TEXANS HOLDING HARVEY VICTIMS BACK?

Hurricane Harvey in Houston is natural, organic alliteration. So is a terrible tragedy in Texas.

The devastation wrought by Harvey in and around the Houston area was breathtaking, and the full damage may still be assessed even higher than the currently reported death and property-damage totals. But to say tens of billions of dollars is not an outrageous estimate.

Insurance companies – and the government, which supplies flood insurance – have been inundated with property-insurance claims out of Texas because of Harvey, but also are seeing additional claims start to roll in from Florida following the damage wrought by Hurricane Irma over the past week.

In Texas, lawmakers might have handcuffed Texas residents before hurricane season, as a new law went into effect at the start of September that reformed insurance lawsuits in the state. Back in the spring, before the hurricane season started or there was any indication of a major hurricane hitting the Texas Gulf coast, the Texas Legislature passed a bill limiting the interest that insurance companies would owe if they were sued regarding slow or non-payment of property-insurance claims.

The bill reduced the interest payment by 44 percent, lowering the rate from 18 percent down to 10 percent. Just before the law went into effect, a Texas lawmaker asked the governor to bring the Legislature back into special session to address the law and delay its implementation in the wake of Harvey. The argument was that insurance companies would have less incentive to pay claims promptly knowing that their interest penalties would be far less than before.

A lawyer (of all people!) was trying to encourage people who suffered losses from Harvey to file an intent to file lawsuit claim before the September 1st deadline, though not nearly enough time had passed to expect reasonable claim payments in the wake of Harvey, as it had just passed through the area and many areas were still flooded as of the end of August.

Considered an aspect of tort reform, the goal of the bill was supposed to eliminate frivolous lawsuits against insurance companies which already suffer losses by fulfilling claims and then have to invest even more money to defend themselves against impatient policyholders. With lowering the interest cost to 10 percent, they argued, would be enough to keep some plaintiffs from filing a suit for delayed claim payments because the penalty for the insurance company wouldn’t be quite as painful.

Those who opposed the bill, or are pushing for a delay in implementation currently, are looking to give Harvey victims maximum flexibility to make sure they get their claims settled as quickly as possible, and they should have the freedom and opportunity to file lawsuits over excessive delays in settling claims. After all, time is money, as they say.

As he law is now in effect, it will be interesting to see how Harvey and the law affect the numbers of insurance-claim lawsuits in the wake of the storm.  Here is hoping that the help from other private citizens will ease the burden on insurance companies, and these companies will rise up and pay their claims quickly. The longer they take and the more legal fees they rack up, the higher all of our insurance premiums will rise to cover these devastating losses.

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Do College Students Need Renters Insurance?

One of the things that we usually don’t think enough about when we shuffle our kids off to college is the atmosphere in which they’re placed. Sure, we know about all the trouble they’re going to get into and we’re certainly going to be worried about the consequences (since we know they won’t be), but how safe is their living space from those who would do it harm? Do they have any protections in place in case of fire or theft or anything else on a long list of things that could go wrong in a college environment? The answer might surprise you. The dorm itself probably isn’t going to provide your children with any protections.

First of all, know the stats: Out of 100,000 college students, about 800 will report a theft overall. That’s an average. If your student is enrolled at The University of California in San Francisco, then the rate balloons to over 13,000 for every 100,000 of its students–but that’s at the high end. If your student is enrolled at another college, the rate might be much smaller.

Most students who report a crime at college report theft. Stolen goods account for 41 percent of all claims. Another 12 percent of lost goods are taken by electrical failure, while 12 percent are destroyed by water. 6 percent of lost goods mysteriously disappear. It is college after all.

It’s also worth mentioning that these are only reported thefts. Your kids might not feel inclined to report any wrongdoing on campus for a number of reasons. Let’s say they’re smoking marijuana in the dorm–they might not feel like chancing a visit from the police. If they’re keeping fluffy the kitten in the dorm against college policy, then no one’s getting past that door without breaking in (again). Then again, if your kids don’t even know their valuables are protected by renters insurance, then they’ll be less likely to report a crime.

That’s why you might consider making sure your child is insured while in college. If you do decide to insure, however, then make sure you tell them about it. Otherwise it might not even matter.

You’ll also be happy to know that even at college your child might already be covered by your own homeowners or renters insurance policy. Your policy could cover a child living on-campus, but chances are it won’t cover a child living off-campus. If your kid gets his or her own place, then they’ll probably need a separate policy. Be sure to check. Insurance agencies are only willing to extend coverage so much, and surprise surprise: most people are less likely to consider filing for insurance if a student is living on-campus.

You should also take into consideration the worth of everything that your child brings to college. Computers, media, cash, jewelry, clothing, etc. It might not seem like much when you pack it into the car every semester, but the monetary value of those things can add up surprisingly fast. Is a renters insurance policy worth the added cost? It just might be. If you’re not sure, you can always research the statistics specific to your child’s school and make the decision for yourselves.

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Do I Really Need Health Insurance?

Good health is a right bestowed on us by our Creator.

Health insurance is there to help cover many of the expenses that come with what we sometimes need to keep ourselves healthy. But with the American health-insurance market in a shambles by many reports, the question does arise: Do I really need health insurance after all, or am I better off paying the “tax penalty” for not having coverage according to the Affordable Care Act?

There is an expectation for everyone to have health insurance, but whether you need it individually depends on your situation.

First of all, health insurance does not guarantee you health care. It is not a voucher for health care – you can always get health care whenever you need it. The key word here is “insurance” – which means it exists to pay for major costs that might otherwise bankrupt your family yet is deemed necessary for your health (major surgery such as a transplant, cancer treatments, etc.).

Before the Affordable Care Act was implemented, many people had two kinds of policies that fit the bill in protecting families from huge expenses from major doctor and hospital costs – the Health Savings Account, and a catastrophic-coverage policy that covered major medical events and emergencies. Thanks to the ACA, these types of policies have been greatly restricted and even eliminated in some markets.

If you are currently sitting down and thinking about or discussing health coverage and whether it is a need in your household budget, consider asking yourself some questions:

  • What is your annual household income?
  • Do you have debts (including a mortgage)?
  • Do you have a medical history?
  • Do you have an emergency fund of savings (four to six months of expenses)?
  • Do you have children? How many, and ages?
  • What is the health history of your children?
  • Do you have a religious or moral objection to health insurance?
  • What is the value of your assets?

There is a lot of commentary that health insurance is a necessity, even for regular checkups and routine follow-up exams. Believe it or not, cash can go a long way to keep medical costs down, and regular office visits and check-ups are not so expensive as to challenge family budgets. Whether you need insurance depends on your personal situation based on the questions above.

While insurers are required to pay for follow-up care as well as annual checkups, you don’t need insurance for those events. Some compare health insurance to car insurance, which is only similar in that it is supposed to protect your assets from large bills or lawsuit judgments. But if you have a large enough income, sizable savings and a lot of assets, you could be considered “self-insured,” which means you won’t need health insurance. Also, if you use alternative methods of health care outside of modern medicine (such as acupuncture, chiropractic, Christian Science or other faith-based healing treatments), you won’t necessarily need health insurance either, as many of these alternative providers don’t take health insurance or their treatments are inexpensive and can be covered in family budgets.

Insurance comes down to your household and whether you want to protect your “stuff” in order to keep your family healthy. This is something that will involve an honest discussion with a financial planner who can walk you through your financial situation and can help you determine if the government-compliant health insurance is truly necessary.

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Fidelity Bonds Can Protect A Company Against Loss Due To A Dishonest Employee

A fidelity bond provides protection against losses which occurred as a result of fraudulent acts. This type of bond typically covers a business in case they have losses because of a dishonest employee. These are called bonds, but they are really insurance policies that cover any losses a business may experience due to acts of a dishonest employee. They protect against loss of securities, monies, or other business properties.

Businesses such as brokerage firms and insurance companies are required to carry fidelity bonds. The size of the bond is proportional to the company’s net capital.

Fidelity bonds cannot be traded nor do they accrue interest in Los Angeles. Fidelity bonds may be purchased for two different situations: first-party and third-party bonds.

First-party fidelity bonds provide a company protection when an employee commits an intentional wrongful act such as embezzlement or forgery. A third-party fidelity bond provides a company protection if a contractor or a contractor’s employee commits an intentional wrongful act.

A Commercial Crime Fidelity Bond protects a business against wrongful acts by any employee involved in handling financial transactions or money.

A Business Service Fidelity Bond protects property owners against wrongful acts committed by a service provider such as a maintenance worker or a pet sitter.

An ERISA Fidelity Bond protects both beneficiaries and participants against dishonest or wrongful acts committed by a fiduciary or employee who handles employee pension or benefit plans. These include a company’s 401K or their company pension plan. This type of bond is the only one which is required by law.

The cost of a fidelity bond will vary depending on the amount of coverage and the type of bond. A company can usually purchase a fidelity bond with $500,000 worth of coverage for between $300 and $400 a year.

Fidelity bonds cover all employees in a company. They may also cover directors, trustees, partners, members, and temporary employees.

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The Defense Base Act Helps Protect U.S. Government Contract Employees

The Defense Base Act requires insurance coverage for any American citizen who is working for the U.S. government outside the United States. The Act was passed in 1941 and was designed to provide insurance coverage and protection for anyone who worked on a military installation located outside the U.S.

The Act was amended to include workers who were employed by public works contractors. The Act covered anyone employed by the U.S. government on projects such as schools, dams, roads, and harbors which were located outside the United States.

The Act was again amended to cover any contractor who was working for any federal agency and performing the work outside the United States. This includes both military and non-military projects.

DBA coverage is required for all employees working on a military installation outside the U.S. It is also required for any employees who are working on any U.S. federally funded project located outside the U.S. DBA coverage is required for any employee working on a project for a foreign government if that project has been deemed essential to U.S. National Security. DBA coverage is required for employees who are providing services which are funded by the U.S. federal government if those services fall outside regular military or U.S. diplomatic channels.

If a contractor or company fails to carry DBA insurance on their employees, they can face very stiff fines and penalties. Every government contract includes a provision requiring that contractors have the necessary DBA coverage. If they do not have the necessary coverage, they face losing the contract and paying fines.

Additionally, if a company contracted to provide services for the U.S. federal government fails to provide DBA coverage for its employees, that employee or their heirs can sue the company and do not have to prove negligence. Injured workers cases against the company under the DBA can prove very costly to the employer.

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What Happens If You Are Injured By An Uninsured Driver?

Car accidents are universally terrifying, and for most of us so is insurance. Although the vast majority of us fall under one insurance policy or another, we usually fail to recognize all the finer points of those policies. Under which circumstances are you covered? What if a dog runs in front of your vehicle and you hit someone after swerving to avoid him? What if an asteroid slams into your car trunk and spews paint chips at the car behind you? What if you are injured by an irresponsible driver who has no insurance? Indeed, sometimes dealing with insurance claims after an accident can be just as terrifying and stress-inducing as the accident itself.

So what should you do when you’re injured by an uninsured driver?

Well, first thing’s first: enlist the services of a personal injury attorney who knows what he or she is doing. Shop around, take advantage of free consultations to talk about the ins and outs of an eventual case, and choose the one who is best for you.

Usually, car insurance falls under a couple of different categories that could become relevant should you get into an accident with an uninsured driver. You may have either 1) uninsured motorist coverage OR 2) underinsured motorist coverage.

Uninsured motorist coverage is what it sounds like. Basically, if you get into an accident with a driver who has no insurance, your insurance provider will still help cover the costs of any injuries or damages that result. Although this type of insurance is almost always offered by the provider, you may have neglected to opt-in, and that could mean trouble if you need to file a claim. A few states require this type of coverage, but not all.

Underinsured motorist coverage is similar. If you’re in an accident with a driver who has insurance, but the policy won’t cover the costs of all your injuries or damage to your car, then your own policy will fulfill the rest.

One thing you should know: these types of insurance only come into play if the uninsured (or underinsured) driver is found to be at fault for the accident. If the accident was your fault, it’s a whole different thing and you should talk your options over with your lawyer before you say anything to your insurance company (or the policy). In addition, the time frame you usually have to make an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim is usually extremely limited and you absolutely must present your case to your lawyer as soon as possible in order to guarantee you get the compensation you deserve.

These kinds of things are nearly impossible to deal with on your own, which is why you got help from an attorney. Your legal representation will walk you through not only what you need to know, but who to talk to (or who not to talk to), when and what to do, and what to expect when the case is concluded. You deserve compensation for both your physical and emotional trauma and in most cases you will get it.

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Explanation of Liability Insurance

The insurance policy which provides an individual or a business protection from the risk of them being sued and held legally responsible for situations such as injury, negligence or malpractice is called liability insurance. Both legal costs as well as any legal payouts that the insured could be held responsible for, if they were found to be legally liable is covered by liability insurance policies.

There is no government sponsored form of liability insurance, it is still, however, a form of coverage that is important to have. Here are the main kinds of liability insurance:

  • Personal Liability
  • Workers´ Compensation and Employer’s Liability
  • Product Liability Insurance
  • Indemnity Insurance
  • Director and Officer Liability Coverage
  • Umbrella Liability
  • Commercial Liability
  • CGL (Comprehensive General Liability)
  • Homeowner’s Insurance

Personal liability insurance is of course about you and your family´s financial protection. What it covers is bodily injury and property damage sustained by others that you or members of your family may be legally responsible for. Medical Payments to Others coverage is also included in Personal Liability insurance.  It provides the payment of any medical expenses that guest who has accidentally be injured on your property may require. This is regardless of whether you are legally responsible or not.

And of course, business owners are exposed to a wide array of liabilities, any of which are able to subject their assets to claims that are substantial. This is why all business owners must have an asset protection plan in place which is built upon the liability insurance coverage which is available.

Liability insurance is crucial for anyone who may be held legally responsible for others´ injuries, this is especially true for business owners and medical practitioners. It is important to seek professional assistance in determining the type of liability insurance coverage that will best suit your needs and therefore avoid an unnecessary, and frustrating legal and/or financial issues.

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Flood Insurance Will Help Protect Your Home And Belongings In Case Of A Flood

Depending on the location of your home, you may be required to purchase flood insurance. Many insurance companies won’t cover a home that sits in a flood zone if the owner doesn’t have flood insurance. Regular renters and homeowners insurance do not cover damage from flooding. A homeowner must purchase a separate flood insurance policy. The only flood insurance policies through the federal government cover any flood-related losses or damage.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) runs the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This insurance is sold by private insurance companies but the coverage is provided by the federal government.

It isn’t difficult to purchase flood insurance. Private insurers will often work with the Federal government to offer flood insurance. In order to get flood insurance, the home must be located in a community which participates in the NFIP. There are currently about 100 hundred insurance companies which sell NFIP policies.

Flood insurance doesn’t cost much and is important to have if there is a possibility of flooding in your area. The average annual cost is around $140 a year. This premium will increase according to the amount of coverage required and the likelihood of a flood. The maximum amount of insurance under the NFIP is $275,000 for structural damage and another $100,000 for personal property loss.

Homeowners must wait 30 days after purchase before flood insurance takes effect. There are more than 20,000 communities across the country which are part of the NFIP. If a homeowner isn’t sure about their area, they can check with the online FloodSmart Tool by entering their zip code.

It is also possible to purchase excess flood insurance from private insurance companies. This insurance will cover losses over and above what the NFIP insurance covers. A homeowner must have NFIP flood insurance before they can qualify for excess flood insurance.

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Casualty Insurance Helps Protect You Against Loss

Casualty insurance covers a broad range and may include property insurance, liability insurance, and vehicle insurance. There is both private and commercial casualty insurance. A good example of commercial casualty insurance is workers’ compensation insurance. This type of insurance protects a business when an employee is hurt while performing their job responsibilities. Without casualty insurance, individuals or companies could end up owing a great deal of money.

Private casualty insurance helps protect your property such as a car or a house. It also provides liability coverage which protects you in case someone is hurt on your property or you damage someone else’s property. There are several types of casualty insurance.

Homeowners Insurance covers your home and your belongings against loss from fire or theft. This policy also provides liability coverage which can protect you if someone suffers personal injury while visiting or if you damage another person’s property.

Car insurance is another type of casualty insurance. This type of policy protects your car against theft or fire. The policy will also include liability insurance which is required in order to drive a car in many states. Liability insurance protects you in case you are found to be legally responsible for damaging someone else’s car or causing them injury during a vehicle accident. If your car is financed, your lender may require you to also buy collision and comprehensive insurance.

Renters insurance is also casualty insurance. When you rent, your landlord should have a policy protecting the building and their own personal property, but this policy will not protect your belongings. You’ll need to purchase renters insurance so your own belongings are covered in case of a fire or theft. Renters insurance also provides liability coverage in case you cause damage to someone else’s property or if a guest is injured while visiting in your home.

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Income Protection Insurance And How It Helps If You Can’t Work

Income protection insurance will cover an individual if they become incapacitated and can not work. This insurance may offer monthly payments while the insured is off work. It can also offer protection against sickness, accidents or unemployment.

These policies typically offer protection in three situations. First, you can purchase a policy that will protect against sickness and accident only. For a bit more, you can purchase a policy against unemployment only or you can purchase a comprehensive policy that protects you against all three situations.

These policies typically don’t start paying until the insured has been out of work at least six months. Once this waiting period is over, the policies may cover up to 80 percent of the insured’s salary. The policy will continue paying until the insured returns to work, reaches retirement age or dies.

How long and how much a policy pays will depend on the terms and conditions of the policy. If an employee is able to return to work at reduced hours or in a different position for less pay, the policy will usually take this into account and adjust payments.

Income protection policies are primarily offered in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, and South Africa. There are two types of policies, group income protection, and individual income protection.

Group income protection is available through the employer and will replace an employee’s income if they can’t work due to injury or illness. This type of income protection insurance is available as part of an employee benefits package.

Individual income protection insurance may be purchased through private insurance brokers. It is also sold by some independent financial advisers.

Group income protection policies will generally cover pre-existing conditions while many individual income policies do not. Group policies also tend to pay more than individual income policies.

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