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LATEST NEWS

Florida’s Citizens Vying For Legislative Focus Amidst Workers’ Comp Fight

Will next year’s legislative battle over workers’ compensation rates prove so all-consuming that other state priorities starve for attention? Fears that it might emerged during the quarterly board meeting this week of Citizens Property Insurance Corp.¸ which wants the Legislature to clamp down on the assignment of benefits agreements blamed for driving up its own premiums. “Workers compensation is such a huge issue¸ it’s going to take up a lot of the agenda¸” said Barry Gilway¸ president of the state-owned property insurer of last resort.

NFIP Is Privately Reinsuring

The flooding program under FEMA is working to transfer a huge amount of its risk to the private sector. The Federal Emergency Management Agency has now purchased reinsurance from private companies for its National Flood Insurance Program. The agreements officially became effective on September 19¸ 2016 and will continue coverage through March 19¸ 2017. That said¸ they have indicated intentions to purchase more coverage next year. The coverage has been purchased through Swiss Re America Corp.¸ Transatlantic Reinsurance Co.¸ and Munich Reinsurance America Inc. To reinsure the National Flood Insurance Program¸ FEMA entered into a contract with a Marsh & McLennan subsidiary¸ Guy Carpenter and Co. That firm provided brokerage assistance in obtaining the reinsurance agreements.

Public Adjuster Arrested For Ripping Off Fire Victims

Jose Manuel Villa¸ 60¸ of San Clemente¸ a former licensed public adjuster¸ was arrested today at his home in San Clemente on multiple felony counts of embezzlement¸ grand theft¸ and forgery after allegedly cashing claim checks with counterfeit endorsement seals and stealing a total of $400¸000 from fire victims in the Los Angeles area. After receiving multiple complaints from consumers¸ the California Department of Insurance Investigation Division launched an investigation. Evidence revealed Villa¸ doing business as Statewide Claims Advisors¸ allegedly cashed and deposited multiple claims checks with counterfeit endorsement seals that were issued by insurance companies to fire victims to repair and rebuild their damaged properties.

Tropical Storm Matthew Could Become Category 2 Hurricane

Tropical Storm Matthew is strengthening as it creeps slowly over the Caribbean and could become a Category 2 hurricane by the weekend as it approaches eastern Cuba. The storm currently has wind speeds topping out at about 65 mph and is traveling west at about 16 mph. Computer models show Tropical Storm Matthew’s course turning north by early Sunday¸ taking it over eastern Cuba by Tuesday. “As expected¸ Tropical Storm Matthew formed in the Atlantic. It will be traveling over the southern Caribbean during the rest of this week¸” Channel 9 meteorologist Brian Shields said. “It will most likely strengthen into a Category 2 hurricane.

Triage Underway At Hoboken¸ New Jersey Terminal After Train Derails

A New Jersey Transit commuter train crashed into the Hoboken terminal during rush hour¸ causing major structural damage and numerous injuries. Local media are reporting "major structural damage" and "multiple injuries¸" while the first responders are setting up triage. Preliminary reports are saying "approximately 100 victims." Area hospitals are mobilizing to receive the casualties. Several people who were on the train tweeted they felt "lucky to be alive." The accident occurred shortly before 9 am local time. All NJ Transit trains are being held at Secaucus station. Photos from the scene indicate the train took out several support columns and collapsed part of the station’s ceiling. The cause of the accident is yet unknown.

Blowing Embers Spread Fire To Multiple Petaluma¸ California Homes

Embers from a eucalyptus grove that caught fire Tuesday afternoon alongside Highway 101 in Petaluma spread to more than a dozen homes¸ destroying four of them¸ as police evacuated an entire neighborhood and closed northbound highway lanes at the start of the evening commute. The nearly two-hour highway closure¸ initially involving both lanes north of the Lakeville Highway offramp¸ was lifted at 5 p.m.¸ when northbound traffic was backed up well into northern Marin County. The fire¸ reported shortly after 3 p.m.¸ started in grass near the freeway offramp at East Washington Street and was blown south by the wind into eucalyptus leaves along the Highway 101 shoulder¸ then exploded up into a row of the tall trees¸ Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Jeff Holden said.

Santa Cruz Wildfire Threatens 300 Rural Mountain Homes

Fire crews aggressively responded to a fast-moving vegetation fire burning on the Loma Prieta ridge in the Santa Cruz Mountains¸ which prompted evacuations¸ destroyed one structure and charred at least 1¸000 acres by late Monday night¸ fire officials said. At least 300 structures are threatened by the Loma Fire¸ which is in proximity to television towers. Evacuations are in effect along Summit¸ Mount Madonna and Croy Ridge roads. About 300 people have evacuated the area¸ Cal Fire said. At least 300 structures are threatened by the Loma Fire¸ which is in proximity to television towers.

Residents Evacuate As Cedar Falls Faces Second-Worst Flood In History

Thousands of Iowans are taking no chances in advance of what could be one of the worst floods in the state’s history. For days¸ the rising waters of rivers and creeks in eastern Iowa have forced more than 10¸000 residents of Cedar Rapids¸ Iowa’s second-largest city¸ out of their homes and businesses. The flood¸ the worst Cedar Rapids has witnessed since 2008¸ comes on the heels of a fatal Wisconsin flood after heavy rains hit the area last week. Greg Buelow¸ the city of Cedar Rapids’ public safety coordinator¸ said he’s watching the clock as it approaches 7 a.m. That’s the time he said the Cedar River is set to crest -- holding at 23 feet for another six hours.

Bronx Home Explodes During Search Of Drug Lab¸ Seven Injured

A house believed to be a drug den exploded in the Bronx Tuesday¸ injuring at least seven people¸ including firefighters¸ according to police and fire officials. The extent of the injuries wasn’t immediately clear following the blast on West 234th Street near Tibbett Avenue in Kingsbridge shortly before 7:30 a.m.¸ officials said. About an hour earlier¸ firefighters had responded to a report of a gas smell at the location and found the drug lab¸ police say. The NYPD was called in¸ but the two-story house exploded before officers could assess the lab or the rest of the location¸ according to police.

Tropical Storm Julia Leaves North Carolina With Flooding¸ Black Water

Damage from flooding in eastern North Carolina approached the level of destruction left behind by Hurricane Irene in 2011¸ Gov. Pat McCrory said Friday. But instead of the hurricane’s storm surge¸ the cause of this week’s flooding was days of rain. "We literally have water up to people’s waist and above¸ and many houses have been flooded¸" McCrory said at a news conference. About 63 people across northeastern North Carolina have had to be rescued from their homes by fast-water rescue teams. Another 61 were taken to safety from threatened nursing homes.

Fire Expert Witness Testimony Helps Convict Arsonist

Julia Calipo has been found guilty on all eight charges for setting her east Erie home on fire in 2015 to collect insurance money. The judge also revoked Calipo’s bond and issued a warrant for her arrest. The jury’s decision comes after about an hour of deliberations on day three of the trial. It started with what prosecutors called "a slight delay" after the defendant failed to show up at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. The prosecution finished making its case just before noon after the judge decided to move forward without Calipo because too many witnesses and resources were invested in the trial already.

Peer-to-Peer Insurer Lemonade Launches In New York

Lemonade¸ the insurance startup that launched in January aiming to "Uberize" insurance¸ will begin selling policies soon in its home state of New York. The company announced today that it has been licensed to sell homeowners and renters insurance in the state¸ using its Lemonade mobile app and leveraging its take on the peer-to-peer model. Lemonade takes a 20% flat fee at sign-up¸ and at the same time¸ insureds select a charity to which they want excess premium donated. Peer groups are created through cause selection¸ and claims are paid out of that group to its members. Whatever money is left over at the end of the year is donated to the cause.

Man Admits To Inflating Burglary Claim With Fake Receipts

A man who defrauded State Farm Insurance of $19¸553 in a claim stemming from an alleged burglary pleaded guilty to a felony Monday in Niagara County Court. Gary W. Coleman Jr.¸ 41¸ of Frankhauser Road¸ Williamsville¸ will receive a conditional discharge if he pays restitution before his Dec. 16 sentencing date¸ Assistant District Attorney Joel M. Grundy said. Otherwise¸ four years in prison is the maximum penalty Judge Sara Sheldon could impose. Grundy said Coleman was living in an apartment on Dysinger Road in the Town of Lockport in 2014 when he reported a burglary and was paid about $30¸000 for the lost property.

Madison¸ Wisconsin Hailstorm Could Generate Thousands Of Claims

As quickly as Monday’s late afternoon hailstorm swept through Dane County¸ insurance adjusters soon followed to assist customers with claims of damage to vehicles and property. The storm¸ according to the National Weather Service¸ passed through Dane County between 4 and 4:30 p.m. By about 4:15¸ large hail up to 2 inches in diameter¸ heavy rain and gusting wind began pelting Madison. Within minutes of the storm’s passing¸ Madison-based American Family Insurance started getting calls from customers reporting hail damage.

Insured Losses From Louisiana Floods Could Reach $11B

Catastrophe modeling firm AIR Worldwide estimates that insurable losses from the rainfall-induced Louisiana floods in August will be between $8.5 billion and $11 billion. The rainfall lasted about seven days¸ “resulting in accumulations of around 7.1 trillion gallons in Baton Rouge and the surrounding suburbs¸ according to reports¸ reaching upward of 30 inches in some areas¸” said Dr. Boyko Dodov¸ vice president and director of flood modeling at AIR Worldwide. Twenty parishes were declared major disaster areas¸ and FEMA issued $1 billion in Federal Disaster Assistance grants to those affected.

Pilot Survives Plane Crash Into Phoenix Home

Federal investigators are at the scene of a plane crash in a suburban Phoenix neighborhood. Gilbert Fire Department spokesman Gary Hildebrandt says firefighters were assisting National Transportation Safety Board personnel Sunday¸ the morning after a plane carrying several skydivers crashed into a Gilbert home. Authorities say a Cessna 182 aircraft was carrying a pilot and four skydivers Saturday night as part of Gilbert’s annual Constitution Fair when the plane crashed for unknown reasons. According to Hildebrandt¸ the plane’s occupants were able to parachute out before the aircraft struck the house.

Popular Country Store Destroyed By Fire

Sunday morning¸ residents of the quaint little town of Pescadero¸ just off Highway 1¸ south of Half Moon Bay¸ stared in shock at what was left of a local landmark — the Pescadero Country Store. “Right now I feel shaky because I just can’t believe it’s happened¸” said Diane Snyder¸ a longtime resident. Around 4 o’clock Sunday morning the colorful market — which some called the heart and soul of the town — caught fire. By the time fire crews arrived¸ it was engulfed in flames. They were too late to save the old building and¸ by sunrise¸ locals’ worst fears were realized. “It means everything to the town¸” Irma Mitton said.

Canadian Insurance Industry Having A Really Bad Year

Craig Stewart¸ vice-president of federal affairs at the Insurance Bureau of Canada¸ says the industry sees severe weather as a top priority nationally. “There are clear trends towards a warming atmosphere that have resulted in more significant losses from flooding… and as we’ve seen recently¸ wildfire¸” he said. The industry is still tallying up the cost of Alberta’s Fort McMurray wildfire¸ but with claims estimated at $ 3.6 billion¸ the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history is already hitting insurers. Joel Baker¸ president of MSA Research Inc.¸ says this year will likely go down as the worst in decades for Canada’s general insurance sector¸ which excludes life insurance.

Powerful Typhoon Blasts Taiwan¸ Heads Toward China

More than half a million homes lost power across Taiwan on Wednesday and five people were injured as Super Typhoon Meranti¸ which is believed to be the world’s strongest storm this year¸ hit the island. Taiwan’s Central Weather Bureau warned that the Category 5 storm threatened several southern and eastern cities¸ including Kaohsiung and Hualien¸ with strong winds¸ torrential rain and flooding. Meranti¸ which grew in strength the closer it got to Taiwan¸ was carrying maximum winds of 227 km per hour (141 mph) as it clipped the south of the island¸ the weather bureau said.

Cape Cod Home Catches On Fire After Lightning Strike

A house caught fire after a lightning bolt struck its chimney Wednesday night¸ according to Eastham fire Capt. Lisa Albino. Two residents of 20 Stone Court heard a loud bang and evacuated the house at around 7:12 p.m.¸ she said. Firefighters responded and found a fire burning the kitchen wall on the inside and the outside¸ she said. The chimney sustained extensive damage. Firefighters extinguished the fire after about 15 minutes¸ she said. No one was injured¸ but the house is currently uninhabitable and the residents are staying with friends.

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