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Insurance cannot keep you or your family members safe! While still important, insurance merely provides access to funds to help restore us (what we own) to where we were before a covered loss. Too often those of us working in “risk management” focus on helping our clients to protect their assets, but not on understanding and managing the “larger risks”. Consider for a moment the safety and security of your (or your client’s) family. NO insurance policy can keep a family safe and secure.
Ask yourself this basic question: do you think the world is a safer place in 2012 than in the past? I recently attended an annual “Security Briefing” hosted by Chubb, featuring the insights of Paul Viollis, co-founder of Risk Control Strategies (RCS). Trust me, if you had attended this event you would share my view: the world is definitely NOT a safer place this year than in the past.
RCS has become well-known as a national consulting firm specializing in threat management, risk assessments and security solutions of the affluent community and major corporations. They know what we do not know about the real risks in modern society, and their insights are disconcerting. Armed with a lot of hard data and anecdotal evidence compiled by his firm, Viollis is firm in his assertion that global events have created a perfect storm of risk that especially threaten the safety and security of financially successful families.
Those of you who have had the opportunity to hear Viollis speak know he is specific in his warnings, and provides compelling details why each of the risks summarized below are worth paying close attention to:
Viollis concluded the briefing by reminding those in attendance that as risk advisors, we can best serve others by highlighting the risks and solutions that are too often overlooked by those families at the greatest risk. Of course, for each of the above risks there are practicable, if not fool-proof, solutions. Even if you or your clients are not overly alarmed by the trends referenced above, isn’t it “better to be safe than sorry”??
If you would like to speak with someone from RCS and learn more about the safety and security precautions available to manage these risks, I’d be happy to make an introduction. To read an interview featuring many of these insights, click the following link Huffington Post Dec 2011
It is my experience that most licensed insurance agents are usually able to answer their client’s coverage questions correctly. Meanwhile, many problems arise simply because consumers simply do not know the right questions to ask to get the information they really need. Should it be the consumer’s job to know the right questions to ask?
In reality, learning how to help their clients ask the right question is a skill that few insurance professionals ever master. As Hurricane Irene was chewing up the coast in NC this summer and heading north, our staff received numerous calls from clients asking “Am I covered for a hurricane?”. The question our clients really wanted answered: “How will my coverage protect me for losses I may sustain from a hurricane?” Knowing this was what our clients really wanted to know, we were able to re-frame the question and provide a much more complete answer.
Of course, more complete answers can sometimes be disconcerting, especially when they are only being provided as a hurricane approaches. Few consumers take comfort in being reminded, for example, that while a homeowner policy does provide quite a bit of coverage for damages caused by a hurricane, NO policy provides the mythical “full coverage” we’d all like to have. The “Fine Print” of any policy explains in detail the damages that are and are not covered, and coverage varies widely among carriers. Consider the following:
Two primary takeaways from all of this:
1. To make well informed decisions, insurance consumers need skillful guidance to ensure they are not only getting the right answers…. but also to the right questions.
2. It is just as important to examine the right questions BEFORE a risk arises.
What could be more valuable than helping your clients “save 15% in 15 minutes on insurance”? How about arranging for them to receive an eye-opening audit that documents the property and liability risks they are – and are not - protected from, which can be read and understood in 15 minutes or less. Armed with such a report, consumers could actually begin to make responsible and well-informed decisions on structuring their insurance coverage to provide the level of asset protection they want and need. While this approach defies prevailing insurance marketing hype and gimmickry , it is an offer that provides real value!
First, this editorial comment: How is it that advertisements featuring bargain hunting cavemen or Flo, the zany “Name Your Own Price” girl cause otherwise savvy consumers to forget the wisdom of time-honored axioms that have historically honed our buyer beware instincts? If it looks to good to be true it probably is / Beware of Greeks bearing gifts / Look before you leap/ You get what you pay for / Read the fine print. It seems that in our everyone-loves-a-bargain environment, bargain hunters forget to ask HOW such great “bargain pricing” has been achieved. After all – does anyone think that lower premiums are being funded through insurance carrier benevolence?
I am driven to help those I serve to understand the risks an insurance policy does and does not cover, and years of experience has taught me that remarkably few consumers (and insurance agents, by the way) attempt to do this before making an insurance buying decision. For your clients who need to be reminded that making a well-informed decision on how to buy anything involves more than simply identifying which product has the lowest price, I have an offer: I can provide a complimentary “Fine Print Protection Audit” that details the property and liability risks that are and are not covered by their current insurance policies. This proprietary audit is a diagnostic tool that reveals the coverage “fine print” that almost all consumers (along with the vast majority of insurance agents) fail to closely examine when selecting the legal contract (insurance policy) that should protect their most important assets from a wide range of unlikely yet possible disasters.
Contact me if you’d like to review how the “Fine Print Protection Audit” can help you and / or those you care about to make smarter decisions about insurance.
This report shares news of some of the more recent lawsuits filed in connection with the Christmas Holiday.
For much more lawsuit fun and frivolity —- the fine writers at Faces of Lawsuit Abuse are asking readers to select the most ridiculous lawsuit of the year. Among the suits that you can read more about at their great website:
¨ Young adults sue mother for sending cards without gifts and playing favorites
¨ Man suing for age discrimination says judge in his case is too old
¨ Man illegally brings gun into bar, gets injured in a fight, then sues bar for not searching him for a weapon
¨ Convict sues couple he kidnapped for not helping him evade police
¨ Mom files suit against exclusive preschool over child’s college
To read more:
This story about State Farm’s claims practice will shed great light on the issue. According to this report in Property Insurance Law Blog, State Farm, the nation’s largest automobile insurer, used policyholder premiums to become an especially good neighbor with an Illinois State Supreme Court Judge.
It seems that despite receiving significant campaign contributions from State Farm, the recently elected Judge voted to overturn a $1 billion settlement awarded by two lower courts that ruled State Farm breached its contract with policyholders when it directed the use of non-original parts in vehicles damaged in crashes. Insurance insiders know this claims settlement procedure is hardly limited to just State Farm.
Contact me to learn of the importance of having automobiles repaired using OEM parts (original manufacturer’s equipment), and for a short list of insurance carriers that will gladly authorize repairs using OEM parts.
My college roommate has been adamant for years now that we are on the eve of experiencing widespread lawlessness in major U.S. cities. His view is that the combined effects of high and chronic unemployment and reductions in local law enforcement will embolden those who are most desperate to target the “haves” in society as easy marks for home invasion, kidnap, extortion, etc.
He would take little satisfaction in reading this article in The New York Times City Room Section, which details a recent home invasion on East 51st Street in Manhattan, and includes 19 seconds of actual footage of the event as taken by surveillance video. While hardly proof of my roommate’s prediction, the article has prompted me to remind others of the need to be extra careful in securing their home and family.
For those who would like an introduction to a few select firms specializing in comprehensive personal security solutions, contact me.
Understanding that we are all focused on making advance preparations for Hurricane Irene’s arrival, several I spoke with yesterday asked me what they should be doing AFTER the hurricane passes. While many of these suggestions are common sense, I offer them as a reminder, and encourage you to know in advance what to do after the storm has passed.
• If you have evacuated, wait until authorities tell you it’s safe before returning home.
• Be alert for tornadoes.
• Stay away from flood waters.
• Use a flashlight. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches.
• Sniff for gas leaks. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows and evacuate. If you have any concerns, have the gas system checked by a professional.
• Do not touch wires or outlets.
• Check for frayed cords and for cracked or broken prongs and plugs.
• Turn off the main electrical circuit switch. Be careful to stand on a dry surface and do not touch the metal handle of the switch box. Use a piece of heavy rubber, plastic or a piece of dry wood to open the metal door and throw the switch. Share your concerns with a licensed electrician.
• Watch for holes in the floor, loose boards or hanging plaster.
• If your home has been flooded, check for snakes and other animals that may have entered the property.
• Before you start cleaning up debris, prepare an inventory of all damaged or destroyed personal property. If you can, videotape or photograph the damage.
• Make temporary repairs to prevent further damage.
• Clean up any flammable or poisonous materials that may have been spilled.
• Dispose of all spoiled food immediately. If you have insurance coverage for spoiled food, document your losses.
• Hold off on permanent repairs until you’ve received approval for reimbursement.
• Save remnants of damaged or destroyed property for your insurance company adjuster, and do not sign agreements with contractors or anyone else until you have a chance to meet with your insurance adjuster.
• Keep a written record of everyone you talk to about your insurance claim, including the date of the conversation and a summary of what was said.
• Keep all receipts.
• Your pre-disaster home inventory will be of great assistance to you at this point. After you’ve examined everything and determined the extent of damage, call your insurance agent “as soon as possible” to file a claim.
A colleague just shared with me that she felt ill-prepared for a hurricane, and sought some advice. Offering such advice can be problematic, as I never know quite where to start. For example, I sure don’t want to be the guy who reminds others to have the obvious items —- bottled water, batteries, flashlights, etc. Turns out my friend was not even sure she had any flashlights in her house. I told her she might want to get one or two, and reminded her most require batteries.
This column is focused on the less obvious risk management lessons that I have learned from those in FL who have offered their valuable lessons having endured numerous hurricanes. For example: