Thanksgiving Safety


Thanksgiving Safety

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The Thanksgiving holiday is a peak travel period for families coming together to celebrate. We are committed to protecting you on our roadways, assisting you in any way possible and providing you with the information you need to travel safely.

Follow these tips to help ensure we all Arrive Alive this Thanksgiving:

  • Drive sober, and only sober. Alcohol impairs all of the important skills needed to drive safely, such as judgement, reaction, vision and concentration. Plan ahead and find a safe way home every time – designate a driver or call a ride service.
  • Check your tires. Tires are a vehicle’s first line of defense on the road. Check your tire pressure, tread depth and spare tire especially before long trips. Do not over load your vehicle, it can result in premature wear and tire blowouts.
  • Buckle up. A seat belt is your vehicle’s most important safety feature. Florida law requires that all drivers, all front seat passengers and all passengers under the age of 18 wear seat belts or the appropriate child restraints. Seat belts save lives, so buckle up every trip, every time.
  • Register or update your Emergency Contact Information (ECI). ECI is a secure system allowing law enforcement, nationwide, to contact designated family or friends in response to an emergency situation.
  • Observe and obey all speed limits. Speed limits may change as you drive through different types of roadways, so make sure you adjust your speed accordingly. In Florida, the limit will never be over 70 mph.

You can also download our Road Trip Checklist & Safety Tips to make sure you’re doing everything you can to Arrive Alive!

Call *FHP (*347) to report intoxicated or aggressive drivers, or if your vehicle breaks down and you need assistance. To request immediate emergency services, dial 911.


Here She Is, the Safest Driver in Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES — If you can navigate the maze of roads and freeways in this city and choose not to break a single traffic law, congratulations. You deserve a prize.

That prize could have been $20,000, in fact, if you had enrolled in the first L.A.’s Safest Driver contest this summer.

Deborra Sarei, 46, a resident of Downey, Calif., who takes the 105 to the 605 to Lakewood each morning to drop off her daughter at school, knew she was up to the two-month challenge. She faced off against 11,500 other entrants who reside in, or drive in and near, the city of Los Angeles. They participated by letting a mobile app spy on them behind the wheel to track phone distraction, speed, braking, acceleration and cornering.

With constant monitoring, Ms. Sarei quickly realized she’d need to recalibrate her driving habits. But driving “safer” sometimes got her into trouble on busy freeways.

Still, Ms. Sarei made sure to never creep past speed limits. To make up for the extra time spent on the road, she told her daughter to be ready to leave for school 10 minutes earlier than usual.

“When we were in the slow lane, we’d be going at a certain speed limit and people would be whizzing by us,” she said. “We started saying, ‘Well, you’re not going to be L.A.’s safest driver.’”

Ms. Sarei is now known as L.A.’s safest driver. The $20,000 purse and the bragging rights are all hers.


Your side hustle may be at risk — here are steps you can take to protect it

Your side hustle may be at risk — here are steps you can take to protect it

GP: P Dog Owner
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A side hustle can be a good way to make some extra cash, stretch your entrepreneurial wings and perhaps eventually become a full-time business owner.

It can be anything from blogging to being an Uber driver or a handyman. A side hustle is usually in addition to another “main” job.

Yet just as important as running your side business is making sure it — and you — are protected in case something goes wrong, experts advise.

For some, that could mean insurance outside of their personal coverage. It also means having the right structure for your business.

“There is a lot of opportunity in terms of earning an income, but there are other issues — such as a record keeping, tax reporting, expenses and business risks — that a lot of times get overlooked,” said certified financial planner Brian Ellenbecker, a senior financial planner with Baird in Milwaukee.

If you are thinking about starting a business, or already have one, you aren’t alone.

If you have a home, assets built up, things like that — those could all be subject to a negligence lawsuit if you did something wrong in the business
Jason Pappas

More than one-third (38%) of millennials are pursuing an entrepreneurial side business, compared with 26% of Generation X members and 11% of baby boomers, according to a 2018 survey by Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Yet, 54% of millennials with a side hustle don’t have insurance other than their homeowners or renter’s policy, the poll found.

The reason: lack of knowledge. Of those surveyed, 40% of millennials said additional coverage never occurred to them.

“Small-business owners, especially those that are embarking on a new business for the first time or a side hustle, there are so many things to manage … so many balls in the air, insurance is not always top of mind,” said Tyler Asher, president of independent agent distribution at Liberty Mutual Insurance.

Choose your structure

The first thing you should do when starting a business is decide how to structure it.

If you are the only owner, then establishing a sole proprietorship is the simplest route to take because, apart from obtaining any necessary permits or licenses, there isn’t much more you need to do.

“The drawback is [that] there is no separation between the business and the owner,” Ellenbecker said.

The owner receives all the income but “they are also responsible for any expenses or liabilities that arise from the business.”

Five ways to keep your side hustle from taking over your life

The other option is a limited liability corporation, or LLC, which separates your personal and business assets and generally protects you from personal liability if something happens with your business.

If forming an LLC, keep in mind that each state has its own rules on how to create one, so do your research.

Do you need additional insurance?

Whether you need business insurance is dependent on the type of side business you run and your level of risk tolerance, according to insurance broker Jason Pappas.

You may be a contractor working on someone’s house or you could be a writer who works from home and therefore don’t have much at stake.

“A lot of entrepreneurs have a pretty high risk tolerance,” said Pappas, founder of Queen City Risk Management, based in Buffalo, New York.

“It is more a question of at what point in your business are you OK with something going wrong and you losing everything that you built in the business.”

More from Invest in You:
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When it pays to buy travel insurance and when you should pass

A business owner’s policy includes general liability coverage. That may cover things such as tenant liability if you are renting space or products coverage in the event that one of your creations hurts someone.

There is also usually property coverage, which protects your stuff — e.g., computers or tools — as well as coverage if you own a building. Some companies may even include errors and omissions, which protects you if you give someone incorrect information.

If you are a driver for a ride-hailing company, such as Uber or Lyft, be sure to read the fine print in their provided insurance — it has different tiers for when a passenger is in the car and when the driver is alone.

That’s important because most personal auto policies won’t cover you if you get into an accident while working for one of these companies, Pappas said. In fact, he said, he knows of instances where insurers have canceled a personal policy after discovering the person worked as a driver, even though the accident may have happened on personal time.

His suggestion: Take 15 or 20 minutes to look into what it would cost you to insure your business. It may be $500 a year, or lower.

Why starting a side hustle might be a bad idea

If you encounter problems, without insurance, you could wind up with your company bankrupt. If you are a sole proprietor, it could be worse.

“If you have a home, assets built up, things like that — those could all be subject to a negligence lawsuit if you did something wrong in the business,” Pappas said.

Don’t forget about taxes

Another thing people often forget about is keeping a detailed enough record to substantiate their business tax deductions, Baird’s Ellenbecker said.

“One of the biggest tax benefits of a business is the ability to deduct certain expenses,” he said.

They have to be ordinary and necessary to carry out the business, but you have to keep good records. That could be as simple as receipts.

However, if you use your car for business, you’ll have to do things like keep a separate log that tracks the dates, distances and what you were doing for your business, Ellenbecker said.

CHECK OUT: Suze Orman: ‘Do not let these markets scare you — you want these markets to go down’ via Grow with Acorns+CNBC.

Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.


How far has the insurance industry come since Hurricane Camille?

Category 5 hurricanes are one of the most powerful forces in nature. They produce winds of 157mph or greater and often lead to catastrophic storm surge. To this day, only four Atlantic hurricanes have made landfall in the continental US as a Category 5 – Labor Day Hurricane (1935), Hurricane Camille (1969), Hurricane Andrew (1992), and Hurricane Michael (2018).

Saturday (August 17) marked the 50th anniversary of Hurricane Camille, which made landfall as a Category 5 along the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Camille remains the second most intense hurricane to make landfall in the US, unleashing peak winds of approximately 175mph and storm surge of around 24.6 feet in certain coastal areas. The total cost of damages reaped by Camille reached an estimated $1.43 billion in 1969 dollars (closer to $10 billion in 2018 dollars).

Hurricane preparedness, response and recovery have all made huge strides over the past half century. Technological advances over time, such as better satellite imagery and forecasting capabilities, geospatial intelligence, aerial imagery, and drone capabilities, have all enabled us to better prepare and recover from serious storms.

Read next: Catastrophe losses hit $44 billion in first half

Reflecting on the progression, Jim Wucherpfennig, vice president – property claim at Travelers, said: “On a macro level, our response time to customers and claims today is 3X- 4X better and faster than it was at the time of Camille. There are a lot of people and process improvements I can go through, but from a pure technology perspective, there’s been so much progression.

“It all starts with how we plan for catastrophes. Back at the time of Camille, Travelers didn’t have a dedicated catastrophe response team, and we used to handle the majority of catastrophe claims using independent claim adjusters. Today, we do have a dedicated catastrophe team [headquartered at the Travelers National Catastrophe Center in Windsor Connecticut], and we use all Travelers employees to respond to catastrophe events.”

The Travelers National Catastrophe Center monitors weather 24-hours a day, seven days a week, using the Global Forecast System (GFS), a global numerical weather prediction system used by many of the top weather monitoring organizations. Unlike 50-years-ago, when Camille unleashed her terror, the Travelers team has meteorologists on staff, who can monitor weather data and can use that data to proactively communicate with customers, both before and after an event happens.

Read more: When a storm strikes, ‘you’re meant to act as though uninsured’

“We take that data and we have a lot of proprietary systems that help us plan for and manage catastrophes,” Wucherpfennig told Insurance Business. “We’re able to overlay where our customers are situated in relation to weather scenarios, meaning we can predict what resources will be needed to respond to events, as well as which customers are likely to have something significant happen to their home or business.

“We’re always monitoring weather events that could become a tropical storm or a hurricane – even when they’re way out in the Atlantic or down in the Gulf. As our models begin to tell us that a system is likely to develop, we have a catastrophe playbook, which contains actions that we will follow on each day leading up to, during or after an event. We provide a lot of communication to pre-event to our customers through our prepare and prevent process.”

Once the Travelers team has a good idea of where a hurricane or a tropical depression is likely to make landfall, they deploy resources to a safe area nearby so that they’re ready to handle claims and help customers as soon as the event has passed by. This is yet another example of technology-enabled preparedness that wasn’t possible on the same scale when Camille struck in 1969.

Up next: AGCS partners with the I.I.I. to safeguard businesses from wildfires

In catastrophe response, technology has “rapidly improved the cycle time of claims,” enabling adjusters to help customers get their lives back in order more quickly after an event, Wucherpfennig explained. For example, many insurers today use drone technology to inspect properties and survey damaged areas as soon as possible after a weather event. Among other things, Travelers also uses a virtual adjudication platform, which uses photographic imagery to create three-dimensional models of properties, enabling adjusters to provide faster and more accurate cost estimates to customers so that they can locate funds and begin repairs quicker.

Despite all the advances in technology, one thing hasn’t changed in the slightest when it comes to the insurance industry’s connection to hurricane risk. A couple of members in the Travelers property claims team are approaching or have just passed their 50th anniversaries with the insurer. They told Wucherpfennig that the end-goal of any hurricane preparedness or response strategy will always have the same thing at its core – people.

He summarized: “What hasn’t changed – and probably never will – is that our customers are turning to us in their time of need, and we have to help them recover and get back on their feet as quickly as possible. The end goal we had 50-years-ago was the same goal that the industry has today.”


5 Questions to Ask Your Insurance Rep About Renters Insurance

While renters insurance offers broad protection for tenants, it’s important for consumers to choose the policy that best suits their individual needs.

renters policy can cover your personal belongings and help cover legal costs in the event you are sued for accidental bodily injury or property damage of others. But not all policies are the same. Here are five questions to ask your insurance representative to help you make the right choice.

1. What’s Covered and What’s Not?

A renters policy generally covers your stuff against events like theft, lightning, fire, smoke, vandalism, explosions and windstorms.1 There’s also liability protection against claims and lawsuits alleging that you caused bodily injuries or property damage. There may be coverage for certain kinds of water damage, such as leaks from damaged pipes. Your insurance rep can tell you if the policy includes additional living expenses if you’re forced to move due to a covered loss.

A typical renters insurance policy does not generally provide coverage for damage from floods and earthquakes. Also, there will be limits on how much coverage is provided for your things. There could also be lower limits in the policy for different categories of your possessions. If you own expensive collectibles, such as jewelry or art, ask your insurance representative about buying additional coverage for these valuables.

2. Will a Renters Policy Cover my Roommate?

Renters insurance typically covers family members, but may not cover roommates. Travelers recommends that each occupant obtains his/her own policy to cover their individual stuff.

Some insurers allow roommates to be insured under a single policy.2 In these instances, roommates must agree to the level of coverage, based on the combined value of their stuff. If one roommate moves away, the remaining renter typically will need to obtain a new policy.

Protect the Things You Love with No Deductible

Traverse is a product by Travelers that offers low-cost insurance plans for cell phones, electronics, sporting goods, musical instruments and more. Traverse is currently only available in New York.

3. What’s the Difference Between Cash Value and Replacement Coverage?

There are two types of renters coverage, one that pays based on your property’s actual cash value and one that pays based on you property’s replacement cost.

For example, a computer you bought for $1,000 eight years ago has significantly depreciated in value, let’s say to $200. If you have a cash value policy, the maximum amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair it, or $200. If you have a replacement cost policy, the amount you would be paid would be the lesser of the cost to repair or replace the item with a similar new computer.

4. Will Owning a Dog Affect my Renters Coverage?

Some policies provide coverage if your dog injures someone, and some insurers exclude or limit coverage for customers who own a dog. It’s best to discuss this with your insurance representative when purchasing your policy.

5. Am I Covered if my Laptop Computer is Stolen from my Car Parked Outside my Home?

Renters policies generally include coverage for items stolen off-premises. That means belongings outside your home have insurance protection similar to the things inside your home. However, off premises coverage may be limited to a percentage of your total coverage for personal items. For example, if you have $50,000 in personal items coverage, the amount available for off-premises losses may be 10 percent of that figure, or $5,000. Also, keep in mind, there is generally a deductible that applies.


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5 Tips to Protect Your Possessions with Valuable Items Insurance Coverage

You may think that a homeowners insurance policy provides adequate coverage for all your valuables, but policies may provide limited or no coverage for certain items — including generally expensive items — that are damaged or stolen.

For example, many homeowners policies generally have a $1,000 or $1,500 coverage amount for jewelry if the loss is due to theft. Such limits are in place to help keep homeowners policies affordable. However, if jewelry valued at $2,000 is stolen from your home and you have a $1,000 policy limit, you can only receive $1,000 from your insurer to replace the missing items.

That is when an insurance endorsement (sometimes called a rider) can provide increased coverage for your possessions. For an additional premium, this coverage can help protect you from the loss of high-end valuables such as jewelry, furs, antiques, artwork and collectibles.

Here are five tips that may help you decide whether you need valuable items coverage.

1. Read Your Insurance Policy

Your insurance policy is a contract between you and your carrier. This document includes the limits of how much you will be compensated when certain valuable items are damaged or stolen. Note that certain items may not be covered, so be sure to carefully review your policy to determine whether you have insurance that meets your needs. If you have questions, contact your insurance agent.

2. Have Your Valuables Appraised

You may have possessions that are worth more than you think. To help you decide whether you need additional coverage, it may be helpful to have them appraised. An appraisal can help you determine if your homeowners insurance policy covers the full value of your property, as some items may not be covered.

The value of some items, such as collectibles or jewelry, may be difficult to determine without professional assistance. It may be necessary to have your valuables reappraised periodically. If they increase in value, you may need additional coverage.

Travelers Insurance allows you to customize your coverage to fit your unique needs. We’ll help you understand the risks you face and get the coverage to help prepare you for the unexpected.

girl sitting in front of car

3. Create a Home Inventory

You may not be able to make a decision about whether to buy additional coverage until you know exactly what you own. You may want to take stock of your possessions by creating an inventory. Do not forget to check your garage, basement or attic for stored valuables, such as antiques and coin collections.

Be sure to list all items of value and include copies of receipts or appraisals when possible. This may help you if you ever need to file a claim with your insurance carrier.

4. Check Your Neighborhood’s Crime Rate

If you live in a community where the crime rate is high, you may have a greater need for additional coverage to protect your valuables. Police departments may track crime statistics and share this information with the public. You can consider asking your police department about home burglary trends in your neighborhood. Also consider installing a security alarm system. An alarm system may qualify you for a homeowners insurance discount.

5. Take Stock of Your Electronic Equipment

In our increasingly high-tech world, people use their electronic equipment to perform their jobs and maintain social connections. In recent years, many new gadgets and devices have been developed that may enhance our lives. If you keep high-end computers and other electronics in your home, you may want to make sure your homeowners policy will cover their loss.

Safeguard Your Personal Valuables

Your need to insure valuable items is something you may want to discuss with your agent whenever you buy a homeowners policy. If you purchase additional coverage for high-cost items, it is a good idea to understand its limits and exclusions.

Protect your home the way it protects you by choosing the property insurance coverage that meets your needs.


How to Choose Car Insurance in 4 Steps

Because there are so many companies selling car insurance, sorting through all the choices to find the right policy for you and your family can be a challenging task. With each carrier claiming to offer the best value, it’s easy to feel confused. At first glance, all of the policies may look the same, but there are important differences you may need to consider. Your goal should be to find one that includes all the benefits you need at a competitive price.

Follow these four steps for finding the best car insurance policy for you:

1. Determine the Level of Coverage You Need

The cheapest policy may not be the one you need. Inexpensive plans may not provide collision coverage, which pays to fix your own car following an accident. They may not offer comprehensive coverage, which covers damage to your car not caused by auto accidents, such as natural disasters, theft or vandalism.

The nonprofit Insurance Information Institute notes that all states except New Hampshire require property and bodily injury liability coverage.1 A policy that offers only the minimum amount of liability protection required by law may save you money, but it probably won’t cover the legal claims that can stem from serious accidents involving property damage or injuries.

Remember that not everyone’s insurance needs are the same. For example, if you’re leasing a car, you may need gap insurance. If the car is totaled, gap insurance covers the difference between the actual cash value of the vehicle and the outstanding balance on your lease.

2. Review the Financial Health of Car Insurers

Everyone wants a good deal on their auto insurance policy, but low rates won’t do you any good if the company you choose isn’t around to pay its claims. Online reports from independent ratings companies, such as A.M. Best, Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s, can help you determine your insurer’s financial health, says Investopedia.2

Each ratings agency uses its own standards for evaluating insurance companies and their financial health.

3. Compare Several Car Insurance Quotes

You can shop for insurance by going online, using the telephone or working directly with insurance agents. A report by Bankrate says getting multiple quotes is important because prices for the same level of coverage vary greatly.3 That happens because insurance prices are based on risk. Each carrier has its own formula for measuring the policyholder’s risk for filing claims.

Some insurers rely heavily on insurance scores to determine how likely policyholders are to file claims. Other companies may give more weight to the type of car you drive and how expensive it would be to repair following an accident.

Where you live also can be a factor in determining what you pay for car insurance. If your ZIP code has a higher-than-average rate of car accidents, your insurance costs could be higher.

4. Ask About Discounts

Many insurance companies offer discounts, notes MarketWatch.4 If you have a teen with good grades on your auto policy, he or she may qualify for a reduced insurance rate. Some insurers offer discounts to drivers who meet annual low-mileage thresholds or take driver education classes. If your car has an anti-theft device, that also could qualify you for a discount.

Be sure to ask to request a list of all available discounts. It could make a big difference in how much you pay for your policy.


Florida expects higher insurance rates due to ‘riskier drivers’

By Kayla Elder Jul 27, 2019

TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation puts the responsibility of attaining lower automobile insurance in the hands of the drivers after the release of a national study by The Zebra shows Florida among the top three states with the highest rates.

“There are many factors that contribute to the higher than average car insurance rates in Florida, such as the larger percentage of riskier drivers,” said Karen Kees, a Florida Office of Insurance Regulation spokeswoman.

Kees points to students in the many universities in the state, older drivers due to a large number of retirement communities and drivers unfamiliar with the local roads due to high tourism as these “riskier drivers.”

Karen Kees, Florida Office of Insurance Regulation spokeswoman

The 2019 Zebra report shows that Florida has an average annual rate of $2,059. By comparison, the lowest in the nation, Maine, averages at $896.

The report ranks three Florida cities in the top 10 for paying the most for car insurance in the United States. Coming in third is Hialeah at $2,997, fourth Miami at $2,913 and sixth Tampa at $2,786.

Kees said insurance companies use a variety of factors to determine car insurance premiums including type of vehicle, driving history, vehicle usage, gender, age, marital status, credit history and a slew of geographical elements such as population density, road conditions, repair rates, medical and hospital costs and the number of accidents in a particular area.

“Distracted driving has played a major role in the increase in accidents and the subsequent increase in rates,” she said. “In addition the higher than average rate of uninsured drivers and a significant percentage of claims with attorney involvement also contribute to higher rates.”

The Zebra reports that using a phone while driving will raise insurance premiums 20 percent, and in some states more than 50 percent.

“Being a conscientious and careful driver is one sure way of getting better car insurance rates,” Kees said. “Consumers should contact their agent as many insurers provide discounts to those drivers with better driving habits.”


Florida company offering ‘alien abduction insurance’ has sold nearly 6,000 policies

Looking for a big insurance payout? Try getting abducted by aliens.

At least that’s what one Florida company is telling its customers. The St. Lawrence Agency, also known as the “UFO Abduction Insurance Company,” offers a very specific type of policy: For just $19.95, you can protect yourself against extraterrestrial encounters.

The insurance plan, which includes $10 million in coverage, was invented by Mike St. Lawrence, who describes himself as being in the “humor business,”according to Florida’s WFLA News.

Humor aside, the success behind St. Lawrence’s alien policy is very real. He says he’s sold nearly 6,000 plans since first launching his company in 1987.

The policy offers plenty of absurd benefits for any would-be abductees, including psychiatric care, “sarcasm coverage” and “double identity coverage.” For just $5 more, customers can also get a paper certificate as evidence of their purchase.

Policyholders should read the fine print before they buy, though. In the event of an abduction, the plan’s $10 million coverage pays out at a rate of $1 per year for 10 million years.


Congress Looks to Jump Start Stalled Driverless Vehicle Bill

Two key committees in the U.S. Congress on Tuesday said they will revive efforts to pass long-stalled legislation to speed the adoption of self-driving cars.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee sent automakers, safety groups and others interested in the bill a request for input and said they were working on a “bipartisan and bicameral basis to develop a self-driving car bill.”

In December, Congress abandoned efforts to pass legislation on self-driving cars before it adjourned, in a blow to companies like General Motors Co and Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit.

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, representing General Motors, Volkswagen AG, Toyota Motor Corp and others, praised the announcement.

“Right now various countries are exploring regulations that will shape the future of autonomous vehicles, and the U.S. risks losing its leadership in this life-saving, life-changing technology, so we urge Congress to move forward now, this year,” spokeswoman Gloria Bergquist said.

The letter sought input by Aug. 23 on a variety of issues including federal rules – both current or new – testing, privacy, disability access, cybersecurity, consumer education and crash data.

The U.S. House unanimously passed legislation in September 2017 by voice vote to speed the adoption of self-driving cars, but it stalled in the Senate last year. Despite a series of concessions by automakers, the bill could not overcome objections of some Democrats who said it did not do enough to resolve safety concerns.

Under the prior legislation, automakers would have been able to win exemptions from safety rules that require human controls. States could set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections but not set performance standards.

In October, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it was considering a pilot program to allow real-world road testing for a limited number of vehicles without human controls.

Automakers must currently meet nearly 75 auto safety standards, many of them written under the assumption that a licensed driver would be able to control the vehicle using traditional controls.

In January 2017, GM filed a petition with NHTSA seeking an exemption to deploy fully automated vehicles without steering wheels before the end of 2019; that petition was still under review.

Last week, GM’s self-driving unit, Cruise, said it was delaying the commercial deployment of cars past its target of 2019 as more testing of the vehicles was required.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)