5 Ways to Prepare Your Business for Natural Disasters, Catastrophes and Income Loss

Lena Requist
Entrepreneur |Speaker | Educator

Disasters can strike businesses at any time and take almost any shape: A flood takes out a startup’s servers. A founder is imprisoned. A tornado destroys the office building. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a PR scandal or something else altogether, not being ready can add another level of devastation to an entrepreneur’s life.

I know this firsthand. My company, ONTRAPORT, endured the Santa Barbara fires and aftermath that started in late 2017 and ravaged into this year. We also had shifts on our accounting team that resulted in me trying my hand at accounting (not my forte). Needless to say, 2018 has been a year of unexpected change and destruction — both of my team’s physical surroundings and our “usual” way of doing things.

Alongside our CEO, Landon Ray, I debated: “What do we do as leaders of this company and leaders in our community?” It all boiled down to a question that wasn’t so simple to answer: What kind of emergency preparedness should you have in place so when stuff hits the fan, you’re ready to execute?

Stuff hits the fan

The fires and mudslide in Santa Barbara were crazy acts of nature that resulted in evacuations as people’s health was put at risk with the toxic air. Twenty-three people died in what’s been called “the worst disaster in Santa Barbara history.” It was a scary and traumatic experience as people were spread out, unsure of the status of people they cared about.

Before we knew how bad things were going to get, we still knew that the only way to keep our company up and running was by being proactive. We’d created an emergency plan years ago, so when the fires started, I immediately pulled the plan out at 6 a.m. because I had already lost power at my house and knew we were going to lose power in the office. We weren’t in the evacuation area yet, but we needed a generator before they sold out.

We made sure to buy the right masks for everyone after we researched how to stay safe with declining air quality. Unlike most homes in Santa Barbara, our office had air conditioning, so we ordered HEPA filters. And when we realized that wasn’t going to be enough because the air quality had become hazardous, we rented a ranch in Los Osos, two hours away. At that point, we evacuated and couldn’t return to the office. We told people to work where they could — about half came to the ranch, while the rest went to other areas with their families and loved ones.

Related: 5 Steps for Managing Disaster Recovery for Your Business

When safe places no longer feel safe.

We heard stories from others in the area that their employers wouldn’t pay them because they couldn’t work. I get that this was an emergency, and business owners have to make business decisions. We also had some employees who couldn’t work: Our coffee and meal program employee couldn’t take care of people’s food because they weren’t in the office.

In the same vein, our childcare center wasn’t taking care of people’s kids, but we knew that, just like our meal program provider, we had to pay them so they could in turn pay rent. Those are the decisions you have to make as an employer; they go a long way toward building trust with people. Treating people well isn’t just a short-term investment but a long-term one, too. We wanted people to feel really taken care of.

And that applied to the employees who could still work as well. We set the ranch up with Wi-Fi, VPN, laptops and docking stations. We tried to close every loophole that could prevent us from offering customer support, prevent our marketing team from implementing campaigns or stop our engineers from fixing bugs or working on the development of new features on schedule.

How to prevent a disaster from getting bigger

Not every employer can move things around the way we did — but a lot of entrepreneurs can do better than they’re currently planned for. It’s all about remaining thoughtful in how you handle the disaster facing you, and there are some smart ways to do that.

1. Make your priorities known.

The only thing more demoralizing for employees who are going through a situation of disastrous proportions is feeling as if they’re means to an end. Servers, process documents and computers can all be replaced; people can’t be. Make it clear that their safety is the most important thing.

We sent daily morning and evening emails or messages through our ONTRApeeps social media community to keep everyone connected and make sure people were safe. Every day, we also sent updates on the fire situation based on the information we were receiving so our team knew we were staying informed on a situation that directly impacted their lives and livelihood.

Related: First Things First: The 5 Secrets to Prioritization

2. Plan ahead to stay open.

While some businesses are built to be hands-on entities — say, massage therapy or tutoring services — most entrepreneurs can make plans to keep working when disaster strikes. We proactively placed our servers for customer work in different locations so customers wouldn’t see disruptions, and we created redundancy with Amazon and Google Web Services. Creating tech stopgaps can save your business.

3. Look at what your state provides.

Our state had disaster recovery funds, and employees who didn’t get paid could apply for unemployment during that time. Knowing what state benefits are available can be life-saving for both your business and your employees. Go the extra step to prepare the paperwork for affected employees so they can simply submit it if they’d like to access the benefits. Be informed ahead of time.

4. Always have three people who know how to do a job.

Not every entrepreneur has three employees. However, every entrepreneur can ensure processes are documented so anyone can follow them. When we ran into issues on the accounting side, many employees asked if they could help, but because some processes weren’t documented, we couldn’t take them up on their offers. Enforce documentation updates — if you don’t, you’ll be the one cleaning up the debris.

5. Do what you can to help.

Our company did Valentine’s Day candy grams as a fundraiser for affected families, raising several hundred dollars through people buying handmade cards from our HR team. We went together to dig out houses and hosted a bucket brigade of 300 people at our office to show our support. We couldn’t afford to provide housing or write huge checks, but we did what we could.

No one is immune from disaster, but everyone can prepare for disasters so their impact is limited. Entrepreneurs have a lot to lose when disaster strikes, and not being ready ensures that the devastation takes on new proportions. Planning ahead for the inevitable will save not just your sanity, but also your company.

Article source: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/309853

Tesla to Offer Its Own ‘More Compelling’ Insurance Product

Tesla owners face high insurance premiums each year, so Elon Musk decided to do something about it.

Buying a new car is just the start of the costs you’ll incur, with insurance being another potentially big layout depending on your driving history and experience. But if you’re buying a Tesla, Elon Musk is looking to offer you a “much more compelling” insurance option.

As TechCrunch reports, on a Q1 earnings call yesterday, Musk confirmed that Tesla intends to launch its own insurance product at some point in May. The claim of it being more compelling was not backed up with detail, but the suggestion is that it relates to the amount of information Tesla has access to regarding how people drive its vehicles.

Some insurers already offer lower premiums to customers if they allow their driving to be tracked. Tesla’s vehicles are packed with safety features and the increasingly important Autopilot. Combine that with detailed information collected on how a vehicle is driven and Tesla knows how well (or badly) each vehicle is driven.

As Electrek points out, insurers are known for charging very high premiums to Tesla owners, which in part is why Tesla launched the InsureMyTesla program a couple of years ago. It saw Tesla working with third-party insurers to offer lower premiums, but clearly that isn’t good enough for Musk.

Article source: http://entm.ag/q111

What is covered by standard homeowners insurance?

Understanding the four essential protections provided by your homeowners policy

Homeowners coverage provides financial protection against loss due to disasters, theft and accidents. Most standard policies include four essential types of coverage: Coverage for the structure of your home; Coverage for your personal belongings; Liability protection; Coverage for Additional Living Expenses

Coverage for the structure of your home

Your homeowners policy pays to repair or rebuild your home if it is damaged or destroyed by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or other disasters listed in your policy. Most policies also cover detached structures such as a garage, tool shed or gazebo—generally for about 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of the house.

A standard policy will not pay for damage caused by a flood, earthquake or routine wear and tear.

When purchasing coverage for the structure of your home, remember this simple guideline: Purchase enough coverage to rebuild your home.

Coverage for your personal belongings

Your furniture, clothes, sports equipment and other personal items are covered if they are stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or other insured disasters. The coverage is generally 50 to 70 percent of the insurance you have on the structure of the house.

The best way to determine if this is enough coverage is to conduct a home inventory.

Personal belongings coverage includes items stored off-premises—this means you are covered anywhere in the world. Some companies limit the amount to 10 percent of the amount of insurance you have for your possessions. You also have up to $500 of coverage for unauthorized use of your credit cards.

Expensive items like jewelry, furs, art, collectibles and silverware are covered, but there are usually dollar limits if they are stolen. To insure these items to their full value, purchase a special personal property endorsement or floater and insure the item for its officially appraised value.

Trees, plants and shrubs are also covered under standard homeowners insurance—generally for about $500 per item. Trees and plants are not covered for disease, or if they have been poorly maintained.

Liability protection

Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you or family members cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. So, if your son, daughter (or even your dog) accidentally ruins a neighbor’s expensive rug, you are covered. (However, if they destroy your rug, you’re out of luck.)

The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit stated in your policy documents.

Liability limits generally start at about $100,000, however, it’s a good idea to discuss whether you should purchase a higher level of protection with your insurance professional. If you have significant assets and want more coverage than is available under your homeowners policy, consider purchasing an umbrella or excess liability policy, which provides broader coverage and higher liability limits.

Your policy also provides no-fault medical coverage, so if a friend or neighbor is injured in your home, he or she can simply submit medical bills to your insurance company. This way, expenses can be paid without a liability claim being filed against you. It does not, however, pay the medical bills for your own family or your pet.

Additional living expenses (ALE)

ALE pays the additional costs of living away from home if you cannot live there due to damage from a an insured disaster. It covers hotel bills, restaurant meals and other costs, over and above your usual living expenses, incurred while your home is being rebuilt.

Keep in mind that the ALE coverage in your homeowners policy has limits—and some policies include a time limitation. However, these limits are separate from the amount available to rebuild or repair your home. Even if you use up your ALE your insurance company will still pay the full cost of rebuilding your home up to the policy limit.

If you rent out part of your house, ALE also covers you for the rent that you would have collected from your tenant if your home had not been destroyed.

Next steps: Purchasing a home? Get the Home Buyers Insurance Checklist.

Article source: https://www.iii.org/article/what-covered-standard-homeowners-policy

How to save money on car insurance

When it comes to lowering your auto premiums, you’re in the driver’s seat

Having adequate car insurance is both smart and prudent, but there’s no question that it adds to the expense of driving. The good news is that premiums can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on a number of factors. Review your coverage at renewal time to make sure your insurance is in step with your needs, and follow these practical steps to reduce the bottom line on your auto policy.

Shop around for your car insurance

Prices differ from company to company, so it pays to shop around.

Get at least three quotes, from both different insurance companies and different types of insurance companies—that is, those that sell through their own agents; those that sell through independent agents; and those that sell directly to consumers via the phone, an app or the Internet. Ask friends and relatives for their recommendations based on their experiences, and do your own due diligence by researching the company before committing.

Understand auto insurance enough that you can ask a prospective insurer informed questions. Anyone you speak to should take the time to answer to your satisfaction. Remember, these are the people you’ll rely on if the worst happens and you need to make a claim.

Keep in mind that the lowest price isn’t always the “cheapest” option. Make sure the company you choose is reputable, and that you’re comfortable with the service you get from the insurance professionals you speak to. Your state insurance department or online consumer information sites may provide information on consumer complaints by company to help you choose the right insurance company for your needs.

Compare insurance costs before you buy a car

Auto 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 car theft or personal injuries, or for cars that are known to be safe. When you’re comparing new or used vehicles to purchase, also research what each will cost to insure. To start, you can check safety rankings for specific models with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s (IIHS) online Top Safety Pick ratings tool.

Raise your deductible

By choosing a higher deductible on your car insurance, you can significantly lower your premium costs. Of course, be sure you have enough money set aside to pay the higher deductible in the event you have a claim.

Reduce optional insurance on your older car

As a rule of thumb, if your older car is worth less than 10 times the insurance premium, having collision and/or comprehensive coverage may not be cost effective. To find out whether this is true for you, check the value of your car. You can look up what your car is worth for free on websites such as Kelley Blue Book, National Association of Auto Dealers (NADA), and TrueCar.

Bundle your insurance and/or stick with the same company

Many insurers will give you a discount if you purchase two or more types of insurance from them—such as homeowners and auto—or have more than one vehicle insured. Some companies offer a price break to longtime customers. There are no guarantees so do your homework and compare costs for a multi-policy discount from a single insurer with buying your insurance separately from different companies.

Maintain a good credit history

Establishing a solid credit history has many benefits, including lower insurance costs. Many insurers use credit information to price auto insurance policies. (Research shows that people who effectively manage their credit make fewer claims). To be sure you’re getting the good credit you deserve, it’s a good idea to check your credit record on a regular basis to be sure all information is accurate.

Take advantage of low mileage discounts

Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive less than the average number of miles per year. Low mileage discounts can also apply to drivers who carpool to work.

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. Check with your affiliated organizations to see what they offer.

Seek out other discounts

There are other discounts that your insurer may offer to policyholders. For example, some companies offer discounts to those who’ve not had any accidents or moving violations during a specified period, or who have taken a defensive driving course. If there is a young driver on your 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.

Ask your insurer what discounts you might qualify for, but keep in mind that what’s important is the final cost of your policy. A company that offers few discounts may still be able to give you a lower overall premium price.

Additional resources

Next steps: When shopping for car insurance, have this information ready.

Article source: https://www.iii.org/article/how-can-i-save-money-auto-insurance

Five insurance mistakes to avoid… (and still save money)

Avoid these pitfalls when buying auto, home, flood and renters insurance.

Saving money feels good. And shopping around when you’re looking for insurance coverage is a great way to do it. However, simply reducing your coverage or dropping important coverages altogether is like diet without exercise—focused only on numbers, not on results. Don’t risk ending up dangerously underinsured and on the hook for much bigger bills in the event of a disaster.

Following are the five most common auto, home, flood and renters insurance mistakes people make, along with suggestions to avert those pitfalls while still saving money (we call them, “better ways to save”):

1. Insuring a home for its real estate value rather than for the cost of rebuilding.

When real estate prices go down, some homeowners may think they can reduce the amount of insurance on their home. But insurance is designed to cover the cost of rebuilding, not the sales price of the home. You should make sure that you have enough coverage to completely rebuild your home and replace your belongings—no matter what the real estate market is doing.

A better way to save: Raise your deductible. An increase from $500 to $1,000 could save up to 25 percent on your premium payments.

2. Selecting an insurance company by price alone.

It is important to choose a company with competitive prices. But be sure the insurer you choose is financially sound and provides good customer service.

A better way to save: Check the financial health of a company with independent rating agencies (some well-known ones: A.M. Best, Moody’s), and ask friends and family members about their experiences with insurers. Select an insurance company that will respond to your needs and handle claims fairly and efficiently.

3. Dropping flood insurance.

Damage from flooding is not covered under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Coverage is available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), as well as from some private insurance companies. You may not be aware you’re at risk for flooding, but keep in mind that 25 percent of all flood losses occur in low risk areas. Furthermore, yearly weather patterns—spring runoff from melting winter snows, for example—can cause flooding.

A better way to save: Before purchasing a home, check with the NFIP to determine whether a property is situated in a flood zone; if so, you may want to consider a less risky area. If you are already living in a designated flood zone, look at mitigation efforts that can reduce your risk of flood damage and consider purchasing flood insurance. Additional information on flood insurance can be found at www.FloodSmart.gov.

4. Only purchasing the legally required amount of liability for your car.

The minimum is just that—the least you can get away with by law. So buying only the minimum amount of liability means you are likely to pay more out-of-pocket later. And if you are sued, those costs can jeopardize your financial well-being.

A better way to save: Consider dropping collision and/or comprehensive coverage on older cars worth less than $1,000. The insurance industry and consumer groups generally recommend a minimum of $100,000 of bodily injury protection per person and $300,000 per accident.

5. Neglecting to buy renters insurance.

A renters insurance policy covers your possessions and additional living expenses if you have to move out due to an insured disaster, such as a fire or hurricane. Equally important, it provides liability protection in the event someone is injured in your home and decides to sue.

A better way to save: Look into multi-policy discounts. Buying several policies with the same insurer, such as renters, auto, and life will generally provide savings.

Article source: https://www.iii.org/article/five-insurance-mistakes-avoid%C2%85-and-still-save-money

94-year-old finally receives 1934 life insurance policy money that disappeared

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – Less than one week after turning to Better Call Behnken for help finding her missing insurance policy money, Eleanor Fetkin has a check for the full $1,250.

“I’m real happy, and I thank you for helping us get it back,” Fetkin said.

Eleanor kept track of the 1934 life insurance policy her mother bought her. But when the 94-year-old needed the money now, her son Bob Fetkin was told by MetLife that the policy no longer existed.

“For me, taking on MetLife was taking on an 800-pound gorilla,” Bob Fetkin said. “I couldn’t get anywhere, and you guys were able to open doors that we weren’t able to. And I’m very much appreciative to you and your team at Channel 8 for getting the results that you guys did.”

Better Call Behnken called MetLife and confirmed the money was sent years ago to California, Unclaimed Property Division.

I called the state, and then MetLife decided to send Eleanor a check. Her son is thrilled.

“I was really shocked,” he said. “I was confident you guys would get results. I didn’t know you’d get results that quickly.”

Source: https://www.wfla.com/8-on-your-side/better-call-behnken/94-year-old-woman-finally-receives-her-1934-life-insurance-policy-money-that-had-disappeared/2052310471

Comp insurers ramp up disaster preparedness, response

Workers compensation insurers face significant challenges ensuring their comp claimants continue to receive the care and benefits they need in the aftermath of a disaster, particularly as their own employees struggle with the effects of natural catastrophes, experts say.

The 2019 hurricane season officially began Saturday, but the United States has already experienced a number of natural catastrophes this year, from more than 500 tornados reported in the month of May to severe flooding across the Midwest, according to the National Weather Service.

“Preparedness is key,” said Mark Lechowicz, chief compliance officer at Rolling Meadows, Illinois-based third-party claim administrator Gallagher Bassett Services Inc. “If an employer or carrier has claimants that are impacted, there can be multiple obstacles that need to be overcome.”

In 2017, the personal lines program at Boston-based Liberty Mutual Insurance Co. reached out to the workers compensation claims staff as they were preparing their customers about approaching hurricanes in the Atlantic. This led the claims group to think about what more they could do to protect injured workers and workers comp policyholders ahead of these storms, said Doug Anderson, vice president and regional manager of workers compensation claims for Liberty Mutual Insurance and Helmsman Management Services LLC in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. This led to the development of Liberty Mutual’s workers compensation weather playbook, which helps the company identify injured workers who may be in the path of a storm, determine if they live in areas that have been hit after the storm passes through and allows them to proactively plan for any issues that may prevent the worker from receiving the services the employee needs.

“Whether it’s proactive or after the fact, we identify the injured worker, provide that info to the case managers … reach out to the injured workers, the employers, the attorney if there happens to be attorney representation,” said Mr. Anderson.

The playbook has case managers run through the list, first checking to see that the injured worker is safe, whether they were affected by the event, whether they have the ability to receive their indemnity checks, have their medications and are able to travel to scheduled appointments or procedures, he said.

With the May tornados this year, claims professionals reached out to more than 400 injured workers to make sure they could still receive their benefits, make it to medical appointments and fill their prescriptions, he said.

With massive flooding situations, like those experienced in Houston in 2017 after Hurricane Harvey, insurers need to be prepared for shuttered courthouses, their own flooded field offices and an inability of claims handlers to do their work, said Mr. Lechowicz. This can affect an insurer or third-party administrator’s ability to comply with regulatory requirements such as electronic data interchange filing in a timely manner, which can result in fines or penalties, or perform independent medical examinations or deliver benefits within required time frames, he said.

In Texas, the state’s workers compensation insurance commissioner, Ryan Brennan, prepared for this possibility before Harvey and Irma hit. He issued an emergency declaration waiving penalties for insurers and TPAs, restrictions for claimants seeking emergency and nonemergency care in non-network facilities, extended deadlines for medical examinations and authorized payments to pharmacies for up to a 90-day supply of prescriptions, said Lisa Anne Bickford, Sacramento, California-based director of workers compensation government relations at Coventry Workers’ Comp Services. Florida followed Texas’ lead and has since issued similar bulletins when hurricanes were expected to make landfall in the Sunshine State.

Generally, regulators do not make any allowances for such events, which is why the commissioners’ bulletins in Texas and Florida specifically waiving penalties in advance is so significant, said Mr. Lechowicz.

One of the biggest challenges Austin-based Texas Mutual Insurance Co. faced after the 2017 hurricanes was ensuring that injured workers had the means and ability to receive their weekly benefit checks, which required staff to call every worker residing in an affected area to see if they could receive a paper check, and if not, set up a direct deposit for them, said Kim Haugaard, senior vice president of policyholder services.

Another challenge Texas Mutual encountered during Hurricane Harvey was determining how to accommodate injured workers who had been working in modified duty positions, but no longer had an immediate place of employment to return to, which the insurer handled by continuing to pay the workers and monitor their medical and employment status, he said.

“Communication is key to any disaster planning,” Mr. Haugaard said. “During Hurricane Harvey … we redistributed claim assignments and workflows from employees who were directly impacted by the hurricane. We also closely followed (Texas Department of Insurance) bulletins to ensure that we had an understanding of any imminent issues that may arise.”

In Davenport, Iowa, which endured record-breaking flooding in early May, attorney Peter Thill of Betty, Neuman & McMahon PLC said that claims handlers should have multiple methods to reach an injured worker, including alternate mailing addresses, emails and alternate phone numbers.

Mr. Thill, a workers compensation defense attorney whose clients may have injured workers affected by the recent floods, said field nurse case managers should also be assigned to meet with displaced workers to ensure that both medical and indemnity benefits are still being received during the emergency situation.

Source: https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20190605/NEWS08/912328872/Workers-comp-insurers-ramp-up-disaster-preparedness-response

AAA Survey: Floridians Concerned for Upcoming Hurricane Season

Floridians are becoming more concerned about hurricane season, after enduring four major storms in the past three years, including a category five last year, according to a survey from AAA.

The AAA survey, conducted online of 400 residents living in Florida from April 3 to 6, 2019found that 92 percent of respondents are worried about the 2019 Hurricane Season. Nearly one in five (19%) are more concerned than last year. Still, AAA said their growing fears have not motivated them to get ready for a major hurricane as nearly a quarter of Florida residents reported not making advanced preparations for hurricane season or severe weather.

That statistic is despite recent hurricanes FlorenceMichaelHarveyIrma and Maria causing more than $200 billion in damage, according to Floodsmart.gov.

“If the last few hurricane seasons have taught us anything it’s the importance of being prepared,” said Peter Corrigan, president, Auto Club Insurance Company of Florida. “Although you can’t control the weather, you can take certain precautions to ensure your family and belongings are protected. Storm preparations should include having a storm kit, evacuation plan, and proper insurance coverage, which includes flood insurance.”

21% of Respondents Would Ignore Evacuation Warnings

Based on AAA findings, if a named storm were to cause an evacuation, the majority of Floridians (79%) would heed official warning and leave their homes. However, of those who would evacuate, more than half (62%) say they would only leave for a category three hurricane or greater.

Lowest Category Hurricane Floridians Would Evacuate For
Category 1 74-95 mph winds 7%
Category 2 96-110 mph winds 21%
Category 3 111-129 mph winds 30%
Category 4 130-156 mph winds 20%
Category 5 >=157 mph winds 12%

AAA said that of the two biggest sources of hurricane damage – wind and torrential rain resulting in flooding – nearly three-quarters (73%) of Floridians do not have flood insurance, which is separate from homeowners insurance. The survey found 57% of residents are “Somewhat” or “Very” concerned about experiencing a flood at their home, while 43% said they were “Not at all” concerned.

Flooding is the number one disaster in the United States.

  • Homes in low risk zones account for nearly 20 percent of flood claims every year.
  • Just one inch of flooding can cause $25k in damage to your home.
  • 19% of Floridians have experienced flooding at their home.
  • 21% of Floridians are unaware that homeowner’s insurance does not cover flood damage.
  • Flood insurance policies can cost less than a dollar per day.

“Nearly half of residents in Florida do not realize there is a 30-day waiting period for new flood policies to take effect,” Corrigan said. “So, if you wait until a named storm is moving in your direction, you will be too late. Now is the time to check with your insurance agent to ensure you are covered before the busy storm season begins.”

AAA offered several tips for people to best prepare for the busy hurricane season, which runs from June 1 – November 30, including:

  • Know Your Evacuation Route – Visit FloridaDisaster.org to track the recommended evacuation route for your region.
  • Secure Your Home – Inspect your home for minor repairs needed to roof, windows, down spouts, etc. Trim trees or bushes that could cause damage to your home in case of high winds.
  • Make a Plan – Develop a Family Emergency Plan to include ways to contact each other, alternative meeting locations, and an out-of-town contact person. Identify a safe room or safest areas in your home. Research your evacuation route. Be sure and include plans for your pets.
  • Take Inventory – Update your home inventory by walking through your home with a video camera or smart phone. Keep a record of large purchases including the cost of the item, when purchased and model and serial numbers as available.
  • Stock Emergency Supplies – Plan for a week’s worth of non-perishable food and water. Be sure to have flashlights, extra batteries, battery-powered radio, medications, first aid kit, blankets, toiletries, diapers, etc. You may also want to prepare a portable kit and keep in your car should you evacuate.
  • Protect Your Property – Review your homeowners insurance policy with your insurance agent to determine whether you have adequate protection. Discuss your deductibles. Be aware that flood insurance is not typically covered under your homeowner’s policy. Flooding coverage for your automobile is available under the physical damage coverage.

Survey results have a maximum margin of error of ± 5.5 percentage points. Responses are weighted by age to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the adult population (18+) in Florida.

The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America. ACG and its affiliates provide membership, insurance, financial services and travel offerings to over 9.9 million members across 11 states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana. ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 59 million members in the United States and Canada.

Source: AAA

Source for article: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/southeast/2019/05/29/527636.htm

Millennials More Likely to Buy Flood Insurance Than Baby Boomers

Millennials — those born between 1981 and 1996— are nearly three times more likely to have purchased flood insurance than their older Baby Boomer counterparts born between 1944 and 1964, a new survey finds.

Overall, less than half of Americans who agree that having flood insurance is important have purchased flood insurance, according to a national survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC).

The survey of 1,000 American adults conducted in May reveals that Millennials are not only nearly three times more likely to have purchased flood insurance than their Baby Boomers but they are also more likely than Gen Xers born between 1965 and 1980 to purchase flood insurance (25% vs. 16%).

Overall, Millennials are more likely to agree/strongly agree that purchasing a flood policy is a good idea (57% vs. 41% for Gen X vs. 24% for Baby Boomers).

Recent floods in the Midwest and South where recovery efforts will continue for years bring home the disconnect between intention and action on flood coverage. According to the survey, 41% of respondents agree or strongly agree that flood insurance is a “good idea” but only 17% say they have purchased flood insurance, and even that response may be based on a misunderstanding. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that only about 3% of homeowners have flood insurance.

“This disparity perhaps reflects the common, though incorrect, assumption that homeowners insurance covers flooding,” said Eric Cioppa, NAIC president and Superintendent of the Maine Bureau of Insurance.

Flood insurance policies are available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and on the private market.

As of March 2018, NFIP premiums written reached $3.55 billion.

According to an Insurance Journal report on “Top Private Flood Insurers, 2017 Market Study,” during 2017, the private flood market expanded considerably with 50 new companies reporting to the NAIC as writing private flood coverage. In total, insurers reported direct private flood insurance premiums written of $630 million, an increase of $217 million over 2016.

Combined, surplus lines premium and direct private flood insurance premiums written increased $250 million to $1.028 billion, gaining 22 percent of the overall market.

Other findings of the Insurance Journal report:

  • The 2017 top five writers of direct written premium for private flood insurance in the commercial market were: FM Global ($263,281,599); Zurich Re ($63,839,162); Berkshire Hathaway ($27,603,275); RSUI ($13,224,505); and Allianz ($11,704,696).
  • The 2017 top five writers of direct written premium for private flood insurance in the residential market were: Assurant ($89,826,939); AIG ($58,245,862); Swiss Re ($41,571,428); Chubb ($9,977,894); and Liberty Mutual Fire ($8,849,770).
  • In 2017, 10 states experienced private flood insurance growth in excess of $5 million in new business written. These states represent 63 percent of all business written in 2017 – Florida; California; Texas; New York; New Jersey; Ohio; Louisiana; Massachusetts; Pennsylvania; and Georgia.
  • As of March 2018, NFIP premiums written reached $3.55 billion, an increase of $11 million over March of 2017. Combined, surplus lines premium and direct private flood insurance premiums written increased $250 million to $1.028 billion, gaining 22 percent of the overall market.

The NAIC survey was conducted online among 1,004 adults comprising 502 men and 502 women 18 years of age and older. This survey was live May 20-22, 2019.


Source of article: https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2019/06/04/528323.htm


87M Adults Were Uninsured or Underinsured in 2018

Survey Says As health care costs rise, more Americans are being pushed into inadequate health insurance plans that cause them to put off care.

By Gaby Galvin, Staff Writer

MORE AMERICANS ARE insured than in the past, but millions are enrolled in skimpy health plans that often keep them from seeking care, according to a new report from The Commonwealth Fund.

Researchers estimate that in 2018, 45 percent of working-age adults, or 87 million people, were either underinsured or had no coverage for at least part of the last year – a share that is essentially unchanged from 2010, despite monumental shifts in health policy during that time.

The Affordable Care Act, which was enacted in 2010 and saw key provisions put in effect in 2014, expanded Medicaid eligibility and subsidized coverage for millions of Americans who were low-income or didn’t have access to health insurance through their employers, but largely left employer-based coverage alone. Nearly 20 million people gained access to health coverage as a result.

Number of Uninsured Rises

Yet the country also is now grappling with a larger pool of people who are underinsured – meaning they have health coverage, but also have high out-of-pocket health care costs relative to their incomes and are more likely to put off care or struggle to pay medical expenses, according to the report.

“U.S. working-age adults are significantly more likely to have health insurance since the ACA became law in 2010,” Sara Collins, lead author of the study and The Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for health care coverage and access, said in a statement. “But the improvement in uninsured rates has stalled (and) more people have health plans that fail to adequately protect them from health care costs.”

More than half of adults under age 65 are insured through their jobs, while about a quarter are enrolled in Medicaid or have insurance through the individual market, the report said. Among those with health coverage, 29 percent said they were underinsured in 2018, up from 23 percent in 2014, the survey found.

In 2018, 41 percent of underinsured adults said they had delayed care and 47 percent said they had trouble paying their medical bills. Among those with adequate health coverage, meanwhile, 23 percent said they had put off care, while 25 percent said they had problems with medical expenses.

“Inadequate insurance coverage leaves people exposed to high health care costs, and these expenses can quickly turn into medical debt,” the report said.

The increase in Americans with leaner health coverage has largely been driven by employer-based plans, not the ACA’s individual marketplaces, The Commonwealth Fund found. As health care costs have risen, employers have asked workers to shoulder some of the burden by offering plans with higher deductibles or requiring them to pay a larger share of premiums.

The findings indicate efforts to get people onto job-based plans aren’t enough to get them access to care, and that policymakers should address the “relatively quick erosion of employer coverage and its impact on workers,” Dr. David Blumenthal, president of the Commonwealth Fund, said in a statement.

Coverage gaps due to reasons like job loss also affect people’s ability to access care, even if these lapses are temporary. While coverage gaps tend to be shorter now than before the ACA, adults with continuous health insurance were more likely to get their recommended primary care and cancer screenings than those with gaps in coverage, the survey found, even if they were underinsured.

That’s due in part because the ACA requires insurers and employers to cover these services without cost-sharing, the report notes.

Efforts by the Trump administration to weaken the ACA also play a role. Last year, for example, the administration issued new insurance rules that expanded access to inexpensive, short-term health plans, which are exempt from ACA protections for pre-existing conditions. But nearly a dozen states have set their own short-term plan limits since then, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

“Health care costs are primarily what’s driving growth in premiums across all health insurance markets,” the report said, and policy efforts to improve health coverage should be paired with attempts to cut medical spending. The Commonwealth Fund cited the shift toward payment models that reward health care providers by health outcomes, not by the volume of services they deliver, as a promising effort.

Policymakers also can address the rising cost of prescription drugs, which President Donald Trump cited as a priority during his State of the Union address this week, and should closely monitor proposed mergers between providers and payers, the report said.

“Moving forward, it will be essential to protect, and grow, the ACA’s coverage gains while also working to ensure people with health insurance can get and afford the care they need,” Collins said.

Resource: https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2019-02-07/lack-of-health-insurance-coverage-leads-people-to-avoid-seeking-care