After a recent flight to New York, I was delighted when my homeowners insurance company reimbursed me for my lost luggage. You're probably thinking, "What a lovely insurer." But while it is lovely, it wasn't a surprise. At least not for me. Throughout my adult life, I've regularly been well-insured. Once, as I was walking through my burnt shell of a house, I was tapped on the shoulder and presented with a beautiful debit card for my hotel bills. Even windshield-repair men frequently shoo my credit card away when I try to settle my glass bill -- I have full auto glass coverage. And whenever I've asked what I've done to deserve such treatment, the insurance adjusters have always said the same thing: My policy covers it. If you're reading this, I'd hazard that you've already formed your own opinion about me -- and it won't be very flattering. For while many doors have been opened (and replaced, literally) as a result of my insurance, just as many have been slammed in my face -- and usually by my underinsured neighbors. Only my friend Samantha's beauty has provoked as much envy and ill behavior from those less fortunate. I'm not… (continue reading......)
The glare of publicity is now on George Zimmerman, who, as a Neighborhood Watch captain, admits shooting Trayvon Martin to death in a Sanford, Fla., suburb on the night of Feb. 26. But attorneys and insurers see wider implications in the case. Was Zimmerman representing The Retreat at Twin Lakes community, where he lived and patrolled? Was his effort to keep the community "safe" supported by its property manager? And was he operating with the approval of the Sanford Police Department, which communicated with him? These questions are sure to be raised when the Martins almost certainly files civil suits seeking damages for the death of their son. And these actions could force the Twin Lakes community into bankruptcy or even cost residents their homes. Ultimately, all of this will raise questions about how we protect ourselves, and at what cost. Collateral damage The Insurance Information Institute, recently cited an Orlando Sentinel story about the legal fees that could be incurred by the 200-home townhouse community. They could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars and require the association to issue a special assessment to cover it. According to the Sentinel, any attempt by the association to declare bankruptcy probably… (continue reading......)
Many homeowners and renters do their own home repair or remodeling work in a feeble attempt to save money. But they may actually put themselves in harm's way by causing more expensive problems. California contractor Robert Rayfield estimates that 70 percent of his business is tied to repairing or undoing home repairs done by do-it-yourself (DIY) homeowners or unqualified builders. "I've been called in by people who spent time and money on doing the job themselves, only to add a few thousand dollars in repair time to undo their mistakes," Rayfield says. "Even if they had common sense -- which is questionable -- they never had the skills to do the work properly." 6 classic DIY blunders Rayfield recalls these classic DIY blunders: A customer decided to install pricey French doors on his upstairs balcony. But he put them in backward, so they opened outward onto the terrace. "The wind blew the doors open in a storm, then blew rain into the house, causing thousands of dollars in carpet and floor damage," Rayfield says. Another time, Rayfield was called in to "fix" upstairs replacement windows that were hung by a professional installer. The owner did not realize they were installed… (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......)
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