Tuesday, September 1, 2009

NATIONAL NEWS ZONE......

With Hurricane Jimena heading toward Baja, and September being one of the more active months of "Hurricane Season" each year, CSA Travel Protection compiled and offers 10 facts of U.S. hurricane trivia.

  1. A tropical storm becomes a hurricane when winds reach 74 miles per hour.
  2. The National Hurricane Center began naming tropical storms in 1953.
  3. The naming of hurricanes alphabetically, alternating male and female names, began in 1979.
  4. For the United States, September has had more major hurricanes than all other months combined.
  5. However, five of the most devastating hurricanes did not occur in September: Katrina (August 2005), Andrew (August 1992), Camille (August 1969), Audrey (June 1957) and Hazel (October 1954).
  6. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history, repeatedly shattering previous records.
  7. Hurricane Katrina was the most costly hurricane in U.S. history, costing an estimated $75 billion.
  8. The three deadliest hurricanes in US History are: Galveston, TX (1900) with 8,000 people reported killed; Lake Okeechobee, Fla. (1928) with 2,500 reported dead; and Katrina (2005) where 1,800 people perished in Louisiana and Texas.
  9. Only three hurricanes, in the past 100 years, have hit landfall as a category 5: Florida Keys (1935); Camille (1969) in Mississippi, southeast Louisiana and Virginia; and Andrew (1989) in southeast Florida and southeast Louisiana.
  10. The average life of a hurricane is nine days.


Storms are full of surprises, and while experts predict near-normal activity this hurricane season, there are potential mishaps that can happen even if a storm doesn't make an appearance on a trip. Anticipating the unexpected - such as medical emergencies, flight delays, identity theft or a natural disaster at home before leaving - and covering it with travel insurance will protect travelers from surprises. Travelers can find out more about CSA and travel insurance by contacting their travel agent.

  • A new Best’s Review cover story informs life/health agents how to value their businesses to plan for retirement or acquisition. “What’s Your Agency Worth?” tells the story of how a life insurance agency owner in Woodland Hills, California, found an investor that allowed her business to grow and also provided her with a long-term exit strategy.

  • This kind of story is likely to play out in coming years as owners of life/health agencies look for a way to access capital, find a buyer so they can retire, or both. About 26% of all life/health and property/casualty agents are self-employed, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


  • Many life/health don’t have succession plans in place or know what their agencies are worth, said Chris Greis, president and founder of Leaders Partners Inc. Some principals plan to work until they drop, he said, or look for a young producer to come in and take over. Both of these plans are fraught with risk, he said.


  • The California life agency, Time Financial, was sold to an insurance wholesaler, but at the time of the sale the buyer and seller didn’t know the value of the business, said Kate Kinkade, Time’s president.


  • Measuring a life/health agency’s worth isn’t as simple as applying EBITDA or (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) as you can in valuing a P/C agency. Life/health agencies require a holistic view — evaluating the quality of the firm’s contractual relationships, market conduct record, insurance carriers and the kinds of retailers and brokers with which it works.


  • “What’s Your Agency Worth?” also features a sidebar containing three experts’ advice on selling a life/health agency.


  • September’s Other Highlights:

  • Read about how Native Americans are turning to captives to insure properties like Foxwoods Resort Casino in “Going Their Own Way.”
  • Congress is back in session and “Committees with Insurance Interests” examines which senators and congressman exert the greatest influence on the insurance industry.
  • Medical tourism brings to mind flying off to other countries to have medical procedures performed, but “Heading for Home” reports how some health plans are offering discounts for medical care performed at U.S. facilities.
  • “Open Door Policies” reports how Brazil’s market reforms are attracting reinsurers’ business.

To read these articles and more, subscribe to Best's Review by visiting www.bestreview.com, calling the A.M. Best customer service department at (908) 439-2200, ext. 5742, or e-mailing your request to customer_service@ambest.com.


  • DriveCam Inc., a global Driver Risk Management (DRM) company, announced support for legislation requiring states to pass laws banning text messaging while operating a moving vehicle. DriveCam also expressed support for the Distracted Driving Summit announced by the U.S. Department of Transportation where transportation leaders, members of Congress and safety groups will come together to reduce accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving. DriveCam has been invited to participate in the Summit.

  • The bill (S. 1536) – Avoiding Life-Endangering and Reckless Texting by Drivers (ALERT Drivers) Act – was prompted in part by studies by Virginia Tech and the University of Utah, which found that drivers were much more likely to crash if texting while driving, according to Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY, one of four sponsors of the legislation. These studies found that texting was more distracting to drivers than using a hand-held cellular telephone or being intoxicated.


  • "DriveCam unequivocally supports the goals of this bill," said Brandon Nixon CEO of DriveCam. "With a database of 13.5 million risky driving events, we see what’s happening on our nation’s roads every day. Texting is on the rise, as are the number of incidents – and deaths – as a result of this selfish behavior. Road safety is of paramount importance in ensuring every American’s right to get from one place to another safely."

  • Currently, texting while driving is banned in the District of Columbia and 14 states, including Alaska, California, Minneapolis, New Jersey and Virginia. Maryland's ban takes effect Oct. 1. The New York legislature recently passed such a measure and sent it to the governor for signature. This federal bill would require other states to write laws prohibiting text messaging by drivers or risk losing 25 percent of their annual federal highway money. States would have two years to enact such laws.