Property Damage & Disaster Restoration Blog: Long Island & New York City

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ): Best Apps for Seasonal Allergy

Posted on Wed, Apr 25, 2012 @ 04:28 PM

With April showers, come May flowers and for many, May flowers also come with itchy eyes, runny noses, sneezing, and general pollen-induced misery. Seasonal allergies are on the way, like it or not.

So, if you see the beautiful sights of spring through watery eyes, then these five mobile apps will help you better prepare for the upcoming season.

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Tags: allergy, doctor, application, android app, long island, new york, indoor air quality, iaq, seasonal allergies, allergies, pollen, android, app, apple, apple app store

Risk Management, Modeling Helped Reinsurance Industry in 2011

Posted on Tue, Apr 24, 2012 @ 11:59 AM

business insurance,risk management,insurance,long island insurance,reinsurance,new york insurance,long island insurance agentIncreasingly sophisticated risk management and modeling techniques helped the reinsurance sector weather near-record catastrophe losses in 2011, according to a report released Monday by Oldwick, N.J.-based A.M. Best Co.

The “Global Reinsurance Financial Review” notes that while the numerous loss events of 2011 cost the insurance industry approximately $110 billion in losses, the reinsurance market has seen only a minimal squeeze on capacity.

“It is reasonable to ask why the market did not turn more broadly, considering all that 2011 offered: significant catastrophe losses, record low investment yields, uncertain financial markets and the downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt,” the report states. “The simple answer is that reinsurance capacity remained ample despite the magnitude of losses and unrelenting headwinds.”

Several factors cited

The report credits several factors to this resilience. One factor is a continuing evolution in enterprise risk management. The industry invested heavily in ERM initiatives in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma in 2005, the report states.

Another factor helping the industry has been advances in catastrophe and economic capital models. A.M. Best said. “These tools significantly helped a reinsurer's ability to better allocate capital within complex risk portfolios,” the report states. “The models, while not perfect, helped keep both individual and cumulative losses in 2011 within stated risk tolerances for most of the global reinsurers.”

Additionally, reinsurers have adopted conservative capital management strategies in response to new pressures coming from regulators and rating agencies.

Increasingly sophisticated risk management and modeling techniques helped the reinsurance sector weather near-record catastrophe losses in 2011, according to a report released Monday by Oldwick, N.J.-based A.M. Best Co.

The “Global Reinsurance Financial Review” notes that while the numerous loss events of 2011 cost the insurance industry approximately $110 billion in losses, the reinsurance market has seen only a minimal squeeze on capacity.“It is reasonable to ask why the market did not turn more broadly, considering all that 2011 offered: significant...

Bill Kenealy

Article originally published on BusinessInsurance.com

                                   April 23, 2012 - 1:42pm

 

Tags: long island, business insurance, risk managemetn, insurance, new york, insurance agent, reinsurance

Earth Day Survey: Most Small Businesses Want To Go Green

Posted on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 08:45 AM

 

go green,long island,earth day,small business,small businesses,environment,eco friendly

The Huffington Post  |  By Alicia Ciccone Posted: 04/19/2012 12:00 pm Updated: 04/19/2012 12:00 pm

With Earth Day approaching, on April 22, a new survey shows that the majority of small businesses are trying to go greener.

The survey by Office Depot found that 61 percent of small businesses say they are stepping up their eco-friendly efforts.

The poll of more than 1,000 small and medium sized businesses showed that 70 percent are planning to green up their operations within the next two years. While most companies (82 percent) are decreasing their footprint by recycling, 61 percent are investing in energy-efficient products, 43 percent are using non-toxic products and 39 percent are reducing water usage.

While many companies are interested in incorporating green processes and products, 39 percent said they are being held back by cost concerns and 21 percent claim a lack of options.

Topping the wish list of products that businesses would like to be greener:

  • Ink and toner cartridges (60 percent)
  • Paper products (55 percent)
  • Cleaning chemicals (53 percent)
  • Electronics (35 percent)
  • Writing instruments (23 percent)
  • Desk accessories (18 percent)
  • Furniture (16 percent)

Tags: long island, earth day, small business, eco, environment, go green, eco-friendly

Experts: Brush Fires Necessary For Environment On Long Island

Posted on Mon, Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:11 AM

MANORVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With large wildfires scorching the landscape and darkening the sky over parts of Long Island this month, scientists said it’s a recurring problem and residents will have to get used to them.

“This is a fire-dependent ecosystem. It has to burn to survive,” said Richard Amper of the L.I. Pine Barens Society.

Fire ripped through 1,100 acres of Long Island pine barren, damaging homes and businesses even as it cleared away years of accumulated forest ground clutter.

However, in some ways, we were the victims of our own firefighting success. The blaze wouldn’t have been as damaging if we hadn’t been as effective at extinguishing previous fires, experts told CBS 2′s Lou Young.

“Most of the woods here haven’t burned for 60 years and that is why it was so intense,” Amper said.

Asked if we can expect more of the same, “we are certain of it,” he said.

Forestry scientists said it’s best to burn sections of the landscape on purpose before a wildfire can sweep through, but after decades of neglect, more controlled burn that what is currently done is necessary.

“It ranges from three to five burns a year with a total of about 100 acres a year,” said Bill Fonda of the New York State DEC.

Conservationists argue that if the state increases the burns by a factor of 10, they might be getting somewhere – a hard sell in cash-strapped Albany.

“It’s difficult, it’s complicated and it’s expensive, these field treatments, but it’s like an insurance policy. It could be more expensive if you have a wildfire,” said Marilyn Jordan of the Nature Conservancy.

In dry, windy conditions, it is only a matter of time.

The biggest wildfire in New York State history took place on Long Island in 1995. It scorched 6,000 acres before it was brought under control.

 
 

Tags: long island, fire, wildfires, environment, fires, brush fires, pine barrons

Footing the Bill for MF Global’s Lawyers

Posted on Fri, Apr 13, 2012 @ 10:23 AM

 

BY PETER J. HENNING

New York Times 

From left, Edith O'Brien, Henri Steenkamp, Christine Serwinski and Laurie Ferber of MF Global at a House panel in March.Jay Mallin/Bloomberg NewsFrom left, Edith O’Brien, Henri Steenkamp, Christine Serwinski and Laurie Ferber of MF Global at a House panel in March.

When four top MF Global executives testified before a Congressional subcommittee on March 28 about how $1.6 billion in customer money went missing during the firm’s final days, they were accompanied by teams of lawyers. Care to guess who is paying for all that legal firepower?

As unfair as it may seem, it is the company insurance that pays, even in bankruptcy.

As virtually every large company does, MF Global bought insurance to pay for the expenses its employees might incur if they were investigated and found liable for actions taken while working for the firm. It had two policies in place at the time of its collapse into bankruptcy on Oct. 31: a “directors and officers” policy for $225 million and an “errors and omissions” policy for $150 million.

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An opinion by Judge Martin Glenn of the United States Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan issued Tuesday affirmed that insurance policies bought by MF Global can be used to help pay for the lawyers for the firm’s employees, including its chief,Jon S. Corzine. Mr. Corzine and others have been named in a host of civil lawsuits, and are having to answer to several regulators trying determine whether any wrongdoing has been committed.

The judge on Tuesday noted that the employees had spent $8.3 million on legal fees so far. He authorized payment for those fees, while imposing a “soft cap” of $30 million on such expenses, which can be increased later.

Although they covered different types of conduct, MF Global’s two policies give first priority to paying for the expenses of individual employees. These are so-called wasting policies, which means that every dollar spent on paying for lawyers for the employees is one less dollar that would be available to pay a claim.

The commodity customers who lost $1.6 billion from their MF Global accounts filed a challenge in the bankruptcy court over whether the insurance policies could be tapped by the employees to pay for their lawyers. They argued that the proceeds of the insurance should be used to pay off their claims rather than going to the employees’ lawyers.

Another group involved in the case are the plaintiffs in a securities class action filed against MF Global and its officers who claim that they were defrauded by misleading statements about the company’s liquidity and internal financial controls.

Unlike the commodities customers, MF Global stockholders favored finding that the insurance policies should go to cover the expenses of the company’s officers because that would provide a larger pool of money to settle the securities case. The policies cover both legal fees and any payments made to settle claims over legal violations.

The bankruptcy trustee for MF Global, the former F.B.I. directorLouis J. Freeh, also supported the move to have the legal fees to be paid from the insurance policies. MF Global agreed to indemnify its employees for any expenses they incurred related to conduct at the firm, so having the insurers pay for the legal fees means fewer claims against the company’s remaining assets in the bankruptcy proceeding.

Judge Glenn was aware that there was a measure of unfairness in the decision, but that denying the employees the right to have their expenses covered would also be problematic. He acknowledged that many of MF Global commodities customers have faced hardships since the bankruptcy. But he also noted that the employees covered by the insurance “would suffer significant hardships if the policies were disabled.”

Some may believe that the insurance should be tapped to compensate victims, rather than officers. But as Kevin P. LaCroixwrote on the D&O Diary blog, “liability insurance exists to protect insured persons from liability, not to create a pool of money to compensate would-be claimants.”

MF Global’s two insurance policies make payment of the legal fees the first priority, and the bankruptcy judge chose to follow the terms of insurance contract.

MF Global’s two policies cover up to $375 million in liability. That sounds like a lot for legal fees but the recent experience of former executives at Lehman Brothers shows that such costs add up quickly. Lehman had $250 million in directors and officers insurance, and that amount has been almost completely exhausted through legal fees and settlements.

The legal fees for MF Global employees could quickly rise above the $30 million “soft cap” imposed by Judge Glenn if the Justice Department or the Commodity Futures Trading Commissiondecides to pursue charges. Even if a government agency settles with potential defendants, the settlement is likely to involve penalties that would be payable from the insurance policies.

Add to that the commodity customer claims for the missing $1.6 billion, and the potential liabilities can easily exceed $375 million available from the insurers.

There is a very good chance that MF Global’s insurance will not cover all the costs that arise. So in the end, the former employees — and commodity customers — may have to bear a portion of the costs.

Tags: insurance, new york, insurance claim, insurance company, claim, fm global, new york times

Chartis Insurance Introduces CyberEdge Tower(SM)

Posted on Tue, Apr 03, 2012 @ 01:05 PM

marketwatch,insurance,chartis,chartis insurance,insurance claims,new york,claims,property claims,

NEW YORK, Apr 03, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) --

Chartis today introduced CyberEdge Tower(SM), an insurance solution that provides catastrophic network security and privacy protection. As companies struggle to balance self-insurance with the increased prospects of a material cyber event, CyberEdge Tower offers a compelling value proposition. It provides total aggregate limits of liability of up to $100 million that are structured to allow the insured to cost-effectively retain up to the first $50 million of loss. The solution will be delivered via the Chartis insurers’ market-leading Specialty Risk Protector® insurance policy.

With growing concern about catastrophic cyber security and privacy exposures, as well as the likelihood of increased regulation and enforcement, companies are proactively addressing cyber risk and insurance disclosures. The SEC’s recent Disclosure Guidance on Cybersecurity makes it clear that cybersecurity risks should be elevated from an IT department issue to a boardroom priority. Accordingly, companies are reconsidering whether they can, or should, retain all of the potential risk of a cyber incident.

“Before the CyberEdge Tower solution, companies with large cyber exposures had limited cost-effective options and were primarily self-insuring,” said Chandra Metzler, Product Line Executive, Chartis Financial Lines, U.S. and Canada.

CyberEdge Tower provides customers with the benefit of Chartis’ cutting-edge insurance solutions and unparalleled claims handling, while allowing companies to retain the cost advantage of funding their own losses.

Marty Scherzer, Head of Global Risk Solutions at Chartis, said, “Our new solution delivers an innovative insurance tool that can help companies better manage their cyber risks.”

For more information about this offering, please e-mail cyberedge@chartisinsurance.com, or visit http://www.chartisinsurance.com/us/cyberedge .


About Chartis
Chartis is a world leading property-casualty and general insurance organization serving more than 70 million clients around the world. With one of the industry’s most extensive ranges of products and services, deep claims expertise and excellent financial strength, Chartis enables its commercial and personal insurance clients alike to manage virtually any risk with confidence.

Chartis is the marketing name for the worldwide property-casualty and general insurance operations of Chartis Inc.

For additional information, please visit our website at http://www.chartisinsurance.com.

All products are written by insurance company subsidiaries or affiliates of Chartis Inc. Coverage may not be available in all jurisdictions and is subject to actual policy language.

Non-insurance products and services may be provided by independent third parties. Certain coverage may be provided by a surplus lines insurer. Surplus lines insurers do not generally participate in state guaranty funds and insureds are therefore not protected by such funds.


 

Tags: chartis insurance, insurance, new york, insurance claim, insurance company, claim, chartis

Satisfaction with Homeowners Insurance Claims Experience Increases

Posted on Mon, Apr 02, 2012 @ 03:07 PM

marketwatch,insurance,insurance claim,insurance claims,property damage,property claim,property claims,insurance company,customer satisfaction

J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Overall Customer Satisfaction with Homeowners Insurance Claims Experience Increases, Despite Record Number of Storm Losses

 

Amica Mutual Ranks Highest in Overall Satisfaction among Property Insurance Claimants

 

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., April 2, 2012 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Despite a record number of catastrophic storms and some of the largest payouts ever in the U.S. property insurance industry in 2011, overall customer satisfaction with the property claims experience has significantly increased from last year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 U.S. Property Claims Satisfaction Study(SM) released today.

 

 

The study, now in its fifth year, measures satisfaction with the property claims experience among insurance customers who filed a claim for damages covered under their homeowners policy by examining five factors: claim settlement; first notice of loss; estimation process; service interaction; and repair process.

After four years of relatively stable customer satisfaction with the insurance claims experience, overall satisfaction in 2012 improves to 833 on a 1,000-point scale, an increase of 10 points from 2011. This increase is noteworthy, as the claims experiences measured in the 2012 study are based on claims filed during 2011, when there were 99 weather-related disasters in the country, 14 of which totaled more than $1 billion in damages each, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

"A period of tremendous volatility in the industry, caused by a large number of devastating storms, led us to anticipate that satisfaction would decline, but that clearly was not the case," said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The industry as a whole did well in not only handling the day-to-day claims, but also the large volume of claims associated with those major events."

According to the study, high wind claims, which include tornado and hurricane damage, accounted for 33 percent of all claims filed, an increase from 21 percent in the 2011 study. Yet, among those who filed a claim for high wind damage, satisfaction remained stable relatively unchanged with the 2011 study.

However, when examining the claims experience by region, there are mixed results in overall satisfaction in those regions with large increases in particular weather events. For example, satisfaction in the South Atlantic and Northeast regions, both of which had increases in high wind claims due to hurricanes in 2011, improved 36 points and 18 points, respectively, compared with the 2011 study. In contrast, overall satisfaction in the East North Central Region, which also had an increase in high wind claims due to tornado damage, satisfaction has declined by 14 points from 2011. In addition, an increase in hail-related claims in the West South Central has resulted in an eight-point drop in satisfaction year over year.

"The way in which carriers ramp up for a major natural catastrophe can have a major impact on customer satisfaction," Bowler said. "Having a plan in place to handle the increased volume of claims helps carriers, but so does having time to prepare for an oncoming storm. There usually is some advance warning for a hurricane, so carriers have a few days to prepare and be proactive with their customers. However, since there is little warning for tornado or hail storms, carriers are forced to react in trying to manage claims associated with this type of storm damage."

The study finds that a positive claims experience fosters significantly higher long-term loyalty among claimants, while a negative claims experience may cause claimants to be more likely to switch insurers. Among highly satisfied claimants (satisfaction scores of 901 or higher), 84 percent say they "definitely will" recommend their insurer, and 81 percent say they "definitely will" renew with their insurer. Conversely, among claimants with low satisfaction (scores of 550 or lower), only 12 percent say they "definitely will" renew with the carrier that handled the claim, and 18 percent indicate that they have already switched carriers.

Amica Mutual ranks highest in overall satisfaction with the homeowners insurance claims experience, achieving a score of 894. Amica Mutual also performs particularly well in all five factors. Auto-Owners Insurance follows in the rankings with a score of 873, performing particularly well in service interaction, while Nationwide ranks third with 872. USAA also achieves high levels of customer satisfaction, although it is not included in the rankings due to the closed nature of its membership.[1]

Bowler offers the following tips for homeowners insurance customers:

Read and make sure you understand your homeowners insurance policy and make sure the coverage limits are adequate to cover the replacement value of your home and its contents.

Big-ticket items, such as valuable art work, expensive jewelry or collectables, should be declared on your policy. Often, insurers will require an independent appraisal to verify valuations.

Maintain an inventory of the contents of your home--at least the 10 most expensive items--and store it in a safe place. Some insurance carriers offer apps to help with this process.

Take pictures or videos of the damage.

Try to be at your home when the adjuster arrives to asses the damage.

Ask your insurance carrier to explain how the claims and repair process will work, and how long it is expected to take.

The management discussion based on the study, available for download here, provides an in-depth examination of homeowners insurance claims and the claims process.

The 2012 Property Claims Satisfaction Study is based on more than 4,200 responses from homeowners insurance customers who filed a property claim between May 2010 and January 2012.

        Customer Service Index Ranking              J.D. Power.com Power Circle Ratings
        (Based on a 1,000-point scale)              For Consumers
        Amica Mutual                            894 5
        Auto-Owners Insurance                   873 4
        Nationwide                              872 4
        Erie Insurance                          864 4
        CHUBB                                   859 4
        Automobile Club of Southern California  848 4
        COUNTRY                                 847 4
        State Farm                              846 4
        American Family                         842 4
        NCNU Insurance Exchange (Formerly CSAA) 842 4
        The Hartford                            841 3
        Safeco                                  835 3
        Travelers                               835 3
        Industry Average                        833 3
        Allstate                                829 3
        Liberty Mutual                          824 3
        MetLife                                 823 3
        Farmers                                 818 3
        The Hanover                             812 2
        *USAA                                   895 5
        


NOTE: Included in the study but not ranked due to small sample size: Foremost.*USAA is an insurance provider open only to U.S. military personnel and their families and therefore is not included in the rankings.

Power Circle Ratings Legend:5 - Among the best4 - Better than most3 - About average2 - The rest

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/ .

Media Relations ContactsJohn Tews, Troy, Mich.; (248) 680-6218; media.relations@jdpa.comSyvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

[1] USAA is an insurance provider open only to U.S. military personnel and their families and therefore is not included in the rankings.

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates

Copyright (C) 2012 PR Newswire. All rights reserved 

 

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Tags: property damage, insurance claims, insurance, insurance claim, insurance company, property claim, property claims

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