Specialized Insurance Available for Green Construction

Weather patterns have become increasingly erratic over the last several years. Heat waves, droughts, mudslides, and increased hurricane activity have become the norm. In 2004, four major hurricanes pummeled Florida; the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama are still recovering from 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and its ensuing floods. Between these disasters and increasing attention from politicians and the media, the problem of global climate change has become a major issue. As a result, the insurance industry has begun to devise new products and strategies for dealing with this problem.

Some insurers are beginning to offer specialized “alternative energy insurance” policies. For example, one company is writing policies to cover alternative energy system performance. This policy insures against the risk that a deficiency in the design of alternative energy technology will result in the under-performance of a facility. The company designed it to help owner-operators of facilities meet the needs of lenders concerned about their investments. Another company has broadened its coverage for commercial buildings to include alternative energy systems. It also will insure against loss of income when alternative energy systems suffer damage and extra expenses when the building owner must buy power from the grid while the system undergoes repair.

At least one insurer offers special coverage to encourage commercial building owners to replace destroyed buildings with new ones using green technology. It gives the property owner several green technology options, including:

  • Non-toxic, low-odor paints and carpeting
  • Energy-efficient electrical systems
  • Interior lighting systems that meet independent energy efficiency standards
  • Water-efficient plumbing systems
  • Enhanced roofing and insulation materials to reduce heat loss.

Anticipating less severe and less frequent losses, the same company offers rate credits to green building owners. It has found that most losses in traditional buildings are from electrical fires, heating and air conditioning system fires, and plumbing leaks. The company expects green technology to make these events less likely.

Another insurer has introduced for commercial building owners a new policy that encourages green building. It features coverage for:

  • The increased cost of green building alternatives
  • The expense of re-engineering and re-certifying green buildings
  • Vegetative roofs, and
  • Additional time to restore operations so that building repairs can include green alternatives.

Insurers are also educating their clients about the implications of climate change. Recognizing that courts could hold businesses liable for future environmental damage, insurers have worked with corporate boards and officers to encourage planet-friendly business practices. Their hope is that actions taken now will reduce the number and size of future liability insurance claims.

While only a small number of insurers offer specialized policies for green construction now, the success of these products will encourage other companies to follow suit. Also, as green building technologies become widespread, the desire to attract and retain business will force insurers to compete with policies of their own. Insurance agents can identify companies that offer these coverages and make coverage recommendations to property owners.  As businesses and households everywhere take steps to reduce their carbon footprints, make certain that your insurance coverage is keeping up with those steps.

Four Tips to Keep Your Teen Driver Safe when You Aren’t in the Car

Newspaper columnist and author Erma Bombeck once humorously advised parents to never lend a vehicle to anyone to whom they’ve given birth. If only life could be that simple. Most parents don’t find deflating the tires and locking away the keys from their teen driver a feasible approach and will eventually let their teen driver borrow the car.

Just because you’ve decided to let your teen get behind the wheel doesn’t mean that you want to hand the keys over haphazardly. There are several things that you can do to prepare your child and help relieve some of the uneasiness you might feel.

1. Enroll in a motor club.

One of the most important features is that the emergency roadside service you pick offers 24/7 roadside assistance. Your teen will then be able call for professional help whenever he/she might need it. You may also consider asking your motor club if they offer emergency roadside services for when your teen is riding in a friend’s car.

2. Have a candid conversation with your teen about driving.

You’ll never know your teen’s knowledge and attitude about driving if you don’t talk to them. Although the graphic details of what can happen when speed limits, stop signs, signal lights, and roadwork cautions are ignored might not be fun topics, it’s important for kids to know the consequences of their driving actions.

You’ll also want to establish ground rules for using the car, such as how many passengers will be allowed, what time it should be returned, and where it can and can’t be taken. Keep in mind that some state laws will dictate the answers to some of these questions.

Another topic of discussion should be drinking and driving. No parent wants to believe that their sweet and levelheaded child would be the type to drive intoxicated, but the reality is that even good kids can be foolish or succumb to peer pressure. Make it clear that you’ll have zero tolerance for both drinking and driving -and- riding with someone else drinking alcohol. At the same time, you’ll want your teen to know beyond a doubt that they can call you anytime they get into a bad situation and you’ll be there to come pick them up.

3. Purchase a global positioning system.

A GPS is a device that you can install to apprise you on the location of your vehicle and teen. You will establish a radius of operation for the device. The GPS will alert you if the teen takes the vehicle outside of your set radius, is driving the vehicle beyond their curfew, and if they break the speed limit.

4. Purchase a speed-monitoring device.

This device, also called a governor, restricts the fuel injection of the vehicle. This restriction prevents the vehicle from going over a certain speed. In addition to standard GPS and governor devices, there are also much more expensive high-tech options like tiny on-board drive cams that capture risky driving behaviors on video.

If you feel like you’re being intrusive, just keep in mind that NHTSA data shows the crash rates for drivers between 16 and 17 years of age are nine times that of an adult driver. As your teen driver becomes a more experienced driver and develops safe driving habits, you can always reconsider your approach.