Rain gutters cause many home drainage problems

By Dean Fosdick

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The person who coined the phrase “saving for a rainy day” must have been a property owner with home drainage problems.

The financial costs of poor drainage can be substantial, and the human health costs significant too.

Prevention is important, and many clues exist for predicting trouble, says Ryan Larsen, a civil engineer with NDS Inc., a manufacturer of drainage products in Woodland Hills, California.

“Low spots in the landscape can be hard to see, but areas where the ground is wet for long periods of time after it rains or the sprinklers run are locations where water is collecting,” Larsen said.

Discoloration and mould growth on a home’s foundation, and places where stucco, siding or paint easily fall off a house are indications that water is pooling, he said. “You should suspect water is getting into your home if you detect damp or musty smells in your basement or crawl space,” he said.

Most homes have some kind of drainage problem, and most often the damage comes from rain gutters, Larsen said.

“Because a lot of homes have gutter downspouts that lead straight to the ground, you’ve got all this water coming off the roof and pouring to just one point, where it can collect against a home’s foundation and flood landscapes and planter areas,” he said. “Fortunately, gutter problems are also the easiest to fix with a downspout extender.”

The financial costs of poor drainage can add up. Outlays for drying basements can range from $1,000 to $10,000, according the U.S. National Flood Insurance Program. Repairing foundation damage can cost anywhere from $3,500 to $25,000, the National Association of Realtors says.

The human health costs of poor drainage on properties also can be sizeable, Larsen said. “Poorly drained runoff from roofs can enter basements or flow inside homes through foundational cracks or leaks where it can warp floorboards and turn finished rooms into mildewy and mouldy messes that can attract insects and rodents.”

Inadequate drainage also cracks foundations, creates standing water that ruins yards and gardens, and allows breeding spots for disease-carrying mosquitoes and heartworms.

“Soggy, poorly graded ground spells certain doom for lawns, shrubs, plants and gardens,” Larsen said.

Three of the most common solutions for drainage problems are catch basins, pop-up emitters and French drains.

Catch basins trap sediment and contaminants beneath downspouts for drainage to safer locations. Pop-up emitters are connected to underground drainage pipes and channeled away from structures. The pop-up tops allow water to drain when full but remain closed when empty to keep out rodents and debris. French drains are gravel-filled trenches that direct storm water away from specific areas. They collect water over their entire length, rather than from one particular spot.

With water drainage problems, though, come opportunities, said Monica Day, a water resources educator with Michigan State University Extension.

“Be creative,” Day said. “There are positive ways of dealing with too much water. Keep it in the soil but where it’s not damaging anything. Let (ornamental) plants grow there to filter out the water and retain it.

“That provides beautification as well as practicality,” she said.

Insurer AIG is buying Validus in deal worth about $5.56B

NEW YORK _ Insurer AIG is buying Validus, a provider of reinsurance, primary insurance, and asset management services, in a deal worth approximately $5.56 billion.

American International Group Inc. said Monday that it will pay $68 for each share of Validus Holdings Ltd. That’s a 45.5 per cent premium to the Bermuda company’s Friday closing price of $46.72.

Shares of Validus rose almost 5 per cent before the market opened.

AIG President and CEO Brian Duperreault said in a prepared statement that the acquisition will bring new businesses and capabilities to the New York company’s general insurance operation.

The deal is targeted to close by the middle of the year. It still needs approval from Validus shareholders.

Totten Acquires the Shares of Ontario-Based Easyinsure

Press Release:

Chicago, January 3, 2018

Totten Insurance Group Inc. (Totten), a leading national insurance managing general agency, announced today that it has acquired the shares of Belyer Insurance Limited operating as EasyInsure (EasyInsure). Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Headquartered in Windsor, Ontario, EasyInsure is Canada’s first and leading digital insurance brokerage. The company expanded beyond its progressive personal insurance platform to also offer a full suite of commercial insurance products online. It now ranks as one of Canada’s fastest growing insurance brokerages. Totten intends to leverage EasyInsure’s digital capabilities to better support its current and future clients.

“EasyInsure’s rapid growth is a testament to both its knowledgeable professionals and distribution platform as well as Canada’s appetite for web-based insurance transactions,” said Susan Murphy, President of Totten. “We’re eager to utilize EasyInsure’s online processes to increase our operational efficiencies in distribution and, more importantly, ensure we continue to deliver customized solutions to our customers when and how they want them.”

EasyInsure founders and Managing Partners, Grant Belanger and Leen Meyer, will join Totten and continue to manage the EasyInsure operations, while reporting to Murphy.

“Joining Totten allows us to leverage the expert underwriting resources together with a national platform,” said Belanger. “Our clients and prospects will continue to receive customized guidance and best-in-class service as well as a more robust suite of insurance solutions and capabilities.”

Meyer added, “Like Totten, EasyInsure is focused on innovation, which is why we’re so excited to join the agency whose brand is synonymous with future-forward products and services to meet the needs of customers.”

About Totten
Totten Insurance Group is a leading Canadian MGA with the expertise to handle challenging accounts, as well as specialty risks. With offices across Canada, Totten supports the broker community in key segments, including Commercial Property, Commercial Casualty, Healthcare, Hospitality, Construction, Forestry, Mining, and Professional Liability and Personal Lines. Totten also operates under the name of National Broker Services (NBS) and Canadian Resources Insurance Solutions (CRIS). Visit www.tottengroup.com

California wildfires prompt tougher rules for utilities

SAN FRANCISCO _ Devastating California wildfires this year _ and expectations of more to come under the extremes of climate change _ prompted regulators Thursday to toughen rules for utility companies to keep power lines clear of brush and tree branches that can easily spark into flames.

Public Utilities Commission president Michael Picker called the regulations adopted unanimously by the board “a major rewrite” of the state’s fire-prevention rules for utilities as climate change drives up wildfire risks in much of California.

In a year when the state’s fire season threatens to go year-round, state officials “accept and acknowledge that the scope of the problem is changing,’ Picker said.

The board’s action comes as fire officials look for the causes of wildfires currently burning in Southern California, including a 380-square-mile (980-square-kilometre) fire that has become the fourth-largest in state history. The Los Angeles Times on Thursday quoted a witness as saying she saw arcing power lines throwing sparks at the scene of one of the fires in the San Fernando Valley.

Fire officials also are looking at any role that sparks from wind-whipped power lines played in October’s wildfires in Northern California, which killed 44 people and caused more than $9 billion in property damage, more than any fire recorded in the United States, according to insurance industry figures.

The new state rules for utilities, power lines and vegetation concentrate on areas deemed of higher fire risk. The changes increase the minimum space among power lines and between power lines and vegetation, and speed up timetables for patrols and repairs in areas of higher fire risks.

The agency first began considering the issue after a series of Southern California wildfires in 2007. Those fires were tied to swaying and arcing power lines, some of which fell during heavy winds.

Currently, a redrawing of California’s fire-risk maps is more than doubling the area that officials consider at heightened risk of wildfire, from 31,000 square miles (80,000 square kilometres) to 70,000 square miles (180,000 square kilometres), or 44 per cent of the state’s land.

State officials and climate experts point to increasing extremes of weather in California, which last winter swung from five years of drought to near-record rain.

The U.S. Forest Service this week reported a record 129 million trees have perished, raising fire risks, in the state since the drought began. They were killed by hot, arid weather and forest pests that are thriving in the warmer conditions.

Utility companies co-operated with regulators in developing the tougher rules.

Insurance company will allow up to a year off for parents, six months of which will be on full basic pay, regardless of gender

Read more

21st Century Fox has reached a $90 million settlement of shareholder claims

Reuters

Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. has reached a $90 million settlement of shareholder claims arising from the sexual harassment scandal at its Fox News Channel, which cost the jobs of longtime news chief Roger Ailes and anchor Bill O’Reilly.The settlement, which requires a judge’s approval, resolves what are known as “derivative” claims against Fox officers and directors, including: Rupert Murdoch and his son Lachlan, who are Fox’s executive chairmen; James Murdoch, another son and its chief executive, and Ailes’ estate.

The defendants did not admit wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement filed with the Delaware Chancery Court.

Monday’s settlement calls for insurers of Fox officers, Fox directors and Ailes’ estate to pay the $90 million to the New York-based company for the benefit of shareholders.

Fox will enhance governance and said it created the Fox News Workplace Professionalism and Inclusion Council to ensure a proper workplace environment, bolster training and further the recruitment and advancement of women and minorities.

The council has four independent members, including former federal judge Barbara Jones.

In a typical derivative case, shareholders sue in the name of a company to remedy wrongs inflicted by an alleged lack of oversight by a company’s officers and directors.

Ailes’ estate disputed many of the allegations in the settlement, which was reached before a complaint was formally filed, court records show.

“The Workplace Council gives our management team access to a braintrust of experts with deep and diverse experiences in workplace issues,” Jack Abernethy, co-president of Fox News Channel, said in a statement. “We look forward to benefiting from their collective guidance.”

Shareholders were led by the City of Monroe Employees’ Retirement System in Michigan. Their lawyer, Max Berger, said in a statement the accord would provide “meaningful benefits” for shareholders and Fox News employees.

The accord is not the first big derivative settlement involving a Murdoch-led company.

In 2013, former Fox parent News Corp reached a $139 million settlement of derivative claims that its board turned a blind eye to phone hacking at its London tabloids.

Two years later, the Delaware court approved a $275 million settlement involving “Call of Duty” videogame maker Activision Blizzard Inc over a stock sale by Vivendi SA.

The scandal at Fox began in July 2016 when former anchor Gretchen Carlson filed a lawsuit accusing Ailes of harassment. O’Reilly lost his job in April after being accused of harassment, and has denied wrongdoing.

Ailes died the next month. Fox faces other private civil litigation tied to the scandal.

The case is City of Monroe Employees’ Retirement System v Murdoch et al, Delaware Chancery Court, No. 2017-0833.

 Source; Thomson/Reuters

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from ILSTV

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest