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Posts Tagged ‘the wall street journal’

It is no secret that financially successful families are often early adopters of all the new must-have home technology products rushed to market each holiday season.  What few early adopters realize is the degree to which many of these new products provide new and easy opportunities for those in the “hacking community” to run familiar scams to steal identities, credit card information, etc. In a Dec 26 article titled Gadgets Bring New Opportunities for Hackers, The New York Times provides great insights on how many new technology products are exposing consumers to this growing risk.

Love your i Phone and i Pad?  The Wall Street Journal reported Dec 18 that many popular apps for both products help to share user data widely and freely without the user’s knowledge. It seems Apple assigns a Unique Device ID to the devices it sells that enable others to track how the devices are used.  This article in the Dec 28 edition of The New York Times by Reuters summarizes the class action lawsuits Apple is facing.  

With all of this unsettling news, consumers should minimally examine the protection they are provided by their insurance program for the risks of identity theft and restoration.  Extra attention for taking prentative steps should also be considered.

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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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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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