Odds Are High for Another Active Hurricane Season in 2012

Posted by Benji Riggins on March 29, 2012 under Insurance News, Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

Chances are next year will be another active hurricane season in the Atlantic if an El Niño does not develop, say forecasters at Colorado State University.

The forecast team of Philip Klotzbach and William Gray released its early hurricane season forecast for 2012, saying that it is dispensing with the usual numerical forecast for the number of storms. Instead, Klotzbach and Gray issued their forecast in terms of the probabilities “of the key factors influencing the hurricane season.”

The reason for the change, they say, is the difficulty forecasters have in determining whether an El Niño will occur in the Pacific, which impacts the Atlantic hurricane season.

The team says there is a 45 percent chance that climate conditions that have persisted since 1995 will continue along with no El Niño development in the Pacific. These conditions include warmer water temperatures in the tropical Atlantic and reduced vertical wind shear—conducive conditions for hurricane formation.

Should that be the case, hurricane activity would be 140 percent of the average season, which would be characterized as 12 to 15 named storms, seven to nine hurricanes and up to four major hurricanes (Category 3, 4 or 5 with sustained winds of 111 mph and greater), the forecasters say.

The team says there is a 30 percent chance that Atlantic wind circulation remains unchanged and a significant El Niño occurs, which would reduce the tropical-cyclone season to approximately 75 percent of the average season. That would be 8 to 11 named storms, three to five hurricanes and one or two major hurricanes.

There is a 15 percent chance that current Atlantic wind conditions could become unusually strong, and no El Niño occurs, which would lead tropical-cyclone activity of up to 180 percent of average hurricane season—about 14 to 17 storms, 9 to 11 hurricanes and four to five major hurricanes.

And the forecasters say there is a 10 percent chance that current Atlantic wind conditions weaken and a significant El Niño develops, which would reduce the tropical-cyclone activity to 40 percent of the average season—five to seven storms, two to three hurricanes and possibly one major hurricane.

For 2011, the CSU forecast team had predicted that the hurricane season would be well above average. In June the team called for 16 named storms, nine hurricanes and five major hurricanes. The season produced 19 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.

By Mark E. Ruquet, PropertyCasualty360.com

Web Site Profiles North Carolina Bank Robbers

Posted by Benji Riggins on November 19, 2010 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Federal investigators are profiling bank robbers by giving them an online identity.

The FBI and the North Carolina Bankers Association unveiled a Web site that includes photographs and information about bank robbers. It’s designed to generate information about the cases, and officials hope it will help reduce bank robberies in the state.

The bankers association said there were 124 bank robberies in North Carolina this year through the month of September. There were 222 bank robberies in 2008.

The bank robbers’ profiles can be found at www.ncbankrobbers.com.

As Homeowners Unable to Sell Become Landlords, Insurance Needs Change

Posted by Benji Riggins on September 21, 2009 under Insurance News, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

As more homeowners are having trouble selling their homes in today’s real estate market, some are thinking about becoming landlords.

A growing number of homeowners who need to relocate for a job or other reason are renting out their homes instead of selling them so they can wait until the market improves. At the same time, investors are taking advantage of low prices to buy rental properties.

Allstate has seen a 27 percent increase in the number of homeowners who switched their insurance policies to landlord policies, compared with year-ago figures. Travelers also said they’re seeing a similar increase. So is State Farm Insurance, but less so.

“When you become a landlord, your property goes from a residence to a place of business,” says Julie Parsons, vice president of consumer household at Allstate.

That requires a landlord insurance policy, which covers the property and the owner’s exposure if anyone gets hurt in it.

These policies typically cover the building in case it’s damaged or destroyed by fire, lightning, wind, hail, cars or collapse from ice, snow or sleet. they also cover the landlord’s personal property used by the tenant or used to maintain the house. This could include appliances and landscaping machinery like snow blowers and lawnmowers.

Landlord policies don’t include any protection against flooding or offer compensation for damage to renter property. And depending on the how extensive the coverage is, it might also exclude damage from sewer backup, earthquake, vandalism and theft.

Allstate’s average annual premium for a basic landlord policy package is $650, but costs can vary widely depending on the state, the amount of insurance and the deductible. Insurance companies also take into account building costs, neighborhood crime, square footage, as well as features like pools and fireplaces, and credit history.

To get a discounted price, some insurers offer an umbrella policy that combines other insurance, like car and homeowner’s insurance, with the landlord policy.

More important, the coverage helps protect landlords from liability if someone gets hurt on their property. Some policies also pay for some or all of legal expenses. It also will pay for some or all the medical expenses for people injured on the property if the landlord is found responsible.

Unlike a homeowner’s policy, the landlord policy also will compensate for lost rent if the building is uninhabitable because of damage that is covered by the insurance. This is a big deal for a landlord who relies solely on that income, especially if a building is under repairs for a long time.

“What if you need to rebuild the building? What about that income?” says Ed Charlebois, vice president of personal lines at Travelers.

Landlords can add on other options, for a price, to either increase how much money an insurance company will pay out or to expand coverage to certain events.

For example, a landlord may want protection from burglary or vandalism. Or, he may want to insure against building code violations and fire department charges. Some companies allow landlords to insure specific property like satellite dishes.

Like homeowner’s insurance, landlord policies don’t include any protection against flooding. That coverage is available through the National Flood Insurance Program. It includes building coverage with personal property coverage as an option.

While flood coverage can be expensive in high flood zones, it could help offset a huge hit if a property is flooded. The average flood claim totaled more than $33,000 over the past 10 years, according to the government, and just a few inches of water can cause damage costing thousands of dollars. And most mortgage lenders require flood protection in a high flood zone.

Renters also can get their own flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program to protect their personal belongings. Landlords may want to recommend that tenants buy that and their own renter’s insurance since landlord policies don’t cover a renter’s property. Some of the large national apartment owners require their tenants to buy renter’s insurance.

To head off any disputes with an insurance company if as there is a claim, landlords are advised to have dated photos of the property, both inside and out, to show its condition before any damage.

Also, they should make the property safer by regularly inspecting it for any hazards like cracked or uneven sidewalks, broken handrails and burned out light bulbs, State Farm recommends. Out-of-town landlords may want to hire a property manager to deal with these problems promptly.


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MetLife rating reaffirmed

Posted by Benji Riggins on June 20, 2009 under Insurance News, Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

A.M. Best Co. has affirmed the financial strength rating (FSR) of ‘A’ (Excellent) and issuer credit ratings (ICR) of “a+” of MetLife Auto & Home and its nine members, led by Metropolitan Property and Casualty Insurance Company. The outlook for all of the ratings is stable. Best said the “ratings reflect MetLife Auto & Home’s adequate capitalization, consistent operating performance, strong enterprise risk management practices and successful multiple-channel distribution network.” However, offsetting factors include “the group’s moderately elevated underwriting leverage, as well as its exposure to weather-related events. The rating outlook is based on the group’s adequate capital strength, consistently favorable operating trends and the support of its parent company, MetLife, Inc. ” In addition Best noted that “positive rating attributes include MetLife Auto & Home’s geographic diversification and the marketing advantage it derives from the established brand name recognition of MetLife.” The ratings also acknowledge management’s “focused operating strategy, extensive product knowledge and multiple distribution channels. The group has consistently generated capital through operating earnings reflective of disciplined underwriting and a steady stream of investment income. Behind these results is an enterprise risk management structure of oversight committees and work groups that maintain various procedures and contingency plans within MetLife Auto & Home.” Best pointed out that, although MetLife Auto & Home has incurred large catastrophic losses as a result of several hurricanes in recent years, “the group continues to reduce its catastrophe exposure through underwriting initiatives, coverage limitations, increased deductibles and reinsurance protection, which should favorably affect future operating earnings.”