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With the holidays nearing, the theft of automated teller machines will surely spike as thieves look to finance a merry time, says Tom Chandler, operations manager for Oklahoma City-based BancInsure Inc.
Some ATMs require only a couple of burly thieves and tools to yank them out of their moorings and a dolly to cart them away. Pickup trucks with a strong bumper and a chain, forklifts and backhoes are favored ATM theft devices--especially when construction slows for the winter, leaving equipment idle and available.
Thieves haul the ATMs to isolated spots where they open them with blow torches or pummel them with sledge hammers, such as one machine recently found abandoned in a gravel pit in Montana.
"They dragged it down the road with sparks flying trying to wear part of it out so they could get it to open easier," says Van Butler, assistant claims manager for BancInsure, which provides all lines of coverage for banks nationwide.
Property package policies usually cover damage to ATMs while financial institution bonds cover the lost cash, according to BancInsure.
But stealing an ATM is "a stupid thing to do because the likelihood of getting caught is great and it's difficult to get the money out," says a spokesman for the Washington-based American Bankers Assn.
This fall was no rib tickler
These days, Eva Longoria is more than a celebrity--she's also a workers comp liability.
The actress earlier this month was reportedly rushed to the hospital from the set of ABC's "Desperate Housewives," after slipping on the stairs coming out of her trailer--a fall that left her with some badly bruised ribs.
The injury apparently wasn't her first while on the job.
During shooting for the show in August 2005, Ms. Longoria was reportedly struck in the head by a piece of equipment and required emergency care.
Lott's Katrina fallout visited on DHS bill
When you think of the Department of Homeland Security, odds are you think about protecting the nation from terrorists rather than looking into insurance claims handling practices.
Well, think again. The DHS' annual appropriations bill earmarks an amount "not to exceed $100,000" for the DHS' inspector general to use "for certain confidential operation expenses, including the payment of informants" to investigate insurance practices.
The provision was added courtesy of Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss. Sen. Lott happens to be suing State Farm Mutual Insurance Co. over the insurer's alleged failure to cover adequately the loss of his Pascagoula, Miss., home that was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
The section directs the DHS inspector general to "investigate whether, and to what extent, in adjusting and settling claims resulting from Hurricane Katrina, insurers making flood insurance coverage available under the Write-Your-Own program pursuant to section 1345 of the National Flood Insurance Act of 1968 (42 U.S.C. 4081) and subpart C of part 62 of title 44, Code of Federal Regulations, improperly attributed damages from such hurricane to flooding covered under the insurance coverage provided under the national flood insurance program rather than to windstorms covered under coverage provided by such insurers or by windstorm insurance pools in which such insurers participated."
DHS has until April 1, 2007, to present Congress with the results of its investigation.
Foley's plan on cat reserves gets no takers
What connection does disgraced former Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., have with the property/casualty insurance industry?
It just so happens that when Rep. Foley wasn't composing allegedly salacious e-mails to former House pages, he found the time last year to introduce the Policyholder Disaster Protection Act. The measure would have allowed insurers to create tax-free reserve funds for natural disaster claims.
The bill, which was introduced on May 26, 2005, said that revising the tax code to allow tax-free reserves would "reduce the possibility that a significant portion of the private insurance system would fail in the wake of a major natural disaster and that government entities would be required to step in to provide relief at taxpayer expense."
Apparently, though, Rep. Foley had about as much luck persuading his congressional colleagues to get his legislation enacted as he did charming most of the objects of his electronic affection. The bill was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee, where it remained without further action for more than a year before expiring with last month's adjournment.
"Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By.'"
Humana Inc. is bringing "Casablanca" back to the big screen in an effort to promote its 2007 Medicare Advantage health plans.
The health insurer said that the screenings of the 1942 Humphrey Bogart/Ingrid Bergman classic, which began last week, are taking place in nearly 700 theaters across the country and are open to those eligible for Medicare and their caregivers.
In addition to the feature presentation, Humana will show "Changing Lives," a short promotional film about the insurer that features members of its Medicare Advantage plans.
Contributors: Roberto Ceniceros, Mark A. Hofmann, Rupal Parekh, Matt Scroggins