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Tips for Staying Warm and Saving Money This Winter

November 30th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

frosty house.jpgPart Two in an Ongoing Series on Home Winterization

This morning I woke to find a layer of ice on the inside of every window in my house. I opened the front door to find a thoroughly frosted storm door. Again, the frozen water was on the inside. The thermometer read 8 degrees.

While no house is totally impervious to cold weather, mine isn’t even putting up a good fight. The thin, single-pane windows may as well be open. Cracks under doors welcome cold air and let warm air escape. The house is hemorrhaging heat.

Needless to say, I’ve got home winterization on the brain (and some work ahead of me). What about you? Is your house ready for winter?

Winterization is important on a number of levels. The two most basic reasons to fortify your house against cold temps and frozen water are to prevent damage and save money.

According to a figure from the Earthworks Group quoted in MSN Real Estate, “the average American home has leaks that amount to a nine-square-foot hole in the wall.”

Not only does this mean we’re paying to heat the outdoors (a costly effort), we’re also exposing pipes to freezing cold air and letting in moisture.

What to do? The answer is simple…kind of:

Plug leaks

  1. Add insulation to thin areas
  2. Replace or add storm windows and doors
  3. Caulk or spray foam into outside cracks and openings
  4. Install gaskets on outside outlets
  5. Add weather stripping
  6. Remove your AC unit
  7. Make sure your dryer vent is free of lint and able to close
  8. Seal heating ducts
  9. Close curtains and shades at night
  10. Clean south-facing windows to maximize solar gain

This list looks overwhelming, I know. If there is one thing, however, that will go the farthest in preventing cold air from infiltrating your abode, it’s storm windows and doors. They will reduce the heat loss from these sources by half.

These sources were crucial in putting together the leak list and offer other helpful winterization tips:

The Home Depot
MSN
About.com

Stay tuned for more tips. Next up: gutters and ducts.

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Mental Health Insurance

November 29th, 2006 by Maribeth Neelis

pills.jpg

Cutting health-care costs has become something of a national obsession. And rightly so, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the United States spent almost 1.7 trillion on health care in 2003, accounting for 15.3 percent of the Gross Domestic Product.

Government agencies and insurance companies have concocted several strategies to stall rising costs–HSAs, consumer-driven health care and Medicaid cuts–which is why recent efforts by some states to widen insurance coverage is receiving push back from businesses and insurance companies.

Recently, the mental health insurance bill or mental health parity has been the unlikely star in the Ohio and New Jersey senates. The measure would provide equal health-care coverage for some mental illnesses, which goes against the trend of cutting health-insurance benefits in an effort to cut costs. But it seems the pendulum is swinging away from cost-costing maneuvers, at least on this particular point, as more people are speaking out for the issue.

…Read the rest of this entry »

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Lack of Jockey Insurance Threatens Montana Tracks

November 28th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

A little off-the-beaten-path insurance news today:

According to an AP story (made available today on InsuranceJournal.com), a national company that insured Montana’s jockeys (and no, I’m not talking about underpants) has dropped coverage on all four of the state’s race tracks. The Montana tracks were just four of 19 tracks in the U.S. that lost jockey coverage, said Scot Meader who is the director of the Missoula County Fairgrounds in Montana.

The news has been made especially bittersweet as Montana’s governor recently included $350,000 in the state’s two-year budget for horse racing.

Even if another insurer stepped in to insure the jockeys, chances are the policy premiums would be much too steep. According to the AP, Meader received one quote from a California insurer who put premiums as high as $8,000 to $10,000 per day, compared with $2,000 per race day for this year. Accident deductibles have also jumped, which hits the Missoula track in a soft spot as they’ve had “quite a few jockey injuries and claims in the past five years.”

Horse racing has been approved for 2006 reports the AP, but the state has yet to make a formal decision about the 2007 racing season; the Missoula County Fair Commission has asked Meader to try and secure another jockey insurance provider.

For now, the four Montana tracks will work together to find a jockey insurance provider. In the meantime, the future of Montana horse racing will hang in the balance. Buck Smith, who is chairman of the fair commission, told the AP that come January, “If we’ve exhausted every possibility for jockey insurance and there is none, there is no decision to be made.”

Race lovers can check out the full story courtesy of IJ, here. (And yes, our statistician Peter D. moonlights as a jockey.)

peterhorse.JPG

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Tips for Preventing Frozen Pipes

November 27th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

frosty house.jpgPart One in an Ongoing Series on Home Winterization

State Farm, by way of the Insurance Journal, has a good heads up on winterizing your home’s pipes.

Pipes freeze and burst, State Farm says, when outside temperatures drop below 20 degrees.

The damage from even a minor break in your pipes can be devastating: “A one-eighth inch (3-millimeter) crack in a pipe can spew out more than 250 gallons of water a day.”

Here are a few verbatim tips from State Farm, handily organized into list format by yours truly:

  1. Disconnect outside garden hoses.
  2. Wrap exposed pipes with insulating sleeves or tape.
  3. Seal foundation cracks that let arctic air freeze pipes in crawlspaces.

If the mercury is dropping fast and you want some quick, temporary fixes, State Farm suggests the following:

  1. Open cabinet doors to allow heat to get to piping under sinks and vanities near exterior walls.
  2. Run a small trickle of water at vulnerable cold and hot faucets.

And if I may add a postscript to that last tip, particularly for those people who live in the arid west, place a bucket under the trickling faucet and water your house plants with the water. (Water is scarce!)

Are you energy and/or money conscious? Don’t be too quick to cut the heat in your home. If you live in a perpetually cold winter climate, the Red Cross recommends keeping the thermostat above 55 degrees.

(There are better ways to conserve energy and save money: get storm windows and doors and add insulation to thin areas to prevent heat loss.)

If your pipes do burst, the first order of business, before you call a plumber, is to turn off your water supply. Now would be a good time to learn how to do this (and teach everyone in your household how to as well) if you don’t already know.

Stay tuned for more winterization tips…

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Thankful InsureMe Employees Give Thanks on Thanksgiving

November 23rd, 2006 by Jeb Foster

Dear InsureMe Insurance Blog Reader:

In lieu of our normal weekly Wrap Up, the InsureMe A/V Squad is offering a Thanksgiving Day special.

The video features InsureMe employees giving thanks for many things, from family and friends to bushy beards and the Geneva Conventions.

It’s heartwarming, funny, and because of the royalty-free soundtrack, a little cheesy. (We couldn’t get the rights to any Vince Guaraldi songs.)

Anyway, we hope you enjoy the video, and from the InsureMe team, we wish you a happy and safe Thanksgiving.

Cheers,
InsureMe

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Black Friday & The Beginning Of Holiday Hijinx

November 22nd, 2006 by Maribeth Neelis

santa.jpg

Tomorrow is a time to give thanks, spend a peaceful afternoon with family and friends and possibly participate in a charity event that benefits those less fortunate.

The next day however, is a stark contrast. Dubbed “Black Friday,” the shopping mayhem that occurs the day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday buying frenzy.

It’s a day to ditch your lagging, younger sister in the food court, knock over an old lady and ring in the Christmas season with the adrenaline rush that acquiring the last T.M.X. Elmo begets. But before you spend your day bargain hunting, there’s one more thing you may consider purchasing–insurance.

Seriously; riots and gun violence erupted across the country as gaming fanatics flocked to electronics stores nationwide to purchase the new Playstation game consoles. In Wisconsin, a 19-year-old was trampled. In Kentucky, some people were hit with BB pellets while standing outside a Best Buy.

With all the consumer-on-consumer violence, it’s a wonder that insurance sales don’t skyrocket throughout the winter holidays. To the contrary, however, insurance sales for all types–life, health, auto and home–diminish considerably from late fall through the New Year.

Days off work and school, cookies, caroling and jolly icons, it’s understandable that insurance needs are the furthest thing from most people’s minds … Until January 1st when the insurance industry delights in the population’s instinctive need to get their affairs in order.

But as you’re straddling your roof peak to hang a string of lights, you might consider de-suspending reality for a moment to ponder the potential price of all that fun.

Traffic Jams

Besides the threat of attack while perusing the stores at your local mall, the larger-than-usual number of travelers is cause for concern as well. The Transportation Bureau reports that during the six days prior to Thanksgiving, the number of long distance trips swells 54 percent. And during the holidays from Christmas to the New Year, it increases 23 percent. More traffic and longer road trips inevitably lead to an increase in accidents.

The Clumsy Christmas Enthusiast

A three-year study conducted by National Electronic Injury Surveillance System All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) found that the number of people sustaining injuries from falls increased during the holiday season (Nov 1-Jan. 31). During the holiday seasons of 2000-2003, nearly 17,465 people were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms for holiday decorating-related falls.

More Dangers of Decorating

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported that Christmas tree lights and decorations cause almost 600 U.S. fires annually. And Christmas trees and decorations cause 7,500 injuries each year. (Think: Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation.)

The Monday following Thanksgiving, “Cyber Monday,” earned its name by being the busiest day for online shopping. A more civilized experience, online shopping offers many slackers something to do at work besides that important presentation. So maybe after you check out the latest crew neck sweaters at J Crew, you could be semi-productive and shop your insurance before the holiday onslaught begins.

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Save on Your Insurance by Buying a Safe Car

November 22nd, 2006 by Jeb Foster

gal_honda_crv.jpgThe kind of car you drive affects your insurance premium. If you drive a muscle car, the chances are good your insurance costs will be higher than if you drove a station wagon.

In general, a safer car means a lower premium. (Unless you drive a really safe Bentley or Rolls, in which case the value of your car might offset any safety savings. Luxury cars are more expensive to insure.)

On Tuesday, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recognized 13 cars for their safety features. Four cars, seven sport utility vehicles, and two minivans earned “Top Safety Pick” distinction.

The institute says this year’s crop of cars underwent an even more rigorous evaluation process. The ratings were based on performance in high-speed front-, side- and rear-impact crash tests.

In addition to giving a performance grade for the three crash tests, the institute required that winners have ESC, or electronic stability control. (Read Insurance Blog posts on ESC here and here.) It is the first year the institute has imposed the restriction. The result is that no American cars made this year’s list. Two made it last year.

Showing the import of making the institute’s list, at least one U.S. car manufacturer is scrambling to modify one of its cars to be eligible for next test. Ford says it will add ESC to its 2008 Freestyle in hopes of getting the safety nod.

The German carmaker Audi, whose A6 was snubbed last year because of poor whiplash protection, changed its headrests in order to make the list this year. Their A4 and A6 models earned Top Safety Pick awards.

CNN Money has pics of all 13 award-winning cars. (Incidentally, they have a gallery of the most reliable cars, too. The only car that makes lists for safety and reliability: the Honda CR-V, which is pictured above.)

The best images, though, are the nine renderings of futuristic green (as in environmentally friendly) cars. The most unlikely appearance on this list comes from Hummer. Strange as it sounds, their 02 may be the most fascinating concept on the list–that and the VW Nanospyder.

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Alcohol Detection Devices: New Way to Combat Drunk Driving

November 20th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

don't drink and drive.jpg
According to today’s Times, car manufacturers, highway safety officials and the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) want to require first-time drunk driving offenders to install a device known as an “ignition interlock” in their cars. It’s a gizmo that detects alcohol and, if necessary, immobilizes a wannabe drunk driver’s car.

New Mexico and Maryland already mandate interlocks for first time offenders, and the results have been immediate and impressive. After a year those states saw an 11.3 and 17.8 percent drop in alcohol-related driving deaths.

Those are remarkable stats because the annual drunk-driving fatality rate had been almost immovable for the past ten years, despite ever harsher punishments for driving under the influence.

According to Mark Rosenker, chair of the National Transportation Safety Board, “Punishment doesn’t always do it.” The most common punishment is a license suspension. But the fact is, license revocation isn’t an effective deterent. For example, California has nearly 1 million unlicensed drivers on the roads.

Advocates are even pushing for alcohol sensors to become a standard car feature, whether the car belongs to a person with a DUI or not.

But there are some bugs that need to be fixed before ignition interlocks become standard. For one, it’s possible to beat some alcohol sensors: You can have a sober person perform the alcohol test. (Which begs the question: If you can convince a person to take a breath test for you, why not ask that same person to drive you home? Sheesh.)

Secondly, “We don’t want the soccer mom dropping kids off, going to the grocery store and the preschool, and having to blow into something every time,” says Susan Ferguson, a researcher for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Any future alcohol test designed for non-offenders will have to be unobtrusive. Saab, a GM-owned company, is developing an unobtrusive alcohol sensor that will attach to a key chain.

What do you think? Good idea?

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Weekly Insurance Blog Wrap-Up

November 17th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Links from this week’s video:

Identity Theft: A Family Affair?

Insurance Industry Proposes New Health Plan

Men’s Health: Feeling A Little Left Out

Ducks, Geckos and Burt Bacharach: A Look at Insurance Ads

[BONUS LINK]: Check out the full dance footage of the I-Guy here.

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Ducks, Geckos and Burt Bacharach: a Look at Insurance Ads

November 16th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

vertical tv.jpgPale, stale and male.

You’re forgiven if you have those associations with the insurance industry.

Paradoxically, though, insurance companies produce some of the most entertaining television ads, ads that are far from pale, stale and male. (The Hartford and State Farm are exceptions. They seem bent on keeping with tradition.)

The Insurance Marketing Communications Association (that’s IMCA for those of you who know the organization only by its acronym) recently issued a release examining trends in insurance advertising.

IMCA says more insurers are abandoning the fear-mongering tactics of old ads.

Insurance companies developing new brand positions or ad campaigns seem to be using other messages besides “fear of risk” to communicate with consumers. Many insurance companies are trying to build long-term relationships with their best customers - and they are finding that their advertising needs to have a different appeal in order to attract and retain good customers.

If GEICO, Aflac and Travelers are any indication, building a long-term relationship means being funny. I like this development.

Using myself as a case study, I would have to say (without any empirical force) that funny ads are good investments. They build goodwill. Why? Because the ads are essentially free prizes. When I see the GEICO cavemen, I get a good laugh, courtesy of GEICO (or whoever makes their ads). It may not lead me to immediately breakup with my insurer, but I will remember that free prize the next time I go insurance shopping.

Despite the trend toward humor, there are still some ad campaigns that present a gloomy, risk-laden image of daily life, an effort that’s clearly designed to feed insecurities. I give this approach the thumbs down. (I mean, we all know we need insurance. And we don’t need to be reminded that the world is a dangerous place.)

Allstate seems to be hedging, airing both funny ads (the misadventures of the smitten Nascar ladies) and fear-mongering ones (the spots narrated by Dennis Haysbert).

Here are some ad links (with some commentary). You’ll notice one insurer has a good showing. While I wish this list had more diversity, GEICO is going to dominate any list devoted to funny insurance ads. If you only have time to watch one ad , though, watch the one for Blue Cross Blue Sheild.

Allstate: Mixed bag. Nascar ladies are funny. Dennis Haysbert is better as the president.

Travelers: Human snowball. Well done but a little disturbing.

Esurance: Animated, futuristic, bizarrre.

Progressive: Guy in white suit with dry delivery. Undecided.

Farmers: Sort of cool, sort of creepy.

The Hartford: As much as I dig the iconic stag, I’m not into the digitalized version.

Aflac: That poor goose.

GEICO: Silly lizard with an Aussie accent. Diminishing returns.

GEICO: Burt Bacharach is pitch perfect.

GEICO: Off-put Cavemen loses his appetite. Still finding it hard to believe there are people who don’t like the cavemen.

GEICO: Off-put caveman in airport. (The person behind that bewitching soundtrack? Erlend Oye.)

GEICO: The tiny house. The spot Slate.com declared “The Best Ad on Television.”

Blue Cross Blue Shield: My favorite. “He was injured. Injured bad.”

Nationwide: “Life Comes at You Fast.” Mediocre.

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Men’s Health: Feeling A Little Left Out

November 15th, 2006 by Maribeth Neelis

mens health.jpg
The American Heart Association began the Go Red for Women public education campaign in 2004 to encourage awareness of heart disease among women. Supporters don red, dress-shaped pins and watch PSAs starring Sela Ward.

There is no red, tie-shaped pin to publicize male heart disease and no semi-celebrity spokesperson to tout the cause, even though it’s one of the leading causes of death for U.S. males. And frankly, men are starting to feel a little neglected. Or that’s the sentiment among some advocates and medical professionals.

Historically, women were overlooked in medical research and funding. For years, they were misdiagnosed for common conditions, like heart disease and strokes simply because women’s symptoms for those ailments differ from men’s. In an effort to shed light on women’s health issues and provide health care, prenatal care and cancer screenings for the some 15 million uninsured women, the Women’s Health Bureau was created.

Now men’s health advocates are calling for a Men’s Health Bureau that would address health issues they feel have been neglected. The foremost concern: their shorter life expectancy. On average, men live five years less than women–75.2 years to a woman’s 80.4. [Interesting Side Note: In 1920, women only lived an average of one year longer than men.] In the past, this gap has been blamed on men’s lifestyle choices. But that response will no longer appease medical scientists.

Men are more likely to be uninsured and less likely to seek medical care for a persistent condition. However, that may not be the only reason they lead shorter, sicker lives. After all these years, it turns out men are actually the weaker sex. According to geriatrics specialist Dr Robert Tan, when men and women suffer from the same disease, men are more likely to die from it. This may be because men are believed to have weaker immune systems so recover more slowly from illness. And a Men’s Health Bureau would tackle those issues.

Read the full article

Get more information about men’s health insurance.

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Insurance Industry Proposes New Health Plan

November 14th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

chkuppic.JPGA recent poll conducted for the insurance industry found that 80 percent of Americans want Congress to take measures to make healthcare more affordable. This according to a story by WNDU 16 out of South Bend, Indiana.

The insurance industry seems to be responding to said poll, and pitched a plan on Monday which would come with a taxpayer price tag of $300 million. It’s worth it, said Jay Gellert, a member of the policy committee for America’s Health Insurance Plans. And under the proposed plan, the industry says America’s uninsured could have coverage within the next decade. How?

The new plan calls for:

  • Expanded state programs like Medicaid, to cover more children and low-income families, including those that exceed the poverty level but can’t afford health insurance
  • Formation of “universal health accounts” with the government kicking in up to 50 cents for every dollar a low-income family saves
  • A $500 tax credit for low-income families that buy health insurance for their kids
  • $50 billion in state grants to help insure their residents

Sounds pretty good, right?

The clincher: who’s going to foot the $300 billion needed to implement such a plan? The insurance industry doesn’t have any suggestions on how to pay for it, but WNDU reports that insurers still plan to market the plan “aggressively” to the new Congress. And despite the fact that plan proponents don’t yet have all the answers to get the ball rolling, healthcare advocates support the initiative, saying they’re glad to see the insurance industry get involved.

“I think what this initiative does is get us off the dime and stop people from saying this is a problem that’s not solvable,” said Dr. George Benjamin of the American Public Health Association.

Encouraging, indeed.

We’ll keep an eye on this story and post updates here as they come. And, if you’re looking for more resources on finding affordable medical insurance in your state, check out our state-specific insurance articles in our resource center!

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Identity Theft: A Family Affair?

November 13th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

id thief.jpgWho stole my identity?

Savvy cyber thieves working in a dank basement that doubles as a meth lab?

or

A moderately resourceful and totally unscrupulous family member who used my social to start a credit card?

When we think about identity theft, we often imagine the former, but according to a recent story in the New York Times, “[The] identity thief is often found in the family photo.

While I hesitate to throw another log on the media’s ID theft bonfire, I found this story to be one of the more level-headed examples of ID theft reportage out there.

The Times says that while most identity thieves aren’t identified, nearly half that are turn out to be family members, friends or in-home employees.

Times reporter John Leland tells a harrowing story in which a divorced mother used the social security numbers of her two children to open credit card accounts.

“When my kids turn 18 and go to college, they’re not going to be able to buy a car or get a student loan because they’ve got bad credit,” the father of the two kids told the times. “No one’s going to rent them an apartment. They’re going to be turned down for jobs because there’s so many companies that run credit histories.”

(The mother is now in jail.)

So what to do with this information? I hate to think of a world of rife with intra-family paranoia (”I can tell Uncle Bob is out to steal my identity!”).

We’re loathe to think that anyone who shares our genetic makeup or who has earned our trust would be capable of such a thing, but the sobering reality is that it makes sense.

ID Theft Resources
Don’t believe the hype! While it’s important to take the threat seriously, you should also take any ID theft stat with a big grain of salt.

Motley Fool writer Dayana Yochim has good advice on how to prevent ID theft and, failing prevention, how to get it back after it has been stolen.

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Weekly Insurance Blog Wrap-Up

November 10th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Links from this week’s video:

Evergreens and Insurance Resources?
Identity Theft: Special Investigative Report
HSAs: Is One Right for You?
Car Theft Myths: The Quiz

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What You Should Know About Car Theft

November 9th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

cars.jpgDo you drive one of these cars?

  1. 1991 Honda Accord
  2. 1995 Honda Civic
  3. 1989 Toyota Camry
  4. 1994 Dodge Caravan
  5. 1994 Nissan Sentra
  6. 1997 Ford F150 Series
  7. 1990 Acura Integra
  8. 1986 Toyota Pickup
  9. 1993 Saturn SL
  10. 2004 Dodge Ram Pickup

If so, you drive one of the top ten most stolen vehicles in the U.S, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). The NICB estimates that a car is stolen every 25.5 seconds.

People can do more to prevent theft, according to a recent release from the Insurance Information Institute. “All too often, consumer attitudes about preventing vehicle thefts are based on misconceptions, which can lead to expensive consequences for the unprepared victim,” says Institute vice president Carolyn Gorman.

Here are a few of those misconceptions:

  • Myth: Most Thefts Occur in Unprotected Areas
  • Myth: Stolen Vehicles Are Usually Found
  • Myth: Insurance Always Provides a Rental Car
  • Myth: Thieves Are Not Interested in Older Vehicles

A former neighbor of mine experienced that last one first hand when his beater truck was stolen. He eventually found it parked a few blocks down the street but it was missing the steering column. “Older vehicles are most often taken for their parts which are no longer manufactured and are too difficult or expensive to obtain,” says NICB president Robert M. Bryant.

What’s worse than getting your car stolen? Realizing you’re underinsured after your car has been stolen. Many owners of clunker cars drop their comprehensive coverage because they think it’s not worth the money. Problem is, comprehensive covers for theft and, in many cases, rental car coverage.

But it doesn’t always. The III advises people to check with their insurer about their rental car policy before they need one.

Read the entire release here.

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Consumer-Driven Care: What a Concept

November 8th, 2006 by Maribeth Neelis

money.jpg
If you’ve ever shopped at a grocery-store chain, you’re familiar with off brands. Everything from frozen garlic bread to toothpaste has a generic version–a great alternative for the frugal shopper. But what if it didn’t matter which brand–or non brand–you bought; you’d pay a flat rate. Definitely less of an incentive to scour the isles for the cheapest______ (you fill in the blank.)

We’re a penny-pinching culture in many respects; opting for the bargains of Wal-Mart over the pricier mom and pop joints–except when it comes to health insurance. We blindly seek services and make purchases we may not need. Ignorance is much to blame. The medical field has long been shrouded in mystery. And only since the advent of the internet and WebMD could you figure out what might be ailing you without seeking care. But reliance on doctors’ visits, meds and costly procedures are causing premiums to soar.

In an effort to make people more cognizant of their health-care expenses, the government and insurance companies have come up with alternative health-insurance plans that put the reigns in the hands of those most affected by high health-insurance premiums–you, the consumer. Unfortunately, much of the cost is also shifted to insurance consumers. The idea being that if you’re footing more of the bill, you’ll be more cost-conscious.

Enter Health Savings Accounts and Consumer-Directed Health Plans (CDHP.) Both have high deductibles as a trade off for lower premiums. Some CDHPs even have an HSA component so that you can put away money for future medical expenses.

It’s worth the gamble if you stay healthy, but is a gamble nonetheless. That’s why many consumers are hesitant about opting for the nontraditional types of coverage. As always, it’s about your financial and familial situation. For example, if you have young children who play sports, a CDHP may end up costing you, something Judy Rosenthal found out the expensive way when she chose a CDHP this year and her son was injured playing baseball.

When deciding between an HSA or CDHP and a more standard plan, you’re acting as the insurer, weighing your family’s risk against the possible savings and making an educated choice. If nothing else, the creation of consumer-driven health care might make people more aware of how much they would spend if paying out-of-pocket for their medical expenses and maybe seek out bargains like they do for just about everything else.

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Identity Theft Insurance: Revisited

November 7th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

I posted a little something on the InsureMe Agent Blog today regarding identity theft insurance, and thought it was only fitting to revisit ID theft insurance.

Why?

Well, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2006 Homeowners Insurance Study (see their press release here), over 40 percent of homeowners would like their home insurers to offer identity theft insurance coverage. Between the increase of large corporations leaking personal info, natural disasters spreading our business in literally all directions, and the government dipping into more of our personal affairs, it’s no wonder that many of us are looking for ways to protect ourselves.

But I don’t think identity theft insurance is the answer–at least not yet.

As I said in June, most ID theft policies aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. If your identity is stolen, ID theft insurance won’t pay to help you repair any damage to your credit, nor will it help you absolve yourself of any illegal activity carried out under your name. Not great protection if you ask me.

Take a look at our post about ID theft insurance to get the full scoop, and to learn how you can protect yourself without buying superfluous (and frankly, moot) coverage. But do keep a lookout for advances in ID theft insurance. As consumers demand better protections, I’d venture to say that someone, eventually, will listen and give us a better product with which to protect ourselves.

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Evergreens: Insurance Resource Center Classics

November 6th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

evergreen--InsureMe Insurance Resource Center.jpgIt’s a slow news day, so I decided to mine some articles from the trusty Insurance Resource Center. So consider this blog post a brief reprieve from the 24-hour news cycle. Below you’ll find articles that never go stale. Elections and scandals and election scandals will fade away and soon be fodder for trivia games, but these insurance shopping tips will always be timely and important:

Things to Consider When Selecting a Car Insurance Company

Finding New Car Insurance - What to do if Your Policy is Cancelled or Not Renewed

Unnecessary Insurance: Policies to Avoid

Ok. I guess I’ll offer some ephemera, too. Here are some notable insurance headlines from the past week:

Heavy D. Sues Insurer For Unpaid Claims

Drivers Shop Around More for Insurance

Life Insurance: Not a Suckers Bet

And don’t forget to watch the latest Wrap Up!

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Weekly Insurance Blog Wrap-Up

November 3rd, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Links to this week’s video:
Election Politics 101: Don’t Talk about Healthcare
Finding Insurance: Shop Online or Use an Agent?
Special Investigative Report: Title Insurance

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Why Tony Soprano Wants a Job in the Title Industry

November 2nd, 2006 by Jeb Foster

shady guy.jpgLife is risky. That’s why we have insurance. We buy auto, home and life insurance because even though we’re loath to admit it, we know we have a decent chance of crashing the car, burning down the house, and, well, kicking the bucket. (Ok, so we more than a decent chance on that last one.)

It’s possible you will never make a claim on a particular policy, though. Your monthly premiums may just disappear into the ether. You might make it all 77.3 years without so much as getting into a fender-bender. You might live a hundred illness-free years and die quickly and gracefully in your sleep. Even allowing for these possibilities, however, most of us get auto and health insurance. We love to gripe about paying premiums, but in general, we feel like we’re paying for something worthwhile.

Then there’s title insurance.

…Read the rest of this entry »

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