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Leveraging a legal education in insurance

By Kimberly Garner

Leveraging a legal education in insurance

As a young girl, I think I always knew I would go to law school. After all, my dad earned his Juris Doctor degree when I was just a tot. My sweet 16 birthday cake included a buttercream icing inscribed with a happy birthday wish to the future lawyer, ballerina…and a few other vocations. It was a big cake!

When I entered law school many years later, however, I thought, “Uh oh…this may have been a mistake!” Learning many of the legal concepts and principles was an exercise in mental gymnastics. Then, there was that Legislation course we were required to take. An entire course dedicated to studying the rules of legislative analysis, construction, and interpretation was, to say the least, not thrilling. (I would learn to appreciate that class later.) Nonetheless, I persevered, graduated and passed the Ohio Bar exam that fall.

Following graduation, I worked at a law firm. It was clear after a few months that a career in a firm was not for me. Now what?

One day I ran into my neighbor while we were checking our mail. He worked at Cincinnati Insurance at the time and suggested I apply for a job. I did and spent the first several months training to become a commercial lines underwriter. But once I learned about the Staff Underwriting department, I began inquiring about opportunities there. Staff Underwriting is responsible for developing our rules and forms, and working with pricing analysts in the development of our rates. We then file everything with the various state departments of insurance. The compliance component ̶ preparing filings that complied with state insurance laws and regulations ̶ piqued my interest.

I transferred the next year. Although I started as a filings analyst responsible for five or six states, I regularly fielded questions from my team related to statutory and regulatory interpretation and frequently researched issues involving multiple states or multiple types of insurance. Eventually, my manager and department head suggested we establish, and I head up, a unit responsible for researching and reviewing legislation, statutes and regulations that impact property and casualty insurers (for example, filing requirements, rates, underwriting rules, claims procedures and notice requirements) and communicating effective compliance. Aha! Taking that Legislation course paid off.

More than 10 years later, the Regulatory Affairs unit continues to serve the company. The unit also apprises various business units of legislative changes and industry …read more

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The top 5 reasons to promptly report a claim

By Carol S. Ward

The top 5 reasons to promptly report a claim

Your insurance policy is merely a promise until you have a claim, but many people hesitate to report a claim to their insurer. Here are five reasons why you should promptly report a claim if you have an incident.

    1. TO ASSURE THAT COVERAGE IS NOT AFFECTED
      Coverage is contingent on prompt reporting. Your policy defines specified conditions and requirements for coverage, and one of them is usually your duty to report a loss just as soon as practical after the loss occurs.
    2. TO HELP RESOLVE YOUR CLAIM PROMPTLY
      Early investigation is vital in determining liability and damages. Obtaining key evidence, scope of damages and interviewing all parties while information is clear assures your claim is accurately assessed and given every consideration.
    3. TO IMPROVE SUBROGATION SUCCESS
      Prompt reporting is vital when subrogation is needed to pursue a claim against the responsible party. Subrogation enables an insurance company, after paying a loss to its insured, to recover the amount of the loss from another who is legally liable for it. Prompt claim reporting makes it easier to determine facts, obtain expert reports and collect evidence early on, leading to a higher likelihood that the not-at-fault policyholder can recover the deductible. It also helps keep claim costs – and therefore insurance costs – low.
    4. TO PREVENT ADDITIONAL DAMAGE
      By reporting your claim early, immediate remediation can prevent further damage. This ultimately lowers claim costs and helps keep premiums low.
    5. TO PROTECT THE ABILITY TO DEFEND A CLAIM
      The insurance company has an opportunity on claims involving injury or damage to people other than the policyholder (third parties) to negotiate an early economical settlement. Late reporting could allow key evidence to be lost or destroyed, leading to a not-so-positive outcome for all parties involved. (The Ohio Insurance Institute’s glossary defines third-party coverage and first-party coverage.)

Let the insurance professionals do the work for you. You are paying a premium and deserve to have a complete policy review, inspection and investigation to determine if you have coverage.

When in doubt, ask your agent or insurance company for advice on whether to submit a claim. Always report it promptly (even as a “record only”) so you adhere to your policy conditions and duties.

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Slip, trip, stumble and fall – Keep your club safe

By Brian Rawlings

Slip, trip, stumble and fall – Keep your club safe

Health clubs often pride themselves on the fitness level of their members. This pride can cause them to overlook some basic cleaning and maintenance protocols that keep their members safe. The reality is, anyone can fall or slip on a wet surface…regardless of their level of fitness.

Health clubs, by their very nature, have many trip-and-fall hazards:

  • Free weights that are not re-racked after use
  • Wet surfaces in locker areas and around pools or hot tubs
  • Cords from cardio machines

And, Old Man Winter comes blowing in, creating an entirely new set of hazards: icy parking lots; wet floors in entryways that have been mopped to remove salt; entry mats placed for members to wipe their feet; and stairs and tile flooring that become slick as members drag in rain, sleet and snow.

If you own a health or fitness club, take steps to keep your members and guests safe:

  • Use walk-throughs and checklists. Your staff should schedule several walk-throughs of your facility each day with the sole purpose to identify any hazards. Using a checklist to guide your staff and document your findings is very helpful.
  • Once you identify any hazards, take corrective action:
    • Mop dry any wet areas
    • Place weights back on the appropriate rack
    • Put away other equipment left lying around
    • Address any lighting deficiencies
    • Secure any loose carpeting, mats or power cords
    • Place signage to warn guests of potential wet surfaces, steps or inclines and declines
    • Remind guests to wear slip-resistant footwear in wet areas
  • Develop a process to maintain parking lots and walkways. Generally, clubs contract with a third-party vendor to remove snow and salt the parking lot. Work with the vendor to make sure you are listed as an additional insured on their policy. Most clubs maintain their own sidewalks and entryways – make sure to check your lease to determine who has responsibility.
  • Consider instituting a system where members who need assistance can call the front desk and request help walking to and from the building.

The post Slip, trip, stumble and fall – Keep your club safe appeared first on The Cincinnati Insurance Companies blog.

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We’re not just blowing smoke about fire safety

By Catherine Laurent

We're not just blowing smoke about fire safety

Even though smoking among adults has been on a steady decline since 1965, smoking is still the No. 1 cause of home fire deaths in the United States, according to the United States Fire Administration. If you smoke – or live with a smoker – use caution when handling smoking materials, such as cigarettes, pipes, cigars, matches and lighters, to keep you and your family safe.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tracked adult smoking from a high of 42 percent of adults in 1965 to just 18 percent in 2012. This reduction is attributed to increased public awareness regarding the health risks associated with smoking, concerns for clean air and state or municipal laws that limit smoking in public places.

In 2011, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 90,000 fires started from smoking materials, resulting in an estimated 540 deaths and 1,640 injuries, not counting any firefighter deaths or injuries. These fires caused $621 million in direct property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

The USFA and NFPA offer these tips to prevent fires caused by smoking materials:

  • If you smoke, think about quitting
  • If you smoke, consider switching to fire-safe cigarettes, which have a reduced ignition strength and are less likely to cause a fire
  • When you smoke, smoke outside
  • Use deep, wide ashtrays placed on a sturdy surface indoors and a can filled with sand outdoors
  • Extinguish all smoking materials (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, etc.) prior to leaving the room or area
  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them into the trash
  • Check under furniture cushions for cigarette butts that may have fallen out of sight
  • Stay alert! Don’t smoke in bed, and put out cigarettes if you are feeling drowsy
  • Make sure working smoke alarms are properly installed on every level of your home to alert you in case of fire
  • Use dual-sensor smoke alarms that detect both a flame-driven fire and a smoky fire that produces fumes without flames
  • Never smoke in a home where medical oxygen is in use
  • Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children

Smokers who would like to quit can find Quit Smoking tips from the CDC.

The United States Fire Administration offers Fire Safety Facts for Smokers and People Who Live With Smokers.

The National Fire Protection Association offers additional research on The Smoking-Material Fire Problem, including a Fact Sheet.

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Insuring your love, securing the future

By Ronda Bradley

Insuring your love, securing the future

Soulmate. Beloved. Spouse. Friend. Whatever you call your special loved one, Valentine’s Day is a time to celebrate your relationship and offer a token of your affection. While the traditional roses and candy are certainly thoughtful, roses fade and candy doesn’t last. For a more lasting gift, why not consider life insurance?

When you meet your soulmate, you find yourself on a lifelong journey. But have you considered what would happen if you were no longer there to take care of your loved ones? Life insurance could be one of the single most important purchases you ever make for those you leave behind. In a recent study by LIMRA, a leading insurance and financial services trade association, life insurance was the primary source of financial assets or income that Americans expect to use to help pay bills and maintain their lifestyle if the primary wage earner dies. While nothing can replace you, having life insurance means that if something happened to you, your loved ones would be OK financially.

Life insurance can:

  • Pay for funeral costs
  • Help meet ongoing living expenses
  • Pay off outstanding debt, including credit cards and the mortgage
  • Continue a family business
  • Finance future needs, such as your children’s education
  • Protect a spouse’s retirement plans

It can take a family several years to financially regain their footing after the loss of the primary wage earner. Statistics gathered by the LIFE Foundation, a nonprofit industry research and educational organization, show that 31 percent of respondents surveyed say they would feel the financial impact from the death of the primary wage earner within one month. One in three women believe they don’t have enough life insurance, but research also showed that people overestimate the cost of life insurance by two times.

Why make assumptions about the cost and need of life insurance that could leave your loved ones with funeral expenses, debt and uncertainty for their financial future? Your independent insurance agent can help you determine how much insurance you need and can offer affordable options that meet your budget. Find an independent agent who represents The Cincinnati Life Insurance Company at our agency locator.

Life insurance is a gift of love. Find a life insurance calculator, Life Insurance 101 video and more at http://www.lifehappens.org/insurance-overview/life-insurance/.

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In a car accident? Here’s what to do

By Curt Nutter

In a car accident? Here's what to do

Nobody likes to think about getting into an automobile accident, but it can happen to any driver at any time. Taking time in advance to think through the steps to follow after a car accident can help keep you and your passengers safe and simplify the process of filing an insurance claim.

Here’s what to do if you are in an accident:

  • Activate your hazard lights, and place warning signs or flares to help other motorists see you.
  • Contact the police, or ask someone else to do this if you cannot.
  • Summon medical assistance if anyone is injured. Repeat the call after five minutes if no help arrives.
  • Do not administer first aid unless you are qualified to do so.
  • Make note of injuries you observe.
  • Keep calm. Don’t argue. Make no statement concerning the accident to anyone except a police officer. Get the officer’s name, department and badge number.
  • Be courteous, but do not accept responsibility or apologize for the accident.
  • Use extreme caution when out of your vehicle at an accident scene and be mindful of traffic.
  • Take scene and vehicle photos if you have a camera and can do so safely. Note and record the weather and lighting conditions.
  • If another vehicle is involved, note whether headlamps or taillights are on, turn signals were in use, brake lights were working, or if there are any obvious mechanical deficiencies with the other vehicle.
  • Note any problems with the accident scene, for example, a vision obstruction, a poorly placed stop sign or a malfunctioning traffic signal.
  • Exchange insurance and vehicle information with the other driver. While you may need to disclose personal information to a police officer, be cautious about providing your address and phone number to the other driver. Scammers have been known to exploit fender-bender accidents to obtain personal information for identity theft. Never give your Social Security number.
  • If witnesses are present or approach you, ask for a name and telephone number. Encourage them to stay until the police arrive.
  • If you are driving a company-owned vehicle, report the accident to your supervisor as soon as possible. If the other driver was using his or her vehicle for business, record the employer’s name.
  • Before leaving the accident scene, check to see that you have all the facts. For prompt claims help, call your agent.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners provides a WreckCheck app for iPhone

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Tips to protect taxpayers from identity theft

By Helen Kyrios

Tips to protect taxpayers from identity theft

Tax return identity theft has reached such epidemic proportions that it tops the list of the IRS’s Dirty Dozen Tax Scams. With tax season well under way, here are tips the IRS wants you to know about identity theft so you can avoid becoming the victim.

  • The IRS does not initiate contact with taxpayers by email to request personal or financial information, or send emails stating you are being electronically audited or that you are getting a refund.
  • If you receive a scam email claiming to be from the IRS, forward it to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
  • If you discover a website that claims to be the IRS but does not begin with ‘www.irs.gov,’ forward that link to the IRS at phishing@irs.gov.
  • If your Social Security number is stolen, another individual may use it to get a job. That person’s employer may report income earned by them to the IRS using your Social Security number, thus making it appear that you did not report all of your income on your tax return. If this occurs, contact the IRS to show that the income is not yours.
  • Your identity may have been stolen if a letter from the IRS indicates more than one tax return was filed for you or the letter states you received wages from an employer you don’t know. If you receive such a letter from the IRS, leading you to believe your identity has been stolen, respond immediately to the name, address or phone number on the IRS notice.
  • If your tax records are not currently affected by identity theft, but you believe you may be at risk due to a lost wallet, questionable credit card activity, or credit report, provide the IRS with proof of your identity. Fax a copy of your valid government-issued identification – such as a Social Security card, driver’s license or passport – along with a copy of a policy report and/or a completed IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit to the IRS at 855-807-5720. You can also contact the IRS Identity Protection Specialized Unit, toll-free at 800-908-4490. You should also follow FTC guidance for reporting identity theft at ftc.gov/idtheft.
  • While preparing your tax return for electronic filing, make sure to use a strong password to protect the data file. Once your return has been e-filed, burn the file to a CD or store it on a flash drive and …read more

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Quiz: How well do you know the rules of the road?

By Cincinnati Insurance

Quiz: How well do you know the rules of the road?

When the rules of the road change, it’s up to drivers to keep up. Take our quiz to see how well you’ve kept up. Answers at the end provide website resources for more information.

  1. How many U.S. states have enacted “move over” laws? “Move over” laws require drivers to change lanes away from public safety vehicles on roadsides to protect public safety personnel. If it is unsafe to change lanes, the driver must slow down to a safe speed.

    1. 10
    2. 48
    3. 50
    4. This is for real?
  2. What is the speed limit on U.S. interstate highways?
    1. 55 mph
    2. 70 mph
    3. You can drive 5 mph above the posted limit without being pulled over
    4. Speed limits vary by state, time of day and whether the highway is rural or urban
  3. When must a child passenger be restrained in an approved safety seat?
    1. Until age 3
    2. All 50 states require safety seats for children until they meet specific age, height or weight criteria, which vary from state to state
    3. Until age 5
    4. At all times, except when traveling in Grandpa’s car
  4. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have special provisions for mature drivers. These include (choose one answer):
    1. Accelerated renewal frequency, vision test, road test, restriction of online or mailed renewals or reduced or waived renewal fees
    2. Seniors are not permitted to make left turns, only right turns for safety
    3. Note required from physician before renewal
    4. Note required from adult children before renewal
  5. Financial responsibility laws require:
    1. A bond to be posted before a driver’s license is issued
    2. A licensed driver to affirm that a designated minimum amount of insurance coverage (varies by state) is in place to pay for damages for which they are legally liable in the event of an auto accident
    3. Mom and Dad to pay for any accidents Junior might cause
    4. Bank verification that sufficient funds exist to pay any claims after a crash

ANSWERS:

  1. c. All 50 states have enacted “Move Over” laws. See Get the Facts: Move Over. It’s the Law.
  2. d. Speed limits vary. Check the Speed Limit Laws chart at the Governors Highway Safety Association website for details.
  3. b. All states have child safety seat laws, but requirements vary. See the Child Passenger Safety Laws chart at the Governors Highway Safety Association website for details, and find consumer tips for selecting an age-appropriate safety seat at Parents Central.
  4. a. Check the Mature Driver Laws chart at the Governors Highway Safety Association website for your …read more

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