A Wisconsin man who recently won $22 million playing the state’s Powerball lottery has followed through on a decades-old promise to split the jackpot with his friend. Thomas Cook and his friend fishing partner, Joseph Feeney, reportedly made a handshake agreement 28 years ago to split any lottery winnings if either of them ever hit the jackpot. Cook made good on their pact when he won the June 10 Powerball drawing.
The friends, who had been buying lottery tickets every week, chose the cash option of approximately $16.7 million, leaving each with about $5.7 million after federal and state taxes. Cook quit his job after hitting the jackpot and the men, both now retired, look forward to spending more time with their families and taking road trips together
The sudden wealth of a lottery win can bring a host of unfamiliar considerations for those fortunate enough to experience it, from the heightened risk of being sued to the types of insurance they need, said Bill Gatewood, Corporate Senior Vice President, National Personal Insurance Practice Leader, Burns & Wilcox, Detroit/Farmington Hills, Michigan.
Insurance is an instrument to help protect wealth. Whether it is generational wealth, passed between family members, or sudden wealth, it is essential to make sure coverage limits on insurance policies are adequate to protect those assets.
“Insurance is an instrument to help protect wealth,” he said. “Whether it is generational wealth, passed between family members, or sudden wealth, it is essential to make sure coverage limits on insurance policies are adequate to protect those assets.”
Lottery winners may acquire homes, vehicles and other assets quickly, raising the potential for uninsured losses if the correct High-Value Insurance Solutions are not in place. Research has shown that windfall income does not always lead to long-term wealth,1 and lottery winners are generally risky to insure, said Heather Posner, Associate Vice President, Director, Private Client, Burns & Wilcox, Cleveland, Ohio.
“When someone instantly becomes wealthy, how they will conduct or manage themselves or their assets can be difficult to determine,” she said.
High-value homes, collections need specific protections
Lottery winners and other affluent individuals will want to make sure their primary home and any vacation homes are insured to their full value with Homeowners & Dwelling Insurance. They may also need Personal Articles Floaters for any expensive collections of art, jewelry, musical instruments or other items, said Wendy McCormack, Senior Underwriter, Personal Insurance, Burns & Wilcox, Toronto, Ontario.
The reason to invest in a Personal Articles Floater is that most standard Homeowners & Dwelling Insurance policies do not have the limits to cover big-ticket items.
“The reason to invest in a Personal Articles Floater is that most standard Homeowners & Dwelling Insurance policies do not have the limits to cover big-ticket items,” she said.
On October 14, a rare copy of William Shakespeare’s First Folio sold at auction for $10 million, making it the most expensive work of literature ever auctioned. The collection of 36 plays was published shortly after Shakespeare’s death in 1623—the copy sold this month is one of only five privately-owned copies in existence.
“A standard Homeowners & Dwelling Insurance policy will not even come close to covering a $10 million Shakespeare manuscript,” Gatewood said. “A Personal Articles Floater, on the other hand, offers coverage for the full value of the insured item, whether it is a $10 million manuscript or a $250 baseball card. All of those things can be insured.”
Personal Articles Floaters require a bill of sale or appraisal for each item named in the policy. Covered losses typically include theft, breakage or damage, and there is often no deductible, Gatewood said. Individuals with higher net worth are encouraged to work with an insurance broker or agent who specializes in High-Value Insurance Solutions and can match coverages to their specific needs.
“There are products built to cover affluent clientele and insurance companies that specialize in creating those products,” Gatewood said. “No matter how wealth is obtained, it must be protected. Working with the right broker or agent to get the right product and the right carrier is vital. It makes all the difference.”
A broker or agent should be notified promptly when new high-value items are acquired or sold, McCormack added. “Individuals should always update their agents or brokers when anything related to high-value insured items changes or new items are purchased,” she said. “The brokers and agents are in the best position to determine the best coverages to suit individuals’ circumstances.”
Individuals may underestimate liability, extortion risks
A slip-and-fall accident, dog bite or trampoline injury that occurs on a homeowner’s property could lead to a lawsuit for any individual, regardless of net worth. Although these incidents are common — backyard trampoline injuries, for example, are on the rise in the U.S. and Canada2 — those who are more affluent may be more likely to be sued over these incidents, Posner said.
This is why Personal Umbrella Insurance, which provides liability limits above and beyond an individual’s Homeowners & Dwelling or Auto Insurance policies, is an important component of High-Value Insurance Solutions.
“If a judgment goes beyond the limit of an individual’s Personal Umbrella Insurance, then their personal assets are at risk. The umbrella should be large enough to cover personal assets so savings will not be depleted to pay for an unfunded loss,” Gatewood explained. “It is a misconception that umbrella policies are just for the rich and famous,” he added. “Some individuals will need $5 million in coverage and some will need $10 million or $50 million.”
Liability risks and other risks facing those with high net worth are often underestimated, Posner said. “More often than not, individuals have not spent time considering their risks or their insurance options,” she said. “They also may not be with an insurance broker or agent who is equipped to review their exposures and has access to the right types of policies.”
In other cases, individuals mistakenly assume the insurance coverage they have will help pay for certain losses that are not included or are specifically excluded, McCormack said. She recommended homeowners consider monitored alarm systems. “Homeowners should try to reduce their risk as much as possible.”
High-profile, high net worth individuals also face heightened risk of kidnapping, ransom demands and extortion.3 On September 26, football legend Joe Montana and his wife Jennifer thwarted an attempt to kidnap their 9-month-old granddaughter. A woman reportedly entered their Malibu, California home and removed the baby from her playpen before the couple confronted her and safely pried the baby from her arms. The suspect was later arrested and charged with kidnapping and burglary.
Kidnap and Ransom Insurance is a standalone High-Value Insurance Solutions policy that provides a wide range of resources in the event of a kidnapping and can also help pay ransom, Gatewood said. “A team of specialists is available to help victims navigate a harrowing experience,” he said. “It is definitely a coverage that should be considered by anyone with great wealth and a high profile, such as a corporate executive.”
Personal Cyber Insurance emerges as key coverage
Cyberattacks against individuals are a growing concern for those in any income bracket as cybercrime becomes more prevalent around the globe. In 2019, financial losses due to fraud totaled more than $1.9 billion for Americans4 and nearly $100 million among Canadians.5 More affluent individuals may have increased exposure due to larger bank account balances, credit card limits, and possibly more big-ticket technology in their homes, Posner said. High-Value Insurance Solutions take these factors into consideration.
In addition to investing in Personal Cyber Insurance, high net worth individuals need even higher coverage limits, more education about cybercrime prevention, and more discipline around how they use technology.
“In addition to investing in Personal Cyber Insurance, high net worth individuals need even higher coverage limits, more education about cybercrime prevention, and more discipline around how they use technology,” she said.
Products like Cyberman365, a personal cyber protection and Cyber Insurance program offered by Burns & Wilcox through a partnership with Node International, will soon be imperative for most individuals, Gatewood said.
Priced at $9.99 per month for individuals and $14.99 per month for families, Cyberman365 provides 24-hour monitoring of the dark web, credit reports, social media and bank accounts and includes identity restoration support and $1 million in coverage in the event of an identity theft. Its Cyberman365 Homesafe program secures and provides insurance protection for home networks and devices for $9.99 per month.
“Soon Personal Cyber Insurance will be as commonplace as Homeowners and Auto Insurance,” Gatewood said. “Almost every individual’s personal information is for sale on the dark web. It is not a matter of whether a person’s private information will be used against them, but when.”
When high-profile individuals have active social media accounts, this may put them at greater risk, Posner pointed out. It is common for users to live-stream updates about where they are dining, shopping or even banking, unintentionally giving would-be scammers details that can be used against them. “Anyone posting a picture of their home or child has increased their vulnerability to hacking or fraud.”
Awareness is growing about the importance of digital protection, Gatewood said. “It is much easier for someone to steal money through cybercrime than to break into a house. The deterrents and barriers in our cyber world should mirror those in our physical world,” he said. “Individuals should protect themselves and their families from being taken advantage of digitally, just as they protect them physically.”
Sources 1 Zagorsky, Jay L., Boston University. “You can win a billion and still go bankrupt.” BBC News, October 25, 2018. 2 Child Safety Link. “Trampoline Injuries (Backyard & Trampoline Parks).” IWK Health Centre, July 3, 2019. 3 “Cain, Áine. “11 times kidnappers targeted millionaires and high-profile executives around the globe.” Business Insider, April 5, 2019. 4 Federal Trade Commission. “New FTC Data Shows that the FTC Received Nearly 1.7 Million Fraud Reports, and FTC Lawsuits Returned $232 Million to Consumers in 2019.” January 23, 2020. 5 Vize, Shayla. “Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre releases top 10 frauds from 2019.” CHCH-TV, February 17, 2020.