Drones – The New Standard for Insurance Adjusters

Insurance adjusters are bringing more drones with them than ever before as they head to Texas to assess the damage from Harvey.

Companies are using the drones on a much larger scale to record images, save time and spare human adjusters from venturing into potentially unsafe areas. Insurers have increased their fleets since the Federal Aviation Administration eased some restrictions a year ago, and tried them out in areas of the southeastern U.S. hit by Hurricane Matthew last October.

Travelers Insurance, based in Hartford, had 65 certified drone pilots as of Friday among the 600 employees deployed to the Houston area. Claims specialist Laura Shell, who will be in Texas this week, spent last week at the company’s training center in Windsor, Connecticut, learning how to pilot drones.

“This is great,” said Shell, 55, of Lexington, Virginia, whose job typically has involves climbing a lot of ladders. “It’s going to allow me to get a look into areas that aren’t easily accessible and onto roofs and do it quickly.”

The drones will dramatically cut the time it takes to assess damage, according to Jim Wucherpfennig, vice president of claims for Travelers. The company has trained 300 employees as certified drone operators and expects to have about 600 by early 2018, he said.

Instead of making two or three trips to a house, often with an outside contractor trained in setting up scaffolds and ladders, the adjusters will now be able to do detailed exterior inspections in one trip. The drone’s camera is linked to an application on the employee’s phone, allowing them to take measurements and shoot high-definition photos and videos, often while the customer looks on.

The drones do have limitations. They cannot fly in heavy wind or rain, and they cannot go inside homes to inspect damage.

That’s one reason State Farm has decided, for now, not to use its drone fleet in Houston, spokesman Chris Pilcic said.

“With the damages caused by Hurricane Harvey, our claims adjusters will likely need to inspect both the interior and exterior of the home to assess coverage and damages,” he said. “For this situation, we find that the best way to service our customers and evaluate coverage and damages is through on-the-ground claims handling.”

Most major insurers now have a fleet of drones, and the technology has become so inexpensive that even smaller companies are beginning to use it, according to Jim Whittle, chief claims counsel for the American Insurance Association. He said the benefits were evident in the response to Hurricane Matthew.

“If you had a good line of sight, for example, but you were stopped by nature or law enforcement from entering an area, you could put a drone in the area and get access to that property,” he said. “That could demonstrate immediately that that was a property that had considerable wind damage, let’s say, and allow the insurer to cut a check.”

Allstate has contracted with a third-party drone operator to do hundreds of inspections a day in the Houston area, spokesman Justin Herndon said. The company also is using fixed-winged aircraft, equipped with artificial intelligence technology, to assess damage to the entire region, comparing images from before and after the storm, he said.

“This is the widest-scale use of drones that we’ve ever been a part of to date,” he said.

People will use the information from the drones and planes to help make their estimates, Herndon said, but the technology won’t take the place of adjusters. Wucherpfennig concurred, saying Travelers claims specialists will almost always do an on-the-ground inspection to get a final written estimate. But, he said, the drones give them a head start.

“It’s all about getting the customer back on their feet more quickly, paying them more quickly so they can get their damages repaired as quickly as possible.”

This article has been reposted from Claims Journal and can be found here.

Will The National Flood Insurance Program continue?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, coastal areas in Texas and Louisiana are still dealing with the damage and devastation caused by the massive amounts of water. Now, with Hurricane Irma in a path of destruction, it has become the strongest on record with winds exceeding 185mph. Florida is preparing for the storm to make landfall in a few days and has called for emergency evacuations in the vulnerable areas. Other coastal areas in the gulf and east coast are also carefully monitoring the storm’s path.

Wind and flood damage are some of the biggest concerns facing homeowners and business owners. Flood insurance is a separate policy and most homes have purchased flood protection with The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). The NFIP is administered by The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and is deeply in debt to the US treasury. It has not recovered from prior storms such as Katrina (2005) and Sandy (2012). The NFIP insures most policies that are held in the US and is set to expire at the end of September. Not only is the agency set to expire, they are nearing their borrowing maximum of $30 billion.

Risk appraisers are seeking renewal and reform of this government insurance as premiums are too low to cover the massive amounts of claims. This is where it becomes encouraged to seek private flood insurance so that a home or business has proper protection in the event of flooding.

At the moment, renewal is under review. However, with the massive amounts of debt the program has, it is uncertain what the future holds for the NFIP. Harvey and Irma may be the final test of the program and see whether it continues or dissolves.



Hurricane Harvey’s Impact

Hurricane Harvey’s second act across southern Texas is turning into an economic catastrophe — with damages likely to stretch into tens of billions of dollars and an unusually large share of victims lacking adequate insurance, according to early estimates.

Harvey’s cost could mount to $30 billion when including the impact of relentless flooding on the labor force, power grid, transportation and other elements that support the region’s energy sector, Chuck Watson, a disaster modeler with Enki Research, said in an email Monday. That would place it among the top eight hurricanes to ever strike the U.S.

Less than a third of Harvey’s losses are likely to be insured, Watson said.

“A historic event is currently unfolding in Texas,” Aon Plc wrote in an alert to clients. “It will take weeks until the full scope and magnitude of the damage is realized,” and already it’s clear that “an abnormally high portion of economic damage caused by flooding will not be covered,” the insurance broker said.

Many forecasters were hesitant over the weekend to make preliminary estimates for how much insurers might pay. Researchers were shifting from examining Harvey’s landfall Friday as a roof-lifting category 4 hurricane to the havoc it later created inland as a tropical storm. Typical insurance policies cover wind but not flooding, which often proves costlier. Blaming one or the other takes time.

In the Houston area, rainfall already has surpassed that of tropical storm Allison in 2001, which wreaked roughly $12 billion of damage in current dollars. In that case, only about $5 billion was covered by insurance, according to Aon.

Those storms are dwarfed by Hurricane Katrina, which struck in 2005 and devastated New Orleans. By some estimates, it inflicted $160 billion in total economic damage. About 47 percent of Katrina losses were covered by the insurance industry, but only about 27 percent is expected to be insured for Harvey, Watson said.

Most people with flood insurance buy policies backed by the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program. As of April, less than one-sixth of homes in Houston’s Harris County had federal coverage, according to Aon. That would leave more than 1 million homes unprotected in the county. Coverage rates are similar in neighboring areas. Many cars also will be totaled.

“A lot of these people are going to be in very serious financial situations,” said Loretta Worters, a spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute. “Most people who are living in these areas do not have flood insurance. They may be able to collect some grants from the government, but there are not a lot, usually they’re very limited. There are no-interest to low-interest loans, but you have to pay them back.”<br><br>

The federal program itself is already struggling with $25 billion of debt. The existing program is set to expire on Sept. 30 and is up for review in Congress, which ends its recess Sept. 5.

Investors Brace

Costs still will likely soar for insurance companies and their reinsurers, biting into earnings. As Harvey bore down on the coastline Friday, William Blair & Co., a securities firm that tracks the industry, said the storm could theoretically inflict $25 billion of insured losses if it landed as a “large category 3 hurricane.”

Policyholder-owned State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co. has the largest share in the market for home coverage in Texas, followed by Allstate Corp., which is publicly traded. William Blair estimated that, in that scenario, Allstate could incur $500 million of pretax catastrophe losses, shaving 89 cents off of earnings per share.

Investors began bracing for losses last week. But many didn’t believe that Harvey could wipe out bonds that were issued to protect insurers against storm damage in the region, according to Brett Houghton, a managing principal at Fermat Capital Management. His firm manages more than $5 billion, with allocations to catastrophe bonds.

The Swiss Re Cat Bond Price Return Index dropped 0.44 percent in the week ended Aug. 25, the steepest decline since January. The benchmark is recalculated every Friday, so it’s unclear how the debt performed as the storm continued through Sunday. Reinsurers, which provide a backstop for primary carriers, also may get burned. That group include Bermuda-based companies Arch Capital Group Ltd., Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. and RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd., according to a note last week from Meyer Shields, an analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods.

Interrupting Business

Businesses are probably better covered than individuals. Companies across the retailing, manufacturing, health-care and hospitality industries will be seeking reimbursements from insurers for lost revenue during the storm and subsequent repairs, said Aon’s Jill Dalton, who helps manage claims.

But for Texas’s massive energy industry, it’s still too early to project how badly the storm will disrupt supply and distribution. That’s because the devastation keeps spreading.

“If it continues to rain, I just don’t think the situation is going to get better any time soon,” said Rick Miller, who leads Aon’s U.S. property practice. “In fact, it could get a lot worse.”

This article is reposted from Carrier Management written on August 28, 2017 by Sonali Basak. Read the original article here.

Tiffany Wins $19.4 Million in Fake Ring Damages from Costco

A federal judge on Monday said Tiffany & Co. may recover at least $19.4 million in damages from Costco Wholesale Corp. over the warehouse club chain’s illegal sale of counterfeit diamond engagement rings bearing the “Tiffany” name.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said Tiffany deserves $11.1 million, plus interest, representing triple the lost profit from Costco’s trademark infringement, plus the $8.25 million in punitive damages awarded by a jury last October.

The Manhattan judge also permanently barred Costco from selling anything that Tiffany did not make as “Tiffany” products, unless it uses modifiers suggesting that the products have, for example, a Tiffany “setting,” “set” or “style.”

Costco said it intends to appeal, calling the decision “a product of multiple errors” by Swain.

“This was not a case about counterfeiting in the common understanding of that word — Costco was not selling imitation Tiffany & Co rings,” Costco said. Tiffany had sued Costco on Valentine’s Day in 2013.

While the case concerned only about 2,500 rings, Tiffany sued to protect its brand and cachet as one of the world’s best-known luxury retailers. Tiffany last month named industry veteran Alessandro Bogliolo as its new chief executive to help arrest declines in same-store sales as millennials spend elsewhere on accessories. Costco had argued that “Tiffany” had become a generic term, excusing its use on a standalone basis.

But the judge found Costco’s defenses “not credible,” given evidence that displays of fine jewelry were a key part of the Issaquah, Washington-based company’s marketing strategy. Salespeople “described such rings as ‘Tiffany’ rings in response to customer inquiries, and were not perturbed when customers who then realized that the rings were not actually manufactured by Tiffany expressed anger or upset,” Swain wrote.

Costco’s upper management, meanwhile, “displayed at best a cavalier attitude toward Costco’s use of the Tiffany name in conjunction with ring sales and marketing,” the judge added. The jury had awarded Tiffany $5.5 million rather than $3.7 million for lost profit. Swain found the lower sum sufficient.

Leigh Harlan, Tiffany’s general counsel, in a statement said the decision “sends a clear and powerful message” to anyone seeking to infringe the New York-based company’s trademark. “We brought this case because we felt a responsibility to protect the value of our customers’ purchases and to ensure that Costco’s customers were not misled,” she said. The case is Tiffany and Co. et al v. Costco Wholesale Corp., U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 13-01041.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Steve Orlofsky and Dan Grebler

This article is reposted from Insurance Journal. Read the original article here.
View of San Fernando Valley

Increase in Homeless Population in San Fernando Valley has ignited Marches

As the number of homeless people in the San Fernando Valley has grown, some residents say they’re fed up with criminal activity they claim is associated with those who ask for money at freeway off-ramps or live in tent encampments.

Some residents and others in the West Valley have decided to take action. They plan to march down Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills on Tuesday night to raise awareness about the “threat and impact that criminal transients have on our community,” according to a Facebook page for the event.

Meanwhile, an opposing march, called the March to Counter the Criminalization of Homelessness in West SFV, is planned for the same time and place. Those behind the second march accuse the organizers of the first march of targeting and mischaracterizing homeless people.

The first march, dubbed the March to Raise Awareness of Criminal Panhandling in the West SVF, will begin at 6 p.m. and travel from De Soto Avenue to Topanga Canyon Boulevard.

Panhandlers have become more aggressive, said march organizer Michael Murray, echoing social media posts that have cropped up in recent months. Panhandlers have been known to punch car windows or commit burglaries, Murray said.

Murray wrote in an online post that the idea for the march grew out of a desire for a “peaceful protest” against the inaction of city leaders and other local elected officials.

Murray said the march is to address “criminal panhandling” and does not target homeless people “who are truly in need and would take help that is offered.

Rather, his march aims to raise awareness and demand that city leaders and other elected officials do more to “move these addicted transients who are refusing help because they are making too much money off” such activities as panhandling, he said.

The march’s organizers have made protest signs with such messages as “Take back our town” and “Panhandling supports addiction” and are distributing them for a fee.

Murray and others have blamed panhandling and homeless issues on a lack of action by Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfied, who represents Woodland Hills and other West Valley neighborhoods.

Blumenfield said Wednesday he does not feel the march is aimed at him. He said he has been working for some time to address homelessness in his area.

On Thursday, the councilman posted pictures of himself with “no soliciting no loitering” signs on Facebook. He said he ordered the signs “several months ago” and is having them installed under freeway overpasses in his district.

“People are very frustrated in seeing the change and the rise in homelessness,” Blumenfield told the Daily News.

The anti-panhandling march has sparked an opposing event by those who say there are other ways to respond to the rise in homelessness.

The organizer of the countermarch is Laura Rathbone, an activist who supports opening more shelters and programs that direct the homeless into permanent housing. She said there is no clear distinction between a homeless person considered a criminal transient and one who isn’t. She said she hopes a dialogue between marchers could change a few minds.

Many homeless people turn to drugs because of trauma resulting from “something horrendous that happened to them,” she said.

“When I see what these protesters are doing, I think, so they actually think these people are going to be drug-addicted and homeless for the rest of their lives?” Rathbone said. “What they should be doing is offering help instead of complaining about this.”

Corinne Ho, president of the Canoga Park Neighborhood Council, said she plans to take part in the anti-panhandling march to help raise awareness about panhandling. Ho said that as council president she has been dealing primarily with problems associated with the recent increase in people living out of motor homes in her area.

“I totally understand both sides of it, and I think it’s a healthy conversation to have,” Ho said of the countermarch.

She added that the effect of homelessness on the business community has been underappreciated.

“I do think in my heart it’s time the city steps up to help the business community,” she said.


Find the original article here.

Signs of past California ‘mega-quakes’ show danger of the Big One on San Andreas fault

As Interstate 10 snakes through the mountains and toward the golf courses, housing tracts and resorts of the Coachella Valley, it crosses the dusty slopes of the San Gorgonio Pass.

The pass is best known for the spinning wind turbines that line it. But for geologists, the narrow desert canyon is something of a canary in the coal mine for what they expect will be a major earthquake coming from the San Andreas fault.

The pass sits at a key geological point, separating the low desert from the Inland Empire, and, beyond that, the Los Angeles Basin.

Through it runs an essential aqueduct that feeds Southern California water from the Colorado River as well as vital transportation links. It’s also the path for crucial power transmission lines.

California earthquake experts believe what happens at the San Gorgonio Pass during a major rupture of the San Andreas fault could have wide-ranging implications for the region and beyond.

They worry a huge quake could sever lifelines at the pass for weeks or months, cutting Southern California off from major highway and rail routes as well as sources of power, oil and gas. Southern California’s cities are surrounded by mountains, making access through narrow passes like the San Gorgonio essential.

The San Andreas fault, in heavy red, slices through key mountain passes including the San Gorgonio Pass and the Cajon Pass. The San Andreas fault, in heavy red, slices through key mountain passes including the San Gorgonio Pass and the Cajon Pass. (U.S. Geological Survey)

Experts have also expressed grave concerns about the Cajon Pass, where Interstate 15 and key electric and fuel lines run. Other problem spots are the Tejon Pass, through which Interstate 5 passes, and the Palmdale area, through which the California Aqueduct crosses.

One of the most dire scenarios geologists have studied is a quake that begins at the Salton Sea. Such a quake would be particularly dangerous because the fault’s shape points shaking energy toward Los Angeles.

Southern California has not seen an earthquake like this since humans started recording history here. But the geological evidence of such quakes is all around us.

Where electric lines cross the San Andreas fault

Where electrical transmission lines cross the San Andreas fault, according to a 2008 reportWhere electrical transmission lines cross the San Andreas fault, according to a 2008 report. (U.S. Geological Survey / ShakeOut)

Signs of megaquakes

In Desert Hot Springs, hints of the mighty San Andreas fault lie all over: The rise of mountains that created the Coachella Valley. The oases and palm trees — made possible only because earthquakes pulverized rocks that allowed springs to burst to the surface.

A geologist’s trained eye can even spot exactly where the fault is located. In one exposed cliff, USGS research geologist Kate Scharer showed how one side of a hill has moved northward and skyward compared with the right side — and the gouge in the hillside between them was the fault.

Seismologist Lucy Jones stands on top of the San Andreas fault, which has pushed up the left side of the hill northward and higher than the side to the right from past earthquakes. (Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Annotation by Raoul Ranoa / Los Angeles Times)

Farther away, Scharer described how an old lower canyon was severed from the upper canyon and its ancient source of water.

The old path of the Pushawalla Canyon was carved into Earth 32,000 years ago, according to U.S. Geological Survey research geologist Kate Scharer. Since then, the lower part of the canyon has been moving left, to the northwest, and has moved half a mile so far. (Kate Scharer / U.S. Geological Survey)

Direction matters

There’s a reason why this particular scenario vexes scientists:

An earthquake arriving from this direction would point cataclysmic shaking directly into the heart of L.A., a kind of disaster that has not been seen since humans began recording history in California. Shaking could last for as long as three minutes.

In a magnitude 8.2 scenario, the earthquake would begin at the Salton Sea, and then — like a big rig driving on a freeway — speed up the San Andreas fault toward Los Angeles County.

“It’s shooting all of that energy straight into the L.A. Basin,” Scharer said.

This animation shows how intense shaking is directed from the San Andreas fault into the Los Angeles Basin. Areas of yellow indicate strong shaking; orange is “very strong” shaking and red is “violent” or “extreme” shaking, causing collapses. (U.S. Geological Survey / Southern California Earthquake Center)

Why a quake that begins so far away matters

An earthquake that begins more than 100 miles from L.A. might seem like something you might not worry about.

But a magnitude 8.2 earthquake is no ordinary earthquake.

The traditional image of an earthquake might be to show the epicenter — the point at which the earthquake begins. (USGS, Mapzen, OpenStreetMap, Angelica Quintero / Los Angeles Times)

But that doesn’t tell the whole story.

A better representation of a large earthquake would show how the earthquake travels up the fault. And this becomes more important for large earthquakes, which require an incredible amount of area in which the sides of the fault move against each other.

So, according to seismologist Lucy Jones, if a San Andreas earthquake began at the Salton Sea and …

♦ ended at Mount San Gorgonio, it would be a 7.3 earthquake.

(U.S. Geological Survey, Mapzen, OpenStreetMap, Angelica Quintero / Los Angeles Times)

♦ stopped at the Cajon Pass, it would be a magnitude 7.6 or 7.7 seismic event.

(U.S. Geological Survey, Mapzen, OpenStreetMap, Angelica Quintero / Los Angeles Times)

♦ traveled up to Lake Hughes, the earthquake would clock in at 7.8.

(U.S. Geological Survey, Mapzen, OpenStreetMap, Angelica Quintero / Los Angeles Times)

♦ and “if it goes all the way from the way from the Salton Sea to near Paso Robles, we’d get an 8.2. So that’s probably the biggest we can have,” Jones said.

“I think it’s going to go all the way to Paso Robles,” Jones said of the next Big One.

Jones cited a recent study by Scharer that found that earthquakes happen at the San Andreas around the Grapevine on average every 100 years. It has been 160 years since the last major earthquake on that section of the fault.

Hope for L.A.

Here in the Coachella Valley and across the West Coast, scientists have been busy installing new seismic equipment as they construct an earthquake early warning system, which could give places like L.A. seconds — or even a minute or more — of warning before the shaking waves arrive from an earthquake.

The project, however, is in danger of losing funding. President Trump’s proposed budget suggests ending federal funding for the early warning system. Southern California’s elected officials in Congress have voiced support for continuing funding of the project.

Aris Aspiotes, a field engineer with the USGS, shows off an earthquake sensor that measures the movement of ground on the San Andreas fault. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Here are some more answers to questions given by Jones and Scharer as they gave a tour to elected officials on a trip organized by the Southern California Assn. of Governments:

Why are we so concerned about the San Andreas fault, when other faults are closer to cities?

The worst thing about an 8.2 on the San Andreas is that all of Southern California would be hit hard at the same time. San Bernardino, for instance, wouldn’t be able to call for help from Los Angeles, which would have its own problems.

“With 300 miles of fault all going in the same earthquake, you then have everybody affected at the same time,” Jones said. “The San Andreas is the one that will produce the earthquake that’s going to cause damage in every city” in Southern California — including Santa Barbara and San Diego.

Why is the San Andreas considered so likely to rupture?

Because it’s California’s fastest-moving fault.

“It’s a little bit like — the moron who is driving the fastest is the most likely to get into an accident,” Scharer said.

If a couple were holding hands across the San Andreas fault, what would happen when the earthquake hits?

Here in Desert Hot Springs, the couple would be thrown down. The ground would shatter. And in a matter of seconds the two would be separated by as much as 30 feet, Scharer said, almost the entire length of a city bus.

One would lurch toward San Francisco, and the other toward the Mexican border.

Can the San Andreas trigger aftershocks on other faults closer to the city?

Yes. One scenario of a San Andreas earthquake results in aftershocks on the Newport-Inglewood fault, which runs between L.A.’s Westside through Orange County, and the Sierra Madre fault in the San Gabriel Valley. “We even had one in Sacramento,” Jones said.

Even the Hayward fault in the San Francisco Bay Area could be set off by an earthquake on the southern San Andreas fault, Jones said.

This has happened before. The great 1906 San Francisco earthquake, estimated at being magnitude 7.7 to 7.9, sent a 5.5 aftershock to Santa Monica Bay and a magnitude 6 earthquake to Imperial County, near the Mexican border.

Can you explain how the San Andreas fault works?

Western California — San Diego, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara — is moving to the northwest. Areas to the east of the fault are moving to the southeast.

Los Angeles is slowly moving closer to San Francisco as a result of earthquake activity on the San Andreas fault. (U.S. Geological Survey)

How fast has the San Andreas fault moved in the last million years?

It has moved about 22 miles in the last million years, Jones said.

When will the Big One hit?

We just don’t know. “Things don’t happen like clockwork,” Scharer said.

The San Andreas fault does not slice under the city of Los Angeles. So why should Angelenos worry?

Los Angeles sits on a basin filled with sand and gravel.

So when shaking waves come, they “bang up against the side of the mountains and reverberate back out across the basin,” Scharer said. “Those waves are very effective at traveling through piles of gravel.”

Can scientists develop something that could absorb all the shaking energy from a massive earthquake before the city is hit?

No. The energy produced by a large San Andreas earthquake, “it’s like the size of a small nuclear bomb,” Scharer said.

An 8.2 earthquake would produce far more energy than what was produced by the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Do small earthquakes relieve pressure on the faults?

No. “Little earthquakes don’t get rid of big ones,” Jones said. “The more little earthquakes you have, the more you have to have bigger ones.”

How should cities cope with the earthquake risk?

Jones said utilities, such as water, electricity and gas, require more attention. “If we don’t deal with utilities … we aren’t going to be able and stay here and work,” she said.

Are California’s building codes equipped to deal with big earthquakes?

A few California cities have boosted safety regulations for older buildings in response to earthquakes. In recent years, several cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, began requiring retrofits of vulnerable apartment buildings. L.A. is even requiring retrofits of brittle concrete buildings.

But Jones is critical of minimum building standards for new construction in California, which she said allow for a 10% chance of new buildings collapsing and killing people in an earthquake.

Jones favors increasing standards for new construction, ordering new buildings designed so that they can be immediately occupied after an earthquake. She said that would increase costs by 1%.

“I think you need to be safe enough to walk into a building, so that you don’t lose the use of it — and so your neighbors don’t lose the use of their buildings,” she said.

Are new buildings built better elsewhere?

Jones says new buildings are stronger, for example, in Chile. That’s because the country makes those who build new buildings responsible if the structure suffers earthquake damage in the first decade after it is completed.

As a result, owners have insisted on strong construction, Jones said. And the country rode out a recent magnitude 8.8 earthquake well.

This article is reposted from LA Times. Read the original article at http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-tour-san-andreas-fault-lucy-jones-20170613-htmlstory.html

Things to Think About Before Handing Your Teenager the Keys to the Car

Hey Parents of Teenagers,

How are you hanging in there? It’s been a fun ride, hasn’t it? Watching our kids grow up into independent thinking, witty, wise, and unique teenagers. I, for one, still vividly remember watching my kids in the rear view mirror of my minivan, securely fastened into their car seats, eating their cheerios. It feels like it was just yesterday when we retired the booster seats and then years later, allowed them to move into the front passenger seat, and now…. they want to take the driver’s seat! Yikes!

If your kids are anything like mine, they are already counting down the days until they can get their driver’s license. And as if the thought of my kids driving wasn’t enough to keep me up at night, the fear of what’s going to happen to my auto insurance premiums sure doesn’t help (and no, insurance agents don’t get any special discounts).

There is no doubt that your auto insurance premiums are going to go up – this is unavoidable. Teenagers, even the super responsible, rule following, incredibly awesome ones represent an extremely high level of risk to an insurance carrier. New drivers are not eligible for the California Good Driver’s discount for 3 years and then, only if they have kept their driving record clean of “at fault” accidents and have no more than one minor driving violations on their record.

Given what you cannot control (see above paragraphs), there are some things that you and your teen can do to help keep your rates down:

  • Get good grades – every auto carrier gives a discount to full time students with a 3.0 GPA or better (this is not random, statistically, conscientious students are conscientious drivers). This discount can be as much as 15-20%.

  • Take advantage of multi-policy discounts – carriers will discount both your home and auto policies by 10-20% if you put them both with the same carrier. This is called packaging and teenagers or not, it’s always a good strategy.

  • Don’t buy your teenager a car until you absolutely have to! The insurance rationale behind this is that if you have as many drivers as cars in your household, then every driver is assigned a car and is considered a full time driver. If you have more drivers than cars, your teenager can be considered a part time driver and the rates will be significantly less.

  • All cars are not created/rated equal. If you are shopping for a car for your teen driver, remember that the higher the replacement value of the car, the more expensive it is to insure. For instance, using my son as an example, the difference between insuring him on a 1997 Honda Civic vs a 2017 Audi A4 would be over $2000/year.

  • Lastly, choose your agent wisely (this is my plug). A good agent will not only shop out your insurance for the best products and rates, but will also offer very important guidance on how much coverage you need to protect your assets. Beware of agents that only represent one carrier, options are key and no one carrier has all the answers.

Please call or email me so we can talk about the best insurance strategy for your family. Teenagers keep us busy with all sorts of worries and demands. Transfer the stress of insurance to me and free your mind to think about other pressing issues, like college tuition!

Barbara Madvin
Producer, Gaspar Insurance Services, Inc.

Questions or comments? barbara.madvin@gasparinsurance.com

Putting Lady Gaga on the Super Bowl’s roof could cost over $100,000 to insure

Golden GAGA

Lady Gaga just wants to dance, but might previous bad romances with insurance providers prove her downfall?

Gaga, who will headline the Super Bowl halftime show on Feb. 5, reportedly intends to perform on the top of the dome that covers the NRG Stadium in Houston. According to the New York Post, event organizers are trying to figure out how to get her up there safely, while also having heart palpitations about what insuring her stunt might cost. (Gaga’s representative didn’t respond to a request for comment, but the 30-year-old entertainer has teased fans with Instagram posts that show her preparing for the show from a tented dance floor in her backyard.)

Most of the insurance companies would probably say “no way” to covering such a stunt, says Tim Gaspar, owner of Los Angeles-based insurance agency Gaspar Insurance Services. “Insurance companies are not in the business of taking risks, though it seems like they are.”

The upside for daring policy providers is the higher premium they can charge. Gaspar estimates that Gaga’s daredevil impersonation would likely run the show’s producers between $100,000 and $200,000 in insurance fees. Even then, the least risk-averse insurers still won’t cover Gaga if she decides to just get onto a helicopter and jump onto the stadium’s fabric roof.

If Gaga hasn’t decided how exactly the event would be carried out, that would also pose a challenge to insurers. “We usually get information about the show long in advance so we can work with creative,” says Susan McGuirl, head of the North America entertainment division at insurer Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty, noting that everyone from weather forecasters to local health and safety authorities “interact to ensure anything like this goes off appropriately.”

Gaga’s audacious move to reportedly sing from the rooftops would be a break from last year’s half-time show, when headliners Coldplay were panned for being too tame. And while Beyoncé’s “Black Lives Matter”-inspired cameo grabbed headlines, it was seen as too political for one of the few mass-televised events left.

One of the problems with Gaga’s potential stunt is that there’s little actuarial history of what happens when an entertainer of Gaga’s repute performs on a rooftop. Gaspar estimates that an insurer for a less risky Super Bowl Halftime show would likely charge about $40,000 for the approximately 30-minute event, with feet-firmly-on-ground headliners costing $12,000 for $1 million in liability. The biggest concerns for insurers are usually cancellations due to the weather or workers’ compensation, all of which insurers have plenty of data on and can price into their policies.

In-air performances and coverage of esoteric items like celebrity body parts are an entirely different story. Only so-called surplus line insurance providers, which operate out-of-state and whose fees aren’t capped by local regulations, are likely to offer such policies. A syndicate of Lloyd’s of London, the insurance marketplace that is known for covering celebrities’ body parts, is a likely candidate to offer a quote for such a policy, industry insiders say. Allianz, which has covered the Super Bowl halftime show in the past, is also a big player. (Lloyd’s wasn’t available for comment.)

Gaspar, whose company insures events, says that daring agencies will require Gaga to follow the same safety regulations that apply to laborers working on skyscrapers. “They will require her to be in a harness and bolted to a structure 100% of the time,” he says. “And they will want to know who made the harness and what it’s bolted to.”

The NFL told Forbes last year that it doesn’t pay acts to perform, but only covers production expenses. It’s unclear if that includes insurance.

Of course, Gaga’s history with other insurers could make it harder for her to gain coverage. In 2010, Navigators Specialty Insurance Co. refused to pay out on Gaga’s $3 million policy when she was involved in a $30 million legal dispute with her pre-fame producer.

Ultimately, insurance companies like covering people with “no history of insurance claims that stay under the radar,” says Gaspar. “”Her history could make a challenging situation a bit more challenging.”

This article is reposted from MarketWatch. Read the original article at http://www.marketwatch.com/story/putting-lady-gaga-on-the-super-bowls-roof-could-cost-over-100000-to-insure-2017-01-18.

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