Category Archives: Business

Personal and Business Insurance Rates Continue to Rise

Rates in both commercial and personal lines insurance continued to increase through November, according to the electronic exchange MarketScout.* 

– Commercial-lines accounts increased an average of 5 percent in November.

– Personal lines increased an average of 4 percent in November.

What is the reason for the increase?

In the article, MarketScout: Rate Increases Continue Through Nov. for both Commercial and Personal Lines, Meyer Shields, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus wrote, “we see insurers’ deteriorating calendar-year results as the primary catalyst for rate increases, and we expect these increases to accelerate as favorable reserve development subsides, net investment income declines and accident-year results worsen.”

Super-storm Sandy will be a main contributor to insurance costs increasing in the near future as companies are anticipating to pay out in upwards of $25 billion in claims.

To read the full article, which highlights which insurance products are increasing and by how much, click the link below.

*MarketScout is an insurance exchange based in Dallas, Texas. MarketScout has over 47,000 users, the vast majority of whom are independent retail agents. This is the largest amalgamation of independent agents in the United States. All users are linked into the MarketScout Exchange. Agent interest, buying habits and activity has been tracked since June 2000, the inception date of the MarketScout Exchange.

Prepare Your Home or Business for Freezing Temps

Well, it’s finally December, even if there is no snow on the ground. Soon enough though, the freezing temps will arrive and we’ll all be bundled up for the winter months. When the outside temperature drops, the chance of a loss occurring for homes and businesses rises. The most important thing you can do to prevent losses due to cold weather is to be aware of what could happen and prepare for it. Before the snow falls is the best time to check your home or business for maintenance/repair issues so you can minimize the chance for loss when the snow piles up.

Remember the Metrodome stadium roof collapse in 2010? Don’t let a similar situation happen to you. Fox Sports – Metrodome Roof Collapses

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety has a list of ways to prepare for water leaks, burst pipes, roof collapses, ways to prevent ice dams, and how to heat your home safely. This is a great website that offers excellent tips, so I highly recommend that you take a look so you can prepare your home or business for those freezing temps.

For Homes:

For Businesses:

Fire Protection Tips for Businesses and Residents

As the weather gets colder, it’s likely that we’ll turn up our heat and brace ourselves for the winter ahead. But because the use of heating systems increases during the cold weather months, so does the frequency of residential and business fires. In fact, more than 50,000 heating fires in residential buildings occur each year in the United States, a majority of which happen from November through March, according to the U.S. Fire Administration.

It is important that business owners and homeowners alike prepare their employees and families for potential fires, and practice important prevention habits. Grange Insurance, a Columbus, Ohio-based insurance company, offers advice on how to play it safe when it comes to fire.

1. Make sure you’re covered.

Homeowners, renters and business owners should ensure they have the proper insurance coverage in place in case of a fire. Most policies cover fire damage to residences or businesses, as well as personal belongings, but may have some limitations. In addition, most commercial insurance will protect business owners from liability if an employee is injured or loss of life occurs during a fire.

“Review your policy to ensure your personal property is covered, especially expensive items such as machinery or jewelry. It’s also important to understand whether or not your policy provides additional living expense coverage, which can help pay for you to stay in a hotel or temporary housing while your home is rebuilt or repaired,” said Ken Kozek, Vice President of Claims at Grange Insurance. “If you do not already have a homeowner, condo or renter’s policy in place, consider investing in one. As a business owner, it is imperative that you have a proper policy to protect against liability and property damage or loss.”

2. Practice makes perfect.

It only takes minutes for a house or business to become engulfed in flames, making a planned escape route a necessity. Plan an escape route and post it where everyone can easily find it. Practice your route at least twice per year at different times during the day, especially with children or people with disabilities.

Designate a meeting spot a safe distance from your home or business, such as a tree across the street, so you can assure everyone made it out safely. Alert the fire

department if someone is missing or if pets are trapped so they can perform a rescue safely.

3. Fire-proof your home or business.

Stop the fire before it starts by eliminating potential hazards in your home or business. Equip yourself with fire extinguishers, regularly tested smoke alarms and sprinklers. Keep curtains, towels or any items that can easily catch fire at least three feet from heaters. Business owners should also consider posting “No Smoking” signs around machinery and flammable materials to alert employees of potential danger.

It is also important to protect important papers including birth certificates, property inventory and proof of its value, such as receipts, titles and appraisals.

“In the case of a fire, business owners may be required to show proof of property value to ensure full coverage from their insurance policy,” said Kozek. “Make copies of all your important documents, and keep the originals in a bank safe deposit box outside of your business.”

4. Memorize emergency contact information.

Make sure that everyone in your home knows how to dial 9-1-1. Business owners and families should also post emergency phone numbers in a central place such as on the refrigerator or in the break room so they are easily accessible.

Length of time between work incident and doctor visit undermine claim

A worker may have difficulty establishing a connection between her work activities and injuries when the evidence shows a great length of time between the alleged work incident and a visit to a doctor and when the worker does not tell her doctor the injury is work-related.

Case name: Starbuck v. Vigo County Public Library, No. 93A02-1001-EX-67 (Ind. Ct. App. 09/28/10, unpublished).

Ruling: The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a librarian was not entitled to benefits for her injuries.

What it means: A worker may have difficulty establishing a connection between her work activities and injuries when the evidence shows a great length of time between the alleged work incident and a visit to a doctor and when the worker does not tell her doctor the injury is work-related. 

Summary: A librarian performed puppet shows as a part of her duties and was required to hold puppets weighing from five to 20 pounds. She noticed a pain in her right arm and visited her physician, who diagnosed her with a bone spur in her elbow. The librarian was later diagnosed with a disc bulge in her spine and her doctor prepared a letter at the librarian’s request stating that it was work-related. She also suffered a tear to her rotator cuff. The Indiana Court of Appeals held that the librarian was not entitled to compensation because she did not prove her injuries were work-related.

The court noted that the librarian did not visit a doctor until over a year after she first performed puppet shows. The librarian also told her doctor that she had pain after doing yard work.

The library argued that the letter written by the doctor was not intended to be a report on causation. The court agreed, stating that the letter was written to assist the librarian with her insurance claim “rather than to be forensic in nature.” The letter did not expressly determine that her impairments were the result of her work at the library.

Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.

December 16, 2010

Copyright 2010© LRP Publications

Hastings Mutual Insurance Company Recognized Again For Financial Strength

Hastings, Michigan, October 13, 2010: For more than 125 years Hastings Mutual Insurance Company has focused on financial strength and responsible management of its assets. The company’s dedication to excellence has paid off as reflected in their recent results. This year Hastings Mutual Insurance Company is again awarded the highest honors by Weiss Ratings (formerly and by Demotech, Inc.

Weiss is an independent research and ratings company that has been in operation since 1971. Melissa Gannon, vice president at Weiss Ratings, states, “Unlike most other rating agencies, Weiss Ratings accepts no compensation of any kind from the companies it rates.” Weiss announced on October 4, 2010, that Hastings Mutual is again rated “A+” based on the company’s strong financial solvency.

The Weiss score is based on the current and future financial stability offered to customers, vendors and employees. Less than 1 percent of financial companies reviewed meet the criteria for this exceptional rating.

This latest honor follows a recent Demotech, Inc. announcement that Hastings Mutual is again a “Super Regional™” carrier. Published in the May 17, 2010 issue of Insurance Journal, Demotech Inc. revealed their list of Super Regional™ P/C insurers. Of the 2,700 companies analyzed, only 165 qualified as a Super Regional™.

Joseph Petrelli, president at Demotech states, “These companies are strong, stable markets that have been working hard for their agents and insureds.”

“This recognition is an honor, and we know that the partnership we share with our agents is integral to our success,” remarked Bill Wallace, president and CEO at Hastings Mutual Insurance Company. “We look forward to our Company’s future and Hastings Mutual’s continued success with our agents.”

About Hastings Mutual Insurance Company

Hastings Mutual is an award winning, A. M. Best: A+ rated, regional Property Casualty insurance company. Hastings Mutual operates in six Midwestern states. The company, based in Hastings, Michigan, has been writing commercial, farm, and personal lines business through independent agents since 1885. For more information about Hastings Mutual and their 125th anniversary, access the company web site:

Report shows workers’ comp rates holding steady for now

An abundance of capacity and positive loss experience have held down overall workers’ comp rates throughout 2010. However, stress fractures could indicate a change in direction, according to a new report from Marsh Inc.

The insurance broker and risk adviser’s report, U.S. Insurance Market Report 2010, Third Quarter Update: Insureds Net Benefits as Downward Rate Pressures Persist, notes that little has changed in the first nine months of 2010, and the trend will likely continue unless there are significant events in the macro environment.

“Rates have held steady within a range,” said Jonathan Zaffino, U.S. global risk management casualty leader for Marsh. “We’ve certainly seen rate decreases at a pretty consistent pace.”

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  • Zaffino said there have been many factors at play. “An abundance of capacity, a very, very competitive market, and we haven’t had any major industry disruptions.” 

    Zaffino said conditions have been favorable for Marsh’s buyers and clients.

    The report cited a 2010 NCCI report that revealed the workers’ comp market has experienced 23 consecutive quarters of rate decreases.

    At this stage, “we have to ask how much further can we go in terms of rate decreases,” Zaffino said.

    For example, the report noted signs of rate hikes in large jurisdictions, especially California, New York, and Florida. The California Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau has proposed an overall 27.7 percent rate increase. “The proposal gives a window into the market’s direction,” the report said.

    In New York, legislation affirmed increases to loss costs — predominantly driven by recent reform measures and increases to wage replacement rates, resulting in a 7.7 percent increase to loss costs as of October. “Another indicator of the market’s direction,” the report said.

    Zaffino said those could be a directional indicator to determine an underlying trend. “We put the different factors together. What’s happening at the state level. What’s happening among carriers. NCCI said frequency is declining, but severity is increasing,” he said. “Pieces of the puzzle are causing us to say, are we perhaps at the bottom even though there’s an abundance of capacity? We very well could be at or near the bottom.”

    The impact of national health care reform is also an area that will “bear monitoring as we enter 2011,” the report said.

    Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.

    December 6, 2010

    Copyright 2010© LRP Publications