U.S. insurance adjusters in Calgary to respond to damaging hail storm

U.S. insurance adjusters in Calgary to respond to damaging hail storm

The excerpted article was written by 

A parking lot outside a hotel in northeast Calgary is full of American licence plates from states like Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Utah and South Carolina.

CRU Adjusters confirmed to Global News it has hired adjusters from across the continent following the hail storm that pounded the city earlier this month.

About 300 adjusters have come in from outside Alberta, including about 100 from the United States, for a mix of desk and fieldwork.

A CRU executive said it has strict COVID-19 protocols  — employees are to stay in their rooms as much as possible, wear masks when leaving, and practise social distancing at customers’ homes. Customers are contacted by phone and do not come out of the home for exterior inspections. When CRU adjusters have to go into the home, homeowners are advised to stay in different rooms during assessments.

Before being dispatched to Calgary, the adjusters had to answer health, travel and close contact questionnaires for CRU, and are advised to immediately self-isolate if they have any coronavirus-related symptoms and to contact Alberta Health.

The adjusters have been in Calgary for nearly two weeks and have more than six weeks work ahead of them. CRU said they are not planning on bringing any more adjusters to the province.

The adjuster company said they worked with the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) and Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), who deemed these adjusters an essential service and provided them with necessary documentation.

And according to PHAC’s website, the documentation excuses the adjusters from having to self-isolate for 14 days.

Alberta Health said it was unaware of this group of adjusters coming to Calgary, and have begun working with PHAC to monitor the adjusters.

One hotel employee Global News spoke with said they ask out-of-province guests to respect social distancing, and even ask them to skip attending the complimentary breakfast.

In email from General Manager Ryan Ocbina said Element by Westin Calgary Airport follows all provincial and federal public health guidelines and follows a chain-wide commitment to cleanliness during the coronavirus pandemic. Ocbina’s hotels also provide complimentary masks and have removed all high-contact areas like self-serve coffee.

In an emailed statement, IBC confirmed it does help insurance companies “gain approval from relevant authorities to bring adjusters in from outside jurisdictions to assist consumers in response to catastrophic events, if required.

“Insurers are utilizing as many in-house and local claims representatives as possible to manage the high volume of claims from this event.”

But most insurance companies Global News spoke with confirmed they are using local adjusters.

“We can confirm that the vast majority of insurers have been using Canadian adjusters,” the ICB statement said.

“Some insurers utilize third-party independent catastrophic adjusting firms during catastrophic events to ensure clients get help as quickly as possible.”

Pandemic crisis forecast to hit insurers for $200 billion

LONDON _ The pandemic will cost the insurance industry over $200 billion, according to Lloyds of London, who estimated that its own payouts are now on a par with the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks or the combined impact of hurricanes Harvey, Maria and Irma in 2017.

Lloyds, which as an insurance market pays out to insurers affected by disasters, said it expects to pay between $3 billion and $4.3 billion to insurance companies to help them cope with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Losses could widen if lockdowns continue into the next quarter, which would push the overall cost to the insurance industry to $203 billion. Unlike the storms, for example, the pandemic’s impact is global, systemic and long term.

“Lloyd’s believes that once the scale and complexity of the social and economic impact of COVID-19 is fully understood, the overall cost to the global insurance non-life industry is likely to be far in excess of those historical events,” the London-based insurance market said.

The study undertaken by Lloyds assumed social distancing and lockdown measures through 2020, as well as the forecasts for the drop in gross domestic product globally.

“What makes COVID-19 unique is not just the devastating continuing human and social impact, but also the economic shock.” Lloyd’s Chief Executive John Neal said.  “Taking all those factors together will challenge the industry as never before, but we will keep focused on supporting our customers and continuing to pay claims over the weeks and months ahead.”

 

What Cruisers Need to Know About Travel Insurance After COVID-19

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.May 6, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Major cruise lines have announced they plan to resume sailings as early as August 1. For travelers planning to book a cruise post-COVID-19, travel insurance comparison site, Squaremouth.com, explains what they need to know about travel insurance.

Coverage for Contracting COVID-19 Still Available

Travelers booking cruises now, or keeping their travel plans, can still purchase a policy for COVID-19 concerns, however, coverage is limited, and varies by provider.

As of May 6, 2020, Squaremouth.com reports five travel insurance providers that offer coverage if a traveler contracts COVID-19 while cruising. These policies include emergency medical and medical evacuation coverage if a traveler contracts the virus while on the cruise and need to receive medical care or be medically evacuated.

As of May 6, 2020, there are four travel insurance providers on Squaremouth.com who include trip cancellation coverage if a traveler contracts coronavirus, or is quarantined, and unable to travel as planned.

Being Denied Boarding Due to Cruise Line Screenings May Be Covered

Previously, cruise lines denied boarding to travelers who had a fever or had recently traveled to a destination considered high-risk for the coronavirus. When cruising returns, it is possible these regulations will continue. If a traveler is not allowed to board their cruise because they have a fever or are sick, they may be covered to cancel their trip if they receive documentation from a doctor. However, if a traveler is denied boarding because of a recent visit to a risky destination cancellation coverage may not be available.

Cancel for Any Reason Is Best Option for Cruisers With Cancellation Concerns

Many of the unprecedented impacts on travel related to COVID-19 are not covered by standard insurance policies, like travel bans and border closures. The best cancellation option during this time of uncertainty around travel is a Cancel for Any Reason policy. This optional upgrade can reimburse travelers 75% of their trip cost and is the only option that allows travelers to cancel their trip for any reason not covered by a standard policy, including travel bans or fear of traveling due to coronavirus.

It is important to note that travelers who purchase Cancel for Any Reason policies must cancel their trips 2-3 days prior to departure in order to be reimbursed, so a last-minute cancellation, such as being denied boarding at the cruise port, would be too late.

TRAVEL INSURANCE INFORMATION FOR COVID-19

The Traveler’s Guide to Travel Insurance for COVID-19 was created to inform travelers about their insurance options during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Coronavirus Pandemic Current Event Center includes answers to frequently asked questions and providers’ position statements. These resources are updated daily as the situation evolves.

ABOUT SQUAREMOUTH

SQUAREMOUTH compares travel insurance policies from every major travel insurance provider in the United States. Using Squaremouth’s comparison engine and third-party customer reviews, travelers can research and compare travel insurance policies side-by-side. More information can be found at www.squaremouth.com.

SOURCE Squaremouth

http://www.squaremouth.com

US: Administration offers plan to cover COVID care for uninsured

By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

WASHINGTON _ The Trump administration announced a plan Wednesday to start paying hospitals and doctors who care for uninsured patients with COVID-19, but Democratic lawmakers and health industry groups are likely to press for more.

Under the approach detailed by Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, hospitals and doctors would submit their bills directly to the government and they would get paid at Medicare rates.

Uninsured people would not be liable for costs, and health care providers would not have to ask any questions about a patient’s immigration status, an issue that’s been cited as a barrier to care in communities with many foreign-born residents.

“This says if you don’t have insurance, go get taken care of  we have you covered,” Azar said in an interview.

The money will come from a pot of $100 billion that Congress has approved to provide relief for the health care system, which is trying to cope with the high cost of coronavirus care while facing a cash crunch because elective surgeries and procedures have been put on hold. For COVID-19 patients who are covered by health insurance, hospitals and doctors accepting money from the relief fund would have to agree to not to send “surprise” bills for out-of-network services.

COVID-19 treatment for the uninsured could cost from $14 billion to $48 billion, according to a recent estimate from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

Azar said the administration is not providing an estimate on what its plan will cost, but he is confident it will fit within the $100 billion allocated by Congress. Lawmakers are finalizing another coronavirus relief bill, expected to add $75 billion more for the health care system.

Democrats and some health industry groups say the relief money approved by Congress should go directly to health care facilities, and the administration should cover the uninsured by expanding programs such as Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act. An HHS press release describing the plan for the uninsured says payments for their care would be made “subject to available funding.”

About 28 million people were uninsured before the pandemic hit, and that number is expected to rise sharply. Consultants at Health Management Associates estimate that 12 million to 35 million people could lose workplace coverage in the economic shutdown aimed at containing the spread of the coronavirus.

The plan for the uninsured was part of a broader announcement by the government detailing a second round of economic relief payments to hospitals, doctors and other health care service providers.

Before Wednesday’s announcement, $30 billion had been distributed. Additional funds now being released include:

_ $20 billion in payments across a range of health care facilities.

_ $10 billion targeted to coronavirus hot spots; New York will receive $4.4 billion.

_$10 billion for rural health clinics and hospitals

_$400 million for Indian Health Service facilities.

Azar said additional allocations will be announced for nursing homes, for hospitals and doctors that rely on Medicaid, and for dentists.

Liz Weston: Is your financial adviser really helping you?

Liz Weston: Is your financial adviser really helping you?

By Liz Weston Of Nerdwallet

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Stock market crashes don’t just test investors’ mettle. Abrupt downturns also can reveal what kind of financial adviser you have.

Some people will discover, to their horror, that they’ve been dealing with outright crooks. Ponzi schemes are among the cons that fall apart when markets do, as investors try to pull their money out and discover it’s gone.

More commonly, people learn that their advisers didn’t put the clients’ best interests first. The adviser may have recommended investments that were unsuitably risky or hard to sell, or failed to adequately diversify clients’ portfolios.

Even if you dodge the worst, your adviser may not deliver the value you expected. It’s reasonable to assume you’ll get some degree of hand-holding, reassurance and personal service when you choose a human adviser over less expensive options, such as a robo-adviser or investing on your own. The answers to the following questions could help you decide whether it’s time to look for an adviser willing to live up to those expectations.

HAVE YOU EVEN HEARD FROM YOUR ADVISER?

Demanding instant responses isn’t realistic at a time when advisers, like the rest of us, are grappling with pandemic-wrought changes. They may be working from home, struggling with unfamiliar technologies, trying to keep their pantry filled and home-schooling their kids. Family members may be ill or at risk. Plus, they may be busy responding to clients who are a lot more freaked out than you are, or at least more vocal about it.

Still, by now your adviser should have checked in with you _ and mass communications such as email newsletters don’t count. If you’ve called or emailed, you should be getting responses.

“We return emails and calls within 24 hours,” says Catherine S. Gearig, a certified financial planner with LifePlan Financial Advisory Group in Rochester Hills, Michigan. “We’re reaching out to every client on our roster via telephone to see how they are doing and talking through their concerns.”

IS YOUR ADVISER LISTENING?

Let’s say you have heard from your adviser. Was it a pep talk, a lecture or a conversation? Good advisers remind clients of their goals, encourage them to stick with their strategy and reassure them that markets always bounce back eventually. But good advisers also ask plenty of questions and pay attention to the answers.

“This is the time for collaboration and listening to how you feel, how you see yourself being impacted by a recession, or even personal or medical health concerns you have,” says Pam Krueger, CEO of Wealthramp, an online service that connects consumers with vetted, independent fiduciary advisers. “It’s not about portfolios and investments and mutual funds all the time.”

IS YOUR ADVISER LEANING IN?

If you’ve lost your job, you may need to find health insurance, file for unemployment, evaluate a severance package and figure out how to make ends meet _ all tasks that a good adviser should help you with, Krueger says. If you’re in or near retirement, you need to know how bear markets might affect your future spending and whether to tap other assets, such as home equity. Even if you’re decades away from retirement, you may want reassurance that your plan is still on track.

The stimulus package that Congress approved in late March, meanwhile, has a wide range of provisions to help individuals and businesses. Your adviser should be evaluating whether any could help you.

Even if you don’t have a pressing financial need, it might be a good time to do a Roth conversion, sell losing stocks to offset gains from winners, rebalance your investments or even speed up your retirement contributions. CFP Malcolm Ethridge, executive vice-president of CIC Wealth in Rockville, Maryland, is encouraging his younger clients whose job prospects are good to boost their 401(k) and IRA contributions now.

“That way, you get those dollars in there while the market is selling at a discount and take full advantage of the buying opportunity,” Ethridge says.

Bad markets and trying economic times are an opportunity to see how seriously advisers take their responsibilities to their clients, says CFP Brett A. Koeppel, president of Eudaimonia Wealth in Buffalo, New York.

“Our character is often determined by how we show up at times of adversity,” Koeppel says. “Now is the time to lean into it, and step up for the families that count on us to do so.”

___________________________

This column was provided to The Associated Press by the personal finance website NerdWallet. Liz Weston is a columnist at NerdWallet, a certified financial planner and author of  “Your Credit Score.”

Fairfax Financial warns of US$1.4 billion net loss in the first quarter

TORONTO _ Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is warning that it expects to lose US$1.4 billion in the first quarter because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Toronto-based holding company says its preliminary result will also mean about a 12 per cent decrease in book value adjusted for the $10 per common share dividend paid in quarter.

Chief executive Prem Watsa says that despite the unprecedented turbulence its insurance companies continued to have strong underwriting performance in the quarter.

Net losses on investments currently estimated at about US$1.5 billion primarily reflect unrealized losses in the fair value of our common stock and bond portfolio from the sudden shock of COVID-19, he said. That reverses a significant portion of the US$1.7 billion net gains on investments reported in 2019.

Watsa says in a statement that the company has drawn on its credit facility solely to ensure that it maintains high levels of cash. It had about US$2.5 billion in cash and marketable securities in its holding company at March 31.

Fairfax will also absorb its share of US$200 million in losses related to its investments in Quess, Resolute Forest Products and Astarta.

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