Homeowner’s Insurance

Homeowner’s Insurance:

Homeowner’s insurance (HOI) is a type of property insurance that covers a private residence.  It is an insurance policy that combines various personal insurance protections, which can include losses occurring to one’s home, its contents, loss of use (additional living expenses) or loss of other personal possessions of the homeowner, as well as liability insurance for accidents that may happen at the home or at the hands of the homeowner within the policy territory.

Homeowner’s Insurance is a multiple-line insurance policy, meaning that it includes both property insurance and liability coverage with a single premium.  The cost of Homeowner’s Insurance often depends on what it would cost to replace the house and which additional endorsements or riders are attached to the policy.  Typically, claims due to floods or war (whose definition typically includes a nuclear explosion from any source) are excluded from coverage, amongst other standard exclusions (like termites).  Special insurance can be purchased for these possibilities, including flood insurance.

People usually shop around when buying a car or an appliance but neglect to do comparisons when taking out Homeowner’s Insurance.  Homeowners should do annual comparisons on Homeowner’s Insurance policies.  Upgrades to your home such as gourmet kitchens or glamour baths improve the aesthetics of your residence but also increase its value.  Whenever an upgrade is done, contact should be made with your insurance company to ensure that you are not under-insured.  Items such as hot tubs, swimming pools and trampolines leave you more vulnerable to lawsuits and will therefore increase your annual payment for Homeowner’s Insurance.

In every state except California, a low credit score can drive up the price of your Homeowner’s Insurance.  Someone with a credit score of 500 probably not only lets bills slip but also the general maintenance of a home which leads to claims.  Laura Adams, of insurancequotes.com discourages clients from requesting a low deductible as this may encourage you to make frivolous claims.  In some instances one claim can result in a 32% hike in premiums.

Insurance carriers are able to give lots of discounts if, for example, your vehicle is insured with the same company as your residence.  Not smoking, being a retiree or living in a gated community can increase the amount of discounts that you qualify for with the carrier.  When discounts expire, remembering to request new discounts can help save you money every month.

Many homeowners do not understand what exposures are covered under their home insurance policy, according to a consumer survey.  More than two in five Americans (41 percent) believe that a standard homeowner’s insurance policy protects against mould damage, according to a In.SuranceQuotes.com survey.  This misconception could prove extremely costly.  Mould remediation can cost tens of thousands of dollars.  It is often not covered by Homeowner’s Insurance, especially if it was caused by neglected maintenance such as a leaky pipe. http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/national/2013/05/14/291804.htm

The Insurance Services Offices has standardised the following homeowner’s insurance policy forms in general use:

HO0 – Dwelling Fire Form

A form that provides coverage on a home against fire, smoke, windstorms, hail, lightning, explosion, vehicles and civil unrest.  It does not cover your personal property, personal liability or medical expenses.

HO1 – Basic Form

A basic policy form that provides coverage on a home against 11 listed perils:  contents are generally excluded in this type of coverage, but must be explicitly enumerated.  The perils include fire or lightning, windstorm or hail, vandalism or malicious mischief, theft, damage from vehicles and aircraft, explosion, riot or civil commotion, glass breakage, smoke, volcano eruptions, and personal liability.

Exceptions include floods, earthquakes.  Most states no longer offer this type of coverage.

HO2 – Broad Form

A more advanced form that provides coverage on a home against 16 listed perils (including 11 on the HO1).  The coverage is usually a “named perils” policy, which lists the events that would be covered.

HO3 – Special Form

The typical, most comprehensive form used for single-family homes.  The policy provides “all risk” coverage on the home with some perils excluded, such as earthquake and flood.  Contents are covered on a named peril basis.

HO4 – Contents Broad Form
The contents Broad, in a form for renters.  It covers personal property against the same perils as the contents portion of the HO2 or HO3.  An HO4 generally also includes liability coverage for personal injury or property damages inflicted on others.

HO5 – Comprehensive Form

Covers the same as HO3 plus more.  On this policy the contents are covered on an open peril basis, therefore as long as the cause of loss is not specifically excluded in the policy it will be covered for that cause of loss.

HO6 – Unit Owners Form

The form for condominium owners.  It insures your personal property, your walls, floor and ceiling against all of the perils in the Broad form.

HO8 – Modified Coverage Form

The form is for the owner-occupied older home whose replacement cost far exceeds the property’s market value.

Coverage Classification

For each policy, there are typically 5 claim classifications of coverage.  These are based on Standard Insurance Services office forms.

Section 1 – Property Coverage

Coverage A – Dwelling

Covers the value of the dwelling itself (not including the land).  Typically, a coinsurance clause states that as long as the dwelling is insured to 80% of actual value, losses will be adjusted at replacement cost, up to the policy limits.  This is in place to give a buffer against inflation.  HO4 (renters insurance)  typically has no coverage A, although it has additional coverages for improvements.

Coverage B – Other Structures

Covers other structures around the property that are not used for business, except as a private garage.  Typically limited at 10% to 20% of the Coverage A, with additional amounts available by endorsement.

Coverage C – Personal Property

Covers personal property, with limits for the theft and loss of particular classes of items.  (e. g. $200 for money, banknotes, bullion, coins, medals, etc.).  Typically 50-70% of Coverage A is required for contents, which means that consumers may pay for much more insurance than necessary.  This has led to some calls for more choice.

Coverage D – Loss of use/Additional Living Expenses

Covers expenses associated with additional living expenses (i. e. rental expenses) and fair rental value, if part of the residence was rented, however only the rental income for the actual rent of the space, not services provided such as utilities.

Additional Coverage

Covers a variety of expenses such as debris removal, reasonable repairs, damage to trees and shrubs for certain named perils (excluding the most common causes of damage, wind and ice), fire department charges, removal of property, credit card/identity theft charges, loss assessment, collapse, landlord’s furnishing, and some building additions.  These vary depending upon the form.

Exclusions

In an open perils policy, specific exclusions will be stated in this section.  These generally include earth movement, water damage, power failure, neglect, war, nuclear hazard, septic tank back-up expenses, intentional loss and concurrent causation (for HO3).  The concurrent causation exclusion excludes losses where both are covered and an excluded loss occurs.  In addition, the exclusion for building ordinance can mean that increased expenses due to local ordinances may not be covered.

Floods

Flood damage is typically excluded under standard homeowners’ and renters’ insurance policies.  Flood coverage, however, is available in the form of a separate policy both from National Flood Insurance Program and from a few private insurers.

Coverage E – Personal Liability

Covers damages which the insured is legally liable for and provides a legal defence at the insurer’s own expense.   About a third of the losses for this coverage are from dog bites.

Claims process

After a loss, the insured is expected to take steps to mitigate the loss.  Insurance policies typically require that the insurer be notified within a reasonable time period.  After that, a claims adjuster will investigate the claim and the insured may be required to provide various information.

Filing a claim may result in an increase in rates, or in non-renewal or cancellation.  In addition, insurers may share the claim data in an industry database (the two major ones are CLUE and A-PLUS) with Claim Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) by Choice point receiving data from 98% of US Insurers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Green building

By means of green building, consumers can benefit financially as insurers offer discounts on insurance coverage for green building.  The process of building this way is environmentally responsible.   Eco-friendly construction is putting up structures that are beneficial  for the environment. They are resource-efficient.  Local and renewable materials are used.   The construction thereof is energy-efficient.

Buildings often have a negative impact on our environment and our natural resources.  Responsible insurance carriers are happy to reward clients with discounted insurance coverage.  Negative aspects of energy waste include transporting materials hundreds or thousands of miles to building sites. Poorly designed buildings emit hazardous chemicals.  These chemicals are trapped inside the buildings affecting the health of the occupants.

Good building practice includes rammed earth construction.  This involves clay-based materials mixed with water.  This is rammed into a solid wall form.  Straw is a great insulator and bales of straw are used as the central structure of the house.  When compressed, straw is fire-resistant.

Other positive features are:

The use of solar panels for water heating; the collection of rainwater for garden use and the re-use of grey water; low energy light bulbs; cellulose insulation; lead-free paint; locally grown and harvested timber from sustainably managed forests.

Green building projects are increasing in popularity.   Between 2008 and 2010, green building projects increased by 50%.  They are projected to top $135 billion by 2015.  Owners of green buildings see higher property values.   Little changes are insulating water pipes. Bigger changes are installing solar panels and alternative water systems.

The return on investing in green building techniques now goes beyond good feelings and lower utility bills.  Green buildings may have more upfront costs than conventional but also have a lower overall risk.   Eco-friendly construction reduces risk and energy efficiency raises a building’s economic value.  Instead of costing building owners more to insure new and complicated green additions, insurance rates actually decrease for green buildings and improvements.  Green buildings are safer and more resilient than conventional buildings, resulting in lower overall risk to insure.

Instead of costing building owners more to insure new and complicated green additions, insurance rates actually decrease for green buildings and improvements.  Discounts on green insurance products are justified by safety data linking reduced emissions with accident and damage mitigating behaviour.  Green buildings are safer and more resilient than conventional buildings, resulting in lower overall risk to insure.

There are generally two types of insurance offered for green building.  The first, offered to conventional building owners, is a green-rebuild policy.  A 2-3% increase in premium (covering higher up-front costs of green materials) guarantees that, in case of a loss, a conventional building will be rebuilt to green standards.  Another policy type, offered to owners of already-green buildings, insures existing green modifications against loss.

After years of inertia, the $16 trillion industry has begun to address climate change with mandatory risk disclosures and more products to help businesses and individuals reduce energy use.  In March, insurance regulators adopted mandatory climate-risk disclosure standards for insurance companies with annual premiums of $500 million or more.  These standards require the firms to report to regulators and investors the types of payout risks they may face due to climate change.

Insurance for green building are rapidly gaining traction in the marketplace.  The first commercial green policy was offered by Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. in 2006.  Now several large companies offer insurance coverage for green building.  By 2009 over 22 companies offered 39 insurance products related to green building.

In the case of a loss, Fireman’s Fund Green Certification covers a rebuild to one level higher than pre-loss certification level and offers broad coverage of alternative green technology including vegetated roofs and underground water recycling systems.

Policyholders with Energy Star buildings are also eligible for a 5% discount.  Fireman’s Fund also covers lost tax incentives and utility discounts and, when losses exceed $10, 000, pays for a commissioning agent to oversee repairs and verify replacements.

Travellers Insurance Company provides an add-on Green Home Upgrade to its current policies and gives a 5% discount for homes already LEED certified.  Small businesses also qualify for additional green enhancements up to 5% of the total los

Although there are benefits to “going green” in the construction, development and operation of buildings, there are also risks unique to green building that will test the boundaries of coverage under typical liability insurance policies.

In light of the relatively new nature of green construction, below are some of the issues one could expect will have to be litigated.  Part of the appeal of green building is its self-sustaining nature, and there are few better examples of those types of measures than vegetative roofing and alternative power and water systems.

 

 

 

Other driver

You may be driving below the speed limit and obeying the traffic signals. Another driver ploughs into your car. In each instance, it does not necessarily mean that the other driver’s insurance company should pay your medical and car repair bills.

The small details of the accident matter. Rules vary from one state to another.   There must be proof of negligence for the other driver to be liable.

Attorney Benjamin Zimmerman, a partner with Sugarman & Sugarman, a firm of attorneys in Boston, claims that if negligence cannot be proved, then you cannot win the case and if you cannot win the case, insurance companies know that and therefore will not pay.

An important aspect to a successful claim is to prove the other driver is at fault as quickly and as thoroughly.

In states with no-fault auto insurance systems, your own insurance generally pays for your medical bills. This is regardless of who was at fault.

In some states, such as New Jersey it is illegal to operate a motor vehicle that does not have liability insurance coverage. In some jurisdictions. liability coverage is available either as a combined single limit policy, or as a split limit policy. Virginia does not require that the other driver carry car insurance.

There are instances when the other driver’s insurance company may refuse to pay out, even if you think it should pay out.

A sudden incapacitating medical event is a defense and is more common than people might think. The other driver may have a heart attack or stroke. If he did not have enough warning of this, the person may not be liable if he loses control of the vehicle. On the other hand, if this person was aware of his medical condition, he should not have been driving a car is is therefore liable.

Another example is that of a pregnant woman who hit a car. The attorney representing his client managed to establish that the pregnant woman had enough time to pull to the side of the road safely. This could have happened  before she was feeling flushed and fainted. Her insurance company then had to pay his client’s claim.

A collision from a fire truck racing to an emergency: The standard for proving that an emergency vehicle driver was liable is much higher than the standard for other drivers. Local and state jurisdictions have varying rules and timelines for filing claims against them.

Many lawyers do not want to take on these types of cases as there is a tremendous amount of red tape involved.  Most emergency vehicles enjoy immunity from liability for negligence.

If  the other driver hits you because of an accident with a hit and run driver, depending on the state, you may be able to claim under your own uninsured motorist coverage. Should you be hit by the other driver who fails to stop, this is regarded as a criminal offense in all states in the USA. The police are supposed to provide immediate assistance.

In most instances, a vehicle insurance policy covers you and other licensed drivers in the household who are listed on the policy and any person that you give occasional permission to drive the vehicle.

However, when a thief takes a car, there is no permission or consent. Therefore, the car owner’s insurance will not pay. If the thief was caught and he had a policy, his insurer would also not pay because insurance does not apply to criminal acts. You could sue the thief, but the chances of recovering any money damages are minimal. In some states, the car owner may be found partially liable if he did something negligent, which led to the theft, for example, he left the keys in the car whilst the engine was on.

There are instances when an accident occurs which is nobody’s fault. A deer may jump out in front of a vehicle causing it to hit someone else. A driver could be partially liable if he was exceeding the speed limit.

Certain states have comparative negligence laws when liability is calculated on a percentage basis. One party may be 30 per cent liable and the other party 70 per cent liable.

Comparative negligence laws dictate how the responsibility for an accident will be shared between the parties directly involved in an accident, where bodily injury or property damage was suffered.

The insurance company will make the injured party an offer based on what it believes to be the amount of negligence of its insured. The insurance company may interview the involved parties, including witnesses, and may also review the accident report in order to determine the amount of the offer.

An insurance company may believe that its insured was not more than 50% or more at fault.  They may not offer to pay any damages for the loss. The other driver may negotiate with the insurance company until a settlement is reached or until the two parties reach an impasse.

If a settlement cannot be reached, the courts make the final determination of comparative negligence.

Business Owner’s Policy

Business Owner’s Policy

A Business Owner’s Policy (BOP) is a special type of commercial insurance. It is designed for small and medium-sized businesses.  It combines general liability insurance and property insurance into a single policy.  A Business Owner’s policy typically offers a reduced premium, often making it a more cost-effective option than separately purchased policies. Specific coverage included in a business owner’s policy varies among insurance providers.   Most policies require that businesses meet eligibility criteria to qualify.

Just as you would protect your home and its contents, you should also cover your business assets against a loss.  Ensure that the coverage is adequate.  The most common is to insure for replacement value.  That way, if you do suffer a loss, you will not be out of pocket to get back to business as soon as possible.  You will have to adjust your coverage periodically as you acquire or dispose of property.  You should also be careful to update the replacement values as time goes by.

Insurance companies evaluate potential customers by looking at the risks inherent in their businesses.  Fire risk is one of the main factors in determining the cost of property insurance.  Building or leasing a fire-resistant building should reduce premiums significantly.  You should also make it a point to keep your premises neat and tidy.  A location with piles of boxes and debris is a much higher fire risk.

Ways to reduce risks

1.  Check smoke detectors on a semi-annual basis and maintain written records.

2.  Maintain all fire safety equipment.

3.  Maintain emergency lighting and illuminated exit signs in proper working order.

4.  Develop a daily inspection routine of the premises, taking immediate steps to correct any hazards.

5.  Avoid overloading electrical outlets.

6.  If you live in a flood-prone zone area, determine whether your property is above or below the flood-stage water level.

7.  Know the history of flooding in your region, the warning signs of flooding, and the items you need to be prepared.

8.  Keep disaster supplies on hand.

Standard Coverage

A typical business owner’s policy includes property and liability insurance.  The property insurance portion of a Business Owner’s policy is available most often as named-peril coverage. This provides compensation only for damage caused by events specifically listed in the policy (typically fire, explosion, wind damage, vandalism, smoke damage etc)

Some BOPs offer open-peril or “all-risk” coverage;  this option is available from the “special” BOP form rather than the “standard”.

Types of property covered by a Business Owner’s policy usually include:

Buildings:  Owned or rented business premises, additions and additions in progress, outside fixtures.

Personal business property:  Any items owned by the business or business owner or owned by a third party but kept temporarily in the care, custody or control of the business or business owner.  To be covered by a Business Owner’s policy, business property must be stored or kept in specified proximity of business premises (e. g. within 100 feet of the premises).

In addition, many business owner’s policies include business interruption insurance as part of their property coverage.  Business interruption insurance provides up to 12 month’s income for covered businesses when they are forced to shut down operations because of a covered property event.

The liability portion of a business owner’s policy offers coverage for third parties who suffer bodily injury, property damages, advertising injury or personal injury on a covered business premises or caused by the business’s owner or employees.  This coverage typically takes the form of compensation for legal fees related to third-party lawsuits over such incidents (including lawyer’s fees, settlements and court costs).  In addition, BOP liability coverage may include compensation for medical expenses that result from an injury to a third party on a covered business’s premises for up to one year after the incident occurs.  In addition to standard coverages, most insurance providers offer optional additions or endorsements on business owner’s policies that business owners can use to tailor a policy to their specific needs.

Exclusions and Optional Coverages

Business owner’s policies do not include the following types of insurance:

Liquor Liability insurance for businesses that sell or manufacture alcohol

Professional liability insurance

Worker’s Compensation

Health Insurance

Disability Insurance

Auto Insurance

Often commercial fleet insurance is not covered in a Business Owners Policy, and needs a separate policy.  Another exclusion often seen in a business owners’s policy is equipment breakdown or mechanical equipment breakdown insurance, which also may be known as boiler and machinery insurance.  This type of coverage will cover repair or replacement of equipment and some revenue loss in the event of a loss as it impacts your business and its day to day operations.  Furthermore, take a look at debris removal.  You may have flood insurance, but not debris removal, or only a small coverage limit.  Imagine the cost of removing a total loss before having to rebuild.

Many insurance companies offer businesses the option to customise a BOP based on specific coverage needs.  Optional property endorsements that can be added to a BOP include coverage for certain crimes, spoilage of merchandise, computer equipment, mechanical breakdown, forgery and fidelity bond, but the coverage limits for these inclusions are typically low.

Eligibility

Business owner’s policies are not available to every business.  Eligibility requirements vary among insurance providers, but typically include limitations to:

Class of business (eligible classes include small restaurants, retail stores, apartments, office-or service based businesses, wholesale distributors and contractors).

Location of the majority of business operations (most BOPs require businesses to complete primarily on-premise business).

Size (area) of a business’s primary location.

Revenue :  Less than $5 million sales per annum.

Employees:  Less than 100 employees in the business.

 

 

 

Cyence

Hypothetical hacking of a cloud service provider, as well as cyber attacks on computer operating systems worldwide, could result in losses of $120 billion. This is a report by Lloyds of London in conjunction with Cyence, a risk modelling company. Cyence has raised $40 million to help insurers understand the impact of cyber risk.

Insurers are struggling to obtain accurate estimates, however, the problem is that they lack historical data. Many companies have yet to purchase cyber policies. By October 2016 only 29 percent of U. S. businesses had done so.

Cyence allows the insurance industry to figure out the impact of cyber risk in terms of dollars and likely incidents. The available platform combines risk modelling, cyber risks and big data. It assists the insurance industry in devising transformational insurance products. Cyber risk accountability and hazards are basic in comparison to other insurance options.

The software community accepts that code is not released without error. It is estimated that for every 1000 lines of code, there will be approximately 15 – 20 bugs. (McConnell 2004). These bugs lead to weaknesses through which malicious actors bypass safeguards or misuse systems.

Code volume and complexity is growing. The original Apollo 11 mission, i. e. the mission that landed people on the moon, consisted of 145,000 lines of code (Johnson 2012). Today’s cars run more than 100 million lines of code.

The ageing of software over time is another problem. Companies run risks by running older operating systems. Not only are they at risk but also companies they deal with outside the network.

The recent “Wannacry” attack showed that the longer software is out in the market, the more vulnerable it becomes. Cyence wants to assist the insurance industry in this regard when the company is promoting cyber risk insurance products.

Netcraft reported that “More than 600,000 web-facing computers which host millions of websites are still running Windows Server 2003, despite it no longer being supported.

Cyence is bringing these facts to the attention of the cyber risk insurance community.