PhillyDeals: Insurance may soon cover bedbug infestation

Contact drills: University of Pennsylvania football coach Al Bagnoli and others say Ivy League sports are all about making business connections.
Contact drills: University of Pennsylvania football coach Al Bagnoli and others say Ivy League sports are all about making business connections.
Posted: September 23, 2010

Every time I talk about it, I get itchy," says Cole Henry, senior vice president of corporate underwriting at $2-billion-asset Philadelphia Insurance Cos. of Bala Cynwyd.

Henry is talking about bedbugs. For hotels, college dorms, and other bedding centers threatened by the U.S. bedbug resurgence, "there's no coverage for insect infestation," Henry said.

"It's excluded. It's always been excluded, and it's going to stay excluded" from business-insurance policies. For commercial landlords, bugs are "a maintenance issue," not an accident deserving compensation.

That could change. Henry's colleagues are debating whether to add bedbug policies "that wouldn't sink the company. . . . Mitigation can run into a lot of money. For a small apartment building, you could run 50 to 60 grand" for heat and chemical treatments.

And insurance bureaucrats in New York and other hard-bit states are debating whether to force insurers to add bedbug coverage, which would drive rates higher.

What about the sleeper who gets bit? "From a third-party liability standpoint, if there's bodily injury or property damage," Henry explained, "you're going to have to defend [your client's case] and pay any damages a court might impose," just as if you tripped on the rug and broke your leg.

Ivy League's 'mafia'

Bloomberg sent a reporter to Penn and figured out what lots of brainy college athletes already knew: the reason the Ivy League still fields Division I NCAA teams (Division I-AA in football), even though they mostly get whipped by big-name state schools and very few of their players make the pros.

It's not just about sports. It also opens up contacts, contracts, internships, and jobs, which Penn's athletic overseers and involved alumni can offer in spades, since so many of them are Wall Street and hedge fund executives.

"We call them our alumni mafia," Penn football coach Al Bagnoli told the news service.

Nothing new there, says Ed McGinley, a retired Goldman Sachs executive and Main Line resident who played Penn ball more than a half-century ago with future NFL star Chuck Bednarik and longtime Wolf, Block partner and Main Line Republican power Anthony "Skip" Minisi.

Three of McGinley's brothers were also fighting Quakers at Franklin Field. Younger brother Gerry "was later drafted by the Eagles - in the eighth round."

The younger McGinley never signed, instead joining the financial-securities business at Kidder Peabody. That was before television contracts and union representation made a few years in the NFL a paying proposition, even for the rare Ivy League draftee.

Two rivers

If New Castle County Executive Christopher Coons, a Democrat, beats Republican Christine O'Donnell for the U.S. Senate seat they covet in Delaware's fall election, he'll face ugly public battles and marathon backroom negotiations on the Potomac.

Just as on the Brandywine, Coons said Wednesday that he had brokered a compromise offer by Bala Cynwyd developer Stoltz Real Estate Partners regarding extensive development plans. Those plans seemed to have unnerved Vice President Biden's neighbors in tony Greenville and local Republicans, led by county Councilman Bob Weiner.

In a public letter, Coons wrote that Stoltz had agreed to revise its plans for the Greenville Center shopping district and DuPont Co.'s sprawling, abandoned Barley Mill Plaza office complex. It is canceling a high-rise tower and shaving 1.2 million square feet off a new office-and-stores project - as long as Stoltz is given the zoning changes it needs to proceed with the scaled-down proposals.

Will this boost Coons in a part of Delaware where Republicans voted against O'Donnell in their primary?

"I appreciate the county executive working on a solution, but the proposal for Barley Mill Plaza is [still] miles in any direction from an Interstate exit" and still looks too big for the neighborhood, Weiner said.

Weiner said Coons' administration rushed to approve Stoltz's earlier plans, ignored complaints about the process, and hurried the revised offer ahead of November's vote. But Weiner will check to see what neighbors think before going further.


Contact columnist Joseph N. DiStefano at 215-854-5194 or JoeD@phillynews.com.

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