Posts Tagged ‘home insurance’

I am happy to report I do not have any clients with homes in Japan. Meanwhile, several clients who I’ve spoken with the past few weeks were surprised to learn that all unendorsed homeowners insurance policies issued in the U.S. specifically exclude damage caused by, that’s right, earthquake, tsunami (flood) and damage from a nuclear facility. 

If the threat of any of any of these risks concerns you, there is good news: insurance protection from damages caused by earthquake and flood is readily available, and generally not very expensive (costs are much higher for those with homes located near a seismic fault or prone to flood waters). Please let me know if you’d like to understand the coverage options available to protect your property from earthquake or flood damage.

While I am unaware of any insurance carrier offering to sell coverage to protect against nuclear damage, the Price-Anderson Act, passed in 1957, is in place to compensate the public for property damage and injury caused by a commercial nuclear accident in the United States.  The program, renewed by Congress most recently in 2005, ensures that adequate funds are available to satisfy liability claims for property damage and personal injury sustained by the public. The program limits the liability of companies involved in certain nuclear activities, such as power plant operators, in order to encourage the development of private nuclear power. Currently, there is nearly $13 billion in liability insurance protection available to be used in the event of a commercial nuclear accident.  This program paid about $71 million to local residents and businesses impacted by the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

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 Perhaps 95% of the consumers and professional advisors I meet with attempt to focus their discussion simply on the insurance policies they own.  Ours is a product focused culture, and our buying decisions are guided by products receiving 5 star reviews, Consumer’s Digest Best Buy recommendations, and / or finding a “good deal”.  The power of product advertising has robbed us of the ability to ask ourselves the larger questions.   Questions like “Why am I buying this product?”

Why buy insurance for your home?  Why buy insurance for your car?  When I ask these questions of my clients, I often receive an expression suggesting puzzlement, annoyance, or both.  To ease both emotions, I ask if the reason is to replace what they own in the event it were damaged or destroyed.  “Of course!” is the most common answer. 

Since the real reason to buy insurance is to replace what we own, why is “Save Money Now” the central theme in most insurance company advertising campaigns? Because advertisers have reminded insurance carriers that consumers respond best to “save money” offers.  To gain market share, they focus their ads on product, making save money the product.  Do consumers ever ask how the savings are being achieved?  Insurance carrier benevolence???  These campaigns are effective, and despite the “savings” provided to some consumers, these carriers earn a profit, content to sell products that often do not provide the desired protection.  All because no one ever asked “Why”.

Carl Richards, Contributor at New York Times Bucks Blog and the author of Behavior Gap, reminds us that in the financial services industry, consumer focus on product is exploited by those who are paid to sell product. Richards is well known for using illustrations that lend clarity to issues that many journalists do not understand. While the lesson of the illustration above is aimed at investors, it is just as relevant to those seeking the right way to protect their homes, cars and other assets from unforeseen loss. Richards explains: “Most of us are trained to think ‘What’ first, because it’s what you hear about all day long. It’s the message you read in financial publications and see on CNBC. But ‘What’ questions should come after we think about ‘Why’ and ‘How’ ….Starting with ‘Why’ means achieving clarity about your personal financial goals and creating a plan.” Thank you, Carl Richards, for reminding us that before we focus on the ‘what’ product solutions, we first need to start with asking ourselves the larger ‘Why’ questions. 

For more about Carl Richards work: http://www.behaviorgap.com/

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This video on You Tube is part of a series that shows in vivid detail the remarkably customer centric protection and world class service available to all who insure their home with Chubb and experience a loss.

The vast majority of those I speak with believe that insurance products are a commodity — able to be differentiated by price alone. Sophisticated consumers know better. Meanwhile, only those who are unfortunate enough to experience a truly large loss have a first hand chance to examine the actual “worth” of the coverage provided by their policy. For claimants fortunate enough to be insured by Chubb, the well chronicled ”Chubb Difference” becomes very apparent, and as you will see, very quickly. This video is eye opening for those who think “all insurance is the same”.

A question: what insurance carrier do you want handling your claim, or a claim for your best client? Watch the video, and send it to those who wrongly think “all insurance is the same”.  

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A client who had been insured by a well known carrier recently asked if there wasn’t “any other carrier out there” that could also offer broad coverage for his large home “that didn’t charge an arm and a leg”. I explained that his carrier’s rates reflected their overall loss experience, and reminded him of a claim that he had many years ago and how happy he was with the outcome. Pressing his point, he asked if there were any carriers that had “better loss experience” so that they were able to price their coverage at a lower cost.  Enter a new carrier I’ve written about frequently here – Pure High Net Worth.

This excerpt is form a recent professional journal assessing the marketplace for high valued home insurance summarizes the opportunity: “However, there is some competition out there for these big players. For instance, a relatively new company from Florida called Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) is making a big splash on the East Coast right now.  PURE offers similar features to Chartis and Chubb, and is very open to coastal properties where others are more restrictive in coastal areas.”

When my client reviewed the terms of Pure’s offer, he asked how the costs could be appreciably lower given the very similar coverage. I explained that because Pure was just beginning to add new risks, they had not yet experienced many losses, adding that Pure’s risk selection process relies heavily on credit scoring, which they believe will help attract policyholders who better manage their finances and their homes. The client shared that he regards this as a de-facto “sale” on home insurance, and told me I should explain it in such terms to others.

Well —– although insurance carriers do not have “sales”, it is fair to observe that new carriers entering the marketplace without the burden of prior losses and who also carefully select the risks they insure are able to price their policies at rates that can give the impression they are on “sale”.  For those who find the idea of a “sale on insurance” appealing, please contact me to examine an offer from Pure.  Meanwhile, as an independent risk advisor, my advice on “who the best carrier is” remains unchanged:  it is whichever carrier best meets that particular client’s specific protection needs.

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Almost forever, consumers who have wanted “the very best” in personal insurance protection have placed their coverage with Chubb. While Chubb has remained the leading insurer of fine homes and valuable articles, they have also seen a marked decrease in the number of automobiles they insure over the past decade. Mass marketers, offering variations of the “save x %  in y minutes” (those savings are funded by coverage that is often very deficient after a large loss, by the way), have caused Chubb to research and introduce a new approach to pricing their program that rewards those families who have the best risk characteristics.

The result? Chubb is recapturing many of the automobile accounts they lost to the “better deal” carriers in the past decade.  This isn’t just a price play; in many cases Chubb not only competes well on cost, but provides vastly improved protection. If you or your clients have not seen an automobile coverage offer from  Chubb in the past 6 months, we can help you evaluate the many reasons to also regard Chubb as “the very best” in automobile insurance.

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If you were to key word search the term “hurricane forecast”, among the first entries you’d find is a reference to Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University.  To those of us who obsess about risk, Dr. Gray is quite the celebrity.  Each year Dr. Gray and his team of research scientists dares to announce how many hurricanes we can expect during the season.  For the 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Forecast, Dr. Gray and his Colorado State University staff are predicting 18 named storms, 10 of which are estimated to develop into hurricanes. They estimate a 76 percent likelihood that a major hurricane, with winds of 111 mph (178 kph) or greater, will strike the U.S. This figures represents a 24% increase over the average for the past century.  For those wondering why, few should be surprised to learn that meteorological conditions around the globe are optimal for hurricane development. Sea surface temperatures in the Lesser Antilles and off the western coast of the African continent are the warmest in recorded history. Combined with an absence of high altitude wind shear in the Atlantic Ocean,  Gray advises the 2010 season will be particularly active.

Unlike Dr. Gray and other climate experts, I can actually provide several GUARANTEES regarding this hurricane season: Whether a major hurricane makes landfall in the U.S. or not, the vast majority of Americans will elect not to prepare for one. Rather than take precautions, most Americans will simply gamble that their homes, possessions and families will remain safe from natural disaster. Many will be correct, but some will be wrong.  Buta select few will make sure they are prepared for a natural disaster and will have a plan in place, just in case. Do you need help on how best to prepare for a hurricane? I can provide clear guidance and a list of available solutions and resources, but I cannot help unless you let me.  Call me or send me an e-mail.

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simplify4For families (especially multi-generational families) who own many residences in different states, it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of all the insurance coverage protecting each home, every outbuilding, and the personal contents and valuables located in each residence.

NOW: imagine replacing those many policies with a single “Family Blanket Policy” that aggregates the various forms of coverage provided by each of the policies currently covering all of an extended family’s residences, outbuildings, and personal possessions.  Of course, to be viable this innovative solution would need to provide world class coverage and claims service, and be backed by a carrier with superior financial stabilityInsurance, simplified: this innovative new solution exemplifies the benefits of “less is more”.

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bright-ideaThis Wall Street Journal article from Jan 29, 2009 actually offers good news: a newly formed insurance carrier is interested in providing coverage for owners of well built homes near the coast has been approved to issue policies in NY and NJ.   

PURE High Net Worth has a business model that is well worth reviewing.  From their website, the recap below highlights why they are deserving of the above slogan. Cook, Hall & Hyde is among a select group of Partner Agencies representing PURE in NY. Contact me to learn more about the solutions PURE has to offer


We’re highly selective.  We know a great deal about insuring successful families and we use that insight to carefully select a distinguished membership. By doing so, we reduce the cost for all members. (Click to learn about our home construction eligibility requirements.)

We’re new AND we’re secure.  PURE is led by a team of professionalswidely recognized as the most experienced and accomplished in this niche.  For all of the advantages of our experience, we benefit from our fresh start. A.M. Best has recognized our strengths with a financial strength rating of A- (Excellent).

Our coverage is designed with your input to fit your needs.  Many people don’t buy enough insurance to rebuild their home or replace their contents. Others (particularly vacation homeowners) buy far more than is needed. We empower our members to buy the right amount – not more, not less.

Our policyholders are members. And the members own PURE. Stock insurance companies exist to maximize the wealth of their shareholders. Our mission is simple: Through innovative products and expert advice & service, we are committed to helping our membership lower the price of their insurance today and reduce their overall cost of risk for the long term.

We’re creating a new standard of service.  We believe that the opportunity exists to exceed all expectations of our membership.




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I am often pressed to explain the rising cost of insurance — not an easy task. As with the rising cost of anything, a complete explanation involves revieiwng many factors (boring). There is one leading factor driving the rising cost of insuring homes that the WSJ recently decided to cover.


I am surprised that many I speak with do not realize insurance carriers also buy insurance on the risks they insure. The process of buying “reinsurance” allows insurance companies to spread their exposure to large, catastrophic losses that can strain their ability to pay many claims and remain in business.  


I share this because the factor with the greatest influence on the rising cost of home insurance (especially those in coastal areas) is the rising cost of the reinsurance that insurers are paying. Of course, those rising costs are passed along to all of us in the form of rising premiums. This page one Wall Street Journal article offers a thorough and interesting explanation behind the factors driving of the rising cost we are all required to pay to insure our homes.

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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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