An Attitude of Success

Can you picture yourself living your dream? Some people will tell you that getting a clear vision of your success is all you need to do to realize it.
By now, you probably know there’s a lot more to it.
Jim Rohn, the great business philosopher, said, “You must either modify your dreams or magnify your skills.”
If you’re not advancing toward your goals as quickly or as easily as you’d hoped, it’s time to address your skill set. This might mean your industry skills, but real advancement more likely requires you to sharpen your self-discipline and to focus on your personal development.
From productivity tips to leadership styles, how are you supposed to know which skills you should improve and which will lead you down the path of success?
This is an important question to answer correctly because the wrong answer could send you down a rabbit hole of useless suggestions and pie-in-the-sky promises.
The Luck Myth
Before you can answer the question of which skills need improvement, you’ve got to stop telling yourself that success is impossible.
There’s a pervading belief that success happens for others but not for us. Maybe it’s the idea of luck: Some people are just lucky and some people aren’t, right?
Wrong. When it comes to executing a strategy with consistency and the right attitude, luck has no part in the plan. That’s good news because it means that if you create the right map, pack the right gear, and set out with the right pair of binoculars, you’re sure to discover the journey of your dreams.
Luck isn’t about a random set of circumstances that make or break your destiny. Instead, luck is what you make of the things life throws at you. It’s the idea that if you really put your mind to something, you can achieve it.
That might sound simplistic, but any kind of success starts with this fundamental belief that success is possible—for you
Without this essential belief, you’ll get stuck. You might already feel stuck.
When we’re stuck, we have a constant, nagging voice in our heads telling us that we’re not far enough, fast enough, or good enough. There’s a daily regret at not tending to the important things. There’s a recurring feeling of dashed hopes and frustrated dreams.
Being stuck feels like being so close to failure that you’re about to fall off the edge. Every time we think of the life we could have—that life where we’ve met our goals and have set even higher ones—we feel defeated and a little more hopeless.
That’s the danger of believing in luck. If you’re unlucky, you think, “Why bother?” If you’re unlucky, you feel like a failure before you even start. So you don’t start.
It’s time to set aside the myth of luck. Bad luck is not the root of your frustration or failure. Good luck isn’t something that only a few receive.
Instead, your approach to your dreams and the choices you make along the way are the determining factors in whether or not those dreams are possible.
An Attitude of Success
No matter what skills you need to sharpen to move ahead toward your vision, the first skill most people need to hone is attitude. You can call it perspective, approach, or mindset—but it all comes down to the same concept. How you think about your life and your business is the first essential part of success.
And yes, the right attitude for success is a skill. Developing the right attitude for success might seem simple, but it’s a lifetime endeavor.
Why? Because each new challenge, every setback, and any roadblock can blast away your positive attitude and replace it with dread, depression, or defeatism.
“The worst thing one can do is not to try, to be aware of what one wants and not give in to it, to spend years in silent hurt wondering if something could have materialized – never knowing,” Rohn said.
That sad outcome is one too many people are familiar with – you likely know someone who didn’t pursue their greatest dream and regretted it deeply.
You don’t have to go down that road. Instead, you can pick up the essential tool of a success attitude and choose a brighter path.
To develop your own attitude of success, you’ve got to determine what success means for you. Ask yourself:
  • What makes life valuable?
  • What makes life worthwhile?
  • What makes life work well in all areas?
The answers to these questions will help you define success for yourself. It might look like travel with your family, financial freedom, your own business or a certain promotion, robust health, and a sense of peace and well-being. Try to be specific as you consider the successful life you’d like to lead.
The next step is considering what thoughts, ideas, and beliefs will support this life.
For example, if your family and friends make life worthwhile, then you need an idea on how to spend more time with them. You need the daily thought of your family’s well-being, and you need the core belief that family obligations are more important than professional ones. Without that, all the calendar reminders in the world won’t get you home in time for dinner with your spouse and children.
Your attitude, or as Rohn called it, your personal philosophy, is the first step toward success on any path.
“While there are many puzzle pieces for success,” Rohn said, “without developing a sound personal philosophy, the other pieces are of little value.”
Responsibility Thinking
The sound philosophy Rohn refers to is the attitude of success you build through the right thoughts, ideas, and beliefs.
When you take such an attitude, the other pieces of your success plan function at a much higher level. Your future is within reach when you have a firm foundation on which to build and maintain it.
Taking responsibility for your attitude is the first step. Most people hand over the responsibility for their attitude in the following ways:
  • They point to personal circumstances as the reason for their attitude.
  • They point to other people’s actions (or inactions) as the reason for their attitude.
  • They point to luck (or lack of it) as the reason for their attitude.
  • They point to their own flaws or failures as the reason for their attitude.
  • They point to the world at large as the reason for their attitude.
None of these are suitable excuses to have a poor attitude. Sure, things happen in life you can’t control, but as Rohn says, “You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.”
Consistent Learning
The difference between someone who has a difficult youth, a career full of failures, and a personal life that’s in shambles versus a person who has the same difficult youth, career full of failures, and personal life that’s in shambles but has an attitude for success to go with all that is massive.
That one ingredient—the right attitude—can make or break us.
Because the right attitude for success says, sure, we had a rough start in life, but we aren’t going to sit around blaming others’ actions for our choices. Instead, we’re going to start shedding old ideas and adopting new beliefs to grow beyond the painful past.
The right attitude for success says, ‘Wow, we failed a lot in our professional life but what we learned from those failures will propel us even further next time we try!’
And the right attitude for success says, ‘Relationships are hard sometimes and we all lose people we care about, but now we can take what we’ve experienced and apply it so we’re the best versions of ourselves.’
Rather than spend idle time wondering why we have it so rough, an attitude of success inspires us to look back only to see what lessons we can take with us as we charge into the future.
Sometimes it takes an outside perspective to help us get there, but if we end up in a positive place of gratitude, even after difficulty, we know we have the right attitude for success.
Your Personal Development Plan
Once you’ve stepped back from your challenges and looked at things with a new view, you might feel like it is smooth sailing from here on out.
Well, probably not. Every path has its highs and lows. In fact, the most difficult thing you face might be maintaining that positive attitude.
It’s a daily discipline to keep your personal philosophy at the forefront of your mind.
Everything else in your world will battle for prominence, from the news to your complaining neighbor. You might feel pumped up at the thought of your impending success, but without the right attitude to keep your mindset on track, your plan is likely to fail.
You need to adopt a personal development plan that helps you on a both a daily and weekly basis. Reading, writing, talking with other success-minded folks, and learning from a mentor are all part of a solid personal development plan. The idea is to control what your mind dwells on and how you see the world. If you leave this vital component of your life to anyone else—whether that’s your boss or the local news anchor—you’re likely to be disappointed.
“If you don’t design your own life plan,” Rohn said, “chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much.”
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Help After Harvey

Help after Harvey

home with damage from fallen tree

My home was damaged by Harvey: A quick guide on filing claims, deadlines, and resources.

My car was flooded: Answers to common questions if your car is flooded.

Get help in person: Visit a mobile unit location to get help filing a claim.

House Bill 1774: The legislation does not change how you file a claim or how your insurer will process your claim.

Emergency adjusters: Information on the emergency adjuster application process. To apply, complete Parts I, II, and IX of the application. Fingerprints aren’t required. There is a $20 fee.

Workers’ compensation: Information for injured employees, health care providers, and workers’ comp carriers.


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Top 100 P&C Groups – 2016

1 1 State Farm Mutual Automobile Ins. 62,365,585 5.08 108.70 103.30
2 2 Berkshire Hathaway Inc. 38,782,982 9.06 95.00 93.44
3 3 Allstate Corp. 29,864,836 2.52 96.78 95.49
4 4 Liberty Mutual 26,653,251 3.32 102.48 98.94
5 6 Progressive Corp. 23,357,935 12.72 95.27 92.46
6 5 Travelers Companies Inc. 23,339,951 4.25 91.81 87.56
7 7 Nationwide Mutual Group 19,324,954 1.71 107.66 104.73
8 9 USAA Insurance Group 17,787,459 9.14 106.54 101.40
9 8 American International Group 16,246,103 -13.35 131.33 121.28
10 11 Farmers Insurance Group of Cos. 14,761,837 -1.13 105.38 103.05
11 10 Chubb Ltd. 12,162,027 -22.42 88.95 88.41
12 12 Hartford Financial Services 10,626,303 0.06 100.03 96.10
13 13 American Family Insurance Group 7,874,511 7.76 100.48 95.47
14 15 Tokio Marine Group 6,387,454 3.67 94.67 94.04
15 14 CNA Financial Corp. 6,367,223 0.55 115.00 113.60
16 16 Erie Insurance Group 6,253,945 6.16 96.46 96.95
17 17 Auto-Owners Insurance Co. 6,056,805 4.33 89.87 87.14
18 18 W. R. Berkley Corp. 5,711,462 6.98 94.34 89.22
19 23 Alleghany Corp. 4,702,655 15.44 92.98 89.39
20 20 Fairfax Financial Holdings 4,659,386 5.54 94.43 94.21
21 21 Cincinnati Financial Corp. 4,583,666 5.03 94.49 90.64
22 22 Munich-American Holding Corp. 4,279,690 2.33 97.03 93.65
23 19 Zurich Insurance Group 4,179,915 -17.42 96.34 99.21
24 24 American Financial Group Inc. 3,914,028 2.95 90.02 92.48
25 25 Hanover Insurance Group Inc. 3,885,449 4.25 100.89 98.64
26 27 Auto Club Exchange Group 3,619,222 7.98 107.34 100.69
27 26 MetLife Inc. 3,558,284 0.97 99.98 96.89
28 28 CSAA Insurance Exchange 3,496,851 5.57 104.59 111.38
29 29 FM Global 3,284,984 0.53 83.57 86.48
30 30 Mercury General Corp. 3,117,223 5.30 102.00 100.56
31 32 Markel Corp. 2,588,281 9.07 92.44 91.66
32 31 Old Repub International Corp. 2,567,869 -7.53 95.37 96.03
33 34 AmTrust Financial Services 2,434,068 3.48 96.19 89.90
34 43 National General Holdings Corp. 2,341,975 19.84 106.65 102.89
35 40 Selective Insurance Group Inc. 2,237,288 8.09 92.05 92.64
36 38 COUNTRY Financial 2,199,799 0.02 100.40 100.80
37 36 Assurant Inc. 2,197,922 -4.48 90.87 85.78
38 37 Swiss Re Ltd. 2,170,222 -4.49 95.32 87.32
39 41 MAPFRE SA 2,164,931 5.73 102.29 108.82
40 35 QBE Insurance Group Ltd. 2,105,172 -9.45 97.03 100.36
41 44 Amica Mutual Insurance Co. 2,086,541 7.40 109.09 112.51
42 39 Everest Re Group Ltd. 2,050,560 -1.39 88.49 83.37
43 45 Auto Club Insurance Association 2,016,330 4.14 97.58 97.70
44 46 Sentry Insurance a Mutual Co. 2,012,494 7.05 103.95 102.94
45 42 State Auto Insurance Companies 1,989,670 1.56 106.85 102.73
46 54 XL Group Ltd. 1,820,036 19.80 99.45 106.53
47 47 Westfield Group 1,809,536 2.28 98.17 96.66
48 48 NJ Manufacturers Insurance Co. 1,782,566 2.64 105.53 101.32
49 49 Arch Capital Group Ltd. 1,735,145 1.18 76.45 74.46
50 50 Kemper Corp. 1,713,851 3.59 107.77 104.20
51 51 Employers Mutual Casualty Co. 1,707,990 3.76 97.84 98.16
52 55 Federated Mutual Group 1,648,697 12.14 92.82 92.58
53 53 Shelter Mutual Insurance Co. 1,638,826 5.40 100.73 97.47
54 52 State Compensation Ins. Fund 1,598,620 -1.61 129.90 127.41
55 56 Infinity P&C Corp. 1,392,459 1.40 102.41 100.64
56 33 Allianz Group 1,356,522 -42.52 138.08 123.38
57 57 Farm Bureau Mutual Holding Co. 1,320,474 0.48 86.51 88.66
58 58 ACUITY A Mutual Insurance Co. 1,316,282 3.65 92.88 93.01
59 59 Southern Farm Bureau Casualty Insurance Group 1,292,174 3.19 108.26 99.39
60 63 Alfa Mutual Group 1,229,371 7.99 102.98 102.28
61 73 SCOR 1,224,273 26.83 93.50 84.94
62 60 PartnerRe Ltd. 1,220,320 -1.12 99.46 90.84
63 67 AF Group 1,209,192 13.84 85.26 83.92
64 62 Tennessee Farmers Mutual Ins Co. 1,203,666 2.41 87.55 81.51
65 61 Grange Mutual Casualty Co. 1,170,308 -4.26 94.95 100.05
66 68 American National Insurance 1,134,100 7.72 101.64 98.51
67 69 Texas Farm Bureau 1,110,334 5.56 103.00 103.87
68 65 Starr International Co. 1,068,785 -4.94 102.70 93.94
69 72 Main Street America Group 1,066,214 10.19 103.81 99.89
70 66 Ameriprise Financial Inc. 1,065,253 -0.28 108.91 113.97
71 74 West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. 1,016,122 5.79 98.62 93.67
72 75 Sompo Holdings Inc. 995,710 5.45 92.83 95.80
73 64 Texas Mutual Insurance Co. 984,434 -13.18 93.57 90.98
74 76 ICW Group 973,276 9.22 88.00 86.02
75 70 MGIC Investment Corp. 970,059 -7.07 99.12 100.70
76 77 United Fire Group Inc. 964,970 8.68 100.17 93.42
77 78 KY Farm Bureau Mutual Ins. Co. 937,898 6.85 102.98 104.97
78 79 AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. 888,503 3.04 107.39 103.46
79 80 Utica National Insurance Group 887,038 8.01 99.48 100.93
80 83 Navigators Group Inc. 844,987 11.61 93.37 95.83
81 84 CUNA Mutual Insurance Group 823,600 8.86 95.24 91.24
82 81 Arbella Mutual Insurance Co. 814,697 1.66 97.10 113.52
83 82 Amerisure Mutual Insurance Co. 813,359 4.82 101.09 96.85
84 86 Donegal Insurance Group 800,144 8.31 96.36 97.78
85 89 NC Farm Bureau Mutual Ins Co. 771,167 7.61 104.66 94.07
86 85 Safety Insurance Group Inc. 766,469 2.72 95.78 111.72
87 90 FCCI Mutual Ins. Holding Co. 750,099 5.49 110.26 97.68
88 93 Genworth Financial Inc. 745,219 8.96 48.13 61.50
89 87 RLI Corp. 740,952 2.60 89.04 83.94
90 71 Radian Group Inc. 733,723 -24.23 55.66 46.04
91 88 Motorists Insurance Group 714,348 -0.44 102.95 102.52
92 91 Plymouth Rock of New Jersey 704,471 1.97 99.42 100.51
93 92 Employers Insurance Group 694,589 0.76 91.23 93.52
94 95 Michigan Farm Bureau 693,869 5.45 95.86 95.27
95 94 PA National Mutual Casualty Ins. Co. 685,933 1.57 98.50 99.26
96 96 Church Mutual Insurance Co. 683,545 4.10 92.45 90.89
97 99 Universal Insurance Holdings 656,094 4.73 87.02 75.44
98 98 Pinnacol Assurance 632,192 -1.21 92.80 91.31
99 100 Horace Mann Educators Corp. 631,425 4.72 101.66 97.11
100 97 The Doctors Co. 622,966 -3.10 103.00 93.17
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15 Cities where rent has increased in 2017

While home prices across the country have risen, the market for renting has surged. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In the decade since the housing market bubble rocked the economy, the homeowners’ market has felt the tides change.

While home prices across the country have risen, the market for renting has surged — in large part due to millennials, who have surpassed baby boomer generation as the largest generation in the American workforce.

In an increasingly digital world, the insurance industry has adapted. Companies like Lemonade have emerged and disrupted the insurance sector by offering renters, condo, co-op and homeowners’ insurance through non-traditional means. Jetty, which launched in multiple states in April, has insurance specifically designed for city dwellers. The market for renters’ insurance has opened the door for companies looking to insure the growing number of renters.

For those considering where to relocate next, factoring the cost of rent is an essential consideration. GOBankingRates, using data from Zillow on the year-over-year change in median rent, has determined the top 15 cities where rents have increased the most in 2017.

With this in mind, keep reading to see which cities renters may want to avoid:

Delray Beach, Florida 

15. Delray Beach, Florida


  • May 2016 rent: $1,240
  • May 2017 rent: $1,445
  • Year-over-year change: $205


East Orange NJ 

14. East Orange, New Jersey


  • May 2016 rent: $995
  • May 2017 rent: $1,200
  • Year-over-year change: $205


El Cajon, Cali.  

13. El Cajon, California


  • May 2016 rent: $1,150
  • May 2017 rent: $1,357.50
  • Year-over-year change: $207.50


Tacoma WA.  

12. Tacoma, Washington


  • May 2016 rent: $946
  • May 2017 rent: $1,155
  • Year-over-year change: $209


Savannah GA 

11. Savannah, Georgia


  • May 2016 rent: $905
  • May 2017 rent: $1,119
  • Year-over-year change: $214


Chula Vista Cali 

10. Chula Vista, California


  • May 2016 rent: $1,440
  • May 2017 rent: $1,659.50
  • Year-over-year change: $219.50


Newark NJ 

9. Newark, New Jersey


  • May 2016 rent: $880
  • May 2017 rent: $1,100
  • Year-over-year change: $220


Foster City, Cali 

8. Foster City, California


  • May 2016 rent: $2,741
  • May 2017 rent: $2,968
  • Year-over-year change: $227


Phoenix AZ 

7. Phoenix, Arizona


  • May 2016 rent: $850
  • May 2017 rent: $1,084.50
  • Year-over-year change: $234.50


Euless TX 

6. Euless, Texas


  • May 2016 rent: $795
  • May 2017 rent: $1,049
  • Year-over-year change: $254


Corona, Cali 

5. Corona, California


  • May 2016 rent: $1,238
  • May 2017 rent: $1,511.50
  • Year-over-year change: $273.50


Columbia, MD 

4. Columbia, Maryland


  • May 2016 rent: $1,335
  • May 2017 rent: $1,612
  • Year-over-year change: $277

Jersey City, NJ 

3. Jersey City, New Jersey


  • May 2016 rent: $1,950
  • May 2017 rent: $2,235
  • Year-over-year change: $285


Medford Mass.  

2. Medford, Massachusetts


  • May 2016 rent: $1,600
  • May 2017 rent: $2,005
  • Year-over-year change: $405


Marina del Rey, Cali 

1. Marina del Rey, California


  • May 2016 rent: $2,800
  • May 2017 rent: $3,241.50
  • Year-over-year change: $441.50
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What happens when a renter dies on the property….

It may be difficult for a property owner to recoup cleanup costs after a renter has died on site. Here, AAA Crime Scene Steam and Clean worker Carol Oguri and owner Kathie Jo Kadziauskas work on a Los Angeles condominium where a man died of natural causes but was not found for a week. (AP Photo/Jill Connelly)

It may be difficult for a property owner to recoup cleanup costs after a renter has died on site. Here, AAA Crime Scene Steam and Clean worker Carol Oguri and owner Kathie Jo Kadziauskas work on a Los Angeles condominium where a man died of natural causes but was not found for a week.

Question: Last year, one of our clients’ tenants was found dead in their apartment. The body was there about 2 weeks. A claim was reported to the insurance company, and the insured contracted a forensic cleanup company to handle the apartment. The carrier has since denied the claim, citing the pollution exclusion. I was hoping that you had some information or documentation that I can use to dispute the carrier’s position that the bodily fluids are not considered a pollutant.

Sometimes if you ask five coverage professionals what something means, you’ll get five different answers.


Answer: Couch on Ins. § 127:8 says it best: “Several courts have applied the principle of ‘ejusdem generis,’ interpreting pollution by reference to the surrounding language in order to limit the list of substances that may otherwise qualify as pollutants. Thus, although the list of substances provided in the definition may be nonexhaustive, substances not specifically mentioned must be similar in nature to the listed substances. For example, it has been held that living, organic irritants or contaminants do not constitute pollutants under the policy definition because the irritants specifically identified in the definition, namely, “smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste,” are primarily inorganic in nature.

The homeowners form HO 00 03 05 11 does not define pollutants in the definitions. Pollutants are defined in the exclusions section as “solid, liquid, gaseous or thermal irritant or contaminant, including smoke, vapor, soot, fumes, acids, alkalis, chemicals and waste. Waste includes materials to be recycled, reconditioned or reclaimed…”

The intent of the exclusion is to eliminate coverage from industrial products and byproducts. A human body cannot be recycled or reconditioned or reclaimed. That implies being able to reuse the materials again for the same or similar purposes. Organ donation is not recycling a human body. Nicholson v. Allstate Ins. Co. (979 F. Supp. 2d 1054, E.D. Cal. 2013) speaks to this directly. In this case, the court stated that the carrier failed to show that the standard pollution exclusion in the homeowners policy would be understood by a reasonable policyholder to apply to bat guano and decaying bat carcasses.

Exclusions are to be read narrowly, and reading the pollution exclusion narrowly puts the list of excluded items as being industrial or environmental in nature, and not the result of a natural tenant death.

Dealing with decomposition

There was a deceased body in an apartment building. Tenant had complained about the smell and alleged damages as a result of the odor. Our insured did not know there was a dead body in the building. Can the fumes/gases released by a dead body be considered a pollutant?

— Washington, D.C. Subscriber

Answer: Dead body gases should not be considered a pollutant since the current trend by courts is to view pollutants and the pollution exclusion in connection with environmental issues. However, before any consideration of exclusions should be considered, where is the liability on the part of the insured? Where is the bodily injury and/or property damage to a third party? The insuring agreement has to be considered first before any exclusions are considered, and these circumstances you describe do not seem to match any part of the insuring agreement.

Twice the grieving for a common law widow

This is on a general liability policy. The insured is a funeral home. The claimant and the deceased were common law married. The claimant came home and found her domestic partner dead. Without the claimant’s permission, the insured picked up the body and transferred the body to one of its facilities.

The claimant contacted the insured, who confirmed they had permission to take the corpse.

The claimant asked if she could view the body and was told that she would have to obtain permission to view the body from the deceased’s mother, and that she would have to pay $300 to view the body. The claimant told the insured that she is the legal spouse and should be allowed to view the body. The insured refused to allow the claimant to view the body without the permission from the family or without paying a fee.

Then, without the claimant’s permission or knowledge, the insured cremated the body. The claimant was opposed to cremation and believes that her partner would not have wanted to be cremated. The insured then released the ashes to his estranged mother, who took the remains with her to another state. This was done without the consent or knowledge of the claimant.

The claimant has filed a lawsuit and is seeking compensation for emotional distress plus punitive damages.

Would this be considered an occurrence under the CGL form?

— California Subscriber

Answer: This sounds like a questionable case of liability on the part of the insured. We do not know the law in this area, but it seems that the parents have the legal right to dispose of the son’s remains and the insured was just following the proper instructions. But you would have to check with an attorney on this to see what the law in that area is when it comes to the status of common law couples.

In any case, if the insured is liable, emotional distress is not covered by the CGL form. There has to be bodily injury or property damage. As for an occurrence, that has to be considered from the standpoint of the insured. So, if the insured made a mistake and followed the wrong instructions, that is an accident and therefore an occurrence.

Covering an accidental carbon monoxide poisoning

Our insured had some friends in his garage for a get-together. Because it was winter, they had a space heater going. The end result was that our insured and one of his friends are dead. The family of the deceased friend is suing our insured’s wife, and she herself is making a derivative claim for bodily injury. Our homeowners policy appears to exclude any coverage whatsoever. There is a Section I and II exclusion, which precludes coverage for “bodily injury, personal injury, mental anguish or property damage … involving the presence, discharge, dispersal… of toxic chemicals, liquids or gases… or any substance which [is] or may be injurious to public health or the environment (herein called ‘hazardous substances’) into or upon land, the atmosphere or any water course or body of water…”

— Illinois Subscriber

Answer: We reviewed three cases that addressed this problem. They involved commercial liability; however, the wording of the exclusion under review was comparable to that in your homeowners form.

In the first, Essex Insurance Co. v. Tri-Town Corp. (863 F.Supp. 38, D. Mass. 1994), the court upheld the exclusion when a malfunctioning Zamboni machine emitted carbon monoxide into an ice rink. But a court in Pennsylvania reached a different conclusion with reference to the same exclusion. A hot water heater malfunctioned, allowing carbon monoxide to infiltrate a restaurant, resulting in bodily injury. The court looked at Tri-Town, and noted that the word “atmosphere” had not been discussed. The court said that “the exclusion is worded broadly to encompass the natural resources of this planet in their natural setting… within the context of the pollution exclusion, the distinction is not in the air itself but where the air happens to be… We conclude, therefore, that the term ‘atmosphere’ in the pollution exclusion does not exclude coverage under the primary policies for the contamination or pollution of air within a building.” (This case is Gamble Farm Inn Inc. v. Selective Insurance Co. (656 A.2d 142, Pa. Super. 1995).

That brings us to American States Insurance Co. v. Koloms (687 N.E.2d 72 , Ill. 1997). Here, tenants in a building owned by the Koloms were sickened by carbon monoxide fumes from a furnace. The Illinois Supreme Court considered Gamble Farm Inn, noting that the court said the exclusion was ambiguous, and considered other cases that denied coverage on the grounds that the exclusion was plain and unambiguous. The court said “we agree with those courts which have restricted the exclusion’s otherwise potentially limitless application to only those hazards traditionally associated with environmental pollution. We find support for our decision in the drafting history of the exclusion, which reveals an intent on the part of the insurance industry to so limit the clause.”

And this approach appears to be the fairest to your insured. There would be no coverage for negligently discharging oil or gas into a storm drain or water supply, say, but there is coverage when, as in this case, a space heater malfunctions.

We also noted in the policy the statement that “the exclusion does not apply to liability resulting from the use of product [sic] used in the cleaning or maintenance of the household or residence premises.” The space heater can be viewed as a product used in the maintenance of the residence premises in that it is used to maintain heat.

So, given the courts’ findings and this exception, we think the claim against the insured for bodily injury is covered. We do not think the insured’s wife has a claim against the policy, because most homeowners forms exclude coverage for bodily injury to an insured. You will want to review the policy’s exclusions.

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Best and Worst States for Life Expectancy

After you read this, please comment on where you live….

In the U.S., the county in which you live can add — or subtract — as much as 20 years, or even more, from your lifespan. (Photo: Fotolia)
In the U.S., the county in which you live can add — or subtract — as much as 20 years, or even more, from your lifespan.

The U.S. doesn’t just have an inequality gap—it also has a life expectancy gap.

That’s according to a study from the University of Washington, published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, which finds that the county in which you live can add—or subtract—as much as 20 years, or even more, from your lifespan.

Findings from the study, reports The Guardian, reveal that residents of specific affluent counties in central Colorado had the highest life expectancy at 87 years.

But several counties in North and South Dakota, often home to Native American reservations, could cut that down to just 66.

Political changes could boost the riches of American millionaires even further.

Researchers also predict that the gap will become even wider in the future; during the period studied—1980–2014—11.5 percent of U.S. counties saw the risk of death for residents aged 25–45 increase. No previous study, the report says, “has put the disparity at even close to 20 years.”

Says The Guardian, “Previous studies recorded lower variations ranging from 12 to 17 years between counties, with the highest and lowest life expectancies in both 2007 and 2010. These were an underestimation, according to the University of Washington team, because data from smaller counties was either combined with others or excluded altogether.”

“This is way worse than any of us had assumed,” Ali Mokdad, professor of global health at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and one of the authors of the study, is quoted saying in the report.

He adds, “You expect disparities in any country, but you don’t expect the disparities to be increasing in a country with our wealth and might. We spend more money on healthcare than anybody else, and we debate the hell out of healthcare more than anybody else, and still the disparities are increasing.”

Mokdad points to the dispute in Congress over health insurance as an example of how misleading the mere coverage by a health insurance policy can be, and how indicative it is of inequality.

“Many people don’t have health insurance, but even among those who do it’s misleading,” he says in the report, adding, “My insurance, for example, allows me to go to a doctor for an exam and a blood test and they’ll tell me if I have a problem early on. Many don’t have that luxury, only catastrophic insurance, so if they’re hit by a car they’ll be treated.”


He also highlights how location can play a role in other health factors, such as those who live in mountainous or rural areas where it can take two hours to reach a good health facility in the event of an emergency—or the poor areas within or just outside of rich cities that are food deserts for such essentials as fresh produce.

The study calculates overall average U.S. life expectancy at 79.1 years, 5.3 years higher than in 1980—which is the beginning of the 35-year period for which researchers compared death records, census returns, the human mortality database and figures from the National Center for Health Statistics on a county-by-county basis.

However, researchers caution that that 5.3-year increase “masks massive variation at the county level,” adding.

They added, “Counties in central Colorado, Alaska and along both coasts experienced much larger increases, while some southern counties in states stretching from Oklahoma to West Virginia saw little, if any, improvement over this same period.”

When it came to decline, variation again was key.

Researchers write, “Similarly, there was considerable variation among counties in the percent decline in the mortality risk within each age group. While all counties experienced declines in mortality risk for children 0 to five years, and nearly all experienced declines in the mortality risk for adolescents and older adults 45 to 85, 11.5 percent [of counties] experienced increases in the risk of death between ages 25 and 45 years.”

Where does the variation come from?

The study points to differences in socioeconomic and race/ethnicity factors, availability of and access to quality health care and insurance, and “preventable risk factors” such as smoking, drinking and physical inactivity.

But other factors cause problems, too, such as guns, automobile accidents and drugs, which weigh on male lifespans, as well as the availability of fresh fruits and vegetables in local markets and people’s distance from health care providers—factors over which they have little or no control.

Below you’ll find the 7 states in which counties have the longest lifespans or have experienced the greatest increase in life expectancy, as well as the 7 states in which counties have the lowest lifespans or have experienced the greatest decrease in life expectancy.

The states are not in order, and you’ll notice something interesting as you go through both lists:


7 regions in the U.S. with the longest life expectancy


7. Minnesota.

Southern Minnesota boasts several counties where the length of lifespan is quite impressive.


6. Colorado.

Colorado offers some really impressive longevity statistics, although most of the counties accounting for that are mostly located in the central portion of the state.


5. Wyoming.

If you follow the admonition to “go west, young man,” you’ll find the majority of the Wyoming counties offering the best chance at a lengthy life.


4. Texas.

Again, the western part of the state houses most of the counties where residents live longest—although there have been less notable gains in some other parts of the state.


3. California.

Everyone flocks to the coast in California, and the majority of the counties offering the chance for the longest life in the state are coastal counties.


2. Florida.

Southwestern Florida offers residents the best chance at a long life, having experienced a substantial increase in longevity over the period of the study.


1. Alaska.

Some Alaska counties saw major increases in lifespan between 1980 and 2014.


7 regions in the U.S. with the lowest life expectancy


7. North Dakota.

North Dakota and its neighbor to the south have the dubious distinction of having counties with the lowest life expectancy—nothing to boast about.


6. South Dakota.

South Dakota shares the misfortune with North Dakota of having counties offering the lowest life expectancy.


5. Oklahoma.

Southern counties in a number of states, including Oklahoma, saw little or no improvement in lifespan over the course of the study period.


4. Mississippi.

Rural western Mississippi is home to counties that do very poorly when it comes to longevity—and they haven’t experienced much, if any, improvement over the life of the study.


3. Kentucky.

Eastern Kentucky is another state in which a number of counties suffer from shorter lifespans.


2. West Virginia.

Southwestern West Virginia is another area where counties are suffering.


1. Alaska.

Yes, Alaska actually makes both lists—while counties experienced substantial increases in lifespan over the period of the study, life expectancy at birth across the state is nothing to boast of.

Ok….now what state do you live in?


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Insurance Call Centers

The insurance industry has been plagued with call-center problems for the better part of a decade.

Consider the 2008 report from Genyses Worldwide, “Customer Service Strategies for the Insurance Industry,” which found that mishandled policyholder phone calls was a leading cause of insurance customer dissatisfaction — this at a time when the insurance industry as a whole began to experience slower growth and consolidation.

More contemporary research has concluded that nearly all insurance customers who reach out to a carrier via telephone are placed on hold, and it takes less than a minute of being on hold for a business relationship to suffer, says David Squibb, a customer experience expert and chief sales and marketing officer of Xpertdoc, the global communications technology firm based in Terrebonne, Quebec, Canada.

Here’s why today’s tech-savvy, forward-thinking insurance businesses have little choice but to incorporate texting.

Squibb believes the simplest way for P&C companies and partners to properly handle phone calls is to replace traditional call centers with technology-driven communications solutions.

Here, he answers five questions about that idea, and offers suggestions that carriers can use to reduce policyholder reliance on telephone calls.

PC360: What is the connection between call centers and customer satisfaction in the insurance business?

Squibb: Customer satisfaction plays a vital role, not just in keeping customers but also in attracting new customers through positive word-of-mouth referrals. For call centers, keeping customers satisfied means not only processing claims, billing inquiries, and new account applications but also resolving issues and complaints quickly and efficiently. Nearly three-quarters of customers say they will return if complaints are resolved quickly, according to recent studies.

PC360: What are potential solutions to the challenges posed by call center communications?

Squibb: Many call centers lack the appropriate tools and software needed to deliver on customer needs and expectations. On average, 26% of an agent’s time is spent looking for relevant data in various systems during each customer contact. Merging separate database management solutions in an organization (accounting/billing, marketing automation and CRM platforms) to one unified platform like a CCM, can give agents a complete view of a customer at any given time and touch point while reducing response times.

For call centers, keeping customers satisfied means not only processing claims, billing inquiries, and new account applications but also resolving issues and complaints quickly and efficiently. (Photo: iStock)

For call centers, keeping customers satisfied means not only processing claims, billing inquiries, and new account applications but also resolving issues and complaints quickly and efficiently. (Photo: iStock)

PC360: What role will chatbots play in the future of insurance industry customer communications?

Squibb: The “chatbot” phenomenon isn’t new to the insurance industry and has been widely used for over a decade. (For example, Allie is Allianz’s online assistant, Mia answers customer’s insurance queries for Co-op Banking Group, and Arbie “works” for RBC Insurance in Canada).

According to Gartner, AI bots will power 85% of all customer service interactions by the year 2020. A good chatbot can help an insurance company offer a better experience to its customers because they provide users an easy way to get the information they need. They can show users one response at a time with a quick and personalized approach including images, content, links, call-to-action buttons or direct payment options based on user input at a specific point.

From a claims perspective, more carriers are turning to chatbots to automate repetitive communication functions like registering the first notice of loss, arranging emergency assistance, and offering pre- and post-disaster assistance.

PC360: What other emerging technologies can insurance providers, agents, claims agents and executives capitalize on to build their business?

Squibb: Blockchain is seen as one of the major technology disruptors in the insurance industry. Its ability to send, receive and store information has the underlying power to disrupt the way insurers’ process digital transactions.

According to a report by KPMG, one of the more disruptive uses of blockchain in insurance is the development of ‘smart contract’ models: “Smart contracts contain self-executing protocols that work with a blockchain to enforce the performance of a contract across all counterparties. Claims data is shared across all counterparties. Identities and contract provisions are immediately verified. Payments are automatically made. And, as a result, less adjudication and negotiation is required and costs are minimized.”

PC360: What tip or message do you have for insurance businesses that may be struggling to find adequate resources to keep pace with innovation demands?

Squibb: Leverage technology partners that can deliver real results in short timeframes. Modern solutions (like Xpertdoc) allow carriers to fill the resource gap by rethinking their approach and game plan to deliver real results to their customers.

Automation that employs business rules, AI, dynamic conditional content can remove the burden from limited insurance staff and propel their customer engagement capabilities forward in a major way.

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Fort Lauderdale Commercial Real Estate

This development marks the first new class A office space developed in Broward’s Fort Lauderdale submarket in more than a decade.

FATcity's retail component will breathe new life into Andrews Avenue.

FATcity’s retail component will breathe new life into Andrews Avenue.

MIAMI—Another transit-oriented development is set to rise on South Florida. This one is called  FATcity, which stands for Florida Arts and Technology.

Traina Companies unanimously received the final zoning approval necessary from Fort Lauderdale’s City Commissioners for its 1,351,160 square feet of mixed-use new construction. The project is located at 300 North Andrews Avenue.

“South Florida, and more specifically, Fort Lauderdale, represents a great opportunity for lifestyle and economic development,” Joseph Traina, Jr., principal of Traina Companies, tells “We believe that Fort Lauderdale provides far more immediate benefit and upside than other surrounding markets and more long-term value than even that of San Francisco and New York City, due in part to the expanse of transit, a growing populous, emphasis on job creation and educational development in the region. We anticipate this project being the first of many for us in the area.”

FATcity fronts an entire city block along the east side of Andrews Avenue between Northeast 3rd and 4th Streets. The lot is assemblage of five contiguous parcels of land totaling 2.69-acres.

Ultimately, FATcity will be comprised of two, 30-story towers featuring 270,000 square feet of office, retail and a potential for hospitality; 612 residential units; and 1,327 covered parking spaces. A true Transit Oriented Development (TOD) mixed-use project, FATcity is in City Center (RAC-CC) Special Zoning District and connects the Central Business and Arts Districts through pedestrian-oriented walkable streets, access to Brightline’s High-Speed Rail station within two blocks of the property, and a Wave Streetcar stop on-site.

This development marks the first new class A office space developed in Broward’s Fort Lauderdale submarket in more than a decade. As such, FATcity’s office component is designed to exceed today’s workplace needs, boasting large, open floorplates ideal for coworking, collaboration and networking, open-air retail spaces, and advanced high-speed technology.

To complement its location near area universities, Traina seeks to create a platform where employers can meet, train, and hire the next generation of the skilled workforce. The platform includes providing internships, continuing education, and fulfilling the need for an incubator for the area to connect and collaborate under one roof.

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Real Estate and Cannabis

What will California’s introduction of legal pot mean for commercial real estate? Ms. Real Estate takes a look at the issue.

SAN FRANCISCO—Wouldn’t it be convenient if someone had clear, intelligent answers to most of your CRE-related questions? Problem solved. Nina J. Gruen, a.k.a. Ms. Real Estate, a.k.a. the principal sociologist overseeing market research and analysis at Gruen Gruen + Associates, is here to answer readers’ questions.

Dear Ms. Real Estate:

I would like your opinion as to what extent the California real estate market will be affected by the legalization of marijuana.

—Cautiously Can-Do on Cannabis.

Dear Cautiously Can-Do,

Good question. The answer needs to be broken down into the likely short run and long run impacts. In the short run, those states legalizing cannabis will experience significant increases in their tax base, as well as economic growth, which includes the real estate sector. California can anticipate the need for more agricultural acreage, as well as warehousing space to grow different products, since marijuana will no longer need to be shipped illegally from Mexico and other countries. There will be a demand for retail stores, including bakeries specializing in marijuana edibles. Other employment sectors for which there will be an increased demand include testing labs, cash management firms, as well as marijuana tourism. The latter has been a significant factor in the Colorado market. A Colorado forecast model predicts the visitor market will account for annual sales of 55 metric tons by 2020. There will also be a demand for government workers who will need to test and inspect the product, as well as police, fire department and medical personnel who will be involved when a participant becomes ill from overindulging. However, there will be an ongoing shift from both the illegal and medical cannabis trade to recreational trade, from both a growth and retail store perspective. This will result in some medical marijuana dispensaries converting to adult stores, clubs and bakeries. Others can be expected to go out of business.

Cannabis is likely to go the way of alcohol at the end of Prohibition. Currently, about 20 percent of US citizens have or will have (they live in states that have legalized marijuana but have not finalized the process) ready access to cannabis products; most are located in high density West and East Coast states. But it’s quite likely that within the next two decades, cannabis will be legal throughout the country. When it is, demand can be expected to decrease significantly in those states that were the first to offer legalized cannabis. Marijuana tourism will no longer be relevant per se, but will be more like today’s alcohol purchases that are made by tourists — typically not a primary motivation for a visit except for wine tours in places like Napa Valley.

We are also relatively ignorant at this point in time on the potential downsides, i.e. automobile accidents due to absorbing too much product or the loss in worker productivity. Time will tell!

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Golden Bear Plaza has SOLD for $62.3 million

MIAMI—Golden Bear Plaza, a boutique office campus located on Palm Beach County’s Prestige Coast, has traded hands. The sale price: $62.3 million, or $254 per square foot.

Located at 11760 US Highway 1 in Palm Beach Gardens, the 245,673-square-foot class A, three-building property was sold to an affiliate of Alliance Partners HSP, the East Coast operating platform of the Shidler Group. Neil Merin with NAI Merin Hunter Codman and CBRE’s Christian Lee and José Antonio Lobón represented the seller, Equus Capital Partners, Ltd.

“Developed between 1985 and 1990 by Jack Nicklaus’s company, Golden Bear Plaza, is a locally-recognized landmark affording its tenants an address with panache as well as panoramic views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean,” says Lee, vice chairman at CBRE Capital Markets. “Golden Bear’s strategic location on the east side of the PGA Boulevard Bridge makes it the Prestige Coast’s only institutional office building and the logical office address for wealthy decision-makers who live in Jupiter, Sea Colony, Juno Beach, and the adjacent Lost Tree Club.”

As CBRE sees it, Golden Bear Plaza offer the new owners a strong upside opportunity through the lease-up of 41,913 square feet of remaining vacancy, rolling existing office tenants to market rents, and repositioning the asset through a cosmetic renovation of the common areas. The office property recently achieved material increases in occupancy, with leasing velocity of 57,000 square feet since May 2016. Amenities include a complimentary on-site fitness center, private exterior terraces for most office suites, and a dedicated property management staff.

CBRE-EA reports that Northern Palm Beach has experienced seven straight years of positive net absorption equating to 481,000 square feet. Over that seven-year period, the submarket has absorbed 6.3 square feet for every foot delivered. This has caused vacancies to decrease to a current level of 8.7%. That’s down 1,210 basis points since a high of 20.8% in 2009.

Office portfolios and campuses are trading left and right this month. A six-building office portfolio traded hands in another premier market last week and another six-building office complex sold further north.

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