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By Todd Wallack | BOSTON GLOBE STAFF JANUARY 28, 2013
Competition in the state’s car insurance market has yielded an unexpected benefit: Thousands of residents who once had to buy expensive home coverage from the Massachusetts FAIR Plan are increasingly able to find policies through other insurers, saving them hundreds of dollars a year on premiums.
The FAIR Plan, known as the insurer of last resort, provides home insurance in high-risk areas, including neighborhoods that have high crime rates or sit perilously close to the ocean. Home insurance companies have traditionally been reluctant to do business in such locations.
But since the state gave insurers more freedom to set their own auto insurance rates, starting in 2008 — something it calls “managed competition” — 13 more auto insurance companies have set up shop in Massachusetts, with most also selling homeowners policies or partnering with firms that do.
Over that time, the FAIR Plan lost nearly 27,000 homeowners insurance customers, or 16 percent of its base, an exodus few in the industry predicted.
“It is all driven by this shift in the competitive marketplace,” said Robert Tommasino, general counsel for the Massachusetts Property Insurance Underwriting Association, better known as the FAIR Plan.
Some insurers, including Narragansett Bay Insurance Co., also decided the escalating prices of premiums for coastal properties made it worth their while to start selling policies in those locations. Their strategy has been to undercut the FAIR Plan rates while still charging enough to turn a profit.
Bob Inello, whose waterfront home in Nahant is exposed to the wrath of storms, said he was forced to buy Fair Plan coverage for more than a decade. But three years ago, Inello said, his agent said he could switch to Narragansett, cutting his bill by $570 a year — more than 20 percent.
“I don’t feel like I am being held hostage anymore,” Inello said. “It’s very liberating.”
By Randy Troutman On October 10, 2012
When discussing insured value and how a boat insurance policy will pay, most people think about a total loss. This is important but the majority of claims are partial losses. Depending on how your policy responds, you could pay several thousand dollars above your deductible.
A boat insurance policy has two different ways to pay in the event of a partial loss. One is to replace the damaged items without deducting for depreciation. The second is to depreciate the damaged items.
Depreciated Value is defined as Replacement Cost less depreciation. Most boat insurance companies use a non-published depreciation schedule that applies to partial losses. For example, the depreciation on a stern drive might be 7% per year, whereas the annual depreciation on canvas might be 15%.
Each insurance company will apply Replacement Cost and Depreciated Value differently. Some boat insurance companies do not provide replacement cost coverage for partial losses. If the boat is insured on this policy form, then no matter the type of loss, the replacement parts are subject to depreciation. If the part costs $2,000 and is subject to 20% depreciation, you would be paid $2,000, less $400 depreciation, less your deductible.
Most boat insurance companies provide replacement cost for partial losses until the boat (or items) reaches a certain age. The age will vary with each insurance company. Once a boat or item reaches that age, all partial losses are settled on an actual cash value basis.
The boat insurance companies that provide replacement cost for partial losses usually name specific items that are subject to depreciation regardless of the age. Canvas, sails, cloth, trailers and plastics are examples of specifically named items. These items generally have a limited life span. They also name specific items that are subject to depreciation based on the item’s age. Outboards, stern drives and internal machinery are examples of items that change from replacement cost to depreciated value when they reach a certain age. Most insurance companies go by the age of the item to deduct depreciation. However, each insurance company has different specifically-named items and different ages which determine whether those items will be on replacement cost or depreciated value.
It’s helpful to know that most companies will apply a reduced depreciation if you agree to replace with a remanufactured unit. A stern drive is a good example of an item that can be replaced with a remanufactured unit. This can save thousands of dollars in depreciation.
Replacement Cost for a partial loss is what you want when available. A depreciated value can cost you several thousand dollars. United Marine Underwriters represents several boat insurance companies and we will be glad to discuss how they apply depreciation.
Below are two examples to help explain how replacement cost vs. depreciated value work.
Example 1 is an 8 year old stern drive boat with a $500 hull deductible that hits a submerged object. The replacement cost to the stern drive is $8000.
Insurance company A provides replacement cost coverage until the stern drive is six years old. They will apply 60% depreciation (7.5% per year) to the $8000 replacement drive and then apply the $500 deductible. Insurance company A will pay $2700 ($8,000 less $4,800 depreciation, less $500 hull deductible).
Insurance company B provides replacement cost coverage until the stern drive is 10 years of age. They will pay $7500 ($8000 less the $500 hull deductible).
Example 2 is a boat with a $500 hull deductible that suffers wind damage to the fly bridge enclosure. The fly bridge enclosure is 2 years old and the replacement cost is $5000.
Insurance company A provides replacement cost until the fly bridge enclosure is three years old. They will pay $4,500 ($5,000 less the $500 hull deductible).
Insurance company B provides replacement cost but specifically names canvas as a depreciated item. Insurance company B will apply 20 percent depreciation to the replacement cost. They will pay $3,500 ($5000 replacement cost, less $1,000 depreciation, less the $500 hull deductible).
The risk of catastrophic loss during hurricane season requires an innovative approach to
property coverage—and a rapid response when losses occur. For over 40 years, Lexington
Insurance Company has helped our brokers and clients prepare for, protect against, and recover
from catastrophic losses. We are the leading U.S.-based surplus lines insurer, and a property
and casualty market leader.
Make sure you’re a step ahead of risk this hurricane season. Watch LexTV for the latest
on hurricane risk and coverage solutions.
Hurricane 2012 Update
Dr. Phil Klotzbach updates his 2012 seasonal hurricane forecast and shares his outlook for the remainder of the season. This episode also introduces Lexington's new Hurricane Infographic which will help streamline the understanding of a hurricane event.
All interests from Louisiana to Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle should rush preparations to completion.
If peak storm surge occurs at high tide, peak water levels above ground could reach the following depths as Isaac moves by:
- Southeast Louisiana, Miss., Ala. coasts: 6-12 feet
- South-central Louisiana: 3-6 feet
- Florida Panhandle: 3-6 feet
- Florida west coast from Apalachicola to south of Naples: 1-3 feet
Even as Isaac's center of circulation moves by, locally heavy rainbands can be expected. Another 1-3" of rain is possible in central and south Florida with locally higher amounts. Isolated storm total rainfalls of 15" are possible in central and South Florida. Rainfall amounts over 10" are likely as Isaac slows down immediately prior to, and after landfall, in southeast Louisiana, southern Alabama, Mississippi and the western Florida Panhandle. Isolated 20" amounts are possible.
Hurricane threat index, current information, satellite imagery, watches/warnings and computer model track graphics are below.
(TRACK ISAAC: Interactive hurricane tracker)
View more expert analysis from Senior Meteorologist Stu Ostro at our Tropical Update article.
You can find a detailed look at the Gulf Coast storm surge, wind and flooding threats by clicking on this link and you can ensure you know which friends may be in harms way through our My Friends Weather tool.
(MORE: Live updates and analysis on Isaac)
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Before a Flood
What would you do if your property were flooded? Are you prepared?
Even if you feel you live in a community with a low risk of flooding, remember that anywhere it rains, it can flood. Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history; it's also based on a number of factors including rainfall , topography, flood-control measures, river-flow and tidal-surge data, and changes due to new construction and development.
Flood-hazard maps have been created to show the flood risk for your community, which helps determine the type offlood insurance coverage you will need since standard homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.
In addition to having flood insurance, knowing following flood hazard terms will help you recognize and prepare for a flood.
To prepare for a flood, you should: