The True Cost in Purchasing Insurance

I hate using the old worn out term “you get what you pay for” especially for Arcana’s first article with National REIA, but sometimes getting a “good deal” or saving a few dollars on your insurance premiums can lead to big problems when you need it most – filing an insurance claim.

Like most insureds, real estate investors are no different than anyone else — many times price points are the sole driver of decision making, not proper insurance coverage placement. Every policy you purchase should include at a minimum: replacement cost, all risk insurance coverages with normal exclusions, wind and hail coverages and liability coverages in the event of a third-party injury or someone claiming to being injured on your investment property. In today’s environment, I highly recommend a Flood quote whether the property is in a national flood zone or not. Five out of six flood losses experienced in Hurricane Harvey did not have flood insurance and many were not located in a nationally defined flood zone.

One purchases insurance to have comfort in knowing when something goes amiss, and it will, the Claim will be paid within a reasonable time line at a fair value. Unfortunately, Investors are sometimes finding that an extremely low rate, quoted outside the industry norm guidelines is not always accompanied by swift and accommodating Claim payment. Do your homework and check references with your industry associates and leaders of your Association. This additional step will pay significant dividends in the long term.

Another challenge in today’s real estate investment market is finding an insurance agent who understands your business and the financial exposures you as a real estate investor face. I’m amazed how many times I hear “Uncle Joe or my fraternity brother does all my insurance”. First question I ask them is “Why?”, followed with “what does Uncle Joe know about your business and the industry you’re in”? This often leads to a “deer in the headlights” look staring back at me. You must have an insurance agent experienced in this type of industry, a lack of understanding of the exposures you have as a real estate investor could be fatal to your business.

Another big mistake is the assumption that a Homeowner’s policy is all one needs to cover their investment property, especially on smaller portfolios. They call their insurance agent once they purchase the property, have them add an endorsement to their Homeowner’s policy insuring their new purchase; listing the address, mortgagee, and the preferable insurance amount. Again, my first question is, “have you ever read your Homeowner’s policy?” A typical Homeowner’s Policy requires that the property is occupied. Occupied means more than just a table and chairs and a few pieces of furniture. If the property has been vacant at least 30 or 60 days, depending on the insurance company’s policy, and they prove the claim occurred when nobody was living in the property, there is a high probability they will deny the claim.

How about the property being vacant while you “rehab” the building? Does your Homeowner’s or Landlord policy cover the vacancy period and the “builder’s risk exposures associated with your construction project. Many policies exclude this type of risk potential.

In today’s investor environment, we are seeing more and more investors choosing to “hold” properties instead of flipping them to new buyers due to the high rental income returns being experienced in many markets. This introduces a whole new set of problems for the investor/landlord relative to their Homeowner’s coverage. From a property risk analysis exposure, if the insurance company can prove the tenant caused the damage in question, the Homeowner’s Policy may have an Intentional Acts clause giving the insurance company reason to deny a claim. From a liability risk analysis exposure, does the Homeowner’s Policy afford you third party coverage in the event a tenant’s guest is hurt while visiting your investment property? What if your tenant has a service animal at your location, does your policy afford you coverage? With your Homeowners Policy as your insurance program for your investment properties, there is also the negative financial impact of your investment property losses impacting your own personal insurance loss history.

So, choosing the wrong method of mitigating your potential financial losses whether through buying the wrong insurance policy or trusting “Uncle Joe” with his recommendations or both, has the potential to both sink your potential profits in your investment property and you having to pay more out of pocket when they raise your rates or cancel your Homeowner’s policy.
In the end, the main lessons here are choose an insurance agent who knows your business and the market segment in which you are working and then purchase the correct insurance coverage. The risks you face in the future will continue to evolve and you need a knowledgeable source who will put your best interest before the mere selling of a low cost policy. Understanding your financial exposures will go a long way in saving your real estate investments and possibly your business.

Mark A. Gannaway, CPCU
Chief Executive Officer and Founding Partner

Arcana Insurance Services is an all-lines property and casualty managing agency that’s been working with real estate investors since it began in 2005. But long before that, founder and CEO, Mark Gannaway, served as President, Chief Marketing Officer, and Executive Vice President for several other well-known agencies and brokerages. With over 35 years of experience behind him, including 20 with Lloyd’s of London as a US Coverholder; one of only a select few in the United States.

Pet Screening and Pet Damage protection

Pet Screening and Pet Damage protection – what could be better for a PM?


PetScreening: a Simple and Secure Platform for Property Managers and Pet Owners
By David Stunja
October 16, 2017


Today, property managers and landlords have very little insight into the legitimacy of their tenants’ pets. There’s very little information – let alone consistency – gathered on a potential renter’s pet.


Let’s say you own an investment property, and it’s been occupied by a nice renter with a labrador retriever – which you approved via email – for the past few months. One day, you make a scheduled visit to the house to complete some routine maintenance, you notice that the lab that was mentioned looks an awful lot like a pit bull. At this point, not much can be done.


Potential renters lie on applications because they don’t want to be turned down, and more times than not, they vouch for their pets over the phone or an email. So as the property manager, the approval process – all based on trust – is susceptible to inconstancies, lacks concrete data, and is difficult to re-trace correspondence months down the line.


Now let’s say your nice renter’s dog has an unfriendly temperament and bites someone on your investment property. In most cases, the dog owner will get sued – but it doesn’t stop there. The property owner and the property manager may also face suit.


John Bradford, who built his property management business – Park Avenue Properties which specializes in management for single-family homes – to be one of the largest in the Southeast, experienced this first hand.


“In 2015 and 2016, my company was sued twice over pet bites. And these were properties that we inherited with tenants already in place and they had pets already in place,” Bradford said.


His company essentially did nothing wrong as they didn’t place the tenants nor the pets, but as they were the property manager at the time of record, they were responsible.
Around this same time, while at a conference in March of 2016, Bradford heard the assistant deputy director of HUD give a presentation on this very issue. The majority of the industry was trying to figure out how to best operate in this gray area. So, Bradford recognized this was a huge issue.


“It was in that room that I looked around. I said, ‘I’m going to go build a product to help address this,’” Bradford said. “We need to bring some consistency, standardization, and some help on the assistance animal side too, and if I can bundle that all up in a product – I think other people like us will love it.”


Thus, PetScreening was started.


Bradford’s goal was to get a quality product up, tested and into the market as fast as possible, so he partnered with Castle Digital Partners – a local venture service firm – to make it happen.


The product benefits both the property manager and the pet owner.


For the property manager, PetScreening simplifies the pet screening process and puts structure around the pet information collected.


Bradford calls it the ABCs: affirmation, behavior, and compatibility.


When a pet owner completes a pet profile for a property rental application, he/she will affirm the accuracy of the information and understanding of the implications regarding bites and property damage. The owner will also describe the pet’s past and current behavior as pets’ temperament can vary based on breed, development, age, etc. Lastly, the pet profile will illustrate the compatibility of the pet in relation to the asset owner’s pet policy – type and breed restrictions, size limits, etc.


Simply, the PetScreening platform gives property managers an easy way to review, approve, and track their renters’ pet profiles.


There’s added benefit for pet owners, as they can leverage PetScreening as a secure pet management system to store and share their pet’s profiles and records electronically. So whether they’re going on vacation and need to share information with a dog-friendly hotel or hiring a new groomer who wants more details about the pet, they will have easy access to the pet’s profile.


In April of this year, PetScreening beta-tested with Bradford’s property management company, and after a few months of learning and working out user-experience bugs, they opened the product to the public. Bradford and the PetScreening team have designed the platform to have a simple sign-up system, so managers and pet owners can easily and quickly create an account without any handholding.


So Bradford, having built and grown a successful property management company, is more than ready to do the same in the tech space with PetScreening, while helping alleviate the pet gray area for as many as possible.

Bed Bugs – One Way to Eradicate Them

A woman tried to kill bed bugs with alcohol — and set a fire that left 10 without a home.


Three people were hospitalized and several others lost their homes after a woman accidentally started a fire inside a multifamily building while trying to kill bed bugs with alcohol, authorities said.


The fire broke out late Friday in Cincinnati’s Avondale neighborhood, just north of downtown. Randy Freel, district chief of the Cincinnati Fire Department, did not respond to an inquiry from The Washington Post on Sunday, but he told reporters the fire started in the first-floor unit, where the woman lives. The alcohol she was using ignited near an open flame, which was probably a candle or burning incense, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.


Three people went to a hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation, Freel told reporters. Seven adults and three teenagers were displaced by the fire.


One of those displaced was Kamaron Lyshe, who rushed home after learning that his building was on fire. For the next hour, Lyshe shared what was happening through a Facebook Live video, which showed a massive fire billowing out of the building’s roof. Flames were no longer visible from the street about a half-hour into the video.


Later, a visibly upset Lyshe appears to be sitting in a car and sending messages to friends.

“Pretty much everything we got is all up in flames. It’s crazy,” he said, as he lets out a deep sigh. “Now everything is gone.”


Posted by Kamaron Cvb Lyshe-Berry


Hours later, Lyshe took pictures and videos of what was left of his building, including the third-floor unit where he lived with his family. The roof of his unit had collapsed. Its hallways and rooms were covered with ashen debris.


“My room is completely destroyed, all my clothes. My closet was right here,” Lyshe can be heard saying as he briefly aims his phone at a pile of rubble.

Down the hallway was his brother’s room, he said, where pieces of burned wood were piled on the bed. His brother’s closet appears to have been spared, with several pieces of clothing still intact.


“I’m kind of dealing with it right now. I’ll start from scratch,” he told the Enquirer. “It’s like a dream . . . everything is burned. I’ll start fresh. It’s all we can do now.”

Authorities did not release the names of the residents, including the woman who started the fire.


Fire officials told reporters that this was the second fire in two weeks caused by someone trying to kill bed bugs.


A 2015 survey by the National Pest Management Association and the University of Kentucky found bed bug infestations continue at high rates in the United States, with nearly all of the respondents saying they had been treated for bed bugs in the past year. Infestations happened most often in nursing homes, office buildings, schools and day-care centers, according to the survey.


Do-it-yourself defenses against bed bugs have resulted in accidental fires in the past.

How To Protect Your Investment Property

KW: how to protect your investment property




With over three decades of experience in the insurance industry, Mark Gannaway is the go-to guy for answering policy questions related to just about any aspect of real estate investing. As the founder and CEO of Arcana Insurance Services, which writes policies nationwide, Mark knows the ins-and-outs of general liability coverage, landlord policies, and risk exposures unique to real estate investing. There’s no one else I turn to for protecting my investment property portfolio.

I consider myself lucky. I’ve known Mark since the very early days of my real estate investing career and he’s never steered me wrong when directing me toward the right coverage. That’s benefitted both my real estate investing business and my peace of mind. In light of some national headline-making natural disasters, like Hurricanes Harvey and Maria, and the damage they’ve caused to thousands of homes, many real estate investors are now taking another look at their own risk exposure.

So when we last met to review my portfolio, I asked Mark if he had any thoughts on the subject.

Options for Protecting Your Investment Property

Over the years, Mark and I have talked at length about picking the right real estate investor insurance policy—something we see overlooked by both new and experienced investors alike. You should consider going beyond just choosing a basic policy; adding other types of coverage that are often deemed optional could give you more business security. On this point, Mark is emphatic. His first recommendation? It’s one that’s on everyone’s mind since Hurricane Harvey: flood coverage.

If you look at the Gulf Coast along Texas, in Harris County or Brazoria County, five out of six of those $100K-plus homes didn’t have flood coverage. And the reason they didn’t was that they didn’t realize the property was prone to flooding. The flood zone map said they weren’t, in many cases.

Flood definitions are defined by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and vary according to how the government has mapped regional flood zones. Except that these maps, Mark explained, are outdated. This puts real estate investors at a disadvantage. If you don’t realize your investment property is in an area prone to flooding, you won’t necessarily think to have adequate coverage before disaster hits. Making this determination is as easy as making a call to your insurance agent.

An investor can have their agent pull a flood zone determination, which will cost them $7-10. They should do this every year, especially if they are in an area like Houston or Dallas-Fort Worth or an area that’s really expanding with a lot of construction because that means concrete covering up the dirt that used to absorb the water.

But, even in cities like Sacramento, California, which one would not necessarily associate with flooding, the risk is there as well. The Sacramento Valley is protected from the rivers that make up the San Francisco Bay Watershed by a series of levees—several of which have a high chance of failure according to recent news articles. The region’s sunken geography, growing population, and ongoing development have only increased the vulnerability to flooding. With scenarios like this in mind, Mark cautions:

I recommend that everybody get a quote for flood insurance, regardless of where the investment property is. It costs nothing for investors to get a quote on the premiums for flood coverage. Buy the insurance or not, but at least you know and can do a cost-benefit analysis. Investors should look at the risk and budget accordingly.

He also urged real estate investors to consider earthquake insurance. Outside of California and along the west coast, this option is often ignored. Mark points out, however, that “it’s something that people ought to look at in states that go up the Mississippi River.” Of course earthquakes, like floods, can happen even where they don’t typically happen. So it’s not a bad idea to think about expanding your coverage no matter where you live.

Unfortunately, Mark added, in addition to rejecting flood and earthquake coverage, many new real estate investors just buy the cheapest policy available. They mistakenly believe that part of keeping costs low is cutting corners across the board. Of course, they regret this decision later when an unforeseen calamity strikes and sinks their potential profits. Ensuring that you have the correct policy for your property and the right amount of coverage is the only way to protect your investment and help keep future expenditures down.

The main lesson here is that spending a little extra on your investor policy now could go a long way in saving your real estate investment later.

The Right Coverage Begins With the Right Team

After the meeting, I thought about how glad I am to have Mark Gannaway and Arcana Insurance Services on my side. Throughout my career as a real estate investor, he’s saved me time and money by giving great advice on the best ways to protect my portfolio. Having access to a team of professionals who care as much about the growth and stability of your portfolio as you do is something you just can’t put a price tag on. Arcana can be a valued member of your support team for your insurance coverage.

Insurance Journal – October 16, 2017

Insurance Journal

Insurance Journal delivers the latest business news for the Property & Casualty insurance industry.
In this edition, you can find an article about The Complicated Risk Exposures of Property Managers and Investor written by our CEO – Mark Gannaway, page SC7.
Also, check out our advertisement on page SC4.


Flood Insurance Compliance – Are you up to date?

It can be hard to keep up to date with compliance changes in the lending world. Underwriting changes in the National Flood Insurance Program can cause changes that also impact the lender placement of insurance?

Are you up to date with changes? Do you know what the Homeowners Flood Insurance Affordability Act (HFIAA) is all about? A couple of points to remember:

  • Rate are increasing for some risk, but there are annual limits to percentage rate increases.
  • The Federal Policy Fee increased this year for properties in SFHA’s on the standard policy, but not on the PRP. No changes to lender place insurance.
  • New deductible options are now available for borrowers in the NFIP. Additional options are coming for lender placement.
  • The NFIP will be adding inserts with updates on rate changes, increased fees, and other changes in renewals and billing notices for borrowers. This could generate some questions to Lender and a slight increase in lender placements.

Questions – Check out –