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Location is Key to Accurate Auto Insurance Rates

Location is Key to Accurate Auto Insurance Rates

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A recent automobile insurance case in Maine was a victory for fine print. The Dairyland Insurance Company came up against someone who had provided false information on their insurance documents and purchased auto insurance in a different state than the one they were living in. In some cases, an insurance policy cannot be rescinded, which makes this case particularly interesting in the insurance industry.

There are, however, rules regarding falsifying information in order to receive insurance discounts, better rates, and other benefits. As McArthur Sullivan found out, legal fees cost a lot more than just paying a bit extra for your automobile insurance in the first place.

The Case

The case involved a man named McArthur Sullivan, who had purchased multiple personal car insurance policies for his vehicles. He purchased these policies and, on his insurance contract, stated that he lived in Wales, Maine, and kept his cars there as well.

Dairyland Insurance Company, found out that Sullivan had misrepresented himself with the personal information he had given them in order to insure his vehicles. Rather than living and storing his vehicles in Maine, as he had previously stated, evidence was found that he lived in Massachusetts and garaged his vehicles there as well.

The Insurance Company then sought to rescind the insurance policies they had given Sullivan, which resulted in a court case when Sullivan protested the nullification of his existing auto insurance policies.

A federal district court in Maine tried the case and found that an insurance company can pull a policy if the policy was based on false information provided by the person seeking insurance coverage. The application for Sullivan’s insurance policy included a statement that said that any false, incomplete, or misleading information put on the application could lead to consequences that included imprisonment, fines, or a denial of insurance benefits.

Dairyland also provided documentation that stated their right to rescind any insurance policy that was based on misrepresentation or circumstances that affected an applicant’s eligibility of risk (such as where they and their cars reside). This also includes situations where the insurance policy premium is lower than what they would pay if they had provided correct information.

For instance, if Sullivan had purchased auto insurance for his vehicles in Massachusetts, his payments would have been higher than he was paying in Maine.

Maine law also backs up Dairyland’s claims. Maine’s laws state that an insurance carrier can indeed pull an insurance policy that was given as a result of omissions or false information.

The Result

Dairyland won the court case due to the amount of evidence it had that stated a person must provide accurate information about themselves and their vehicles in order for the insurance policy to be considered valid. Maine law and Dairyland’s own insurance contracts provided a foundation for the court case to be heard in a federal court.

Dairyland was able to prove that Sullivan misrepresented himself on purpose and with the intention of gaining benefits from the false information he put in his application. The court found that Dairyland would not have issued an insurance policy to Sullivan based on the actual facts he would have put in his application, had he truthfully represented himself and his situation. The court upheld Dairyland’s decision to rescind Sullivan’s automobile insurance policies.

This case could have further implications not only for the auto insurance industry, but for other insurance policies as well. If someone is issued an insurance policy based on false or withheld information in their profile, an insurance company could be well within their rights to take away that insurance coverage if the person is found to have falsified application information.


THE SKYLINE DIFFERENCE

Other brokerages take a cookie cutter approach to insurance and outfit their customers with generic coverage.  Skyline is different.  We believe insurance should be built on innovation and experience. We appreciate the fact that every engagement is unique and understand proper coverage requires a deep understanding of the underlying business and individual.

"The opportunity to safeguard your concerns is a privilege we never take for granted."
 
 
 

Auto Insurance Faces Industry Changes

Auto Insurance Faces Industry Changes

Understanding the automobile insurance changes affecting commercial trucking companies.

The world of automobile insurance is wide and varied, just like the diversity of the vehicles on the roads everywhere in the world. Automobile insurance is constantly changing to meet the needs of car owners, automobile companies, and transportation ventures globally. The market rises and falls just as it does in other insurance fields; the trends are often quite different from one year to the next.

When it comes to commercial automobile insurance, recent trends are actually almost the opposite of what they are in the rest of the automobile insurance world. Most car insurance policies are relatively inexpensive and the risk is spread over a large group, thus there are more insurance options made available for automobile owners. However, the relatively small pool of commercial vehicles such as trucks has seen insurance costs rise along with the risks associated with these types of vehicles.


Factors in rising costs

Trucking and other transportation companies in the United States have to conform to local, state, and federal regulations. These companies operate large vehicles with varying amounts and types of cargo, and are often taking this cargo over state lines. Truckers can work long hours with little sleep in order to reach their destination on time, and the risks associated with this kind of driving can boost insurance costs.

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The market for commercial trucking companies is hardening while the general automobile insurance market is softening. This is caused by several factors that developed over the past few years and have all come into play to impact the market at the same time. The pool of insurance underwriters dealing with commercial trucking insurance is smaller than that of the mainstream personal automobile industry, and costs have gone up as fewer underwriters are willing to accept the risks these companies pose.

In addition to tired drivers, the vehicles themselves can also boost insurance costs and risks. Large vehicles are dangerous to smaller vehicles on the road, and regulations regarding size and fuel efficiency mean some vehicles are more expensive to repair when they wear out or break down.

The injuries and damages associated with commercial trucking may also raise insurance costs; drivers who have been involved in accidents take longer to recover and their medical bills can be quite expensive.


Keeping costs down

Keeping costs down when it comes to commercial trucking insurance is a task transportation companies and insurance companies are facing. The insurance trends will likely swing in a different direction as the market changes, as it always does. However, there are a few things commercial truckers can do to make sure they are able to obtain affordable insurance in the future.

Transportation companies that have maintained good safety records and safe driving habits will likely be able to renew their auto insurance at reasonable rates. Planning for insurance renewal early can help, as can searching the market for the best auto insurance deals. Installing telematics to track safe driving habits of drivers and the safety of their vehicles in case of a crash may also help bring the costs of insurance down. 

How Will Self-Driving Cars Change Auto Insurance?

How Will Self-Driving Cars Change Auto Insurance?

Change is a constant in this life. It's impossible to avoid change. It's inevitable. Whether you like it or not, self-driving cars are coming to a city near you. And soon! Business Insider has reported that 10 million cars with self-driving features will hit the road by 2020.

Many have touted this upcoming advance as an opportunity to keep our roads safer. Others are not so sure about this futuristic change to how we drive. The idea of a malfunctioning computer leading to a horrific car crash still petrifies many – as it should.


Insurance Changes Coming

Uber and Lyft have changed the game when it comes to getting a taxi. The services have grown in popularity as of late, and lawmakers have taken notice. Florida legislators recently proposed new insurance requirements for any driver working with an app-based transportation company.

The proposal was created to ensure victims of accidents get the compensation they deserve. The party at fault would also receive protection from complete financial ruin due to an accident. The solution is relatively straightforward for all involved.

Insurance solutions are rarely cut and dry when computer malfunctions come into play. Generally, in a crash of two traditional cars, the driver at fault will cover the property damage and bodily harm to the victim through his or her personal auto policy. With a self-driving car, this process could get murky.


The Liability Issue

Liability coverage typically takes up a large chunk of your auto insurance bill. The damage to your vehicle is usually tiny compared to the potential costs of hospital bills and legal fees.

With a self-driving car, the liability is removed from the equation. The driver cannot be held responsible, so the cost of personal auto insurance policies for self-driving cars should be significantly lower than for traditional vehicles. Yet, someone has to carry the bill for the liability.

Most assume the burden of liability for a car crash caused by a malfunctioning computer in a self-driving car would fall to the manufacturer. In such a scenario, the manufacturer would probably divert liability risks and costs to the consumer by raising the price of the self-driving cars.

Self-driving cars could ruin the car driving experience. Car drivers electing to manually drive their cars could be perceived as having a 'higher risk' of loss in a world where the majority of cars are self-driven. 


Car Insurance In the Future

Auto insurance is on the brink of significant changes as cars begin to self-drive. It doesn't matter if you buy such a model or not. Many predict that self-driving cars will make the roads significantly safer. If this does occur, experts say insurance companies could lower their car insurance premiums for all drivers.

Insurance companies are required to submit a proposal if they want to raise their rates. They must justify the rate change with legitimate reasons, like shelling out more benefits and as a result, suffering more losses. If the roads were safer, there would seemingly be less justification for raising rates.


Auto Insurance Will Always Be Here

No matter what happens in the future, car insurance is here to stay. As Americans value their cars and often invest significant amounts of money into them, there will always be a need to protect that investment. 

Whether driving a traditional car or a self-driving one in the future, individuals will still benefit from comparing quotes when trying to save money. With or without liability insurance, we all still want the best value for our dollar. 

For more information regarding auto insurance contact, Skyline Risk Management, Inc. (718) 267-6600 to speak with an insurance professional who can address your concerns. 


FMCSA: New Rules for Trucking

FMCSA: New Rules for Trucking


For insurance professionals who deal with small truck risks or even artisan contractors, it's time you learned about the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and how new rules may begin to apply to your customers.

As of June of this year, the FMCSA announced it will broadened its scope of vehicles that will require registration and be placed under FMCSA oversight. This was accomplished by setting the GVW threshold at 10,001 pounds. The new regulations for obtaining a USDOT number now apply to more businesses than ever.


Who is Required to Register?

Vehicle owners who fit within the following parameters must obtain a USDOT number from the FMCSA:

  • If your vehicle is used to transport the types of hazardous materials that require a safety permit described in 49 CFR 385.403.

OR

  • If the vehicle has a GVW of 10,001 pounds or more, or:
  • Is built or used to transport more than eight passengers (includes the driver) for a fee, or:
  • Is built or used to transport more than 15 passengers and you don't charge a fee

AND if the vehicle crosses state lines.

Also, according to FMCSA, it is the vehicle owner's responsibility to know and comply with these regulations regarding your vehicle.


Who is Affected by the Change?

For most trucking businesses, the rule change will have no effect since these businesses typically use vehicles with GVWs much greater than 10,000 pounds. The affected segment of commercial businesses will be artisan contractors who drive light trucks such as the F350, which has a GVW of just a little over 10,000 lbs. In fact, many may say that this change was specifically targeted at these types of businesses to increase revenue.

Your drywall contractor who uses a 1-ton pickup, van, or light box truck and crosses a state line is now under the FMCSA jurisdiction, and you need to be prepared to have an informed discussion about their need to comply. If the businesses choose not to comply with FMCSA regulations, there are some stiff penalties that will apply depending on the specific violations involved.

Example: Your insured landscape and lawn business uses an F350 with a trailer, and operates in North Jacksonville, FL., and has picked up a new account in South Georgia. Once they begin operating in Georgia, even for only one account, they are required to register their business and vehicle with the FMCSA.


What are The Affects on the Business?

As in the example given above, this lawn business now has some hoops to jump through because they use a vehicle with a GVW of more than 10,001 pounds, and they are doing business across state lines:

  • They must apply for and obtain a DOT identification number and sticker from the FMCSA.
  • They must display the DOT sticker on the side of the vehicle during operations.
  • They must pay the required fee to the FMCSA for registration.
  • They must know and operate under the rules and regulations of the FMSCA.
  • Drivers must be at least 21 years old and carry proof of having a DOT medical exam.
  • If a driver travels over 100 miles from the starting location, they must keep a log of their driving time.
  • The driver is now subject to the same driving restrictions that a semi driver is subject to.

Your Next Step

Assuming that you hold your agency and yourself out as a trusted adviser to your clients, your next step should be to visit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's website and become intimately familiar with the rules and regulations that might affect your contractors. You should reach out to those contractors and help them become compliant with the new FMCSA rules before they are stopped and fined for compliance issues.

For more information on commercial auto insurance and the upcoming changes to the FMCSA rules and regulations, contact Skyline Risk Management at (718) 267-6600 and speak with an insurance professional.


6 Parking Lot Perils You'll Wish You Avoided

6 Parking Lot Perils You'll Wish You Avoided

Parking lots don't get a lot of love. Owners of multi-family real estate buildings tend to keep their property building well  maintained; meanwhile, their parking lots are often a different story. Often, the parking lots are a different story. It's exceptionally difficult to rent out a poorly maintained unit. Renters can gloss over a poor parking lot, but they can't ignore an apartment in horrible shape. 

While paying little attention to your parking lots is understandable, the practice can come back to bite you. Many owners of multi-family real estate properties don't realize they can be held liable for activities that occur in their parking lots. From accidents to mishaps and to criminal activities – you could be on the hook if it happens on your grounds.


Here are 6 factors to ensure you avoid claims:

 

1. Simple Signage

It's imperative that your parking lot has clear signage that directs people where to go, including information on exits, entrances, and how how traffic should flow. These exits for foot, bike, and vehicle traffic should be well  maintained and free of any and all obstacles. Make sure to keep gates in great shape, too.


2. Perfect Pavement

Potholes and cracks can lead to lawsuits. Even the slightest crack can be considered a tripping hazard, and a lawsuit could follow. Parking lots should be smooth, free of cracks, and be cleaned of debris regularly.


3. Look at Lighting

How you light your parking lot will not only affect your liabilities, but will also influence how safe your tenants feel at night. Many prospective tenants consider nighttime lighting as a huge factor in deciding whether to rent from you or not. If a crime or accident happens at your place and a light is broken, – a lawsuit will often be forthcoming.



4. Winter Weather Worries

Owners of multi-family units buildings are usually responsible for snow and ice removal in the winter. This means you'll need to keep the parking lot clear and ensure residents have the ability to get to work. You'll need to contract out for this service. Just make sure the contractor has adequate general liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance.


5. Valet Service

While most owners won't have to deal with this aspect of insurance, a valet service will require additional policies. Adding in a human element will always increase the cost of coverage. By properly taking care of your parking lots, lighting, and more, – you can eliminate a majority of any claims that would result from a valet service.


6. Parking Garages

Some multi-family building owners choose to build a parking garage instead of a parking lot. Many consider this solution in order to increase efficiency, but pay attention. Garages offer more hidden areas than a parking lot. This means you'll need to invest in structures and security features to keep residents safe. Lighting is also equally paramount with these parking garage structures.


What an Owner Can Do

You have to maintain your buildings. If you don’t, you’ll find tenants disappearing rapidly. However, if you ignore your parking lots, you’ll find lawsuits starting to add up. Get Show your lots some love and you’ll avoid a number of issues. Plus, you’ll your tenants will appreciate it.

"In 2015, residential projects grew to an all time high of $18 Billion. Skyline Risk Management procured insurance for almost $1 Billion of that total cost."

Quality Property Insurance can cover these claims and also offers peace of mind in the event that an incident occurs. If you have questions about parking lot perils or property insurance contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc., (718) 267-6600 to voice your concerns.

3 Safety Precautions No Fleet Manager Should Overlook

3 Safety Precautions No Fleet Manager Should Overlook

Businesses with large vehicle fleets typically equate a great safety program with reduced claims and lower premiums. Whether your business has a fleet of five or fifty vehicles, a fleet safety program can make a significant difference in claims frequency, premium increases, and most importantly, driver safety.

There is certainly more to fleet safety than vehicle maintenance, motor vehicle reports, and safe driver courses, although, these should always be the basis of a good safety program. Driver habits change over time, and we can certainly look to distractions that have become a sore spot with fleet managers who are responsible for the safety of the employees. Distractions, aggressive driving, drugs and alcohol, and the weather will always make it to the top of the list for any safety manager to talk about and track during the year.

Distractions

It used to be a scantily dressed female was considered a dangerous driver distraction but that has easily been replaced by technology. Today, technology distractions (text, email, cell phones) are responsible for about 25% of vehicle accidents nationally, according to the National Safety Council. Drivers who divert their eyes from the road for only a few seconds while reading or writing a text or email, end up going about 100 yards in just that short period of time. While we hear so much about texting and emailing while driving, drivers should understand that talking on the phone is a distraction that can be just as serious. Fleet managers must lay down the law about using technology while driving and hold employees accountable when they are found to be breaking the rules. If a driver must make or take a call while operating a vehicle, they should be required to park their vehicle before doing so. End of story!

Aggressive Driving

According to a study published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, aggressive driving lead to more than half of the fatal crashes between 2003 and 2007. Speeding was the most common denominator in the accidents represented. Aggressive driving is usually the result of a driver falling behind schedule due to traffic backups or road construction. It's not unusual for a driver to try and make up time with the road opens up and that typically includes putting the pedal to the metal. Running red lights, failing to obey traffic devices, and failure to yield are all considered instances of reckless driving and should never be tolerated. Fleet managers can use driver safety courses, driver tracking devices, and dash cams are just some of the many devices now available for fleet managers to implement along with well thought out driver safety plan for all employees. The most important part of the safety plan is to hold employees accountable when they're found not following the safety protocols.

Driver Health

Typically overlooked by safety managers, driver health has become a hot topic because most employees who are feeling poorly are reluctant to miss a shift at work to seek a doctor's advice. Add to that, many drivers who feel poorly are also likely to self-medicate which can make matters worse if they're not paying attention the listed side effects. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that driver use of over-the-counter drugs was a factor in approximately 25,000 large truck crashes over a 33 month period. It's incredible that a local delivery driver thinks it's a good idea to chug a bottle of cough medicine so he can get his routed completed and not lose hourly pay. 

Certainly, every fleet manager is determined to reduce vehicle incidents by paying close attention to safety protocols. Unfortunately, safety protocols are useless if drivers are not held accountable when they fail to use them.

For more information on commercial auto insurance and great ideas for reducing your premium, contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc. at (718) 267-6600, and speak with an insurance professional who will help you navigate a complete set of safety protocols for your fleet.

2016 Commercial Fleet Rate Changes - Who do You Believe?

2016 Commercial Fleet Rate Changes - Who do You Believe?

Trucking firms looking for 2016 insurance rates may be excited or disappointed depending on which reports they review and believe. The good news for Commercial Fleet businesses is that rate increases, if experienced, will likely be moderate. The better news is that others are reporting rate decreases, and if actually experienced, decreases will be moderate also. When rates go down, even in a moderate fashion, the good news is always welcome.

Conflicting Reports

Currently, there are several research firms who consistently report rate forecasts for the insurance industry and lately there is some disagreement about overall findings. Certainly, it's important for large transportation firms to know what the year will hold when it comes to insurance pricing. Even a small tick in rates in either direction can affect the bottom line and send a clear signal to CEOs on whether to react in one way or the other. Knowing this, large-firm CEOs scramble during an expiring year in hopes of learning how the market will react for the ensuing year.

American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI)

In business since 1954, ATRI has continually been engaged in transportation studies and operational tests. Although ATRI studies and reports on all aspects of the transportation industry, they offer significant insights on how insurance costs affect the industry.  ATRI's "Analysis of the Operational Costs of Trucking for 2015" revealed a year-over-year increase of 11% in truck insurance premiums for 2013 to 2014 when considered on a per-mile basis. For the fourth quarter of 2015, Marsh data showed rates for auto liability to be flat or increasing on a moderate basis.

The rate increases are primarily attributed to increases in the cost of vehicles due to new technologies, stricter emissions controls, and mandated higher efficiency standards. The increase in tractor costs always translates into increased physical damage premiums. Liability rates, although historically under-priced, began trending upward in mid-2015 and are expected to continue in 2016. The industry can attribute increased liability rates to the severity of jury awards against transportation firms, despite a moderate drop in the frequency of claims.

2016 Marketplace Forecasts

2016 Marketplace forecasts credits consolidation among the largest carriers and a soft marketplace for a moderate decrease in rates for 2016.

Although single digit decreases are expected for large auto fleets with good loss experience, large firms with unfavorable losses can expect pressure on rates and deductibles. Also expected for 2016 is a more moderate rate decrease for smaller firms as they tend to be insured on a guaranteed cost basis.

The report's "The One Thing" recommendation is as follows: "Insureds with large auto fleets should explore restructuring their programs with higher primaries, facultative reinsurance, and shorter lead to umbrellas to find the optimal match of exposure to underwriting appetites and achieve pricing efficiencies."

In conclusion, depending on which report larger transportation firms choose to base their forecasts upon, the pricing prediction for 2016 will be somewhere between - 10% and + 5%. If you have questions about commercial fleet coverage contact Skyline Risk Management, Inc. at (718) 267-6600 to discuss your concerns.