LI HurricaneA colleague once shared with me that she felt ill-prepared for an approaching 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 that guy who reminds others to have the obvious items —- bottled water, batteries, flashlights, etc.  Everyone knows this, right?! Well, as it turned 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 provides less obvious but important risk management lessons I have learned from hardened hurricane survivors in FL who have shared the valuable lessons they learned having endured numerous hurricanes.  For example:

  • Wind will enter a home through the most vulnerable area, and that area is often the large exterior door of an attached garage. Once winds enter a garage, they cause an “uplift” on the ceiling, creating pressure that removes the roof of the garage that often enable winds to enter the interior of the home.
  • Since it is hard to know whether the door is inherently strong enough to resist hurricane force winds, steps should be taken to fortify it.
  • Consider parking the cars inside the garage so that the rear bumper abuts the garage door. Many in FL fortify their garage door with ply wood, 2 x 4 reinforcements, etc. to prevent the door from collapsing and wind from entering.
  • If you do not already own one, it may be a bit late to buy a generator locally.  Meanwhile, it may not be too late: all who use Amazon should be aware that the best way to assure fastest delivery is to select Amazon as the seller, and not one of the other resellers who market on their site. Many generators can be purchased from Amazon with a one day delivery option.
  • For those with generators, it’s a good idea to test it to ensure it is operational, and to make sure there is ample fuel.
  • A comedian once observed that the danger in hurricanes is not THAT the wind is blowing, rather the danger arises from WHAT the wind is blowing. Please be sure to bring inside all that is outside that can be hurled through your windows!Do not forget easily overlooked items like gas grills, portable propane tanks, and picnic tables.
  • Expect power surges before an outage, and unplug vulnerable electronic equipment.
  • For a much more complete list of suggestions, your tax dollars are hard at work providing this information: https://www.fema.gov/media-library-data/1409003345844-0e142725ea3984938c8c6748dd1598cb/How_To_Prepare_Guide_Hurricane.pdf

sag flood sceneAfter each flooding event, the media reports on the sad plight of homeowners (too many of them) who lost everything, alleging many were uninsured for the risk of flood because “they do not live in a flood zone.”  

These media reports are WRONG. Everyone lives in a flood zone, the real question is how great is the risk of flood. For more information, visit Flood Zones FAQs .

Those who incorrectly perceive they are not at all vulnerable to flood damage should consider:

  • People outside of areas mapped as high-risk flood areas file more than 20 percent of all National Flood Insurance Program flood insurance claims and receive one-third of Federal disaster assistance for flooding.
  • From 2006 to 2015, total flood insurance claims averaged $1.9 billion per year.
  • In the past 5 years, all 50 states have experienced floods or flash floods.
  • Since 1978, the NFIP has paid nearly $52 billion for flood insurance claims and related costs. (Data as of 2/25/16.)
  • Only those who live in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or high-risk area and have a Federally backed mortgage are required to have flood insurance.
  • Just a few inches of floodwater can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage.
  • Flash floods often bring walls of water 10 to 15 feet high.
  • Hurricanes, winter storms and snowmelt are common (but often overlooked) causes of flooding.
  • New land development can increase flood risk, especially if the construction changes natural runoff paths.]
  • In a high-risk area, your home is more likely to be damaged by flood than by fire.

FEMA provides  this very helpful online tool that allows consumers to identify how the Federal Government classifies their relative vulnerability to sustaining a residential flood. Learn Your Flood Risk on FloodSmart.gov


Contact me if you would like to be introduced to an independent insurance and risk advisor in your state who has local expertise in helping consumers better understand their exposure to flood damage, control the associated costs of flood insurance, and examine new strategies to reduce the impact of a flood.

AG PCPG LogoYour lifestyle is unique, as are your insurance and risk management needs. The Partner firms of the Assurex Global Private Client Practice Group provide their clients the flexibility and responsiveness of an independent broker with the shared strength of a global partnership.

As independently owned firms, Assurex Global Partners are accountable only to their clients.  Not to shareholders, not to a corporate parent,only to the clients they serve.

Our Partners stand ready to roll up their sleeves and work side by side with you to truly understand your needs and provide cost effective solutions to expertly manage your risks.   To learn more about the unique personal risk management solutions that are available view our brief video on You Tube.  Feel welcome to contact me directly if you would like an introduction to one of our remarkable Partner

Why is it that many insurance providers are happy to recommend a specific insurance policy without first helping consumers to examine their actual risks?  Do they even care if saving you X percent in Y minutes leaves you vulnerable to uncovered risks that can threaten your assets?  How can insurance providers that lure consumers with lower costs while leaving them without the protection they need call themselves a good neighbor?

When receiving a proposal to purchase insurance coverage, consumers should ask this question: if you are not helping me to understand my risks, how can I determine if the policy that is being recommended provides the protection I need?

Helping consumers to first understand their risks is the cornerstone of our private risk advisory practice. As a result, I am always on the hunt for tools that can help insurance consumers better understand their PERSONAL RISKS.

The Travelers Consumer Risk Index documents extensive survey results offering details on the types of personal risks confronting individuals and families. The index provides some interesting insights and trends that can be used to help all consumers take practical steps to understand and better manage their risks. This excellent report is well worth reviewing. Among the key findings:

  • 57% of Americans believe the world is becoming riskier
  • Nearly 1 in 5 believe it is becoming much riskier
  • Only 1 in 8 believe risk is decreasing
  • Financial security remains the leading concern, followed by privacy and identity theft
  • Concern about cyber risk grew 21 percentage points from 2014, rising to 57%
  • 25% say they have been a victim of a data breach or cyber-attack
  • 62% fear that their bank or financial accounts may be hacked
  • 90% are worried about getting into an accident due to someone else’s distracted driving
  • Yet only 37% are concerned about getting into an accident due to their own distraction
  • 66% believe severe weather is becoming more frequent in the U.S.
  • 40% believe that is the case in their local areas.

Feel welcome to call or e-mail me if you would like to receive a copy of the excellent 2015 Consumer Risk Index report compiled by Travelers.

shell gameThanks largely to the skillful manipulation of modern advertising, we live in a product focused culture. With an increasingly low level of trust for the sales process, many consumers have become DIY shoppers in search of products receiving 5 star reviews in a quest to uncover the “best deal”.  The powerful confluence of advertisers and search engines steer us towards certain products we think will serve our needs well. Almost unwittingly, many consumers seem to have lost the ability to ask larger and more important questions.   Questions like “Why am I buying this product?”

Some simple advice for ALL consumers: asking why before selecting a what (product) is a much better approach to making a smarter buying decision!

Why buy insurance for your home, your car, your valuable possessions, or to protect your financial assets from lawsuits from third parties?  When have I asked these questions of my clients, I often received an expression suggesting puzzlement, annoyance, if not both. To ease these emotions, I ask if the reason is to replace what is owned in the event it were damaged or destroyed or lost in a legal settlement.  “Of course!” is the most common answer.  Well, if the real reason to buy insurance is to enable us to replace what we own in the event of an unforeseen loss, then why is “Save X% in Y minutes” the most common theme in insurance company advertising campaigns?

Here’s why: because advertisers have conspired with many insurance carriers to falsely (and dangerously) suggest to consumers that insurance products are commodities, conditioning many to respond favorably to “save money now” insurance advertising campaigns.   To gain market share, advertisements promoting low cost insurance policies frame savings as the de-facto product pitch. While many DIY’ers who select the “save money now” shell often can find a new insurance policy at a lower cost, they most likely have never asked and answered the question “WHY am I buying this insurance policy?”  That question usually surfaces after they experience an uncovered claim, and are reminded of the wisdom of the adage “we get what we pay for”.

Carl Richards, Contributor at New York Times Bucks Blog and the author of Behavior Gap, reminds us that in the financial services industry, consumer focus on product is also exploited by those who are paid to sell product. Richards is well known for using simple illustrations that lend clarity to issues that many journalists do not understand, including this one to depict the correct approach to establishing a personal financial plan.

plan process product Rcihards

While this illustration reminds investors to first establish a plan before selecting financial products, it is just as relevant to those seeking the right way to protect their homes, cars and other assets from unforeseen loss.

With inspiration drawn from Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle, Carl Richards explains: “Most of us are trained to think ‘What’ first, because it’s what you hear about all day long. It’s the message you read in financial publications and see on CNBC. But ‘What’ questions should come after we think about ‘Why’ and ‘How’ ….Starting with ‘Why’ means achieving clarity about your personal financial goals and creating a plan.

Thank you, Carl Richards, for reminding consumers to begin by addressing the larger “Why” questions before focusing on “What” insurance policy best meets their protection needs. For assistance in establishing a personal risk management program that eliminates the hidden risks of DIY planning by first focusing on understanding the protection you need, please contact me for an introduction to an independent private risk advisor.


PlainfieldIn his book “Start With Why”, author Simon Sinek offers readers many insights, with none more important than this one: “If you talk about what you believe, you will attract those who believe what you believe.”

Sinek’s book essentially details the research that helped him to arrive at this groundbreaking “discovery”: more important to consumers than learning what our products and services can do, or even how our solutions may be superior to those provided by our competitors, what consumers really want to know is what you believe — or what Sinek describes as your “Why”.  (It could be argued Aristotle identified this just a few years earlier as the important appeal to emotion – or ethos – in his lesson explaining the three essential components to the art of persuasion)

Does focusing consumers on your “Why” conflict with conventional sales and marketing thought leadership?  After all, haven’t we been encouraged to uncover our customer’s wants and needs, and then explain the customized and helpful solutions we have structured to meet those unmet needs? Or, since Sinek’s research indicates consumers’ real “wants” are to conduct business with those who understand and can explain their “why”, isn’t it possible that by explaining our “why” we are actually providing what consumers really want?  Think about it.

Consider your own value proposition for a moment or two.  Is it focused on explaining to others what you do / who you serve /  how your solution is different and better?  If so, the good news is your value proposition is just like most others.  You explain your what and how. The not so good news: it is not focused on what Sinek’s research indicates to be the real wants of those you serve.  Where is your why?  No ethos??  Consider Sinek and Aristotle. You can do better.

What does any of this have to do with “the ‘hood?!”  My hometown is one that many would refer to as “the ‘hood”. (Plainfield, NJ for those who are interested, still a great town in my opinion) Although after college many years ago I moved far away, it remains an important part of who I am, and I visit regularly. When I return, at least a few I re-connect with will end a conversation with the question “Do you feel me?”  Not only in this town, but in many others like it. During a recent trip, hearing this question caused me to think of Simon Sinek’s “discovery” and caused me to think: if Sinek had been from my hometown, he may have spared himself years of research. Those in my hometown and others like it have always known: when trying to positively influence others, you want those you are speaking with to think “I feel you!” when you speak with them.

Do you feel me?  I am pretty sure Simon Sinek would.

What do you believe? Have you explained that to those you serve?  If not,why not? 

when not to pass on the leftAs a newly licensed driver, those were the words I heard from my mother each time I left the house. While I did not know exactly just what the “other guy” was capable of, I was always on the lookout!

Many I speak with wonder why the cost to insure their car is what it is since they have never had an accident. Of course, insurance carriers collect premiums from all drivers, and use more than half of all of the premiums collected to pay the costs to settle claims for those who do sustain an accident.  While some accidents are just that — accidents that are difficult to avoid — many more are caused by drivers who are either reckless or remarkably unskilled.  The costs arising from accidents caused by reckless and unskilled drivers contribute greatly to the cost of insurance for all drivers.

To better understand just how reckless and inept some drivers are, check this video from You Tube:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7FqHJh6Ty4

Regardless of your experience: Remember to drive safely, and especially to look out for the “other guy”!

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