All posts by Maria Sassian

Is COVID-19 covered by disability insurance?

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Many people are wondering if disability insurance will cover them if they come down with COVID-19. The answer, as is often the case, is a qualified yes.

There are basically three types of disability income insurance: Employer-paid disability insurance, Social Security disability benefits and individual disability income insurance policies.

Short-term disability insurance may cover coronavirus if your illness requires medical quarantine that leaves you unable to complete your work.

For disability coverage to apply “there has to be a medical reason you can’t work” according to Nicholas Mancuso, manager of the disability and advanced planning team at Policygenius. Social quarantines, such as when states mandate that people work from home, do not qualify you for disability benefits.

Some survivors of COVID-19 are reporting lingering symptoms, including fatigue, joint pain, and shortness of breath. These people may be eligible for long-term disability.

“It’s generally more difficult to qualify for long-term disability benefits with the coronavirus because of elimination periods for long-term policies,” said Mancuso.

The elimination period of a disability insurance policy is how long you must be unable to work — for medical reasons — before you can start receiving benefits. Long-term disability policies have elimination periods of at least 90 days.

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 and long-term disability coverage as well, typically with benefits of up to 60 percent of salary lasting from five years to age 65. In some cases, long-term disability insurance is extended for life. Disability benefits from employer paid policies are subject to income tax.

However, individual disability income insurance policies are the best way to ensure adequate income in the event of disability for most workers, even those with some employer-paid coverage. When you buy a private disability income policy, you can expect to replace from 50 percent to 70 percent of income. Insurers won’t replace all your income because they want you to have an incentive to return to work. However, when you pay the premiums yourself, disability benefits are not taxed.

But unfortunately not many people have individual disability income insurance. More than half of U.S. workers forego disability coverage, according to a recent study. And baby boomers, who are more likely to get injured or sick, are even more likely to forego the coverage (7 out of 10).

If you are 40 years old, you have about a 40 percent chance that between now and age 65 you’ll be disabled for 90 days or more for any reason. Injury accounts for 10-15 percent of the reasons why people have long-term disability. Illness is the other 85-90 percent. And if you are disabled for 90 days or more, there is about a 50 percent chance that you’ll continue to be disabled for up to two years, according to Triple-I’s chief economist Dr. Steven Weisbart.

Virtual Discussion: Responding to Disaster During a Crisis

On September 24 a virtual discussion hosted by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Advisory Committee will inform community leaders about how new science and technology applications are enhancing resilience and protecting lifeline systems and networks.

During the discussion experts will describe how technologies can inform risk-based decision-making in areas of neighborhood health monitoring, supply chains, evacuation planning, crisis communications, and information sharing among frontline responders. Innovation in predictive analytics, modeling and simulation, and mobility offer new solutions to tackle immediate challenges and prepare for emerging threats.

The panel will also cover how new public-private partnerships are accelerating new solutions and business models to prepare for day-to-day emergencies.

The discussion will include Michel Léonard, PhD, CBE, Vice President & Senior Economist, Insurance Information Institute; and Richard Seline, Managing Director, ResilientH20Partners.

About the virtual discussion:

September 24, 2020. 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. ET

Click here to register.

Speakers:

David Maurstad, Deputy Associate Administrator, FEMA

Duane Caneva, Chief Medical Officer, DHS Countering WMD Office

Ted Smith, Ph.D., Wastewater Based Epidemiology, Professor of Environmental Medicine, University of Louisville and Advisor to Louisville Mayor, Greg Fischer

Catherine Cross, Deputy Under Secretary, DHS Science and Technology Directorate (S&T)

David Corman, Program Director, Cyber-Physical Systems and Smart and Connected Communities, National Science Foundation

Richard Seline, Executive Director, Accelerate H2O, Houston, Texas

Michel Léonard, Vice President and Senior Economist, Insurance Information Institute

Moderator: David Alexander, Director of Resilience Research and Partnerships, DHS S&T

The Insurance Information Institute’s Resilience Accelerator was created to build awareness and adoption of insurance as a frontline defense against the impact of extreme weather events on households, businesses and communities.

Small businesses share how they prep for and successfully recover from disaster

Young startup coffee cafe owener open and welcome customer. New small business owener.

September is National Preparedness Month, and this years’ theme of “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today” could not be more timely as many areas of the country experience record-breaking wildfires and storms.

On September 16, the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) conducted a live webinar on how to prepare for severe weather, COVID-19 interruptions, and other forms of disaster that can have significant impacts on small businesses.

A recording of the webinar is available here.

The webinar showcased two small businesses’ stories of preparation and recovery from disaster. The webinar also covered what small business loans are available after a disaster, what tools are available to help businesses prepare, and what you need to know about insurance coverage.

Alex Contreras, Director of the Office of Preparedness, Communication and Coordination in the SBA’s Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA), was the first speaker. The SBA offers low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, as well as to homeowners and renters. These loans are the primary source of federal assistance to help private property owners pay for disaster losses not covered by insurance.  Borrowers are required to obtain and maintain appropriate insurance as a condition of most loans.

The SBA can also fund disaster mitigation efforts, such as installing fire-rated roofs, elevating structures to protect from flooding or relocating out of flood zones.

Janice Jucker, co-owner at Three Brothers Bakery in Houston, TX is the  2018 Phoenix Award Winner for Outstanding Small Business Disaster Recovery. After Hurricane Harvey, the bakery had five feet of water. Thanks to a business recovery plan, the business was fully operational after six weeks.

Part of an effective recovery plan is building a recovery team that includes a restoration company (find one now, don’t wait) an accountant, a contractor, an SBA loan officer and an insurance agent. Another important recovery team member is your local lawmaker – know who they are and make sure they know you, regardless of whether you agree with their politics. They can play a key part in making sure you get what you need to recover from a disaster.

Gail Moraton, business resiliency manager at IBHS, talked about the free business continuity planning tool called OFB-EZ (Open for Business E-Z) available from the IBHS.  The first step to planning is to know your risk – both the likelihood of each type of disaster for your location and the amount of damage it could cause your business. Another step is having an up-to-date list of all your employees, vendors and other important contacts. A training exercise is also included with the planning tool.

Alison Bishop, internal operations manager at Spry Health Inc., talked about her company’s use of OFB-EZ. “It takes an overwhelming concept and makes it accessible and achievable,” she said.

Loretta Worters – vice president, media relations at Triple-I, went over different business insurance coverages that are available and pointed out that having the right coverage is a crucial part of disaster recovery, as well as an essential element of an overall business plan.

Like the other speakers, Ms. Worters said having a thorough inventory of all your business assets is of paramount importance. She listed different types of business policies that are available, including: property, business income interruption, extra expense, flood and civil authority. Separate coverage is also available for items that are frequently damaged in a storm, such as fences and awnings.

Click here to listen to a recording of the webinar, which offers many more useful tips for seeing your business through a disaster.

Tropical Storm Beta Moves Toward Texas Coast

The outer bands of Tropical Storm Beta are lashing the Texas coast but official landfall is forecast to be late this evening. Beta is also bringing tropical storm conditions to parts of the southwestern Louisiana coast where 2 to 4 feet of storm surge is possible.

The storm is going to bring heavy rainfall to areas that were hit by Hurricane Laura.

High tide on Tuesday could bring “life-threatening storm surge” in areas of Texas and Louisiana, according to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). “Persons located within these areas should take all necessary actions to protect life and property from rising water and the potential for other dangerous conditions,” NHC said. “Promptly follow evacuation and other instructions from local officials.”

The storm could also create tornadoes near the middle-to-upper Texas coast or the southwestern Louisiana coast, NHC said.

Please click on the links below for Triple-I’s hurricane preparedness guides:

Earthquake Country Alliance’s Minimize Financial Hardship Webinar

The Earthquake Country Alliance will host a webinar on how to be financially prepared for an earthquake as part of its Seven Steps to Earthquake Safety series.

The webinar will focus on Step 4 – Minimize Financial Hardship. It will include tips on organizing important documents, strengthening your property and insurance. Experts listed below will discuss each of these elements, along with “live” demonstrations.

Date:   Wednesday, September 23, 2020 Time: 11am – 12pm PDT 

Presenters:

  • Janet Ruiz (Director – Strategic Communications, Insurance Information Institute)
  • Dante Randazzo (Federal Preparedness Coordinator, FEMA Region 9)
  • Janiele Maffei (Chief Mitigation Officer, California Earthquake Authority)
  • Glenn Pomeroy (Chief Executive Officer, California Earthquake Authority)
  • Randy Braverman (Project Manager Earthquake Brace + Bolt Program, Safe-T-Proof)
  • Tim Kaucher (Engineering Manager Southwestern U.S., Simpson Strong-Tie)

Register to attend

You can view recordings, presentations, and other resources for previous webinars:

Step 1 – Secure Your Space

Step 2 – Plan to Be Safe

Step 3 – Organize Disaster Supplies

Poll: Homeowners Gain
in Disaster Prep; Coverage Understanding Still Lags

The 2020 Triple-I Consumer Poll found that homeowners are protecting their properties against disasters like flooding and hurricanes at a higher rate than previously reported, a welcome development as the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season got off to an early start and is expected to produce a higher-than-average number of storms.

 “The insurance industry’s focus on resilience is starting to pay dividends as more Americans recognize the very real risks their residences face from floods, hurricanes, and other natural disasters,” said Sean Kevelighan, CEO, Triple-I. “There is still time to act. Hurricane Sally today became the eighth named storm to make landfall in 2020 but the Atlantic hurricane season continues through the end of November.”

However, the poll also found that greater consumer understanding on insurance coverage is still needed.

In something of a surprise, 27 percent of homeowners surveyed reported they have flood insurance, the highest level of flood coverage reported since the Triple-I began asking Americans this question in 2007. Most insurance industry and FEMA National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) sources estimate anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of U.S. residences are covered under a flood insurance policy.

It is possible a number of Triple-I Consumer Poll respondents with homeowners insurance believe they have flood coverage when they actually do not. The discrepancy between those who have flood insurance and those who think they do gives insurers an opportunity to inform their customers about the need to purchase flood insurance, either from the NFIP or a private insurer, according to the Triple-I.

In addition to floods and hurricanes, the poll looked at how Americans assessed their risks from wildfires and earthquakes and surveyed the percentage of U.S. drivers who received auto insurance premium relief this year after the pandemic reduced miles driven nationwide. 

The poll was conducted in July and is available here.

Ahead of Hurricane Sally’s Rains, Many Lack Flood Insurance

As Hurricane Sally slowly moves over the Gulf Coast in the next few days, historical flooding is predicted from rainfall for parts of Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Florida and the Carolinas.

National Weather Service published a map of areas in Gulf Coast states most at risk for flash floods. Triple-I estimated the percentage of properties in these counties that are covered by flood insurance and found that purchase rates are remarkably low in some areas.  In Taylor County, GA for example, just 0.09 percent of properties are insured against flooding.

Standard homeowners and renters insurance policies do not cover flooding. The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and a growing number of private companies sell the coverage. However, NFIP policies purchased now would take 30 days to take effect. Private companies have shorter waiting periods, about 14 days.

To see our interactive map click here.

For more information on flood insurance click here.

Hurricane Sally Makes Landfall as Category 2 Storm

Hurricane Sally made landfall this morning near Gulf Shores, Alabama, as a Category 2 storm with sustained winds of 105 mph and higher gusts.  The storm threatens extremely heavy rainfall and catastrophic floods for miles. Dr. Philip Klotzbach, Triple-I non-resident scholar and Colorado State University atmospheric scientist, gives an update on the storm in the video above.

For safety tips click here.

Is Your Business Ready for Disaster? National Preparedness Month Webinar

September 16, 2020 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

This year’s National Preparedness Month theme of “Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today” has never been more appropriate. Join the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), the Small Business Administration (SBA), and the Insurance Information Institute (Triple-I) during National Preparedness Month for a live webinar on how to prepare for severe weather, COVID-19 interruptions, and other forms of disaster that can have a significant impact on small businesses.

The webinar will showcase small businesses as they share their stories of preparing for and successfully recovering from disaster. In addition to these stories, the webinar will also cover what small business loans are available after a disaster, what tools are available to help businesses prepare, and what you need to know about insurance coverage.

SPEAKERS

Gail Moraton, CBCP – Business Resiliency Manager at IBHS

Alison Bishop, Internal Operations Manager at Spry Health, Inc. (https://spryhealth.com/)

Alejandro Contreras – Director of the Office of Preparedness, Communication and Coordination in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Office of Disaster Assistance (ODA)

Janice Jucker – Co-Owner at Three Brothers Bakery, Houston, TX – 2018 Phoenix Award Winner for Outstanding Small Business Disaster Recovery (https://3brothersbakery.com/)

Loretta Worters – Vice President, Media Relations at Triple-I

From hurricanes to wildfire, tomorrow’s webinar with IBHS, Triple-I and Small Business Administration will cover all disasters and how you can prepare your business.

Register now at: http://bit.ly/npm-webinar

Student Hacker Teams Showcase Their Winning Skills at PennApps 3rd Annual Hack-for-Resilience Competition

From Friday, September 11 to Sunday, September 13, the third annual the Hack-for-Resilience competition (“H4R”) was hosted by Wharton Risk Center and the Insurance Information Institute’s (“Triple-I”) Resilience Accelerator as part of the PennAppsXXI hackathon. This year’s competition yielded an impressive array of powerful data, robotics and AI solutions, as well as unique perspectives on catastrophe preparedness and mitigation from the next generation of innovators and leaders.

Organized into two categories—Best Overall Hack for Resilience and Best Application of Insurtech—Hack-for-Resilience III was a virtual event conducted over 36 hours spanning 8:00 pm Friday night through 8:00 am Sunday morning. Students used Slack, Zoom and HopIn digital collaboration platforms, to recruit and select teammates, ideate, seek guidance from mentors, and produce and demonstrate hacks.

This year’s H4R attracted 38 teams from as far away as British Columbia, Brasil and India. Some interesting trends emerged: For 2020, several hacks used gamification—applying the principles and characteristics of video gaming to tasks and problem-solving—as a technique to teach and test catastrophe resilience. This year also saw numerous student innovators drawing inspiration from their own families’ recent natural disaster experiences.

A panel of judges that included Dr. Carolyn Kousky, Wharton Risk Center’s Executive Director and Dr. Michel Leonard, the Triple-I’s Vice President and Senior Economist, selected first- and second-place winning hacks in both categories. They are:

BEST APPLICATION OF INSURTECH

Winner: INSURA

Developed as a way to get households into a “resilience frame of mind,” INSURA uses location and historical loss data, to incentivize catastrophe resilience by making a game of preparedness and mitigation. Users enter information about their homes and known risks, and INSURA suggests mitigation activities and common household maintenance chores. Players are scored by calculated potential insurance premium savings.

Runner-up: CLAIM CART

Created in response to recent wildfires, CLAIM CART makes it easier for users to file claims for insured losses by guiding them step-by-step through creating an effective household inventory to receive maximum payout for their lost possessions. The app works by querying insurer and public loss and item pricing data to help people prepare for a disaster by more accurately presenting and organizing information about the contents of their home.

BEST OVERALL HACK-FOR-RESILIENCE

Winner: AIR.LY

Inspired by the development team members experiences during recent California wildfires, AIR.LY is billed as “the one-stop shop [for finding] safe outdoor retreats during wildfires.” AIR.LY helps delivers vital, in-real-time help to an often-overlooked group: persons afflicted with respiratory issues or other health complications.

Runner-up: Saving Our Souls (S.O.S.)

Designed and built by a team of high-schoolers, S.O.S. is story-mode game that allows players to choose disaster scenarios that present multiple options to instruct on fire and flood safety, as well as effective preparedness and evacuation practices.

First place-winning team members will each receive a $200 Amazon gift card for their winning hacks, while the runners-up each will receive a $100 Amazon gift card. New for 2020 is an additional reward for first place winners, entry into a Resilience Accelerator Lightning Rounds ideas showcase, where teams will demo their winning hacks to a panel of insurance innovation leaders and investors.

The Wharton Risk Center and the Triple-I wish to again extend our thanks to all who contributed to making Hack-for-Resilience III and PennAppsXXI a rousing success!

By James Ballot,  Senior Advisor, Strategic Communications, Triple-I