Roundup: How the federal government shutdown is affecting its agencies

By Jennifer Ha,  Head of Editorial and Publications, Insurance Information Institute

According to the New York Times, the current shutdown is one of the longest ever. While there have been 21 gaps in government funding since 1976, the level of shutdown has varied. Before 1981 most agencies could continue operations by cutting non-essential functions. In the media, various reports have emerged how different agencies have been affected.

While some agencies also receive funding from elsewhere, and have limited operations, others have mandated employee furloughs. On January 9 Dr. Scott Gottlieb, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, announced that the agency had ceased routine food safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and many other foods at high risk of contamination, such as clams, mussels, oysters and other bivalves. The seafood inspection program is run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, whose inspectors are working without pay, as are meat and poultry inspectors. 

The National Transportation Safety Board has been unable to investigate 10 new crashes in which 22 people died, and the circumstances of seven plane crashes in which 13 people were killed, two fatal railroad crashes, a highway crash in which seven people died and an incident in which a school bus collided with a tractor-trailer, injuring 15. According to the Transportation Security Administration, there has been “no degradation in security effectiveness” and staffing is adequate, amid warnings from U.S. airport security workers and air traffic controllers that security and safety could be compromised and employee call-outs.

On Dec. 28 the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reversed its decision to halt the issuing and renewal of federal flood insurance plans, which could have disrupted up to 40,000 new home sales each month, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). However, rural and suburban homebuyers who depend on mortgage loans from the U.S. Department of Agriculture through private lenders have been stymied by the shutdown. The post-Hurricane Maria recovery will be unaffected, according to a FEMA spokesperson.

The newly created Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency will be unable to protect against cyber and physical threats to infrastructure, according to a report. Another report from NBC News provides an overview of how other agencies are being affected.

 

The Insurance Information Institute’s 37th Annual Property/Casualty Joint Industry Forum

Next Thursday (1/17) the I.I.I. will be proud to host the 37th Annual Property/Casualty Joint Industry Forum, an annual gathering of insurers, reinsurers and other industry leaders.

The event allows top executives in the insurance industry to network, exchange vital knowledge, and discuss emerging trends that will impact the future of the industry.

With this year’s theme of ‘Leading the Way Forward,’ insurance leaders will provide helpful insight on how the industry is paving the way into the future.

JIF 2019’s formal agenda will feature panel discussions, keynote addresses and the first-ever JIF Town Hall addressing flood and catastrophe resilience.

We will be hosting retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as speakers to discuss their personal experiences with adversity and resilience. Additionally, Randal Quarles, a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, will join Sean Kevelighan, CEO of the I.I.I., to discuss current issues of the day.

Panel discussions will cover a wide array of insurance topics, including:

  • Economic Impact – How a charged political environment will affect regulatory environments, international alliances and trade partnerships, and the likely ramifications of heightened political risk for insurers and reinsurers.
  • Artificial Intelligence’s Risks, Ethics, and Opportunities – The benefits, drawbacks and ethical concerns as insurance seeks to manage risk in what some are calling the “Fifth Industrial Revolution.”
  • Talent and Leadership – McChrystal will share candid observations on innovative leadership and insights he gained while developing and implementing successful strategies including the creation of a comprehensive counterterrorism organization that has revolutionized the way military agencies interact and collaborate.
  • Resilience Town Hall – In this inaugural JIF Town Hall session, experts share perspectives on national and regional efforts to build community resilience in disaster-prone areas.

 

 EVENT DETAILS:

WHEN:

Thursday, Jan. 17, 2019 from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. ET

  • Registration: 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET
  • Forum: 10:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET
  • Reception: 5:30 pm – 7:00 p.m. ET

 

WHERE:

Marriott Marquis Hotel in Times Square, 9th Floor, New York City, NY

Media room will be in the “Jolson Room” on the 9th floor

 

For more information visit https://iii.swoogo.com/2019jif/registration. Registration is open to executives at P/C and life insurance companies, reinsurance companies, intermediaries and other related service organizations, including: CEOs; presidents; public and government affairs executives; insurance trade association leaders; regulators; and state and federal government representatives. Interviews with I.I.I. spokespeople and panelists are available upon request.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Insurance Covers Skiing Accidents

If you’re skiing like this guy, you should have health insurance

The holidays are over. It’s time to exercise. If you live in snowy climes, that means it’s time to go skiing.

But flying down a mountain at high speeds on a pair of sticks is…not safe. Between 2006 and 2016, an average of 38 people died skiing or snowboarding each year in the U.S.

And ski injuries are much more common than deaths. So how does insurance cover skiing accidents?

Health insurance: If you are injured in the U.S., your personal health insurance should cover your medical expenses, depending on the specific details of your policy. What if you need to get airlifted out because of a medical emergency? Your health insurance might help cover that, but you should check with your insurance company.

Travel insurance: Your personal health insurance may not cover all your medical expenses if you get injured abroad. (Again, it depends on your policy, so call your health insurer to make sure). That’s where travel insurance can come in handy. Make sure your travel insurance covers emergency medical assistance. This could cover situations like being airlifted off the mountain after a ski accident.

Homeowners insurance: What if you accidentally injure someone else on the slopes? Your homeowners insurance may kick in to cover some of the liability you incur. Ditto renters insurance. But different states determine ski accident liability differently, and your homeowners insurance doesn’t cover everything, so talk to your agent to find out what your coverage is.

Personal umbrella liability: Liability payments can be expensive. That’s why some people will buy a personal umbrella liability policy, which is basically extra liability insurance. It will cover some types of liability your homeowners insurance excludes – and will also cover higher payments, sometimes up to $1 million (homeowners is often limited to $300,000).

What about the ski resorts themselves? They will typically have a commercial insurance policy to cover their liability and property damages. Ski resorts could face liability claims from injured skiers for poor slope maintenance, ski lift accidents, or accidents in, say, the ski lodge.

Stay safe out there!

From the I.I.I. Daily: Our most popular content, December 28 to January 3

 

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

 

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Water damage is costing homeowners billions. Could IoT help?

Pop quiz: what’s one of the most common types of homeowners insurance claims? (Hint: it’s not fire.)

It’s water damage. Maybe that’s not surprising – it rains a lot in many places. But what may surprise you is that things like pipe bursts and broken appliances are increasingly the main causes of water damage in homes.  

In insurance-speak, these are called “non-weather water damage claims.” Worryingly, these claims are happening more often and are getting a lot more expensive. A Best’s Review article reports that the average homeowners water damage claim is now over $6,700. Large losses (over $500,000) have doubled in number over the past three years. Non-weather water damage is now costing insurers (and their policyholders) billions in losses every year.

This is happening for several reasons. Our housing stock is aging, as is our infrastructure. More houses are being built and they’re getting bigger – many houses now have extra bathrooms and second-floor laundry rooms, which means more piping. (The story is probably different in Florida. You can read why that is here.)

But the worst part is that many – if not most – water damage claims are preventable. Inspecting pipes or conducting routine maintenance can go a long way. That’s where the internet of things (IoT) comes in. Smart devices and connected sensors installed on piping can detect leaks before they occur or before they cause too much damage. They’re basically smoke detectors, but for water.

And they work. Best’s Review noted that installing IoT devices can reduce water losses by up to 93 percent.

The Review quoted an IoT company CEO who claimed that leak detection devices could save insurers and their customers $10 billion every year.

Homeowners have admittedly been slow to install IoT to help detect leaks. But insurers are hopeful that raising awareness about the issue, offering policyholder incentives like premium discounts, and encouraging IoT installation during home construction will begin to turn the tide.

 Update: Of interest, Washington state adopted a rule in 2018 that specifically mentions water monitors and water shut-off systems as permissible tools for an insurer’s risk reduction program.

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