The Odds

Like the rest of the world, we were pretty riveted to the YouTube videos and news reports of the meteorite that crashed in Russia last week. It’s not a terribly rare event – space rocks are flying around wildly and frequently hitting earth, but usually in remote locations. But it’s quite the rarity to have an event that was so widely witnessed and shared.
Insurance is a business that’s all about odds, so we were delighted to find the article Odds of Death by Asteroid? Lower Than Plane Crash, Higher Than Lightning. Author Adam Mann tells us:

While rocks raining from space are scary and there is no way to completely eliminate their threat, they are also thankfully sporadic. Your odds of getting killed by a meteorite are roughly 1 in 250,000. You are far more likely to die in an earthquake, tornado, flood, airplane crash, or car crash (but less likely to be killed by lightning). Most asteroids burn up in the atmosphere long before they hit the ground and the few that do will probably hit open ocean or a remote part of the Earth rather than your head.

His article includes a great video clip and a chart about asteroid size. frequency, and damage potential. And if you’d like to get a sense of what it feels like to have a close encounter, National Geographic features The True Story of History’s Only Known Meteorite Victim: A woman named Ann Hodges was hit by a meteorite in her Alabama home in 1954 and lived to tell the tale.
Would insurance cover property damage from a meteorite? Insurance Journal has the topic covered:

Although such an event is relatively rare, AIR noted that “in many countries with developed insurance markets, a comprehensive multi-peril insurance policy generally will cover all risks that are not specifically excluded, meaning that meteorite damage would generally be covered. The dwelling portion of the homeowner policy is very broad and, if damage from falling objects is not listed in the exclusions, it is generally covered.” [IJ Ed. note: The Russian government has given a preliminary damage estimate of one million rubles [app. $32.2 million].

Don’t lose too much sleep over meteorite stirikes – but you might check that life insurance policy just to be sure!
Here are a few (fun) past posts that also deal with odds:
What are the odds? Mortality calculators
Life expectancy and your chances of reaching 100
Don’t be a lightning strike victim!
(Image found on MetaFilter)

Insurance Issues for the Rich and Famous

F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me.” Thanks to Eric Gilkey of, we learn that the Insurance Issues for the Rich and Famous are very different from yours and mine. In an amusing slide show, he looks at insurance issues that have surfaced related to a variety of celebrities – Charlie Sheen, Tiger Woods, Lindsay Lohan, Michael Jackson, and others.
While some of these scenarios are pretty remote from the issues that face most businesses and individuals, there are a few things to be learned. Business owners take note and wedding planners alike should take note of event cancellation insurance. And while the reputation risk management issues discussed relate to celebrity endorsers run amuck, every business has some exposure related to reputation management.

Insuring body parts?
It’s hard to talk about celebrities and insurance without discussing all those stories you hear about film and rock stars insuring some part of their anatomy for millions of dollars. Many of these reports are not true – contrary to the online rumor mill, Tom Jones did not take out a multi-million dollar policy for his chest hair. At Slate, Daniel Engber talks about body part insurance and notes that while some cases are true, many are not. He speculates that some of these false stories may have been circulated by public relations staff eager to get some buzz for their clients. We featured one jokey insurance product that was a cute promotional stunt.

Whether it’s body parts or other celebrity-related risks, Lloyds of London holds the crown for some of the weirdest insurance policies ever issued.

Spring floods: a nasty forecast. Is your home or business prepared?

The Insurance Information Institute reports that there is a strong potential for a nasty flood season. While the areas at highest risk are in the Upper Midwest, The national Weather Service says that parts of southern New England, New York and Pennsylvania are also at risk. And NWS reminds us that while snow runoff can increase the risk in some areas in the spring, flooding is a coast to coast threat to the United States and its territories in all months of the year. At, you can check your geographical risk via Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
Flood preparation for businesses
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners has issued a checklist on Disaster Planning for Small Businesses, which covers key steps for preparation, as well as an overview of related insurance issues that you need to consider.
NAIC also issues a reminder that flood is not a covered peril in a standard business property insurance policy. They note that flood coverage can be purchased from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), administered by FEMA, but there is usually a 30-day waiting period for a policy to go into force. They suggest checking with your insurance agent if the flood insurance property limits from the NFIP are inadequate to cover your business.
AgilityRecovery, specialists in disaster recovery, says that your business is more likely to flood than burn down, so they offer this helpful Business Flood Preparedness Checklist.
Flood preparation for homeowners
The Insurance Information Institute offers a useful information on preparing for a flood and recovering from a flood. The site also offers a variety of other helpful resources related to disaster preparedness. is the official site of the National Flood Insurance Program. You can learn about obtaining residential coverage and what it covers. The site also offers advice on flood recovery and filing claims.
Additional flood resources
Flood Safety – resources from NOAA
Flood recovery resources and insurance issues
Consumer alert: don’t buy a flood-damaged car
Does homeowners insurance cover a flooded basement?

Insurance lingo watch: umbrella policy

Two common insurance questions we hear: “What’s an umbrella policy?” and “Do I need one?”
An umbrella policy is an added layer of liability insurance protection that goes above and beyond your policy’s stated coverage limits. This coverage is designed to kick in once any other coverage has been exhausted. Umbrella policies can extend your liability coverage for personal policies, such as your homeowners and auto, and they can also add a layer of liability protection for commercial and business policies. In the commercial arena, umbrella policies may also be referred to as “umbrella liability” or “excess liability” policies.
Your standard insurance policies should provide adequate liability coverage for most situations that would arise, but in today’s lawsuit-happy age, an umbrella policy can provide an added layer of protection. Should a problem arise, this secondary coverage would pick up where your primary coverage stops.
The Insurance Information Institute talks more about personal umbrella coverage: Should I purchase an umbrella liability policy?
Financial Web offers more on business liability umbrella insurance: Commercial Umbrella Insurance: is it indispensable for your business?
Just a reminder that this is only a brief informational overview. As with any insurance issue, coverage specifics will vary by policy and by insurer. If you think that you or your business might benefit by umbrella coverage, pick up the phone and have a talk with your independent agent. Be it personal or commercial matters, your agent can help you to plan the best combination of coverages to meet your specific and unique needs, and can also shop around to find the best available coverage at the best price.