Don’t Invalidate Fire Insurance

Don’t invalidate your fire insurance policy.

I find this a very strange case but it just shows how important it is to read the small print as if you ignore the conditions of the policy your policy could be invalidated.

In this case it was a condition of the FIRE insurance that the SECURITY Alarm was maintained and monitored. Times had been tough for the insured and he let the maintenance of the security alarm lapse and as the ARC had not been paid for 6 months they stopped monitoring the site.

Vandals broke in and set fire to the factory. It was a furniture company and they incurred losses of over £750,000.

The case went to the High Court, the judge had nothing but sympathy for the Directors of the Company and he took ‘no pleasure’ in ruling that as it was a condition of the combined insurance policy that alarm was to be monitored by an external firm, the Insurers did not have to meet the claim.

There are often conditions attached to the insurance policies we take out which relate directly to the risk. We need to make sure our cars have valid MOTs in order not to invalidate the policy. We are required to notify the insurance company if we get a speeding fine but, to my mind oddly, you do not have to tell them if you decide to do the Speed Awareness Course rather than pay the fine.

I have just come across a case, now in front of the insurance Ombudsman, where an insurance company voided the policy and returned all the premiums because the policy holder had unwittingly exceed the value of the ‘valuables’ within their contents insurance. They had insured the contents of their house for £60,000 but there was a clause stating that the value of the valuables should not exceed 66% of this.

They had to rush their daughter to hospital, and while they were out the thieves struck taking goods and damaging the property to the value of £70,000. When assessing the claim the loss adjusters calculated that the value if the valuables in the house exceeded £40,000. Normally claims would be ‘averaged’ to reflect the under insurance, but the insurance company in this case argued that the under insurance voided the policy. As I said this case is in front of the ombudsman as I write.

Back to case in hand where a fire insurance claim was dismissed as a security alarm and monitoring were allowed to lapse. Clients of ours run a hotel and there is someone on reception all the time so if the fire alarm is activated there was always someone on duty to respond. We came round to the time when the annual contract with the ARC [monitoring station] needed to be renewed. The Hotel Manger wanted to cancel it as it was considered an unnecessary expense. I said I agreed but asked him to check with his insurers to make sure they had no objections. The Insurers confirmed; monitoring was a condition of the policy.

Often with in the insurance policy there is a clause that the fire alarm is maintained in accordance with British Standards. It would be interesting to know whether a similar claim has been dismissed as the Fire Alarm has not been adequately maintained.

Should Your Insurance Company Offer Cyber Protection?

Cyber security has become a growing concern for U.S. companies over the past couple of years, and for good reason. Information breaches have not only become increasingly common, but also much larger. Nothing illustrates the state of modern web security quite as well as the most recent breach, which saw hackers target the IRS by exploiting faulty security to compromise over 100,000 taxpayer records.

Similar breaches have also affected much smaller companies, and it’s common to see a forward-thinking insurance company racing to adapt. Here is what you need to know to determine if, first, you’re actually in need of cyber insurance and, second, what you should look for in a policy.

Are You At Risk?

If you work with customer information of any kind, then the answer is likely yes. The term to look out for here is Personally Identifiable Information, or PII. It’s not a technical term, but rather a legal term that carries some teeth if you have to deal with it.

At its root, PII is any piece of collected information that could potentially allow a third party to identify a business’s individual clients. Given how good the Internet is at leveraging even tiny hints to track down a person, that definition is awfully broad. Full names, email addresses, site nicknames, and (sometimes) even web cookies can all qualify as PII.

If you’re storing anything that falls under the PII umbrella, you’re at risk of a breach. Breaches are enormously costly, both for affected customers and for the company responsible for the loss. Companies in the healthcare and retail industries are obviously at an increased risk, but when it comes down to it, any business that makes a habit of collecting information should ask their insurance company about cyber policies.

What Your Cyber Policy Needs

You’ll need to look for a few things in any cyber insurance policy. As you may expect, a good policy should cover the financial damages directly caused by a breach. However, cyber attacks can cause financial damage in a wide variety of ways. In particular, make sure that your company is protected against:

– Losses caused by lost time and productivity. A major hack can cause company gears to grind to a halt. Find an insurance company that guarantees coverage for the revenue lost during this period.
– Indemnification caused by a third party. Few modern companies handle their data on their own. Outsourced IT support or other companies can fall victim to a breach that affects your customers.
– Loss of Reputation. Breached companies, even those that have done their due diligence, almost always take a PR hit in the wake of an attack. A good policy offers some cushioning against the customer losses that generally ensue.

Finally, also try your best to work with an insurance company that has an educational component. Some plans will also come with training to avoid a breach. As nice as protection is, it’s safe to say that it’s best left unused. Installing a set of best practices can help keep you from having to rely on a safety net in the first place.

Insurance Quotes in a Digital Age

Insurance is great. Yes, it can be a hassle to find. Sorting out the pricing and policies can be complicated. So what if the whole thing could be made as easy as pushing a button? The great news is that it almost has.

What Makes it Frustrating

Making the monthly payment on a premium can be frustrating, but it’s easy. Once you file a claim, you realize how much that monthly payment was worth it. Finding the right policy, on the other hand, can be a challenge. There are policies for your home, condo, apartment, motorcycle, car, and health. Also, there are many different companies. Getting insurance quotes from each carrier can take much more time than you have available. Once people find coverage, they rarely re-evaluate it to see if it is still the best option available.

Technological Evolutions

Luckily, the Internet has revolutionized insurance quotes. Trained agents can help you identify what your priorities are and which policy best meets your individual needs. Filling out a simple form online can generate quotes from several major carriers at once. Many agencies are also now able to incorporate smaller, more specialized carriers into their networks as well. The ability to organize and sort through so much information so quickly has made getting insurance quotes almost push-button simple.

Working Closely with an Agent

Getting a variety of insurance quotes is just the first step. The most affordable policy may not be the one that best meets your needs. Understanding the often complex policy language can be a daunting task. At this point, it is essential to get a trained agent involved. Like many service professionals today, agents are highly trained and strictly regulated. They are a personal part of their clients’ lives because they are helping to protect the most valuable aspects of a client’s life: their health, home, and family. You should be able to work closely with an agent who knows you and understands your priorities.

Your agent can sit down with you and evaluate each of the quotes individually. Together, you can structure a comprehensive package that addresses your coverage needs and financial commitments. The package may consist of the best policies from several carriers or a single umbrella. The use of digital technology allows for highly personalized packages of coverage. With access to so many quotes and coverage options at your fingertips, what you decide to do is up to you.

Obviously finding a safe level of coverage is not something you want to put off until you need it. The task of obtaining insurance quotes and sorting through coverage packages used to prevent people from shopping for insurance. New technology and highly trained agents have simplified the process. Highly personalized packages can provide better coverage and save you money. If you haven’t looked at your insurance lately, now is a great time.

When considering insurance quotes, West Bloomfield, MI residents visit Phil Klein Insurance Group. Learn more at