Don’t let dogs take a bite out of your insurance


dog-bitesMay 17-23 is Dog Bite Prevention Week. The USPS and its partners in the annual promotion report that “… small children, the elderly, and Postal Service carriers — in that order — are the most frequent victims of dog bites. It is also stated that the number of dog bites exceeds the reported instances of measles, whooping cough and mumps, combined. Dog bite victims account for up to five percent of emergency room visits.”

The good news is that the number of dog bite claims are going down – they dropped by 4.7% in 2014. But the bad news is that the average cost per dog bite claim is climbing. In 2014, it was up 15 percent to $32,072 – compared with $27,862 in 2013. Pretty expensive, right?

But that is only part of the story: Insurance Information Institute reports that dog bites accounted for more than one-third of all homeowners liability pay outs last year. Ouch.

If you have a dog, it’s your responsibility to train, control and socialize your pet to minimize the potential for dog bites. It’s also just plain smart from an economic point of view, as you can see by claim costs. And whether you have a dog or not, it’s important to lean about how to prevent bites, how to train kids to be safe around dogs, and what to do if you are bitten. Here are some resources:

Behind the scenes: the film industry is risky business


Insuring FilmsWhen the Academy Awards take place this weekend, it’s unlikely that any of the winning actors or producers will be thanking their insurers from the podium – yet insurance is a vital behind-the-scenes component in the business of making successful films. It’s one of the key factors in ensuring that “the show must go on.”

At a film industry event last year, a Lloyds’ panel spoke about insuring film and television productions, noting that the industry requires insurance to protect against production delays, damaged equipment, accidents and natural disasters, to name a few common risks. Lloyds’ panelists identified the biggest risk:

“The majority of claims come from cast or crew non-appearance, according to Elliot. The financial cost of losing a lead actor or director can be enormous. Elliot cites the case of a film production in Europe where the director suffered an illness during the production and post-production phases resulting in an insurance claim of around $2.3m.”

At Fireman’s Fund Insurance 150-year mark, Richard Verrier of the Los Angeles Times looked at the insurer’s century of work in the film industry, and how the company helped keep the cameras rolling.

“Fireman’s Fund covers about 80% to 85% of the $200 million or more in policies Hollywood spends each year to insure movies and TV shows. Premiums range from 1% to 4% of a movie’s budget, meaning that a $200-million movie may spend at least $2 million on insurance coverage.”

The company said that in 2012, the average claim paid to a film or TV producer in 2012 was $60,651, But some were substantially more:

“When Audrey Hepburn fell from a horse while making “The Unforgiven,” her resulting back injury delayed filming of the 1960 John Houston movie. Fireman’s Fund paid more than $240,000 to cover the losses.

“Spartacus” was more costly for the insurer, which paid $245,000 for delays caused by an emergency operation for actress Jean Simmons, $53,000 for star Kirk Douglas’ viral infection and $335,000 for co-star Tony Curtis’ severed Achilles tendon.

But its most expensive claim was for “Wagons East.” Fireman’s Fund paid about $15 million when star John Candy died in 1994 during production in Durango, Mexico.

The insurer paid a $7-million claim after Patrick Swayze fell off a horse and broke his legs during filming of the 1998 crime movie “Letters From a Killer,” Diaz said.”

Enjoy the Academy Awards this weekend. Insurance nerds who miss the recognition of the behind-the-scenes role their industry plays might enjoy some of these insurance related films:

Game time countdown! Pre-Super Bowl fun


For the last three years, Teddy the Porcupine has correctly predicted the Super Bowl winners. Will he keep his winning streak going with his 2015 pre=game prediction?

We can’t get enough bad lip-reading clips – here’s the 2015 edition.

The older cat teaches baby kitten what to expect on Super Bowl day – it’s a commercial, but a darn cute one.

If football isn’t your thing, don’t forget about Puppy Bowl XI – here’s a preview and a little pregame analysis.

Speaking of commercials, here are some picks for the 10 best Super Bowl ads of all time as well as 5 of the biggest blunders over the years. If you don’t want to wait to see what will be unveiled this year, you can check out the 2015 Super Bowl ads in advance right from your computer.

As for snacks, we’ll have trouble finding a better suggestion than our prior advice on Building a Super Bowl Snack Stadium. Here are 8 more Super bowl snackadiums if you’d lie some variations.

If you are hosting a Super Bowl party, you want to ensure that things stay fun — take a few minutes to review this handy guide on Social Host Liability.

The scariest place to be on Halloween?


Halloween background

That’s an easy one: “Nothing is scarier than a trip to the emergency room,” said Mark Cichon, DO, chair, Department of Emergency Medicine, Loyola University Health System. “In a season devoted to frights, it is our goal to keep everyone safe.”

Pumpkin carving injuries, trips & falls and choking injuries are all among some of the most common Halloween-related injuries that could make for a scary unplanned ER visit. Dr. Cichon offers his excellent tips for a safe Halloween. Here are some of our safety tips:

Home Safety

  • When decorating, avoid candles – use LED lights and battery-powered lights instead.
  • Take care not to overload electrical circuits with lights.
  • Paper and dried plant decorations can easily ignite. Keep them away from flames, lights, and electrical cords.
  • Keep porches and walkways well lit and free of debris and clutter that might be tripping hazards; Put reflective tape on your steps and along your walkway.
  • Park your car in a garage, if possible. Mischief makers may egg your house or car.
  • Lock up bicycles, gas grills and other outdoor valuables.

Kid Safety

  • Consider parties and visits to charity based Haunted Houses as an alternative to Trick or Treating
  • Equip kids with flashlights. Add day-glo or light-reflective tape to their costumes.
  • Make sure costumes are fire-safe and flame-resistant.
  • Ensure costumes and masks don’t impair vision or present a tripping hazard.
  • Make sure kids are dressed warmly and have comfortable, non-slip footwear.
  • Costume accessories and props should be short , pliable, and soft – no hard, long, pointy, or sharp objects
  • Inspect all candy before kids eat it. Be alert for choking hazards and watch for anything that is loose or unwrapped.
  • Don’t let kids walk while eating candy on a stick – very dangerous if they trip.
  • Don’t let kids eat homemade treats unless made by someone you know very well
  • Stick to familiar neighborhoods and familiar houses
  • Kids shouldn’t enter any homes unless they know the neighbors well
  • Kids without adults should keep in groups
  • Walk on sidewalks. Complete one side of the street, cross carefully, and complete the other side.
  • Use cross walks and crossing lights whenever possible.

Pet safety

  • Don’t forget about your pets – they could be upset by the unusual activity and may be skittish. Keep them inside and away from the door so they don’t frighten or nip at your guests.
  • Be careful not to let your pets eat candy, which can be toxic to them.
  • More: Halloween Perils For Pets … and People, Too

Other issues

Call your agent
If you should suffer any damage to your property or have any accidents during Halloween weekend, file a claim as soon as possible to get the claim process in motion. Be ready with the details of where and when the event occurred, along with the names and addresses of any injured parties or witnesses to the event. If there is damage to your property, report it to the police, take photos, and record the details so you won’t forget them later.

Next week: Dog Bite Prevention Week


May 19-25 is Dog Bite Prevention Week – the infographic below includes some interesting dog bite facts. The Postal Service commemorates the event with its annual ranking of top cities for dog attacks – they learned the hard way, racking up 5,581 postal employees attacks — just a small portion of the 4.5 million people in the U.S. bitten last year.

The Insurance Information Institute tells us that the average cost of a dog bite claim in 2013 was a whopping $27,862. They offer a list of the 10 states with the highest number and cost of dog bite claims. To learn more about the insurance implications of dog ownership, see our prior post Insurance and Your Dog

National Dog Bite Prevention Week 2013, May 19-25
Dog Bites by the Numbers