Top 10 Posts of 2016

As we wrap up 2016 and look to the new year, we thought we’d share our most popular posts here at Terms + Conditions.

Our most-read posts of the year put some numbers around homes and insurance, communicated the many ways in which technology is affecting insurance, and how insurer payouts aid recovery in the wake of disaster.

Here’s the complete top 10 list:

1. How Many Homes Are Insured? How Many Are Uninsured?

2. An Early Take on the Kumamoto, Japan Earthquakes

3. Global Insured Disaster Losses in May: $7 billion and Counting

4. Cyberattacks Top Risk To Doing Business in North America

5. Self-Driving Cars Still Evolving

6. Commercial Insurance Rate Declines Continue

7. Women and Insurance

8. Teenage Drivers and the Surge in Claim Frequency

9. Latest on Commercial P/C Insurance Pricing in 2016

10. More On Employment and Claim Frequency

Thanks for following and keep the comments coming in 2017. We wish all our readers a safe and happy new year!

2017 Magic Ball on Insurance

It’s that time of year when insurance predictions for 2017 are being made, and as we look ahead, it’s clear that these are innovative times for our industry.

First up, Insurance Networking News with 10 Insurance Tech Predictions for 2017, based on a research report by Strategy Meets Action (SMA). Karen Furtado, SMA Partner and co-author of the report explains: “In many cases, the 2017 trends reflect a move by insurers to operationalize strategies that have been in development or early phases in the past couple years.” Predictions include: insurtech remains sizzling hot and 2017 will be pivotal for its future; digital transformation will expand; and telematics starts a new growth phase.

Keeping it hot, next up is The Financial Brand with Top 5 InsurTech Trends for 2017. Check out #1 Micro-Insurance to Handle Usage-Based Needs which highlights the growth of micro-policies covering specific risks for specific durations of time. At #3 Emergence of Blockchain as a Key Driver says smart contracts are emerging as the ideal way to automate claims management and underwriting creating billions of dollars in savings. It tips the B3i partnership between Aegon, Allianz, Munich Re, Swiss Re and Zurich as one to watch in 2017.

Talking of specifics, there’s Fast Company with 5 Fintech Startups To Watch in 2017 and pay-per-mile auto insurer Metromile headlines the list. “Insurance investors say Metromile has become an important proof point for the industry’s hottest topic: Measuring observable behavior in order to get more granular about risk.” Fast Company describes insurance is a “massive opportunity” in fintech in the year ahead.

And as we ring in 2017, CB Insights takes stock with a look back at some of the most notable partnerships, hires and financing rounds in insurance tech in the past year. Of particular note are the 29 startup-insurer partnerships in 2016, a reflection of insurers’ growing participation in the tech startup landscape. Insurance Information Institute’s Insuring California blog writes more on this here.

Legal Fallout From Oakland Warehouse Tragedy

Filing of the first lawsuits in connection with the December 2 Oakland warehouse fire that killed 36, underscores the importance of managing legal risks that arise from disaster.

The fire was the deadliest in the United States since a 2003 nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed 100.

Civil complaints were filed Friday on behalf of families of two students who died in the blaze against a number of people, including the building’s owner and those who transformed the space into an artist community that was home to 20 people but not permitted for residential use, promoters and those involved with the event.

Separate claims were also filed against employees of Oakland city and Alameda County departments.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the city of Oakland has come under increasing scrutiny since the Dec. 2 fire for failing to prevent the blaze. City officials have said no building inspector had been in the warehouse for the past three decades even though complaints had been made for years.

Although state law provides a broad liability shield for local governments for failing to conduct building inspections, the immunity is “not insurmountable,” according to the lawyer representing families.

Criminal charges may also follow.

Among the lawsuits’ allegations, according to CNN:

—“The interior of the approximately 10,000-square-foot Ghost Ship was a death trap, which contained a maze of makeshift rooms, alcoves and partitions. It was cluttered with carvings, mannequins, paintings, artwork, scraps of wood, pianos, furniture, tapestries and at least one recreational vehicle trailer, which were kindling for the fire.”

and

—The building contained insufficient smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, sprinklers, exit signs and emergency lighting.

The Insuring California blog post Can cities and artists work together to create safe spaces for venues? explores some of the other factors contributing to the deadly blaze.

U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 1,210 fires in warehouse properties per year (excluding refrigerated or cold storage), which represents less than 1% of all structure fires, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports.

These fires caused an annual average of $155 million in direct property damage, three civilian deaths, and 19 civilian injuries.

Fires that were intentionally set and fires caused by electrical distribution and lighting equipment are the leading causes of warehouse fires, according to the NFPA (below).

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NFPA notes:

“Warehouses present special challenges for fire protection because their contents and layouts are conducive to fire spread and present obstacles to manual fire suppression efforts.”

More on structure fires available in the Insurance Information Institute’s facts and statistics on fire.

‘Tis The Season…For Lawsuits

In true holiday spirit we just got our kids to the mall to see Santa this week. Its an annual tradition, a visit that helps keep the magic alive in our all-too-knowing six and four-year olds’ minds and more importantly yields the holiday photo that keeps on giving throughout the years.

Every year Santa faces a barrage of questions. This year was no different. Our six year-old started: “Santa, I have a question. How come you know I want a two-wheeled scooter?”

Luckily, the letter from the North Pole had arrived a few days earlier telling him he had made the Nice List and that Santa knew from our elf Chippy just what he was wishing for.

This was confirmed by Santa at the mall who said: “Because you’ve been good and it’s magic.”

But what if the conversation had gone a different way?

Sometimes magic confronts reality and a lawsuit ensues, reminding us what’s at stake for Santa and the mall this Christmas.

Take this post over at Randy Spencer’s Open Mic published in the latest issue of online newsletter Coverage Opinions (edited by attorney Randy Maniloff of White and Williams LLP)

In the post, Court Holds a Mail Santa Liable: Damages Owed For Failure To Deliver A Toy Fire Truck, Randy Spencer – the only stand-up comic to specialize in insurance – tells of a Montana trial court that found a mall and its Santa liable for a child’s emotional injuries after promising a toy that was not left under the tree come Christmas Day.

How much damages did the court award in this case? $95,000.

All of which is a timely reminder that Santa (and the malls that embrace the Christmas spirit) need insurance too.

Which is why the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) urges St. Nick to review his insurance policies to be sure he’s got the right insurance coverage with its Santa’s Insurance Wish List.

And we suggest the I.I.I.’s business insurance checklist would make a great stocking stuffer in this case.

All the best for a happy and safe holiday season!

Workplace Safety Imperative for Truck Drivers

Transportation-related incidents were the leading cause of workplace fatalities in 2015—and by a long way—according to data just-released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

Of the total 4,836 workplace fatalities recorded in 2015, transportation-related incidents accounted for 2,054, or 42 percent.

The next closest major cause of workplace fatalities was falls, slips, and trips at 800, or 17 percent.

A key takeaway from the BLS figures: some 745 drivers of heavy and tractor-trailer trucks died because of injuries at work last year, more than any other major civilian occupation. The majority of these fatalities (84 percent) were caused by transportation incidents.

What are some of the factors in large truck crashes?

Truck braking capability for one. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) reports that loaded tractor-trailers take 20-40 percent farther than cars to stop, and the discrepancy is greater on wet and slippery roads or with poorly maintained brakes.

Truck driver fatigue is another known crash risk. Federal regulations allow drivers of large trucks to drive up to 11 hours at a stretch, and up to 77 hours over a seven-day period.

Still surveys suggest many drivers violate the regulations and work longer hours than permitted.

Distracted driving is another key factor impacting the number of accidents.

As for insurers, a recent report by ratings agency A.M. Best noted that commercial auto insurance results continue to underperform the results of the overall property/casualty commercial lines market, due to escalating claim frequency and severity.

With more vehicles on the road, cumulative miles driven increasing, and gas prices at reduced levels, making a profit writing commercial auto insurance is a challenge few insurers have been able to meet, A.M. Best said.

It pointed to the considerable perils associated with larger vehicles, including trucks and buses, noting:

“The increased number of miles traveled over the last three or four years also factors into the rise in the fatalities associated with accidents involving larger vehicles that often produce losses exceeding $100,000 in total claim cost.”

Despite the myriad challenges, leading writers of commercial auto insurance have a track record of profitable operations, according to A.M. Best.

Still, more effective risk management and underwriting techniques focused on both covered drivers and vehicles are needed, the ratings agency said.

The Compliance, Safety, and Accountability (CSA) program implemented in 2010 by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, together with state partners and the trucking industry expanded safety reporting and enforcement measures for large trucks and buses.

Check out the Insurance Information Institute facts and statistics on workplace safety.

Nat Cat Losses Increase in 2016

Total global insured losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters in 2016 rose to at least $49 billion in 2016, 32 percent higher than the $37 billion recorded in 2015.

Preliminary estimates from Swiss Re sigma put insured losses from natural catastrophe events at $42 billion in 2016, up from $28 billion in 2015, but slightly below the annual average of the previous 10 years ($46 billion).

Man-made disasters triggered an additional $7 billion in insurance claims in 2016, down from $9 billion the previous year.

Hurricane Matthew and severe storms in the United States generated high losses during the year, Swiss Re noted.

Insured losses from Hurricane Matthew, which caused devastation across the east Caribbean and southeastern U.S. in October, are estimated to be in excess of $4 billion, while economic losses were $8 billion.

Matthew was also the deadliest natural catastrophe of the year globally, claiming up to 733 lives, most of those in Haiti.

A number of severe weather events impacted the U.S. in 2016, including a series of severe hail and thunderstorms.

The costliest was a hailstorm that struck Texas in April, resulting in economic losses of $3.5 billion and insured losses of $3 billion due to heavy damage to property from large hailstones, Swiss Re said.

Swiss Re chief economist Kurt Karl, noted in a press release:

“In this case, because households and businesses were insured, they were much better protected against the financial losses resulting from the storms.”

Total economic losses from natural catastrophes and man-made disasters globally are estimated at $158 billion in 2016, significantly higher than the $94 billion recorded in 2015, due to some large natural catastrophes such as earthquakes and floods.

The gap between total losses and insured losses in 2016 shows that many events took place in areas where insurance coverage was low, Swiss Re said.

Earthquake losses, in particular, underscore the underinsurance problem. For example, government sources put the overall reconstruction cost of an earthquake in August in Italy as high as $5 billion. But insured losses for that event are only a fraction of the total, estimated at $70 million, mainly from commercial assets.

“Society is underinsured against earthquake risk. And the protection gap is a global concern.”

The Kumamoto quakes that struck Japan in April were the costliest disaster event of the year, causing at least $20 billion in economic losses, and $5 billion in insured losses.

How To Cover Electronic Aggression, or Cyberbullying

Recent events have reminded us that cyberbullying is not limited to children, with at least one survey indicating that 73 percent of adult internet users have seen someone harassed online, while 40 percent have personally experienced it.

For example, professional golfer Paige Spiranac last week spoke about the harassment she and her family experienced following her professional debut last year. The recent U.S. Presidential campaign has also highlighted the increasing prevalence of cyberbullying that targets adults.

Electronic aggression is the definition used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to describe any type of harassment or bullying that occurs through email, a chat room, instant messaging, a website (including blogs), or text messaging.

And the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) defines cyberbullying as the willful and repeated use of cell phones, computers, and other electronic communication devices to harass and threaten others.

NCSL notes that cyberbullying differs from more traditional forms of bullying in that it can occur at any time, its messages and images can be spread and shared instantaneously to a wide audience, and perpetrators can remain anonymous, often making them difficult to trace.

Adult cyberbullying often takes the form of trolling where someone posts inflammatory messages in an online platform, such as on Facebook, or Twitter or in a chatroom or blog, with the sole intent to provoke a reaction from other users.

While there are many examples of cyberbullying against celebrities or public figures, any adult who uses the internet is increasingly at risk.

Social media platforms, including Instagram, Twitter and Facebook have responded by introducing new tools aimed at combating cyberbullying.

Just as technology is changing the way we interact with each other, so insurers have been moving to provide insurance coverage that can mitigate the financial loss and emotional harm suffered as a result of a cyberbullying incident.

For example, earlier this year Chubb made cyberbullying coverage available to its U.S. homeowners customers. The coverage provides up to $60,000 in compensation to clients and family members for expenses related to harassment and intimidation committed via personal computers, telephones or mobile devices. It can help mitigate the cost of wrongful termination, false arrest, wrongful discipline in an educational institution, or diagnosed debilitating shock, mental anguish or mental injury.

From the perspective of businesses, most traditional commercial general liability policies would not cover electronic aggression or cyberbullying claims. Specialist media liability policies developed by insurers may cover social media activities and industry experts say the number of insureds and insurance brokers looking at this type of coverage is increasing.

Specialized cyber policies developed by insurers may also be tailored to incorporate social media coverage. Check out the Insurance Information Institute white papers Cyber Risk: Threat and Opportunity and Social Media, Liability and Risks for more on this topic.

Growing P/C Innovation Amid InsurTech, Trump Disruption

The pace of innovation in the U.S. property/casualty industry will accelerate in 2017, as technology advances and the growth of InsurTech raise customer expectations for greater innovation and new business models, according to a new report by Ernst & Young.

In its 2017 U.S. Property/Casualty Insurance Outlook, EY says the industry is at an inflection point, as continued economic headwinds provide little support for insurers plagued by shrinking investment incomes, escalating claims costs and rising regulations.

A new Trump administration raises the prospect of further economic and regulatory change and with the P/C industry in flux, this is a good time for CEOs to think through their future business strategies, EY suggests.

As insurers look to adapt to disruptive market shifts, EY expects companies will do more to develop a culture of innovation in 2017:

“The Internet of Things, telematics, artificial intelligence, driverless cars and blockchain have the potential to transform industry fundamentals and even redefine the nature of risk. In the future, competing for market share will be increasingly dependent on technology, data and analytics.”

With more than 1,000 InsurTech startups in operation, the pace of P/C innovation will speed up next year.

For example, in 2017 InsurTech startup Trov plans to roll out on-demand insurance that will enable customers to use their smart phones to turn coverage for personal belongings on and off. Trov is an example of how product innovation directed towards millennials could disrupt the P/C insurance model, EY says.

“Incumbents will be watching this space closely, creating venture funding groups that are actively monitoring and investing in InsurTech initiatives.”

Insurers will take digital transformation to the next level in 2017, expanding their use of robotics and advanced analytics across most aspects of their business, from claims handling and underwriting to customer relationship management (CRM) systems and risk management, according to EY’s outlook.

See our earlier blog post for latest data on the InsurTech sector.

Read about the top InsurTech deals of the year as reported by Insurance Networking News here.

How To Keep Commercial Insurance Customers Satisfied

A survey of more than 1,400 risk professionals at large organizations in the U.S. or Canada that have purchased a commercial insurance policy from one of the profiled insurers or brokers throws up some interesting results.

It finds that as rates across the U.S. commercial property/casualty insurance market continue to decline, the key variables in driving overall commercial insurance customer satisfaction are insurer profitability and broker expertise.

The J.D. Power study, conducted in conjunction with RIMS (the risk management society), found a distinct correlation between customer satisfaction and insurer profitability, as measured by total commercial combined financial ratios.

Among large commercial insurers, the highest performing companies in overall satisfaction—XL Catlin (773 on a 1,000-point scale); CNA (767); and Chubb (765)—are also found to have some of the strongest combined ratios in the industry.

This suggests that the most profitable insurers are able to support more flexible underwriting standards to meet customer needs more effectively, according to J.D. Power.

The study found an overall correlation between customer satisfaction and insurer profitability of 0.67, suggesting the more profitable the book of business an insurer has, the greater the likelihood the insurer will also have high levels of satisfaction.

Among commercial insurance brokers, the most significant single attribute driving that performance is quality of advice/guidance provided, with the highest-performing firms, Lockton (863) and Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. (823), outperforming larger rivals by a large margin.

This demonstrates that brokers with in-depth expertise and who have a hands-on, consultative relationship with their clients are consistently driving the highest levels of customer satisfaction, J.D. Power says.

The inverse also appears to be true, as the study shows customer satisfaction declines by an average of 136 points among the 20 percent of customers who indicate their broker does not completely understand their business needs.

Industry-wide, brokers received an average rating of 8.34 on a 10-point scale for the quality of advice/guidance provided metric.

In addition to quality of advice/guidance, satisfaction with brokers was based on the following attributes: reasonableness of fees; ease of the renewal process; effectiveness of risk control services; variety of program offerings; effectiveness of program review; price, given services received; billing and payment process; and claims process.

Satisfaction with commercial insurers is based on five factors: service interaction; program offerings; price; billing process; and claims.

Organizations included in the J.D. Power 2016 Large Commercial Insurance Study have at least $100 million in annual revenue or operating budget.

The Insurance Information Institute provides some useful facts and statistics on the commercial insurance market here.