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Workplace Noise Contributes to Heart Disease

October 24th, 2010 by Lori Reed

Report: Workplace Noise Contributes to Heart Disease

Insurance agents may find it useful to keep track of new studies which identify possible health risks that could result in substantially higher life and health premiums for their clients.

For example, a study appearing in Occupational and Environmental Medicine this month states that high levels of noise in the workplace may be associated with a higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure.

Researchers acknowledged that there are currently inconsistent findings in the area of workplace noise and its effects on heart health, but emphasized that “chronic exposure to occupational noise is strongly associated with prevalence of” chronic heart disease.

The report also warned that young male smokers are at particular risk for cardiac problems exacerbated by workplace noise.

When it comes to setting life insurance rates and other premium prices, lifestyle factors like occupation and tobacco use go a long way in determining how much an individual will pay. Agents who are equipped to discuss ways to secure lower premiums through healthy lifestyle modifications may find themselves well-positioned in the long run to establish considerable trust among their clients.

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Fewer Customers Satisfied With Home Insurance Companies

October 23rd, 2010 by Lori Reed

Home insurance agents may be interested to know about a recent study which found customer satisfaction levels have been falling in their sector in recent years.

According to J.D. Power and Associates, overall customer satisfaction with home insurance companies has now fallen to a five-year low, with factors like service interactions and dissatisfaction with policy offerings driving the trend.

Specifically, satisfaction with home insurance companies received a score of 750 on a 1,000-point scale, marking a decline of 23 points from the previous year. Satisfaction has actually declined in four out of the last five years, with 2009 being the exception.

“Homeowners insurance policyholders are already price sensitive due to the economy,” said Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power and Associates. “Approximately 50 percent of customers don’t have a clear understanding of how much coverage or what type of coverage they have on their home, and may have erroneously expected their premiums to decrease just as home values have declined since 2008.”

While people may be frustrated by not fully understanding the details of the home insurance policy, this isn’t the only factor that has influenced the industry’s image. The J.D. Power report suggested that customer sentiments are also potentially affected by the far higher-profile efforts among auto insurance companies that focus on discounts.

Customer satisfaction has also apparently declined this year because of timeliness in resolving customer issues, although this is just one of several factors at play.

Another point that agents may want to take note of is the report’s finding that customers who bundle auto and home insurance policies with the same company are more likely to be satisfied. Customers who carry all of their policies with the same company are also likely to benefit from discounts – and a growing number of Generation Y members owning homes has created new opportunities for sales.

“Insurers that can successfully convince Gen Y home insurance policyholders to bundle their home and auto policies may be positioning themselves for the financial benefits of retaining this growing generation,” added Bowler.

When it comes to ensuring a smooth claims process, agents may also encourage their customers to keep an inventory of their valuables as well as receipts for major purchases such as wide-screen TV sets.

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More Health Insurance Customers May Need Allergy Specialists

October 22nd, 2010 by Lori Reed

Agents who want to provide a high level of customer service to clients may want to keep themselves aware of what kind of specialist services are covered under various health insurance plans.

One thing that agents should be aware of is the growing number of Americans who report suffering from food allergies, which can be highly dangerous and even fatal in some cases. According to new data from the National Institutes of Health, about 2.5 percent of the public – or 7.6 million people – have food allergies.

Researchers have also recently determined that males, non-Hispanic blacks, and children tend to be at the highest risk for food allergies. In fact, the odds of a black male child suffering from a food allergy were said to be 4.4 times higher than for an individual in the general population.

There also appears to be a connection between food allergies and severe asthma problems.

“This study provides further credence that food allergies may be contributing to severe asthma episodes, and suggests that people with a food allergy and asthma should closely monitor both conditions and be aware that they might be related,” said Dr. Andrew Liu, M.D., lead author of the paper.

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Solid Advice Can Go a Long Way in Gaining Customer Confidence

October 21st, 2010 by Lori Reed

One way for home insurance agents to be able to build longstanding and trusting relationships with their customers is to be able to deliver sound advice on what to do in case the need to file a claim arises.

For example, the Insurance Information Institute (III) recently offered some tips on steps people can take to make any home insurance claims move more efficiently. The organization was doing this in response to an upswing in natural disasters such as the flooding in Texas and wildfires in Colorado, along with the usual hurricane activity in the Atlantic this time of year.

Agents can advise their clients to be ready to provide an accurate description of the damage and, in the event of an evacuation, to remember to give up-to-date contact information. Taking photos of the damage is often a particularly useful step for home insurance companies as well as their customers.

Also, homeowners who are victims of a natural disaster or other incident, such as a fire, are advised to make a detailed inventory of all property that has been lost or damaged.

The III maintains an online tool at KnowYourStuff.org that can make this process easier. Some items to include in this inventory of items include approximate date of purchase, the amount paid, and the value of the property in question. It’s also desirable to keep two copies of this information so it can be provided to the insurance adjuster when the time comes.

Insurance customers can also take similar steps before a disaster strikes by keeping an inventory of their covered valuables in a safe place – perhaps even in a location away from their home. It can also help insurance adjusters determine the value of lost property if customers keep receipts, cancelled checks and other such information.

One mistake that homeowners can make is to have extensive repairs performed on their property before an adjuster can actually inspect it. Instead, it’s far more advisable to make only temporary repairs in the aftermath of a disaster – primarily just to prevent further damage from being inflicted on the property through rain or other weather conditions.

While homeowners are strongly advised not to have permanent repairs done until an adjuster has been on the scene, it is beneficial to have reputable contractor provide a cost estimate for repairs. Providing such information to the adjuster can make a home insurance claim process run more smoothly.

http://www.iii.org/press_releases/claims-filing-advice-for-homeowners-affected-by-hurricanes-wildfires-and-other-disasters.html

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