Thursday, February 25, 2016

A Shaky End To 2015

A moderate earthquake shook Southern California near the San Bernardino area a few days before the end 2015. While there were no immediate reports of any damage or injuries, thousands of people were given a start. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the quake measured 4.4 on the Richter scale and was followed by aftershocks of 3.8 and 3.2 minutes after the initial tremor. A large number of minor aftershocks were recorded in the following hours. Around the same time a 4.8 intensity quake in Canada was felt in Washington State. Once again there were no immediate reports of injury or damage.

It’s Nothing New

People living in California are used to earthquakes and take them in their stride. While the yearend quake was of moderate intensity, it was not abnormal. While quake activity has reduced slightly in recent years, moderate ones are a traditional monthly occurrence in Southern California according to a USGS seismologist. So what is so newsworthy about the yearend quake?

The epicenter was near the intersection of the San Jacinto, Cucamonga and San Andreas faults, the most earthquake prone part of the state. While moderate in intensity, it was too small to determine which fault was the cause, so it could be any of these. There have been 9 magnitude 4 quakes in this region over the last 10 years. If none of these did any serious damage, then why the worry? The reason is that the USGS says that there is a 5% chance that a quake of this type could be the precursor of something bigger. 5% may not seem like much of a risk, but when you consider that there have already been 9 of the 5% possibility incidents in the last 9 years, another picture emerges. How much longer before the 5% probability turns into a reality?  If a major quake does occur, it will not be something you will be able to forget about soon. Worrying about a coming quake is not being a scaremonger. The worry is based on hard scientific evidence and data. Studies done by NASA indicate that a major quake will hit the state in the next 2 years.

How Protected Are You?

You probably have homeowner’s insurance for your home. But this will not cover damage or loss due to earthquake. Earthquake coverage requires a separate policy. According to a study done by Bloomberg, 88%, or 8 out of 9 Californians do not have earthquake insurance. Other studies have slightly differing figures, but they all agree that the majority of homes in the state are not covered against quakes. Nothing can be done to stop an earthquake. A major one will always cause damage and possibly injury. The only way to cope with the loss and recover from it is to have adequate earthquake insurance that will allow you to repair your home and, in the worst case, rebuild one that has been destroyed. Talk to your insurance agent to work out the coverage you need and how much it will cost you.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Hottest Insurance Topics of 2015

This is the time to start thinking of your insurance needs for the New Year. Do you need another policy to cover a change in your life or business? Do your existing policies need to be upgraded? You know your situation best, and if you are in doubt about what you need to do, talk to your insurance agent.  A look at the hottest west coast insurance news from last year could open your eyes to insurance options that you have not yet thought of. Here they are and if any sound like they could be relevant to you, your insurance agent is the best source of additional information.

  • A California insurer has started to offer ridesharing endorsements to auto insurance policies. The endorsements add 8% to a customer’s premium and allow drivers to select the coverage options they want, including uninsured and underinsured motorists’ coverage, medical payments coverage, collision and comprehensive. In an unrelated development the USAA announced that it was offering coverage in Colorado to protect ridesharing drivers from the moment their mobile apps are turned on till they get matched with a passenger. The additional cost ranges from $6 to $8 per month.
  • A recent Arizona Supreme Court ruling could potentially leave insurance agents exposed to malpractice lawsuits if they are accused of not informing their clients about uninsured or underinsured coverage. The case arose when a policy holder accused her insurance agent of not providing her the coverage she had asked for after she was involved in an accident with an uninsured motorist. Although she had signed the waiver confirming that she was rejecting the uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, the Courts sent the case back to trial saying that the waiver provides a “safe harbor” for carriers but not for agents who have a specific duty towards their clients.
  • Then there was the story of a student who sued his university after his hand was hurt by a meteorite.
  • A $40 million award was given in the case of a TGI Friday killing.
  • News of both the drought that affected California and the effects of El Nino were also very popular.
  • The impact of Additional Living Expense / Loss of Use coverage to California fire victims received a lot of coverage.
  • The impact of the fires in California that destroyed over 2,000 homes on the home insurance business was a major story.
  • A claim was made for the highest known workers’ comp settlement in California history.
  • A Las Vegas pool fire was fueled by fake palm trees.

Some of these stories may sound funny, but they serve a purpose. Do you have any fake palm trees at home or at work? Is your workers’ comp coverage enough to meet the rising settlement amounts? If you are being a good citizen and ridesharing, do you have the coverage you need?  Now is the best time to talk to your agent. That way you can get the coverage you need and forget about insurance worries for the rest of the year.