The National Flood Insurance Program was authorized by Congress on Thursday for two more weeks, tacking it onto a larger stopgap funding bill. Prospects for a comprehensive overhaul are dim, as some legislators contend the program is not feasible without significantly cutting subsidies and others based in flood-prone areas say steps such as improved flood mapping would be more effective.
A study by faculty members at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami shows that states with "moderate-to-strict" laws against mobile device usage while driving have motorcycle fatality rates of up to 11% less than states without similar bans. "[W]hen we focus specifically on motorcycles, we find that these laws are having a major impact in reducing deaths among motorcycle riders," said study co-author Gulcin Gumus.
The Restore Louisiana program, funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is offering homeowners in floodways who were not eligible for federal funding to rehabilitate their homes up to $200,000 to move. Officials have notified around 450 homeowners of their eligibility for the program, which is expected to cost roughly $45 million.
Insurance agents in the Florida Panhandle are providing assistance to residents while also dealing with personal challenges related to storm recovery. "I think my job over the past [several] weeks has been 80 percent psychology and 20 percent insurance because a lot of it has just been calming people down and reassuring them," said Trey Hutt, president of Hutt Insurance Agency.
Increased usage of autonomous vehicles will lead to shifts in tort law to account for factors such as software's role, privacy concerns and the reduced focus on driver error, writes James Stengel, a partner at Orrick. "Whatever happens around product liability and autonomous vehicles, automakers must work closely with regulators to raise public awareness of the implications of this transition," he writes.
A storm moving across the US has prompted Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency, and about 20 million Americans were under weather alerts on Thursday. Snowfall of 4 to 8 inches is expected from eastern New Mexico to western Oklahoma today, while southern Texas could see up to 10 inches of rain.
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners reports that property and casualty lines rose by more than $25 billion in 2017 from 2016, with direct premiums earning $623.7 billion in 2017, up 4.3% from 2016. Auto losses incurred grew to 70.2% of direct premiums earned last year, the fourth consecutive year of growth, while direct premiums from auto reached $34.7 billion in 2017, up 7.7% from 2016.
AIR Worldwide estimates show insured losses from California's Camp Fire could be $6 billion to $9 billion, with total insured loss when the Woolsey wildfire is factored in estimated between $9 billion and $13 billion. Other estimates from Moody's and CoreLogic put estimates of maximum insured loss at $15 billion and $19 billion, respectively.
Waymo has launched the Waymo One self-driving taxi service in four Phoenix suburbs, becoming the first company among Uber, Cruise Automation and others to generate revenue. The service's vehicles have human backup drivers to take over if needed and trip prices are similar to those that would be charged by Uber and Lyft.
The Federal Reserve's latest report on economic conditions, known as the Beige Book, says most of its 12 regions achieved satisfactory growth in November but also says there is "increased uncertainty" among businesses over the influence of US tariff policy. The report highlights rising costs for manufacturers and problems for farmers due to countertariffs imposed by China and others.