Friday, December 4, 2009

How do they get insurance at Gatorland?

How does one underwrite, um, alligator wrestling?

Someone does, apparently. Insurance Journal, a trade journal, has put together a video about risk management and insurance at...Florida's "Gatorland" theme park.

Why is a dead chihuahua worth $30k?

If you've ever lost a family pet, then you know the pain that comes with that loss. Now imagine that someone else is responsible for poor fido's demise. According to an article by Peter Lewis in MSN Money, there's a growing movement to recognize the intangible value of pets and to seek redress for their untimely death:

Courts usually don't agree because the law doesn't allow them to. In fact, a pet owner typically can't recover much more than out-of-pocket expenses when an animal is injured or killed due to some one's negligence. Current practice is to value pets at what they would cost to replace, the way insurers put a price on used cars.

But the article points out several cases where people successfully sued for damages. For example:

In 2002, an Oregon jury awarded $136,000 to a family that lost four dogs to a neighbor they alleged had poisoned them because he was fed up with their barking.

In a civil suit that went to arbitration in Washington state in 2008, three men were ordered to pay $30,000 after killing a Chihuahua named Tia. The men had been drinking, and one was asleep in a car when Tia, barking in her backyard, apparently awakened him. He shot her dead.

In 2007, Chicago settled with resident Calvin Hale after a police officer who ran through his property in pursuit of a suspect shot and killed his 10-year-old Akita, which Hale had raised since puppyhood. He received $27,500.

So what do these trends mean? Possibly higher homeowners insurance, veterinary bills and even leashes and pet food.

Number of insurance complaints, by company

Our office received an email last night from a woman looking to change auto insurers, but wanting to make sure she made a wise choice. Here's what she said:
How can I get information to rate auto insurance companies? I want to change companies and I think looking at the premiums only is not a thorough way to research where I want to change my auto insurance. Is there a page that shows percent of complaints or any other information that would be useful. Many thanks.
I emailed her back, steering her to our online "complaint comparison tool" that allows consumers to easily compare complaint ratios for auto (or other kinds of) insurance. One caveat: the numbers can be skewed for companies with only a very small number of policies, which is why we also list the market share of each.

Take a look.