March 31, 2006

Analysis of Media Coverage of Key Insurance Issues

 

New Insurance Reporters

Mari McQueen will be writing exclusively about insurance for the Personal Journal section of the Wall Street Journal. Formerly a reporter at Consumer Reports, her focus will be on personal finance. She can be reached at mari.mcqueen@wsj.com.

Gigi Stone, a popular local reporter in New York City, is now working for ABC World News Weekend. She covers money and business, focusing primarily on stories that take the individual's point of view. In many of her pieces, Ms. Stone finds a "victim" and interviews those who are involved in solving the person's problem. She can be reached at 212-456-2267 or gigi.stone@abc.com.

Jilian Mincer, formerly a business writer with the Kansas City Star, has joined Dow Jones as its personal finance reporter. She can be reached at 201-938-4042 or jilian.mincer@dowjones.com.

 

First Two Months 2006 Media Index

National Media

As the I.I.I.'s media index shows, hurricanes continued to dominate insurance-related news coverage. The hurricane issue showed a 160 percent increase in news coverage in the first two months of 2006, compared to the same period last year. The other issues that showed an increase in attention were terrorism, home insurance and asbestos, which increased 20 percent, 16 percent and 9 percent, respectively.

Top Issues
First Two Months 2005
vs.
First Two Months 2006
2005
2006
% increase/decrease
1 Hurricanes
1,470
3,816
160%
2 Asbestos
1,736
1,885
9%
3 Market Conditions
1,958
1,389
-29%
4 Workers Comp
1,492
1,061
-29%
5 Investigations
1,509
830
-45%
6 Auto
912
773
-15%
7 Home
538
624
16%
8 Medical Malpractice
1,165
425
-64%
9 Terrorism
216
260
20%
10 Tort
810
197
-76%
11 Silica
306
189
-38%
12 Credit Scoring
181
178
-2%
13 Mold
109
89
-18%
14 CLUE
7
3
-57%
  TOTAL
12,409
11,719
-6%

III MEDIA INDEX, FIRST TWO MONTHS 2005 vs. FIRST TWO MONTHS 2006

III MEDIA INDEX, PERCENT CHANGE FROM PREVIOUS YEAR

Gulf Coast Media

As the following charts indicate, half of the media coverage of hurricanes was generated by the Gulf states, with the Florida media dominating the coverage.

III MEDIA INDEX, HURRICANES & INSURANCE, REGIONAL NEWS,
FIRST TWO MONTHS 2006

III MEDIA INDEX, HURRICANES & INSURANCE, REGIONAL NEWS BY STATE,
FIRST TWO MONTHS 2006

Editorial board visits were made by Bill Davis, Dr. Robert Hartwig and Loretta Worters to the Biloxi Sun-Herald, Baton Rouge Advocate and the Greater Baton Rouge Business Report. Bob Hartwig made a presentation on the post-Katrina insurance market, providing useful statistics to reporters (http://www.disasterinformation.org/disaster2/facts/presentation/) . Several articles emerged as a result of the visits, including a piece on mandatory flood insurance by reporter Ted Griggs of the Baton Rouge Advocate and a story on flood insurance by Anita Lee of the Biloxi Sun-Herald.

Bob Hartwig was interviewed by WWL-AM and WWL-TV (CBS affiliate) on rate increases and availability of insurance. I.I.I. staff also worked with Times Picayune investigative reporter Jeff Meitrodt and business reporter Becky Mowbray on a flood story. Hartwig provided statistics to Jeff Meitrodt, which resulted in a story that showed that residents of Louisiana participated heavily (67 percent) in the National Flood Insurance Program compared to other parts of the country.

The Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS), provided testimony to the Florida Legislature regarding the Florida Panhandle's special exemption to the state's building code, which allows homes to be built without wind-borne debris protection. In testimony, IBHS reported on a survey done by the organization which found homeowners want the same construction standards afforded other residents in similarly-exposed areas of the state.

I.I.I. Insurance Minutes

The I.I.I.'s VNR program, "Insurance Minutes," successfully released two videos.

Flooded Cars

A VNR entitled "Flooded Cars" was distributed to stations nationwide at the beginning of March. This video news release informs consumers about the possibility that Katrina-flooded cars could show up — all cleaned up and ready for sale — on used car lots nationwide. It offers consumer tips on how to avoid buying a flooded car and includes information about the free VIN database search offered on the NICB Web site. So far, the VNR has aired on 125 newscasts on major market stations including WCAU (Philadelphia), WRC (Washington, DC), KTRK (Houston) and KNSD (San Diego), reaching an audience of 5,431,300. In addition, an accompanying news release on this topic generated over 47 newspaper articles in the last few weeks. You can view this VNR here: http://www.iii.org/static/video/mediaplayer/katrinacars.wmv.

Taking Inventory

This VNR stresses the need for consumers to take an inventory of their personal belongings and promotes the availability of the free I.I.I. home inventory software, which was recently redistributed. The video was first released in December 2004 to an initial audience of 5,859,600 but was reused by many stations. Among the stations that aired it multiple times are WRC (Washington, D.C.) and KGO (San Francisco).

In December of 2005, "Taking Inventory" was re-fed to television stations. To date, the re-released VNR has aired on 102 different newscasts reaching 5,413,200 people. Current total audience for "Taking Inventory" is 19,106,357. Highlights include multiple airings on The Weather Channel, First Business and major market stations in New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C. Plans are underway to redistribute the VNR as part of the I.I.I.'s hurricane preparedness plan for 2006. You can view this VNR here: http://www.iii.org/static/video/mediaplayer/inv_DSL.wmv.

Summary of Popular Insurance Minutes

Since the I.I.I. started producing "The Insurance Minute" in 1994, we have distributed more than 75 video news releases to stations nationwide. The chart below shows the audience sizes for the last six projects distributed to stations. The most popular subjects include: how CLUE works; when to file a claim; underinsurance; how to winterize a home; the importance of a home inventory; and how to avoid buying a flooded car. Studies of VNR usage indicate that most organizations that distribute VNRs reach about 2.3 million viewers. As the chart shows, the I.I.I.'s video news releases reach a much larger audience than those distributed by other organizations.

III VNR PROJECTS BY DATE, 2003-2006

Date
Project Title
Confirmed Audience
April 2003
CLUE
5,189,500
March 2004
Claims Matter
6,040,600
August 2004
Underinsurance
7,252,373
November 2004
Winterization
4,206,600
December 2004/December 2005
Inventory Software '04/'05
19,106,357
February 2006
Flood Cars
5,692,300

III VNR PROJECTS

Upcoming VNRs

Using the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake as a news hook, the I.I.I. in collaboration with IBHS has produced a VNR on earthquake safety and insurance. Another video release will focus on the importance of preparing for an emergency evacuation by assembling and storing important papers in order to have them ready to go should disaster strike.

All the VNRs are available online on the I.I.I. Web site. To view them, go to: http://www.iii.org/media/av/.