Archive for May, 2008

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the unnamed hurricane that devastated Eastern Long Island and much of New England. While the NY Metropolitan area has been impacted by hurricanes since, it has also been awhile. Given this reprieve, there is a real complacency among homeowners to become better prepared. Ask yourself: if a hurricane was a day away, would you make any changes to prepare for it? A suggestion: if you answered yes, take the time and do so now.  This video from the Insurance Information Institute offers some basic but overlooked tips to prepare homes to better sustain the winds and rain that will arrive — one day.


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McKinsey & Co., the giant consulting firm, has helped several major insurance carriers to increase their profits by devising alarming claims strategies that all consumers should be aware of.  Check this link  to access video of a CNN investigative report that is essential viewing for all insurance consumers.

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As high net worth individuals embrace the tax and asset protection benefits of placing private property ownership in the name of a trust or LLC, critical insurance coverage issues arise. Few trusted advisors or property owners are aware that the “named insured” insurance contract provisions prohibit the extension of coverage to protect the interests of the real property owner – the trust or LLC – in the event of a covered loss.

The resulting coverage void can remain undetected for years, only becoming apparent after a loss for which the application of coverage has been invalidated. Depending upon their role in the creation and administration of the trust or LLC, some advisors may even discover they have a professional liability exposure in the event of an uncovered loss. 
                                                                                                                                                           Click here to access an article from The CPA Journal that explains this problem and the solutions that can be made available.  

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To Hedge, or not to Hedge….


An interesting question was recently presented on Terri Cullen’s great WSJ blog for her Fiscally Fit column by someone who labeled themselves a “contrarian”. In essence, the post asked: “since the likelihood of losing a home to fire is remote, why bother insuring the home for the full cost to rebuild?”


I don’t think this question is contrarian at all, I think it is fair and logical. Savvy consumers know to beware of insurance “scare mongers”, who would have us believe that the sky is about to fall on all of our homes. Meanwhile, statistics reveal that the risk of a fire totally destroying any single home is remote.  Click here for some good insights, or check this site:  https://www.usfa.dhs.gov/statistics/national/residential.shtm


For those who wish to hedge the unlikely risk of a fire consuming their home by partially insuring the cost to rebuild, the insurance industry has erected significant pitfalls. While these can be navigated, doing so requires careful guidance.


As both a risk advisor and an insurance consumer, I would also describe myself as a “contrarian”. Meanwhile, knowing a.) fire is but one of the losses that can wreak significant damage to my home ( Click this link for a chart showing the leading losses by cause to homes), and b.) the insurance carriers who “allow” consumers to hedge against total losses do so by inserting numerous contract provisions that greatly reduce the amount they will pay after a loss, I would never elect to hedge the slight risk of a total loss by selecting a policy that offers “partial coverage”.  Others I know consider this a risk worth accepting. Neither approach can be judged “right” or “wrong” until after a lifetime of home ownership.


It is always wise to examine risks from different perspectives. In this instance, there is real risk in placing coverage with insurance carriers who so graciously permit you to partially insure your home.




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