All posts by Maria Sassian

Avoid a Double Tragedy: Tips from National Dog Bite Prevention Week® Coalition Partners

Janet Ruiz

Our previous post discussed homeowners liability claims stemming from dog bites. Today, Janet Ruiz, I.I.I.’s Director of Strategic Communications, has these valuable safety tips from National Dog Bite Prevention
Week
® Coalition partners.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) estimates there are approximately 78 million dogs in U.S. homes and each year 4.5 million people are bitten or injured. “Even the gentlest dog can bite if they are in pain, feel threatened, or are competing for resources such as food or space,” said Dr. John de Jong, AVMA President. “Not only is it important to understand how dogs behave, it is important to understand how a dog may interpret our behavior.” AVMA’s ‘Jimmy the Dog’ video series lets preschoolers look at how a dog might interpret different scenarios.

“We’ve seen firsthand over the years the tragic consequences surrounding dog bites and their effect on those involved – the people who are injured, the animals who may be relinquished or even destroyed, and the dog’s owners who have to cope with the loss of a beloved family member,” said Lesa Staubus, DVM, American Humane Rescue veterinarian, “Once your dog has bitten someone – or you or a family member fall victim to a dog bite – it will be already be too late.  Let’s practice good prevention instead.”

Because of the high-risk involving dogs, babies, and children, American Humane offers a free online booklet called Pet Meets Baby that provides families with valuable information on introducing a new child to a home with a dog.

Additional safety tips from American Humane include:

  • NEVER leave a baby or small child alone with a dog, even if it is a family pet. Children are often bitten by dogs in their own household.
  • Make sure your pet is socialized so it feels at ease around people and other animals.
  • Walk and exercise your dog on a leash to keep it healthy and provide mental stimulation.
  • Regular veterinary visits are essential to regulating the health of your dog. A sick or injured dog is more likely to bite.
  • Be alert. If someone approaches you and your dog, caution them to wait before petting the dog. Give your pet time to be comfortable with the stranger.
  • Understand and respond to changes in your dogs’ body language. Look at the eyes, ears, tail, and posture to know when your dog may be happy, fearful, or angry.

Hope the (fire)wall is high enough

Getty Images

Fans of Game of Thrones are getting ready to learn the fate of their favorite characters when the final season of the show starts airing on HBO on April 14th. At the same time, security experts are warning that cyber-crooks are ready to take advantage of the show’s popularity to attack people’s computers.

The huge popularity of the show makes illegal download sites, where users can view episodes without the required subscriptions, popular distributions point for malware. In 2018 Game of Thrones accounted for 17 percent of all infected pirated content, according to Kaspersky Labs, even though no new episodes aired on TV over that time. This suggests that the coming premiere could be the most dangerous time to be downloading the torrents.

According to Kaspersky, the most popular kind of attack via pirated content was a trojan, a piece of software that is installed on a computer and allows the hacker to take control of that device.

The good news is that, overall, the prevalence of TV show-related malware has been declining. In 2018, the total number of users who encountered this kind of malware was 126,340, a third less than it was the year before. The number of total attempts dropped by 22 percent, to 451,636. Kaspersky said that drop was in line with a reduction in the number of security threats across the internet. But it might also be linked to a drop in the number of people using torrents, as interest in the technology declines.

Dog Bite Liability Claims by State – Interactive Map

Getty Images

Dogs provide millions of people with companionship, happiness and health benefits. But even dogs that are normally docile may bite when they are frightened or when defending their puppies, owners or food.

To educate pet owners about how to prevent dog bites The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the Insurance Information Institute,  State Farm®, and others have joined together for National Dog Bite Prevention Week (April 7 -13).

Homeowners insurers paid out $675 million in liability claims related to dog bites and other dog-related injuries in 2018, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) and State Farm®, the largest writer of homeowners insurance in the United States.

California had the largest number of claims in 2018 followed by Florida. California also had the highest average cost per claim at $45,543.

For more details see our interactive map below.

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, March 29 to April 4

Here are the 5 most clicked on articles from this week’s I.I.I. Daily newsletter.

 

 

To subscribe to the I.I.I. Daily email daily@iii.org.

 

 

Insurance Commissioner challenges Guinness record for tallest politician

istock

On March 27, Guinness World Records named Brooklyn councilman Robert Cornegy as the tallest male politician in the world. But his title was disputed by North Dakota insurance commissioner Jon Godfread who claims that he stands an inch and 3/4 higher than Cornegy’s 6 feet, 10 inches.

Godfread, who played basketball at the University of Iowa, said he didn’t know that “being a tall politician was a thing,” and that he’d probably get in touch with Guinness. A spokeswoman from Guinness said that the organization would be “be happy to receive an application” from Godfread.

Guinness keeps track of a wide range of unusual records. Insurance related records include: The highest ever insurance valuation ($100 million) of a painting for the move of the Mona Lisa from Paris to the U.S. for a special exhibition; Pittsburgh Steelers’ Troy Polamalu highest insured hair ($1 million); and the largest ever life insurance policy ($201 million).

 

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, March 22 to March 28

Here are the 5 most clicked on articles from this week’s I.I.I. Daily newsletter.

To subscribe to the I.I.I. Daily email daily@iii.org.

 

Ask a life insurance agent

photo courtesy of Robert Stevenson

 

The Triple-I blog received the terrific opportunity to ask State Farm life insurance agent, Robert Stevenson, a few questions about getting the most out of the often-misunderstood financial product.

What is your educational background and what was the path that led you to become a life insurance agent?

Robert Stevenson: I grew up in Savannah, Georgia and attended Hampton University in Virginia. I was working on my master’s degree when I accepted an opportunity with State Farm Insurance Corporate Headquarters. My job was to help the company expand its presence on the east and west coast. During that time, I learned about becoming a State Farm agent, and fell in love with it. I worked hard, and in December of 2000, opened my agency in New York, New York. As a State Farm agent, I’m a small business owner – I get to know people on a personal level. Helping them manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams is truly rewarding. I’ve never looked back.

What advice would you give students that are considering becoming life insurance agents?

RS: You have to listen and you have to care. This is more than a job. It’s helping people protect what’s most important to them. People don’t always want to talk about life insurance. It’s uncomfortable. But, let’s be honest. Someday you will die. No one in the history of the world has ever cheated it. That’s why, you have to make sure people are protected, and that they understand the bigger picture. You’re taking care of families and protecting the lifestyle they spent years building. While nothing can bring someone back, a family’s dreams can still be achieved because their loved one had life insurance. It’s truly a gift of love. You need to help people understand this.

What is the most common misconception that your clients have about life insurance?

RS: That they don’t need it. That they have enough. Often, I’ll hear the response, “I have it through my employer.” But, there’s a chance that benefit can be taken away. Also, if you have life insurance though an employer, and you get a new job, you might not receive the same coverage in your new position. Or, if you retire, it’s likely you won’t receive the same amount you once had. It’s wise to be proactive and read the fine print. Health and age also play a role in life insurance. I often hear, “I’ll wait till I’m married or have kids to get it.” Problem is, as we get older, our health tends to decline. Therefore, if you wait to get life insurance, you’ll likely end up paying more for it.

How do you help a client determine how much insurance they need and what type of policy is best for them?

RS: I start by forecasting. I ask customers questions like, “Where do you want to be in five, 10, 20, 30 years? Do you want to be married? Own a business? Have children? Travel? What’s your dream?” It’s vital for people to understand the importance of investing so they can generate more income as the years go by. Life insurance is not an afterthought. It’s the foundation of an investment strategy. You can’t invest in mutual funds, or stocks, or your child’s college, or buy rental properties, etc., if you don’t have the income. If something happens to you – your family is able to replace your income and still achieve their dreams.

It’s also important to help customers understand the difference between term life and whole life. Term does exactly what it sounds like – it covers you for a period of time. If you die within that period of time, your family is covered. But, think about this. Let’s say you’re 35, and you want to buy 20 or 30 years of term life insurance. Do you think you’ll be living 20 or 30 years from now? When I ask people that question, most answer, “Yes.” That’s when I remind them, when 20/30 years goes by and they’re still living, they won’t receive this payout.  Whole life covers you for the entire length of your life. No matter what. It guarantees your family will get paid. It’s more expensive up front, but you’re guaranteeing a payment – it builds value you can cash out.

How does one make sure that their life insurance policy does not get lost and that their beneficiaries get paid as quickly as possible after their death?

RS: When we sell a life policy, we tell our clients, “Make sure your loved ones are aware of the policy and each of you know where important documents are located.” For example, the safe in your house. Also, as life changes, periodic updates with your State Farm agent or financial planner are a smart idea to ensure everyone is on the same page.

What professional achievement are you most proud of?

RS: That’s a tough one. I’d say, when I got my securities license. It allows you to sell packaged investment products like mutual funds and variable annuities. Getting this takes a lot of work and involves rigorous testing. I had one opportunity to pass it. That was a lot of pressure. But it was worth it. Getting my securities license gave me the opportunity to open my office and help people.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

RS: I enjoy reading and golf. Having activities like these lets me to unwind. But more so, I love spending time with my family. I have a son and a daughter who keep me busy. Family time is important. All things in equal parts. That’s what keeps life joyful.

Put a smoke alarm checkup on your spring cleaning list

istock.com

By Lynne McChristian, I.I.I. Non-resident Scholar and Media Spokesperson

Ah, spring! The season of renewal, of fresh beginnings, of flowers in bloom – and of fresh batteries in the smoke alarm. Yes, you probably overlooked that last item, so here’s a reminder to put it on the spring to-do list.

Checking (and changing) the batteries in the smoke alarm is a good springtime habit. Most homes have a smoke alarm, but if you don’t check it with regularity,  you can’t be sure it’s working. It is one of those out-of-sight, out-of-mind things, so here’s a reminder to put your home or business smoke alarm top of mind.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), almost three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or in homes where the smoke alarm was not working. NFPA also points to missing or disconnected batteries as the reason for inoperable smoke alarms. Dead batteries cause 25 percent of smoke alarm failures.

That chirping sound you hear at night? It’s not the first robin of spring. It’s the smoke alarm battery alerting you that it’s time for a change. And, if your smoke alarm is more than 10 years old, replace the entire alarm. It’s inexpensive protection that is worth every cent.

Most insurance companies offer discounts for smoke alarms, particularly monitored systems. After you check the batteries and/or upgrade your smoke alarm, check with your insurer on any possible discount. It might be a small amount, but the alarm itself is big protection – for every season.

 

New York City’s Disaster Resiliency

Istock.com, J. Lazarin, New York City, USA – October 31, 2012: In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

It was a balmy 67-degree day in New York on March 15, which prompted the inevitable joke that since it’s warm outside, then climate change must be real. The wry comment was made by one of the speakers at the New York Academy of Science’s symposium Science for decision making in a warmer word: 10 years of the NPCC.

The NPCC is the New York City Panel on Climate Change, an independent body of scientists that advises the city on climate risks and resiliency. The symposium coincided with the release of the NPCC’s 2019 report, which found that in the New York City area extreme weather events are becoming more pronounced, high temperatures in summer are rising, and heavy downpours are increasing.

“The report tracks increasing risks for the city and region due to climate change,” says Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-chair of the NPCC and senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Earth Institute. “It continues to lay the science foundation for development of flexible adaptation pathways for changing climate conditions.”

“What you can’t measure, you can’t manage,” said Columbia University’s Klaus Jacob, paraphrasing Peter Drucker and making a concise case for the importance of the work the NPCC is doing.

The changes in temperature and precipitation that New Yorkers are experiencing are broadly tracking the climate change projections made by the NPCC in 2015. However, the 2019 report notes that such comparisons should be viewed with caution because of the role that natural variation plays in the short term.

William Solecki, co-chair of the NPCC said “Recent scientific advances have…helped the panel craft new sets of tools and methods, such as a prototype system for tracking these risks and the effectiveness of corresponding climate strategies.”

One such tool is the Antarctic Rapid Ice Melt Scenario, which the NPCC created to model the effects of melting ice sheets on sea level rise around NYC. The model predicts that under a high-end scenario, monthly tidal flooding will begin to affect many neighborhoods around Jamaica Bay by the 2050s and other coastal areas throughout the city by the 2080s.

The NPCC 2019 report recommends that the city establish a coordinated indicator and monitoring system to enable the city and its communities to better monitor climate change trends, impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation measures.

The report also notes the important role of insurance in support of climate change adaptation and mitigation. “Public–private partnerships are essential for facilitating infrastructure resilience, particularly for publicly owned infrastructure systems that often lack resources for resilience improvements. Coordination of insurance and finance is an important future direction to achieve comprehensive resiliency in infrastructure that reduces negative climate change consequences,” said the report.

The I.I.I.’s primer on climate change and insurance issues can be found here.

I.I.I. and the Weather Channel get the word out about flood insurance

How to Get Flood Insurance

Only 12 percent of Americans have flood insurance but many more will need it in a severe weather event. Learn more at iii.org about how they are helping homeowners and renters to obtain it.

Posted by The Weather Channel on Thursday, March 7, 2019

 

To make sure that homeowners are aware of the importance of flood insurance, the I.I.I. recently partnered with the Weather Channel.

A video posted to the Weather Channel’s Facebook page demonstrates just how destructive flooding can be; for example, in the video you can see the devastation from Hurricane Sandy wreaked on Breezy Point, a coastal community in Queens NY.

“What’s remarkable about flood insurance is that only 12 percent of people have it,” says Sean Kevelighan, I.I.I.’s CEO. One misconception that people have about flood insurance is that it’s included in a homeowners policy. But that’s not the case. A separate flood policy must be obtained. Flood insurance is mostly sold by FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program, but some private insurers have begun offering it as well.

For those savvy enough to have purchased the coverage, it made a world of difference. “If we did not have flood insurance we would have been completely dependent on [government assistance]. It would never have been enough to fix out house”, says one resident of Breezy Point.

The video has garnered over a thousand views so far. We hope it leads to more people getting this invaluable protection.  For more information about flood insurance click here.