By CHRISTINE LEGERE firstname.lastname@example.org
September 27, 2013
A heavy downpour in 2011 caused flooding on Barnstable Road in Hyannis.
Cape Cod Times File/Jim Preston
Local, state and federal officials are mobilizing to delay dramatic hikes in flood insurance premiums rapidly coming down the pike for property owners in flood-prone areas.
The increases are part of a federal law designed to return the National Flood Insurance Program to the black. The government-subsidized program has been driven nearly $30 billion into the red by storm damage over the last several years.
On Thursday, the entire Massachusetts congressional delegation signed on to a letter delivered to House and Senate leaders saying they recognize the aim of Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 but they urge a delay in premium increases until a cost study, mandated in the act, has been done.
As hurricane season approaches we want to remind you that hurricane preparedness is of the utmost importance. Hurricane Sandy, the second costliest storm in U.S. history causing an estimated $50 billion in damage certainly show how devastating a storm can be and reminds us that we should not be complacent, but be prepared for severe weather events. We urge you to take the time to put together your personal hurricane kit to protect your family and property in the event that a storm impacts us this year.
In addition to preparing for the safety of your family, it is a good time to review your homeowners policy with us to make absolutely certain that you have the coverages you need to protect your property.
Replacement Cost - the differences between the replacement cost of your home and its market value in today's economy is a prevalent topic of discussion. With today's depressed market values, it i even more important that your Homeowners Coverage A limit is insured for 100% of the replacement value of your home.
Deductibles - your homeowners policy has two deductibles, one for 'all other perils' (AP) and one for 'hurricanes' or it may be for all 'wind damage.' Your MPIUA policy will have a higher deductible for any 'wind' damage. But your UPC Insurance policy would have a 'Hurricane' deductible that applies only during a 'named hurricane.' Otherwise, your lower 'all other perils' deductible would be applied.
Flood - we want to remind your that your homeowner's policy does not cover flood. Should a storm occur and your property becomes flooded, in order for you to have coverage you must have a separate flood policy.
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.”
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:
TYPE OF FLOOD MAP CHANGES
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHAT YOU SHOULD SAY Low- or moderate-risk zone (B, C, X) changing to a high-risk zone (e.g. AE, VE) or Change in Base Flood Elevation
Grandfathering Offers Savings·
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has “grandfather” rules to recognize policyholders who have either built in compliance with the flood map or who maintain continuous coverage. These rules allow such policyholders to benefit in the rating for that building.
· Grandfathering is available for new purchasers as well as existing customers.
· Always use the new map if it will provide a more favorable premium (lower rate).
· Your building has been designated in a high-risk area for flooding.
· You will be required to purchase a flood policy if you carry a mortgage from a federally regulated lender.
· If you don’t carry a mortgage, you should protect your home with flood insurance. National statistics show that you are 3 times more likely to have damage by a flood than by fire.
· Purchasing before the map revision allows you to save on insurance.
Loyal Customers Can Keep Existing Zone (Pre- & Post- FIRM)
· Customers, who buy a policy before maps are adopted and maintain coverage, can retain the lower-risk zone rate.
· Eligible customers can purchase a PRP now. It will renew to an X zone rated standard policy.
· Have a policy: maintain continuous coverage.
· A policy can be assigned to future property owner.
· Buy now to save later.
· Renew to stay protected and save money.
Show Compliance With a Previous FIRM for Lower Costs (Post- FIRM only)
· To keep existing zones when the structure was built: Get a copy of FIRM effective at time of construction or a compliance letter from community official.
· To keep existing BFE when the structure was built: Get Elev. Cert, and copy of FIRM effective at time of construction; or compliance letter from the community official.
· Lower cost options: show building was built in compliance at time of construction.
· Makes you eligible for a lower rate, keeps costs DOWN.
High-risk zone (e.g. AE, VE) changing to a low- or moderate-risk zone (X, shaded X)
Conversion Offers Savings · Write a Preferred Risk Policy (PRP).
· Use existing policy’s current effective date, and use closest coverage limit or next highest options if no exact match.
· Submit PRP application, and insured signed conversion form.
· Your risk is reduced, not removed!
· Eligible for low-cost, Preferred Risk Policy
· Stay protected and get money back once maps are adopted.
· No gaps in coverage; no additional money up front.
· 20-25% of all flood claims occur in low- or moderate-risk areas.
Review of Current Coverage Ensures Protection·
Do they have flood insurance?
· If so, is the building limit up-to-date?
· Contents coverage provided and limit up-to-date?
· Homeowners insurance doesn’t cover damage due to floods.
· Floods happen anytime, anywhere.
· Your home is a major investment—protect it.
As Hurricane Irene approaches our area, we wanted to make sure you and your customers were aware of the steps you can take to stay safe and our claim response plans as the storm approaches.
Staying safe in a hurricane or windstorm »
Understanding wind damage »
Safety for individuals
Create a disaster plan. Plan an evacuation route in advance and determine where you would go if you were told to evacuate.
In addition, you and your business insurance customers should consider taking the following precautions to help protect people and property and guard against disruption of operations:
Review your business continuity plan and communicate emergency evacuation and business interruption instructions to employees. If you don’t have a written plan, now is the time to create one. Each business should have an emergency plan including a detailed procedure for evacuation, a checklist for shutting down processes and protecting buildings, contents, equipment, and yard storage. Procedures should include salvage instructions to follow post-event.
Travelers Claim Response
Travelers’ National Catastrophe Center is monitoring this event closely, and we have already begun staging response resources near the hurricane’s estimated path.
With five call centers prepared to take loss notices 24-7, a fleet of five Mobile Claim Offices prepared to deploy anywhere on the East Coast within hours, a 300-person dedicated CAT team, and a national workforce strategy that enables us to draw on the resources of our 13,000-person claim organization, you can rest assured we will have the right resources in the right place to help you and your customers recover from the storm.
Please encourage your customers to report claims directly to Travelers as soon as possible after the storm. The sooner we learn about losses, the sooner we can help.
Personal Insurance: 1.800.CLAIM33 (1.800.252.4633)
As a reminder, Travelers suspends agency binding authority when a Tropical Storm or a Hurricane event is expected to impact a geographic area. Moratoriums are currently in effect for some business units for potentially affected states. For a current list of counties with suspended binding authority, please log into Agent HQ (www.travelersagents.com) or contact your underwriter.
Cape Cod, Massachusetts
As Hurricane Irene approaches the east coast Disaster Specialists would like to remind everyone that our staff will be on-call throughout the storm 24/7 for any and all emergencies that may arise. Serving Cape Cod, the Islands, the South Coast and the South Shore. 1-800-675-3622
Since 1985 Disaster Specialists has been helping home and business owners with the unexpected. Fire, Flood, Vandalism, Mold, Natural Disasters and even some not-so natural disasters we are here to help. Our crews are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Through all phases from clean up to reconstruction. Disaster Specialists will work with you and your insurance company to have you back on your feet as quickly as possible. At Disaster Specialists we make disasters disappear!