Commissioner Ted Nickel Statement on Summer Storms in Wisconsin

Madison, WI—Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Ted Nickel expressed concern for the citizens of Wisconsin facing property damage and floods after storms in recent weeks.

“Unfortunately, this summer, many individuals throughout the state of Wisconsin have experienced the stress and pain from heavy storms as their homes and business have been damaged,” said Commissioner Nickel. “Make sure to check your insurance coverage and remember OCI and other state agencies are here to help.”

Typical homeowner’s policies usually provide coverage for damage that is the result of severe weather such as damage from hail or high winds. An exception is that damage caused by flooding is typically not covered. For protection against floods, you must purchase a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program.

Damage resulting from sewer backup and sump pump problems is also rarely covered in homeowner’s policies but an endorsement providing that coverage may be purchased and added to the policy. Endorsements are added to insurance policies in order to provide additional coverage to the homeowner’s policy.

Most comprehensive auto policies provide coverage for vehicles damaged in a flood. However, if you purchased collision-only coverage, you may not have coverage.

Commissioner Nickel suggests the following tips in dealing with storm aftermath:

  • Notify your insurance agent or insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claim process. Make sure you provide a telephone and/or e-mail address where you can be reached.
  • Pay attention to local news to find out if state and federal agencies are available on-scene to help with relief efforts.
  • Separate damaged items from undamaged items.
  • Make a detailed list of all damaged or lost personal property. It will help to take photos of the damage. Your adjuster will need evidence of the damage and damaged items. Do not throw out any damaged property without your adjuster’s agreement. If local officials require the disposal of damaged items before the insurance company’s claims adjuster can inspect the damages, take photos and keep a swatch or other sample of damaged items for the adjuster (e.g., cut swatches from carpeting, curtains, chairs).
  • Contact your insurance company again if an adjuster has not been assigned to you within several days.
  • Keep a file containing all the claim documentation including telephone logs, photos, estimates and receipts.
  • To avoid scams, make sure to take your time. If you feel pressured to sign a contract quickly, take a step back and investigate.

The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) Web site has many helpful publications including Consumer’s Guide To Homeowner’s Insurance and Personal Property Home Inventory. OCI also offers several publications that may help you as you sort through the claims process, including Settling Property Insurance Claims and Documents and Records, which provides a list of documents that will need to be replaced if they have been destroyed and whom to contact for replacement. All publications are available on our Web site at oci.wi.gov/Pages/Consumers/ConsumerPublications.aspx and may also be ordered free from the agency.

 

Source: https://oci.wi.gov/Pages/PressReleases/20170712SummerStorms.aspx

Why Does Homeowners Insurance Exclude Certain Dog Breeds?

If you’re a dog lover, you probably look at your dog and think warm fuzzy thoughts. Your insurance company, on the other hand, probably sees danger signs.

This is especially true if the dog’s breed happens to be prohibited under homeowners insurance policies. Known by insurance companies as “excluded dog breeds,” “aggressive dog list,” “dangerous dogs list” or simply “bad dog list,” this collection of prohibited dogs consists of breeds that are widely considered to be a financial risk to insurers.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, claims related to injuries from dogs account for one-third of all homeowner liability dollars insurance companies pay out every year. In 2016, that figure was $602 million from more than 18,000 claims—an average of $33,000 per claim. That’s a lot of money.

This makes insurance companies wary of dogs that traditionally display a propensity for aggression, so homeowners whose dogs fall into that category will pay higher premiums. In some cases, depending on the homeowner’s location and the insurance company, it may even be impossible to obtain coverage.

The specific dog breeds prohibited by insurers vary from company to company, but at least five appear on every list. Note that not only pure-bred dogs are banned, but any mixed breeds as well:

  • Pit Bull
  • Rottweiler
  • Doberman
  • Presa Canario
  • Chow Chow

Statistics show these are some of the most aggressive dogs around and have been the cause of many reported attacks—some of which are fatal. According to the Centre for Disease Control, dog attacks resulted in 279 human deaths in the U.S. over a 20-year period, and Pit Bulls and Rottweilers alone accounted for more than half of those deaths. In a separate long-term study that analyzed 658 documented deaths resulting from dog attacks, 53.5% were attributable to Pit Bulls.

Owners of these types of dogs may feel discriminated against. After all, every individual dog differs by not only personality but also, importantly, upbringing. Isn’t it unfair to ban an entire breed because of the bad behavior of a few?

One alternative could be to deny coverage or impose higher premiums based on the risk associated with a specific dog, rather than its breed. This would require insurance companies to assess a dog’s history of behavior, training and other personal criteria to determine if they are dangerous.

But this approach does not seem very tenable from an insurance perspective. Many dogs do not exhibit aggressive behavior until the day they attack, at which point it’s too late for the insurance company to refuse to pay out. In the absence of a more reliable method of predicting aggression, it appears that breed profiling is the only feasible option.

The insurance industry is in the business of evaluating risk, and all the facts about these five types of dogs suggest they pose a higher risk.

 

Written by: Frank Medina June 12, 2017

Frank Medina is owner of Frank Medina Insurance, which specializes in auto and homeowners insurance.