• National Flood Insurance Program to focus more on victims’ needs

    Roy Wright, the newly appointed director of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), said that he will push it to better focus on the welfare and individual needs of disaster victims, following years of scandal within the organization. Wright, who will preside over the federal program beginning this week, criticized the insurance loopholes and complicated rules of private insurance companies that were perpetuated by the NFIP to “nickel-and-dime” policyholders and undermine their abilities to rebuild following a flood.

  • FEMA considering overhauling the National Flood Insurance Program

    Federal legislators and officials with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) are trying to overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program which relies on eighty-three companies to sell policies, collection premiums, and calculate damages after disasters. The program covers roughly 5.2 million homes and businesses nationwide. The move comes just as FEMA is in talks to settle almost 1,800 lawsuits filed by homeowners claiming they were underpaid on flood insurance claims after Superstorm Sandy. The flood insurance program was launched in 1968 after private insurers increased their coverage prices due to newer risk assessments, leaving most homeowners unable to afford them.

  • To bolster the world’s inadequate cyber governance framework, a “Cyber WHO” is needed

    A new report on cyber governance commissioned by Zurich Insurance Group highlights challenges to digital security and identifies new opportunities for business. It calls for the establishment of guiding principles to build resilience and the establishment of supranational governance bodies such as a Cyber Stability Board and a “Cyber WHO.”

  • Philippines mulls issuing catastrophe bonds to cover costs post-typhoon rebuilding

    After Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the Philippines in 2013,  killed at least 6,300 people and inflicting $13 billion in damage, the Philippine government is now looking at mitigating the costs of rebuilding and protection through catastrophe bonds. The bond sale would help the country with the rebuilding costs and should cover the cost of any future disasters on the same scale as Haiyan. Just last year, the World Bank had issued catastrophe bonds relating to earthquake and cyclone risks in sixteen Caribbean countries.

  • Rising sea level-induced floods cause increase in flood insurance rates

    Long-term sea level rise has made tidal flooding a near-daily event in many cities, compared to 1950 when it occurred about once every two years. As sea level rises, threatening more homes along flood zones, flood insurance claims are expected to increase. The Home­owner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 (HFIAA), which went into effect on 1 April, means that primary homeowners would see an average 10 percent increase in flood insurance premium yearly, along with an extra $25 annual surcharge. Secondary owners of vacation houses and condominiums can expect about an 18 percent rate increase, plus a $250 annual surcharge.

  • Options for providing affordable flood insurance premiums

    The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) faces dual challenges of maintaining affordable flood insurance premiums for property owners and ensuring that revenues from premiums and fees cover claims and program expenses over time. A new report found that these objectives are not always compatible and may, at times, conflict with one another. The report discusses measures that could make insurance more affordable for all policy holders and provides a framework for policymakers to use in designing targeted assistance programs.

  • Oklahoma warns insurers not to deny claims for man-made-earthquake damage

    Oklahoma Insurance Commissioner John Doak is warning insurers about the practice by some insurance companies to exclude “man-made” earthquakes from their policies without clear intent. Some companies are marking quakes caused by waste water injection wells — or “fracking” — as “man-made” and therefore outside of the scope of coverage of policies. This denial of coverage follows a dramatic increase of tremors in the state since 2013. The increase in fracking activity in the state has been accompanied by a dramatic increase in the number of earthquakes: Last year, the Oklahoma Geological Survey identified 567 tremors at or above a 3.0 magnitude, the point at which such quakes can be felt by humans and cause property damage.

  • Aviation industry under-prepared to deal with cyber risk: Expert

    The aviation industry is behind the curve in terms of its response and readiness to the insidious threat posed by cyber criminality whether from criminals, terrorists, nation states, or hackers, according to Peter Armstrong, head of Cyber Strategy for Willis Group Holdings, the global risk adviser, insurance and reinsurance broker. Armstrong explained that the aviation industry’s under-preparedness is noteworthy in a sector that abhors uncertainty and works tirelessly to eradicate it.

  • Florida lawmakers want homeowners to have more flood insurance options

    Lawmakers in Florida are planning for a future in which coastal communities can no longer depend on the federal government for affordable flood insurance coverage. The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) flood program is facing insolvency after recent disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, so Congress has moved to increaseflood insurance rates across the nation.Legislation proposed by Florida state senator Jeff Brandes (R-St. Petersburg) will give homeowners more coverage options in the local private insurance market. If passed, Brandes’s bill could lower premiums by excluding coverage of a detached garage or covering only the value of a home’s mortgage rather than its full replacement cost.

  • Winter storms costly for Western economies: Aon Benfield

    Aon Benfield’s January 2015 catastrophe report reveals that a series of four powerful windstorms over a seven-day span during January in different regions of Western Europe caused economic and insured losses were expected to reach hundreds of millions of euros. The catastrophe study highlights that two separate winter weather events impacted northeastern parts of the United States during the month, caused total economic damage and losses, including business interruption, estimated at $500 million.

  • Coastal communities can lower flood insurance rates by addressing sea-level rise

    City leaders and property developers in Tampa Bay are urging coastal communities to prepare today for sea-level rise and future floods in order to keep flood insurance rates low in the future. FEMA, which administers the National Flood Insurance Program(NFIP), is increasing flood insurance premiums across the country, partly to offset losses from recent disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. Cities can reduce insurance premiums for nearly all residents who carry flood coverage by improving storm-water drainage, updating building codes to reflect projected rise in sea-levels, moving homes out of potentially hazardous areas, and effectively informing residents about storm danger and evacuation routes.

  • Fracking-induced tremors lead to changes in building codes, insurance rates

    For its upcoming National Seismic Hazard Map, used by engineers to update building and construction codes and by insurers to set policy rates, the U.S. Geological Survey(USGS) will take into account risks posed by induced or man-made earthquakes. For North Texas, where earthquakes are historically uncommon, an increase in earthquake risk is likely as the Dallas area has suffered more than 120 earthquakes since 2008. Scientists have attributed these earthquakes to nearby fracking operations.

  • Insurers thankful for reauthorization of TRIA

    President Barack Obama signed in a six year renewal of Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) last Tuesday, and workers comp insurers sighed in relief after thirteen days of uncertainty following the expiration of the previous bill at the end of 2014. The insurance marketplace has adopted a “wait and see” approach to TRIA’s expiration, convinced that the negative backlash against Congress for allowing TRIA to expire would have been too great for lawmakers not to renew the law. The industry now goes back to business as usual.

  • FEMA paid cities for damages that should have been covered by insurance: Audit

    Though the hurricanes which ravaged much of Florida in 2004 and 2005 are 10-year-old events, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is still dealing with the damages and fallout, and a new audit reveals that the agency may have paid for city damages that should have been covered by insurance companies. It is estimated that $177 million in payments may be at issue. The audit also found that FEMA improperly waived the need for hurricane-stricken communities to buy insurance to protect against future events, meaning that the agency and taxpayers may have to pay to cover future damages that they would not have had to cover if the procedures had been followed. More specifically, the audit found that FEMA stands to lose roughly $1 billion in future damage costs because of this.


  • Businesses welcome TRIA extension, but small insurers worry about reimbursements

    Last week, the property insurance, real estate, and financial services industries applauded Congress for passing the recent version of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which President Barack Obama is expected to sign into law. TRIA has already been extended twice and the most recent version of the bill will, beginning in 2016, raise the federal coverage backstop from $100 million to $200 million by 2020 with an increase of $20 million per year. S&P welcomed the passing of TRIA through both houses of Congress, but cautioned that the bill could hurt small insurers. The company is concerned that small insurers may not see any TRIA reimbursements with the doubling of the federal coverage backstop to $200 million.