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    Tuesday
    Nov132018

    Age and Gender May Be Factors in the Severity of Car Accidents

    A new study conducted at Purdue University demonstrates there are statistical differences in traffic-accident injuries depending on the gender and age of drivers. The Purdue researchers found significant differences in the severity of injuries suffered in accidents involving men and women drivers and drivers within three age groups: young drivers, 16-24; middle-aged drivers, 25-64; and older drivers, 65 and above. The researchers' findings corroborated national statistics, which indicated that fatalities rose by 7 percent for drivers 75 and older from 1981 to 2000, remained steady for drivers from 65-74, but dropped for younger drivers.

    The study also included the following findings:

    ·   Accidents involving an overturned vehicle increased the likelihood of a fatality by 220 percent for older men, but only 154 percent for young men. Rollover accidents increased the likelihood of fatality by 523 percent for older women, but only 116 percent for young women.

    ·   Vehicles carrying one or more passengers increased the likelihood of driver fatality by 114 percent for young men and 70 percent for middle-aged men, but had no significant effect on the injury levels of older male drivers.

    ·   Vehicles less than five years old increased the likelihood of fatality for older men by 216 percent and for young men by 71 percent, but did not have a significant effect on the likelihood of a fatality for middle-aged men.

    ·   Not using safety belts increased the likelihood of injury by 119 percent for young women, 164 percent for middle-aged women and 187 percent for older women.

    ·   Accidents occurring in rural areas increased the likelihood of fatalities by 208 percent for young women but had no significant effect on the injury levels of other female age categories.

    ·   Vehicles six years old and older increased the likelihood of injury for middle-aged female drivers by more than 200 percent but had no significant impact on the injury levels of other female age categories.

    ·   Fatalities were more likely for middle-aged men who fell asleep at the wheel, exceeded the speed limit, got into an accident at an intersection or had an accident after midnight on Friday or Saturday, while the same factors had no significant effect on the injury levels of middle-aged female drivers.

    ·   Injuries were shown to be more likely for middle-aged women who drive during daytime hours, drive while under the influence of alcohol or drive while ill, while the same factors did not significantly influence the injury levels of middle-aged male drivers.

    ·   Driving on curvy roads and driving vehicles six years old and older increased the likelihood of injury for middle-aged female drivers but were found to have no significant effect on the injury levels of middle-aged male drivers.

    The researchers went on to note that in many cases, alcohol consumption might have had an indirect effect on the outcomes because it increased the probability of not wearing a safety belt and speeding. However, once you take this into account, the effect of alcohol on injury severity isn't significant because the level of injury is a function of the type of accident not of sobriety. Whether or not the accident occurred because the driver was drunk was beyond the scope of the study. The researchers developed their statistical models based on the accident having occurred regardless of the reason.

    Thursday
    Nov082018

    OCP Policy: Better Than Additional Insured Coverage?

    When a contractor wins a bid for a job, the contract with the owner or general contractor will often require the contractor to provide liability insurance coverage for both the contractor and the owner or GC. The contractor usually accomplishes this by having his insurance company add the other party to his policy as an additional insured. An additional insured has certain rights under the policy, the most important of which are the right to insurance company provided defense and payment of losses. However, this approach may not satisfy all of the other party's requirements. In this situation, the contractor may want to consider an alternative coverage approach.

    An owners and contractors protective liability insurance policy covers an owner or contractor for liability arising out of the actions of a subcontractor. It is unique in that, while the subcontractor arranges for and purchases it, the sub has no underlying coverage. Rather, the insurance company issues the policy in the name of the owner or GC (the policy information page identifies the contractor doing the work). For example, assume Owner A hires Contractor B to build a small office building. Contractor B purchases an OCP policy insuring Owner A for liability it incurs from Contractor B's work. If Contractor B erroneously cuts down trees on a neighboring property and the neighbor sues Owner A, the OCP policy pays for A's defense and the cost of any settlement.

    This is a much different arrangement than additional insured coverage. In that arrangement, Owner A has coverage under a policy issued in Contractor B's name. Owner A may be one of many parties that B's policy covers.

    Beyond that difference, there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Assume that B's policy covers losses up to a total of $2,000,000 during the policy term. If Owner A is an additional insured, he is sharing that $2,000,000 with B and any other parties with coverage under that policy. However, an OCP policy in A's name will provide a separate amount of insurance just for A. Also, Owner A may want the insurance company to notify him in advance if it decides to cancel B's insurance. An additional insured under B's policy usually does not have any rights to advance notification. As the party named on the OCP policy, however, A is entitled to advance notice. This can be important, as the advance notice requirement may be included in the construction contract.

    One disadvantage of an OCP policy is that it does not provide completed operations coverage. Coverage ceases when the contractor finishes the job. If the contract requires completed operations coverage, the subcontractor may have to ask his insurance company to add the GC as an additional insured for this coverage on his own liability policy. Also, because the OCP is a separate policy, the insurance company will charge an additional premium for it, something they might not do for adding an additional insured. The OCP policy covers losses only if the GC is held liable for the subcontractor's actions. It will not cover the GC's sole liability for its own actions. However, recent changes to additional insured coverage have had this effect as well. Finally, OCP policies may be more difficult to obtain than additional insured coverage.

    Which coverage arrangement to choose is a matter of negotiation between the subcontractor and the GC. Both contractors should discuss the options with their insurance agents and become informed about what each form does and does not cover. Most importantly, whichever coverage is selected should meet the insurance requirements and other provisions of the construction contract.

    Tuesday
    Nov062018

    Government Survey Shows Parents Confused About How to Use Child Safety Seats

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported in a December 2006 survey that many parents are confused about the correct way to install child safety seats in their cars.

    In 2002, NHTSA mandated that all new cars and child seats be built with locking attachments. The system, called Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH), was designed to make safety seats fit snugly and provide a method of attaching the seats without having to use a seat belt. LATCH was intended to simplify child safety seat installation, but the survey results prove otherwise.

    According to the study results, approximately 40 percent of parents still use seat belts when installing a car seat. Safety advocates say that using seat belts to attach a car seat can lead to a loose fit. Furthermore, the researchers discovered that just 55 percent of parents use the top tether built into the vehicle's back seat to help secure their children. Using upper tethers for child safety seats reduces the tilting or rotation of the seat during a frontal crash.

    Although the 55 percent usage rate of the top tether represents a significant improvement compared with earlier surveys, many parents still are not properly protecting their children. The researchers also found that over half of the parents not using the upper or lower tethers said they did not know how.

    Other key findings of the survey include:

    ·   Thirteen percent of respondents said their vehicle was not equipped with lower tethers so a seat belt had to be used to anchor the safety seat.

    ·   Among the 87 percent that use a child safety seat on a car seat with lower tethers, only 60 percent use them to secure the safety seat.

    ·   Eighty-one percent of upper tether users and 74 percent of lower tether users said the tethers weren't easy to use.

    ·   Seventy-five percent of the respondents who have used both seat belts and lower tethers to secure a safety seat preferred the lower tethers.

    The government recommends car safety seats be used for children up to 40 pounds. Children over 40 pounds should use booster seats until they are 8 years old or 4 feet 9 inches tall. All children should ride in the back seat until age 13.

    Thursday
    Nov012018

    Workers' Compensation Experience Modifications: What Happens When a Loss Reserve Changes?

    For many businesses, workers' compensation insurance is one of the largest expenses. A firm's experience modification, which is a numeric factor that applies to the workers' compensation premium, is a major influence on that cost. It is designed to reward firms that have below average loss activity and penalize those with above average activity. Firms with losses below average will have a mod of less than 1.0, while others with above average losses would have mods greater than 1.0. The insurance company multiplies this number by the calculated premium, producing either a reduced or increased premium. Firms with frequent, small losses fare worse under experience rating than those with infrequent, large losses. However, large losses and changes to the amounts reserved for them can still have a great impact.

    In each state, a bureau independent of the insurance company calculates an eligible firm's experience mod. The bureau uses a formula that considers the type of operation, the payroll over the previous three policy periods (not including the current one), the losses with values of less than $5,000 each, and the losses valued at more than $5,000. Through the application of mathematical factors, the formula determines the firm's actual losses for the three-year period. The bureau divides this number by the expected losses for a firm in that classification with that amount of payroll. If actual losses exceed expected losses, the mod is greater than 1.0; the mod is less than 1.0 if the converse is true.

    The formula values losses of less than $5,000 at full value. For example, a firm that had five losses totaling $10,400 would be charged that amount in the experience rating formula. However, a firm with one $10,400 loss would not be charged the full amount. The formula breaks this loss into two amounts -- $5,000 plus some fraction of the amount in excess of that. The experience rating manual contains the factors that apply to the amount over $5,000, and they will vary by the firm's expected losses. Factors are greater for firms with greater expected losses. Each state has a maximum amount for which any one loss can be valued, no matter what its actual size. For example, if a firm suffers a loss reserved at $900,000 and the state's maximum single loss is $200,000, the formula will apply the factor only to $195,000 (the amount between $5,000 and $200,000).

    A significant change in the amount reserved for a loss can have a dramatic effect on a firm's experience mod. In the example above, if the reserve dropped from $900,000 to $100,000, the factor would now apply to $95,000 instead of $195,000. This would produce a major decrease in the formula's calculation of actual losses, resulting in a big drop in the experience mod. Conversely, a loss reserve that jumped from $50,000 to $250,000 would produce a sizable increase in the calculated actual losses, as the factor is now applied to $195,000 rather than $45,000. This shows the importance of proper claims management. Lingering problems such as back injuries can result in large reserve increases if the injured worker does not receive effective medical treatment early on.

    A good insurance agent will work with the firm to analyze the experience modification worksheet and verify its accuracy. The firm and its agent should inform the insurance company of any errors in reported losses or payroll. Also, the firm should question an usually large decrease in a reserve and appeal to have its mod reduced. A properly calculated experience mod should neither over-reward nor under-penalize a firm for its loss experience.

    Tuesday
    Oct302018

    You Maintain Your Car, But What About Your Car Insurance

    Your car's performance relies on a program of regularly scheduled maintenance, and so should your car insurance. In the same way that your car needs to be tuned up for it to operate safely and efficiently, your car insurance needs to be periodically reviewed to ensure it continues to provide the coverage you need.
    When you review your car insurance, you should pay careful attention to the following:
    •   The Declaration Page - This is usually the first page of the policy. It shows the insured's name and address, policy dates, and a summary of the policy terms, the coverage limits and what is covered. You need to review and update the information on this page because it affects your coverage needs and the cost of your premiums. Never overlook any updates that need to be made, no matter how seemingly insignificant. 
    •   The Insuring Agreement - This specifies what the insurance company has agreed to cover in exchange for the premium. An insurance policy begins by declaring what it covers and then proceeds to restrict, limit and exclude coverages. You can't just read the insuring agreement to understand the coverage your insurer is providing. You must read the entire policy and refer back to the insuring agreement. This will help you identify coverage gaps.
    •   The Types of Coverage - The types of required coverage and minimums vary from state to state. The level of coverage is also affected by the age and value of your car. However, there are four types of common coverage that you should include in your insurance assessment. 
    The first is liability coverage. This protects you if you hurt someone or damage property while you are driving. As you accumulate more personal wealth, it is imperative that you increase your liability coverage. Without sufficient liability coverage, you could have your hard earned assets seized to cover a judgment against you.
    The second type that needs to be reviewed and updated is your medical payments coverage. This covers you if medical expenses are incurred by anyone involved in the accident regardless of who was at fault.
    The third type is your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. You will be extremely glad you upgraded this coverage if you are ever involved in an accident with a driver who has no insurance, has minimal insurance or is unidentified, as in the case of a "hit and run."
    The last type to be reviewed is your collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision covers damage to your car caused by an accident. Comprehensive covers damage caused by anything other than collision.  Both coverages are optional.  However, if you have a car loan or you are leasing a car, you will be required to carry both collision and comprehensive coverage. If you own your car outright, the decision whether to carry this coverage will depend on the age and value of the vehicle.   

    Your car's performance relies on a program of regularly scheduled maintenance, and so should your car insurance. In the same way that your car needs to be tuned up for it to operate safely and efficiently, your car insurance needs to be periodically reviewed to ensure it continues to provide the coverage you need.When you review your car insurance, you should pay careful attention to the following:•   The Declaration Page - This is usually the first page of the policy. It shows the insured's name and address, policy dates, and a summary of the policy terms, the coverage limits and what is covered. You need to review and update the information on this page because it affects your coverage needs and the cost of your premiums. Never overlook any updates that need to be made, no matter how seemingly insignificant. •   The Insuring Agreement - This specifies what the insurance company has agreed to cover in exchange for the premium. An insurance policy begins by declaring what it covers and then proceeds to restrict, limit and exclude coverages. You can't just read the insuring agreement to understand the coverage your insurer is providing. You must read the entire policy and refer back to the insuring agreement. This will help you identify coverage gaps.•   The Types of Coverage - The types of required coverage and minimums vary from state to state. The level of coverage is also affected by the age and value of your car. However, there are four types of common coverage that you should include in your insurance assessment. The first is liability coverage. This protects you if you hurt someone or damage property while you are driving. As you accumulate more personal wealth, it is imperative that you increase your liability coverage. Without sufficient liability coverage, you could have your hard earned assets seized to cover a judgment against you.The second type that needs to be reviewed and updated is your medical payments coverage. This covers you if medical expenses are incurred by anyone involved in the accident regardless of who was at fault.The third type is your Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist coverage. You will be extremely glad you upgraded this coverage if you are ever involved in an accident with a driver who has no insurance, has minimal insurance or is unidentified, as in the case of a "hit and run."The last type to be reviewed is your collision and comprehensive coverage. Collision covers damage to your car caused by an accident. Comprehensive covers damage caused by anything other than collision.  Both coverages are optional.  However, if you have a car loan or you are leasing a car, you will be required to carry both collision and comprehensive coverage. If you own your car outright, the decision whether to carry this coverage will depend on the age and value of the vehicle.   

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