Last night, a pretty wild storm - possibly a tornado - ripped through my neighborhood, Park Slope, Brooklyn. Cars and homes are obliterated all over the place. In Queens, one person was killed by a falling branch.
Last time there was such a storm in the area, this was the result. Yes, that is the artist formerly known as My Car.
The same tree that speared my car released more branches yesterday — no cars were damaged quite so violently, but there is one smashed windshield and another dented fender. (Actually, "dented" is a little light — the damage to the wheel area is quite extreme).
The tree in question is nearly 150 years old.
Earlier this week when I was at CSC's Future Focus conference, there was a discussion about the role of social media. Analysts discussed how data about policyholders can be gleaned from social network profiles in real time. The morbid question I have for this Friday is: If someone Tweets that they're parked in front of the Berkeley Carroll School, and a storm is approaching, should their rate tick up for a day?
Obviously I doubt that any insurance company would be so nitpicky. But of all the trees in the neighborhood, this one remains the most notable liability — and until the city removes it, auto carriers with clients in the 11215 and 11217 area codes can hold their breath and wonder if their policyholders are the ones who spun the parking Roulette wheel and landed on President between 6th and 7th.
Side note: I seem to have a knack for attracting unusual weather patterns. I was living in Buffalo, New York, during Lake Storm "Aphid" (better known to WNYers as the "October Surprise.") As the storm began to ramp up, I could see that it was going to get ugly. So I grabbed my laptop, my dog, and my laundry and threw them into my car, intending to head east to my parents' house outside Rochester. But the roads quickly became impassable, and I decided to tough it out in my apartment. I turned around, pulled back into my driveway — and the tree under which I had been parked had fallen. After shaking off the existential crisis, I notified my landlord (a landscaper) and he and I and a couple other tenants set about chainsawing and removing the large branch from the driveway — as much as we could, considering it was tangled up in all sorts of wires. My apartment was without power for a week, but my college was not, unfortunately.
Nathan Golia is senior editor of Insurance & Technology. He joined the publication in 2010 as associate editor and covers all aspects of the nexus between insurance and information technology, including mobility, distribution, core systems, customer interaction, and risk ... View Full Bio