Despite storms, high prices prompt many to opt out of flood insurance



Owning a home in coastal Connecticut can be expensive.

So ever-increasing premiums for flood insurance through the federal government’;s National Flood Insurance Program are making the policies a hard sell, despite more heavy storms hitting homeowners in areas at risk of flooding, according to data compiled by the Associated Press.

Connecticut is one of 43 states where the number of people paying for flood insurance has gone down in the last 5 years.

According to the Associated Press analysis, 6 percent fewer people have flood insurance policies in New London County this year than were insured in 2012, and the number of policies is down in all Connecticut counties but Middlesex County.

Diane Ifkovic, Connecticut’;s flood insurance coordinator, said the drop in policies can be attributed to 2 pieces of legislation: the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 and the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014.

Homeowners who have a federally backed mortgage on a house in a flood hazard zone, where there is a 1 percent chance of major flooding in any given year, must purchase flood insurance.

Connecticut, like the rest of New England, has many older homes built before the Federal Emergency Management Agency’;s current flood maps were drawn. The owners of these so-called pre-Flood Insurance Rate Map, or “pre-FIRM,” homes were granted subsidized rates in the years before the Biggert-Waters Act reformed the way policies were priced with the aim of restoring the financial health of the heavily indebted National Flood Insurance Program.

After the passage of that bill, policy holders in those homes lost their heavily subsidized rates, and their bills were instead calculated based on real actuarial rise. The new rates increased insurance costs for the 40 percent of policy holders with pre-FIRM houses, Ifkovic said.

“In about 5 years, you kind of doubled your policy,” Ifkovic said.

People dropped their flood insurance after paying off their mortgages, sold their homes to avoid increasing flood insurance premiums or hired assessors to prove the flood lines didn’;t touch their homes.

“People are starting to feel it,” Ifkovic said. “You start to go, ‘How do I get out of this?'”

According to the data that the Associated Press collected, the average annual premium in New London County in 2017 was $1,497, up from $1,199 in 2012.

About 3.3 percent of New London County homes are covered under the National Flood Insurance Program. Of an estimated 7,013 homes in hazardous flood zones, 40.7 percent are covered.

The National Flood Insurance Program, which is administered by FEMA, has not been in good financial health for a while. Even before this summer’;s storms and hurricanes did significant damages to multiple parts of the southern United States, the program was $25 billion in debt.

It also was set to expire on Sept. 30 until Congress passed legislation earlier this month that reauthorized the program until Dec. 8, allowing lawmakers time to distribute funds to victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma and develop reforms.

‘A bad year’; 

Hurricane Irene in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 temporarily may have pushed up policy numbers in Connecticut, Ifkovic said. Some homeowners were spooked by the possibility of damage from future storms, and some people were forced to buy policies as a condition of receiving federal assistance to repair their homes.

Federal money to help homeowners and municipalities pay for construction to make houses more flood-resistant after the storms also has helped people hold on to their insurance policies, she said, because improvements like raising houses above the flood line can bring premiums down.

But as premiums have continued to rise overall, more people drop them as soon as they can.

Thomas Norris is one of the homeowners who stuck it out. He has continued to pay the annual $4,976 premium on his National Flood Insurance Program policy, even after the federally backed mortgage on his Mystic house was paid off and he was no longer required to do so.

“My gut tells me this is going to be a bad year” for storms, Norris said Thursday. “I would hate to drop it and then get flooded.”

Norris, whose Sylvia Avenue home sits feet from the Mystic River, formed an online group this year to try to help educate his neighbors about the risk of flooding and the nuances of flood insurance.

But many of his neighbors in Mystic don’;t see flood insurance as a priority, and many drop the policies as soon as their mortgages are paid off.

“Most people are starting to say, ‘Well, wait a minute. Do I sit down and write that … check, or do I take my chances on an every-100-year flood?’; I could do an awful lot of good for my family with $5,000, and maybe just take my chances,'” he said.

In her role with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Ifkovic said, she doesn’;t try to push policies on homeowners who don’;t want them or can’;t afford them.

Reforms that would require more people to buy policies might help add money to the National Flood Insurance Program pot and alleviate some of the program’;s debt, she said, but convincing people outside of the current flood zones or who don’;t have federally backed mortgages to invest in flood insurance is a hard sell, she said.

The series of recent big storms hitting the U.S., like hurricanes Harvey and Irene, could convince some that flood insurance could be a good idea, both as a way to protect themselves and to contribute to other Americans’ ability to recover from flood damage.

“Whenever these things happen, everyone’;s in a big boat together,” Ifkovic said.

m.shanahan@theday.com





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Theriault drives Cross Insurance Ford to ARCA Series victory




It’s always special to win an auto race.

And it’s an added bonus when the business serving as the primary sponsor for your car is from your home state.

With Bangor’s Cross Insurance serving at the primary sponsor on his Ken Schrader Racing Ford, Fort Kent’s Austin Theriault survived a wild finish in the Crosley Brands 150 to capture his series-leading 6th win in the ARCA Series on Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.

It is the most wins on the ARCA circuit since Parker Kligerman won 9 races in 2009.

Theriault withstood challenges first from Sheldon Creed and then Zane Smith on a green-white-checker (2-lap) finish to take the checkered flag and pretty much sew up the points championship.

The 23-year-old said it was nice to notch a win with a Maine sponsor.

“For a small state, Maine has a lot of heart and a sense of community,” said Theriault, who added that Cross Insurance epitomizes the state and the work ethic of Maine people.

Theriault finished 4th earlier this year with E.J. Prescott Inc. of Gardiner as the primary sponsor for the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indiana.

On Friday, there were wrecks behind Theriault on a restart with 14 laps to go and on another with 6 laps remaining leading up to the green-white checker. He primarily stayed on the bottom groove.

“We didn’t have the best car but the best car doesn’t always win,” said Theriault, who qualified 12th. “We took just 2 tires on the last pit stop to keep track position. (Fresher) tires didn’t make that much difference on this track because it was re-paved and was smooth.”

In addition to the 6 wins, Theriault’s remarkable season also includes 16 top-5 finishes in 19 races, 12 top-3s including his current string of 6 in a row, and 11 top-2s. He hasn’t finished out of the top 10.

“I’ve never had a season like this before,” said Theriault who noted that all the hard work put in by him and the Ken Schrader Racing team has “paid off.”

He said it has been beneficial to spend an entire season racing and doing so with the same team. He hasn’t been able to race for a points championship in several years because he landed only limited-race deals in the Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series.

Another deal, on the K and N Pro Series East circuit, ended prematurely last fall for business reasons with him running third in the points battle at the time.

The final race this season will be held on Oct. 20, the Kansas ARCA 150 at Kansas Speedway.

Theriault said he was under the impression that all he had to do was start the race at Kansas to claim the points championship, but he said his goal will be to complete the season with his eighth win.

Theriault entered the Crosley Brands 150 with a 375-point lead over Dalton Sargeant and he expanded that lead as Sargeant finished 4th.





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Merger Explained: How insurance will work at Ballad Health



For one entity to operate and own all hospitals in the Tri-Cities, the Tennessee Department of Health crafted a sophisticated process that grants insurance companies some leverage during negotiations with the new health system.

When directly asked, “Will Ballad Health accept all forms of insurance?” during Tuesday’s press conference, Executive Chairman Alan Levine simplified a convoluted topic by answering, “Yes.”

He then explained, “There are provisions that require us to negotiate in good faith with every payer. There’;s provisions that if we can’;t reach an agreement with a payer, under the supervision of the state, there’;s mediation and the arbitration.”

If a negotiation moves to mediation and fails to reach a resolution, the Department of Health can force Ballad to participate in what’s called “Final Offer Arbitration” with the insurance company or choose an alternative arbitration route.

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“There’;s what’;s called a final-offer arbitration, where if the payer agrees to it then we have to comply with whatever the arbitrator says,” Levine said.

Under the Terms of Certification, attorney costs and fees resulting from the arbitration would be awarded to the prevailing party.

Large ne2rk payers and small insurance companies will each use separate, intricate formulas as part of price negotiations. Those formulas include using a “Diagnosis Related Groups Methodology,” which assigns a weight to various inpatient hospital groups based upon diagnoses, procedures, complications, age and other factors. 

According to the Terms of Certificate, that state-designed formula should provide limits upon, measurement and reporting of price increases for specific services for all types of health-related services provided by Ballad.

“There is also a provision that if payers go out-of-ne2rk and choose not to contract with us, the cap on price growth still applies,” Levine said.

“They did put a provision in there that provides a higher cap if an insurance company chooses not to contract, which is sort of done as an incentive to get the insurance companies to want to have contracts with us.”

The state has capped pricing growth for Ballad Health. Levine said the system’s pricing growth will be more than 30 percent below the hospital consumer price index.

“Our pricing growth here will be 30 percent below what all other hospitals are seeing. So what we’re committing to is delivering a higher quality of care at a lower price over time,” Levine said.

Other state-imposed restrictions force Ballad Health to negotiate with new insurance providers and insurance providers with small market shares.

During negotiating, Ballad Health also can’t make it a condition of contracting or request to be an exclusive provider to any insurance provider, despite the new entity now controlling approximately 71 percent of Tri-Cities’ inpatient services.

Additionally, Ballad Health can’t restrict physicians the ability to see patients who are admitted into any one of Ballad Health’s 21 hospitals.

For the underinsured and uninsured, Levine said the merged entity actually benefits low-income earners more so than the 2 hospital systems previously did.

The policy only requires underinsured patients, with plans not meeting the “minimum essential coverage” standard, cannot be charged more than “amounts generally billed.”

The merger’s charity care policy only requires Ballad to adopt a policy identical to or more beneficial than Mountain States and Wellmont Health System’s previous policies.

Previously, Mountain States provided charity care to any person who earned 200 percent above the federal poverty level, but under Ballad, Levine said that figure will increase to 225 percent.

“There’;s a clear and convincing public benefit that more people will benefit who are low-income. More low-income people will benefit because of this merger than would have otherwise,” Levine said.

Email Zach Vance at zvance@johnsoncitypress.com. Follow Zach Vance on Twitter at @ZachVanceJCP. Like him on Facebook at Facebook.com/ZachVanceJCP.




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Insured breast cancer patients worse off



Breast cancer patients with private health insurance appear to be financially worse off compared to those who rely on Medicare, a report has found.

A Deloitte Access Economics report has found total out-of-pocket costs for women with private health insurance were higher than those without.

Overall, women with breast cancer pay about $5000 in out-of-pocket costs in the 5-year period after their diagnosis.

Some women with private health insurance paid about $7000 in the private health system, compared to $3600 for women without insurance.

One quarter of privately insured women reported out-of-pocket costs of more than $21,000.

The report was commissioned by Breast Cancer Ne2rk Australia (BCNA) and surveyed almost 2000 women about the out-of-pocket costs they faced after they were diagnosed with breast cancer.

About 12 per cent of respondents had no out-of- pocket costs, while 25 per cent experienced out-of- pocket costs of more than $17,200.

The figures do not take into account lost wages if a woman needs to take time off work because of treatment.

“Our report has confirmed that breast cancer can have a significant financial impact on women and their families, which can last many years after the initial diagnosis,” BCNA chief executive Christine Nolan said.

The Financial Impact of Breast Cancer report has made 14 recommendations about how private health insurers, government and health service providers can work together to reduce the financial burden.

They include increasing the Medicare rebates, free parking at hospitals for cancer patients, and the approval of new cancer drugs on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.




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Insurance firms'll take bigger risks to retain more premiums — Aluko



The Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Liability Insurance Pool, Mr. Peter Aluko, speaks about how the insurance industry is cooperating by pooling funds together to achieve local content objectives, in this interview with NIKE POPOOLA

How have insurance companies in the NLIP fared so far after the recapitalisation in the industry?

In 2005, there was recapitalisation in the industry that brought out some stringent conditions which some insurance companies could not fulfil so they went into extinction. It actually affected our members because previously we were 22 members (insurance companies); some that could not cope had to leave. We were in 2 groups; we tried to merge them together, and we pushed out the ones that could not cope. So, that is one of the strategies we employed. We were able to retain the ones that we could control, in terms of what we get from them, and the other side attraction to our operation is effective settlement of claims. We try to make sure that claims are promptly settled, and that has encouraged the few members remaining to still retain their membership.

How was the pool able to cope with challenges since the last recapitalisation in the industry?

The NLIP is a pool whose activities are hinged on the performances of its members, and we are such a specialist pool. As a result of that, the management has been trying to be very proactive in managing the resources available to it as well as the businesses we have from members. But the good thing behind our success is the fact that we maintain a kind of discipline, in the form of the business we get from members, technical soundness, professionalism, and pro-activeness.

Since the pool came into full-fledged operations in 2010, we have successfully managed the pool and we declared surplus every year since then. We have been able to maintain that because of the management we have on the board who are very supportive in every areas, most especially in the technical aspects. We ensure that the kinds of business we have are the ones that cannot alter the performance of the pool negatively. And we ensure very efficient monitoring of the activities of our members through the information we have. We ensure that those areas of businesses that are likely to give problems are addressed effectively before they get out of hand. Our operation is such a moderate one and is very manageable. We have staff we can monitor every time to do the work according to the dictates of the profession.

After the exit of companies that did not make it after recapitalisation, how are you engaging more companies?

By January, we have enlisted the interest of some potential members, and the challenge we are going to have is how to merge them with the existing members because of certain issues. What we do is to form a parallel group which we call group 2. We have had it before. So when we operate for a certain time, we will merge them together.

How does inappropriate pricing, which is common in the industry, affect your operations?

Insurance, as far as I have observed, is an industry that seems to be ethically challenged in terms of the way companies carry on their business. There is a level of indiscipline in terms of the rating, underwriting and all those stuff. But at our own end, we serve as a control organisation, even though our area is specialist. Unless the industry gets it right in the area of ethics, the other issue is like a ticking time bomb.. Insurance is not about business alone; it is about safeguarding the industry, and building confidence in investors to put their money in any company. Insurance is not about “It will not happen.”; it is about “If it happens” because what we are selling is claims.

There have been instances where a company had to sell all its properties when there was a claim because it did not do the business right but wanted to enjoy the premium alone. We will ensure that underwriting profit is the first that is paramount in our hearts. A lot of insurance companies are living on investment income, but it is something that is generating the investment money you are using. For our members, when a certain business exceeds certain threshold, they must carry us along in the underwriting and we have the reservation to reject that business.

How do you take business from member companies?

When you are talking of insurance generally, there are classes of insurance. It is either non-life or life. Out of the non-life, we have other sub-classes like accident, fire, marine, oil and energy. Under accident, there are lots of other sub-classes. As a matter of fact, the major area of non-life insurance is accident because it has a lot of units under it. Within those units, we have what we call liability risks. For instance, in motor insurance, you have comprehensive and third party. When we are talking of third party, that is the area covered under that class of insurance. We don’t cover comprehensive. So all our members, for every business they take on third party, they have to give us 60 per cent of the premium and then keep 40 per cent. And, when claims come, we settle in equal proportion. We operate on what we call quota-sharing insurance.

We now go to public liability policy. This covers the liability of other companies or individuals to third parties. So in that, we take 60 per cent while the companies take 40 per cent.

But in the comprehensive of motor, since it comprises of both comprehensive and third party, we take 4.5 per cent to cater for the third party element. But when there is a claim that is third party, not comprehensive, we take 60 per cent because 4.5 per cent of comprehensive premium is big enough.

Are you considering taking bigger risks in other sectors?

We are specialised in liability risks alone and gradually, we are trying to see that we extend to all other areas of business that even most insurance companies don’t give attention to. We are now moving to other emerging liability risks like energy and oil risks. We are still on it, and have been working in conjunction with the Nigerian Insurers Association. We are trying to approach the National Insurance Commission for consent because it requires overseas reinsurance. So, to make sure that we crystallise on this very well, last year, we organised an international seminar. We brought the Swiss Reinsurance people from Switzerland, and some other local facilitators to sensitise the industry about our intending consent to emerging liability risks. Except for some logistic reasons, we would have started this year, but we are trying to overcome the little challenges we are having. Hopefully, we are going to commence by 2018. So, that is one of the areas where we are going to boost our income. The NIA is very supportive. The area is oil and gas liability aspect. There is also ongoing director and officers’ liability insurance; it is such a new one and we have been able to successfully engage our members; so we are making some little incursion in that area too.

How have you been able to boost your premium after the insurance industry lost the workmen compensation business?

In recent years, there was a repeal of the Workmen Compensation Act, and it was replaced by the Employers Compensation Act in 2010, which took the workmen compensation insurance from insurance industry to the Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund. As a way of being inventive, we now created a policy, Employers Contingent Liability, an alternative to that. That also is generating some income for us, even though some members are still not aware of it; we are trying to see how we can market it very well and it is being accepted.

In the aspect of professional indemnity, which has been there for long, the reason why we are not making much from it is the fact that even the acceptance at our members’ level is a little bit low, but we are going to embark on strategies to repackage them to make them embrace it.

What are you doing to improve some of your liability insurances?

There are a lot of liability insurance risks but we are taking them step by step. We were challenged in terms of motor insurance. By all standards, it is one of the areas commanding bigger shares. Day by day, there have been a lot of challenges facing our prospects in that area. People are creating fraudulent alternatives to motor insurance. What we did is to work on our strategies to ensure that we concentrate on those areas that are still emerging. The premium is not only going down, but the awareness of rights is increasing and making the claims to go up every day while the premium is not going up at the same rate. We believe that in the near future, there will be a converging point that will not be favourable to the industry except something drastic is done. Recently, there’s a bill sponsored in the industry to move third party up. We hope that it will scale through.

How is NLIP’s relationship with the energy insurance pool in the industry?

I was part of those consulted when they were going to open that pool, but that is not the issue. A pool is already in place and the NIA and NAICOM gave them support. The pool you are talking about is one of the avenues that NAICOM is trying to look at as a way of complying with the local content policy. And because of the challenge that this local content policy has suffered over the years in terms of compliance, every opportunity that will come to NAICOM now to see that more premium is retained in Nigeria, they will support it. So the issue of competition is left to the analysts. But to us, it is not competition; it is collaboration.

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Top doctor, hospital, and insurance groups release joint statement urging the Senate to reject …





bill cassidy lindsey graham
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Images

A group of 6 major doctor, hospital, and insurance groups
released a joint statement on Saturday condemning the latest GOP
effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, urging the
Senate to reject the Graham-Cassidy bill.

“While we sometimes disagree on important issues in health care,
we are in total agreement that Americans deserve a stable
healthcare market that provides access to high-quality care and
affordable coverage for all,” the
statement said.

“The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill does not move us closer
to that goal. The Senate should reject it.”

The groups that issued the statement included the American
Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians,
American Hospital Association, Federation of American Hospitals,
America’;s Health Insurance Plans, and the BlueCross BlueShield
Association.

Each of those groups — and
more than a dozen others — has already individually condemned
the Graham-Cassidy bill, but Saturday’;s statement marked the
first time they had done so as a collective.

The statement said the groups agreed that the bill would
undermine safeguards for patients with pre-existing conditions,
dramatically cut Medicaid and introduce a future “funding cliff,”
weaken the individual insurance market, and introduce an
unworkable timeframe to implement the bill’;s changes.

“State and industry leaders will need to completely transform
their individual insurance markets and Medicaid programs in
little more than a year — an impossible task,” the statement
said.

The
bill — written by Sens. Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean
Heller, and Ron Johnson — would set up federal funding in block
grants, which states would use to fund healthcare. That’;s
different from how funding is distributed now, as a percentage of
what states spend, and it could drastically change what states
receive.

In the statement, the groups called for senators to work on a
bipartisan solution instead.

As of Friday, the future for the Graham-Cassidy bill looked
dismal, after Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced

he intended to vote against the bill. Sen. Rand Paul of
Kentucky, a fellow Republican, had already come out strongly
against it, as had Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

As Republicans control 52 seats in the Senate, they would have to
persuade at least one of those 3 senators to vote for the
bill in order to pass it with a simple majority under the budget
reconciliation process. The GOP must pass the bill by September
30 otherwise it will be subject to the Senate’;s usual 60-vote
threshold.

But some, including President Donald Trump, have speculated that
Paul or Collins could still change their minds before the bill
comes to a vote.

“I know Rand Paul and I think he may find a way to get there for
the good of the Party!” Trump tweeted
on Saturday.

Lydia Ramsey contributed reporting.





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Camden Police beat: OUI, speeding, insurance violations



CAMDEN — Camden police reported the following activity from Aug. 2-29. An arrest or summons does not apply guilt. A person charged with a crime is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

Aug. 2

Sabrina Tucker, 22, of Ellsworth, was issued a summons by Officer Sam Butler for speed.

Colleen Golgano, 47, of Belfast, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to stop at a stop sign.

Christian Gerquest, 54, of Camden, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to register motor vehicle.

Aug. 3

Christopher Colson, 47, of Camden, was issued a summons by Officer Wes Butler for lack of insurance and failure to stop at a stop sign.

Aug. 4

Gabrielle Steele, 26, of Denver, Colo., was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to stop at a stop sign.

Richard Grant, 64, of Lincolnville, was issued a summons by S. Butler for operating with studded tires.

Steven Young, 60, of Lincolnville, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Aug. 5

Christina Philoon, 29, of Lincolnville, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Aug. 6

Ramiro DeAcevedo Ramos, 43, of Camden, was issued a summons by Officer Allen Weaver for assault.

Aug. 7

Richard Southard, 74, of Thomaston, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Juvenile, of Hope, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Aug. 9

Melissa Marchetti, 59, of Lincolnville, was issued a summons by W. Butler for failure to register motor vehicle.

Marshall Bolster, 71, of Rockport, was issued a summons by W. Butler for expired registration.

Aug. 10

Jordan Roling, 23, of West Rockport, was issued a summons by Weaver for speed.

Aug. 11

Melissa Beckwith, 30, of Union, was issued a summons by S. Butler for speed.

Nancy Hathaway, 69, of Surry, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Frederick Finck, 52, of Camden, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Aug. 12

Stephen Widdecomb, III, 24, of Rockland, was issued a summons by S. Butler for alteration of motor vehicle after inspection.

Griffith Decker, 22, of Lincolnville, was issued a summons by S. Butler for speed and failure to register motor vehicle.

Aug. 13

Juvenile, 16, of Rockport, was issued a summons by W. Butler for operating under the influence.

Aug. 16

Bobbi Oxton, 46, of Camden, was issued a summons by Weaver for dog at large.

Aug. 17

Shane Callahan, 23, of Rockland, was issued a summons by Officer Brook Hartshorn for operating without a license.

Aug. 24

Zachary London, 28, of Fairfax, Va., was issued a summons by Hartshorn for speeding.

Aug. 26

Gregg Perry, 62, of Rockport, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to produce insurance.

Allsion Riefe-Turnbull, 55, of Rockport, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to register motor vehicle.

Guy Bennett, 47, of Lincolnville Center, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to stop at a stop sign.

Aug. 29

David Tibbetts, 51, of Marco Isle, Fla, was issued a summons by S. Butler for failure to stop at a stop sign.

Ariela Kuh, 31, of Camden, was issued a summons by S. Butler for register motor vehicle.

Thomas Leeper, 50, of Hope, was issued a summons by S. Butler for speed.

Reach Sarah Shepherd at news@penbaypilot.com




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London Bridge terror attack: Insurance firms fail to cover Borough Market traders' losses



Restaurants and traders around Borough Market were closed for more than 10 days after the terrorist attack by Islamic militants on June 3, which resulted in 8 deaths and left 48 people injured, as they could not get past the police cordon. 

According to firms in the area, no one has yet received a payout from insurers under their terrorism protection policies. 

Despite hardship funds being set up and rents being waived, the enforced shut down many firms endured, along with the poor weather this summer and lingering security fears, have hurt their trading. 

One restaurant owner, who declined to be named, said: “The insurers had the chance to do something good and pay out quickly and they haven’t. 

“But if someone slips on your premises they are all over you in an instant.” 

Under insurance industry rules, payouts can only be made once an event has been designated by the Treasury as “terrorism”. 

The Treasury classified London Bridge as a terrorist attack at the end of June.




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Duffy seeks reform to national flood insurance program



The National Flood Insurance Program was created in 1968 after private insurers realized it was too costly to cover people living in areas at risk of flooding. The program is now $24.6 billion in debt after paying out losses from Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy, according to a report released this month by the Congressional Budget Office.


U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy

Duffy, R-Wausau, said the program needs to be reformed. He said it encourages people to live in dangerous areas.

“When disasters hit, not only are their lives put in peril, but then we also have first responders who risk their own lives to save people who the government has subsidized to live in these dangerous places,” he said.

The CBO report analyzed about 5 million policies under the program through August 2016. The program is projected to have a budget shortfall of $1.4 billion due, in part, to it paying out more in losses than it’;s bringing in from premiums. Duffy said the program should offer incentives for people to move out of floodplains.

“When it’;s in the benefit of the program… we want to commit and make an offer to buy their house. Now, if they don’;t want to sell their house, they don’;t have to. We’;re not in the business of forcing people to sell,” he said. “But, if we get to paying for… the value of your home twice — 200 percent — we would tell folks, ‘Listen, you don’;t have to sell, but you have to get a policy in the private market.'”

The program had exhausted its resources before authorization for funding was set to expire Sept. 30. However, funding for the program has been reauthorized until December as part of a continuing resolution to keep the government running. Around 22,000 communities across the nation take part in the national flood program.

Duffy and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, say Congress needs to take action soon to make the program more sustainable. The 2 are suggesting reforms that would include updating flood maps to accurately assess areas at risk of flooding, issue surcharges on policies for the program, and only subsidize flood insurance for people who can’;t afford it.

Wisconsin Public Radio can be heard in the Twin Ports at 91.3 FM or online at www.wpr.org/news.




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Is Travel Insurance Really Necessary?




Fox Searchlight/Courtesy Everett Collection

A handy guide for the accident-prone.

To be succinct with the following understatement, insurance as a whole is complex and confusing to most. Some types, like health insurance, shouldn’t be difficult (okay haha actually, that one should be a human right). But others, like travel insurance, aren’t necessary for every single person on this earth to have for every single trip they take. Maybe you’re hiking to Everest base camp and you think maybe you should cover your future ass. Maybe you’re worried that a flight might get cancelled and you’re wondering whether you should check off the 11-dollar travel insurance box on your airline’s website. But it’s tricky to know when travel insurance is truly useful, and when it’s just another unnecessary way to spent your money.

To answer that question, we talked to 3 travel insurance experts who gave us a primer on when you’d be wasting money to purchase a plan and when you’d be dumb to not buy one. Adrenaline chasers and those who tend to lose their baggage, read carefully.

Does everyone need it?
Short answer: No. A few potential risks that travel insurance covers include trip cancellations, lost luggage, medical emergencies, and evacuations. Therefore, assess how likely it is that you’ll run into any of these issues. Furthermore, some credit cards, like Chase Sapphire Preferred, offer some travel coverage—you may have it and just not know it.

How does the cost structure work?
Just like every other type of insurance, not all travel insurance policies are the same. According to ValuePenguin, the average cost of travel insurance in the U.S. was $148, but a few factors can move this number way up or down. “No matter the type of policy someone buys, the price increases dramatically the older they are,” says Paul Reynolds, Head of Consumer Research at ValuePenguin. “Premiums remained relatively flat for travelers age one through 30, but then the cost begins to climb. The most drastic increases in travel insurance costs occur between ages 60 and 80.”

Does my credit score matter?
Unlike with many other types of insurance, where your credit score can be a factor in determining your premium, travel insurance isn’t influenced by this number. “In fact, when requesting a travel insurance quote your credit score or social security number are not required,” says InsureMyTrip Product Director Lynne Peters. Reynolds explains why: “The nature of the travel insurance industry pretty much precludes using credit scores, since it’s based on providing practically instant quotes based primarily on your trip particulars and the levels of coverage you require.”

Are you going bouldering or skydiving or paragliding or BASE jumping?
Your itinerary matters. “If you’re planning high-risk activities, like skydiving and scuba diving, you’re more liable to require medical care, and you might want to get travel insurance with a rider that clearly covers those,” Reynolds says. Also, if you’re going to a remote area that’s far from major hospitals, you may want to look into travel insurance that would evacuate you in case you fall off a boulder or get bitten by a shark.

What insurance do you already have?
“In short, travel insurance exists because there are gaps in your coverage elsewhere when it comes to travel,” says Damian Tysdal of Travel Insurance Review. First, check your health insurance plan, which may or may not cover you abroad. Also, if you have personal property insurance and have made the decision to mark valuable items (so, stuff that would be in your luggage) as “scheduled items,” that insurance would cover those things were you to lose them. However, if you’re concerned about your luggage being lost, stolen, or damaged, and you don’t have that insurance, look into travel insurance.

What if I’m only concerned with my material possessions and not the wellbeing of my physical body?
Federal regulations require that airlines are liable for up to $3,300 if your luggage is damaged when you fly domestically (some like American Airlines and Delta will pay up to $3,500). However, if you’re traveling internationally or with items worth more than that amount, look for travel insurance that covers baggage, or just buy baggage insurance.

Okay, where do I buy it?
While you can buy travel insurance directly from providers, such as Nationwide and AIG Travel, it’s smart to use a website to compare plans’ benefits. “It works the same way as Expedia—you enter your trip information, then it pulls quotes from all major companies,” Tysdal says. “Then, it makes it easy to compare the plans side-by-side to see which ones has the best coverage for the best price.”

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