Pollution Insurance

Environmental pollution insurance policies are not just for oil industry giants and radioactive depositories anymore.  Further examples are airports, apartment complexes, pig farms and prisons.

According to Dan Persha, founder and director of Environmental Services Group (ESG),  a division of Insurance Concepts “ the market for pollution insurance is fluid and ever-changing”.

The market is fluctuating especially premiums.  In some areas, the market is firming. In other areas, it’s not.   There is not a lot of consistency in pollution insurance right now.   The division is expecting upward growth and increasing volumes.

 Transaction insurance environmental policies that provide coverage where a property is changing hands usually consists of pollution legal liability and cost cap coverage.

Real estate transactions are driving the market.  No one will buy a property unless it has had a Phase One or Phase Two inspection.  As those inspections are heavy, they tend to find problems.  Term lengths for transaction insurance are almost always more one year.  Three, five, seven and 10 year pollution policies are common for a “clean” site.

Although normally premiums run between $3,500 and $7,500 per year, some run less than that.  For a site with a known problem or a buyer or seller that needs pollution legal liability the premiums can start around $50 000.

According to Sheila Hailey, dry cleaners pollution policies “are a hot ticket right now”.  Although she also writes pollution coverage for USTs, Hailey said she gets an average of five calls per week for dry cleaning insurance and writes policies for about 95% of those calls.  The average bill for cleaning a spill from a dry cleaners is $50, 000 while the average clean-up from a gasoline station UST is $10,000.

Not only is Texas one of the largest states in terms of land mass, it also ranks highest in the nation for on-and-off site releases for toxic materials . These include traditionally heavy-polluting industries like oil and gas and chemical refineries.

Generally, environmental policies offered are:

Pollution Legal Liability

Insured are claims from unknown pollution conditions at covered locations specified in the policy.  Generally these policies cover both on-and off-site pollution conditions.  Furthermore they include claims for bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs.   Pollution legal liability policies are modifiable to fit individual circumstances and many terms and coverages are negotiable.

Property Transfer

Similar to pollution legal liability policies, property transfer policies cover claims generating from a covered location for pre-existing, unknown contamination and known contamination below reportable levels.  In some cases it covers known contamination that may be at levels above regulatory limits but permitted by a governmental body and with a cap in place.  Like pollution legal liability insurance, these policies cover bodily injury, property damage and cleanup costs.  Limits, deductibles and exclusions are also similar to those found in pollution liability policies.

Cleanup Cost Cap or Stop Loss

Very specific policies that protect against cost overruns for remediation of individual projects.  Covered overruns may result from the discovery of additional amounts or newly discovered contaminants, or from charges in regulating requirements at a site.

Coverage is limited to cleanup costs, and claims for bodily injury;  property damage or other liability are not covered.  Also, commonly excluded are the costs of legal defense and governmental negotiations.  Other exclusions may include radioactive matter, asbestos, contractual liability, unknown conditions not disclosed to the insurance companies, and regulatory fines and penalties.

Other policies that may be obtained are:

  • Brownfields Restoration and Development
  • Secured Creditor
  • Professional and Contractor Environmental Liability
  • Transporter Insurance
  • Storage Tank Pollution Liability
  • Closure and Post Closure
  • Finite Risk

The cost for a pollution liability insurance policy will differ significantly from one business to the next.  A business that uses a lot of hazardous chemicals will have higher premiums than one that uses only a few.  Some factors that influence costs include:

The type of business being insured
The type of chemicals and hazardous materials used
The disposal method of hazardous waste
The proximity of the business to residential neighbourhoods

 

Alien Abduction Insurance

The term Alien Abduction describes “subjectively real memories of being taken secret against one’s will by apparently nonhuman entities and subjected to complex physical and psychological procedures.”

Abductees claim that they have been warned against environmental abuse as well as the damages of nuclear weapons.

The first alleged alien abduction claim to be widely publicised was the Betty and Barry Hill abduction in 1961.

An Alien Abduction Insurance policy is redeemed if the insured person is abducted by aliens.

A policy normally costs around $150 per $1.5 million in coverage. Policy offerings vary from $10, 000 to $10 million. Some companies offer policies for alien pregnancy, alien examination and death caused by aliens

More recently the Alien Abduction Insurance Corporation has launched the idea of abduction insurance certificates as a unique gift for a lifetime premium and sell it at $9.95.

The very first company to offer UFO abduction insurance was the St. Lawrence Agency in Altamonte Springs, Florida. The company says that it has paid out at least two claims under Alien Abduction Insurance when two people claimed that they have been bitten by vampires (they were actually bitten by a bat).

The company pays the claimant $1 per year until their death or for 1 million years whichever comes first. Over 20, 000 people have purchased the insurance. The insurance is normally purchased by the “feeble-minded”, according to Burgess, a former Lloyds of London Underwriter. Prominent policyholders have included Shirley Maclaine and a Harvard University professor who has written on aliens. Owner of St. Lawrence Agency read Whitley Streiber’s true-life novel Communion in 1987 and learned about the threat of alien abductions.

With the help of international investors, he added UFO abduction insurance to his existing agency. The $10 million policies offer payment for medical coverage, including psychiatric care, in the event of a physical abduction by alien aircraft. They pay $20 million if the policyholder has an alien child or is eaten by aliens.

In fact, the business is so good that several other companies have entered the market.  Policies offered range from $10, 000 to $10 million. Coverage varies from company to company. Smart shoppers will look for a company that has a good business record, a reasonable cost for coverage, and a wide range of benefits.

Heaven’s Gate Religious group purchased Alien Abduction Insurance from London Brokerage Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson (GRIP) before committing a suicide. Just after this GRIP stopped issuing Alien Abduction Insurance Policies to their customers.

Heaven’s Gate Religious group purchased Alien Abduction Insurance from London Brokerage Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson (GRIP) before committing suicide. Just after this issue, GRIP stopped issuing Alien Abduction Insurance Policies to their customers. Before this event, even they sold more than 4, 000 insurance policies of this type.

At a cost of roughly $155 a year, the GRIP policy would pay about $160, 000 to someone who could show that they had been abducted by a being who was not from Earth. The payment would double if the insured person was impregnated during the event. Men were also able to purchase the impregnation insurance for protection against the unknown capabilities of alien technology.

Celebrity Chefs

 

Chef Julia Child became a pop-culture icon and was one of the first true celebrity chefs.

She brought French Cuisine to the American Public.   Her debut cookbook was Mastering the Art of French Cooking.   As a result, Julia Child’s kitchen is a historic artefact. It is on display on the ground floor of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History.  The kitchen is the actual kitchen used in several of her cooking shows.

Iron Chefs is a show produced by Food Network.  It also carried a dubbed version of the original Iron Chef.  Like the original Japanese program, the program is a culinary game show.  In each episode, a new challenger chef competes against one of the resident “Iron Chefs” in a one-hour cooking competition based on a secret ingredient or ingredients.

Celebrity Chefs are treated like rock stars.  Gordon Ramsay’s empire is reported to be worth $80 million.  His salary per episode is $225, 000.   He earns an additional $10 million per year from his media and restaurant empire.  Ramsay has opened a string of successful restaurants across the globe.  He also has a global partnership with WWRD (Waterford, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton) which offers quality home and lifestyle products.

Jamie Oliver is worth a whopping $243 million beating out Gordon Ramsay and Delia Smith. In 2000, Oliver became the face of the UK supermarket chain Sainsbury’ through an endorsement deal worth $2 million a year.  In 2005 Oliver suggested that home cooks grate nutmeg over spaghetti bolognese.  This led to the supermarket sell more than 9 tons of the spice.  The tie-up which lasted 11 years is over but has earned the chef over over £10 million.

The kitchen is quite a dangerous place for celebrity chefs:  knives are sharp, pans are hot, floors are slippery.

There is the specific timing involved in a television show.  What happens if a celebrity chef is ill or injured and therefore unable to perform?  How does this affect the overall brand and the businesses that rely on their names?

The response of investors and corporate risk managers is to secure large blocks of key person life insurance. This is to protect against the untimely death of celebrity chefs.   They recognise how dependent the franchises are on the brand of their celebrity chefs.  Many risk managers ignore the greater risk of injury and forgo disability coverage.

Key person life and key person disability insurance should be procured. This is in order to protect the company, the employees, the shareholders and the board of directors.  Production and merchandising partners need similar protection as well.  This insurance is typically available through traditional life markets.

Accidents and illnesses happen.  Alton Brown, a chef who is a known aviation and motorcycle enthusiast, broke his collarbone after crashing a motorcycle while filming an episode of Feasting on Asphalt for Food Network.  A few years earlier, he shattered his wrist.  This injury required eight screws and a titanium plate to repair.  This furthermore took months of recovery and rehabilitation before he could resume filming.

Lower-profile chefs need similar protection.  The Gotham Bar & Grill in New York enlisted the talent of Alfred Portale.  He has brought the cuisine to a new level.  Furthermore he continuously evolves the menu, dining room, service standard and art collection.  Chef Portale was named Outstanding Chef in the nation in 2006. If Chef Portale suffered a serious injury or illness, there is definite potential for Gothams to be negatively affected. 

Key person life and disability insurance is  important.  This is therefore to either reorganise and replace a fallen chef, or simply wind down a venture.

The value of ensuring that a brand or restaurant can continue to prosper if an executive chef is no longer able to perform, is big business.  Cooking shows like Iron Chef, Masterchef, Top Chef and Hell’s Kitchen promise to spawn new superstars that have strong brand crossover. Celebrity Chefs have ascended to a lofty perch once inhabited only by actors, athletes and rock stars and ensuring there are contingency plans in place makes good business sense

Bicycle Insurance

Bicycling has so many benefits such as enhanced health, decreased pollution and auto emissions. It helps in reducing obesity. Cycling also has positive economic impacts on the community. However, having bicycle insurance is very important.

However, there are certain risks you face when you share the road with automobiles.

1.  818 bicyclists were involved in fatal accidents in the US in 2016.
2. The above figures accounted for 2 percent of all auto/cyclist traffic fatalities.
3. 52,000 cyclists were injured in motor vehicle accidents.
4. 72 percent of all bicycling fatalities occurred in urban areas.  67 percent occurred somewhere other than an intersection.
5. In 2016, California and Florida ranked as the top 2 states in terms of cyclist casualties, with 99 and 83 respectively.

Bikes and other sporting equipment are fully covered under their Homeowner’s or Renter’s policies. Bicycle owners who fall victim to theft may be faced with much of the replacement cost of their bikes because of low coverage limits and high deductibles. A bicycle claim could cause a person’s Homeowner’s rates to go up. With a separate bicycle insurance policy, cyclists can protect their homeowner’s rates and protect their bikes from worst-case scenarios.

A Homeowner’s policy provides some bicycle insurance in the form of personal property coverage. The policy will cover damage to your bike to a certain extent. However, your bike’s replacement value may be much higher than the amount provided in a standard policy. As a general rule, you can expect to pay $7 – $20 per $1000 value of your bike per annum.

Under the following circumstances, it would be wise to purchase a bicycle insurance policy.

  1.  While the average bike costs a few hundred dollars, some enthusiasts do not think twice about spending $5, 000 – $10, 000 for top-of-the-line bikes. If you have a very expensive model, you may want to seriously consider buying comprehensive bicycle insurance.
  2. You regularly ride off road and want Mountain Bike insurance to cover you and your bike for damages and medical costs.
  3. Perhaps you participate in BMX Competitions or do stunt riding. Therefore you need bike insurance to cover your bike for damage and for your own medical costs.

In response to the insurance needs of bicycle riders nationwide, a company called Velosurance was formed by two avid cyclists. It provides multi-risk insurance policies for all types of cyclists. They have partnered up with an A.M. Best “A” rated Insurance Company, and have agreements with bike shops in most States, who can provide repair and/or replacement to a damaged bike. The locations of these bike shops is well presented on the Velosurance website.

When taking out a bike policy through Velosurance, you have the option of supplementing additional coverage to protect against multiple losses.  Your policy is customised to meet your individual needs. The bike will be insured for the value that you that you give them.  If the bike is damaged or lost, Velosurance will replace the old bike with a new one and they guarantee “no bike value depreciation”. Velosurance undertake to complete the whole process from claim to you being back pedalling on your bike in the shortest time possible.

Spoke Insurance is an insurance program designed exclusively for cyclists.  It covers:

Liability insurance up to $100, 000; uninsured and underinsured motorist liability with a limit of $25, 000 per occurrence $50, 000 Aggregate;  the value in the case of damage needing repair; roadside assistance (up to twice a year) within a 30 mile radius of your residence.  Spoke Insurance give members of the California Bicycle Coalition or affiliates discounts on cover.

Markel Insurance:  Their coverage includes all 50 states for those that bicycle tour and covers Canada, as well as offering coverage when your bike is in transit by land/air.

Factors to consider when searching for bike insurance quotes:

Value: The value of the bike is the main determinant when calculating the amount of coverage required. Additional items like tools, speedometers and panniers must be included. It is advisable to keep all receipts in case of a claim.

Type of Bike: A stunt bike is considered a bigger risk than a regular bike and will thus cost more to insure.

Use of bike: A bike used for commuting to work will not cost as much to ensure as a bike you use on mountain trails. Daily use needs more coverage than occasional riding.

Depreciation: Ascertain the insurance company’s policy on bike depreciation.

Limits and deductibles: With nearly all insurance plans, paying higher deductibles lowers your premium. However, a high deductible increases your out-of-pocket costs in the event of a loss.

Insurance for Collectables

If you have more than two of something, you have a collection.  You should therefore should obtain insurance for collectables. There are an estimated 90 million collectors in the United States.

Insurance for collectables policies used to ensure privately owned collections are referred to as “scheduled personal property floaters.”

Floater policies are offered through insurance companies that are classified as either: –

  1. Admitted”. These are insurance companies licensed by a state insurance department to conduct business in the particular state.  Generally, the coverage forms and rates are required to be submitted to the state insurance department for review and approval. (Your homeowner’s insurer is most likely an “admitted” insurance company).
  2. Non-Admitted” (also known as surplus lines) insurers are authorised by the state regulator to conduct business in the particular state, but the coverage forms and rates are not regulated. Because the coverage forms and rates are not regulated, these insurers have the flexibility to design insurance policies that can be used to cover unique or unusual types of property.

The difference between “admitted” and “nonadmitted” insurers: –

If an admitted insurer becomes financially impaired or insolvent, most state insurance departments have the authority to take over the operation of the company.    Most states have a guaranty fund in place to provide payments for covered claims to help minimise the financial loss to policyholders resulting from an insurer’s insolvency.

State insurance departments do not have the authority to take over the operation of a “non-admitted” insurer. The state’s guaranty fund does not respond to insolvencies of non-admitted insurers.

 The following items should be included in any insurance for collectables:-

  1. Specific coverage should include theft, vandalism, accidental breakage, fire, lightning, windstorm, flood, water damage, earthquake and shipping coverage.
  2. Additions to the collection should be automatically covered for a period of time until you can add them on.
  3. An inflation guard feature that automatically increases the value of your collection each year.
  4. A reasonable deductible.
  5. Replacement cost average, so that you will be paid the current market retail value of the loss.
  6. Affordable rate of premium to coverage value.
  7. Detailed inventories or professional appraisals should not be required.

In addition to the above, you may also wish to consider automatic travel and exhibit coverage and moving coverage.

Valuation, Appraisal and Inventory: For most collections, the insurer should not require a detailed inventory or any type of professional appraisal in order to obtain coverage. However, the company may require a list of single items with very high values. This is not uncommon.  It can be easily provided if you have kept receipts for your purchases.

An appraisal is one way of determining the value of your collection. This may be a good idea, particularly if you have no idea of its value. Generally, an appraiser will need to be physically present at the location of the collection, so that the collection can be viewed, measured, documented and photographed. The appraiser will then research your collection, and ultimately provide you with a written appraisal report. This report will contain information about the purpose and type of appraisal conducted.

The report should contain a complete description of each item, including size, markings, characteristics and value.

At a minimum, you should track the following information for each item:-

  1. Date of purchase
  2. Name of seller and location
  3. Category of item
  4. Good description of item, including shape, colour, markings and other unique features
  5. Size
  6. Purchase price
  7. Current value
  8. Picture of item (not required, but a good idea)

Antiques and Collectibles National Association require that only single items over $2500 need to be listed. The deductibles start at $250 per occurrence. They cover anything except jewellery, coin/currency, new guns and anything motorized.

(For collector automobile insurance, they recommend Hagerty Insurance Agency).

American Collectors offer broad coverage on your collectables which include damage caused by accident, fire, flood, theft, hurricane and earthquake. Scheduled items’ value over $2000 automatically will have increased coverage by 2% quarterly, and 8% annually at no extra cost.

Hagerty Classic Car Insurers use industry-leading tools to help you determine the true value of your classic car/s, then create an agreed value policy that covers it. Hagerty only insures collectable cars and therefore can provide coverage at a lower price than daily driver insurers.

The insurance for collectables will be customised to your needs whether you are travelling to a show or going out for lunch, or doing restorations on your car, you will be covered. In addition, they provide guaranteed flatbed roadside assistance when you need it.

Driving while high

Are you driving while high?

People are asking if it is ok? It is never ok to be caught driving while high. It is illegal!

Driving while high refers to alcohol toxication as well as other substances which interfere with your ability to drive. You can be charged even in a state that has legalized marijuana.

In order to define drugged driving is difficult. The reason is that there are many drugs which can impair driving ability. Furthermore, there is not a specific concentration that proves impairment.

State laws place the responsibility on law enforcement to decide if the driver is impaired whilst operating a vehicle. In addition, a drug recognition expert (DRE) may be called to the scene to check the driver for drug use.

Alternatively, the driver may be arrested immediately and then tested whilst in custody.

Driving under the while high results in unsafe driving habits and presents a higher risk for accidents. A DUI or DUID will result in higher auto insurance premiums. The premium could be increased by hundreds of dollars.

If found guilty of DUI or DUID you could be subject to:-
* Driver’s licence suspension
* Jail time
* Fines
* Reinstatement fees
* Mandatory driver’s training programs
* Alcohol and drug treatment programs
* DUI or DUID attorneys fees.

In certain instances, an auto policy could be cancelled. Finding vehicle insurance on the open market will be highly unlikely. You will need to join your state’s auto insurance plan, which usually costs more than the insurance in an open market.

Your driver’s licence may be suspended if you are stopped while driving high. In this instance, you will be required to file an SR-22 certificate in order to reinstate your licence.

This certificate is filed by your car insurance company on your behalf. It guarantees that you will hold insurance for a certain amount of time. (about 3 years). These certificates are expensive plus you will pay more for your car insurance.

Gun ownership

There have been several mass shootings in the country over the past 12 months. As a result, every aspect of gun ownership is being given closer scrutiny. Furthermore, this includes the responsibility and potential liability of owning a gun.

Insurance companies don’t typically take guns into consideration in home insurance premiums. Some companies do not need you to disclose gun ownership in an application for home cover.

Companies are not permitted to victimize gun owners when issuing homeowner’s policies. However, insurance companies will not cover every claim associated with gun ownership. You will be held liable for injury to another party if you own the gun. Claim payment is dependent upon the incident itself.

However, an accidental shooting in your home could result in the injured party filing a claim against the homeowner. Shootings outside the home also apply here. As long as the shooting is not classified as a crime, a claim will be considered by the insurance company.

The definition of a crime varies state by state. The storing of a gun where minors have access to it is considered a crime in some states. Accidents, where drugs and/or alcohol is involved, may also be regarded as a crime.

The above also depends upon the wording of the policy document. It is important to know the policy limits. If the limit is $150, 000, this may not be sufficient to cover legal and medical fees in the case of a lawsuit as a result of an accident.

Gun owners could obtain an umbrella policy could cover a higher limit than $150, 000. If you or a family member is shot, the cover is provided by your life assurance policy or medical cover.

Chubb, the insurance company, has stated that it will stop underwriting an insurance policy for gun owners called NRA Carry Guard. The NRA began selling this line of Carry Guard insurance last year. These policies help individuals who use firearms for self-defence cover their legal expenses.

Drone Safety

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. The whereabouts of the Applicants operating were not recorded.  These 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 rigorous 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.

  •  Aviation authorities recommend flying below 400 feet or 121 meters AGL.  This is to avoid a collision with manned aircraft such as aeroplanes and helicopters.  AGL stands for “above ground level”
  • Maintain visual line of sight, i. e. always make sure you can see your drone at all times
  • Flights over people are not permitted.  This can include a group of people or even a single person
  • Abide by the rules of your city or town
  • If you’re flying within 5 miles of all airports you need to give notice to the airport.

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