Driverless Trucks Tested in Tampa

Driverless Trucks Tested in Tampa

Early today, (May 13th), Starsky Robotics started testing driverless semi-trucks on the elevated parts of the Selmon Expressway in Tampa. Testing is planned through Wednesday of this week, with the vehicles being controlled by technology as a human driver is in place for safety.

The owners of Starsky Robotics say these trucks will actually make roadways safer, but what does that mean when it comes to businesses insuring vehicles? We spoke with Sihle Insurance Group Equity Partner Blake Newman about how it will affect the industry:

Sihle: This idea of driverless vehicles is something that seems to be developing quickly. Where do you think the industry is right now with autonomous vehicles?

Newman: I don’t think autonomous vehicles are perfected just yet and they still need a human driver to navigate cities. The idea is to alleviate human error but these driverless systems aren’t perfect, and there will be errors. Things are headed the way of autonomous vehicles but I think initially we’re going to see errors, which will result in claims.

Sihle: Once these systems are more mainstream and we see a higher amount of vehicles on the road, what new risks will companies be facing?

Newman: Once systems are perfected, there should be fewer crashes and accidents so these types of vehicles will be less expensive to insure.  With this, the risk is transferred from the trucking company to the software vendor which opens a whole new set of risk management issues. Who is responsible for the crash?

Sihle: Are there other risks outside of those on the roadways with these vehicles?

Newman: Other risk concerns are hacked guidance systems and software from malicious interference causing a breach of personal data or some sort or terrorism (using the truck as a weapon). There’s whole set of problems with autonomous vehicles that will have to be worked out before they are put on the road.

Blake Newman is an Equity Partner with Sihle Insurance Group, with over 20 years of experience in the insurance industry. He is a graduate of the University of North Florida. You can contact Blake with any questions or concerns regarding your commercial insurance coverage via email:

Don’t Let Your Vacation Be Stolen

Don’t Let Your Vacation Be Stolen

The latest trend in cyber threats? Hackers are out to steal your trips.

Along with the fast moving cyber attacks we see every day on businesses, your personal data is at risk. USA Today put together a complete and concise look at how to protect yourself you can read by clicking here. Take a look at a few of our favorite tips:

Back up, update and encrypt. “Before you leave, make sure you back up all devices and data,” says Joseph Carson, chief security scientist at Thycotic, a Washington D.C., security services provider. “Double-check that all security updates are applied, and finally, check your security settings to ensure your sensitive data is encrypted.”

Beware of new mobile apps before you leave. Before you go, you might be tempted to install a museum app, a language translation app or a local news app. But it may also be malicious and compromise your data, according to Chris Bogen, a Tulane University professor in its School of Professional Advancement Cybersecurity Management Program. “The risk here is no different than when you install apps on your phone at other times,” he adds.

Mind the Hotel: “When you leave your laptop out of your sight in a hotel bedroom, someone can take advantage of that and either copy your laptop hard drive or infect it with malware for further exfiltration of information,” says Fausto Oliveira, a principal security architect at Acceptto, a Portland, Oregon-based provider of authentication services. The workaround? Encrypt your disk or never let your PC out of your sight.

Road Rage: Are You Covered?

Road Rage: Are You Covered?

Construction. Accidents. Rain Delays.

Central Florida is home to a wide variety of issues causing headaches to drivers. All of them can lead to road rage. So what exactly happens when a road rage incident escalates? Are you covered?

In many auto insurance policies road rage incidents aren’t considered to truly be an accident because they are caused by risky behavior. Not only could you be on the hook for damages, but it can also result in a situation where someone faces criminal charges for the incident.

What happens when emotions run hot and one driver gets physical with the other after the initial collision? While the victim of the assault can pursue legal action and the authorities will be involved, insurance will rarely cover the injuries due to the assault being seen as an intentional act after the incident.

Regardless of how minor or major the outcome of road rage is, a report always should be made to your insurance agent. Connect with our experts here to discuss your coverage. (By the way…that I4 Ultimate project? We are still looking at another two years before it is scheduled to be completed.)

Census Bureau: The Villages and Orlando among the Top Ten Fastest Growing Metro Areas in the US

Census Bureau: The Villages and Orlando among the Top Ten Fastest Growing Metro Areas in the US

The Villages checked in as the fastest growing metro area in the US, according to the US Census Bureau numbers released today.

Orlando is the ninth-fastest in the US, and has grown by 60,000 in a year. Extreme growth has happened specifically in Seminole County. The Orlando Sentinel spoke with Rich Doty, a research demographer at the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, who said this:

“If you look at the Orange County data by age … it appears as though families with children have been moving out, as have retirees, but working-age folks and international migrants are coming in,” Doty said. “We can guess that it’s families moving for a better school district — which is something we’ve seen elsewhere in the state, but we don’t know that. It could also be people working in Orange but living in Osceola or Lake,” where housing tends to be more affordable.

Click here to read the entire recap from the Orlando Sentinel.

With the influx of people to Central Florida, there can be a direct impact on your homeowners, auto, and business insurance policies. To check how this will affect your personal rates, click here. For commercial rates, connect with us here.

2019 Hurricane Season Predictions Are In

2019 Hurricane Season Predictions Are In

Colorado State University has released its annual hurricane outlook. This coming 2019 season is predicted to have a total of 13 named storms, five hurricanes, and two major hurricanes.

You can read the detailed report here, but this year’s forecast “closely matches the 30-year average of 12 named storms, six hurricanes, and three major hurricanes (major hurricanes defined as a Category 3 or stronger.)” Click here for the full recap from Weather.Com.

As hurricane season starts June 1st, there’s no time like the present to make sure you are prepped and ready in the event of a major storm. Click here for the National Hurricane Center’s checklist of hurricane preparedness.

Here are a few things to keep in mind for insuring a home against these dangers:

Certain companies will NOT be able to bind, issue or request issuance of policies providing the perils of Windstorm or Extended Coverage when a hurricane is reported to be within the area bounded by North of 15 degrees North Latitude, South of 35 degrees North Latitude. West of 70 degrees West Longitude and East of 95 degrees West Longitude.

Note: The restriction also applies when a tropical storm or hurricane watch or warning has been issued by the National Hurricane Center.

This applies to All Risk, Homeowners, Farmowners, Dwelling, Commercial Fire or Commercial Package, Inland Marine or Ocean Marine and Automobile Physical Damage policies on risks of personal or real property within 100 miles of the coast.

Connect with one of our agents here, or by calling 407.869.0962 to speak with one of our experts to make sure you are covered this season.

Pet Insurance Could Save You Thousands of Dollars

Pet Insurance Could Save You Thousands of Dollars

If you’re one of the 68% of Americans who have a pet as part of the family, you could find yourself in a position where you have to pay out-of-pocket for an expensive emergency.

In 2017, U.S. pet owners spent more than $1 Billion on pet insurance, with 2019 estimates expected to be three times that. While the ASPCA estimates that 87% of pets face a medical emergency in their lifetime, the average cost for general pet emergencies in the US is $3,500.

The Washington Post took a look at the rising out-of-pocket costs for high level care for pets and here’s what it could cost an owner:

(Using an example of the average breed with an average lifespan for the animal)

• Out of Pocket Costs for a Dog with high level care: $30,210

• Out of Pocket Costs for a Cat with high level care: $16,517

Pet insurance is also being used as the latest trend for companies as a perk for employees. As more millennials represent a large chunk of the workforce, companies are redefining what the traditional “family plan” looks like and some are now including pets.

Our benefits team at Sihle Insurance Group has also seen an uptick in companies inquiring about pet insurance coverage for their team members. You can connect with our benefits group here.