Midwest/Chicago area winter thaw highlights snowmelt as impetus for water intrusion:

Chicago, IL and most of the Midwest are currently experiencing a mid-winter thaw that has resulted in flooded buildings and basements throughout the region.  The unseasonably warm air that pushed through the area over the past two days has created a new risk for building owners and managers in the form of snowmelt.

Chicago, IL saw 33.5” of snowfall in January and another 19.1” so far in February of 2014*.  Most of this snow has been piled high around homes, buildings, driveways and walkways as it accumulated.  These large amounts of snow have now melted almost all at once and the ground below cannot absorb the excessive runoff.  Instead, the water has pooled alongside buildings and streets, flooding basements and compromising drainage systems.

Snowmelt water has the potential to intrude into your building(s) which could result in flooding, structural damage, rot and even mold infestation to your property.  Today’s heavy rainfall has added urgency to the issue by accelerating the rate of snowmelt, which in turn has added more water to overwhelmed and in many cases already flooded storm drainage systems.

If you have sustained damages as a result of snowmelt or water intrusion, coverage may be available in your property or flood insurance policies.  It is crucial at this juncture that you understand your policy, its coverage’s and its limits.  Your insurance company may owe you money.  Our expert claims consultants here at Risk Worldwide can help.  Please do not hesitate to contact us today at (312) 291-7576.

 

*Snowfall data taken from NOAA Climatological Data for Chicago, IL


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Water intrusion: identifying the source and mitigating the risk

 

water-damaged siding and rotten wood

water-damaged siding and rotten wood (Photo credit: Random McRandomhead)

Each year thousands of property owners and managers file insurance claims for mold infestation, structural and interior damage or rot, and various other damages all of which stem from an initial source of water intrusion.  In a perfect world all building envelopes would be water tight and structurally sound but in our reality this is seldom the case.  When tracing water intrusion back to its source, most will encounter faulty design, construction defects or insufficient materials used, that in turn have compromised the buildings’ integrity and allowed water to invade and slowly work its damaging effects on its core structure.  Storms and natural disasters only work to further exacerbate an existing water intrusion situation by pushing more water into your building via high winds and rising water levels. This type of situation only worsens damages sustained during a hurricane or natural disaster event, leading to higher costs for remediation and repairs. [Read more...]

Vacant Properties: Evolving Risks and Available Coverage

 

Vacant commercial building, Dante Street at Ap...

Vacant commercial building, Dante Street at Apple Street, Hollygrove, New Orleans. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A slow economy or sudden downturn in the markets can leave many commercial property owners and managers with the prospect of maintaining vacant buildings.  Whether it’s a reduction in work force or tenants/businesses having to move to more affordable housing/retail space, many commercial property owners are faced with this current reality and should understand the risks involved and coverage available during periods of vacancy. [Read more...]

What is reinsurance?

Reinsurance is insurance.  It’s as simple as that.  It is coverage that insurance companies (known as the ‘ceding’ party) buy from one or more re-insurers as a means of risk management.  What is the risk?  The risk is the amount of coverage/exposure that the insurance company holds in its underwritten policies.  Theoretically, at any time an insurance company could be liable for any and all of the coverage enacted in its current policies.  [Read more...]

Automatic reinstatement in property insurance policies

When dealing with property insurance claims after a natural disaster, many policyholders encounter or are educated as to the reinstatement clause in their policy, and how it affects future claims arising from multiple events or disasters.  In some property insurance policies there is a reinstatement clause that, simply put guarantees that once a claim (or loss) has been filed, the terms of coverage per the policy are reset to cover new, unrelated claims at the original full sum insured.   However, many policies set a cap on payouts for the duration of the contract, so it is essential for property/business owners to be aware of what their policy will cover in the event of multiple losses during a coverage period. [Read more...]

Hail damage, insurance coverage and businesss risks

 

Pile of hail after a hail storm hits Perth.

Pile of hail after a hail storm hits Perth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Business or risk managers reviewing storm related insurance coverage often focus on wind and flooding as the key points of exposure.  An often overlooked storm effect is hail, which can result in catastrophic damage to business property, landscaping, equipment and people.

“The National Weather Service reports roughly 1-, 000-12,000 hail storms in an average year which means your chances of experiencing hail damage may be far greater than you think”

Hail storms do wide spread damage on everything in their path.  Hail destroys roofing, windows, gutters, decks, awnings, trees, plants and shrubs.  Vehicles exposed to a heavy storm can be ruined from an aesthetic point of view and just about anything out in the elements cannot avoid the devastating effects of a strong hail storm. [Read more...]

Atlantic Hurricane season hits its peak: Wave watching on Africa’s western shore.

 

This image shows four Atlantic hurricanes occu...

This image shows four Atlantic hurricanes occuring at once. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

It’s that time of year again for the Atlantic coast.  The peak of hurricane season is here, and for some, that means keeping a close eye on the waves.  Why waves you ask?  Well, for one these aren’t just any waves, these are large tropical waves that get their start across the Atlantic off the western coast of Africa.  Winds generated by a temperature contrast between the high heat over the Sahara desert and the cooler air over the forest and ocean along the Gulf of Guinea that set up a mid-level jet stream which pushes from east to west out across the ocean.   These winds eventually contribute to these large, tropical waves which are known to be the impetus for 85% of all major Atlantic coast hurricanes.   In fact, about 60% of all tropical storms and category 1,2 hurricanes get their start from these African easterly waves.  Reports of robust tropic activities in the Caribbean and off the coast of Africa are already coming in as all eyes turn to these areas of origin, in anticipation of the next big storm.

 

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Cyber security risks and available insurance coverage

Concern over cyber threats to businesses is on the rise due to an ever changing technological atmosphere which has allowed for greater accessibility between businesses and their clients.  With many businesses offering cloud based data centers which store important and often confidential documents or information, the threat of a data breach is a very real liability for any company.   Many recently have ranked the risk of cyber-crimes or data breaches on par with such insurable risks as natural disasters, fire, and business interruptions.  Perhaps partially due to recent media coverage of high profile data leaks and other security breaches, many companies are seeing data breach/loss as a major issue that can have a large impact when it comes to their business or property association.  Reports are showing that companies have been known to only show interest in cyber liability insurance once a data breach has already occurred.  However, going forward this type of risk needs to be taken into consideration in order to properly cover your business or property association. [Read more...]

Wildfire risks and insurance coverage

 

Wildfire

Wildfire (Photo credit: USFWS/Southeast)

Wildfires spark their blazes in an instant and can spread rapidly, pushed and fueled by high winds, they can cover vast areas, very quickly consuming everything in their path.  Wildfires occur in many places across the globe such as the hot, dry outback in Australia or the more arid regions in the United States, which sees anywhere between 60,000 and 80,000 wildfires occurring each year burning roughly 3 to 10 million acres of land, depending on the year.  Wildfires can cause extensive damage to both man-made infrastructure and human life.  Their effect on wilderness areas can be beneficial to such ecosystems, clearing the way for new life in dense old growth and providing much needed nutrients, which replenish the soil and enhance the forest upon re-growth.  While some wildfires burn in isolated wilderness areas, others can occur or spread to homes and other properties that lie in the wildland-urban interface, a zone of transition between wild and developed areas.  Causes of these fires vary but include lightning strikes, volcanic eruption, sparks from rock fall, spontaneous combustion as well as human causes such as arson, cigarette disposal, etc…  Wildfire behavior and severity depends on the amount of available fuel and the weather at the time of the blaze.  These types of fires have a rapid forward rate of spread (FROS).  When burning through dense, abundant fuels, they can move as fast as 6.7 mph in forests and 14 mph in grassland areas.  Droughts brought on by regional and global climate patterns can increase the risk of wildfires in many areas, especially when coupled with high winds.  Cyclical weather patterns can also increase or decrease the risk of wildfires.  Areas affected by years of heavy precipitation and then followed by warm periods have a higher potential for more widespread fires and longer fire seasons. [Read more...]

Tornado season is here and many are at risk. Time to review your insurance policy and it’s coverage.

 

English: A diagram of the location of tornado ...

English: A diagram of the location of tornado alley and the related weather systems (public domain, NOAA). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Tornado season is right around the corner here in the United States.  May and June are typically the most active months of the year for tornado genesis across the Great PlainsTornado Alley, as the nickname goes, sees a very large number of super cell thunderstorms which are perfect producers of violent EF2 or greater tornadoes.  The boundaries of Tornado Alley reach from south/central Texas up to northern Iowa and east/west from Missouri to Colorado.  Other areas prone to tornadoes in the U.S. include Florida and the Gulf Coast which is named the Dixie Alley and has a relatively high number of tornadoes occurring in the late fall, October through December.  As many as 1,200 tornadoes hit the U.S. every year and recent years have shown that as our planet’s climate continues to fluctuate we are seeing even stronger storms and resulting tornadoes.  But tornadoes are not limited to just the United States.  In fact, tornadoes occur in many parts of the world, including Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and even Australia.  These regions are more likely to experience increased tornado potential in parallel to the time of year in which increased solar energy and strong frontal storm systems are the norm for that area.  Thus, tornadoes can occur (and do so) pretty much year round on planet earth. [Read more...]