April 2014

Protecting Religious Organizations: Unique Insurance Coverage to Consider

Traditional coverage religious organizations typically require include:

  • Liability Insurance – liability insurance protects the church when it is liable for damages caused to another or another’s property
  • Professional Liability or Acts, and Errors & Omissions Coverage – protects employees and the church in the event of a lawsuit for an actual or alleged wrongful act in connection with their position at the church
  • Business Auto – if the church owns a fleet of vehicles, they need to explore business automotive coverage
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance – depending on state laws, churches may need to provide workers’ compensation coverage to its employees.

However, the following two unique insurance coverage are applicable to every religious organization:Read More »Protecting Religious Organizations: Unique Insurance Coverage to Consider

Insurance for Home Business and Office

Home business insurance is just what it sounds like — insurance for business conducted off private residence. If you have a full-time or part-time business you operate from your home, you should consider this coverage because most HO policies don’t cover an in-home business.

Why Paperless Home Business Insurance?

Our home business insurance is coverage specifically designed to meet the needs of home-based business owners. From accounting services to crafts to computer repair services, every policy is quoted and written with the specific business in mind. It is affordable, quick and available for 200 unique home-based businesses.

Are you covered?Read More »Insurance for Home Business and Office

Small Business: Getting Started with Start-ups

By Laura Mazzuca Toops, April 1, 2014, PropertyCasualty360.com

In a sign that the U.S. economy is finally on the (gradual) upswing, the entrepreneurial rate in the U.S. is now higher than it was at the height of the dot com bubble of 15 years ago, according to the Kaufman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity (KIEA) — which currently lists more than 20 million non-employer businesses, with more starting every day. As defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, non-employer businesses have no paid employees, have annual receipts of at least $1,000 and are subject to federal income taxes. These new businesses can range from part-time consultants to billion-dollar start-ups backed by big private-equity money.Read More »Small Business: Getting Started with Start-ups

Four Steps to Help Keep Employee Drivers Distraction-Free

Keep Employee Drivers Distraction-FreeIn observance of National Distracted Driving Awareness Month (celebrated by National Safety Council), we are providing important information to help businesses with employees who drive as part of their job safeguard against distracted driving. According to the National Safety Council, the average work-related motor vehicle injury claim costs $69,206, which is twice as much as other work-related injuries.

Helping employees avoid distraction while driving starts with management and creating a culture committed to safety. Employees who drive for work often feel pressure to respond to emails and phone calls, especially from their manager. It’s important for company leaders to set the expectation that it’s better to respond later than while driving.

More than two in three drivers admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving, according to the AAA Foundation’s 2014 Traffic Safety Culture Index. Additionally, one in four drivers admits to typing or sending a text message or email while driving. Despite these behaviors, a recent survey of our customers found that only 27 percent reported having a formal policy on distracted driving that was strictly enforced.
We recommend a four-step program to help businesses better protect their employees from distracted driving:Read More »Four Steps to Help Keep Employee Drivers Distraction-Free

Environmental Claims

Demolition Contractor – AsbestosDemolition Contractor – Asbestos

  • During the demolition of a portion of a museum, a contractor inadvertently disturbed unknown asbestos that had been contained in the floor tiles. The asbestos contaminated other areas of the museum, forcing closure during the remediation. The demolition contractor was held responsible for the clean-up costs and business interruption.
Drilling Contractor – Raw Sewage
  • A subsurface drilling contractor caused the release of raw sewage into both the soil and groundwater after failing to identify a sewer line before drilling. The clean-up included the excavation of several tons of impacted soil and caused a number of nearby businesses to be shut down for a few days after their basements filled with sewage. Substantial claims for business interruption and clean-up costs were filed.

Drywall Contractor – Mold

  • A drywall contractor was hanging new drywall at a construction project when an employee accidentally drilled through a small water pipe located behind the wall. The drywall contractor did not realize the leak occurred and a substantial amount of mold grew between the walls before anyone noticed. The drywall contractor was held responsible for clean-up of the mold, as well as defense of third-party bodily injury claims.Read More »Environmental Claims

Swimming Pool Insurance and Risk Management Guide

Summer is just around the corner. Weather permitted and people are rushing to swimming pools for fun, workout, recreation. If your facility manages swimming pool (including HOAs), take a moment to review this guide as using swimming pools and spas involves a certain amount of risk. You do not want an accident to spoil the good times patrons have come… Read More »Swimming Pool Insurance and Risk Management Guide

Bank of America Settles Forced-Place Insurance Claims for $228M

I’m glad to see this issue has finally been given the attention it deserves, as many home buyers were subjected to illegal “forced placed” coverage when mortgage companies constantly “sold” mortgages (with tax/insurance escrow accounts) to each other. It seems like everything but the insurance information would be provided to the new lender so they would automatically issued the forced placed coverage. When a home buyer would call the mortgage company he would always be told their monthly increases was because of the insurance costs. And he would never be told it was forced placed coverage. In the state of Main, these costs, for instance, often were in the range of $2,700 to $3,500 per year causing monthly increases of $200-400.

On November 10, 2010, American Banker published an article describing major mortgage lenders’ and servicers’ questionable and often illegal practices related to force-placed
insurance. The article revealed for the first time the exceptionally profitable exclusive relationships, collusive activities, and circular arrangements among the mortgage lenders and
servicers, their affiliates, and their cooperating insurers, most of which are Defendants here.
Lenders and servicers force place insurance when a borrower fails to obtain or maintain proper hazard or flood insurance coverage on property that secures a loan. Under the
typical mortgage agreement, if the insurance policy lapses or provides insufficient coverage, the lender has the right to “force place” a new policy on the property and then charge the premiums
to the borrower.
The arrangements revealed by American Banker comprise an extremely lucrative profit-making scheme in the hundreds of millions of dollars. There are just two insurance companies that control the entire market for forced-placed policies in the country — Assurant and QBE.
Assurant works through its subsidiaries Voyager Indemnity Insurance Company and American Security Insurance Company. These companies and their affiliates enter into exclusive relationships with the major mortgage lenders and servicers to provide the policies. The top four servicers that work with Assurant are Wells Fargo Bank, Citi, HSBC, and Chase. The top servicer that works with QBE/Balboa is Bank of America.
To maintain their exclusive relationships with these lenders, the insurers pay unearned “kickbacks” of a percentage of the force-placed premiums ultimately charged to the borrower, offer them subsidized administrative services, and/or enter into lucrative captive reinsurance deals with them.

Although force-placed insurance is designed to protect the lender’s interest in the property that secures the loan and thus should not exceed that interest, lenders often purchase
coverage from their exclusive insurers in excess of that required to cover their own risk. And, as a matter of practice, the major lenders and servicers collude with the two major force-placed
insurers to manipulate the force-placed insurance market and artificially inflate the premiums charged consumers, resulting in premiums up to ten times greater than those available to the
consumer in the open market. American Banker reported that “Though part of the extra expense can be explained by the higher risks associated with insuring the homes of delinquent borrowers,
force-placed policies generate profit margins unheard of elsewhere in the insurance industry even after accounting for the generous commissions and other payments that servicers demand.”

But finally Bank of America Corp. agreed to pay $228 million to settle claims the bank overcharged for insurance homeowners were forced to accept when their regular policies lapsed. The amount was disclosed in a document requesting approval for the accord filed yesterday in Miami federal court. Lawyers for homeowners told a federal judge in February that the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank had agreed to a deal without providing further information.

The deal is an “extraordinary settlement” that provides “prospective relief that would effectively end the lender- placed insurance practices at issue in this case,” lawyers for plaintiffs said in the Bank of America case.
Read More »Bank of America Settles Forced-Place Insurance Claims for $228M

Frozen 2

The California 2nd District Court of Appeal overturned a lower court ruling that the lawsuit against White Memorial Hospital was filed too late, the ABC News reported on 4/3/2014. M.A. was declared dead in July 2010 after suffering a heart attack and was placed in a freezer at the Boyle Heights hospital. Morticians who received her body a few days later… Read More »Frozen 2

Top 10 States and Cities for Job Growth

According to Arizona State University W.P. Carey School of Business that provides rankings and analysis of the winners and losers based on the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics – overall, 12 states showed job growth of at least two percent last year, the same pace as in 2012. The number of jobs added nationwide last year was 2.26 million. Final, revised numbers on state and city job growth for the year 2013 shows top 10 states for non-agricultural job growth, comparing 2013 to 2012:

1. North Dakota – up 3.6%
2. Utah – up 3.2%
3. California – up 3%
4, 5. Texas and Colorado– 2.9%
6. Nevada – up 2.7%
7. Idaho – up 2.6%
8. Florida – up 2.5%
9. Washington – up 2.2%
10. Arizona – up 2.1%Read More »Top 10 States and Cities for Job Growth

April is National Safe Digging Month

Safe DiggingCall 811 before you dig. Whether you’re planting a garden, building a fence or remodeling your home, no project is too small to call 811. Damage from digging is a common cause of pipeline accidents. One easy, free call to 811 Underground Service Alert (USA) at least two working days before you dig gets your utility lines marked so you can dig safely. This free service will notify underground utility operators in the area of your planned work.

Safe digging tips:Read More »April is National Safe Digging Month