Friday, December 29, 2017

Insurance Companies turn to private firefighters to cover their policy holders.

By Lyle Adriano Business Insurance
Some insurers, like Chubb, are going the extra mile for select policyholders by sending in private firefighters to deal with wildfire threats before they become a problem.

Insurer-provided wildfire mitigation services, while nothing new, has been making waves lately following the recent California fires. The extra service is getting so popular, that homeowners who had witnessed their neighbors’ homes being protected by private firefighters were inspired to purchase their own policies to enjoy the same benefits, some insurers said.

“The enrolment has taken off dramatically over the years as people have seen us save homes,” Chubb senior executive Paul Krump told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s absolutely growing leaps and bounds.”

Dick Fredericks, founding partner of Main Management Fund Advisors LLC in San Francisco and a former US ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, was one of the fortunate homeowners in Sonoma whose properties were saved by private firefighters.

“The fire was so pervasive,” Fredericks said. “As a homeowner, you want to try everything to save your home, and the first responders can’t be everywhere at once. The fact that Chubb supplemented an unbelievable effort by the first responders is probably what saved our home.”

Fredericks received a phone call from a private firefighting outfit working with Chubb, informing him that his home had been saved from the fire. He also received an email with some two dozen pictures of firefighters extinguishing a bush fire on his property.

Chubb’s Wildfire Defense Services, created in 2008, are offered in 15 states. AIG also has an analogous outfit, the Wildfire Protection Unit, created in 2005 that currently serves 385 ZIP codes. Privilege Underwriters Reciprocal Exchange (PURE) and USAA also have similar private firefighting services.

The Wall Street Journal reported that about tens of thousands of people benefit from the programs. To receive the benefit, policyholders have to pay anywhere from thousands of dollars in annual premiums to over $100,000, depending on the number and types of homes and/or possessions being insured.

Consumer advocates, however, are not too keen on the programs, which seemingly benefit only those with the money to spend.

“Do we like the idea of a two-tier system for wealthy individuals and people with fewer means? No,” commented United Policyholders executive director Amy Bach.

But even consumer advocates have to admit that there is good work being done through private firefighting services.

“But do we want to see their approaches work? Yes,” Bach added.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Existing-home sales surged 5.6% percent in November

ARLINGTON, Va.—Existing-home sales strongest sales pace since December 2006.
NAFCU Research Assistant Yun Cohen noted in a NAFCU Macro Data Flash report that strong gains were seen in sales of both single-family homes and condominiums.
The South also reported strong gains as hurricane-related disruptions unwound. However, despite strong demand, "the lack of inventory continues to constrain sales and put upward pressure on prices," Cohen added. 
According to data published by the National Association of Realtors, the number of existing homes on the market dropped to its second-lowest level since 1999. "As the FOMC signals multiple rate hikes in 2018, mortgage rates are expected to increase, which could further affect affordability," she said.
November's existing-home sales were 3.8% higher than a year ago.
Sales rose in three of the four regions during November. The Midwest rose 8.4%, followed by the South (+8.3%) and the Northeast (+6.7%); sales in the West decreased 2.3%.
Based on current sales, there were 3.4 months of supply at the end of November, down from 3.9 months in October. Analysts consider six months of supply to be roughly balanced between supply and demand. Inventory decreased 7.2% in November and was down 9.7% from a year ago. Inventory has declined year-over-year for 30 consecutive months, Cohen said.
The median existing-home price increased from $246,000 in October to $248,000 (not seasonally adjusted) in November. This is 5.8% higher than the median price from a year ago. November marks the 69th consecutive month of year-over-year price increases, Cohen noted.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Seasons Greetings

Happy holidays from everyone at the National Council of Firefighter Credit Unions Inc. (NCOFCU)

We truly value your relationship and thank you for being an important part of our association.
We wish you a wonderful holiday season and a prosperous new year in 2018

NCOFCU Directors and Staff
See you in Seattle, WA 9/19-21/2018

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Membership Growth Remains Strongest in Larger Credit Unions

NCUA data shows third quarter of 2017 saw credit union membership continue to be strongest in larger institutions. At the median, membership growth was unchanged over the year.
Arizona (2.5%) had the highest median membership growth rate over the year ending in the third quarter of 2017, followed by Washington (2.4%). At the median, membership declined the most in the District of Columbia (-1.8%), followed by Pennsylvania (-1.2%).
Overall, 50% of federally insured credit unions had fewer members at the end of the third quarter of 2017 than a year earlier. Median membership growth was negative in 22 states. About 75% of credit unions with declining membership had assets of less than $50 million.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Michael Monds New Chief of Syracuse Fire Department

Mayor-Elect Ben Walsh is wasting no time as he prepares to assume the role as Syracuse’s 54th mayor. He continues to act on his promise to select a staff that reflects the diversity of Syracuse, on Saturday, December 16,  Walsh announced the appointment of Michael J. Monds as the new Chief of the Syracuse Fire Department. Monds is a 17-year veteran of the department and currently serves as a lieutenant at Station 10 on East Genesee Street. He will replace Chief Paul Linnertz, who is retiring.

“Michael Monds has earned the respect of the men and women of the Syracuse Fire Department, who are on the front lines protecting the people of our city,” Walsh said. “He grew up on the southside and has remained deeply involved in his community. I have every confidence that he brings the experience and dedication necessary to lead our Fire Department and serve the people of this city with honor.”

Lt. Monds started as a firefighter at Station 9 on the city’s northeast side and also served at Station 6 in downtown. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 2011 and served at Station 18 on Midland and Seneca Turnpike. He also served in the Training Division and as a member of departmental committees formed to promote recruitment and to resolve human resource issues.

This year Lt. Monds created a Junior Fire Cadet Mentoring Program at Dr. King Elementary School to teach students awareness about fire services and community service to promote careers in public safety.

He is on the board of Syracuse Fire Department Federal Credit Union and is a member of Firefighters of Color United in Syracuse. Lt. Monds is the recipient of several awards including:

Individual citation from the department for life-saving actions at 318 Bruce St. on Jan. 14, 2016.

Level One EMS Award from the department for life-saving actions on Jefferson St. on July 1, 2009.

Hamilton White Brotherhood award [presented to the individual who most advances the brotherhood of firefighters by his or her unselfish devotion to the cause] from the Syracuse Fire Department Federal Credit Union.

The new chief was born and raised in Syracuse. He graduated from Nottingham High School in 1993. Steven Evans, a 20-year veteran of the department, will serve as the First Deputy Fire Chief. He’s served as the District Chief of the department since 2010.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Federal Open Market Committee Up's Rates

WASHINGTON–As expected the Federal Open Market Committee at its meeting today moved to increase rates by a quarter-point to a range of 1.25% to 1.50%.
In a statement accompanying the announcement, the Federal Reserve said data from November indicate the labor market has continued to strengthen and that economic activity has been rising at a solid rate.
“Averaging through hurricane-related fluctuations, job gains have been solid, and the unemployment rate declined further,” the Fed said. “Household spending has been expanding at a moderate rate, and growth in business fixed investment has picked up in recent quarters. On a 12-month basis, both overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy have declined this year and are running below 2%. Market-based measures of inflation compensation remain low; survey-based measures of longer-term inflation expectations are little changed, on balance.”
The Committee said it continues to expect that, with gradual adjustments in the stance of monetary policy, economic activity will expand at a moderate pace and labor market conditions will remain strong. Inflation on a 12‑month basis is expected to remain somewhat below 2% in the near term, but to stabilize around the Committee's 2% objective over the medium term. Near-term risks to the economic outlook appear roughly balanced, but the Committee added it is monitoring inflation developments closely.
Voting for the FOMC monetary policy action were Janet L. Yellen, Chair; William C. Dudley, Vice Chairman; Lael Brainard; Patrick Harker; Robert S. Kaplan; Jerome H. Powell; and Randal K. Quarles. Voting against the action were Charles L. Evans and Neel Kashkari, who preferred at this meeting to maintain the existing target range for the federal fund's rate.
The increase is the fifth by the Fed since the financial crisis of 2008.

Monday, December 11, 2017

Rick Metsger reminded credit unions the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund may be required to increase loss reserves as the values of taxi medallions decline.

ALEXANDRIA, Va. (Dec. 8, 2017) – National Credit Union Administration Board Member Rick Metsger today reminded credit unions the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund may be required to increase loss reserves as the values of taxi medallions decline.
“Prices for New York taxi medallions at two recent public auctions have been considerably lower,” Metsger said. “That, combined with a continued increase in already high delinquency rates on medallion loans, suggests the Share Insurance Fund’s reserves may have to increase in the very near future.”
Metsger spoke today to the Oregon Department of Financial Services CEO roundtable in Salem, Oregon. His remarks covered various issues related to credit union regulation and the Share Insurance Fund. 
Metsger said the NCUA issued a Letter to Credit Unions in 2010, warning of concentration risk, and the agency issued a more specific letter on taxi medallion lending in 2014​.
“We have known, and warned about, this risk for some time,” Metsger said, “but the bill is about to come due. Unfortunately, a lot of credit unions that followed supervisory guidance and lent prudently will have to pay for losses incurred by a small number of credit unions that gambled on a market that was disrupted and a bubble that burst.”
Metsger also said the NCUA’s ability to curtail speculative taxi medallion lending was limited by a provision in the Credit Union Membership Access Act that specifically exempted credit unions chartered for the purpose of making, or had a history of primarily making, member business loans, from the statutory member business lending cap. A Senate report on that legislation specifically noted taxi medallion lending was an example of loan activity that was exempt from the cap.
​“Most credit unions cannot put more than 12.25 percent of their assets into member business lending,” Metsger said, “but the taxi medallion credit unions were able to put up 100 percent of their assets.”​
Two taxi medallion credit unions, Melrose and LOMTO, are currently operating under NCUA conservatorship.
Metsger added, “Our staff continues to carefully evaluate the loan portfolio at the conserved credit unions. This evaluation factors into what the share insurance fund reserves need to be, and in turn any effect on the equity ratio and potential share insurance fund distribution for 2018.”
“This,” he added, “reinforces why we needed to increase the fund’s normal operating level this year, to account for any significant losses that otherwise might have required a sudden and significant premium charge to credit unions.”
Metsger also talked about the NCUA’s risk-based capital rule, scheduled to go into effect in January 2019.  
“A major principle of financial regulation is that all risks are not equal, and one size does not fit all,” Metsger said. “That is why the U.S. and all major industrial nations have risk-based capital standards. We seek to minimize the risk that a few credit unions that want to gamble with other people’s money will lose their bets and pass the costs onto other credit unions and their members. I am happy to consider changes in our risk-based capital rule that will strengthen the system. But, trade groups seeking to repeal the rule completely ignore the fact that the adoption of a risk-based capital rule is both required by federal law and good public policy that protects credit union members. The situation with the taxi medallion credit unions only adds an exclamation point to this fact. It is a prime example of why we need a strong risk-based capital system.”

Friday, December 8, 2017

Credit unions on track for double digit loan growth.

Lending growth highlighted CUNA’s October Monthly Credit Union Estimates, with credit union loan portfolios on track for the fourth straight. year of double-digit growth. 

“This would be the first time that has happened since the 1980s when loans grew in the double-digits for six straight years,” said Jordan van Rijn, CUNA senior economist. 

“The tremendous loan growth continues to be fueled by high demand for auto loans; car loans have already grown over 11% this year, representing the fifth straight year of double-digit auto loan growth,” van Rijn said. 

Credit union savings balances declined 0.4% in October, compared with a 1.1% increase in September. One-year certificates led savings growth during the month with a 1.3% increase. 

“We often see deposits and savings balances fall this time of year as members gear up for holiday-related expenses,” van Rijn said. “This year is no exception as member savings, shares, money market accounts and IRAs all decreased in October.” 

The loan-to-savings ratio increased to 83.1% in October from 82.1% in September. The liquidity ratio (the ratio of surplus funds maturing in less than one year to borrowings plus other liabilities) decreased to 13.8% in October from 14.6% in September. 

Total credit union memberships grew 0.2% during October to 113.4 million. “Although October saw the slowest membership growth since January, overall credit union memberships are still on pace to grow at the fastest rate since the 1980s,” van Rijn said. 

Credit unions’ 60-plus day delinquency remained at 0.8% in October. 

The credit union system’s overall capital-to-asset ratio increased to 10.8% from 10.7% in September. The total dollar amount of capital increased 0.7% to $149.9 billion.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hats, Mugs and More!

Now available for purchase. NCOFCU T-Shirts, Sweatshirts, Hats, Mugs and more! Help support NCOFCU with your purchase.

The National Council of Firefighters Credit Unions, Inc. (NCOFCU) is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 professional association of credit unions serving firefighter's, first responders and their families. Credit unions serving firefighters and first responders have been meeting annually since 2001. Our mission is to provide its members with the knowledge, skills, tools, and resources necessary to ensure ongoing professional development, and the ability to deliver exceptional value to their organizations.

Click HERE to purchase

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Syracuse Fire Department Credit Union assists in making some happy holiday memories for needy kids.

Syracuse, N.Y. -  Firefighters were among the first to arrive on the scene when a 2-year-old girl was killed while playing with chalk on the sidewalk this summer.

The girl's brother was also injured while another sibling watched it all happen.
Saturday, the surviving siblings will be doing their Christmas shopping at Destiny USA with some Syracuse firefighters.

"We saw them on the worst day of their lives. Now is an opportunity to make some happy memories," said Syracuse Fire Department District Chief John Kane.

Nothing will erase the pain and loss the family feels. And nothing will erase the memories firefighters have of trying to save a child who was terribly injured.

"It's a little something," Kane said. "Especially this time of year."
The holiday shopping trips began five years ago, an idea of Syracuse Police Chief Frank Fowler. Syracuse police Officer Dennis Burlingame organized the event, and invited the fire department to help out. Since then, it has grown. Each department raises its own money for the shopping and picks out children to come. Most often, they are kids that they've encountered at crime scenes, fires and accidents.

This year, there are 30 children. Each gets a gift card with about $250 to spend and a police officer or firefighter to help them. Often, it's a firefighter or police officer that they've already met under much worse circumstances.

The money comes from several sources, including the Syracuse Fire Department Credit Union, the firefighter’s union Local 280, Syracuse Firefighters Association and FOCUS (Firefighters of Color United in Syracuse). The police and fire departments raise the money separately. The mall also kicked in some of the money and shopping bags. And everyone involved volunteers their time.

The kids also get a chance to sit on Santa's lap and whisper their Christmas wishes in his ear.

Often, they end up spending the money they've been given on others more than themselves. They'll pick a sweater for grandma, toys for their brothers and sisters.

Their shopping helpers encourage them to buy for themselves, but won't stop them from spending the money on someone else if that's what they want.

"It's really touching," Burlingame said.

Then, when the kids want something just one more thing and the money is gone, the firefighters and police officers often quietly reach into their own pockets for the final purchases.

"These kids are always 100 percent grateful," Kane said.