News: Real Estate, Risk, Economics. May 3, 2016

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Table of Contents
(Click to sections below.)

1) How the Section 121 Exclusion Can Boost Real Estate Investors' Returns

2) Sanders Supporters on Road to Insurrection in Democratic Party?

3) Market Analyst: "Nothing Is Real… All Of This is Being Played To Keep People Believing The System Is Working"

4) Going negative | The Economist

5) Astellon: Helicopter Money Would Increase Consumption

6) A Cherokee Tribe's Basic Income Success Story | Demos

7) Did a Conspiracy Really Destroy LA's Huge Streetcar System? – Curbed LA

8) The Welfare State In Europe: Still Worth Having?

9) Natural gas explosion rocks Westmoreland County and US gas markets | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

10) 'Double agent?' A rift over how real estate is bought and sold reaches the California Supreme Court – The Orange County Register

11) Realities of Real Estate: New real estate legislation – Capital Gazette

12) Managing Debt in an Overleveraged World

13) MakerBot's Brooklyn Factory Moves to China | Brownstoner

14) House Flipping: Does It Make Brooklyn Unaffordable? | Brownstoner

15) This Skills Gap Is Hurting America's Housing Market – Fortune

16) There are 168 million victims of child labour — and we're failing them | World Economic Forum

17) Assumable Mortgage: Assume Someone Else's FHA, VA, or USDA Loan

18) Camden Property Trust to sell additional apartments nationwide – Houston Business Journal

19) More city-owned trees illegally cut down in West Seattle

20) mainly macro: Neoliberalism

21) EconoSpeak: The Legacy of Joan Robinson

22) World's Longest Negative Rate Experiment Shows Perversions Ahead – Bloomberg

23) Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California? | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

24) Rainwater may play an important role in process that triggers earthquakes — ScienceDaily

25) Utah Earthquake Country Examined

26) Homes on Mississippi Coast Hit by Flooding

27) UA's Insurance Research Center Produces Tornado Preparedness Guide — University of Alabama News

28) Win Short: Chobani Shares Profits with Employees – YouTube

29) Shale Debt Crisis Hits Crisis, Says JPMorgan

30) China's Furious Stimulus-and-Debt Binge Backfires | Wolf Street

  1.    How the Section 121 Exclusion Can Boost Real Estate Investors' Returns

    Okay, this is great info from Brandon Hall, owner, Hall CPA; but what if one experiences no property appreciation (increase in value)?

    You don't want to waste this strategy on places where appreciation is unlikely or low relative to others. Try to buy low and sell high: easier said than done; but there you have it.

    Naturally, wise fix-ups are wise. Tautological? You bet.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  2.    Sanders Supporters on Road to Insurrection in Democratic Party?

    Bill Curry…says the gulf between the Sanders' base and the Democratic Party elite on a broad range of issues could lead to a fissure with the Party leadership.

    I think it already has.

    Bill Curry is one sharp fellow.

    Money is the issue! Ideas can finally bring it to heel. On that, we definitely agree.

    "This video is unlisted. Be considerate and think twice before sharing." Therefore, I didn't embed it. Visit the Real News post to view it. It's worth it in my view.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  3.    Market Analyst: "Nothing Is Real… All Of This is Being Played To Keep People Believing The System Is Working"

    This is pure libertarian fear-mongering.

    It's Malthusian but not where a population explosion is not met by adequate resources but where money somehow becomes worthless and/or scarce.

    It's an old saw peddled by those who are self-centered and more than a bit paranoid, not that they aren't really after them.

    Look, we know how money works. The bankers are not able to keep the knowledge esoteric any longer. Lots of people have known for millennia, but now the masses are finding out. That knowledge is not, repeat, is not going to be put back in the bottle or flushed down the memory hole.

    We can create all the money we need and do so without borrowing anything and do so without causing either inflation or deflation but solid economic growth completely in keeping with the highest environmental standards.

    The People are smarter and more capable than they've been led to believe.

    Fear is not the answer. Prepping for dystopia is not the solution. Knowledge, transparency, and democracy are the keys.

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  4.    Going negative | The Economist

    Sometimes "The Economist" is very close to right on. The only thing missing from this article is issuing money without borrowing.

    If Mr Schäuble wants higher yields for German savers, he should be spending more money. Instead, his government is running a budget surplus.

    … If politicians want a scapegoat for the low rates that bedevil their savers, they would do better to look in the mirror than target the ECB.

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  5.    Astellon: Helicopter Money Would Increase Consumption

    Rupert Hargreaves:

    Helicopter money is increasingly being contemplated in major economies and in some cases is on the verge of being introduced. Switzerland is set to hold a referendum in June 2016 regarding an unconditional minimum pay of CHF 2,500 per month per citizen. Canada is developing a program to be trialed this year; Finland has commissioned a report on the topic which is due this year, and its recommendations are expected to be introduced next year. Other nations are also considering their own versions of a basic income/helicopter money.

    Astellon surveyed 2,500 individuals across core European countries to get their views on central bank policies. The firm as respondents four key questions:

    Do you know that the ECB spends €80bn p/m to buy sovereign debt in Europe, equivalent to €300m per head?

    If your bank began to charge you money for having a deposit, at what fee level would you leave your bank?

    If you decided to withdraw your money from your bank, what would you do with it?

    If the ECB gave you €300 per month, what would you do with it?

    The article is not enough to go on, not even close (but a start).

    First of all, the closer we get to issuing "helicopter money," the more the entire thing would be more and more widely discussed and analyzed and learned, etc.

    The People would hear various sides. If done properly, the people would relax and spend intelligently.

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  6.    A Cherokee Tribe's Basic Income Success Story | Demos

    Matt Bruenig:

    It is not the outcomes that are remarkable; it is how low our expectations of poor people are that is remarkable. We so think, for our own comfort no doubt, that the poor are just utterly and constitutionally screwed up that even modest gains from increasing poor people's access to resources blow us away.

    This surprise is especially odd when you consider the fact that almost every single anti-poverty effort is supposed to work this exact same way.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  7.    Did a Conspiracy Really Destroy LA's Huge Streetcar System? – Curbed LA

    Elijah Chiland:

    The wily Henry Huntington engineered his Pacific Electric system largely as a means of transporting people to and from the large tracts of land where he was developing housing. The most prominent streetcar line, then, was never meant to be economically viable. For Huntington, it was simply a way to access the real profits of home sales. Because of this, when automobiles first became available for mass consumption, Angelenos gravitated toward them immediately.

    And that brings us to the final component of the streetcar's ultimate demise. As The Guardian points out, local voters rejected a plan to bring streetcar lines under public ownership in the 1920s, keeping them in the hands of private companies unwilling to make costly but necessary investments in infrastructure improvement. Furthermore, Angelenos passed on public transit legislation for decades, embracing instead the development of improved roads, tunnels, and eventually freeways. The emphasis on auto traffic had the unfortunate effect of slowing down the once reliable streetcar. As Richmond points out, a ride on Pacific Electric's Long Beach Line took just 41 minutes in 1910. By 1954, it was up to a full hour, with trains regularly arriving as much as 30 minutes behind schedule.

    However, gross manipulation cannot be completely discounted.

    The same thing happened elsewhere, such as Detroit (Motown: surprise, surprise). Plus, who killed the EV and why?

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  8.    The Welfare State In Europe: Still Worth Having?

    Iain Begg:

    … Welfare states in Europe fulfil three distinct functions and it is crucial to understand the balance between these functions in assessing their sustainability and effectiveness in dealing with social risks. The first function is to offer an institutionalised means of savings for the population as a whole. Europeans have become accustomed to the idea that they should be net contributors to the welfare system during their working lifetimes, but then draw from the system in old-age through public pensions.

    Second, the welfare system redistributes economic resources in various ways. An example would be tax systems which take less (and sometimes even give money back — an issue that has been central to the UK renegotiation with the EU) from poorer people and more from richer people. This redistributive function has been described as 'Robin Hood' after the famous historical character who took from the rich and gave to the poor. A related effect is achieved by public services which facilitate the sharing of risk between vulnerable people and secure people, a good example being universal health care. If you are sick, no matter what your income is, you may face risks that you could not afford to cover on your own.

    It is the third function which is often least appreciated by critics of European welfare states, namely investing in the capacities of both individual people and society as a whole. Basic education is a long-standing role of the state, but in many European countries, welfare states are now allocating a growing share of their budgets to various forms of social investment that go well beyond educating children. An important motivation behind policies such as enhanced child-care or increased opportunities for retraining or further education for adults is to ensure that the supply of labour is increased.

    The social investment function of the welfare state helps to explain the apparent paradox that some of the countries in Europe which spend the most (as a proportion of gross domestic product) on welfare are also frequently placed highest in international league tables of competitiveness, such as those produced by the World Economic Forum. …

    Nevertheless, the balance matters. Some countries, especially in southern Europe, created generous pension systems and then found that they were becoming unaffordable. As the number of pensioners rose relative to the size of the working age population, it became increasingly difficult to fund the agreed payments. It is a problem that will strike all countries subject to rapid ageing, including China where the long-term consequences of the one-child policy will have a dramatic effect on the balance between young and old.

    The solutions to this problem are analytically quite straightforward: raise the pension age, reduce the generosity of payments or find alternative sources of revenue, for example by raising taxes or using the returns from a sovereign wealth fund invested abroad.

    Oh dear, always ignore the fact that money can be, and should be, created without borrowing or necessarily increasing taxes.

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  9.    Natural gas explosion rocks Westmoreland County and U.S. gas markets | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    A natural gas pipeline explosion in Westmoreland County Friday morning sent an injured man to the hospital, damaged two homes, charred trees and melted a road, with the intense blaze that followed triggering waves of sound, heat and panic through the surrounding area.

    A large Texas Eastern transmission line — 30 inches in diameter — burst open around 8:15 a.m. in Salem, shooting flames into the sky that could be seen for miles. Residents reported hearing a deafening gush of air.

    … the explosion rocked U.S. commodity markets on Friday, sending natural gas prices to their highest levels in 13 weeks over concerns that the incident could disrupt natural gas supplies.

    Spectra Energy, the Houston-based parent company of Texas Eastern, said there are four parallel pipelines in the immediate vicinity. …

    The Delmont Compressor Station, a large complex of tanks and pipes that process natural gas, is less than two miles away, and a natural gas storage field that spans 39 square miles lies underneath the pipelines.

    Texas Eastern has nearly 9,000 miles of natural gas pipelines, about 2,000 of which are in Pennsylvania.

    The damage to the pipeline that crosses half the U.S. is disrupting natural gas shipments from Western Pennsylvania to the Northeast.

    Does solar energy do this? How about windmills? Top that off with the fact that natural gas contributes to anthropogenic global warming. What are we waiting for, all hell to break loose?

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  10.    'Double agent?' A rift over how real estate is bought and sold reaches the California Supreme Court – The Orange County Register

    In California and many other states, the law mandates that a broker must have a fiduciary responsibility to clients. But laws in about two dozen states have allowed agents to act as "facilitators" or "transaction brokers" without fiduciary loyalties, according to a report on Inman, a real estate industry site, titled "Buyer and Seller Beware: Your agent may not represent your best interests."

    … The justices found that Cortazzo "did not add a handwritten note of advice to hire a qualified specialist to verify the square footage of the home" to a visual inspection disclosure, as he had done with a previous prospective buyer.

    "A trier of fact could conclude that although Cortazzo did not intentionally conceal the information, Cortazzo breached his fiduciary duty by failing to communicate all of the material information he knew about the square footage," the justices wrote in their decision.

    They also stated, "When a broker is the dual agent of both the buyer and the seller … the salespersons acting under the broker have the same fiduciary duty to the buyer and the seller as the broker."

    Consumer protection is very important; but in my view, there needs to remain an avenue for the seller and buyer opting to use one agent or firm. What disclosure requirements and responsibilities would handle it?

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  11.    Realities of Real Estate: New real estate legislation – Capital Gazette

    In 2016, the Maryland Association of Realtors reported 54 bills that pertained to real estate. They covered a variety of areas, including Affordable Housing and Taxes, Real Estate Brokerage and Contracts, Ownership, Property Management, Land-Use, Property Rights, the Environment and Commercial real estate issues. Of those 54 bills, 22 passed, 24 didn't pass and 8 didn't pass, but were referred for further study.

    So, we thought it would be interesting to take you through a few of these bills (as summarized by the Maryland Association of Realtors) to see how the world of real estate might, or might not be changing from a legislative standpoint.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  12.    Managing Debt in an Overleveraged World

    Michael Spence:

    Many governments nowadays are accumulating debt in order to buttress public or private consumption. This approach, if overused, can amount to borrowing future demand; in that case, it is clearly unsustainable. But, if used as a transitional measure to help jump-start an economy or to provide a buffer from negative demand shocks, such efforts can be highly beneficial.

    Moreover, in a relatively high-growth economy, ostensibly high debt levels are not necessarily a problem, as long as that debt is being used to fund investments that either yield high returns or create assets worth more than the debt. In the case of sovereign debt, the return on investment can be viewed as the increment to future growth.

    The bad news is that directed lending and the relaxation of credit standards in China, particularly after the crisis, have led to investment in assets in real estate and heavy industry with a value well below the cost of creating them. The return on them is negative.

    China's so-called debt problem is thus not really a debt problem, but an investment problem. …

    … in an environment of low long-term interest rates and deficient short-term aggregate demand (which means there is little risk of crowding out the private sector), it is a mistake not to relax fiscal constraints for investment. In fact, the right kind of public investment would probably spur more private-sector investment. Identifying such investment is where today's debt debate should be.

    Notice how if interest payments are nonexistent, so much of the issue nearly disappears.

    As for "crowding out," what's that? I'm speaking facetiously to make the point that the notion is ideological rather than fact-based. What non-greedy person cares where real growth comes from so long as it is generally shared?

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  13.    MakerBot's Brooklyn Factory Moves to China | Brownstoner

    Why China rather than some other part of New York state?

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  14.    House Flipping: Does It Make Brooklyn Unaffordable? | Brownstoner

    … very inexpensive properties may not be available to the average buyer because they are distressed, require a large amount of work to be habitable, or do not qualify for a regular mortgage.

    On the other hand, a large number of renovated properties selling in an area could push up the average price per square foot, potentially affecting valuations overall, even of unrenovated properties.

    Of course.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  15.    This Skills Gap Is Hurting America's Housing Market – Fortune

    Chris Terrill:

    We've heard plenty about America's skills gap across the tech industry, but a skills gap is also hobbling construction — and it's delaying building projects, shrinking building inventories, and inflating the cost of homes and home-related projects.

    High-skills training is needed. So is public employment when the private sector crashes. All those construction workers could have been retained had the government stepped in to fill the void. Lord knows we still need new infrastructure, repairs, and maintenance like nobody's business.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  16.    There are 168 million victims of child labour — and we're failing them | World Economic Forum

    Most of us don't imagine that the goods we buy with the label Made in India, or any number of other countries, are tainted by child or forced labour. But the International Labour Organization estimates that 168 million child labourers and 21 million forced labourers are toiling away in the global economy. We also know that many people work in informal sectors — sub-contracted production outside of factory settings — where exploitation is commonplace.

    … By opening their supply chains to full mapping and accountability for all producers, businesses can take a huge step ….

    Is that required in the "trade deals" being pushed by the US administration? No. Is that why I was opposed to NAFTA? Among other similar reasons, yes.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  17.    Assumable Mortgage: Assume Someone Else's FHA, VA, or USDA Loan

    You can save money, but know this:

    Gina Pogol:

    … if the mortgage to be assumed is FHA-backed, the buyer must qualify for an FHA loan under today's mortgage guidelines. This includes meeting minimum standards for credit scores, employment history, and money in the bank.

    It also includes hitting minimum debt-to-income ratios, which, in theory, should be easier to meet with an assumable loan. You wouldn't typically assume a loan for which the mortgage rate is higher than current mortgage rates.

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  18.    Camden Property Trust to sell additional apartments nationwide – Houston Business Journal

    Camden Property Trust (NYSE: CPT) plans to sell more apartments this year — between $400 million and $600 million worth of them across the country, according to company officials.

    The Houston multifamily company will sell several of its "older, less productive" apartment complexes in Florida, Maryland, Texas and Southern California. These targeted communities — which were not disclosed by name — average 29 years old and earn about $500 less in monthly rent than the rest of Camden's portfolio, officials said.

    Ric Campo, Camden's chairman and CEO, told analysts during the company's first quarter earnings call on April 29 that he fears after a six-year economic recovery, the U.S. economy may be heading toward another recession. Campo said he wants to sell off some of Camden's $10 billion worth of assets and reinvest that money to pay down Camden's debt, fund new apartment construction and return capital to shareholders.

    "The time is right to be a little bit more defensive," Campo said. "When you get this long into the cycle, we fundamentally believe you have to be defensive. You have to have less capital and keep debt at levels where you can be opportunistic."

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  19.    More city-owned trees illegally cut down in West Seattle

    "I totally get that people want their views," said Cheryl Rioux. "And I think there's got to be a remedy. But it doesn't, it shouldn't be, clear-cutting."

    Hmmm. Ain't nobody seen nut'n, but now they have views and can see.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  20.    mainly macro: Neoliberalism

    Simon Wren-Lewis:

    Neoliberalism has been adopted and promoted by monied interests on the right, and that money often resulted from what we might call today crony capitalism.

    Correct.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  21.    EconoSpeak: The Legacy of Joan Robinson

    I don't see the point in raising Gerald Friedman vis-a-vis Joan Robinson without discussing Gerald's point about the multiplier of governmental spending.

    Gerald was very clear about it.

    … I have no comments on all of that contretemps.

    Oh well.

    I hope and expect Gerald will further address all of this. Frankly, he should make it the rest of his career's task to defend his position and to encourage its implementation (and then some).

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  22.    World's Longest Negative Rate Experiment Shows Perversions Ahead – Bloomberg

    All this article shows is the bad psychology of the banks. They don't educate. They don't attach strings.

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  23.    Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California? | WEB OF DEBT BLOG

    Ellen Brown:

    Despite North Dakota's collapsing oil market, its state-owned bank continues to report record profits. This article looks at what California, with fifty times North Dakota's population, could do following that state's lead.

    In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation's only state-owned depository bank, was more profitable even than J.P. Morgan Chase and Goldman Sachs. The author attributed this remarkable performance to the state's oil boom; but the boom has now become an oil bust, yet the BND's profits continue to climb. Its 2015 Annual Report, published on April 20th, boasted its most profitable year ever.

    The BND has had record profits for the last 12 years, each year outperforming the last. In 2015 it reported $130.7 million in earnings, total assets of $7.4 billion, capital of $749 million, and a return on investment of a whopping 18.1 percent. Its lending portfolio grew by $486 million, a 12.7 percent increase, with growth in all four of its areas of concentration: agriculture, business, residential, and student loans.

    By increasing its lending into a collapsing economy, the BND has helped prop the economy up.

    If North Dakota can do it, the rest of the world can't? It can, but the bankers stand in the way. It's that simple.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  24.    Rainwater may play an important role in process that triggers earthquakes — ScienceDaily

    Geologists have long suspected that deep groundwaters may be important for the initiation of earthquakes as these fluids can weaken the fault zones by increasing pressures or through chemical reactions ….

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  25.    Utah Earthquake Country Examined

    The best guess today is that a magnitude 7 earthquake or larger could hit the Hurricane Fault, Knudsen said, while a 6.5 or greater is possible along the Washington Fault.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  26.    Homes on Mississippi Coast Hit by Flooding

    The mayor of Gulfport, Mississippi, has declared a state of emergency because of heavy rain and widespread flooding ….

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  27.    UA's Insurance Research Center Produces Tornado Preparedness Guide — University of Alabama News

    "Stronger construction methods could have prevented more than 85 percent of the losses to property from the storm, but many homes and businesses were rebuilt exactly as before."

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  28.    Win Short: Chobani Shares Profits with Employees – YouTube

    … Owner is Hamdi Ulukayaa man of Turkish background who runs the company and who did something remarkable this last week.

    He decided that the success of his company was as much do to the workers as anything else and that therefore he should share a specific amount of profits with them. And he did so. He dished out a big share of profits with his 2000 workers. The average share given to the workers was worth $150,000.

    Smart man.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  29.    Shale Debt Crisis Hits Crisis, Says JPMorgan

    JPMorgan reported on its holdings of "criticized" loans — a term used in the banking industry to refer to "substandard or doubtful" debts. With the bank saying that its criticized loan portfolio leapt by 45% over the last quarter — to $21.2 billion as of March 31, up from just $14.6 billion at December 31, 2015.

    The 3-month increase of $6.6 billion was driven mainly by one sector — oil and gas. With the value of JPMorgan's criticized oil and gas loans rising $5.2 billion over the last quarter.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


  30.    China's Furious Stimulus-and-Debt Binge Backfires | Wolf Street

    Wolf Richter:

    It's not the debt itself that scares observers, but the speed with which this debt has ballooned. It's impossible to invests this sort of moolah this quickly in productive activities whose proceeds would allow for this debt to be serviced [read… China's "Lehman Moment" or Decades of Japan-Style Stagnation?].

    Economists thought that this stimulus-and-debt binge would actually perk up manufacturing, boost services, and end China's economic malaise, the extent of which remains unknown because no one, not even the Chinese leadership, trusts the official numbers according to which the economy grew 6.7% in the first quarter. Inflated as that number may be, it's the slowest growth since 2009.

    But wherever this money went — overseas real estate and M&A come to mind — it hasn't been invested in China in productive activities, and it isn't helping the economy:

    Bumpy or hard, where's the ground? To use a different metaphor, just how far down is China going to sink before it hits bottom?

    Still think the Chinese Communist Party dictator knows what he's doing?

    What a mishmash.

    Add your comment. Including the article/link number will help.


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