Monthly Archives: May 2012

Business Auto Coverage

There are several tests you can apply to understand whether or not you need to purchase commercial auto coverage.  The first test is ownership.  If your business has a car titled in the business name you need a business auto policy.  You may consider avoiding this by having the car in your name.  Many small-business owners believe that if a car is in their name, commercial coverage is not necessary and their personal auto policy will provide coverage.  Generally, personal auto policies exclude from coverage the use of a vehicle for commercial purposes if the commercial use is substantial.  To protect your business’s assets, you want to be certain you have coverage in the event of an accident and the last thing you want to be doing after an accident is debating with your insurer whether your car is primarily used in business. If the vehicle in question is titled in the business name- there is no question, get a commercial auto policy.

A second important test is who is driving the car.  If your business has employees and they drive the car, you need business auto coverage.  Commercial policies allow you to list employees as drivers which allow the insurance company to properly underwrite the risk on the vehicle. So, if other employees at your company are driving the car, buy a business auto policy.

A third test has to do with your business activity.  If you are just using the vehicle to drive to and from work, you are commuting, not using your vehicle in business activity.  If you use the car or truck to travel to customer sites or to visit clients, you may need to consider commercial coverage based on how frequently you do this.  If you are regularly using your vehicle this way you would definitely want to consult your Washington auto insurance agent to talk about the need for a business auto policy.  A definite tipoff that you need coverage because of your business activity would be if you are involved in: 

* * Product or food delivery

* * Transporting business products to wholesalers or retailers

* * Retail product delivery to consumers

* * Carrying people for any distance

* * Picking up customer items for cleaning, repair, storage, etc.

All these are covered under commercial coverage and would not generally be covered under a personal auto policy. 

The activity issue is clouded by the fact that a few activities that appear business related may be covered by a personal auto policy.  For example, lawyers, accountants, clergy, doctors and some professions that carry clients on a regular basis such as real estate agents may be covered under a personal auto policy. Home health care workers can be covered under a personal auto policy if they do not transport people regularly.

A business auto policy offers liability coverage for physical injury to other persons or their property because of an accident, comprehensive coverage for losses other than collision and collision insurance.  Some business policies can be purchased at a lower cost with a named perils option on the comprehensive portion protecting against specific causes such as fire, lightening, explosion or vandalism

It is also worthwhile to consider a business auto policy if you need additional endorsements to your auto policy, such as coverage for additional insured’s – such as employees – waiver of subrogation, liability coverage for mobile equipment or hired or non-owned vehicles.

Commercial auto policies also build in coverage’s that may be attractive to the business owner such as towing and labor costs for moving disabled vehicles and loss of use if you damage a rental car. 

Commercial policies cover the vehicle itself – not the business it is engaged in, so expect exclusions for things such as responsibility for damage you assume under a contract or damage to property in your care and control. Oh, and don’t go racing with commercial auto coverage, it will not cover losses related to racing, demolition or stunts. 

Everest in the News

The newspapers reminded us that May 29, is the anniversary of the first summiting of Mount Everest. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached the top of the world at 29,035 feet on this day in 1953. Their success came more than 30 years after the first recorded attempts to reach the top of this formidable mountain.

We are particularly appreciative of this event here on the Peninsula, because we have our own connection to the mountain. Jim Whittaker, an area resident, was the first American to summit on Mount Everest. He made the trip to the top on May 1, 1963. Last week, Jim’s son Leif Whittaker made his second ascent to the top of Everest. Leif was a 2003 graduate of Port Townsend high school and has evidently taken the notion of following in his father’s footsteps quite literally.

Times have changed a lot since Hillary and Norgay climbed to the top of the world. News of their successful climb did not reach the outside world until June 2, 1953, coincidentally, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.  This year bloggers were updating the world on the progress of various expeditions as they attempted to make the climb. While it was not real time, it was close enough for folks to know that the Eddie Bauer expedition team was attempting the ascent even as it happened. Fortunately, it was also able to relieve our concerns as we learned first that the team had summited and later that they had safely made it back to their base camp.

Other news carried stories of climbers not so fortunate and pictures of literally hundreds of people attempting the ascent – reportedly over 200 attempted the summit on one day. The crowds are evidently a problem in delaying the ascent that has to be critically timed.  Crews now carry oxygen and some were reported to be delayed by over 2 hours getting started.  Not packing sufficient oxygen in anticipation of delay can be a deadly problem.  For all the dangers involved, Mount Everest certainly draws a crowd. Although now over 3000 people have made the ascent, it is also clearly still a very dangerous place and made more dangerous by the crowds of people trekking toward the top. Even with modern equipment and modern communications climbing an Everest remains a great human achievement.

Here at homer Smith insurance, your Washington insurance agent, we are delighted at Leif Whittaker’s success and wish he and his family well.

Duty to Notify Insurer

The Washington State Insurance Commissioner has produced a “Consumer’s Guide to Homeowner Insurance” for Washington residents.  You can get a copy of the guide here. One of the points the guide makes is that you should notify your insurer of any loss in a timely manner.  In fact, most policies have a formal requirement that notice of loss be provided promptly. This is not a requirement to be taken lightly. An insurer makes a promise to protect you against certain types of loss, but it can’t follow-through unless it knows about a loss and it cannot conduct a thorough investigation if a great deal of time has elapsed since the loss.  For this reason, prompt notification is a formal policy requirement and a failure to meet this obligation could result in a claim being denied.

So, what is “timely notice?”  It may depend on the type of claim itself.  In Florida, courts have held that claims for hurricane damage could not be denied for lack of prompt notice even years after the fact – but these were claims for damages not discovered at the time of an initial claim.  On the other hand, courts in Texas allowed an insurer to deny a claim for fire damage when notice was not given for 54 days following the blaze.  The reasoning was consistent in both cases – in Florida because the insurer had timely notice in an initial claim to learn the full extent of the damage; in Texas because the lack of notice compromised the insurer’s ability to fully investigate the claim.

Typically, a policy requires you to contact the insurer or agent promptly, identify yourself – usually by the name and policy number of the insured, provide details of the loss and be prepared to provide additional information as required.  These general requirements are echoed in the Insurance Commissioner’s Homeowner Guide mentioned earlier as they apply to home insurance.

Rapid and effective communication about losses offers you the best chance to get needed coverage and gives your insurer an opportunity to handle a possible claim efficiently. It also allows the insurer the opportunity to manage situations that could compromise the claim, such as the ability to contact and question witnesses. Prompt notification helps both parties reach a rapid and fair conclusion.

So, don’t hesitate! There are consequences to a finding that a policyholder did not provide the insurer with prompt notice of a loss and those consequences can be severe.  They extend to the possibility a claim will be completely denied.  Providing notice as soon as possible will move the claim along more quickly and help prevent noncompliance with a policyholder’s post loss obligations.

If your Washington home insurance, auto insurance or business insurance agent is Homer Smith, call us if you need assistance in fulfilling your policy requirements.  We are here to help you get your loss handled.

Model T bites the dust

On May 26, 1927 Henry and Edsel Ford were at Ford’s Highland Park Michigan plant watching a black Model T Ford roll off the assembly line. It was the 15 millionth Models T and the last. The Model T entered production in 1908 in Detroit Michigan. With a near 20 year run, only the Volkswagen beetle has outlasted the model T.

The model T sold initially or around $850 – that’s about $20,000 in today’s dollars. As the car sold in increasing numbers, and as there were advances in production methods, the price dropped to as little as $260, or about $6000 today. The T had a four-cylinder engine that generated about 20 horse power and got up to 20 miles per gallon of gasoline. It was the car that ushered in the automobile age. The Model T was the car that traveled America before there were roads to travel on. In fact it was due in part to the popularity of the Model T that federal and state governments began to make road construction a priority. Henry Ford did not invent the automobile nor did he invent the assembly line. However, he did use those two things to create an affordable vehicle for the masses of American society. Ford had put the power of the internal combustion engine within reach of the average citizen. He transformed the automobile itself from a luxury to a necessity; the Model T changed the face of the nation.

Henry Ford had hoped to keep up production of the Model T while retooling for the Model A.  By 1927, lack of demand was killing the Model T. The company sold fewer than half a million cars in 1927, less than half of Chevrolet’s sales. That was why on May 26, 1927 Henry and Edsel Ford drove the last Model T from Highland Park Michigan to Ford’s Dearborn engineering laboratory and parked it with the first automobile that Henry Ford built in 1896, and the 1908 prototype for the Model T. Reports are Henry himself took each vehicle for a short spin – one of the nation’s richest man driving the car that had made him wealthy. 

If the model T had a dramatic impact on the economy and on the physical landscape of the United States, it had an equally great impact on regulatory and insurance issues. The increasing numbers of vehicles led to physical changes like road improvement and to the development of legal infrastructure such as drivers licensing, registration and the tracking of auto ownership through the title system. The subsequent increase in accidents on the roadways in turn resulted in state and federal government and implementing stricter driver and vehicle licensing requirements.

Insurance had long been offered to respond to losses associated with transportation, but as the preferred mode of transportation became the automobile, the states began to require that drivers cover the liability they incurred while operating their cars.  An early response to deal with the financial outcomes of auto accidents came in 1927 with the compulsory liability insurance statute in Massachusetts.   Most states would pass similar laws by the 1940s which saw the end of WWII and a rapid increase in the automobile industry, consequently expanding the need for financial responsibility and mandatory insurance coverage laws for motorists. Today all states require automobile insurance auto insurance has become one of the most heavily regulated businesses in the U.S.  Today, everywhere in the US and many countries outside the United States require motorists to purchase auto insurance before driving on public roads. The law usually requires that a motorist have at least liability- insurance to protect others against financial loss caused by the motorist’s vehicle, while coverage against damage to the motorist’s own vehicle or person is usually optional. In Washington auto insurance, operating a vehicle without the required coverage is a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of at least $450

Business Insurance Costs

Protecting your business from risks is the foundation of success in any business.  You should take the time necessary to time to discuss your business insurance needs with an insurance representative, your industry association and peers; it will be valuable time spent.

All businesses price their products to cover the costs of production, sales, marketing and other major expenses. For some businesses, pricing also has to take post-sales costs into consideration such as handling repairs or replacements under warranty. Insurance is a business that has to pay particularly close attention to “post-sales” costs.  First, insurance products are priced with an understanding of the risks in mind.  Pricing models are based on historical experience that is assumed to remain fairly constant. 

The problems with this assumption from the perspective of the insurance industry became apparent within the last several decades as risk models have been confounded by natural and financial catastrophes. Events that have included terrorist attacks, record hurricanes, housing market and banking meltdowns all substantially affected the insurance industry. So to, government has asked the industry to handle losses for claims presented many years after their policies have expired or even address issues policies weren’t designed to cover such as pollution, asbestos and employment practices.   The result has been that the insurance industry has had to adjust its pricing rapidly to account for changes in the physical environment and the regulatory environment.  A pricing strategy of lower prices to promote higher sales volume is not likely to be viable when products failed to reflect their true costs over an extended time. The assumption was that lower prices would promote increased sales and the higher sales volume would make up the cost difference has not worked for the auto industry, the computer industry or the insurance industry.

So, as a business owner what can you do to minimize your high insurance cost?  Take a careful look at your risks and consult with your Washington business insurance professional to see what alternative strategies may be available to help save costs. 

First, look at your coverage.  Are you carrying physical damage coverage on commercial vehicles that aren’t worth it or insuring items you could replace out of pocket?  You may find you are insuring pieces of equipment that you would normally replace from operating funds. 

Are your deductibles appropriate?  Increasing your deductibles may lower your premium; select a deductible that matches your risk tolerance, not just the lowest one available. 

Next, review your exposures and consider actions that might lower your premiums.  What is the impact on premiums of installing an alarm system or fire protection system? Would the premium savings offset the cost of the system, and in how many years?  Do you have a safety program in place that would reduce your insurance costs?  There are a number of programs that can have an impact on your insurance premiums – driver safety programs, back to work programs and safety training in proper use of equipment and job tasks, for example.

Make sure you consider the goals you have for your insurance program.  Do you need special services like loss control services or claim-handling services for your Workers Compensation insurance? Do you need on-line or call center services for claims, customer support or payments?  Do you need this 24/7? 

Price is important, but it is not the only issue in insurance. What you don’t know can cost you more in the long run than you could ever save in premiums. Discuss your situation with your Washington insurance professional and make the choice that works for you.

Insuring Bonnie and Clyde

May 23, 1934 marked the end of a two year crime spree and four year romance for Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow.  Their crimes were romanticized during the great depression but were particularly vicious and often aimed at representatives of the law.  Their life and death had some interesting insurance twists as well.

Both of the pair were born in Texas and both had a rough coming of age. Bonnie was on the rebound from a failed relationship with one Ray Thornton when she met a petty criminal named Clyde Barrow in West Dallas in January of 1930.  Whatever romance might have blossomed then was delayed when Clyde was sent to Eastham Prison Farm for 14 years.  Bonnie kept up the relationship writing letters and poetry while Clyde was inside.  Clyde received a pardon in February of 1932.  He left prison on crutches because just before his release, he had hatched a plan to avoid working in the prison cotton fields by having another inmate chop off two of his toes.   Reports are that there efforts to go straight were short lived. 

It was the early years of the great depression and jobs were not easy to come by. Clyde had little work experience; Bonnie had lost her waitressing job.  One Clyde’s foot healed, he was robbing and stealing again, and this time he had vowed never to go back to Eastham.  Bonnie accompanied Clyde to rob a hardware store and while she stayed in the car during the robbery, she was captured and went to jail.  While she was soon released for lack of evidence, it wasn’t soon enough.  Clyde was involved in another robbery at the end of April 1932 which resulted in the death of a general store owner.  It was a crossroads for Bonnie – she knew that Clyde had vowed never to go back to prison and presumably that death was a likely outcome for both of them.  Her choice is now a part of American history. 

From mid 1932 to May of 1934 Bonnie and Clyde and an assortment of relatives and petty criminals robbed and murdered their way through the south central US – Texas, Louisiana and Missouri among others.  Their end came in an ambush set up by law enforcement officers on a farm to Market Road several miles from Plain Dealing, Louisiana.  Around 9 am on the morning of May 23 Bonnie and Clyde were stopped at the ambush point and died when over 150 rounds were pumped into them and the car.

The end of their life was not the end of their story.  Bonnie and Clyde had life insurance issued by the American National Insurance Company of Galveston.  Who purchased the insurance isn’t clear, but the beneficiary in each case was their respective mother’s.   The life insurance policies for both Bonnie and Clyde were paid in full.  Since then, the policy of pay-outs has changed to exclude pay-outs in cases of deaths caused by any criminal act by the insured.  Presumably underwriting rules have also been tightened up a bit to reflect the increased risk of death for bank robbers on the run. 

And today, the Bonnie and Clyde name has been stamped on a form of insurance fraud that could well affect your Washington auto insurance rates.  Organized fraud rings stage car accidents to bilk insurers out of billions of dollars. In a common form of the scam, a car, packed with passengers who are in on the scheme, moves in front of an unwitting motorist and then stops suddenly forcing the motorist into a rear-end collision.  The passengers fake painful back and neck injuries and team with crooked doctors, lawyers and chiropractors to submit large and bogus bodily injury claims against auto insurers. Recently some of these “scam” accidents have even gone awry and resulted in the death of innocent people.  Bonnie and Clyde live on – not as folk heroes, but as models for antisocial behavior.  

Finding the Best Apartment for Your Needs

Looking for a new apartment can be hard work. You may want an apartment with a large master bedroom and a second smaller bedroom for instance and have trouble finding one that meets these criteria. Some people look for apartments with a small yard or a balcony for grilling. In any case, apartment hunting can be confusing and exhausting. You could try taking some of the work and confusion out of apartment hunting by using a simple spreadsheet. Once you have made your decision, you should contact a local insurance agent to get coverage for your precious belongings with Washington renters insurance.

Make up a list of all the features that you want in an apartment and include important items. Create a simple spreadsheet listing these items. Consider pet deposits, internet service providers, cable services, deposits, application fees, promotions, amenities and rent costs.

Make up a list of potential apartment complexes that interest you. Choose locations that are close to your job or rural areas if preferred. Call several apartment owners to discuss apartment sizes, rooms, rates and when units are available for rent. Fill in all this information on your spreadsheet. You could do this by putting the criteria you want across the top of your spreadsheet, and a list of apartment addresses down the side. Then you could put a tick where for the criteria each apartment meets.

You could then scan your spreadsheet to see which apartments meet your needs. Select several and arrange to see visit them. Check each unit carefully to see if it does actually offer the qualities you are looking for.

Once you’ve found your new home don’t forget to obtain a Washington renters insurance policy. Renters’ insurance can offer coverage not only for belongings but also for liability and additional living expenses after a disaster. Contact us if you would like more information on renters’ insurance policies.


Manage Your Risk During Vacancy

Where an insurance company issues a commercial property policy, it is expecting to cover an ongoing business and an active occupancy. When a building becomes vacant there are many different things that can occur to change the risk. An unattended facility may attract mischief or an event such as a water leak or electrical short can go unnoticed. Buildings that remain vacant for an extended period of time may find that their insurance coverage is eliminated, or at least significantly curtailed.

The situation can become a bit tricky. If the insured policyholder is a tenant of the building and the insurance policy is issued to cover the tenant’s property interest, the building is considered vacant when there is no longer sufficient business property in the space to conduct the usual operations of the tenant. So, if the tenant has half a dozen desks, computers, telephones and office supplies and is conducting a computer support business, the insurer would likely consider the space vacant if the computers and telephones that make the business operate were to disappear.

If the insured is a building owner the principal is applied to the entire building and the building will be considered vacant unless a contractually specified percentage of the total square footage is rented and in use or if a percentage of the space is used by the building owner in the conduct of their usual operations. There is an exception for buildings that are under construction or renovation. They are not considered to be vacant.

Buildings that are vacant for more than 60 consecutive days before a loss are likely to see significant reductions in their coverage. For example, if losses were caused by vandalism, with water leakage, theft or damages due to theft the insurer may pay nothing on a claim. If there are other causes of loss, the insurer may reduce the loss amount by a percentage, usually 15%.

A major problem arises when the business owner or policy holder is not aware of the vacancy provision or is not monitoring the situation.  It is easy to lose track of items like this if there are other problems affecting the business, or possible for a building owner to miss vacancies if the rent is still being paid.  The 60 days can slip by unnoticed Likewise; the insurer is not likely to have knowledge of a vacancy situation until a claim is presented.  When the claim is presented, however, the facts of the vacancy situation rapidly become evident and by then it is too late.  It is important in situations of temporary vacancy to consult with you Washington business insurance agent.  They can help you review your options and take appropriate steps to manage risk.  For example, many companies will add a provision – sometimes called a Vacancy Permit – for an additional premium. A vacancy permit changes the policy wording to provide coverage for the property during the specific time period that it will be vacant. Paying attention to coverage provisions and loss prevention will minimize claim problems; responding to preserve your coverage through a vacancy permit will help avoid a loss. 

The day the top blew off

May 18 was a Sunday in 1980. At about 830 in the morning there was an earthquake in southwestern Washington near Mt. St. Helens that measured 5.1 on the Richter scale. Within minutes, the geologic face of Washington state change. The North face of Mount Saint Helens collapsed in a huge avalanche and within moments slid through Spirit Lake crossed a 1300 foot ridge and began roaring down the Toutle River. The huge rock fall rapidly released the gases inside the volcano and the resulting explosion blew down nearly 150 square miles of forest. An ash column rose into the air and drifted across Eastern Washington and beyond. Mount Saint Helens eruption lasted about nine hours but it took only seconds to change the landscape forever.

The eruption was not unexpected; the mountain had begun venting steam almost 2 months earlier following a somewhat smaller earthquake. The north side of the mountain had already started to bulge by the end of April. Even with the advanced warning, more than 50 people were killed by the eruption. The most famous victim was Harry Truman.  Harry had a lodge on Spirit Lake in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens and he refused to leave the place where his wife was buried and where his 16 cats called home.  Harry ignored pleas to evacuate and publicly stated for the television cameras that he intended to stay right where he was.  After the explosion there was no trace of Harry, his cats or his lodge; Spirit Lake’s bottom had risen nearly 300 feet. 

As great as the human tragedy was, it could have been much worse. The eruption took place on a Sunday. Had it been a weekday, there would likely have been many more people working in the forests that surrounded Mount Saint Helens. It took a devastating toll on area wildlife with an estimated 7000 bear, deer and elk destroyed and untold numbers of small animals. The explosion or lahars or other volcanic phenomena damaged or destroyed more than 200 homes and tore up over 150 miles of highway and 15 miles of railroad track.

The Mount Saint Helens eruption produced some 40,000 insurance claims and caused a little over $70 million in today’s dollars in losses. The Washington State Department of Commerce and Economic Development estimated the total losses from the eruption at over $950 million. Between the forestry losses in prime forestland and the cleanup costs accounted for almost 85% of losses but property losses were over $100 million. That is a substantial hit to your Washington home insurance.

The man in charge at the time was Richard Marquardt, Insurance Commissioner for the State of Washington.  He told reporters at the time he was optimistic that claims would be settled quickly and fairly but warned of problem areas.  Part of his confidence stemmed from the fact that the state’s standard homeowner policy been rewritten a few years earlier to include coverage for volcanic activity Since homeowner policies are usually renewed annually, most covered volcano damage  The problems, as usual would incur on the edges where the question of whether damage was, in fact, caused by the volcano.  Similarly, there were many car insurance claims.  A big question was the duty owners had to prevent damage.  Insurers were not happy to see claims for engine damage from ash if a driver continued to operate their auto and contributing to the damage.

Today, Mt. Saint Helens remains an active volcano and in the years since 1980 has given Washingtonians a good scare on several occasions.  She is a good reminder to keep your emergency kit up-to-date.  You ever know when something is going to blow around here.

Unnatural Disasters and Insurance Claims

Mother Nature can create some horrifying natural disasters; stunning in human and financial terms; man is no slouch either.  We have gotten progressively better at putting together large groups of people, and creating more complex technologies.  Some of our unnatural – human caused – disasters rival the forces of nature in the scope of their human and financial losses.  In terms of human losses, for example, the Titanic disaster compares closely to Hurricane Katrina – both in the 1500 range. 

The Costa Concordia is the latest in passenger liner disasters and it is looking like a record breaking human error. If early accounts are true, the Captain elected a close pass of the beach and committed a huge mistake. The ship is huge – twice the size of the Titanic and outfitted with luxurious splendor.  The vessel alone was insured for over $500 million. While the loss of life was not as great as the Titanic, there were about 4000 people aboard and virtually everyone aboard will have some sort of settlement.   Early estimates are the losses could go to $1 billion dollars.  That would include the vessel itself, claims for environmental damage and passenger liability claims.  This would dwarf the Andrea Doria incident which had a similar loss of life – around 40. The losses there amounted to about $50 million.  The Titanic was only insured for $5 million – about $120 million in today’s dollars. The White Star line offered $664,000 ($15 million today) in settlement of all the claims against the vessel.  Individual life insurance policies added to that, including most likely the Washington insurance of Mr. Hugh Rood, a Seattle resident and vice president of the Pacific Creosoting Company.

The Great Chicago Fire started on Sunday evening, October 8, 1871, in barn belonging to Patrick and Catherine O’Leary.  Famously, according to the poem …

“One dark night, when people were in bed,

Mrs. O’ Leary lit a lantern in her shed,

The cow kicked it over, winked its eye, and said,

There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.”

Rumors of bovine arsonists may just be 19th century urban legends, but the fire was real enough.  The fire burned for two days and destroyed nearly 3½ square miles of the city – but sparing the O’Leary House. Almost 18,000 buildings burned, including 1,500 buildings described as “substantial business structures.” There were about 200 fire insurance companies doing business in Chicago at the time, but with insurance losses totaling between $90 and $100 million (about $1.7 billion today) many firms’ losses exceeded their available assets.  At least one-half of the property in the burnt district was covered by insurance and the claims bankrupted 68 insurance companies.  Policyholders recovered only about 40 percent of what they were owed.

Of course, not all losses are insured or insurable and the total economic costs of any major event are difficult to calculate.  Estimates of the total costs of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon vary widely but range well into the trillions of dollars when all the impacts are considered, including the costs of war in Afghanistan.  For comparison purposes though the insured losses attributable to the attacks, including property, business interruption, aviation, workers compensation, life and liability insurance are generally believed to add up to $40 billion dollars

In all disasters, natural and unnatural, we learn to correct and improve both our insurance and how we manage risk.  The Chicago Fire, for instance gave us new building codes and changes in the insurance industry.  The World Trade Center attacks have given us new security programs – and even a new federal agency.  Today we have a discipline of risk management that helps us to avoid – for the most part – the situations we recognize as potentially dangerous.  Still, while it would have been better if someone had closed the barn door before Mrs O’Leary’s cow got home, accidents do happen and some are spectacular.