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Posts Tagged ‘loss’

PrivateRiskAdvisor
Perhaps it is the result of growing up in a household that regarded “Murphy’s Law” as gospel —- but I am almost manic in expecting (and preparing for) the unexpected.  While the “unexpected” does not occur to any of us with great frequency, when “it” does I am rarely caught off guard, or without a plan on how to address it (whatever it may be).  This “be prepared for the sky to fall” tendency has earned me many nicknames, none of which are ever intended as a compliment.  According to the online test “Are You a Worry Wart”, my score, while not off the charts, does suggest I am naturally inclined to help others at least consider preparing for the wide range of risks that those who are not “worry warts” are neither concenred about nor often even aware of.   You want me worried. You NEED me worried.

So my latest worry – for you, and all who you know – is what can happen to all of the data on your smartphone should your phone ever become stolen or misplaced.  Why this issue?  Because I not only recently lost my iPhone, but much worse, I had no plans in place to protect the data that was on it from mis-use.  I make this admission with great shame, and can assure all my friends and family are having great fun at my expense. While this blunder has cost me several nights sleep, I have learned from my mistake, and you can too.  Of course, you can also just resolve to never lose your smartphone (or have it stolen).  That did not occur to me….  

Although I did not know WHAT steps to take to secure the large amount of personal data on my phone (it had NO client info!!), I did know WHO to turn to for expert guidance.   I met Ondrej Krehel of Identity Theft 911 awhile ago through an introduction arranged by Chubb.  Krehel and his colleagues provide highly customized identity protection and data risk management solutions for a wide range of business and organizations.  Identity Theft 911 has a great website that features a “Knoweldge Center” full of valuable insights.  Of course, this firm can be of greatest assistance to the organizations they serve when they have the opportunity to provide their services before an intrusion occurs.  Similarly, while Krehel also authors a great blog full of helpful ideas, I only wish I had learned about how he can help me protect my data before I lost my iPhone

I encourage EVERYONE who has not lost a smartphone to review the “low tech” and “high tech” suggestions Krehel offers on what can be done to protect your data before it is ever lost or stolen.  Use this link to read “Your Smarter Smartphone” posted on Krehel’s blog, and be sure take the time to view his many other insightful posts.   Should you wish to learn more about Identity Theft 911 and the wide range of their capabilities, I’d be happy to arrange an introduction.

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 Perhaps 95% of the consumers and professional advisors I meet with attempt to focus their discussion simply on the insurance policies they own.  Ours is a product focused culture, and our buying decisions are guided by products receiving 5 star reviews, Consumer’s Digest Best Buy recommendations, and / or finding a “good deal”.  The power of product advertising has robbed us of the ability to ask ourselves the larger questions.   Questions like “Why am I buying this product?”

Why buy insurance for your home?  Why buy insurance for your car?  When I ask these questions of my clients, I often receive an expression suggesting puzzlement, annoyance, or both.  To ease both emotions, I ask if the reason is to replace what they own in the event it were damaged or destroyed.  “Of course!” is the most common answer. 

Since the real reason to buy insurance is to replace what we own, why is “Save Money Now” the central theme in most insurance company advertising campaigns? Because advertisers have reminded insurance carriers that consumers respond best to “save money” offers.  To gain market share, they focus their ads on product, making save money the product.  Do consumers ever ask how the savings are being achieved?  Insurance carrier benevolence???  These campaigns are effective, and despite the “savings” provided to some consumers, these carriers earn a profit, content to sell products that often do not provide the desired protection.  All because no one ever asked “Why”.

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 exploited by those who are paid to sell product. Richards is well known for using illustrations that lend clarity to issues that many journalists do not understand. While the lesson of the illustration above is aimed at investors, it is just as relevant to those seeking the right way to protect their homes, cars and other assets from unforeseen loss. 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 us that before we focus on the ‘what’ product solutions, we first need to start with asking ourselves the larger ‘Why’ questions. 

For more about Carl Richards work: http://www.behaviorgap.com/

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Shocked MonopolyWith alarming frequency, the media reports heart wrenching stories of insurance consumers who have had a significant property or liability loss, only to learn after the loss that the insurance policy they have purchased does not provide the proper coverage.   

While the reasons for an uncovered loss vary, I provide this one page overview  that details the three leading causes for uncovered personal property and casualty losses, and the solutions that are available to help prevent them.  Why not help those you know to examine these solutions —- before a loss occurs.

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While having a fire and burglar alarm system can offer some peace of mind, most property owners are curious to know how technology can help them better protect their home — and their families while at home. While I am not an expert on home security, I am a good resource in directing homeowners to the select group of specialists focused on advanced home security and “smart home” technology.

 

One organization I’ve worked with locally has merged advances in home security with smart home technology in an easy to use way that offers great home security and utility. Connected Hearth is an exciting service provider, with a website that lets you monitor and control your home from anywhere in the world. Through ConnectedHearth.com, you can control your security system, your heat and A/C, your indoor and outdoor lighting. You can pan a camera throughout your house. You can even have a hot cup of espresso waiting for you when you arrive. All this, from a computer. Wherever you happen to be.  Click on this link to be re-directed  to their web site.

 

Or, feel welcome to contact me for information on other new advances in home security, and to learn which carriers are providing real incentives to improve the loss prevention features in the homes they insure.

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Recent news reports tell a story that insurance carriers know all too well: residential construction projects involve a number of risks that can create significant damage to your home.  Determining who can be responsible after a loss can be very challenging. While it is  important to have the right insurance coverage, it is just as critical to know the steps that can be taken to avoid or reduce the chances of the most common causes of loss.   

This insightful report explains the risks, as well as the precautions that can be taken to reduce the risk of loss during home renovation and construction projects.

 

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It is alarming, but true: depending upon where your home is located, your local fire department may not have much of a chance of extinguishing a fire in your home. 

Having worked for many years as a residential appraiser with Chubb, my colleague, Melissa Apostle, provided The Robb Report with several great suggestions on how vacation homeowners can work to improve the response time they can hope to receive from their local fire departments. The article – “A little preplanning can save your home if a fire strikes” – appears in the March 2008 Vacation Homes edition of The Robb Report.

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It is alarming how many people confuse the purchase price or appraised value of a residence with the cost to rebuild it.

The common thinking: My house is worth X, the land is probably worth 30 – 40% of that, so I will insure it for 70% of X, since the property won’t burn. Realtors, mortgage lenders, and tax assessors confuse the issue by inserting their own valuation methods. Since you will want your insurance policy to provide the coverage to rebuild your home after a loss, you need to insure it for the cost to rebuild it, and not some other unrelated value. You should also want your insurance carrier to guarantee that they will provide the full costs to rebuild should those costs escalate.

This excellent New York Times article  explains that ariving at the proper cost to rebuild a home (and securing coverage that actually guarantees to do so) is much easier said than done.

Essentially, the insurance industry takes what can be categorized as two very different approaches to valuing and insuring homes (and cooperative apartments and condominiums). Using the most common approach, you and your agent guesstimate the cost to rebuild your home, and the insurance carrier either accepts or modestly adjusts the result. The downside?  Since this is only a guesstimate, your receive no contractual guarantee that the carrier will pay the full costs to rebuild your home after a covered loss. (often referred to as”the fine print”). The article shares the plight of the many who proceeded using this approach.

The second approach is the one we recommend: have the cost to rebuild calculated by a trained professional, and place coverage with a carrier who will provide a contractual guarantee to rebuild, regardless of any future cost surges. Contact me to learn more about how this can be accomplished.

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