Archive for October, 2011

Is an HOA Responsible for Alligators?

October 26th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in condo insurance, homeowners insurance

It’s no secret that there are often grey areas when it comes to homeowners associations. Often it’s not completely certain who covers contents insurance, for example. Still, it’s not often that an HOA is accused of being responsible when someone is killed by a wild animal.

Nevertheless, that’s what’s happening in Georgia.

The heirs of an 83-year-old woman, Gwyneth Williams, have sued her HOA, The Landings Association, after she was found dead in a lagoon in her suburban Savannah subdivision.

The lagoon in question was also home to an eight-foot-long alligator. Williams’ heirs believe the HOA should have removed the animal.

The Georgia Supreme Court has decided to hear the case.

Earlier, a split Georgia Court of Appeals panel ruled that the golf club and homeowners association may be held liable for damage inflicted by alligators in its lagoons.

It’s unclear whether an alligator killed Williams. Her mangled body was found in one of the lagoons in October 2007.

The club and the association have argued that Williams may have died from a heart attack before encountering the alligator.

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Suffolk County, NY Tops Hurricane Irene Loss List

October 19th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in homeowners insurance, hurricane insurance

The numbers are in, and the “winner” in the “who had more damage from Hurricane Irene” contest is Suffolk County, NY, at least if you’re measuring by the total amount of insured property loss.

Overall, the three states that saw the most damage to insured property (topping $500 million) were New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina, with Virginia and Maryland rounding out the top five.

This information comes from an insurance data provider, Verisk Analytics, and was released on Monday, however, the Verisk cautions that while the numbers are fairly solid, technically, they’re still just an estimate.

In total 191 counties in states along the eastern seaboard saw damage from Hurricane Irene, including Vermont, which doesn’t even have a coastline.

Not surprisingly, many of the people who suffered property damage did not have wind or flood insurance as part of their homeowners coverage – these must be purchased separately.

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Farmers to Raise Homeowners Rates in Texas

October 12th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in homeowners insurance, insurance news

The Dallas Morning News is reporting that Farmers Insurance is planning to raise the rates on homeowners insurance and Texas by almost ten percent in 2012. The rate increase will affect about half of the company’s policy holders in the Lone Star State.

Specifically, about 350,000 homeowners who currently have either Texas Family or Next Generation Home Policies through Farmers will see higher rates, which are set to take effect on March 16th. The last rate hike on Farmers homeowners policies was an increase of 3.9 percent in March, 2011.

Speaking on behalf of the insurance company, vice president and executive director for Farmers in North Texas explained that the higher rates are required in order to offset the fact that claims in Texas tend to be more expensive.

The rate increase was filed with the state insurance department on October 7th.

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Friday Filmstrip: French Health Care

October 7th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in alternative health plans, friday filmstrips, health care reform, health insurance, insurance news, insurance specialists

As health care remains a hot-button issue in our government and with our current crop of political candidates, it’s interesting to look at health care around the world. Here’s a video – admittedly three years old – which looks at the French health care system, which is often considered the best in the world.

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Insurance Increases 10% in Last Year, but NOT Because of Obama Administration

October 4th, 2011 by | Comments Off | Filed in health care reform, health insurance

A study released last Tuesday revealed that company-provided health care coverage, one of the largest costs of both businesses and households in the US, increased by nine percent over the last year, even with a slow economy. More specifically, the average cost for employer-provided family health insurance is now $15,073 a year, which cost has more and more businesses dropping coverage for employees.

The study, an annual report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation also found that only one or two of those nine percentage points can be pinned on the 2010 health care reform act which allowed families to keep grown children on their policies until the age of twenty-six and increased coverage for preventive medical services.

Moreover, the study reveals that over the last ten years the cost of employer-provided health insurance has increased by 113%, while the average increase in wages over the same period of time was only 34%, and inflation only increased by 27%. According to the study, the employer contribution to those insurance costs is still more than double the employee share, but worker contributions increased by a whopping 131 percent over the last decade.

Kaiser’s study also revealed that a greater number of companies and workers were agreeing to pay higher deductibles (the portion the insured parties pay out-of-pocket when obtaining medical treatment, before insurance kicks in) in order to cap increases in premiums.

While 99% of companies with more than 200 employees continue to provide health benefits, in 2011 only 59 percent of smaller companies offered health benefits to their workers, as opposed to 67% of small companies in 2001.

Speaking to the press, Drew Altman, chief executive of the Kaiser Family Foundation explained, “Critics of the national health reform law passed in 2010 like to blame everything but the weather on ‘Obamacare,’ but… regardless of how you feel about the Affordable Care Act, its effect on premiums this year is modest.”

Altman added, “While the conventional wisdom is that private insurance does a better job of controlling costs, the opposite is true.”

White House deputy chief of staff Nancy-Ann DeParle also weighed in on the Kaiser report, calling it “a look backwards,” and stating that the increase in premiums would slow significantly over the next year. In a post on the White House blog, she said that the increase was based on assumptions made by insurers in 2009, that medical care costs would spike upward and that President Obama’s Affordable Care Act would add to insurer costs.

“In the end,” she wrote, “both assumptions were wrong — but insurance companies still charged high premiums and earned impressive profits.” She also wrote that, “Key Affordable Care Act policies are starting to take effect that make insurance more affordable.”

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