By Scott Holeman, Media Relations Director, Triple-I
Triple-I’s Declarations of Pride series celebrates and features prominent LGBTQ+ insurance professionals. Meet Ken Ross, Vice President & Counsel at John Hancock Insurance, who says insurance companies are responding to the unique needs of the LGBTQ+ community.
Ken also says Diversity, Equity and Inclusion have never been more important in the workplace. Ken encourages the LGBTQ+ community to consider the insurance industry for rewarding career opportunities.
Ken has 30+ years of legislative and regulatory experience, specializing in state regulatory and legislative relations. Prior to joining John Hancock, he served as President and COO of the Michigan Credit Union League (MCUL), Assistant General Counsel for Citizens Republic Bancorp Holding Company (CRBHC), and Commissioner of the Michigan Office of Financial & Insurance Regulation.
He has degrees from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and Western Michigan University’s Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
The 2021 Atlantic hurricane activity is still expected to be above average, according to a June 3 update released by Colorado State University (CSU) hurricane researchers.
The CSU Tropical Meteorology Project team, led by Triple-I non-resident scholar Dr. Phil Klotzbach, predicts 18 named storms during the season (up from 17 in the previous forecast), eight of which are expected to become hurricanes – four of them major (Category 3, 4 or 5).
The probability of U.S. major hurricane landfall is estimated to be about 135 percent of the long-period average.
The 2021 hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, follows a record-breaking 2020 season. An average season has 12 named storms, six hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
As always, Dr. Klotzbach cautioned coastal residents to take proper precautions as “it only takes one storm near you to make it an active season.”
This Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of summer, many are feeling a renewed sense of hope as COVID-19 infection rates fall and vaccinated individuals are given the green light to travel.
Over 37 million Americans are planning trips of more than 50 miles from their homes this weekend, according to AAA, an increase of more than 60 percent from last year, but still 6 million fewer than 2019’s pre-pandemic travelers on the same weekend.
Drivers are reminded to exercise caution on the roads, as Memorial Day has some of the highest auto accident rates, with alcohol consumption as a major contributing factor.
Triple-I recently spoke with Forbes magazine about avoiding some of the other hazards of summer, including car theft, grill fires, and dog bite liability.
We hope that you take the extra precautions outlined in the Forbes article — as well as review your insurance coverage – and have a safe, healthy summer.
By Marielle Rodriguez, Social Media and Brand Design Coordinator, Triple-I
To celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, we spoke with Joann Wang, Co-Founder and Director of Operations of East Side Stories (ESS), a NYC-based non-profit organization dedicated to sharing the AAPI experience through film, media, and education. ESS brings together local talent, AAPI creatives and filmmakers, AAPI-owned businesses, and other community organizations to create meaningful storytelling and conversations around the AAPI experience.
We spoke to Wang on what inspired her to found ESS, how her crew prepares for pandemic-related liabilities on a film set, and the dogged resilience and solidarity of AAPI small businesses and their supporting communities.
Let’s talk about your background. What inspired you to found East Side Stories (ESS)?
I’m Taiwanese-Mongolian, and I’m a full-time school counselor and a part-time vocational counselor. Shane, our freelance filmmaker, and I started ESS as a passion project. We started doing our “Stories From the Heart” series and interviewing more than 50 Asian Americans on love and what it means to them. We met tons of great people during that project which was back in February 2020. Shortly after, a lot of the hate crimes against Asian Americans really sparked. We saw so many people who were really upset wanting to do something about it. During that time, because of COVID, we had not done anything with ESS. It was still just a YouTube channel.
We had decided to make ESS into a nonprofit organization because we felt that it would be a great way for people to channel their energies and what they want to do to tell Asian American and Pacific Islander stories. You can’t always rally or protest, but you can channel your feelings into a creative project and create something more meaningful, and we figured a nonprofit would be the best way for people to do this.
What is the mission of East Side Stories? What do you hope to achieve and inspire in others through your organization’s work?
ESS’ mission is to serve our creatives and to serve our community through education and storytelling. We hope that ESS is not only going to be a platform where we can spread education and information about being Asian American and Pacific Islander, but that it could be a meeting point for creatives to learn and share information and resources, and to connect with the community. A lot of businesses we see are not able to market themselves, so that’s where ESS would love to step in — “Let’s help you create a fun video to market your business. Let’s tell your story because you’re someone that’s doing amazing work for the community.”
What are some liabilities to think about when working on a film set and working in media production? How do you prepare for these liabilities for your crew and your organization?
We must make sure that our crew members are safe especially because of COVID liabilities, health liabilities, and any type of commercial liabilities. ESS currently operates as a volunteer-based organization so we’re all very bare bones right now. We’ve been using a lot of liability waivers to cover for ESS, but we hope to have more substantial compliance documents in place in the future.
Our Health and Safety Compliance Officer, Tori Wong, is a nurse foremost, and she’s an actress who works in media a lot and is a COVID compliance officer for other big sets. We worked together and created the health and safety protocols, so we follow a lot of what is recommended for standard businesses. For every single shoot that we have, crew members must check in with somebody on set that does COVID compliance. We have COVID compliance officers that go through training. Everyone must wear masks and do temperature checks, and there are particular zones that both talent and crew must stay in.
I know nonprofit insurance and liability is big, but because our organization is so young, and this is all our first time making a nonprofit, it’s been a lot of reading and learning. Taking a stab at the insurance part hasn’t come up yet, but I know it’s coming. We’re still in the process of getting our foundation set up, and then slowly rolling all the compliance into place.
2020 has been a rough year for small business owners, especially those in the Asian American community. Through your encounters and conversations with small business owners and other non-profits, in what ways have AAPI small businesses and the AAPI community demonstrated resilience and solidarity during the pandemic?
We’ve already collaborated with so many organizations and met so many people, and they’re all doing amazing work and bringing together businesses, for example, Welcome to Chinatown, Soar Over Hate, and Asians Fighting Injustice.
AAPI businesses have a fight in them and a huge will to live. That is why we’ve survived for so long, and ESS just wants to capture that. If we don’t amplify what everyone has been doing, people aren’t going to be able to see all the amazing work being done. It will inspire even more organizations to pop up.
Also, no one is afraid to share resources. I can message one organization and say, “Hey, I am trying to connect with someone with an organization who can do XYZ” and they will automatically help me get in touch with them. No one is gatekeeping, and that’s beautiful. That’s what community is about.
Let’s talk about ESS’ upcoming short film “An Essential Delivery”. How does this film capture the challenges and resilience of those working in AAPI small businesses and the gig economy?
This story is about a young woman who lost her marketing job and has to pick up a job as a food delivery worker, and she hides it from her mom, which is not the typical “model minority” story. The film is about essential workers. Shane was the one who came up with the idea after seeing videos of food delivery workers and their hardships. We put together a crew, and for a lot of them it was their first time working on a short. I saw people coming together, and I was blown away by the patience they had and in teaching the newer work crew members. We did it on a very small budget because all the people donated their time. We had around five restaurants that donated their space for us to shoot “An Essential Delivery,” so that was amazing because they didn’t even ask anything back from us.
Let’s talk about your TogethernESS program and your AAPI Community digital series. These provide an opportunity to engage and collaborate with AAPI businesses, organizations, and figures to share their stories. Can you give us insight on the work you do for these?
The TogethernESS program is something that we’re doing for the community. Organizations reach out to us when they want to create something, like a video or graphics, or attain any type of creative service. We can provide them with our nonprofit rate, or we work on a sliding scale with them. We’re still trying to build in a model where we can perhaps provide pro bono. We also want to be able to pay our creatives for their hard work. The TogethernESS program also includes work that we do with Soar Over Hate for their Care Fair event and Asians Fighting Injustice and their rallies. It’s been great so far.
The AAPI Community digital series lives on our YouTube channel. That series is focused on profiles of community members and organizations. When someone on our team has a particular person that they want to do a profile on and it aligns with our mission, we go and cover their story.
What are your goals for ESS in 2021 and beyond? What projects do you have in the works and is there anything you’re particularly excited to share with your audiences?
This year, we’re doing a feature length film documentary on Ace Watanasuparp, the owner of Spot Dessert Bar. Typically, our schedule is three short films a year, and we’re also launching our mentorship program. These are things I’m really excited about for 2022. This year we’ve been shooting a lot of the feature length film, and it’s been really cool to see and connect with all these awesome people. Other than that, just watching the organization grow and seeing and meeting people has been nice and heartwarming.
May is Disability Insurance Awareness Month, an occasion to raise awareness about this underutilized financial product, which is designed to safeguard your income in case you get sick or injured and are unable to work.
Disability insurance, also known as disability income insurance, complements health insurance and is meant to replace lost income and help protect you and your family from an otherwise financially catastrophic illness or injury.
Depending on where you have been employed, whether you’ve served in the military, and the reason you’re unable to work, there are a number of potential sources of disability income.
Employer-paid disability insurance is required in most states, and so is the most common. Most employers provide some short-term sick leave. Many larger employers provide short-term disability (STD) and long-term disability (LTD) coverage as well, typically with benefits of up to 60 percent of salary lasting from five years to age 65. In some cases, LTD insurance is extended for life. Disability benefits from employer-paid policies are subject to income tax.
When you buy a private disability income policy, you can expect to replace from 50 percent to 70 percent of income. When you pay the premiums yourself, disability benefits are not taxed.
Social Security disability benefits may be paid to workers whose disability is expected to last at least 12 months and is so severe that no gainful employment can be performed.
The Department of Veterans Affairs will provide some replacement income for veterans, depending on the nature and circumstances of the disability.
Auto insurance may cover some income loss under the personal injury protection (PIP) portion of the policy if the disability results from an auto accident. As always, this depends on the policy, the insurer, and the circumstances.
Disability insurance provides vital protection for most workers against events that are hard to contemplate. Securing this protection in the event of a serious illness or injury is just as important as insuring your home or car.
Click here to learn more about the types of disability coverage available.
Subtropical Storm Ana formed early on May 22, northeast of Bermuda, becoming the first named storm of the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. The National Hurricane Center upgraded Ana to a tropical storm on the morning of May 23 but it was quickly downgraded to a tropical depression by afternoon.
Ana weakened into a post-tropical cyclone and was expected to dissipate on May 24 as it tracked northeastward into colder Atlantic waters.
This marks the seventh consecutive year in which at least one named storm has formed prior to the start of Atlantic hurricane season, which officially begins June 1. Over the past six years, there have been eight preseason named storms, four of which made landfall in the U.S. In 2020, two tropical storms—Arthur and Bertha—formed in May.
By Katrina Cheung, Communications Manager, Triple-I
As we continue to celebrate AAPI Heritage Month, Triple-I is spotlighting Filipino-American gallery owner, painter, and Covington, Louisiana-native, Marianne Angeli Rodriguez.
Rodriguez spent much of her life living abroad in West Africa, Central America, Europe, and Asia before settling in the U.S. She earned her bachelor’s in media studies and anthropology from the City University of New York at Hunter College, and a degree in fashion design from FIT. After being laid off from two different fashion industry jobs, she worked as a freelancer creating fashion and beauty sketches for magazines, in addition to taking client commissions. She eventually outgrew working in small-scale and shifted to working on larger canvases.
Rodriguez’s art has garnered attention from numerous magazines and has led to various collaborations.
Her work is on permanent display in numerous public installations, including the Sloan Kettering Cancer Centers in New York, Southern Hotel Covington, Magnolia Hotel New Orleans, Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Chicago, Nolé restaurant in New Orleans, and the New Orleans Louis Armstrong International Airport.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Rodriguez about her gallery, her work, how she remained resilient in the face of the pandemic and other setbacks, and how she protects her business from natural disasters.
Tell us about your work and your gallery. How did it all start?
Shortly, after I was laid off, a job opportunity for my husband moved us to a different city and I dedicated the following year to painting out of my dining room. I developed a website to sell my work online, and soon after I rented out a studio to work out of. After three years of working diligently and growing my client-base, I outgrew that space and decided on a new, more prominent, gallery location around the corner. At this point my husband joined me to work on the business full-time as my business partner and gallery director. We signed the lease to this new location two weeks before COVID shutdowns.
Wow, 2020 was such a tough year for small businesses so I can only imagine how daunting it was for you and your husband to open the gallery during the pandemic! Despite the unknown and challenges that the pandemic presented, it seems like the gallery is thriving.
Can you talk about some of the obstacles you’ve faced since opening the gallery and how you have been able to overcome them?
Since we took on a much larger brick and mortar space right in the beginning of the pandemic, our main challenge was the disappearance of foot traffic. We realized that our online presence and web shop was going to be our saving grace so we re-strategized and poured our efforts into marketing, re-designing our e-commerce platform, and becoming more engaged on social media. We also tapped into local partnerships and were able to offer more products and services including custom framing and high-quality canvas prints to diversify our offerings and meet the needs of various art buyers. Since everyone was quarantined and taking on home-improvement projects including decorating, 2020 turned out to be a prosperous year for us as a small business.
Given that you live in a hurricane-prone area, in what ways have you safeguarded yourself and your gallery property against extreme weather?
During hurricane season, with any imminent threats, our typical drill is to secure the outer perimeter of the business by removing objects (like our hanging gallery signage) and using sandbags at entry points to safeguard against flooding. In case of emergency, we have insurance and an evacuation plan.
Art is such an important part of our history and our communities. It tells us stories from all walks of life, including those that might not be told often in mainstream media. As an artist, what do you hope to convey to people with your art?
I’m a colorist, so first and foremost what I wish is to elicit feelings of joy, delight, and positive energy when viewers first come across my work. As a minority based in the South, it’s been a privilege to sprinkle in bits of my Filipino heritage in both the imagery and the titles/stories behind the work – it’s a way to invite others to receive new insights without necessarily speaking so directly about it, and I love the way it opens the door of deeper connections and curiosity.
There’s been a consensus in the AAPI community that many have felt cultural and societal pressures to pursue STEM-related careers.
What advice do you have for anyone that wants to follow their dreams, but feel pressure to follow a certain career path based on societal pressures or maybe even pressure from their family?
My advice for anyone wanting to go “against the grain” is to be fully prepared to and willing to take on the rollercoaster that may lie ahead. Research your industry, know your competition and stay ahead with technology and social media. Take one step at a time, and fully immerse yourself in each evolving chapter. Take note of the hard lessons, be thankful for them as they’re there to help you move closer to the best most professional version of yourself/your business. Build trust by over-delivering on customer service. Practice gratitude daily.
Were there other times in your life that you have personally had to remain resilient despite the challenges ahead? If so, can you share what those experiences were and how that has helped you as an artist and businessowner?
Years ago, when I had just gotten laid off from my job and was dipping my toes into the artworld doing local art fairs, my car was stolen and everything I had invested in for my new venture was gone. It was devastating. My family urged me to move back home and consider a career in the corporate world. I stuck it out and stayed and rebuilt from the ground up. That experience gave me the tenacity I so needed to be fully independent, committed and driven in pursuing my creative path. Later, as I grew more serious in my practice, I got rejected from the galleries I wanted so badly to land a relationship with, but I continued to work on my art, perfecting my process and investing in courses to widen my business knowledge, and ultimately opened -and now operate- a gallery of my own.
What has been the most rewarding part of being a small businessowner?
The most rewarding part of being a small business owner, specifically as an artist, is having complete autonomy over the creative vision being released out into the world. Having the ability to positively impact your community and brighten someone’s day is both empowering and humbling.
May 22 marks the ten-year anniversary of the Joplin, Missouri, tornado – the deadliest single tornado event in U.S. history. In these videos, Triple-I’s Scott Holeman shows how the people of Joplin have recovered and become more resilient.
The EF-5 tornado destroyed thousands of homes and businesses and was the largest insurance event in Missouri history, with insured losses totaling roughly $9 billion (in 2021 dollars).
Survivors of the 2011 tornado say many lessons were learned after the devastating storm. Local insurance experts say the disaster taught the community about the importance of renters insurance and keeping homeowners policies updated.
Today, many Joplin residents prepare a “go-kit” whenever there’s a storm threat.
Numerous public facilities, businesses and residences have added enhanced safety modifications. The high school and hospital are prominent examples.
By Loretta Worters, Vice President, Media Relations, Triple-I
Property/casualty insurers are projected to continue to post slight underwriting profits in 2021, according to a forecast released today by the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) and Milliman.
The forecast projects a 2021 combined ratio of 99, virtually the same as last year. The forecast was revealed during an exclusive, members-only virtual webinar, “Triple-I /Milliman Underwriting Projections: A Look Ahead,” moderated by Triple-I CEO Sean Kevelighan. Early projections for 2022 and 2023 look similar. The combined ratio is the percentage of each premium dollar an insurer spends on claims and expenses.
Premiums are expected to surge 7.1 percent this year, according to the forecast, up from 2.5 percent in 2020, as the combination of an economic recovery and a hard market increase both exposures and rates. A hard market, also known as a seller’s market, occurs when insurance is expensive and in short supply. Premium growth is projected to slow in 2022 and 2023 but remain above 5 percent in both years.
2021 got off to a bumpy start for natural catastrophes. “The industry took a big hit with the Texas freeze in Q1, with overall cat loss estimates in the $15 billion range,” said James Lynch, FCAS, MAAA, senior vice president and chief actuary at the Triple-I. “Most of that was the Texas storm. Q1 losses that big are atypical.” He added that the drought in the West is a continued concern as wildfire season approaches.
Jason B. Kurtz, FCAS, MAAA, a principal and consulting actuary at Milliman, an independent risk management, benefits, and technology firm, said that underwriting results would gradually improve starting next year. And as more people are vaccinated and back to work, the economy should keep humming. “Last year’s recession was unusual in that there really wasn’t anything wrong with the economy until COVID hit. So now, with COVID (hopefully) on the run, the American Rescue Plan well underway, and the possibility of another stimulus at some point later this year, growth should be strong.”
“We anticipate a jump in premium growth this year, thanks to the economic recovery and a hard market,” said Kurtz.
Dr Phil Klotzbach, research scientist in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University and a Triple-I non-resident scholar, has already given his initial forecast for the 2021 Atlantic hurricane season. He noted at the time that 2021 is expected to have above-normal activity, with 17 named storms, eight of which will become hurricanes – and of those eight, four are predicted to become major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5, with winds of at least 111 miles per hour). That compares with the long-term average of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes.
“There are a couple of reasons why we’re forecasting above-normal Atlantic hurricane activity,” said Dr. Klotzbach. “We do not anticipate El Niño conditions this summer and fall,” he said, explaining that El Niño occurs when there is warmer than normal waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific.
“When those El Niño conditions occur, it tends to increase upper-level winds, so winds at 20,000-30,000 feet in the atmosphere tear apart hurricanes in the Caribbean and into the tropical Atlantic. We’ll have a lot more to say when we put out our 2021 hurricane projections on June 3,” Klotzbach stated.
Looking at the Directors & Officers (D&O) market, Dave Moore, FCAS, MAAA, of Moore Actuarial Consulting, LLC, said that security class actions continue to exert upward pressure on both the number and size of claims in the public company D&O market and are expected to continue. “Prior to 2017, there were less than 200 security class actions filed per year, on average. In the last four years, that annual average has doubled to around 400 security class actions. Last year frequency fell, which might have been due to the pandemic. Even so, 2020 activity is still well above average.”
Donna Glenn, FCAS, MAAA, chief actuary, National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI),provided a high-level overview of the latest workers compensation insurance industry results and critical data points that demonstrate the health and resiliency of the system.
“The pandemic has demonstrated that the U.S. workers compensation system is resilient and strong,” she said. “Despite experiencing a 10 percent drop in net written premium amidst the pandemic recession, NCCI reports a calendar year combined ratio of 87, indicating a sign of profitability for carriers. Workers compensation reserves remain robust, with the redundancy growing to $14 billion in 2020.”
Dr. Sam Madden, co-founder and chief scientist from Cambridge Mobile Telematics, a telematics and analytics provider for insurers, rideshares, and fleets, discussed exposure and risk trends in mobility from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that in early March 2020 there was a precipitous drop in driving – nearly 60 percent – as the pandemic hit and the country shut down.
“During the summer of 2020, people began driving more, but overall, miles [driven] still remained depressed. As restrictions loosened and more people became vaccinated, driving returned to near pre-pandemic levels,” he said.
However, while the number of miles driven dropped during the pandemic, speeding spiked 45 percent. “Reduced traffic meant that many drivers could speed, and they did!” Dr. Madden continued. “Speeding remained elevated throughout the pandemic, and remains somewhat elevated today, with levels about 10 percent higher on average than pre-pandemic.”
Dr. Michel Léonard, CBE, vice president and senior economist, Triple-I, noted that the most important issue right now in terms of economics and insurance is the wide range of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and inflation forecasts.
“We’ve never seen GDP forecasts from the Fed and financial institutions ranging from 4 percent to as much as 10 percent. What we can be sure is that the economy has been recovering in Q1 and so far in Q2, but such discrepancies in major economic indicators should be cause for caution, especially as COVID-19 is still an issue here in the U.S. and abroad,” he said.
Amid such wider economic uncertainty, Dr. Léonard said, what may be more helpful for insurance practitioners “is to focus on the insurance sector’s own growth, which outperformed the wider economy by nearly 6 percent in 2020 and is well positioned to do so again in 2021. Another insight is the growing consensus around the upward direction of interest rates which should help lift up net income from last year’s minus 3.8 percent.”
By James Lynch, Chief Actuary, Senior Vice President of Research and Education, Triple-I
You’ve probably been reading news stories about rising inflation, and auto insurance has been pulled into the picture. But that is a little misleading.
Auto insurance rates aren’t soaring. They are returning to normal, pre-pandemic levels.
Consumer prices in April were 4.2 percent higher than a year ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, and its report picked out auto insurance as one of the areas that had “a large impact on the overall increase.”
Auto insurance rates were 2.5 percent higher in April than in March and 6.1 percent higher than a year ago.
That doesn’t mean, though, that the cost of auto insurance is skyrocketing. Remember that a year ago – April 2020 – insurers were busy returning billions of dollars to consumers because of the drastic change in driving patterns the pandemic brought on.
Those givebacks – which eventually totaled $14 billion – drove down the price of insurance, and the official inflation numbers reflected that.
Now driving patterns are returning to pre-pandemic norms – more or less. People are driving somewhat less than before, but they are driving faster and are much more likely to tinker with their smartphones or practice other distracting behaviors.
Premiums are reflecting the new normal, and in terms of the cost of insurance, that looks a lot like the old normal. The price of insurance, using BLS indices, is virtually unchanged from pre-pandemic levels – 0.01 percent higher than it was in March 2020, when the pandemic/recession began.