Monday, August 28, 2006

Insurance Groups Disagree on Catastrophe Insurance

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

As we look back at Katrina with a year of perspective and new information on what can happen in a major hurricane, the insurance industry continues to hash out what needs to be done to try to make the next such event 'less awful'. And they don't agree among themselves. I read an interesting article recently about one of the major points of disagreement.

I think most non-insurance people would probably think that ALL the insurance carriers would immediately agree to what would amount to a Federal government bailout the next time there is a major catastrophe whether natural (a la Katrina) or man-made (think 9-11-2001). But the reality is quite different.

The American Insurance Association (AIA), which represents over 400 insurance companies writing $120 billion in premiums, came out with a National Catastrophe Agenda that contains specific steps they believe are necessary to prepare. They have recommendations for government officials, individuals, businesses, and insurance carriers. They believe that if we all work together doing things like strenghtening and enforcing building codes, giving tax incentives for retro-fitting changes to existing homes, improvements in the FEMA Flood Insurance program, and numerous other areas, we can greatly improve our overall readiness and restoration afterwards.

The one piece they don't necessarily want, believe it or not, is a federal backstop for major insurance losses. Their feeling is that, so far anyway, the private reinsurance market has been able to take care of 'backstopping' catastrophes through the standard industry practice of insurance companies buying their own insurance, in the form of reinsurance, for the large losses. They know there is work to be done with State insurance departments about how reinsurance costs are passed along (or not) to the consumer, but still overall they believe that there are sufficient resources in the private sector and prefer not to increase government costs and regulation.

On the other side of this issue, is a major player. This player is, first of all, quite large enough to be entitled to their own point of view. They also have gone along for many years with NO reinsurance protection, believing they were large enough to spread their catastrophe losses over their huge client base across the country. Unfortunately, four hurricanes in a couple of weeks in Florida, followed by Katrina a year later, pointed out a weakness in their plan.

That player is Allstate. Now that they have found just how badly they could be hurt because they wrote as much insurance as they possibly could in coastal areas, (not just right on the water, the danger zone goes 10 miles inland. That's why Long Island is having a particularly nasty time with homeowners insurance right now. Pretty much everything on Long Island is within 10 miles of a shore) they are in full-blown panic mode. Their management has a clear obligation to their stockholders to do something about this situation, hence all the canceled homeowners insurance policies all over Long Island and the downstate New York area.

Anyway, Allstate says the AIA proposal is badly lacking in that one key area - a Federal government 'backstop' that would basically bail out Allstate and maybe a few of the other really big players in a major catastrophe. This basically amounts to getting reinsurance that they should have been buying all along, but guaranteed by the government. They also figure that if it's a government program, even though they would probably have to put large amounts of money into the program, they would also probably be allowed to include those costs in their rates. Currently in New York, insurance companies are NOT allowed to include reinsurance costs in calculating rates. Rates have to be based on loss history that can be demonstrated with historical data. Reinsurance doesn't come in to play as far as the State Insurance Department is concerned.

These programs always get SOME funding from within the industry. The most common example is FDIC insurance for bank accounts. Banks pay a percentage of their income into a fund that is then used to cover insured accounts at failed banks. But when something really bad happens, like the Savings and Loan debacle of the 1980's, the taxpayer ends up footing most of the bill. In addition, the S&L bailout showed that big companies (in that case, banks, but it applies to big insurance companies too) tend to be a lot less prudent and careful when they know their mistakes will be covered by taxpayer dollars.

It's all very interesting. And it will affect our daily lives here on Long Island in the form of higher homeowners and flood insurance costs going forward, no matter how you slice it. As always, for more info you can contact us through our web site at

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Putting Spam Back In The Can


Last year I was over burdened by spam. The server had spam filters, I set up hundreds of spam filters in my mail program, used Norton spam blocker (IMNSHO - useless) and even had my tech guys install the industrial strength version of Trend Micro PC-cillian (IMHO - somewhat useful). I was still spending over two hours+ per day weeding and deleting spam mail to get to the real emails., the site I manage is an extremely large website. It is a mecca for spam harvesters who use automated programs to scour the web looking for the @ sign.

The only solution I could think of was to remove every mailto: link on the site and replace it with a form. This project took months, but the benefit was worth the manual labor. Yes, I did it manually and updated quite a few pages while I was cleaning house.

I am happy to report that I turned the spam ratio in my favor; now receiving 90% real mail and about 10% spam still managing to sneak through. You cannot absolutely get rid of spam, but you may be able to put some of it back in the can.

Here is a very useful tip for those that get a lot of mail. Download message headers only. This saves quite a bit of time when downloading your mail. Instead of having to open or preview each message you can select the ones that you want to read and delete the ones that you can tell just from the title are spam. My advice - proceed with caution!

Spammers are a very resourceful bunch using vague or common titles like "Regarding your email" or "About your account" to get you to read their email. Questionable emails are a judgment call. If you are unsure, download the mail. If in fact it is spam and you have some sort of filtering program set up, you can block that sender or add them to your junk mail senders list. Next time they send you email, this should automatically send them to your junk mail folder or deleted items folder, depending on how you have your mail options set up. It is a good idea to parse your junk mail folder just in case a legitimate email was mistaken as spam. You may be able to add that sender to your safe list. This way future emails from that sender do not get misfiled.

I use Outlook to manage my email. In my not so humble option (IMNSHO - in case you were wondering what that acronym meant above), it is the most complicated mail program ever invented. Extremely feature rich if you can figure how to use all the features. I am still learning.

How to download email headers only, using Outlook:

Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups > All Accounts > Edit > Folder Options > Personal Folders > Inbox > Select Download Headers Only > Hit OK

This handy little feature saves download time as well as disk space. You can mark the items you want to read and delete the junk. Next time you connect to the server, the deleted items will also be deleted from the server, another Outlook option.

You can set your mail preference to delete the mail from the server, unless you need to store a copy on the server to access mail from a laptop or home computer.

How to delete your mail from the server, using Outlook:

Tools > Send/Receive > Send/Receive Settings > Define Send/Receive Groups > All Accounts > Edit > Account Properties > Advanced > Delivery > UNCHECK BOX Leave a copy of messages on the server > Hit OK

Filters and/or software used to block spam are good devices but, are not perfect and often times a bit over zealous. Some Internet Service Providers and Spam Blocking Software offer their users a "smart feature." A feedback tool designed to educate the software, training it to better recognize spam. Users can mark a message as spam. It is then returned to the server or software program. The message is flagged and analyzed to educate the software to profile similar emails as spam.

The term "spam" when referring to the Internet means unsolicited commercial email -- that means you did not ask for it. If you signed up for a newsletter, a mailing list or joined a group, you gave permission to receive email from that sender.

Spam blocking and filtering programs are good ideas in theory. Giving too many people an easy button to report spam is not good in practice. Companies using the Internet as a communication tool are the ones most at risk. It is often times easier and faster for a recipient to mark something as spam than it is to follow instructions on how to unsubscribe. Lots of email is being labeled as spam, an association most legitimate companies look to avoid.

With all the controversy over spam, it makes me wonder what kind of impact the negative association of spam email has had on SPAMTM the luncheon meat, a product of Hormel Foods. They have a very interesting take on SPAM and the Internet that is worth reading.

Thank you for reading my rantings.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Nassau County Restaurant Week, Aug 21-25, 2006

Debbie writes, "I heard that this is restaurant week on Long Island and that there is a list of restaurants honoring the discounts, can you tell me the website?"

Answer: Yes, it is actually Nassau County New York Restaurant Week and you can find the list of participating restaurants at the New York State Restaurant Association's Web Site - Long Island Chapter.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Elmo Pitches and Makes Music for Long Island Kids

Elmo to Pitch for the Long Island Ducks Baseball Team

First Elmo makes a pit stop at the Long Island Ducks baseball game...

What: Sesame Street Live brings ‘sunny days’ to Uniondale next month with “Elmo Makes Music” at Nassau Coliseum. While the fun and furry musicians rehearse for their big engagement, Elmo will make an early visit to throw out the first pitch for the Long Island Ducks fans next week.
When: Wednesday, Aug. 30 at 7:00 p.m.

Citibank Park
3 Court House Drive
Central Islip, NY 11722

Then it is on to the Nassu Coliseum to make some music for the kids..

What: Sesame Street Live "Elmo Makes Music"

Thursday Sept. 14, 2006 at 7 p.m.
Friday Sept. 15, 2006 at 10:30 a.m. & 7 p.m.
Saturday Sept. 16, 2006 at 10:30 a.m., 2 p.m. & 5:30 p.m.
Sunday Sept. 17, 2006 at 1 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.

Nassau Coliseum
1255 Hempstead Turnpike
Uniondale, NY 11553

Tickets: $15, $20 and $25. A limited number of $35 floor seats and $50 VIP seats are also available. Opening night, all seats (excluding floor and VIP seats) are $10. County and facility fees of $2.50 will be added to all ticket prices. Additional fees and discounts may apply. For more information, call 516-794-9300, visit the Nassau Coliseum website or

Monday, August 21, 2006

White Shoe Limo Rides

Ask Mr. Long IslandBY MICHAEL WATT

For all intents and purposes this is the last column for the summer of 2006. Oh sure there will be a column next week, but that column will kick off the Labor Day weekend and anyone who has ever put away his white dress shoes for the season knows how depressing that can be.

I actually owned a pair of white dress shoes, back in that wacky decade known as the 1970s. I was all of 13 years old and somehow talked my mother in buying me white shoes, red pants and a red/white plaid sports jacket to create an outfit that Bobby Knight would have laughed at. “You know you won’t get to wear them past Labor Day,” she might have said to me about the white shoes but I was undaunted. I thought I looked pretty spiffy.

I don’t know if she said that or not. I do know that I wanted that pair of shoes because the father of the family next door to us had a pair and at the time I thought he was somebody worth admiring. I have since come to learn that he was a Class A Jerk to his wife and family so now when I see white dress shoes I think of this jerk so I don’t buy them. Plus, and I am not totally sure about this, white dress shoes might not be in style in anymore.

Where was I? Oh yes, the end of summer. Both my sons (Alex, 16 and Max, 12) are heavily involved in travel baseball during the summer. I would venture a guess that between the two boys they played in more than 50 games since Memorial Day, games that included a trip to beautiful downtown Binghamton for the New York State High School Championship finals and another where we spent 11 hours on a field in Ronkonkoma in one day during a tournament. Not complaining, mind you. I know there are hundreds if not thousands of parents in hospital wards who would switch spots with me in a second. But as a result of all this baseball we have to put off our vacation plans to the end of August. In fact we are leaving right after I finish writing this. Just in case you wondering, our vacation is this: we will fly to Seattle to take in a Yankee game there then drive down to San Francisco to take in a Giants game, adding two more stadia to our growing list of baseball parks across the country that we have visited. That’s right, more baseball. We have gone certifiably insane.

The weird part about waiting to take a vacation is having to watch and listen as others go off on theirs. It’s like being the last person left in the college dorm at the end of a semester because of some stupid final or something. As everybody else leaves for their break they feel compelled to wish you “good luck” on their way out the door, and all that does is make you feel even more lonely and forlorn.

But now it is our turn. We go away today to see a part of the country I have never visited before. Woo hoo! I wonder if they wear white shoes on the West Coast.

A word or two about my summer, if I may. It was fun. It had its ups and downs but the Little League team I coach and on which my younger son played went to the finals in the local Williamsport tournament. After that we played in what is known as the District 34 tournament involving 17 other teams in our age bracket. We won the Gold Round of that tournament, first time ever. In doing so we beat the team that we affectionately refer to as “The Evil Empire” because it has prevented us from winning it all in the past several times. That made the victory all the more sweet. Sometimes the good guys do win. We also had an occasion to ride in a limousine bus to one of our games.

You may have seen the photo and story in Newsday. The team was getting ready for a game when my son Max spotted a Hummer limousine across the street from the field. “Hey dad, do you think the driver would let me take a ride in that limo?” he asked.

Not thinking this one through I replied, “You pitch a no-hitter today and I’ll get you your own limo ride.” Well, Max not only pitched a no-hitter, he pitched a perfect game. Eighteen up and 18 down against one of the better teams in the tournament. As he came off the mound amidst the celebration afterward he turned to me and said, “Now, about that limo ride.”

My friend Matt Silver (see and yes, that’s a shameless plug) set it up so that the boys could travel in style to their next game. You have not experienced actual kinetic energy until you’ve gone for a 10-mile ride with 13 11-year-old boys in a limo bus. How much fun was it?

Let’s put it this way: After we won the Championship we were posing for pictures with our trophies at home plate. Max said to his teammates, “Guys, you are going to remember this moment for the rest of your lives.”

To which one of his teammates replied, “No, I am going to remember that limo ride for the rest of my life.”

It was that kind of summer.

Thank you for reading this column.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Long Island Beaches

Long Island Photos by Alida Thorpe
The weather on Long Island has been beautiful this past week.
Sunshine and less humid, the beaches have a cool breeze coming off the Atlantic Ocean.
There are many beaches open to the public as well as community pools and town beaches for residents.
There are New York State beaches and the National Seashore as well.
And, go to the beach!
Don't forget sun-screen and a towel. You will want to go into the water!

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Long Island Homeowners Insurance Mess Continues

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

It's been a couple of weeks since I actually have had the time to post here on the blog. Our office has been swamped with calls and visits. The chief reason this time is that another homeowners insurance carrier has pulled out of Long Island.

This time it's a carrier who specialized in waterfront property, and rather than make a decision to gradually lower their concentration of customers on Long Island for home insurance, as Allstate did, this company was put into receivership by the Texas Department of Insurance and was required to cancel ALL their policies in New York as of August 24, 2006.

The company, Vesta Insurance otherwise known as Shelby Casualty was a relative newcomer, having only entered the home insurance market in the past few years. But almost all their policies were for homes right on the water, and so between that and the fact that they all are running out the same day, it's been hectic for all agents trying to find other carriers. About 8600 homeowners insurance policies were affected.

On the plus side, recent analysis of weather patterns now suggests that we may NOT be in for a more active storm year than usual, and that the chances of a Katrina-sized storm hitting us this year may actually be lower than normal. This is good news, but it still does not mean that there is NO chance, and it looks like when (not if) such a storm does hit, the dislocation in the Long Island insurance market is going to be tremendous.

Meanwhile there was a good opinion piece in this past Sunday's Newsday considering whether hurricane/windstorm needs to be put in the same category as flood insurance, unemployment, and several other key types of insurance that are considered potentially so large that only the government has the resources to assume the risk, based on their taxing power.

This article is fine as far as it goes, though it does not get into the fact that building codes also need to be changed, people need to take proactive steps to protect their property, and a number of other issues need to be addressed. This problem is not going to go away, and it's not going to be solved simply by insurance or government support of insurance carriers.

As always, for more information on flood insurance and homeowners insurance on Long Island, visit our sites at and

Saturday, August 12, 2006

'Drive,' he said. 'Ohmigod Watch OUT!' he screamed soon after

Ask Mr. Long IslandBY MICHAEL WATT

New York State has decreed that it is legal and lawful and presumably a good idea for my newly minted 16 year-old son Alexander to operate an automobile, as long as he is in the company of a licensed driver over the age of 21.

What does the state of New York know? Was anyone from New York State with me when Alex and I went to a nearby parking lot to learn how to ride a two-wheeler? Did anyone from New York State notice that he had trouble negotiating the turn in the parking lot, to the point where Alex hit the pavement more often than a guy who comes up short paying off his bookie? Does anyone from New York State care to explain to me how I am going to deal with this, both emotionally and financially?

Of course not. They just gave him a test that somebody who has to have the jokes on Blue Collar Comedy TV explained to him could pass and voila! Learner’s permit issued and new driver on the road.

I am somewhat bemused by the law that says he can drive with anyone over 21 who has a driver’s license. Why not just tell it like it is and say he can only drive with a parent? Who else but a parent would get into a vehicle being driven by somebody born in the 1990s?

I guess somebody who gives driving lessons for a living would do so. I would love to know the thought process behind that career move. “H’mmmm, I need to make some extra money. What are my options? Let’s see…I can drive the street-cleaning machine in downtown Beirut (no, I hate getting up early)…sell sensitivity training session to members of the Ann Coulter fan club (not rewarding enough emotionally)…no, I think I will become a driving instructor.

My driving instructor, a crusty sort named Mr. Pappas, loved to slam on the brakes when he thought the three students in the back seat were not paying attention to the goings on in the front. Despite that he was a good teacher. Ironically, the one thing that stuck with me he predicted would stick with me. He told us it was important to take our keys out of our pockets BEFORE we get into the car because it was easier than fumbling around while sitting in the driver’s seat. He was right, of course, and I think of him almost every time I do it.

I may even share that little nugget with Alex, once I get over the shock of having to deal with this.

Being the perfect son that I was, I spared my parents the trials and tribulations of giving me driving instructions. I got all the practice I needed on the vans rented by the catering firm I worked for as a teenager. I started out just driving around the parking lot and eventually took my show on the road. It must have worked. Soon after I got my license I was sent to pick up a van at the rental place but all they had was a box truck with a stick shift.

“Do you know how to drive a stick?” the guy behind the counter asked.

“Not really,” I replied, meaning no.

“Well, you’re gonna learn.”

And so I did. The guy handed me the keys to the truck and said, “good luck.” I drove that truck the ten-or-so miles from Bellmore to Massapequa on Sunrise Highway, grinding away like Tina Turner trying to win a “Dance Like James Brown” contest. I made a mental note that afternoon never to purchase a truck from a rental company no matter how good a deal they offer.

There will no dodging of the parental driving bullet for me, however. This weekend I will dutifully climb into the passenger side of the car (the engine of which I have just replaced) and start the process. I will do my best not to put a hole in the floor trying to hit the imaginary brake that will serve as the only thing between me and the same untimely demise I imagine becoming of me every time I fly and we hit turbulence. I will endeavor to say all the right things and exude Ward Cleaver-like patience when in reality I want to scream “For the Love of God, Man, don’t you see that other car coming?”

I am sure it will go well. Alex is a mature young man who, while still prone to goofy outbursts, understands that adult pleasures bring adult responsibilities. My trouble adjusting to this new development in my parental career really stems back from the day I saw one of my older brother’s friends driving for the first time. “I can’t believe I’m old enough to be friends with somebody who has a driver’s license.” Now I can’t believe I’m old enough to be responsible for somebody with a driver’s license.

At least that’s what New York State tells me. LIke I said, what do they know?

Thank you for reading this column.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Hamptons Hip Hop Festival, Saturday, August 19, 2006!

Wow, the Summer is getting even hotter and I am not just talking about the heat. The first annual Hamptons HipHop Festival is coming to town! Yes, right here in Westhampton Beach @ Caseys , 225 Montauk Hwy.

This is going to be sick! and I mean sick like off the chain, fun, music, dancing, breakdancing. Hey! they are bringing Old Skool HipHop back to town with
Host: Fab 5 Freddy

Live Performance: (Nice "N" Smooth)

DJ's: Rob Swift (Formerly of the X-ecutioners)
Large Professor (Main Source)
DJ Myles, B-Rad, Chino (Triple Crown)
Dj Pookie and Big Bone (Napper Tandy's)

and we are definitely on board!!!!!

There is so much more! as a promoter and co-sponsor of this event will be in the house with Traci Islands, Ken Davis and the Crew. If all goes well (guys read this carefully, lol :)~~~ music artists Solomon and Crew , Black Attack and Crew will also be in the house to celebrate this grand occasion and event

Now come on down to Caseys, Saturday August 19th Doors open at 9pm and the party is jumping until 4am! Join in on the fun and celebration of what is to be an annual sensation! All you have to do is RSVP to get on the list! Email:
Please include your full name plus the number of guests.

People you don't want to miss this! Lets Do the almost ended Summer Season Right and party our booty's off!

-Traci Islands

Friday, August 04, 2006

Long Island New York Pizza Contest Gets Hi-Jacked

Long Island New York Pizza Competition 2006 is presented by 101.1 Jack FM Radio Station Long Island, New York (August, 2006) - The 4th Annual Long Island Pizza Competition is a charity event put together by ( to support local pizzerias and to help raise funds to feed the hungry on Long Island, New York.

This years' competition has been hi-jacked by 101.1 Jack FM ( Jack FM 101.1, a New York based radio station owned by CBS Radio has officially come aboard as the presenting sponsor of the local Long Island NY contest.

101.1 Jack FM - playing what we want!101.1 Jack FM presents the Best Pizza on Long Island Competition 2006, which includes the Contest, Festival and Bake-Off. The annual contest runs through the summer months. The Bake-off and final judging takes place at the Long Island Pizza Festival held during National Pizza Month in October.

The Long Island Pizza Festival presented by 101.1 Jack FM takes place rain or shine on Saturday, October 7, 2006 at Adventureland Amusement Park on Route 110 in Farmingdale NY from 12-6pm.

Pizzerias from Valley Stream to Montauk New York compete to be named "Best of Long Island." Votes are collected on the Web site ( Voting is free and open to the public. Pizzerias are encouraged to promote the contest to their customers to vote for them. The pizzerias who collect the most votes on the Web site are invited down as finalists to the Pizza Festival and Bake-off where they bake pizza on premises. The pizza is then taste tested by a panel of Celebrity Judges who rate the pizza to determine the winners. Winning pizzerias receive prizes, trophies and awards as well as the honor of being named "Best Pizza on Long Island."

In addition to the final judging, the Long Island Pizza Festival is a family oriented fun-filled day. The Pizza Festival is free for the public to attend. Pizza related activities include pizza sampling throughout the day, pie toss demonstrations, a pizza eating contest, mini pie making for the kids and photo opportunities with Pizza Pup, the Long Island Pizza Festival mascot. Pay-one-price (POP) bracelets to go on the rides are additonal. Discount coupons for sample slices of pizza are available for a nominal fee. A portion of the proceeds raised go to Long Island Cares and Island Harvest, non-profit groups dedicated to feeding the hungry on Long Island.

Joe Carlucci, a team member of the World Champion Pizza Acrobats is participating as a celebrity judge. In between taste tests he will perform an acrobat dough toss set to the background of Italian music. The American "Cutie Pie" Kids' talent show is a NEW feature added this year, with children ages 4-9 years old entertaining the crowds by singing and dancing.

"We are very excited to have 101.1 Jack FM as our title sponsor," says Suzi Batta, Chief Operating Officer of, "Jack FM will promote the event to radio listeners and help us to create an even greater buzz about the pizza competition." Mrs. Batta adds, "Prior to the Pizza Festival the Jack FM street team will be going on location to visit local pizzerias participating in our contest."

As the presenting sponsor of the Best Pizza on Long Island Competition, 101.1 Jack FM will be on hand at the Pizza Festival setting up a "Tiki Hut" offering prizes, t-shirts, CD promotions and giveaways. Co-sponsored vendor exhibits with special incentives for event attendees and a charity raffle will compliment the pizza related activites planned for the day.

The Best Pizza on Long Island Competition 2006 is proud to welcome 101.1 Jack FM as the presenting sponsor. Optimum recently joined the ranks as a participating sponsor. Cremosa Food Distributors, Marsal and Sons Pizza Ovens, The World Champions Pizza Acrobats, Party Pizzazz, The Printing Experience, BBA Photography, Adventureland Amusement Park, Pizza Pup and all play a contributing role in making this event a success each year.

The event benefits Island Harvest and Long Island Cares, non-profit organizations dedicated to feeding the hungry on Long Island New York. You can make a donation to support their efforts, information is available online. Canned and/or non-perishable food items will be collected on the day of the Long Island Pizza Festival and may be redeemed for one free sample slice of pizza.

Full details and event information is available on the website at

For more media inquiries and/or more information, please contact Ruthie Bergmann, Party Pizzazz event planner at 631-423-3445.


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Scary Stuff

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Well, back to our ongoing discussion about the Long Island and New York homeowners and flood insurance situation, and hurricanes in general. CBS News has an article today in their online version that has some scary information. Check it out here. I didn't realize that because of various geographic and weather issues, it would not take a category 4 or 5 storm, only a category 3 to really do some major damage to our area.

I live 2 blocks south of Sunrise Highway, and I bought flood insurance a couple of weeks ago. Coverage in those areas that are not considered high hazard is reasonably priced ($352 for the FEMA maximum of $250,000 on the structure and $100,000 on contents) and it's worth it for the peace of mind.

The one thing this article really points out is that the insurance companies, municipalities, and residents are basically in denial and are using the 'keep your fingers crossed' method of preparing for the inevitable. It might not happen this year, or next, but at some point it will.