Category Archives: Education

Ready For Zombies, Hurricanes, Floods?

Preparing for hurricane season? Or for an invasion of zombies? Either way, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has you covered.

In a blog post earlier this week, the CDC did what many emergency preparedness messages fail to do  Ã¢â‚¬“ it got our attention:

There are all kinds of emergencies out there that we can prepare for. Take a zombie apocalypse for example. That’s right, I said z-o-m-b-i-e a-p-o-c-a-l-y-p-s-e. You may laugh now, but when it happens you’ll be happy you read this, and hey, maybe you’ll even learn a thing or two about how to prepare for a real emergency.”

The CDC went on to advise  us to have an emergency kit on hand at home:

This includes things like water, food, and other supplies to get you through the first couple of days before you can locate a zombie-free refugee camp (or in the event of a natural disaster, it will buy you some time until you are able to make your way to an evacuation shelter or utility lines are restored).”

Once you’ve made your emergency kit, the CDC  wisely suggests you  sit down with your family and come up with an emergency plan. This includes where you would go and who you would call if zombies started appearing outside your door step. You can also implement this plan if there is a flood, earthquake, or other emergency.

While  the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)  may not have tips for managing zombie risk,  we do  recommend you have an up-to-date home inventory to be prepared for any disaster. To help you create this inventory, check out our free online home inventory tool Know Your Stuff.

If you're    ready for a zombie apocalypse, then you're ready for any emergency.

Cyberbullying: Prevention and Response

The problem of school bullying was the subject of a recent post  here at Terms + Conditions. In it we noted that with increased access to and use of technology, cyberbullying is a growing concern.

An article in the New York Times over the weekend reports that as bullies go digital, parents are struggling to know the best way to respond. As the NYT states:

It is difficult enough to support one’s child through a siege of schoolyard bullying. But the lawlessness of the Internet, its potential for casual, breathtaking cruelty, and its capacity to cloak a bully’s identity all present slippery new challenges to this transitional generation of analog parents.†

According to the NYT, it’s not just about parents being technologically a step behind or failing to acknowledge the issue. Many struggle with how to supervise their children’s’ Internet activities, and how to proceed in the event their child is the victim of an attack.

Part of the problem is also that schools may be reluctant to get involved when the behavior occurs off-campus, and going the law enforcement route may involve a protracted process.

What about the legal environment? According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, at last count 44 states had laws regarding bullying, and 30 of those included some mention of electronic forms of harassment. Almost all of these laws direct school districts to have a bullying and harassment policy, though few delineate the actual content of such policies.

The Center advises educators, parents and law enforcement officers to carefully review and understand the statutes in their own state to understand the formal legal implications of participating in cyberbullying.

Check out  the Center’s  fact sheet on cyberbullying: identification, prevention and response.

Halloween Safety

Because Halloween falls on a Sunday this year the usual costume parties and trick-or-treating may extend over the weekend. While this makes for a fun time, it also means this Halloween has the potential to be particularly hazardous.

Luckily, insurers have some tips to help make the holiday a little less spooky:

Geico reports that with so many people enjoying the holiday, it’s necessary to be cautious whether trick-or-treating on foot or behind the wheel of your car. The U.S. Department of Transportation notes that the most dangerous time on Halloween for young pedestrians is between 4 and 8 p.m., prime trick-or-treating time. Geico urges drivers to watch for young children running in the streets, keep driving distractions such as cell phones out of reach, and to  slow down.

The number of people in California hit by cars jumps 25 percent on Halloween vs. the rest of October, according to Allstate Insurance Co. The insurer asks Californians to keep their eyes on the road whether driving or on foot during Halloween. It offers the following three safety tips: don’t text and walk; don’t text and drive; don’t drink and drive.

Anyone hosting a Halloween party should take steps to limit their liquor liability and make sure they have the property insurance, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.). I.I.I. vice-president Loretta Worters notes that depending on the jurisdiction, violations of social host laws can lead to civil or criminal fines, imprisonment and monetary damages awards. So, if you’re throwing a party where alcohol is served, be a responsible host.

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

YouTube and Insurance

As many of you know, our mission at the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) is to improve public understanding of insurance – what it does and how it works.

We’re constantly looking at new ways to demystify what can be a complex topic to a broad range of constituents. Social media tools can help us in that effort.

In addition to our two blogs (Terms + Conditions and Straight Talk), I.I.I. has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel, as well as numerous Twitter feeds  (@iiiorg @Bob_Hartwig @JeanneSalvatore @LWorters @III_Research).

But this week the actuarial profession took us to a new level by showing how a catchy theme song and YouTube can work to powerful effect.

As of this morning, there have been more than 3,200 views of the What is An Actuary Song below.

(Hat tip to @reinsurancegirl for spreading the news via @Actpub)

Just imagine what “An insurer is your hero† theme tune could do to show the important role the insurance industry plays in taking risk.


School Bullying: Managing the Risk

The problem of school bullying has become a hot topic in recent weeks after a number of high profile cases of young people committing suicide after bullying incidents.

In 2007, about 32 percent of students ages 12-18 reported having been bullied at school during the school year, according to a school crime survey from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Bullying generally is defined as an attack or intimidation with the intention to cause fear, distress or harm by an individual or group usually repeated over time that involves an imbalance of power. The act of bullying can take various forms, including physical, verbal and psychological acts.

With increased access to and use of technology, cyberbullying  is a growing concern. Cyberbullying has been defined as an aggressive, intentional act by an individual or group using electronic forms of contact, repeatedly over time against a victim who cannot easily defend him or herself.

The beginning of a new school year reminds us of the everyday risks that school-age children face and in turn the growing liability exposure facing parents and schools.

For example, a recent Chubb survey of parents of school-age children found that more than two-thirds (67 percent) agreed that today’s kids are exposed to more risks than they encountered during their own childhoods.

However, the same study revealed that parents tend to focus on severe but rare incidents, rather than everyday risks like bullying.

Some 38 percent ranked kidnapping/abduction as the “traditional† risk that concerns them the most, above car accidents (30 percent) and harassment/bullying (22 percent).

For technology-related hazards, parents listed online predators as the top threat (38 percent), followed by identity theft (25 percent), cyberbullying (18 percent) and sexting (14 percent).

It’s not just parents that are dealing with how to manage this risk. School districts increasingly are facing lawsuits due to their alleged failure to take action when notified of bullying incidents.

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) notes that since 2001, more than half the states have enacted legislation to combat bullying. But NCSL also observes that state policies vary widely in how they address bullying.

A new student risk guide by Chubb offers tips on back-to-school safety and helps parents protect their kids against these risks.

The Public Entity Risk Institute (PERI) lists the numerous Web resources available for training and information on combating bullying and school violence.

Learning from Lohan

I regularly tell friends there’s always an insurance angle, no matter the event. And so it is with Lindsay Lohan’s latest fall from grace.

As Lohan’s jail time continues to fuel the news headlines, our colleagues at the Insurance Information Network of California (IINC) remind us that we can learn from Lohan’s mistakes, at least from the insurance perspective.

As reported by Insurance Journal, IINC has determined the average insurance premium difference Lohan could pay for auto insurance because of her risky behavior based on her profile, ZIP code, vehicle model and current record of two DUIs and an at-fault car accident.

A single, 24-year-old female who lives in the Beverly Hills ZIP code of 90210 (Lohan lives in a condo in West Hollywood) and drives a 2009 Mercedes SL550 convertible would have access to 100 percent of the insurers offering auto coverage in California, according to IINC.

With a clean driving record, Lohan would pay approximately $2,075 every six months for a full coverage policy. But with an at-fault accident and two DUIs on her driving record, the six month premium would more than triple to $7,408.90.

That’s an annual premium of nearly $15,000.

Lohan would also only have access to less than 10 percent of the companies in California offering auto coverage, because most of the major insurers in the state would consider her too great a risk. IINC says it’s likely she would have to purchase coverage for bad drivers through the Department of Insurance.

I.I.I. research indicates the average American driver spends about $850 a year on auto insurance. The better your driving record, the lower your premium.

IINC’s Pete Moraga sums up the situation:

“If we take risks and make bad decisions, our insurance will be much more expensive.”

Check out this I.I.I. video offering five tips on saving money on auto insurance.

CA Quake Map to Aid Disaster Planning

The Los Angeles Times reports that more than 50 new surface earthquake faults have been discovered in California over the last two decades, according to a new state map produced by the California Geological Survey. The map is the first in 16 years, and offers a sober reminder of California’s quake risks, the LA Times article notes.

Its release comes just a few weeks after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck northern Baja California on April 4. The quake, which was centered south of California’s border with Mexico, swayed buildings as far away as San Diego, Loss Angeles and Arizona.

The LA Times observes that the new faults identified by the map range from small ones that don’t pose much threat for major temblors to very large ones:

Most of the faults have been known to researchers, and information on them is contained in scientific files. But state officials and quake experts hope that putting all the faults on one map will educate the state about quake risk zones and help.†

Release of the map is timely. We’ve already seen a number of major quakes in the early part of 2010, including an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Central Chile, and a 7.0 magnitude earthquake in Haiti in January. On April 14, a magnitude 7.1 earthquake jolted Qinghai Province in the northwestern region of China, causing significant damage and loss of life. Check out I.I.I. earthquake facts and stats.

Prepare for Earthquakes

California residents are the weakest link in earthquake preparedness and more than 60 percent have not done enough to make their homes safer and guard their personal finances, according to a newly released study. The California Earthquake Preparedness Survey conducted by the University of California Los Angeles School of Public Health for the state Emergency Management Agency found that many California residents have taken the easy route to prepare for a large-scale quake, by collecting supplies and making back-up copies of important documents. However, they have not taken additional steps to prepare such as securing the contents of their home or purchasing earthquake insurance. Key takeaways of the study include: fewer than 20 percent of households have structurally reinforced their homes or had their homes inspected for earthquake resistance; fewer than 20 percent of Californians have purchased earthquake insurance; only 40 percent keep the recommended minimum of three gallons of water stored per person; only 40 percent of Californians have made family disaster plans. A press release quotes Secretary Matthew Bettenhausen of the California EMA: “The recent earthquakes in Chile and Haiti are unwelcome reminders of the devastating impact earthquakes can have on people and communities. It calls attention to the need for Californians to do even more to prepare for the big one.† Check out a March 8 article in the Sacramento Business Journal for more on this story. An I.I.I.  brief explains how California residents can purchase earthquake insurance from the California Earthquake Authority (CEA). Check out the I.I.I. online publication Firm Foundation to see how insurers support the California economy and I.I.I. facts and stats on earthquakes.


As a second major snow storm in less than a week hits the Northeast, the National Weather Service has issued blizzard warnings that extend into New York City, where it says  10 to 16 inches of snow can be expected. As of 4am EST, winter storm warnings and winter weather advisories were in effect across a region stretching from near Chicago through the Ohio Valley all the way into southern New England. Snowfall totals late Tuesday and into early Wednesday at Baltimore, MD, Washington, DC and Wilmington, DE from this most recent storm have made the winter of 2009-2010 the snowiest on record for these cities, according to the National Weather Service. This severe weather map from Weather Underground ( shows the extent of the winter weather (areas in white)  across the Northeast.


Winter storms can be costly for insurers. Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research shows that winter storms result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually and are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes. Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property. From 1999-2008 winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses. Winter storms also account for a large proportion of homeowners claims each year. In 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for approximately 22 percent of all homeowners claims in the country. Check out I.I.I. info on insurance coverage for winter-related damage.

Winter Storm Watch

A major winter storm barreled up the East coast over the weekend, blanketing states from the mid-Atlantic to New England bringing record snowfalls to some regions. According to reports, the storm caused widespread power outages, treacherous driving conditions, and was blamed for at least six deaths. It’s easy to forget that winter storms can pack a powerful punch, for insurers in particular. According to Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) research winter storms result in about $1 billion in insured losses annually and are the third largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tropical storms and tornadoes. Melting snow can inflict significant damage to property. From 1999-2008, winter storms resulted in more than $7 billion in insured losses. Winter storms also account for a large proportion of homeowners claims each year. In 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for approximately 22 percent of all homeowners claims in the country. So what are the coverage issues for policyholders? Standard homeowners policies cover property damages caused by burst pipes, ice dams, wind and hail and damages from weight of ice or snow. However, property damage caused by flooding (water that comes into the home from the ground up) is typically covered by a separate flood insurance policy. Check out I.I.I. info on flood insurance.