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Can you cover the difference?

 

Recently, Advisen published Cyber Liability Insurance Market Trends. The report covers survey responses from 500 insurance professionals including brokers, carriers, and risk managers.

Not surprisingly, Advisen found that there is an increasing demand for cyber insurance, and a need for better education throughout the industry on cyber liability issues.

When asked about obstacles to selling cyber coverage, 75% of respondents cited a lack of understanding about the risk of exposure. Brokers are frustrated by IT staff who feel their systems are invincible, and senior management who are in denial about their vulnerability to cyber attacks. Respondents felt that the insurance industry needs to provide better educational information to clients to foster a deeper understanding of the topic.

The threat is real

Each year, Symantec publishes an analysis of cyber threats globally, delivering an outline of what the major threats are, where they’re coming from, and who is being targeted. An infographic that supports the 2015 Internet Security Threat Report delivers some unsettling findings – advanced attackers targeted five out of six large companies in 2014, representing a 40% increase over the previous year and small- to midsized businesses were the target of 60% of all attacks.

Almost no business is safe from a cyber attack. The best hope that businesses have is to invest in constant upgrades, instill best practices throughout the organization, and develop response scenarios to follow whenever a vulnerability or an attack is detected.

A report published by the Harvard Business Review, Aggressive and Persistent: Using Frameworks to Defend against Cyber Attacks provides further evidence that executives have a high degree of awareness about cyber attacks. They’re also looking for more proactive ways to deal with threats. The report is an excellent starting point for establishing a better approach to cyber security at your company and provides some helpful guidance to consider as you build your cyber liability insurance policy.

Are you insured for a cyber attack?

Building the right approach to your cyber liability coverage is critical. One of the issues we see in the marketplace is companies that have inadequate cyber liability coverage. Policies are out of date, or contain very specific clauses about practices the insured needs to maintain in order to meet coverage guidelines.

Consider the healthcare industry, for example. Hospitals must adhere to HIPAA regulations and other high-level guidelines, particularly when it comes to IT best practices. However, if a low-level employee in the IT department fails to follow a specific practice as outlined in the insurance agreement – which he or she has most likely never seen – and that leads to a security breach, the hospital may be left without coverage.

The cost of cyber attacks

In 2014, IBM published the Cost of Data Breach Study: Global Analysis, and found that the average cost of a data breach to a company was $3.5 million. For a small or midsized firm, this can be a staggering figure, particularly if nuances in your coverage could prevent you from being able to collect on a claim.

As you work on boosting security and creating an insurance safety net, consider some of these important coverages:

  • Do you have a high deductible on your cyber liability policy, and could you benefit from a deductible buy-down?
  • Does your policy contain a per-claim deductible, and if so, should you consider an aggregate stop loss provision?
  • What do your policy’s terms and conditions look like, and are there any holes or restrictions in coverage that should be addressed?
  • Does your policy cover added expenses you may need such as crisis communication costs, legal fees, and hiring outside firms to assist with the fallout of a cyber attack?

Put your plan in place

As cyber attacks become more frequent, the likelihood that you will be the victim of an attack increases. Do your best to prepare your company and to foster best practices throughout your organization – even if the cost is a bit painful. Work with professionals and outside consultants to make sure your approach to security is fresh and up-to-date, and  conduct an annual review with your insurance advisors to make sure your insurance policy is still relevant and that your practices live up to the expectations set out in the policy. If you feel you need additional coverage that your carrier can’t provide, you should consider forming an enterprise risk captive to create a safety net to cover your company in the worst case scenario. Contact us for help with weighing your options.

 

Hospital Closures

How Hospital Closures and Mergers Impact Healthcare Providers

The AARP, Inc., (AARP) recently reported on a “sweeping national trend” of hospital mergers. Looking out for its constituents, the AARP pointed out that when a small hospital is taken over by a larger group, costs can increase by 5 to 40 percent. This is bad news for patients and the communities the hospitals serve.

Changes in affiliation can drastically impact medical professionals, as well. Some healthcare providers can no longer practice at a hospital once it changes affiliation or, if they can, their compensation may be drastically altered.

What can doctors do?

Healthcare providers with business interruption insurance will have something to fall back on. If a facility is quickly sold, healthcare providers who suddenly find themselves unable to practice at the facility until they re-apply and receive credentials from the facility can seek compensation through their insurance to bridge the gap. If a facility is closed entirely, some policies will assist with helping healthcare providers as they seek relocation or find another solution for their practice.

Should healthcare providers be worried?

Hospital mergers, and some closures, will continue as the Affordable Care Act takes root in the U.S. – the entire healthcare system is experiencing changes, and it may take some time before the industry settles.

The issue of closures and mergers has caught the eye of the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Justice Department, and both organizations, report the AARP, are policing hospital mergers that might leave insufficient options for patients.

The American Hospital Association’s report, “Hospitals and Care Systems of the Future” takes a thorough look at what hospitals will look like in the future. If you own or work in a private practice, download the report and refer to it as you begin to plan for the future.

Planning for an uncertain future

Practitioners everywhere could be impacted by mergers and closures. Being prepared is key. Maintain affiliations with as many facilities as you can, and keep an ear to the ground in your community to know when changes are coming down the line – if you know a merger is in the works, begin the application process early for credentials just in case.

To be completely safe, talk with your insurance provider to make sure that you’re covered in the case of business interruption. If you’re not covered, work with your provider to add this coverage to your policy.

It may be difficult for doctors to obtain business interruption insurance, depending on what part of the country a doctor is in, what kind of practice the doctor has, and a host of other factors. If it’s difficult to obtain business interruption insurance on the open market, then consider launching an enterprise risk captive to gain the coverage you’ll need. We will be glad to talk with you about how to set up and launch a policy – contact us if we can help.

key person disability insurance.

Key person disability insurance helps you prepare for the unexpected at your medical practice

According to a recent survey by the American Medical Association, AMA’s 2012 Physician Practice Benchmark Survey, as reported by the AAFP, 60 percent of physicians work in practices wholly owned by physicians, 39.8 percent own their own practice, and 18.8 percent are in a practice on their own. Overall, 57.7 percent of all physicians are self-employed.

Small practices are thriving in America, says the report. Small group practices work well for doctors who want to create a practice that’s big enough to pool resources and get the benefits of partnership without growing to an unmanageable size.

The realities of partnership

These medical practices can do very well, but the success of the partnership is often very much dependent on the health and well-being of all of the key partners. Lose one partner for even a few weeks to illness or a broken bone, and suddenly the entire practice is disrupted. After all, in most cases it’s safe to assume that a key partner in a group of 10 is shouldering about 10 percent of the workload.

Some key partners may have multiple roles in a practice where multiple disciplines are required, so if a one partner who also oversees billing or technology at your firm is suddenly laid up with a broken leg near a ski slope far away, your office might have to kick into high gear to figure out how to handle the partner’s job for a few weeks, or make some tough decisions about cancelling appointments.

Lost revenue and bad reviews

Cancelled appointments can lead to lost business. Patients in need of immediate care will go to another practice and may never return to yours. Even worse, word might get around that your office turned patients away. As social media reviews become more and more important to not only your reputation in the community, but also to your ability to be found more easily in web searches, it’s easy to see how even the temporary loss of a single employee can snowball into a bigger problem.

Planning is key to strong partnerships

When you’re launching a business and things are going well, it’s not easy to imagine a rainy day scenario. But medical practitioners who want to have a strong and thriving practice in the long-term should make contingency plans for what to do when a member of the practice becomes ill suddenly. Some practical advice includes networking with doctors who could jump in as temps when things go wrong, and making sure no key functions in the practice are overseen by only one team member – make sure at least two team members know enough about the important things like billing, technology, appointment-setting, and taxes to take over in a pinch.

Depending on the size of your practice, and how it’s structured, it may be wise to consider key person disability insurance. This insurance will kick in and cover the costs of hiring temps to cover for a partner who can’t be there, or will cover the loss a practice suffers if the person is “irreplaceable” for a period of time. Doctors who perform highly specialized surgeries may not be easy to replace in a hurry, so key person disability insurance can cover the loss of their absence.

These policies are sometimes hard to come by for practices – they may not be offered by insurance providers in your area, or they may have deductibles that are so high that they aren’t really a feasible option. If this is the case, consider an enterprise risk captive as an alternative. We can help you figure out how a captive might help your practice – contact us for more information.

chip technology for credit cards

Chip In – New Technology for Credit Cards Reduces Risk

A technology has been available since the mid-1990s that is proven to reduce credit card fraud by up to 67 percent (according to research reported by the Smart Card Alliance) in some countries. Until recently, the United States was the only country that hadn’t yet adopted EMV (an acronym of the technology’s creators, Europay, MasterCard and Visa) but it is finally being implemented here in the midst of data breach catastrophes and consumer wariness over payment security.

How EMV works

EMV-enabled credit cards – or smart cards – have in them an embedded microchip that can store data that can be encrypted and/or authenticated for heightened security. In order for the chip to work for the payer, the payee must have a smart card reader. There is much, much more to the technology, but the driving force behind the chip is enhanced security and privacy. Smart cards mean more reliable authentication on a network that offers more security than existing U.S. networks. Encryption available through the smart card system provides advanced protection from tampering, and the technology makes creating duplicate cards very difficult.

Smart card technology creates a single global payment security process for all participants – and when the U.S. finally and thoroughly adopts the system, all major global economies will be on board. The technology also encourages mobile contactless payments (you’ve probably noticed people paying with their phones at Starbucks or at the movies) which will push another wave of innovation and transformation for retail and other industries as we get used to using the technology.

How EMV alters the liability landscape

Credit card companies are pushing the adoption of EMV-enabled smart cards. In fact, major U.S. credit card issuers including American Express, MasterCard and Visa, have established a deadline for businesses to adopt the technology (October 15, 2015). If a business isn’t using the technology by the deadline, it will be liable for any fraud-related loss. For example, if you own a business and use a traditional swipe-only terminal for a chip-enabled card, and that card is fraudulent, the fault is yours.

EMV technology elevates safety, but it also puts a greater burden of responsibility on those who accept payments. In the U.S., more than $10 billion in transaction fraud takes place annually, and that number is sure to be on the rise this coming  year, with all the hacking that’s taken place recently.

While retailers typically make up a broad swath of the companies affected by credit card fraud, these new rules apply to any business that accepts credit card payments, from a small plumbing business to medical practices and law firms, and even non-profits. Everyone is affected.

What should you do?

The most important thing to do is get up to speed on the new technology. Resources like the National Retail Federation, Payments Source and even Costco have set up web pages and publications to help business owners make the transition to accepting EMV cards.

Installing the new systems is just one facet of accepting the payments, you’ll also need to train your staff on how to use the new technology, and help them understand how the system works.

Whether you own a mid-sized business or a huge operation it is important to consider how much exposure your business has to credit card fraud. Ascertain how much credit fraud you’ve experienced in the past, and consult some experts on how that fraud could increase over the next year, as well as the new risks you might face once the landscape of liability changes in October of 2015. Do everything you can to mitigate potential disasters, but also consider your insurance coverage for credit card fraud.

We’re happy to talk with you about coverage. Feel free to contact us if you’d like information on how forming an enterprise risk captive can help.

Drought map

Drought Conditions and your Business – Drought Liability and Coverage

For the third consecutive year, California, and much of the Southwest, faces serious challenges because of drought conditions. Nearly 60 percent of the state of California is suffering from the worst possible drought impact as measured by the U.S. Drought Monitor. Water restrictions have been imposed throughout the state as reservoirs reach levels near and in some cases below levels measured during the last major drought in 1977.

It’s serious business in California. This is the most productive region in the nation for agriculture, and farmers are being forced to pay up to 10 times more for water than they did before the state restricted supply, sending costs soaring, as Bloomberg reports. Farmers who can’t pay the price are watching their crops die, if they planted at all earlier this year in the face of the ongoing drought. Farmers in the Central Valley have already lost $800 million in farm revenue, according to the University of California at Davis.

The UC Davis report finds a loss of 17,000 seasonal and part-time jobs as a result of the drought, statewide dairy and livestock losses will represent $203 million in revenue losses, and consumer food prices will be higher.

The drought also imposes a heightened risk of wildfires, and the high temperatures that accompany the drought conditions – the highest temperatures on record for January – July, according to the National Climatic Data Center – means a further drain on California’s infrastructure and energy resources.

Climate experts predict the drought will last into 2015.

Adapting to the drought

Businesses that rely on California produce, and businesses in the region that depend on water for any reason, are finding that they’ll need to improvise. From respecting water restrictions for everyday use, to working hard to find alternatives for agricultural and industrial use, people in all walks of business need to consider and reconsider new water options. Booming business in California include drillers, who are digging deeper and deeper into the earth to find new sources of groundwater, and desalination companies that are working on new alternatives to make that process less expensive and more accessible.

Some farmers are turning to alternative crops, while others are letting their fields lay fallow until the drought is over.

Insuring against drought

Those without adequate drought insurance or coverage will find it near impossible to get affordable policies now, and those in the agricultural business who are finding times difficult are turning to federal, regional, and local programs for assistance. The USDA site offers links to programs with information updated regularly.

It’s important to keep in mind that California and the Southwest in general are not the only regions that suffer from drought. The University of Kentucky produced a paper, Investigating your Crop Insurance Policy Ahead of a Drought, that cautions farmers in the nation’s heartland to be smart about planning for droughts, as well. As climate issues continue to show signs of change, being prepared is key.

Could your business be affected by drought? Work with your insurance provider to find out what kind of coverage you might need, and read about climate conditions in your region. If you find it’s difficult to purchase drought insurance on the open market for your business, consider a captive insurance company as an alternative. Contact us if we can help you learn more.

Coal barge on a river

Liability for Pollutants and Toxic Materials

Things just got slightly more complicated for companies that produce toxic or potentially harmful waste. A debate over toxic selenium released by coal mines in Appalachia has been heard and ruled on by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Virginia, and the court has ruled that claiming ignorance about a toxin is not enough to shield a company from being forced to take responsibility for it once it’s released into the environment.

The toxin in question is selenium, a by-product of coal mining, and a pollutant found in rivers throughout the Appalachian coal mining region.

The case was brought against A&G Coal which was accused of releasing selenium into area rivers in violation of the Clean Water Act. A&G’s defense – that it was unaware of the fact that it was discharging (or may be in the future) selenium at the time of filing its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) application with the EPA – failed.

The case against A&G was open-and-shut to a certain degree, reports Mondaq – A&G hadn’t answered the question about selenium on the application at all – but the court’s ruling reveals that claiming ignorance about the presence of toxins or other things harmful to the environment may no longer be a defense tactic any company should risk.

Responsible manufacturing

So, how can a company keep up with compliance? In the case against A&G, there are tables and lists of hundreds of compounds that take up three pages of a two-column document (you can see them here.) Lab testing and other professional services are required just to identify the potential violations, and making contingency plans for all of them can be prohibitive to business.

On the other hand, groups like the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, which brought the suit against A&G, will continue to partner with other regional and national groups to battle against pollution, particularly as issues like fracking gain additional publicity.

How small and mid-sized businesses can meet compliance standards

A&G is a giant in the coal industry, with the resources to fight court battles like this one, but what do smaller businesses do to ensure compliance and mitigate issues when they arise? One key strategy is to work closely with the EPA (and/or other regulation agencies)  to begin with. If your company might in any way impact the environment, it’s best to hire the right contractors or staff to help you maintain compliance and work with the EPA – and any other regional, state, or federal entities that have regulatory oversight – to understand what you need to do to maintain compliance. The EPA offers compliance assistance as well as incentives for companies who need help paying for upgrades and improvements.

You are much better off working with environmental agencies on compliance than battling them in court.

It’s always a good idea to check with your insurance provider to make sure you have coverage in case you’re caught on a violation, particularly when violations can be for something you’ve never considered before, or the result of a natural disaster – for example, if a fire, tornado, or earthquake causes a spill or seepage.

If you feel your insurance is inadequate, that your deductibles are prohibitively high, or if you find you can’t purchase the kind of insurance you need on the open market, then consider a captive insurance solution. Contact us if you’d like to find out more about how a captive can help in this situation.

trademark symbol

Register that Trademark

An article in the National Law Review is painful to read – especially for fans of Tesla, the electric car company that hopes to change the way we drive with its electric cars. “An Expensive Reminder to Secure Trademark Rights Prior to Foreign Expansion” tells the story of a Chinese businessman who registered the Tesla trademark in China in 2006. When Tesla entered the Chinese market, the businessman sued Tesla for more than $3.8 million for trademark infringement, and is insisting that Tesla stop all sales and marketing activities there until the dispute is settled.

There are plenty of businesses that don’t have their trademarks properly registered here in the U.S. There are also quite a few marketing directors who have a poor understanding of how trademarks work, and little understanding of how, when, and where they should be used. Neglecting to register and use trademarks appropriately can cause you big problems down the road.

Registering trademarks

If you own a company, or if you’re responsible for trademarks at a company, take some time to learn how trademarks work here in the U.S. Begin with the United States Patent and Trademark Office website to get information on trademarks. It’s a really good idea to spend an hour or so reading and understanding U.S. trademark guidelines so that you can know how to give direction to an attorney (you’ll probably need one if you’ve got a few trademarks, or anything complicated to deal with) and to your staff once you begin using the trademark.

Already have U.S. trademarks? Make sure you’re using them properly in all your promotional materials – and yes, it’s a bit tricky. The USPTO publishes a series of FAQs about trademark usage.

Global trademark registration

If there’s any chance your product can go global, or even expand into other countries in a region, you should also consider filing for trademark protections globally. The World Intellectual Property Organization located in Switzerland manages the Madrid System. This system allows you to apply to seek trademark protection in any country that has signed the Madrid Protocol. Applying does not necessarily mean your trademark will be registered, but it is a good way to start the registration process in more than 90 countries.

If you’re worried about getting into a situation like the one Tesla faces, then you should work with a very respectable intellectual property law firm that is known to represent trademark and other IP issues in your industry. The American Intellectual Property Law Association and the National Bar Association are two organizations to look to for a recommendation.

When coverage isn’t there

Intellectual property suits like the one Tesla faces are the worst-case scenario, but even a small suit in a single foreign country can cost you a lot of time, effort, and money. It’s also a very unhappy surprise to find out you’re infringing on another trademark as you are poised to go to market with a new product.

Work with your team to develop a policy surrounding trademarks at your company:

  • Conduct an inventory of current trademarks registered by your company
  • Look at how those trademarks are being used and managed by your legal and marketing teams
  •  Ask your legal team to look for any holes in your current trademark strategy and get up to date as soon as possible
  • Work with your executive team – legal, marketing, and product development for example – to institute a process for identifying when a new trademark might be needed and a series of steps to follow to get trademarks researched and registered

To cover all the bases, take a look at your insurance policies to see what kind of coverage you’d have if you were in domestic or foreign markets without the correct trademark protection. Will your coverage help you in global markets? Will it cover costs for getting the trademark expedited, as well as any lawsuits, work stoppage, and market issues you’ll face? Also, find out what the deductibles are on these policies and make some good judgments about how much you could afford to lose in a situation like Tesla’s.

Insurance policies that cover everything in this scenario may be difficult to find on the open market. If we can help you understand how a captive insurance policy might help, please contact us.

federal reserve image

What if my bank fails?

The big banks will have to trudge back to the drawing board to rewrite (again) the “living wills” that will help them die gracefully if their time ever comes. Unacceptable plans will mean they could face additional restrictions on their future growth or they might even be broken up.

These plans are being written as a result of new regulations after the financial crisis. Banks must shape up their bankruptcy contingency plans, and pass a “stress test” to show that their policies and practices are sturdy enough to weather another financial storm.

Currently, eleven of the biggest banks in the U.S. — those with assets greater than $250 billion — are being told by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that their contingency plans aren’t strong enough, as the Wall Street Journal Reports. The Federal Reserve and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation agree that the banks haven’t done enough to show that the collapse of one bank wouldn’t have a domino effect on the economy.

What the pundits are saying

Matt Levine’s article in Bloomberg, “Banks aren’t too Big to Fail Unless they Fail” captures the spirit of the finding. A bank might fail, and the system will be able to absorb the impact of that single bank’s failure. “But the big worry,” writes Levine, “is that a big bank will be in trouble at the same time, and for the same reasons, as every other big bank.”

This article in Fortune rounds up some of the other main responses to the GAO study. Whatever your opinion on the “too big to fail issue” might be, bank failure can have a lasting impact on the economy, and could have terrible consequences for your business.

It’s not just the big guys

Bank failure can happen at any time. In fact, a GAO report released in 2013 reviewed why smaller banks were failing between 2008 – 2011 and found that credit losses on commercial real estate loans were a big reason for bank failure, while some of the banks pursued “aggressive growth strategies using nontraditional, riskier funding sources and exhibited weak underwriting and credit administration practices.”

As a bank customer, you can’t be expected to know the bank’s policies on investing and underwriting. The only way you can navigate safely at the bank is knowing that the accounts you hold are covered by FDIC insurance, and understanding what your deposit caps are for that coverage.

On the off-chance

If you own a business, make it your business to understand the FDIC policy and how it works. If your deposits typically exceed covered amounts, work with your financial advisors to create the best arrangements for making deposits at multiple banks, or spread your assets in such a way that they’re working hard for you in the best and safest way possible. That way, a bank collapse might impact you in the short term, but at least you’re covered for the long term.

Businesses that have to rely on large bank deposits that sometimes exceed FDIC caps may be vulnerable. Depending on what kind of business model you have, you may want to consider a captive insurance policy, which could provide added insurance to cover a loss of deposits in excess of FDIC limits if your bank failed. Contact us if we can help you explore a captive option.

Class Action Lawsuits

Class action suits are in the news quite a bit recently. A law student in Austria has begun a class action suit against Facebook. Asserting the company has violated privacy laws, the suit demands 500 Euros per person in damages and so far, 17,000 people have joined the suit. AIG reached a $960 million settlement in a complicated class action suit that had to do with securities fraud during the financial crisis, and the NCAA recently settled the class action suit brought against them regarding concussions.

It’s easy to think that such suits are reserved for grievances against big and powerful companies, but almost any company that employs people, provides a service or produces goods can be the object of a class action lawsuit.

The basics on class action suits

The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 updates and outlines grounds established for class action suits under Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (you can read a good summary on the Cornell University Legal Information site). In short, a class action can be filed in state or federal court, but it must have claims that exceed $5 million and meet other basic criteria. Once the suit is filed, it is up to the judge in the case to certify that the case is, in fact, a class action suit. The judge will then set the definitions for the class, and members of that class are notified under the guidelines set out in the Class Action Fairness Act.

Class action suits can be brought against a company on a wide variety of topics. Employees can assert that they have been discriminated against on the basis of race or age, or that they’re working in a hostile environment. Environmental factors can cause class action suits against a company that is suspected of polluting or otherwise harming land, water, or air in a specific region.

The production and distribution of a defective product can be the root of a class action suit, or a company’s financial or security practices can be the cause – consider what Target might experience as customers accuse them of not doing enough to bolster security and prevent hacking.

Could you be a target?

Depending on what kind of company you run, you could be susceptible to a number of different types of class action suits. Consider how many employees you have, what kind of products you make or the type of services you provide, and play devil’s advocate for a little while to check your vulnerabilities. Could an environmental group bring a suit against you for a perceived infraction against local or regional laws? Has HR had a spate of complaints recently that show any kind of pattern of discrimination? Do you work with an outside auditor often enough to feel secure that your company’s financial practices are above scrutiny?

Adding some safeguards may be enough to ensure that you won’t be the subject of a suit, but it’s always a good idea to make sure that you have coverage in place to help pay for legal and ancillary costs in case a suit is ever brought against you. As your company grows, you need to adapt to the success your growth brings, but also the new vulnerabilities you face. Talk with your insurance broker to see what type of liability coverage you have in case of a class action suit. If you feel like your situation calls for additional coverage, consider a captive insurance company as an option – contact us and we will be happy to work with you to see if it’s a viable solution.

nuisance flooding

More than Just a Nuisance – Nuisance Flooding a Problem for Insurers

Earlier this year, Farmers Insurance sued municipal governments in and around the city of Chicago for not improving infrastructure to meet the demands that climate change puts on systems like storm drains and sewage systems. Residents and businesses in the region have been filing a steadily increasing number of claims for repeat flooding over the last few years. As the Chicago Tribune reported, the Farmers’ suit alleged that the municipalities “knew their drainage systems were inadequate and failed to take reasonable action to prevent flooding of insured properties.”

A rising tide

Farmers’ dropped the suit against municipalities in the Chicago region, but arguments like this one will only heat up in the years to come. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration just released a report on nuisance flooding – flooding that causes public problems such as road closures, and compromises infrastructure. The report finds that nuisance flooding is on the rise as ocean levels increase.

Cities most at risk are coastal cities like Annapolis and Baltimore, Maryland, as well as San Francisco, but inland cities near rivers and large bodies of water are also increasingly susceptible to nuisance flooding, not to mention cities that have experienced quick growth without the right kind of city planning. There are many contributing factors to nuisance flooding, and civic and regional officials need to consider infrastructure and flood planning more carefully.

Is your business at risk?

Perhaps you should take a second look at your property and your interests to see if you are under additional risk. FloodSmart.gov is an excellent resource for families and business owners. The site provides extensive information about insurance options, and also has an interesting “floodwatch” app that allows you to see flood threats by ZIP code.  The site can help you understand the insurance issues that surround flooding and can also assist you in knowing what to do if you’re hit by flooding.

If you’re really worried about a particular area, check with the state university’s extension service or office in that area – extension offices are staffed with professors who know and understand the region well and they can work with you to help you understand weather and erosion patterns in the area, or work with you to answer questions you might have about building or maintaining property.

Being prepared

The debate can rage on about climate change, but, as the NOAA report points out, the data was collected from 45 sites where NOAA has kept water level gauges for years, and the simple fact of the matter is that water levels are higher.

If you or your business is at risk, take the time to really understand your current policies and find out if you have the right kind of coverage for all of the categories of flooding that might impact you. If you operate in a high-risk area, you may have to consider options outside of the traditional insurance market. If we can help you understand how a captive insurance company might help you, please feel free to contact us.