Dog Bite Liability

68 percent of U. S. households own a pet. This is according to a 2013/2014 survey by the American Pet Products Association. As a result dog bite liability is a very real problem.

About 4.5 million people are bitten by dogs each year.  About 885, 000 require medical attention for injuries.  Half of these are children.

Some insurance companies will not insure homeowners for dog bite liability.   Pit bulls are a breed not favoured by insurance companies. Others decide on a case-by-case basis. It depends on whether an individual dog, regardless of its breed has been deemed vicious.

Dog bites and other dog-related injuries accounted for more than one third of all homeowners insurance liability claims.  More than $530 million has been paid out. This is according to the Insurance Information Institute and State Farm.

The average cost paid out for dog bite liability nationwide was $32, 072 in 2014, compared with $27, 862 in 2013. The average cost per claim nationally has risen more than 67 percent from 2003 to 2014. This is due to increased medical costs as well as the size of settlements.

California continued to have the largest number of claims for dog bite liability in the U. S. at 1, 867. Ohio had the second highest number of claims at 1, 009. While New York had the third highest number of claims at 965, it registered the highest average cost per claim in the country namely $56, 628. The trend in higher costs per claim is attributable not only to dog bites but also to dogs knocking down children, cyclists, the elderly.

In Cincinatti a new law holds dog owners accountable for fines up to $15,000 for a first offence. The ordinance does not name specific breeds, as some other local and state laws, such as Ohio, have attempted to do specifically with pit bulls.

Ohio is not among the 17 “one bite states” (also referred to as a “one free bite state”) where the first time a dog bites, the owner does not face any legal consequences. Rather Ohio imposes the dog bite liability as a zero tolerance “statutory strict liability”, making the owner of a dog legally liable to a victim who was bitten. The ordinance now makes specific provision for fines of up to $15, 000 if a dog causes “serious”, “permanent” or “disfiguring” injury or causes death to a human or another dog. This does not apply to police dogs.

There are instances in which an owner of a vicious animal might not be held liable for an attack by the animal. For example, if the owner adequately warned other people that the animal was dangerous.  Furthermore if the owner took measures to keep the animal away from people.  A person who ignored the owner’s warnings and was injured by the animal might not successfully sue the owner. In legal terms, the injured person’s behaviour in such a situation is known as “contributory negligence” or “assumption of the risk”.

If the owner puts up a “Beware of Dog” sign, and a person ignores the sign and gets bitten by the dog, the owner might not be responsible for that person’s injury.

An animal owner can also argue that the injured person provoked the animal, and this may be a way for the owner to avoid liability.

Depending on the seriousness of injuries resulting from an animal attack, a person may be entitled to recover for:

Medical expenses
Lost wages
Pain and suffering
Property damage.

 

 

Rising sea levels

Rising sea levels could cost homeowners $882 billion.

The journal “Nature reported that sea levels could rise more than 6 feet by the end of the century.

If this happened, Florida could lose 1 million homes. This would be 13 percent of the state’s housing stock. In addition the value of this loss would be $400 billion. The figure does not include commercial building. Neither does it account for public infrastructure or future appreciation in home values.

Government could build barriers to protect coastal communities from rising sea levels. However, there is no doubt that there will be major losses when waters move in.

Even a 2 foot increase in sea level would ultimately see a loss of $74 billion in home value. Especially relevant, Florida would lead the way with $17 billion losses in home value.

In a catastrophic 6 foot rise situation, New York City would lose about 32,000 homes at $27 billion in value. Newport Beach California could also lose homes values at $10 billion.

A small community lies in close proximity to the Puget Sound. The homeowners with mortgages have to carry flood insurance. Furthermore, the cost of that insurance is exorbitant.

Homeowners have been warned that flood insurance premiums are going to go up dramatically over the next few years.

Flood maps that FEMA use to determine flood risk and help insurance companies to calculate rates, have changed in Tacoma’s coastal area. Base flood elevation levels are however rising several feet. Approximately 280 homes are affected by the map changes.

Existing homes don’t have to be raised. However, any remodelling or additions must be rebuilt at the new height. This can be several feet higher.

FEMA said the agency is already phasing out flood insurance subsidies for homes. Homes in Titlow Beach and Salmon Beach need to get an elevation certificate. This costs $1000. Unless produced, flood insurance rates will thus increase by 25% per year.

When a potential buyer eventually finds out that they must have flood insurance it may have a further negative impact on home values.

Lenders may not want to offer mortgages where homes are below the base flood elevation. Most noteworthy, even with flood insurance, homeowners have been told that the policy would not unfortunately cover tidal overflow or flooding caused by high tides.

Ride Sharing Insurance

Uber, Lyft and other ride share drivers are being offered new insurance products. These products can cover both personal auto use and ride-sharing insurance.

State Farm is offering a ride sharing endorsement in Colorado.

Farmers has expanded their coverage to Arizona, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Nevada, Oklahoma, Ohio and Texas. Many of these states are seeing ride share coverage for the first time.

USAA has expanded their ride sharing insurance coverage options to California.

Metromile

Available for Uber drivers in Callifornia, Illinois and Washington Metromile offers per mile insurance. This means therefore that the more you drive, the more you pay. They give you a special dongle. You plug this into your car. It then tracks how far you travel.

This company has partnered with Uber to create a unique offering by tracking your car with their dongle. It matches up with your Uber rides. Metromile can thus see which rides are personal and which are business. The business miles are subtracted and you are then only charged for your personal miles.

The insurance company is only integrated with Uber. They therefore will only subtract trips accepted through the Uber app.

If you’re an Uber driver and live in California, Illinois or Washington, you can therefore use their website to get a quote.

Geico

Available in Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Georgia, Connecticut, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Geico’s ride sharing insurance appears easy to understand. Their product is much cheaper than Geico’s other commercial auto insurance products.

Progressive

This product is available in Pennsylvania.

Their rates are close to a personal auto insurance policy. Progressive told the Post Gazette that the rates would be adjusted based on the mileage driver as a ride share driver. They did not however say how they would gather the data.

USAA

Available in California, Colorado and Texas.

Instead of coming up with an entirely new commercial insurance product, USAA’s ride sharing insurance extends your existing personal policy to the tune of $6 to $8 extra per month. This makes getting ride sharing insurance an easy and therefore cheap process for existing USAA customers.

Farmers

Available for all ride share drivers in Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wisconsin.

Their ride sharing insurance exists as an additional endorsement. This is on top of their personal auto insurance product. Farmer’s product will cover personal miles as well as the insurance gap. It will not however cover drivers while a passenger is in their car. Farmer’s ride share insurance product will cost drivers an additional 25% on their existing Farmers auto insurance coverage.

Allstate

Allstate has a product called Allstate Ride for Hire. Ride for Hire is an additional endorsement. This is on top of your normal Allstate auto insurance that specifically covers ride sharing. They estimate that it will thus add an additional $15 to $20 to your premium every month.

Bizarre Insurance Claims

Number 1: Bizarre Insurance Claims

Isabel Parker, the 72-year-old queen of the slip-and-fall scam, fell in department stores, supermarkets and liquor stores 49 times during her long career.  She filed 49 bizarre insurance claims.

Prosecutors said that she treated insurance claims like her job and she kept very very busy. The woman filed a total of 49 bogus personal injury claims in Philadelphia, Delaware County and New Jersey.  She collected $500, 115 between 1993 and 2000. She pleaded guilty to 29 counts of insurance fraud.  The result was a four year sentence under house arrest.

Number 2: Bizarre Insurance Claims

Carla Patterson tried to tap a Virginia Cracker Barrel restaurant for a $500,000 insurance settlement.   She ‘discovered’ a mouse in her vegetable soup on Mother’s Day. The national chain investigated further.   They found that the mouse had no soup in its lungs.  It had therefore not been cooked.

The jury believed that the only way the mouse could have appeared in the soup is if she had put it there. The result was a one year prison sentence for conspiracy to commit extortion.

Number 3: Bizarre Insurance Claims

A man from Delaware torched his own home and his own convertible.  He tried to collect on his homeowners and auto insurance. Nicholas Di Puma said it all started when pans on his wood stove ignited while he was cooking. Then buckets of coal caught on fire. After trying to extinguish the inferno, Di Puma said he threw the first bucket out the door.   It apparently landed in the back seat of his convertible. While en route to tossing the second pan outside, he tripped and the second landed on the sofa. Unbelievable? That’s what local law enforcement thought too. Di Puma pleaded guilty to second and third degree attempted insurance fraud. The result: Five years probation, no insurance benefits. Home and car completely destroyed.

Number 4: Bizarre Insurance Claims

Some wedding days just don’t turn out the way you expect. Everything seemed to be going well on the day for Paula Catelli from Rimini, Italy.   Then her beautiful, hand-made wedding dress came slightly too close to the barbecue. The synthetic material went up in flames immediately.  Within moments Catelli was what no girl on her wedding day ever wants to be – a bride on fire.

Her loving husband saved the day by picking her up and throwing her into the sea. Fortunately both bride and groom were excellent swimmers. The result: The insurance company paid out 50% compensation for the disaster; possibly out of sympathy.

Number 5: Bizarre Insurance Claims

High living had left Chicago grain futures executive Marc Thompson deeply in debt. In desperation, he torched his home for the $730,000 in insurance money. To make it appear a suicide, he led his 90 year old mother Carmen downstairs.  He then doused the basement with accelerant and tossed the match. Carmen Thompson’s August 11, 2002 death by carbon monoxide poisoning and smoke inhalation must have seemed the perfect alibi. But federal agents continued to investigate the fire.   The truth emerged. The result: No insurance pay out and 190 years in a federal prison.

Number 6: Bizarre Insurance Claims

A lawyer from North Carolina purchased a box of expensive cigars. He insured them against flooding, storm damage and fire. Needless to say, his investment went up in smoke within a month.  The lawyer filed a claim with his homeowners insurance company.  He stated that he was owed compensation because “the cigars were lost in a series of small fires”. The insurers refused to pay, assuming that the man had smoked the pack himself. A judge ruled however, that since the insurer had never stated what was considered to be “unacceptable” fire, the company did in fact owe him $15,000 to replace his property.

The result: The insurance company paid the claim.  They then had the lawyer arrested. He was sentenced to 24 months in jail.  He received a $24,000 fine for 24 counts of arson and insurance fraud.

Number 7: Bizarre Insurance Claims

British travel agency Club Direct began issuing policies to cover injuries caused by falling coconuts. Brent Estcott, their managing director, cited statistics which show that 150 people are killed every year by falling coconuts. There was some perception that perhaps Mr. Estcott had been struck on the head. That same year in Sri Lanka a Club Direct customer was calmly sitting under a palm tree reading a book when a coconut fell on her head. She was knocked out cold. She was duly hospitalized. The result: The insurance company paid out in full.

Every now and then, insurance companies can be shocked by really bizarre insurance claims:

Number 8: Bizarre Insurance Claims

A man who shot his TV earned his place in the list of the world’s most bizarre insurance claims. After explaining he had no idea the gun was loaded, the professional gun restorer was able to convince his insurer the shot was not intentional.

Number 9: Bizarre Insurance Claims

A couple suffered severe damage to their kitchen when their washing machine became stuck on high heat. This caused significant steam damage to their kitchen.  However their home insurance provider rejected their claim, saying the couple were not covered by steam.

Unusual items that have been covered in the past include crocodile skulls, a 25 lb stuffed and mounted salmon, a magic lantern and a $10,000 collection of meteorites.

Singapore drivers

AIG has launched a nationwide search to find the best Singapore drivers. They are using “AIG on the Go”, a telematics-based smartphone application.

A driver’s performance is scored each time they get behind the wheel. Telematics measures driving performance against a range of factors. These factors are acceleration, braking, cornering and speed.

The app provides a score for each completed journey. Useful driving tips are given to the driver. The app allows drivers to influence their AIG Singapore car insurance premiums by improving their driver behaviour.

Safe drivers with high scores will be given discounts up to 15 percent off their yearly AIG Singapore car insurance premiums and there is a $10,000 prize for the safest driver.

More than half the drivers in Singapore say they feel unsafe on the roads. Injury accidents rose from 8058 to 8277 in 2016. This shows an upward trend of 2.7 percent.

AIG hopes to help Singapore drivers to cultivate good road safety habits. Traffic accidents will therefore be reduced with the bonus of dollar savings.

Participants can also enter a man vs woman driving competition. It ends on 30 April 2017. The debate about which is the safer driver will be brought to an end.

In addition, AIG found that younger drivers are more reckless. Thus they have a parental control feature on the app. Parents will be able to track their children’s driving behaviour.

A survey showed that almost 70 percent of Singapore drivers would consider installing a telematics device in return for lower premiums. More than 50 percent of the drivers are sure that telematics would improve their driving habits.

Further assistance on the app includes roadside assistance and directions to workshops.

AIG Singapore has also launched a road safety programme for pre-schoolers. This is in order to cultivate a generation of safer road users with good safety habits. This programme is in partnership with the Traffic Police. To date 4000 pre-schoolers have been taught road safety rules. Another 900 pre-schoolers will be taught in 2017.

Insurance and losses of Earthquakes

The U. S. has about 20,000 earthquakes a year. Most of them are small. According to a U. S. Geological Survey 42 states are at risk of earthquakes.

Global losses from earthquakes were about $313 million in 2014. That is higher than 2013 losses of $45 million. It is far below 2011’s $54 million, the highest ever recorded according to Swiss Re.

The Californian Earthquake Authority has some 800,000 policies in force in the state. Only about 10 percent of Californians purchase earthquake coverage, according to the California Insurance Department.

Earthquake insurance is generally not included in standard homeowners insurance policies.

An earthquake is a sudden and rapid shaking of the earth.  It is caused by the breaking and shifting of rock beneath the earth’s surface. This shaking can sometimes trigger landslides, avalanches, flash floods, fires and tsunamis. Unlike other natural disasters such as hurricanes, there are no specific seasons for earthquakes.

Earthquakes in the United States are not covered under standard homeowners and business insurance policies. Coverage is usually available for earthquake damage in the form of an endorsement.    However, insurers that don’t sell earthquake insurance may still be impacted by these catastrophes due to losses from fire following a quake. These losses could involve claims for business interruption and additional living expenses as well. Cars and other vehicles are covered for earthquake damage under the comprehensive part of the auto insurance policy.

One of the worst catastrophic in U. S. history, the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, would have caused insured losses of $96 billion, were the quake to hit under current economic and demographic conditions according to AIR Worldwide.

The potential cost of earthquakes has been growing because of increasing urban development in seismically active areas.  Also the vulnerability of older buildings, which may not have been built or upgraded to current building codes.

The Northridge earthquake, which struck Southern California on January 17, 1994, was the most costly quake in U. S. history,.  It caused an estimated $44 billion in total property damage when it occurred, including $24.5 billion in insured losses in 2014 dollars. The California Earthquake Authority is one of the world’s leading residential earthquake insurers.  They have 800, 000 policies in force and 17 participating insurers. However, only about 10 percent of homeowners in California now buy earthquake insurance according to the California Insurance Department.

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami:

On March 11, 2011 an earthquake and Tsunami struck northeast Japan killing thousands of people and injuring many others. The Tsunami was generated by a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. It was approximately 80 miles offshore and about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo.

The Japan earthquake cost the insurance industry an estimated $35 billion. This is a fraction of the total losses.

Earthquake Forecasts:

In April 2008 experts from the U. S. Geological Survey, USC’s Southern California Earthquake Center and the State Geological Survey released an earthquake forecast.  This indicated that a huge quake is far more likely in Southern California than in Northern California in the next 30 years. The report also concluded that the state is virtually certain to be hit by a major earthquake by 2028. The researchers found that the chance of a 6.7 quake is 37 percent in Southern California and 15 percent in Northern California. The study used new information about prehistoric earthquakes.  The location of faults and their slip rates.

Insurance Coverage for Earthquakes in the United States:

Standard homeowners, renters and business insurance policies do not cover damage from earthquakes. Coverage is available either in the form of an endorsement or as a separate policy for homeowners, renters and small business owners. Unlike flood insurance, earthquake coverage is available from private insurance companies rather than from the government. In California, homeowners can also get coverage from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA), a privately funded, publicly managed organisation.

Earthquake insurance provides protection from the shaking and cracking that can destroy buildings and personal possessions. Coverage for other kinds of damage that may result from earthquakes, such as fire and water damage due to burst gas and water pipes, is provided by standard home and business insurance policies in most states.

Cars and other vehicles are covered for earthquake damage by comprehensive insurance which also provides protection against flood and hurricane damage as well as theft.

Deductibles and Costs:

Earthquake insurance carries a deductible, generally in the form of a percentage rather than a dollar amount. Deductibles can range anywhere from 2 percent to 20 percent of the replacement value of the structure. This means that if it costs $100,000 to rebuild a home and there was a 2 percent deductible, the consumer would be responsible for the first $2,000. Insurers in states like Washington, Nevada and Utah, with higher than average risk of earthquakes, often set minimum deductibles at around 10 percent. In most cases, consumers can get higher deductibles to save money on earthquake premiums.

Premiums also differ widely by location, insurer and type of structure that is covered. Generally older buildings cost more to insure than new ones. Wood frame structures generally benefit from lower rates than brick buildings because they tend to withstand quake stresses better. The cost of earthquake insurance is calculated on “per $1000 basis”. For instance, a frame house in the Pacific NorthWest might cost between one to three dollars per $1000 worth of coverage, while it may cost less than fifty cents per $1000 on the East Coast.

Lufthansa air crash payouts

Lufthansa Germanwings Flight 9525 was flown into a mountainside in France in March 2015, killing all 150 people on board. Some relatives may receive as little as 95,000 euros ($104,000) per victim in compensation.  Others could receive millions according to lawyers representing the families.

Lufthansa, which owns Germanwings, said it was still negotiating with the victims’ families.  They confirmed some may receive a minimum payout. The airline paid an initial sum of 50,000 euros per victim to help with immediate costs.  They are offering at least 45,000 euros on top to families of the 72 German victims.

So far, none has accepted Lufthansa’s offer, and the discussions could drag on for months. Some relatives were so incensed they wrote an open letter to Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr.  They slammed his handling of the disaster. They also called him out for failing to apologise as well as for not speaking with them directly.

Elmar Giemulla, a lawyer represented the families.  He said Spohr has not agreed to meet them in their hometowns. Giemulla has proposed a minimum payment of 650,000 euros per German victim.

Andreas Bartels is a spokesman for Lufthansa.  He would not confirm plans for the meeting.  He said it was in the best interests of the families to keep these conversations private.

It is widely believed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz crashed the plane into the French Alps after struggling with depression. The plane’s flight recorder or “black box” recovered after the crash, seems to indicate that the flight’s co-pilot deliberately locked the commanding pilot out of the cockpit, before changing course to crash the plane.

Germanwings cockpit protocols are in line with rules established by the German aviation safety authority, the Luftfahrt Bundesamt. This dictates that when there are two crew, one can leave the cockpit – but only for the absolute minimum time.

The co-pilot visited many doctors in the years leading up to the crash.  At least one deemed him unfit to fly. Due to Germany’s strict confidentiality laws those who could prevent Lubitz from flying were not told about these issues. France is planning a criminal investigation.

Lufthansa’s spokesperson said the airline had taken every step possible to support the families. Furthermore Lufthansa has assigned 600 people to work with family members.

Different legal systems in different countries around the world are used to determine compensation. The German system discourages large payouts, while the U. S. system is extremely generous. Giemulla says American families receive an average payout of $6.5 million per plane crash victim.

Allianz is the lead insurer for Lufthansa, which owns the budget carrier Germanwings. Part of the cost will be paid out by underwriter AIG Aerospace.  They cover war, hijacking and terrorism, as well as costs associated with passenger loss of life and third party damage. This includes payouts to family and relatives. Reuters also reported that Cathedral, a subsidiary of Lancashire holdings, is in charge of the war policy in the Germanwings case.

U. S. maps

The Trump administration has proposed cutting $190 million in funding for updating U. S. maps of flood-prone areas.

A consumer group has said that the move could result in higher insurance rates. Furthermore home-building will take place in risky areas.

Flood-mapping provides important details about areas which are safe for building. It also sets guidelines for flood insurance and how to price coverage.

Without funding, and therefore updated U. S. maps, the building industry will rely on old U. S. maps. Construction in flood-prone areas would follow.

Flood-mapping provides important details about areas which are safe for building. It also sets guidelines for flood insurance and how to price this coverage.

Without funding, and therefore updated maps, the building industry will rely on old maps. Construction in flood-prone areas would follow.

SmarterSafe.org has called for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), to determine flood-prone areas. Furthermore to price flood insurance premiums using these risks as guidelines. This could be achieved by using cutting-edge technology.

In addition, communities could be offered incentives to boost and improve natural buffers against floods.

The program is $24.6 million in debt to the U. S. Treasury Department. The debt was increased due to claims from Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Homeowners need to have flood insurance before a mortgage can be completed. Most Americans obtain flood insurance through the federal program. However, a small market for private flood insurance has sprung up in flood-prone states such as Florida.

According to a poll conducted by the Insurance Information Institute, only 14 per cent of Americans are insured against flooding. This percentage has remained steady since 2009.

Most disasters are covered under a standard homeowners policy. However, flooding is not. Many homeowners do not read their policies thoroughly and are therefore unaware of this fact.

Some people in high-risk areas still don’t purchase flood insurance. They forget that flooding is not only caused by large hurricanes but also excessive snow melt-off or heavy rain.

 

 

Climate Risk Insurance

At a meeting with leaders of small island nations, President Obama announced on the 1st of December 2015, that the United States will commit $30 billion to climate risk insurance schemes.

Susceptible people will become more buoyant to climate change and risk with this endeavour. The aid aso included the supply of climate data, tools and service.

The financial aid will increase climate risk insurance coverage to assist people to oversee serious climate-related problems. The dilemmas range from escalating droughts, flood and storms to melting glaciers and rising seas.

This summer G7 leaders set a goal to increase the figure initiated by the US government to reach 400 million by 2020. People in the most vulnerable developing countries will therefore be helped by means of climate risk insurance.

In June Germany said it would provide 150 million euros ($170 million) to kick-start the initiative.

A state of emergency was declared on 10 December 2015 by Oregon State Governor. The storms and floods began on 7th December 2015 and covered 13 counties.

Major highways were closed due to days of hazardous weather.  High winds knocked out power to thousands.   Rainfall caused wide-spread flooding of roadways, homes and properties.  This prompted Governor Jay Inslee of Washington to declare a state of emergency on the 9th of December 2015.

At least 58 died in the Black Sea area over the New Year’s week-end. Thousands of Russian tourists were caught out by flood water.   Their cars and tents were swept out to sea.

Thousands of British tourists were forced to cancel holidays. One of the worst hit cities was Prague.   More than 50,000 people had to be evacuated.   This was the most devastating flood for more than a century that threatened to engulf the Czeck capital.

Parts of Mala Strana, the mediaeval area of the city centre, were almost certain to be flood damaged.   The deluge forced dams on the river Vitava to open their gates. Prague had not seen the river as high since 1890.

Residents of towns in far southern Illinois anxiously awaited flood waters from the swollen Mississippi River to peak on Sunday (3rd January 2016). The flooding then swamped towns.   Numerous businesses had to be shut down.

 

 

Sinking Cities

As sea levels rise, ground levels in coastal mega cities are also falling. This presents potentially disastrous consequences for insurers. Sinking cities are being submerged at a phenomenal rate

Large property insurers in the world’s coastal cities are concerned. They have taken into account the effects of climate change into their calamity models.

Underwriters fear the combination of sea water deluge and flood damage. New Orleans suffered an ensuing cascading collapse of critical infrastructure following Hurricane Katrina. The city is constructed on multiple layers of soft soil which compresses when built upon.

The causes of sinking cities varies. Ground water extraction for drinking water and industrial processes is one of the problems. In Los Angeles, oil and gas extraction is to blame.

Tokyo has been one of the most severely affected sinking cities. In the middle of the last century it grew rapidly. It sunk over 4 metres. In the 1970s radical corrective policies were instituted. Extraction of ground water was reduced.

The fastest subsiding city is Jakarta, Indonesia. It is sinking 5 to 10 centimetres a year. Key commercial districts of the city are threatened. These districts are where major Asian, American and European companies are based.

A water management specialist from Dutch research Deltares confirmed that the project known as the Giant Sea Wall (GSW), is one of the solutions to Jakarta’s problems. This project would protect four to five million people who could see their current homes sinking between 4 to 9 metres below sea level.

The city of Venice, Italy, built on a salt marsh, as charming as it looks, is sinking. Venice has always survived on borrowed time. A major threat are the extreme high tides known as “acqua alta”. Acqua alta is when the water level is over 90mm (3.54 inches) above normal.The most common occurrence of the acqua alta is in and around Piazza San Marco. Abnormal high tides are becoming more common place. Venice now experiences more than 60 days a year of extreme high tides.

Heavy and often reckless boat traffic speeding through the canals is another one of Venice’s problems. The wake caused by these motor boats and large cruise ships create small but powerful waves that lap the stones lining the canals. This is eroding away the mortar holding the city in place.

A popular as well as the most controversial solution to the sinking of Venice is called the MOSE Project (Modulo Sperimentale Elettromeccanico). The plan is to create adjustable barriers at the Venice Lagoon entrances. These barriers are designed to rest on the sea floor until Venice is threatened by an acqua alta event. The barriers, when needed, spring into action by rising to form a dam across the three entrances to the Venice Lagoon. High water is thus kept away from the city.

The project, still incomplete, was caught in a scandal of corruption and bribery. Thirty five people were arrested and one hundred politicians investigated.

Lloyds

The early years of Lloyds

The rise of Lloyds occurred in February 1688. The London Gazette referred to Edward Lloyd’s Coffee House in Tower Street, London. Lloyd had offered a reward for the return of a stolen horse. The ten year old chestnut mare was described as having a white stripe down the nose and white hind feet.

Maritime Insurance

The coffee house was a popular place for sailors, merchants and shipowners. He had the latest reliable shipping news available. He insured slaves and slave ships. Very soon Lloyds had a monopoly on maritime insurance related to the slave trade. It was maintained up through the early 19th century.

He later moved to the very centre of the financial district in London at 16 Lombard Street. The American Revolution of the 1770s, followed by the Napoleonic Wars in the early 1800s would soon demonstrate just how vital marine insurance could be. It would bring large profits to those who could provide it, but also huge losses. Lloyds now dominated shipping insurance on a global scale.

Society of Lloyds

In 1774 long after Lloyd’s death in 1713, the participating members of the insurance arrangement formed a committee and moved to the Royal Exchange on Cornhill as the Society of Lloyds.

The first edition of Lloyd’s list, is one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals. It was first published by Thomas Jemson in 1734. More than 300 years on and the paper still provides weekly shipping news to London and beyond.

Setting a precedent

In 1764 one of the most important trials in insurance law history was witnessed. It concerned the voyage of the French-built Mills Frigate. This vessel was insured by Lloyds. The frigate’s condition was weak, leaky and distressed. A court ruled after a lengthy court case that a ship must be seaworthy when leaving shore. Also that insurance could not even be paid on a ship which suffered a latent defect unknown to both parties. This therefore became part of the general English law of marine insurance.

When the Seven Years’ War came to an end, marine premiums returned to a lower level. Certain underwriters speculated, putting their names to other kinds of risks. These included highway robbery and death by gin drinking. The coffee house soon became notorious as a gambling den.

New Lloyds

In 1769, a breakaway group of professional underwriters wanted to disassociate themselves from Lloyd’s alarming reputation. These underwriters established a new coffee house at 5 Pope’s Head Alley, London. The so-called “Old Lloyds” therefore ceased to exist. In its wake came the rise of Lloyds, whose professionalism and ordered existence entirely quashed the anarchy of the Lombard Street gamblers.

In the late 1980s to mid 1990s Lloyds went through a traumatic period. Large legal awards in U. S. Courts for punitive damages led to large claims by insureds. The claims were mainly on asbestos. pollution and health hazard policies. Some of the policies dated back to the 1940s.

A worker at an industrial plant may have been exposed to asbestos in the 1960s. He becomes ill 20 years later. In many instances the insurer did not understand the full nature of the future risk. The insurer therefore did not properly reserve for such claims. This resulted in the bankruptcy of thousands of individual investors.

After this dark period, the insurance world would again see the rise of Lloyds.

 

 

 

 

Odd Things insured

Odd Things Insured:

Egon Miklos

Egon Miklos Ronay was a hungarian born food critic who wrote and published a famous series of guides to British and Irish restaurants.

Ronay championed foreign cuisine for British diners. His father’s contacts arranged for him to manage “Princes” restaurant in Piccadilly and the “Carousel Club” in St. Jame’s.

He borrowed funds and took over the 39 seat “Marquee”, a former tea room near Harrods. In his later years, Ronay acted as food consultant for pub chain JD Wetherspoon.

In 1957 Ronay completed the first edition of the Egon Ronay’s Guide to British Eateries selling 30,000 copies. Because his endorsements could make or break a restaurant, Ronay insured his tastebuds for $400,000. This was one of the odd things insured by Lloyds.

Betty Grable

Betty Grable’s 40 films grossed over $100 million at the box office and she was the highest paid Hollywood celebrity between 1943 and 1951. Despite her exquisite singing and dancing skills, Grable was most famous for her legs.

The iconic pinup of the starlet in a white bathing suit became a favorite with GIs during World War II. Grable reportedly earned $300, 000 a year, largely because of her legs. At the height of her fame, the studio insured her legs for $1 million.

Merv Hughes

Merv Hughes is a former Australian cricketer. A right-arm fast bowler, he represented Australia between 1985 and 1994 in 53 test matches, taking 212 wickets.

Another one of the odd things insured by Lloyds was Merv Hughe’s facial hair.

Hughes is noted for his large moustache. Described by Cricinfo as being “of incredible proportions”, the moustache became sufficiently synonymous with Hughes for him to have insured it for $370, 000.

Harvey Lowe

Harvey Lowe bought his first yo-yo in 1931 for 35 cents. He began entering and winning local contests. Promoter Irving Cook noticed Lowe’s talent and took him to London where he represented the Cheerio Yo-Yo company of Canada. Lowe won the first World Yo-Yo contest at the Empire Theatre on 12th September 1932.

Lowe was so valuable to Cheerio that the company insured his hands for $150, 000.

Ken Dodd

From 1967 to 1992, British comedian and singer, Ken Dodd was in the Guinness Book of Records for the World’s longest joke-telling session – 1,500 jokes in three and a half hours. Dodd has sold more than 100 million comedy records and is famous for his frizzy hair, ever-present feather duster and extremely large buckteeth. Another of the odd things insured by Lloyds were Dodd’s teeth which are so important to his act. Dodd had them insured for $7.4 million.

Michael Flatley

He is an American step dancer, choreographer and musician of Irish descent. He became internationally known for Irish dance shows Riverdance, Lord of the Dance, Feet of Flames and Celtic Tiger. He insured his legs for $47 million.

Bud Abbott and Lou Costello

The famous comedy team of Bud Abbott and Lou Costello worked very well together. They protected themselves in case of a career-ending argument and took out a $250,000 policy over a five year period. However, they did not split up due to an argument but because they owed the Internal Revenue Service back taxes. This therefore forced them to sell many of their assets including the rights to their many films.

Jockeys’ Insurance

For years, jockey Gary Birzer spent more time trying to snare mounts and win races than being concerned about his financial future and jockey’s insurance. Then in 1998 he became engaged and realised that he should look at his monetary affairs.

Statistics show that jockeys have a 60% chance of being injured in any given year and need jockey’s insurance. Gary joined the Jockeys’ Guild. It provided insurance coverage up to $1 million for medical expenses in the event of an on-track accident.

On 20 July 2004, Birzer’s horse fell at West Virginia’s Mountaineer Race Track. The jockey’s back was broken, paralyzing him from the waist down. Then he learnt of the bad news. The guild had quietly cancelled its $1 million policy more than 2 years earlier. They had let it lapse and failed to inform any of the riders. In 2006 Birzer agreed to settle a $10 million lawsuit against the California-based Jockeys’ Guild and the two officials who allowed his health insurance to lapse.

A “Fund” was established by State Legislation in 1998 to provide jockeys’ insurance for active, disabled and retired Delaware jockeys as well as their families.

Recently, the Jockey Guild has been making a strong push for someone to provide health insurance for riders and their families. In New York, the Governor’s office has convened a Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety to consider the issue, among others.

A major item of discussion at the Task Force meetings has been: Who should pay for health insurance for jockeys and their families? Its that either the race tracks or the owners and trainers should bear this cost, and not the jockeys themselves.  This does seem reasonable. After all, owners, trainers and track executives are not the ones taking the risks of riding a 1, 200 pound animal at 40 miles per hour in close company and under sometimes less than perfect conditions. Jockeys literally put their lives on the line every time they ride, so should they not get help?

Is financing health insurance for jockeys and their families really the best use of money from tracks’ budgets? Is taking yet another slice off the top of owners’ purses to pay for jockeys’ insurance wise at a time, when despite slots-enhanced purses, most race horse owners still lose money?

Why provide health insurance for jockeys when trainers, many of whom own less than jockeys, have no insurance plan from the track and have to buy their own personal and family coverage?

In some racing jurisdictions, where purses are low, jockeys do not have coverage for on-the-job injuries. A jockey’s income flirts with the poverty line.  Perhaps here there is an argument to be made for assisting jockeys with health insurance premiums. However, in New York, that argument does not apply. Here is why:

First, jockeys in New York already have two forms of insurance coverage for work-related injuries. The Jockey Injury Compensation Fund provides workers compensation coverage.  This includes  ongoing medical care, for on-the-job injuries to jockeys and exercise riders. The Fund is financed by owners, through a deduction of purses.   Also  by trainers, through a per-stall fee.

In addition, the New York Racing Association (NYRA) pays for an accidental death and injury policy. This pays those jockeys who sign a waiver (agreeing not to sue NYRA).   Those payments are on top of the workers’ compensation payments through The Jockey Injury Compensation Fund.

Secondly, jockeys in New York make a pretty good living. Using statistics available from Equibase, it is possible to calculate the gross earnings of most regular New York riders. In New York, jockeys generally get 9.17% of a win purse, 5% of second-place money and 7.5% of third place money. Because win purses are the major element in any jockey’s income, this works out to a blended rate of about 8% of total purse money won.

According to the latest figures, 24 riders earned over $100, 000 each per annum just in New York. These are many riders with incomes that the majority of racegoers would not mind earning. It is true that jockeys generally pay their agents 15-25% of their earnings.   Furthermore their valets get 5-10%, but still these are solid, middle-class incomes, and well above the national average.

In the past, jockeys had a strong argument for having the tracks and/or owners supply health insurance, because most riders would have “pre-existing conditions” that insurance companies would cite in order to deny coverage. However, under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), insurance companies can no longer use that excuse; they must make standard policies available, regardless of the pre-existing conditions.

Jockeys are independent contractors, with rare exceptions, they are not employees of a particular trainer or owner. Like solo practice lawyers, freelance writers or, for that matter, horse trainers, they are responsible for themselves. Unlike those other categories, they have  jockeys’ insurance for work-related injuries.

The New York Task Force on Jockey Health and Safety can do a lot of good things. Improving vests, helmets and other professional equipment would help. So would stiffer standards for licensing riders to make sure they are up to the level of competition in New York, and ongoing continuing education programs

In addition providing nutrition advice so that riders can keep their weight down without destroying their bodies. So would tougher penalties for dangerous riding.

Donald Trump’s Healthcare Plan

The amazing thing is that nobody really knows what Donald Trump’s Healthcare plan entails.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has suggested a more detailed plan called A Better Way. He suggests the following: –

Protection for Patients

His plan will ensure that no American can be rejected by a Health Insurer. This is regardless of health status.

Practical Reforms

Dependents up to the age of 26 would be able to remain on their parents’ plan. Such a reform would therefore help younger Americans to receive healthcare coverage. This would furthermore stabilize the market. The practice of imposing lifetime limits on individual coverage would be stopped.

Coverage Protection

Insurers will not be allowed to unfairly overturn any American’s healthcare protection due to the insured’s failing health.

Continuous Coverage Protection

If a person suffers a serious health episode, he or she would not be debited more than standard rates. This safeguard  thus applies to all who remain enrolled in a health insurance plan. It applies even if the individual is switching from employer based health insurance to the individual market.

Legal provision was made in 1996 that offers pre-existing condition safeguards when an insured moves from one job to another. Insurers would rate individuals each time they enrolled in a new plan. The result was a hike in premium costs for individuals and families.

The 1996 HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) encourages Americans to enrol in health insurance and remain enrolled.

Fair Premiums

A plan to ensure reasonable premiums is to fix the age-rating ratio. In Donald Trump’s Healthcare plan, premium amounts are adjusted according to an individual’s age. The cost of an older individual’s plan should not exceed five times that of the premium of a younger person.

Before 2010 most states were using this five-to-one ratio. Obamacare mandates a three-to-one ratio. This ratio is leading to insurance pools with older, sickly people. Furthermore, younger and healthier Americans are being discouraged from enrolling in the insurance market. States would be allowed to adjust this ratio according to their residents’ needs and wants. Young people would thus be encouraged to purchase and maintain health insurance.

State Innovation Grants

First proposed in 2009, this plan provides a minimum of $25 billion for State Innovation Grants. These grants may be given to States for developing effective reforms.  This makes health insurance more affordable and accessible. Certain targets must be achieved in the following areas: reduction of individual premiums, small group premiums and the number of uninsured in the State. Grants are rewarded on a sliding scale. This concept has been shown to reduce costs.

One-time Open Enrolment

This fair plan gives the uninsured person the opportunity to join the health insurance sector, regardless of their state of health. All options are available. Should an individual not enrol at this time, he/she/they may enrol at some future date.  However continuous  coverage protection will be forfeited.     Increased coverage costs will be incurred.

Protecting Life and Conscience Rights

Conscience Protectors

Doctors, nurses, hospitals and other healthcare providers are given protection from unfairness and intimidation when exercising their conscience. The Weldon Amendment approves this safeguard annually. States which victimize any individual or entity in this manner are barred from receiving federal funding.

Ensuring Taxpayer Dollars are Not Used to End Life

This provision known as the Hyde Amendment ensures that taxpayer dollars are not used to fund the cost of abortion. Obamacare broke this bipartisan agreement. Paul Ryan’s health insurance proposal would protect taxpayer dollars by abiding by the Hyde Amendment.

 

 

Pet Health Insurance

Healthy Paws

Healthy Paws is majority owned by Aon Corporation. The Pet Health Insurance policy starts almost immediately – 15 days after you sign up.  The only exception however being a 12 month waiting period to cover hip dysplasia. It does not cover routine care.  In addition will not pay for vet exams or pre-existing conditions.

  • What they include:
    Unlimited lifetime benefits and annual deductible.
  • Also free mobile app and no claim forms.
  • Customises your reimbursement and deductible levels to fit your budget.
  • Furthermore, covers all accidents and illnesses without restrictions for hereditary or congenital conditions.
  • Their covered services include advanced testing, surgeries, hospital stays and prescription medications.
  • In addition they also cover alternative and emergency care.

PetPlan

PetPlan Pet Health Insurance is licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Furthermore, they reimburse you the cost of your vet bill (minus your deductible, up to the policy limit you selected).
Deductibles are per condition, per year. That means that if you file claims for multiple unrelated conditions in a year, you will pay your deductible twice. It will also reset each year at renewal.
It does not however cover routine care and will not pay for pre-existing conditions. Waiting period: Only one day for injuries and 14 days for illnesses.

What is included:

  • Choice of $50, $100 or $200 deductible.
  • 100%, 90% and 80% reimbursement option
  • Covers all accidents and illnesses without restrictions for hereditary or congenital conditions.

  • Covers medications, advanced testing and hospital stays.
  • Policy limits range from $10, 000 to $22, 000.

Embrace Pet Insurance

Embrace Pet Health Insurance offers insurance plans for puppies, dogs, kittens and cats. Furthermore their optional wellness plan can be used to pay for your routine checkups.  Also a spay/neuter surgery (up to a maximum of $200 or $400 per year). Embrace Pet health insurance has age limitations on their policies. If your dog or cat is 6 or older you might not be eligible for coverage.  However once covered, your coverage is for life. They also offer drug coverage as an add-on.

What is included:

  • They cover accidents, illness, genetic and even chronic conditions. They offer wellness plans that will cover routine care or even spay/neuter surgery up to an annual maximum (either $200 or $400).
  • In addition, maximum payouts from $5, 000

Trupanion Pet Insurance

Trupanion will cover up to 90% of your actual bill. They reimburse medications, tests and even trips to the hospital. This is a  medium-sized company that offers unlimited benefits.  Animals that have not been spayed or neutered within the first year are covered as breeding animals which costs more.

What is included:

  • Deductibles range from $0 – $1000.
  • Their deductible is also per condition which is good for chronic issues as your pet ages.
  • They will cover up to 90% of the actual vet bill.
  • Covers actual vet bills for accidents, illness and genetic conditions.
  • Covers medications, advanced testing and hospital stays.
  • No restrictions or caps on payout amount.

Pet First Pet Insurance

If you go with Pet First, Lifetime Accident and Illness plans are recommended for optimal coverage. These plan options will cover chronic, hereditary and breed-specific conditions, including hip dysplasia and patella luxations (also known as floating kneecaps), if diagnosed while on the policy and will continue to be covered as long as the policy is in existence. Pet First offers two pet insurance plans which are designed to be straightforward. They offer discounts for pet owners with multiple pets and they will allow you to choose any vet you like without pre-approval.

What is included:

  • Easy to customise policies for dogs and cats. The premium is predictable and therefore easy to ensure coverage of the unexpected.
  • Reimbursement from 70-90%
  • Annual policy limits of $5, 000, $10, 000 and $20, 000 reset each year however, upon renewal.

VPI (PetInsurance.com)

On pet insurance review sites, VPI has some of the lowest reviews. One of the disadvantages is while you have to pay the Vet the total amount he/she charges. VPI will reimburse you according to their “schedule”, which could therefore leave you with added out of pocket expenses.

What is included:

Coverage for accidents, illnesses and hereditary issues on a sliding scale. You pay more for the coverage you should be getting.
Annual benefits limited to $14k/yr

Pet Partners

Pet Partners is a good brand of pet health insurance with an A+BBB ranking. They are affiliated with the AKC (American Kennel Club) which is good, but they have some coverage limitations and will not cover some conditions.

What is included:

  • 90% reimbursement.
  • In addition, an annual deductible of $100.
  • You may visit the vet of your choice.
  • Pet Partners allows you to select your payout limits with a maximum of $10k/yr.

ASPCA

ASPCA pet insurance is a well known brand in the US but they have a very low per-condition payout. If your pet’s surgery or unexpected bill is greater $3000 you will not be reimbursed, unless you get one of their two most expensive plans. Reimbursement is on a benefit scale (not actual bill).

What is included:

  • 90% reimbursement
  • Annual deductible of $100.
  • Visit the vet of your choice.

Pet Premium

Although Pet Premium is a new company in the US, they offer the same coverage as another provider that has been a strong brand in the US for years, namely ASPCA.

Both pet health insurance companies provide policyholders with the same coverage levels. Pet Premium, however, although still new, has been well received. They have per-condition limits. If surgery or an unexpected emergency bill is greater than $3500 you will however have to pay the difference.

What is included:

  • 90% reimbursement
  • In addition, a low annual deductible of $100
  • Furthermore, you may visit the vet of your choice.

Automakers must stop hackers

 

At an Automotive Press Association Luncheon in Detroit, a panel of four experts stated that automakers must stop hackers. Vehicles are becoming increasingly more connected. It is therefore vital for all parties to collaborate.  They must become more informed on the risks of connectivity.

Car hacking has so far been relatively limited and controlled. More widespread and consequential hacks could become more common in the future if automakers and consumers are not prepared.

Personal Data

The danger is that connected cars can provide hackers with a large amount of personal data available to exploit. You have credit card information in your car. Your driver’s licence information is there. Also probably your social security number and emergency contact numbers.

Jeep Cherokees

Last year researchers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek hacked into a Jeep Cherokee. The result of their effort was a hacking technique. The security industry calls it a zero-day exploit. Jeep Cherokees can be targeted and enable the attacker to use wireless control via the Internet. In this manner thousands of vehicles can be targeted. Automakers must stop hackers as their code is an automaker’s nightmare.

Software lets hackers send commands through the Jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes and transmission. This is all performed from a laptop that may be miles away in another area of the country.

Miller and Valasek (ex Twitter employees) have joined Uber, the $50 billion ride-sharing service’s Advanced Technologies Center. This is a research lab opened by the company in Pittsburgh.

Information Sharing

An information sharing and analysis centre is a non-profit organisation. It provides a central resource for gathering information on cyber threats to critical infrastructures. It supplies two-way sharing of information between the public and private sector. This enables insurance companies, amongst others, to assess information pertaining to cyber threats.

Vigilance

Hackers will always adapt to new technology and new security measures. It is therefore important for automakers, insurance companies and consumers to stay vigilant.

Smartphones

Consumers should also be aware of the dangers of connecting their smartphones to their vehicles. If you do not need to do it, then do not do so.

New Health Plan

Republicans replaced the Affordable Care Act this week. It was a major step. This law was originally enacted in 2010 by President Obama. Republicans created this policy but many hate this new Health Plan.

Moderates on the left show no interest in the new Health Plan either. It is unusual however for a bill to receive so much critique from the members of the party who created it.

Senator Rand Paul called it a “water-downed” version of Obamacare.  Paul said that the new Health Care Plan puts enormous strain on the federal government.

It has been called the “World’s Greatest Healthcare Plan of 2017”. The Trump administration has bragged that the new plan has removed parts of Obamacare that citizens do not like. For example, being fined if they do not purchase coverage. This is inaccurate. The penalty does apply however as Americans will need to pay their insurance provider and not the government.

Tom Price, Under Secretary for Health and Human services pointed to the 900 page 2010 document and he brought attention to the slimmer version of the 2017 plan. Mr. Price stated that the new plan probably will not cover birth control. It has been suggested that Republicans will make sure that the plan is financially viable by not covering contraception.

Other Senators from Alaska and Ohio believe that the legislation will harm Medicaid recipients. Their reasoning is that it does not rely heavily enough on the federal government.

Democrats claim that the replacement plan will not protect vulnerable Americans. There will be a cut on Planned Parenthood. This provides millions of people with access to mammograms, cancer screening and maternity care. It furthermore reduces protection for young people, LGBTQ people, persons of colour, rural communities and low income groups.

Refundable tax credits, based on a person’s age and income will be introduced to assist an individual to buy insurance, if they do not have it through their employer. People under 30 get $2000 a year, and over 60s can claim R4000.

Large employers will no longer be forced to insure their employees.

Under Trumpcare, fines are removed however insurance companies can charge a 30 per cent premium if cover is allowed to lapse for 63 days or more.

Insurance companies can set their own prices. Older people could pay five times the amount charged for younger consumers.

Medicaid will be rolled back. This program serves the most needy such as disabled people and very low-income groups.

Planned Parenthood funding will be phased out.

How much will it cost?

No figures have been given as yet.

Insurers Cautiously Optimistic on Trump

The President-Elect, Donald Trump stated on his campaign trail that he would lower corporate income taxes. Furthermore, he would lessen regulations giving insurers reasons to be optimistic.

Trumps’s style of governing

Chris Swift, CEO of The Hartford indicated that Trump’s governing style may be comparable to that of Ronald Reagan (Reaganomics). Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the United States, based his domestic governing method on supply-side economics.

  • Reducing marginal tax rates on income from labor and capital
  • Reducing the growth of government spending

By implementing supply-side economics the political and theoretical foundation was laid for a significant number of tax cuts in the United States.

An individual’s marginal tax estimate is the tax rate he pays. This on an additional dollar of earnings. Insurers are cautiously optimistic on Trump’s policy. As a result it determines the breakdown between taxes, on the one hand, and funds available for own use on the other hand. This is the core of supply-side analysis.

Supply-side analysis directly affects the motivation of citizens. Citizens are motivated to be productive, to save and invest.

The Obama Administration enacted the Dodd-Frank Act in July 2010. This Act offers protection for the consumer. Its main purpose is to avert another major financial crisis. It will take effect in April 2017. Its main premise is that regarding retirement savings, insurers must put their clients’ interests first. As a result, this may slow down the sales of variable annuities.

Donald Trump’s choice for Treasury Secretary – Steven Mnuchin – stated that he would focus on rolling back parts of the landmark Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law enacted in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008. He said that Dodd-Frank was way too complicated and cuts back lending. Trump said that he would like to repeal the Dodd-Frank Act. The banking system has also been shouting out for the repeal of this act.

Variable Annuities

A variable annuity is a contract between you and insurers, under which the insurance company agrees to make periodic payments to you. This could be immediately or at some future date. The manner in which you purchase a variable annuity is either by making one single contribution or a series of purchase payments.

The Typical American Couple

When American companies began switching from traditional pensions to self-directed 402 (k) – like plans in the 1980s and 1990s, it was supposed to lead to a golden age of insured retirement security.

No longer would workers be at the mercy of the company’s generosity. The solvency of Social Security would not be of importance. Workers themselves would be responsible for saving enough for a comfortable retirement.

Thirty years later, the results are in. The median working age couple has saved only $5000 for their retirement, according to analysis of the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances. The do-it-yourself pension system is a disaster. Seventy per cent of couples have less than $50 000 saved.

Even those on the cusp of retirement- the median couple in their late 50s or early 60s has saved only $17 000 in a retirement savings account.

Health Insurance Connecticut

Health Insurance Connecticut

Many people in Connecticut are uninsured. People believe they cannot afford it. Other individuals are without incomes because of unemployment thus do not have the available funds for health insurance.

There is insurance for the uninsured.

Many individuals are at higher risk because of pre-existing conditions However, the uninsured thus have a few options available to them.  These plans are available through AccessHealthCT.com.  These plans help uninsured individuals and families.

Husky Plan

Health insurance in Connecticut is state-sponsored. Consequently it offers a full health insurance package, regardless of family income. Children and teenagers are covered.  They are insured for Doctors’ visits, prescriptions, vision and dental costs.

Husky Plus

This plan offers additional services for uninsured special needs children. Husky is low-cost or free for most families. Families with high incomes can get Husky healthcare for children at a group rate.

Medicaid for Low-Income Adults

MLIA (Medicaid for Low-Income Adults) is available to Connecticut residents aged 19 to 64. These would be people who do not receive federal Supplemental Security Income. They therefore also do not receive Medicare.

Health Insurance Benefits include:

  • Long-term care/skilled nursing facility
  • Home health care
  • Non-emergency medical transportation
  • An Asset test for eligibility however  is not needed
  • Furthermore  no digital imaging is required
  • Coverage renewal will be done on an annual basis, not every six months

Health Care Law is therefore making a difference to the uninsured in Connecticut.

  • Since 2010, Connecticut has received $23.8 billion in grants. This fund was created to support effective policies . As a result the policies are intended to help Americans lead longer more productive lives.

  • The Affordable Care Act has thus increased funding in all 50 states.
  • Health centers in Connecticut have received $45.3 million. This has thus created health care center sites in medically underserved areas.
  • Patients are given more help.
  • Great support is offered for major construction and renovation projects
  • Improvements are being made in Preventive Care. Examples are regular check-ups and cancer screenings

Co-ordinated Care

Investments in community health teams therefore improves the outcome for chronic diseases. Examples are diabetes, kidney disease and heart disease. Funding is provided for home visits because infant mortality and post birth complications are much higher in low-income communities.

Drone Safety Violations

In recent years U. S. Aviation regulators hastily accepted commercial drone applications. This flurry has resulted in lax safety rules.

Over a period of 2 years 5500 exemptions were approved. These drones are used for businesses from film-making to agriculture. However, limited training for safety inspectors was provided. In spite of this, these inspectors have had to cope with an enormous amount of new operators.

In its haste to grant approvals, the agency did not check whether applicants had pilots’ licences. Applicant’s operating whereabouts were not recorded.  This  inspections were almost impossible.

Over the last year, more than 500 000 people have registered unmanned aircraft. Safety incidents involving drones reached more than 100 per month.

A recently released government watchdog report stated that there is a lack of vigorous data.  This data  reports and tracks system for drone movement. Furthermore, the report pointed out that the information available is fragmented.   It makes it difficult to interpret.

Recreational Drones

In 2012 Congress authorised the FAA to grant exemptions allowing commercial unmanned flights. This permission was for aircraft weighing less than 55 pounds. The agency proceeded to write formal regulations allowing such flights for hire. These regulations went into effect on 29 August 2012 and made provision exclusively for recreational users.

The FAA has now concentrated on educating ‘delinquent’ operators in safety rules rather than opening enforcement cases. Up until April, the agency has sent out 625 “Instructions for Operator” letters to drone users while only enforcing action against 30 for safety violations.

The agency has furthermore taken steps to improve compliance with drone operating rules. In addition, new training has been implemented for the education of its inspectors. A drone knowledge test has been compiled for commercial drone operators.

Provision has been made in current regulations to allow for more activities. One such activity includes flying closer to people but not over them. Close co-operation is being fostered with companies to test longer-range drones that can fly out of the operator’s sight.

In conclusion, the results of this government report will ensure the ongoing commitment of the FAA to minimise drone safety violations.