A firefighter died Thursday as crews continued efforts to contain the Thomas fire, but officials gave no further details and said an accident-review team is investigating. The wildfire has destroyed at least 970 buildings and is now the fourth-biggest in California's modern history, and firefighters battling it are likely to face windy, dry conditions this weekend.
Levees designed to protect properties in Texas from floodwaters were overwhelmed by the rains of Hurricane Harvey, and engineers and officials say future storms could lead to repeated breaches of flood defenses. "Given enough time, any levee will eventually be overtopped or damaged by a flood that exceeds the levee's capacity," the American Society of Civil Engineers says.
Insurers can harness predictive analytics to detect signs of fraud before payment is provided to a claimant, thereby reducing losses, writes Neeraj Sibal of EXL Service. The key techniques are logistic regression, which provides increased clarity as claims move forward, and the gradient booking model, which involves machine learning.
The University of Houston is working with three other Texas universities plus one in Louisiana and two in Florida to establish a hurricane research institute. The effort, announced in the wake of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, will focus on storm modeling, flood mitigation and ways policymakers can address the impact of hurricanes.
The wildfire in South Dakota's Custer State Park was 10% contained on Thursday, and officials have ended evacuation orders for many nearby residents. Firefighters have protected lodges and other key buildings in the park, although some outbuildings and fences have been burned.
Hawaii this week kicked off a program that provides people giving home-based care to an elderly family member with as much as $70 daily for buying supplies, hiring help or covering lost wages. Maine and Washington are states in which officials could develop similar programs.
Executive bonus plans that include life insurance options can be a good idea for small businesses, writes Jason Wellmann of Allianz Life Insurance Co. of North America. Such plans have positive aspects for the executive, who can receive a death benefit and potential income stream, and the business, which can gain a tax deduction and a powerful way to recruit and retain talent, Wellmann writes.
Bitcoin is a "highly speculative asset" that "doesn't constitute legal tender," Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen says. She has cautioned investors that bitcoin is "not a stable store of value," while downplaying the cryptocurrency's ability to influence financial markets.
The property/casualty insurance industry has made great progress with telematics programs and efforts to clarify insurance requirements for transportation-network companies, while autonomous vehicles are emerging as a key issue, PCI President and CEO David Sampson writes. "We live in an era of unparalleled innovation, disruption and promise," and PCI's role is to "pave the regulatory and legislative way forward," Sampson writes.
A measure that gained the House Financial Services Committee's approval Wednesday would require entities representing the US in international negotiations to consult with state insurance commissioners before entering any agreements. "This important legislation recognizes that our state-based system for insurance regulation has protected consumers and fostered competitive insurance markets for over 150 years and ensures that international insurance agreements recognize our standards as they evolve to meet new challenges," PCI's Nat Wienecke said.
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