National Flood Insurance Program take-up rates in select Florida counties

Hurricane Michael is approaching the Florida Panhandle on October 10 as very dangerous Category 4 storm. The map below shows the percentages of properties in high-risk counties that have National Flood Insurance Program flood policies. None of the counties most exposed to storm surge have a take-up rate above 32 percent, and in Liberty County, only 0.6 percent has insurance through NFIP.

The NFIP currently has about 85 percent of the flood insurance market which private companies have shunned for many years. But private companies, including innovative new start-ups like the one described here, are now entering the market and giving consumers a variety of options.

 

Hurricane Michael: The top-10 insurers in impacted states

Hurricane Michael is nearing landfall on the Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday October 10. The storm is bringing damaging wind gusts and flooding to Florida and Alabama, where a state of emergency has been declared, and heavy rains from the storm are expected in the Carolinas and Georgia.

Preliminary estimates from CoreLogic® show that 57,002 homes in the Florida Gulf Coast are at potential risk of storm surge damage from Hurricane Michael based on its projected Category 3 status at landfall. The total reconstruction cost value of these homes is approximately $13.4 billion. This is likely to change as the storm develops.

I.I.I.’s Hurricane Fact Files for Florida, Alabama, Georgia and the Carolinas include the top 10 property insurers for each state.

Hurricane Michael: Dos and Don’ts

be safe out there.

If you live in the projected path of Hurricane Michael, you should be prepping your home and finalizing your emergency and evacuation plans. The storm has grown to Category 2 – and there are concerns that it’ll be a Category 3 by landfall.  

Here are some Dos and Don’ts to consider for prepping and riding out the storm.  

Don’t: 

  • Don’t go outside during the storm. This is a no-brainer. Even a Category 1 hurricane can reach sustained winds of 74 mph. Category 5 winds are over 156 mph. Wind speeds like this can turn even small debris into deadly missiles. And don’t be fooled by the eye of the storm – there will be a period of calm before the hurricane force winds return from the opposite direction.  
  • Don’t grill indoors. If your power goes out, don’t be tempted to throw some steaks onto a grill indoors. Charcoal or gas grills can release deadly levels of carbon monoxide.
  • Don’t drink non-bottled or untreated water. Flood waters are often filled with bacteria and other contaminants – including sewage. Don’t drink tap water – and don’t drink any water exposed to flood water, including bottled water. The FDA has tips on how to make your tap water safe to drink.
  • Don’t drink alcohol. I repeat: Don’t drink alcohol during a hurricane. You never know when you will need to evacuate at a moment’s notice or deal with a life-threatening emergency. You’re going to want all your wits about you while the hurricane is raging – lives could depend on it, yours included. That’s why some jurisdictions will ban alcohol sales prior to a hurricane.  

Do: 

  • Do stock up on lots of water. The CDC recommends at least 5 gallons of water per person. You may also want to buy iodine tablets to clean drinking water.  
  • Do make sure you have more to eat than chips and salsa. Or bread, for that matter – you’re going to want to have lots of non-perishables with nutritional value, especially canned foods. A minimum 3 to 5-day supply per person is recommended. 
  • Do prepare your house properly. Clear your yard of furniture or anything else that could blow away. Cover your windows and doors using storm shutters or plywood – and stay away from windows and doors during the storm, if you can. Make sure your carbon dioxide detector has enough battery life to prevent CO poisoning. (Check out a longer list for house prep here.) 
  • Do be responsible and prepare for the worst. Make sure you have emergency and evacuation plans in place before the storm hits. Communicate these plans to everyone at your house. Find out where the nearest storm shelter is. Keep track of the storm. Have flashlights and extra batteries ready. Buy a first aid kit. Ready.gov has more advice here 

These are not exhaustive lists. Make sure to check governmental information for help on prepping for a hurricane. And be safe out there. Hurricanes are not a joke.

What will legal marijuana mean for Canada’s road safety?

don’t drive stoned.

As you’ve probably heard, recreational marijuana will be legal across Canada come October 17, 2018. Will stoned driving increase? Will this lead to more accidents and fatalities?

We can’t divine the future, of course.  But perhaps we can learn something from the past. Did roads become more dangerous after states began legalizing recreational pot in the U.S.?

The short answer: probably, to some degree.

  • The more stoned a driver is, the more likely she is to be involved in an accident. Motor and cognitive skills are important for safe driving. Getting stoned makes both these skills worse – and the more stoned a person is, the more these skills deteriorate.
  • The number of “THC-positive” drivers on the road increased after legalization. In Washington state, at least. There’s evidence that the percentage of stoned drivers went up noticeably after the state legalized recreational pot.
  • Fatal crashes involving drivers who tested positive for THC increased. Some studies indicate that more people with “detectible” levels of THC in their bloodstreams were involved in fatal accidents after legalization.
  • Collision claim frequency appears to have increased. Early analysis suggests that states with legal marijuana have higher rates of car collisions than they would have had without legalization.

There is an important caveat to all this. You’d think that figuring out when someone is stoned would be easy. It’s not. Unlike alcohol, measuring marijuana impairment is complicated. THC can remain in a user’s bloodstream for days, even weeks, after getting high. Having THC in her bloodstream at the site of an accident does not automatically mean a driver was stoned at the time of a crash.

To make matters worse, to what degree marijuana impacts one person’s driving skills is also not so clear-cut as you’d think. Marijuana impacts different people differently. Researchers are currently trying to figure out how to account for things like THC tolerance when they measure how much marijuana increases crash risks.

But despite these complications, most evidence suggests that stoned driving is a bad idea – it endangers the driver, passengers, and other drivers. For this reason, Canadian provinces have begun revising their impaired driving laws to come down harder on stoned driving.

So what does this mean for road safety in Canada? It’s still too early to tell, but marijuana legalization in the U.S. should serve as a warning.

Blue Marble and Nespresso launch parametric weather insurance pilot for smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia

Blue Marble Microinsurance and Nespresso have developed  a pilot program to bring weather index insurance to coffee farmers in Colombia, according to a recent Artemis blog.

Coffee crops are exposed to great risk from weather conditions, and farmers in developing countries often lack insurance options. The program provides coverage for excess rainfall and drought during the developmental stages in which coffee is most vulnerable.

Satellite technology is used to obtain the data required to create the weather indices against which the parametric policies can be triggered. If excess rainfall or drought occurs in a covered area, payments can be made automatically and quickly without the need for time-consuming claims assessment.

“This pilot initiative helps to establish a support mechanism for smallholder coffee farmers in Colombia so that they can continue to thrive in the face of climate change,” said Guillaume Le Cunff, President and CEO of Nespresso USA.

The program is a good example of the growth of microinsurance, which provides affordable insurance coverage to low income populations in developing counties.

To learn more about microinsurance, click here.

 

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, October 1 to October 4

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Survey: People are aware of cyberrisks, but many aren’t doing anything about them

even your coffee maker can get hacked these days.

A lawyer once warned me during a seminar that I should never, ever send an email – ever. “Get on a phone instead,” he counseled. (I assume he hadn’t watched The Wire.) 

Impossible to follow as his advice was, it stuck with me because he was right, in a way. If there’s anything we should’ve learned after all the data breaches these past few years, it’s that nothing about our online lives is safe from prying eyes. Not Social Security numbersNot medical records. And definitely not our social media activity 

People know the risks. The good news is that many American consumers are aware that their connected lives are incredibly vulnerable. According to a recent Insurance Information Institute and J.D. Power 2018 Consumer Cyber Insurance and Security Spotlight SurveySM, almost seven out of 10 connected technology owners (69 percent) are not comfortable sharing personal information on social media such as Facebook and Instagram. 

But behavior is slow to change. The bad news is that only about a third changed the way they used social media or connected technology after learning about recent data abuses and breaches. 

And it’s even more alarming that fully 85 percent of surveyed connected technology owners either don’t have cyberrisk insurance or don’t know if they do.  

Education and insurance are important. Just like in real life (wear a helmet, everybody!), leading a safe online life starts with education about the risks involved. That education includes learning how insurance can help. Insurers are in a unique position to spearhead these education efforts – people will often turn to their insurance company after they’ve suffered losses from a data breach.  

But consumers first need to learn about the cyber insurance options out there that can help immensely after a hack. For that to happen, insurers need to demonstrate to consumers the relatively inexpensive and valuable coverage that is available to protect them.  

The alternative is for all of us to go back to sending letters by snail mail – or, if a certain lawyer is to be believed, never writing anything down at all.  

People Get Hacked. Insurance Can Help.

get protected.

It’s October – and that means it’s National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

The National Cyber Security Alliance has dedicated the first week to making homes safe from hacking. And for good reason. Families are increasingly living connected lives: on social media, in video games, and through “smart” home technology like connected thermostats or burglar alarms.

So-called “smart tech” (otherwise known as the Internet of Things) is only getting more popular: three out of five Americans have connected technology in their homes, according to a recent Insurance Information Institute and J.D. Power 2018 Consumer Cyber Insurance and Security Spotlight SurveySM.

Smart tech is convenient and efficient. Why not buy a thermostat that can automatically adjust the temperature to save you money?

Your smart tech can be hacked. But convenience can be costly. Hackers are getting more sophisticated. Your smart security system might discourage burglars – but not hackers. Hackers can use your smart thermostat to attack major websites, which is what happened in several major hacks.

Nearly a third of the smart tech owners surveyed said they have been identity theft victims.

People aren’t covered for cyberrisk. More than four out of five American consumers who own connected devices either lack insurance to protect them from cyberthreats or do not know if they are covered – and over 75 percent said they don’t plan to pay more for cyberrisks coverages.

That’s not great. Cyberrisk coverages are usually fairly inexpensive, sometimes as low as $30 per year. For that low price consumers can often get help for a range of cyber threats, including identity theft, cyberbullying, and ransomware (depending on the individual policy).

Education about cyberrisks is crucial. It’s a simple problem: People often don’t have cyberrisks coverage because they don’t know much about cyberrisks. Which also explains why many cyber-attacks are essentially “user error” – for example, a hacker sends a disguised email and a user clicks on a link, downloading malicious code onto their computer. Or someone buys a smart tech device and doesn’t change the factory password.

Getting educated about the risks of hacking is the first step to protecting your data. The next step is to use security tools. One such tool is insurance.

Insurance helps. Insurers need to make that clear. Whether as an add-on coverage to a homeowners policy or as a stand-alone policy, cyberrisks insurance can help protect you if you’re hacked. But the I.I.I/J.D. Power survey found that many people don’t know about this kind of insurance.

Insurers need to help educate their customers about the cyberrisks they face. Then they can help their customers understand why insurance can be a low-cost tool to protect their identities and assets.

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, September 21 to September 27

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