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Archive for the ‘Property & Casualty Insurance’ Category

Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageThe hail storm has passed…now what? It is difficult to determine from the ground whether roof damage has occurred. Most times, a professional roofing contractor is required to make that determination. The roofer will look for “bruising” of the asphalt shingle, granule loss or damage to the edges of the shingle, and actual penetration or holes. For tile and wood shake roofs, the contractor will look for splitting or cracks, and can often repair the individual shingles, rather than a full roof replacement. You may find shingles lying around your property, which is a good indicator that a more in-depth inspection is needed.

Damage to automobiles is easier to spot and—in many cases—easy to fix. Should you have damage to your car, contact your insurance agent to discuss the next steps. This will usually entail taking the vehicle to two or three reputable auto body repair facilities for estimates. Be patient, as your insurance carrier will be swamped with storm-related calls and may take up to 48 hours to contact you. Your agent should be there to assist you if your insurance carrier becomes unresponsive.

Finally, large hail storms will attract “storm chaser” roofing contractors. Be very careful here because most are not experienced roofers and will be very difficult to track down should their workmanship be poor. Most are uninsured, creating additional liability exposures for you as a homeowner. Always work with your agent and insurance carrier to find reputable roofing contractors.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

ImageSo the gifts are all opened, the holiday cookies are all gone, and you’re now anticipating a week of uninterrupted football bliss. Sounds good, huh?

There is only one thing that could make this better: An insurance review!

Now is a great time to take stock of new jewelry, gifts, and other trinkets that should be added to your insurance. And, take stock of older pieces of jewelry, art, or other collectibles that have appreciated in value over the years.

Those items valued at over $2,500 may require special coverage on your homeowner’s insurance. New “grown up” toys such as ATVs, motorcycles, and snow mobiles should be insured properly for damage to the equipment and liability arising from their use.

Finally, dig out your old homeowner policy and look to see that the replacement-cost values are correct. While the market value of your home could have dropped over the past few years, the cost to actually replace the home, should it be destroyed, has likely increased.

So, drop that turkey leg, grab a pencil and paper, and make a list of items to review with your insurance consultant.

The time spent now reviewing these items can save you countless hours and headaches in the future should the unthinkable occur.

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Contributed by: Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

Because they are more likely to travel, own second homes, host fundraising and other events in their homes, and drive expensive vehicles; affluent families and individuals have greater exposure to loss. Personal insurance for the affluent, such as homeowner’s, personal auto, and coverage for valuables like jewelry, antiques, art, and gun collections, should be tailored to address these risks.

Specialized insurance programs tend to carry larger liability limits, higher deductibles, and broadened coverage than traditional insurance. Insurance companies specializing in the affluent market offer tailored coverage such as guaranteed home replacement cost coverage, ensuring that special features of the home are replaced with like kind and quality.

The review process itself should be approached like a business insurance review. The first review can feel a bit overwhelming, but it’s critical to understanding our clients’ exposures to loss in order to provide comprehensive solutions. I always emphasize the need for comprehensive solutions based on my experience seeing affluent families targeted for fraudulent claims and higher reward demands.

Claimants can now easily research you online and determine with some certainty that you have financial means. There aren’t many secrets these days. A few clicks of the mouse, and claimants (and their attorneys) can determine occupations, organizations to which you belongs, social engagements you attended and the like. Claim demands will be higher; making the need for high limits of insurance all the more important.

Tom Kammerer, Sales & Marketing Manager for Chubb Personal Insurance, stresses the importance of working with brokers and carries with this type of experience in affluent insurance coverage.

“Sometimes it takes a poorly-handled claim to make people see they need specialized help,” says Kammerer. “For our clients maintaining their lifestyle after a significant loss is important. Large, custom-built homes can take well over a year to replace. After large losses, we work with clients to help them find accommodations, replacement cars and other important personal affects they enjoyed prior to their loss.”

To protect from huge potential loss and headaches, the affluent should go through a review with their insurance broker and carrier once a year. High-end insurance carriers should delve deeply into client practices and ask questions about domestic staff (gardener, nanny, etc.), central alarm systems, valuable articles, and more.

So, yes, there is a difference when it comes to insurance for the wealthy! And I’d advise you not to wait and learn that lesson the hard way.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

This year has been a catastrophic one – and who pays for all of the damage and destruction we have been inundated with from Japan to Joplin?

Recently, one of our national insurance carriers announced a second quarter loss of over $350 million,  much of which was driven by the devastating storms of this past spring.  Total losses incurred by this company alone from these catastrophes were well over $1 billion, with an active hurricane season projected for the coming months.  Other insurance carriers have reported similar loss trends.  So how will this impact YOUR insurance renewal costs in the future?

A few pundits are predicting large increases, particularly in property lines of coverage and workers compensation.

We don’t share this broad-brush view for three simple reasons.

  1. Insurance carriers and reinsurers continue to sit on large capital reserves, even after said storms, earthquakes and floods.
  2. Competition is increasing with new players in the market, including small regional insurance companies, which continue to hunt for market share at the expense of large national carriers thus keeping rate increases in check.
  3. The demand for insurance, as measured by increases in client sales, payrolls and higher limits purchased, remains muted by our economic malaise.

Ultimately we see large amounts of capital chasing smaller and fewer insurance clients, which basic economics tell us will stunt significant increases in rate over the coming quarters.

Carriers are reporting roughly a 2% average rate gain, and while we will advocate on behalf of our clients for a better outcome, those insureds with poor loss history, poor risk management practices, or those located in storm-prone areas will likely face unpleasant renewal negotiations this summer and fall.

And my hedge – all bets are off should this hurricane season turn really ugly or we see the economy slip back into deep recession.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President of CB Insurance

Despite the last few days of chilly, rainy weather, this winter will go down as one of the driest in Colorado’s recent history.  Already Colorado has endured several small to mid-size grass and forest fires.  As we get into the summer and fall, chances are we’ll be at even greater risk for wildfire.  Wildfires start small (think Hayman fire), but can grow rapidly in size and intensity. There are some simple things you can do to protect your home and reduce the probability of a total loss from such an event.  Chubb Insurance has a comprehensive wildfire protection checklist on their website, click here to view the complete list.  Some of these ideas include:

  • Keep your roof and gutters clean from leaves and other debris
  • Stack firewood at least 30 feet away from your home
  • Trim tree limbs to 15 feet off the ground and maintain a 15 foot distance between tree crowns (more…)

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Contributed by Todd Morris, Vice President Commercial Lines, CB Insurance

I had every intention of posting on a different topic than my last blog until I read this article.  To summarize, a couple in Colorado was in the process of refinancing their dream home and, as most of us would have, they expected everything to work smoothly.  However, when a cyber criminal stole the funds intended to pay off their existing mortgage, the couple was left facing the battle of fixing their credit and keeping their home. This situation makes it painfully clear that cyber crime is a real problem.

Our own president recently commented on the issue of cyber security.  The growing number of attacks on our cyber networks has become, in President Obama’s words, “one of the most serious economic and national security threats our nation faces.”  Long gone are the days when hackers would brag about the fact they were able to gain access to your systems or deface your website.  Today’s hackers are sophisticated criminals who want your money.

The Department of Homeland Security plays an important role in countering these threats.  Check out DHS tips on cyber security  so you can become more aware of how serious these threats are and can begin taking steps to protect yourself, your identity, and your hard-earned assets.

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Contributed by Steve Schneider, President, CB Insurance

Hunker down?

Ours is a unique vantage point.

We have the privilege of talking with clients and prospective clients from a myriad of industries – all pushing through a difficult economic climate.  Most are hopeful, others not so much.  A popular business “strategy” as of late seems to be hunker down and wait.  Waiting for the upcoming election, waiting for valuations to drop, waiting for valuations to rise, but waiting.

However, some recent conversations have led me to a series of entrepreneurs who are taking a different approach.  These business people have surveyed the environment and decided that NOW is the time.  They are contractors who have redirected their business into areas not before considered; accountants and auditors who are preparing for better times; young first-time business owners who have found a unique and exploitable niche from which to build a company.  Risks?  Yep.  Fear of the unknown?  You bet, but they are moving their businesses forward, and from these companies will spring our next generation of Colorado Springs business leaders.  It’s important for all of us who own and manage businesses here in town to take encouragement from, and to support where we can, these locally-owned companies.

In the not too distant future, said firms will be our customers, vendors, competitors, but most importantly, job and wealth creators.  We could use a lot more of that right now.

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