Monday, August 30, 2010

'Tis the Season (Hurricane Season, that is)

We will all be watching carefully as Hurricane Earl chugs up the coast this week towards Long Island and the rest of the eastern seaboard. If you want a little more info on hurricane preparedness, here are some handy links:

Here are some handy links on hurricane preparedness:www.ready.gov is fema's site. www.southamptontownny.gov has a cool book you can download. Suffolk has info athttp://www.co.suffolk.ny.us/departments/firerescue/ and the Town of Babylon info can be found athttp://www.townofbabylon.com/emergencyinfo.cfm

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Home Insurance - Going to the Dogs?

I read an interesting statistic recently. These days one out of every three homeowners insurance liability claims across the country is coming from the family dog! Those are lawsuits since they fall under liability, not cases where the dog chewed up a piece of furniture. And that is a national statistic, not limited to New York or Long Island.

Anybody who has changed (or been forced to change because you are 'too close to the water') home insurance in the last few years knows that you now have to answer a bunch of questions about your dog if you own one. Certain breeds are not wanted by almost any insurance company here on Long Island, where lawsuits are even more common than they are in other areas.

The latest development is that ISO, the Insurance Services Office who comes up with the standardizes policy forms used by many insurance companies all over the country, is including a canine exclusion in their next major revision to the homeowners policy form, due to come out later this year. That does NOT mean that all policies will immediately exclude dogs, but it DOES mean that, if approved by the N.Y. State Insurance Department, the exclusion will be available for insurance carriers to use.

I believe this has become one of the 'dirty little secrets' of why there have not been more insurance companies coming in to the Long Island area to write new homeowners coverage after the massive pullout by the 'big companies' that has been happening for several years now (think good hands, good neighbors, etc). I am not criticizing those companies for reducing their exposure to major storms in the New York coastal areas, because they definitely had too much financial exposure to large losses from the inevitable big hurricane.

But the companies that HAVE come in to fill the gaps, including Lloyd's of London, and other 'non-admitted' insurers, have all included dog exclusions in their policies. They can do this because as non-admitted or excess lines insurers, they are not subject to New York rules. So while their hurricane exposure is greater, the day-to-day problem of dogs is gone. This also applies to their exclusions for trampolines, another seemingly minor thing that has become a major issue.

One company has even come up with a specific liability insurance policy to cover dogs. Unfortunately it costs $800 PER DOG! But the reason it's so high is that they feel the only people who will buy the policy are those who feel they have the kind of dog who needs to be covered. So it's not like most folks with a sort of normal, happy-go-lucky dog will feel they need it, but the ones with the pit bulls, dobermans, and rottweilers might.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Suffolk to hold Meetings about Hurricane Preparedness and Home and Flood Insurance

Starting tonight and for the next several weeks, the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue, and Emergency Services is holding a series of meetings around the County where the topics will be Hurricane Preparedness, as well as how to understand your homeowners and flood insurance and make sure you have the protection that you think you have.

Each meeting will have a presentation from the County, as well as a representative from the Board of Directors of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of Suffolk County. I will be at the one tonight (May 26) at the Tanner Park Senior Center in Copiague, as well as the one in West Islip next Thursday at the American Legion Hall on Union Blvd. Times are 7-9. Other members of our Agent's Association Board will represent the insurance industry at the various other meetings. 

For more information please visit www.suffolkcountyny.gov/MEND

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

FEMA Flood Insurance Program Allowed to Expire

Greetings all, and sorry it's been a while since I have posted. But there has not been a whole lot of news to report until now. 

The Federal Government, in its infinite wisdom, has allowed the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to expire as of yesterday, March 1 2010. This is due to the fact that one senator from Kentucky is currently blocking ALL legislation. The Flood Insurance Program has often been used as a political 'football', with senators and congresspeople in non-flood prone areas using renewal as leverage to get things they want.

The good news is that if you currently HAVE flood insurance, it will stay in force until your renewal date. We expect that Congress will take action very soon. The bad news is that if you were getting ready to buy a house, you can't currently buy FEMA flood insurance here on Long Island or anywhere else.

This will probably be taken care of within a few days, but if it's not, there are alternatives to the FEMA program that would enable you to go through with the purchase of your home. Contact us for more information.