Category: Personal Insurance

Van Dyk New Lloyds Flood Product – Born the U.S.A in NJ

By Paul Lavenhar

New Jersey is known for Bruce Springsteen, diners, and going “down the shore.” It is also known for being one of the states hit hardest by Hurricanes Irene and Sandy. 

New Jersey-based insurance agency, The Van Dyk Group, is located on the coast of New Jersey, and it processed over 6,000 claims after Sandy. Its staff also provided tremendous community support to help those whose homes were lost or damaged. The year before New Jersey was pounded by Hurricane Irene, which was a less powerful storm but still devastating.

Van Dyk Insurance NJ

Van Dyk is a family business with New Jersey roots dating back 70 years. From Left to Right: David L Wyrsch Sr. and Janet Wyrsch (seated); Cindy Kelley, Jeff Wyrsch, Dan Wyrsch, David Wyrsch Jr., Joann Hahl (standing)

Out of that experience Jeff Wyrsch, vice president of personal insurance for Van Dyk, realized there was a need for private flood insurance as an alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

“Hurricane Irene hit our office on Long Beach Island, New Jersey. Irene caused inland flooding with lakes and rivers overflowing causing mostly inland damage. It was a completely different event than Sandy one year later. Sandy was a much more coastal weather event causing most of its damage along the shore. So, we got to see both sides of the need for flood insurance and catastrophe insurance,” said Jeff.

After these events, Jeff Wyrsch and his father David Sr. attended the first CHART conference.  Although they had a previous Lloyds connection from years ago, they met with several syndicates and met a new broker. Working with CHART also eventually led to them going through the process to become coverholders.

After Jeff attended the CHART conference, he connected with a Lloyds of London broker who understood the need and the marketing potential for Van Dyk’s private flood insurance product. The next step was a trip to the London market to finalize the product offering.

“Attending CHART led to our being with Iris Insurance Brokers. After CHART we had several meetings, and our broker introduced us to various syndicates. We came away feeling very confident that there was real interest in our product,” said Jeff. “Afterwards we put together a proposal that showed how the product and its rating would work.”

After meeting with the Lloyds underwriters in London, these underwriters followed up by coming to New Jersey to meet with Van Dyk executives. They saw first-hand the type of properties and risks that the program targets.  

NJ Flood Insurance

Houses destroyed by the storm surge caused by Hurricane Sandy in Long Beach Island, NJ Photo by Jeffrey Bruno

“Since Sandy, many federal regulations for flood insurance have changed and continue to change in regards to elevation requirements of homes in high risk flood zones, along with how their premiums are calculated. Our initial program focuses on properly elevated homes, which have lower risk and lower premiums, but high volume. Most other private programs do not take elevation into account. New homes and those rebuilt after Sandy have to meet new elevation requirements, which meet the criteria for our product’s coverage and lower rates,” said Jeff.

Van Dyk’s flood products not only provide lower premiums, but also offer additional coverage options beyond what NFIP offers.  These private flood products meet all federal requirements and are typically accepted by mortgage companies. 

One impetus for the product was rising NFIP premiums – in extreme cases doubling or tripling in a year. In addition, many home owners hit by Sandy were disappointed to find out their coverage would not cover their home’s total value. 

Van Dyk’s program can provide replacement cost coverage on personal property. In contrast to NFIP that limits coverage to $250,000 for the building and $100,000 for personal property, Van Dyk provides up to a million dollars for the building and up to $250,000 in personal property coverage on their standard policy.

Many of the homes damaged by Sandy were second vacation homes – often rented when unoccupied by the owners. Van Dyk can cover replacement cost, lost income if it is unrentable, and the cost to live elsewhere while a home is being repaired, which NFIP does not. In addition, NFIP has additional fees for vacation homeowners, which the Van Dyk flood program does not.

Van Dyk continues to offer NFIP coverage in addition to its own product. Its ability to offer an alternative enables its customers to customize their coverage depending on their specific needs. 

Van Dyk launched the program by offering it to its existing base of customers. Based on getting a positive response, Wyrsch’s plans for 2018 include offering the product on a wholesale basis to agents in coastal areas in the northeast. In addition, Van Dyk launched a coverholder operation called Insurance Agency Connection.

“When we found out about the CHART conference, we were looking for connections with the London market. We decided to give it a shot even though we had prior relationship there years ago. We came away from the conference with a lot of good information. The biggest advantage that CHART offered us was the opportunity to meet with Lloyds’ brokers. While we were at CHART we met with several syndicates and with Iris, the firm that ultimately became our broker.  That led to our becoming coverholders and launching our product,” said Jeff.

Paul Lavenhar is the principal of the insurance marketing communications firm
PL Communications.

Request Free, No-Obligation Flood or Home Insurance Quote 

What’s the Hurricane Forecast for 2017

Consumers and businesses along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts keep an eye on hurricane season so they can batten down their hatches before the storms hit. These adverse events are no small issue, as seen by 2012’s Superstorm Sandy, which resulted in 7.9 million businesses and households without power in 15 states and the District of Columbia, according to CNN, a major news outlet. In addition to lost business revenue from unexpected closings due to power outages, hurricanes can result in property damage. So it’s vital to have the proper insurance coverage to recover from hurricanes.

To keep an eye on the hurricane forecasts to best prepare, here’s what to watch for in 2017:

What’s on the Horizon?
The Atlantic hurricane season, which runs from June 1 to November 30, is the subject of many forecasts. According to Colorado State University’s (CSU) Tropical Meteorology Project, the Atlantic coast will see the following in 2017:

  • A “slightly below-average” season.
  • Eleven named storms.
  • Four named storms developing into hurricanes.
  • Two major hurricanes with winds in excess of 111 miles per hour.

 
These predictions are consistent with forecasts from other sources. AccuWeather, a global weather media company, expects 10 named storms, five of which will be hurricanes. AccuWeather predicts three major hurricanes will form.

What Will Actually Impact the U.S.?
While 10-11 named storms may form, they won’t all make landfall. The CSU researchers expect a 42% chance of major hurricanes’ reaching the entire U.S. coastline. Both the Gulf and East coasts have a 24% chance. Meanwhile, AccuWeather foresees three named storms making landfall.

What Can You do to Prepare?
Even when you know storms could be in the forecast, you may not be able to prepare your home or business against all threats. This possibility doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have a plan.

The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), a nonprofit organization that provides property insurance information, cites the creation of a disaster recovery plan as a crucial step in preparing for a hurricane. With proper preparation, your business can limit disruptions when hurricanes occur. The IBHS also provides a property protection checklist to help you inspect your space in preparation for windstorms. These steps include examining structures for rust and loose bolts.

Don’t forget flood insurance. With the right coverage, you can get your business back up and running in no time. Talk to us about your insurance coverages before a storm is in the forecast, as flood insurance goes into effect 30 days after a policy is created.

If you are interested in more information click to request a Home/flood insurance quote 
 or call our Insurance Service Center at 800-222-0131

 

Courtesy of Selective Insurance

Storm Safety Reminders from The Van Dyk Group

Storm Safety Reminders

Hurricane Watch: issued when hurricane conditions are a real possibility for an area.

Hurricane Warning: issued when a hurricane is expected within 24 hours. START GETTING READY!

Act Now to be Prepared

  •     Develop a family plan for survival and property protection.
  •     If your home is in a potential flood or storm surge zone, be prepared to evacuate when officials recommend.
  •     Plan what you will do with your pet.
  •     Inventory personal property; safely secure all records and valuable documents in a watertight place.
  •     Have materials available to protect your doors and windows.
  •     Have emergency cash or traveler’s checks saved.
  •     Put together a family hurricane evacuation kit.

Hurricane Warning

  •     Listen for weather updates and stay informed.
  •     Keep a portable radio and flashlight on hand – with fresh batteries.
  •     Re-check all emergency supplies and equipment.
  •     Clear your yard of all loose objects.
  •     Double check your shed and contents are secure.
  •     Store drinking water in clean containers.
  •     Shutter, board or tape all windows.
  •     Plan a flood-free evacuation route, and know where to go.
  •     If ordered to evacuate – comply immediately!

Keep a Hurricane Evacuation Kit ready to go once a warning is issued. Include battery-operated radio and flashlight, plus the following:

  •     First aid kit.
  •     Two-week supply of medicine.
  •     Blankets or sleeping bags.
  •     Extra clothing, infant necessities.
  •     Personal items including books and toys.
  •     Important papers (valid ID).
  •     Checkbook, cash, credit card, ATM cards.
  •     Insurance information

 

After the Storm

  • Do not enter evacuated areas until local officials have issued an all clear.
  • Stay away from disaster areas. Do not sightsee!
  • Obey all curfews and emergency orders that are issued.
  • If you must drive, use caution. Be aware of road and bridge washouts,   and storm debris on roadways.
  • Avoid all downed power lines. Assume that all have live electricity.
  • Once the storm has safely passes: Inspect for Damage. When inspecting your property for damage, be careful to avoid injury.

To check if you are properly insured for a hurricane or for more information call your local Van Dyk Group office

Safe Boating Tips

Top Ten Boating Safety Tips from The Van Dyk Group:

1. Always wear a life jacket and insist that your crew and guests do the same. Approximately 70 percent of fatal boating accident victims drowned in 2011. Eighty-four percent of those who drowned were not wearing a life jacket, and 8 out of every 10 boaters who drowned were on vessels less than 21 feet in length. Always have an adequate supply of life jackets aboard.

2. Never drink alcohol while boating. Alcohol use was the leading contributing factor in fatal boating accidents in 2011. Stay sharp on the water by having a designated driver just like you would on land.

3. Take a boating safety course. Only 11% of deaths occurred on boats where the operator had received boating safety instruction. You might even qualify for an insurance discount!

4. Stay in control by taking charge of your safety and that of your passengers. Boaters between the ages of 36 and 55, who comprise approximately 30% of all the operators, accounted for the highest rate of accidents, injuries and fatalities in 2011. Don’t forget that safety begins with you.

5. Understand and obey boating safety recommendations and navigational rules. Imagine the mayhem that would result if car drivers disregarded highway traffic laws. Know and understand boating safety procedures and rules of navigation before taking to the water, and practice them without fail.

6. Operate at a safe speed and always maintain a proper lookout. Overall, operator inattention, operator inexperience, excess speed and improper lookout were the leading contributing factors in all reported accidents.  Know your boat’s limitations as well as your own. Take note of visibility, traffic density and the proximity of navigation hazards like shoals, rocks or floating objects. Don’t invite a collision by going faster than is prudent.

7. Check the weather forecast. A calm day can quickly turn ugly on the water. Keep an eye out for changing weather conditions and stay on top of the forecast while boating. Promptly heed all weather and storm advisories.

8. Hypothermia is a significant risk factor for injury and even death while boating. Cold water accelerates the onset and progression of hypothermia since body heat can be lost 25 times faster in cold water than in cold air. The closer you are to rescue support the better your chances are, therefore an Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon or Global Positioning System interfaced Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB/GPIRB), and/or a Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), is recommended today for all boaters.

9. Use a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. CO can harm and even kill you inside or on the deck of your boat. All internal combustion engines emit carbon monoxide, an odorless, tasteless, colorless, poisonous gas that can make you sick in seconds and kill in minutes. Even just a few breaths in high enough concentrations can be fatal. CO symptoms are similar to seasickness or alcohol intoxication, and can affect you whether you are underway, moored or anchored. Remember, you cannot see, smell or taste CO!

10. File a float plan. The U.S. Coast Guard recommends that you always tell a friend or family member where you plan to go and when you’ll be back. Make it a habit before leaving on any boat trip. The proper officials can be notified promptly if you don’t return when expected.

And most important Remember, you can have your vessel checked for safety – for free!  

The U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and U.S. Power Squadron offer Vessel Safety Checks at no cost. Their certified vessel examiners will check your boat’s equipment and provide information about its use, safety procedures and applicable regulations. Unsafe boats are a threat to all recreational boaters. Make sure your vessel is as safe as possible. Carry USCG currently approved visual distress signals at all times. Visit the U.S. Coast Guard web site at: www.uscgboating.org/fedreqs/default.html for more information.

Flood Insurance Bill Eases Increases

Flooding on Long Beach Blvd in Dec of 2012

Flooding on Long Beach Blvd in Dec of 2012

The Homeowner Flood Affordability Act of 2013, written by Senator Robert Menendez of NJ and Representative Michael Grimm of NY, has now passed the Senate and is on it’s way to the President’s desk to be signed into law. This eases the some increases and changes that went into affect as a result of the Biggert Waters Flood Act.  A more detailed rundown can be found on the Insurance Journal website, but here is a quick overview of changes that will help many homeowners along the Jersey Shore, and across the country for that matter. First, it puts the maximum increase NFIP can impose at 18% per year, with some property classes having a 15% cap on increases.  This is the maximum that NFIP can increase a policy each year. The Bill also repeals both the property sales and new policy sales trigger.  Under Biggert Waters, the home buyer and homeowner who are purchasing a new house, or new policy on their current house would immediately have to pay the full risk rate.  Both of these provisions have been repealed, and in both instances, subsidized rates would still be available. It also restores “grandfathering” and sets a hard cap on policy increases per year.  This relieves property owners who were mapped into a higher zone from being forced to raise their houses or have higher rates phased in over 5 years. There is also a slight change to the Reserve Fund that was set up as a result of Biggert Waters.  Now a fee of $25 per policy for primary residence, and $250 per policy for a secondary residence will be imposed on all policies.  This is changed from a 5% fee on all policies that Biggert Waters called for. There are many other changes that this Bill addresses also.  For a complete rundown, the article I mentioned above from the Insurance Journal is well worth the read.  You can also click here to view the article. Feel free to get in touch with our Insurance Dept. if you have any questions on how these changes might impact you.  

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