YearVehicles stolenPercent change
20071,100,472-8.2%
2008959,059-12.9
2009795,652-17.0
2010739,565-7.0
2011716,508-3.1
2012723,1860.9
2013700,288-3.2
2014686,803-1.9
2015713,0633.8
2016765,4847.4

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Uniform Crime Reports.

View Archived Tables

  • Motor vehicles were stolen at a rate of 236.9 per 100,000 people in 2016, up 7.6 percent from 2015 but down 35.1 percent from 2007.
  • About $5.9 billion was lost to motor vehicle theft in 2016. The average dollar loss per theft was $7,680.

Top 10 U.S. Metropolitan Statistical Areas By Motor Vehicle Theft Rate, 2016

 

RankMetropolitan statistical area (1)Vehicles stolenRate (2)
1Albuquerque, NM10,0111,114.01
2Pueblo, CO1,325899.43
3Bakersfield, CA7,176854.66
4Modesto, CA3,820767.69
5Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, CA25,708679.05
6Anchorage, AK2,273669.38
7Merced, CA1,622660.65
8San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA29,414640.26
9Fresno, CA5,682631.79
10Billings, MT877625.38

(1) Metropolitan Statistical Areas are designated by the federal Office of Management and Budget and usually include areas much larger than the cities for which they are named.
(2) Rate of vehicle thefts reported per 100,000 people based on the 2016 U.S. Census Population Estimates.

Source: National Insurance Crime Bureau.

Home Buyers Insurance Guidelines

Courtesy of iii.org

The price you pay for your homeowners insurance can vary by hundreds of dollars, depending on the size of your house and your insurance company. From raising your deductible to making home improvements, here are some ways to save money while you adequately protect your home and assets.


Don’t skimp

Don’t shop price alone. Remember, you’ll be dealing with this company in the event of an accident or other emergency. When you need to file a claim you?ll want an insurer that provides good customer service, so test that while you’re shopping, and choose a company whose representatives take the time to address your questions and concerns.

Raise your deductible

A deductible is the amount of money that you are responsible for paying toward an insured loss. The higher your deductible, the more money you can save on your premium, so if you can pay above the minimum $500 or $1,000 deductible, for example, you may reduce the cost of your homeowners policy.

If you live in a disaster-prone area, your insurance policy may have a separate deductible for damage from major disasters, so be sure you take this into account when considering whether to raise your standard homeowners deductible.

Buy your home and auto policies from the same insurer

Many companies that sell homeowners insurance also sell auto insurance and umbrella liability policies. If you buy two or more insurance policies from the same provider, you may be able to reduce your premium. To be sure you’re getting the best price, make certain any combined price from one insurer is lower than buying the coverages separately from different companies.

Make your home more disaster resistant

If you live in a disaster prone area, you will have more insurance options to choose from if you take certain preparedness steps? for example, installing storm shutters and shatterproof glass or reinforcing your roof. Older homes can be retrofitted to make them better able to withstand earthquakes. Consider modernizing your heating, plumbing and electrical systems to reduce the risk of fire and water damage. These precautions may prevent excessive damage and the related work and stress involved in rebuilding.

Do not confuse what you paid for your house with rebuilding costs

Your homeowners policy is based on the cost to rebuild your home, not its real estate value. While your house may be at risk from theft, windstorm, fire and the other perils, the land it sits on is not, so don’t include its value in deciding how much homeowners insurance to buy. If you do, you’ll pay a higher premium than you should.

Ask about discounts for home security devices

Most insurers provide discounts for security devices such as smoke detectors, burglar and fire alarm systems or dead-bolt locks. As some of these measures aren’t cheap and not every system qualifies for a discount, consult your insurance professional for recommendations.

Seek out other discounts

Types and levels of discounts vary from company to company and state to state. Ask your insurance professional about discounts that are available to you?for example, if you’re 55 years old and retired, or you modernize your plumbing or electrical systems, you may be qualify for a price break.

Look into group coverage

Does your employer administer a group insurance program? Check to see if a homeowners policy is available. In addition, professional, alumni and business groups may offer an insurance package at a reduced price. Whatever the offer, do your homework to make sure it is a better deal than you can find elsewhere.

Stay with the same insurer

If you’ve been insured with the same company for a number of years, you may receive a discount for being a long-term policyholder. But to ensure you are getting a good deal, periodically shop around to compare your premium with the prices of policies from other insurers.

Review the value of your possessions and your policy limits annually

Review your home inventory and any upgrades to your house or condo. Make sure your homeowners or renters policy covers any major purchases or additions to your home and also check that you’re not spending money for coverage you don’t need. For example, if your five-year-old fur coat is no longer worth the $5,000 you paid for it, you’ll want to reduce or cancel your floater and pocket the difference.

Another great way to save money on your homeowners policy is to take into account the cost of insurance while you’re shopping for a house and before you buy. These home buyers? insurance guidelines provide tips on the locations, types of construction and other factors that will help keep down the cost of your coverage.

Next steps: Here’s how to figure out how much homeowners insurance you need.

Get the Most From Travel Insurance

Courtesy of iii.org

Before leaving on vacation, make sure you have adequate insurance. Vacations can sometimes cost thousands of dollars, so it is important to have the proper insurance protection in case the cruise or tour operator goes bankrupt or you need to cancel the trip due to illness or other unforeseen events.

There are four major types of travel insurance, although you can also purchase packages that offer several options, including Trip Cancellation, Lost Baggage, Medical, Dental, Emergency Evacuation, 24 Hour Traveler Assistance, Baggage Delay, Travel Delay, and Accidental Death Coverages. Some policies also have options for Collision/Damage coverage for rented cars.

1. Trip cancellation insurance

This would reimburse you if the cruise line or tour operator goes out of business. It would also provide coverage if you have to cancel the trip due to sickness, a death in the family or another calamity listed in the policy.

In addition, if you or an immediate family member becomes seriously ill or is injured during the trip most policies would reimburse you for the unused portion of the vacation.

The cost is generally five to seven percent of the price of the vacation, so a $5,000 trip would cost roughly $250 to $350 to insure.

Trip cancellation is very different from a Cancellation Waiver that many cruise and tour operators offer. Waivers are relatively inexpensive, costing approximately $40 to $60. They provide coverage if you have to cancel the trip, but they have many restrictions. They must be purchased when you book the trip and will usually not cover you immediately before departure (the time period most people cancel) or after the trip has begun. Most importantly, waivers are not insurance. Cancellation Waivers are not regulated by the state department of insurance, so if your tour or cruise operator gets into financial difficulty, you may not be able to collect.

2. Baggage insurance or personal effects coverage

This would provide coverage if your personal belongings are lost, stolen or damaged during the trip.

To insure $1,000 worth of personal belongings for a week, it would cost roughly $50 per year.

Before purchasing this type of coverage, find out how much insurance the airline or trip operator provides for your belongings.

Also, check your homeowners or renters policy. It will usually provide coverage for off-premises theft. Therefore, if your luggage is stolen, your insurer will pay to replace it, less the deductible.

If you are traveling with expensive electronic equipment, jewelry or sporting gear, it might be more cost-effective to purchase a floater or endorsement to your homeowners or renters policy. The cost to insure a $1,000 ring would be between $10 and $40 annually. This would provide full coverage for the item, anywhere in the world, usually for one year.

3. Emergency medical assistance

This provides insurance and medical assistance for travelers. It would cover you if you had to be airlifted off a mountain due to a skiing or hiking accident, or if you had to stay for a prolonged period of time in a foreign hospital. It would also provide coverage if you got seriously sick or were injured and needed to be flown home. Some commercial airlines require very sick passengers to travel on a stretcher with a doctor. This means that you might have to purchase 10 or more seats on a plane at a possible cost of over $10,000.

Before purchasing this type of coverage, check with your own health insurance carrier. Find out what type of coverage you have when traveling abroad and if there are any limits. Also, ask if the policy will pay to fly you home or to a country with first-rate medical care.

4. Accidental death

This provides a variety of coverages if you or a family member die on the trip. If you have a good life insurance plan or made other financial provisions for your loved ones, this may be duplicate insurance.

Your credit card company may provide travel-related services and coverage. You can also purchase travel insurance from either a travel agent or you can buy directly from an insurer that specializes in this type of coverage.

Cyberattack & Small Business Risk

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.