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The Wall Street Journal frequently appears fascinated by some of the goings on in Florida. The publication has often written about anomalies that seem unique (or some other not-so-favorable adjective) to the Sunshine State. We have “issues” here that just don’t seem to occur in many other places. Living here, in the midst of it all, can cause a loss of perspective. So, without any editorializing in this space, you might find this editorial on the demise of a bill to stop insurance claim abuse interesting reading. Click the link and read it through.
The challenges with assignment of benefits and water damage claims has been documented on this blog several times. Insurers have been calling attention to this problem for at least three years. The reality of allowing the abuse to continue became ever more apparent last week when Citizens Property Insurance announced its first net loss since 2005 — of $27.1 million. Assignment of benefits is the clear cause. The clear solution now that there won’t be a legislative fix? Higher insurance premiums for Citizens’ customers, particularly in South Florida. That’s where assignment of benefits became a “unique” practice, allowing lawyers and contractors to take over a homeowner’s insurance claim and inflate the costs.
Ah, the high costs of being unique.
During hurricane season, emergency preparedness professionals suggest that people have enough food and water around to last three days. Business owners need to plan for three days on their own, too. But it’s not about food and water; it’s about cash reserves.
One important coverage for a business owner to consider is business interruption insurance. It is triggered due to a slowdown or suspension of a business’s operations due to a covered peril, such as a fire or hurricane. And, it has limitations that must be recognized, with the most important being the typical waiting period of 72 hours before coverage kicks in.
Why is there a waiting period? It exists to lower the cost of insurance coverage and to encourage the business to take necessary, immediate steps to minimize business losses. There are ways to reduce or remove that waiting period, at an additional cost. However, knowing the coverage does not go into effect the moment the lights go out is the first step to planning for it. Many small businesses do not do that. After every natural disaster, they learn about it too late.
Business owners should find insurance coverage that matches their business size, that suits their particular needs, and they must remain confident in their understanding of how a commercial insurance policy works. Now is the time for small-business owners to take a hard look at their risks and make a plan for 2017.
According to the Small Business Administration, 99.7% of all businesses are small. If that sounds surprising, understand the SBA defines “small” as a business with fewer than 500 employees. About 80% of businesses are VERY small, as in under 10 employees. Thinking big is a success strategy as necessary for the sole proprietor as it is for the CEO of a giant corporation. It includes thinking about how to make it through the first 3 days after disaster strikes. With a well-conceived plan, the disaster itself may certainly ruin your day (or month), but it won’t ruin your business.
Car thieves love Honda Accords. They are also rather fond of the Honda Civic. Both models are ranked as the top two most-stolen cars in America. The fact they are also among the most popular cars has a lot to do with it, of course. The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) keeps track of this data, and there’s quite a lot to keep up with since a car is stolen about every 46 seconds.
As of this morning, there have been nearly 40,000 insurance claims filed due to damage from Hurricane Matthew. Those numbers will surely rise in the coming days as people continue to find damage to their property related to the storm that hit Florida a mere four days ago.
The Florida Office of Insurance Regulation released Matthew claims data on October 12. About 90% of the claims were for residential property damage. So far, there have been 1,800 flood claims reported by people with flood policies through the National Flood Insurance Program, and 28 claims for private flood insurance, which is coverage outside the government program.
Now, we know how mean Hermine was. It’s over, except for the cleanup and the lessons learned. Hopefully, residents in the northern parts of Florida learned renewed appreciation for the power of even a Category 1 hurricane. Winds of 75 miles an hour are nothing to disregard.
Tallahassee took a pounding. I bear witness. For more than four hours (seemed longer), the house took a beating, prompting a move to an interior room, away from the windows, in the wee hours of the morning. I heard one massive tree hit the ground with an impressive thud. The second tree must have been hit by lightning. I did not hear lightning last night, but thought a transformer blew since there was a huge flash of light, which burst bright against the darkened neighborhood. (Power went out two hours before the brunt of the storm arrived.)