My neighbor thought he had finally sold his house after three unsuccessful tries. But just when the buyer was about to sign off, mortgage financing agency Fannie Mae tacked on one last charge to the bottom line: flood insurance. It killed the deal. My neighbor was angry. His home sits on high ground and has never been flooded. A creek several hundred yards away overflowed 40 years ago, but a cement culvert corrected the problem and our homes have stayed dry ever since. High and dry Why was the buyer forced to purchase flood insurance through the costly National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)? A lot of people are now asking that question. From high-rise residents in New York City to desert-dwellers in Los Angeles, some potential buyers are being hit with a flood insurance requirement. And, they don't have a choice. But even if your mortgage lender doesn't require flood insurance, the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA), which failed so miserably during Hurricane Katrina and runs the NFIP, still gets into your business. At my home near the New Jersey shore, the township denied me the right to update and build with my own money unless my house was raised… (continue reading......)
The onslaught of early tornadoes, which cut a wide swath across the Midwest and South, will leave behind more than death and destruction. Higher insurance rates for homes, cars and businesses will surely follow in their wake. While climatologists and politicians may choose to ignore the reality of global warming, insurers have to contend with it because it hits them where it hurts most -- their profits. The nation's largest home insurer, State Farm, saw 2011 earnings cut in half compared to the previous year, largely due to catastrophes like Hurricane Irene and the Joplin, Mo., tornado. Not in Kansas anymore This year is shaping up even worse, perhaps far worse. A double dose of tornadoes recently touched down in a dozen states, demolishing towns and killing at least 39 people. A record-breaking 94 twisters were reported on a single day. Tornadoes used to be commonplace on the Kansas plains; now they ripple across the rolling hills of Tennessee and into coastal states like Virginia. Another new phenomenon: they're coming earlier. A mild winter with sharply varying temperatures between regions has brought killer storms at the beginning of March, more than a month prior to last year's disasters in April.… (continue reading......)
The most common insurance claim in midtown Manhattan? Theft. It's probably just smaller items -- the average theft claim is just over $2,000. In the Windy City Chicago suburb of Darien, where Insure.com is headquartered, the most common claim is -- surprise! -- wind. The cost tends to average around $5,000. At the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., water damage is most frequent problem, but slips and falls are to blame for the priciest claims. Must be all those steps. Who designed this building, anyway? Maybe they should consider a pulley or rappelling system to get folks in and out safely. Water damage is also the most common claim for the ZIP code where Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch is located (Santa Barbara County, California), but one of the most expensive claims there is mysterious disappearance. (As in, Oh, my money is gone from my purse. How did that happen?) Someone should look into that. I learned all this from Allstate's new Common & Costly Claims tool, where you can look up the most common or most expensive claims in any ZIP code. What's the problem where you live? (continue reading......)
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