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Robot Insurance: Do You Have Yours?

October 9th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Because you never know when robots will strike…and eat your medicine for fuel.

Thanks to our affiliate Brian M. for passing this along!

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Jackass Insurance: It’ll Cost You

September 19th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

If you’re anything like me, you’ve gasped, laughed, shrieked, and cried over the Jackass crew. And with their second movie, Jackass: Number Two, hitting theaters this week, star Johnny Knoxville said the group had insurance on the brain this time around.

Knoxville et al. said they were certain they were going to die during the Jackass sequel, and therefore asked studio execs to shell out $7 million in insurance coverage to protect them. According to Starpulse.com, the precautions weren’t unwarrented–Knoxville said he nearly died during the soon-to-be-infamous rocket-launching stunt.

“When the rocket exploded in one stunt–there was like a foot-long metal rod that went right out next to my side. It was close!” said the Jackass star.

Director Jeff Tremain agreed, adding that when they watched the playback of the rocket stunt, the frame by frame footage showed the rocket casings shooting out the back and side, barely missing Knoxville’s torso. Tremain also explained how he went about asking the studio for the insurance money.

“The studio is like, well what do you need $7 million for? And I’m like well, you’ve got to insure these guys! You know. The tapes cost $7. The cameras are about $2,000. After that, it’s all insurance!”

Makes you wonder if said studio execs had ever watched five minutes of Jackass in their lives…or if they just leapt at the chance to invest in something that the kids would go crazy for. Otherwise, insurance would have been foremost on their minds.

So, before you attempt to wrestle an anaconda in a Chuck E. Cheese ball pit…contact the movie’s studio reps to find out who agreed to insure these jackasses pranksters.

Rocket Man

[Source]: Exposay
[Hat tip]: The Insurance Coverage Blog

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Are Mimi’s Legs Really Worth a Billion Dollars?

September 14th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

O.k., so Mariah Carey’s very public leg-insurance policy is old news. But Carey’s attention-grabbing stunt does bring up an interesting blog post topic: The Body-Part-Insurance Publicity Stunt. (We’ll get to how this relates to your insurance needs later.)

According to Slate’s Daniel Engber, among the more popular body-part insurance ploys are the purported million-dollar policies on Michael Flatly’s legs, J-Lo’s posterior, and somewhat recently, Mimi’s legs.

The celebrity world and the insurance world usually run along two parallel paths (the point being that they don’t intersect, not that they’re similar). The Insurance Publicity Stunt is the rare occasion when the twain bend to meet each other.

It’s an exciting thing for a person in the insurance business. Think about it: stars using insurance (insurance) to get the attention of the press! Who says insurance is boring?!

…Read the rest of this entry »

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50 Cent Busted for Driving Without Insurance!

September 11th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

Call me crazy, but I say that if you’re a wealthy rap star and can afford a Lamborghini, you can afford to buy auto insurance. Fiddy also neglected to register his car and didn’t have a license, according to MSN.

Ok, I’m guilty of pimping the 50 Cent story to lure you into reading this less shiny but far more important story about children and healthcare.

Here are the depressing numbers: There 10 million uninsured children in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

(Call me crazy, but I say that if you’re the world’s only superpower … )

A new study from the September issue of Pediatrics finds that Hispanic children make up nearly a third of the total.

The study finds that children with parents who aren’t U.S. citizens, have little income and experience difficulty making appointments are much more likely to go without medical care.

Insure Kids Now!, a Dept. of Health and Human Services program, offers some comfort to parents who are waiting to hear about their immigration status: according to their Web site, enrolling your child for health insurance through the State Children’s Health Insurance Program or Medicaid will not, in most cases, adversely affect your chances at citizenship or residency.

The site doesn’t, however, offer much comfort to parents who are here illegally. That’s a shame. I don’t care what side of the immigration debate you’re on, I think it’s unconscionable to have a system where parents are afraid to get care for their kids.

[Links]:
http://coveringkidsandfamilies.org/
http://www.insurekidsnow.gov/

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What Kind of Life Insurance Should You Buy?

September 7th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

Since it is life insurance awareness month, I figured I’d weigh in on the mother of all insurance debates: term life insurance v. cash value (also know as permanent) life insurance.

Disclaimer 1: Life insurance is complicated and doesn’t make for fun, lively blog posts. So if you’re getting ready to click away to more exciting fare (like Maribeth’s great post on insurance fraud), I’m not offended.

Before you go, though, you can quickly scan the two bullets below to get an idea of my biased and simplistic take on the debate between term life and cash value life insurance:

  • If you’re going to hold on to your insurance forever–or at least longer than 15-20 years–then cash value/permanent might be a good pick.
  • If you’re NOT going to hold on to your life insurance for that long, term life insurance is probably a better option than cash value/permanent life insurance.

…Read the rest of this entry »

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Seminary Forbids Life Insurance

August 31st, 2006 by Jeb Foster

People have strong opinions about insurance. Mosque.jpg

When it comes to South Asian Islamic clerics’ feelings about life insurance, that’s a bit of an understatement.

According to an Associated Press story, a prominent Islamic seminary in India has denounced the practice of buying life insurance. Clerics at the seminary say it violates Islamic law.

“Life is given by Allah and to insure it or assure it, is a crime in the eyes of Allah,” clerics at the Dar-ul-Uloom seminary told the AP.

The seminary issued its directive on Aug. 7, saying “insurance is not permissible because it is a sort of gambling. Moreover, it also involves interest money which is illegal under Shariat.” (Shariat = Islamic law).

Read the entire story.

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Insuring For Anything

August 18th, 2006 by Maribeth Neelis

wed.jpg How does that Alanis Morissette song go? “It’s like rain on your wedding day….” –which would be awful by the way, but less so if you had the foresight to purchase wedding or weather insurance. Several insurance companies have found a niche providing coverage for those quirks of fate, such as rained-out vacations, ruined wedding gowns and untimely kidnappings.

As strange as wedding insurance sounds, it’s sort of genius. With the average cost of a U.S. wedding running upwards of $27,000, it may make sense to insure it against unforeseen events. Wedding insurance can protect against inclement weather, illness or injury, missing officiates or vendors and your location. How much is your peace of mind worth? If you said between $125 and $500, this type of insurance may be for you.

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), kidnapping for ransom is on the rise. Picking up on the trend, many insurers have begun to offer insurance should such a tragedy occur. Mostly purchased by businesses, kidnap and ransom insurance is also available on an individual basis and even offered as part of homeowners’ policies by a few companies. It covers things like hostage negotiation fees, lost wages and the ransom amount. However, the insurance company can’t legally pay the kidnappers directly.

…Read the rest of this entry »

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Friday Fun Post: The Self-Pitching Tent

July 14th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

It’s been a busy morning here at InsureMe, as we are about embark upon our quarterly, company-wide meeting. And with little news going on in the insurance world this morning, I present to you something that may come in handy for a weekend trip: The self-pitching tent.

two-second tent

Quecha is behind this great camping invention; upon throwing it in the air, the tent fully deploys before it reaches the ground. Amazing. And it can be yours for a mere $83.

Have a good weekend, everyone. See you on Monday.

[Hat tip]: TechEBlog

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Ransom Insurance Approved in Louisiana

July 3rd, 2006 by Megan Mahan

burglar.gifI think I watched one too many made-for-TV movies growing up, because this latest headline gave me goosebumps:

Insurance for Kidnappings, Hijackings Approved.

Yes, the Insurance News Network reports that insurance coverage for kidnappings, ransom, extortion and hijacking has been approved in Louisiana. The coverage is designed for “high-profile” people such as corporate execs who could be targeted while traveling in higher risk locations like the Middle East or South America.

How much does your average kidnap and ransom insurance policy run? INN reports that rates depend on the policyholder’s net worth. For example, a basic kidnap and ransom policy for someone with a net worth of $500,000 would cost about $665 per year; rates increase in accordance to wealth.

VP of the Insurance Information Institute, Loretta Waters, says that companies offering the coverage often remain tight-lipped about it.

“If they talk about it, they think a company could become a good candidate for kidnap and ransom, and it could.”

Policies are on the rise, however. “If you’re an executive for a company or major corporation and you’re going to Mexico, Colombia, Russia or the Middle East, to not have this coverage is foolish,” says John Croskey, owner of KidnapRansom.com.

My thoughts: it’s unfortunate that we are now concerned with products like terrorism and ransom insurance. On the other hand, I had no idea Louisianans had such a need for this kind of coverage. I guess you learn something every day. :)

[Related post]: The Latest on Foreign Travel and Life Insurance

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Weird Insurance Claims: Licking Cows And More

June 23rd, 2006 by Megan Mahan

cow.gifFellow insurance blogger, Penny, sent me this article by way of the Insurance News Network the other day, and I found it fitting for today’s peculiar posting.

According to the INN article, the National Underwriter (an insurance publication) recently asked their readers to share their strangest claims stories. Oddly, most of them included animals.

Here’s my favorite:

Mr. Ward sent in his tale of an insured driving back from an unsuccessful fishing trip on the coast. As he was driving, the insured decided to take one last try at catching something, and stopped to fish in a friend’s farm pond in the middle of a cow pasture.

‘A herd of cows gathered around the car while he was fishing, but he thought nothing of it until he got ready to leave. As he approached the car he saw a cow chewing on something that was long and black. Each time the cow chewed, the black object bobbed up and down,’ Mr. Ward wrote.

‘Curious, he walked over a little closer and realized that the cow was chewing on his windshield wiper! He ran screaming to his car, waving his arms and shooing the cows, only to discover that they had licked his auto from one end to the other, and had eaten the rubber seals from around the windows,’ he added.

The reason for such strange behavior is fairly simple, he wrote. ‘Cows like salt,’ Mr. Ward explained. ‘His car had been parked next to the ocean for two days. They saw it as a huge salt lick.’

The insured called to explain what had happened. ‘He said his car was covered with gooey slobber, the paint was ruined, and all the windows were jangling as he rode along because there was no rubber to hold them in place,’ Mr. Ward wrote. ‘He wanted to know if comprehensive coverage was really comprehensive.’

See, even insurance has its lighter moments. :) Enjoy the article and have a great weekend!

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Story Roundup

June 23rd, 2006 by Jeb Foster

There is a brief but uplifting report in the L.A. Times on how the number of kids without health insurance has dropped by a third in the past eight years. The federal government credits state efforts and expenditures for the increase in coverage. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, about 6.5 million children were without health coverage in last year.

The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) introduced a new Web site that aims to help consumers cope with the “maze of options and cost considerations” when buying a health insurance policy. The site is called InsureU, and in addition to offering resources on health insurance, it provides helpful tips on buying auto, home and life insurance policies. The site’s unique organization allows users to find information relevant to their own “life stage,” i.e., age or marital status. Check it out.

According to an NPR report, nutritionists are recommending a “big increase” in vitamin D exposure. Vitamin D is credited with building healthy bones and strong muscles. Previously, scientists thought random daily exposure to the sun was enough, but long hours in the office, increased sunscreen use and dim winter rays are leaving many without adequate levels of D. Ten minutes in the midday sun should be enough–provided you’re not slathered in 45.

Lastly, it turns out that bird flu might not be the only “avian malady” to worry about. Check out these other bird-related afflictions.

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A Car for the Handicapped: Innovation on Wheels

June 21st, 2006 by Penny Hagerman

Until recently, our wheelchair-bound friends haven’t had many options when it comes to driving. Short of installing a lift in a full-sized van and lugging themselves from their home on wheels to the driver’s seat, these brave souls have, for the most part, remained in the passenger seat.

But that may be about to change.

If you know someone facing this challenging situation, you might want to make note of this word: “Kenguru.” Why? Because, in the future, it could very well change their lives.

The Kenguru, an electric-powered automobile designed specifically for wheelchair users, is making driving much simpler and more pleasureable for the handicapped. This stylish car has no front seat–just a space built to house the driver’s wheelchair. The driver simply rolls in through the extra large car doors at the rear of the vehicle (much like a hatchback) and into position. The wheelchair locks into place, within easy reach of the car’s controls, which are centered on a joystick. The car requires only minimal maintenance, and was designed to operate reliably, making owning one of these bits of innovation a real pleasure for those who need them.
kengaru.jpg

What’s the catch? (There always is one, isn’t there?) According to the report on Newlaunches.com, this unconventional car is available only in Hungary for now. And even if you did go to Europe to check them out, you wouldn’t see one passing you by on the freeway. Like most electric mini-cars, they have a limited range of about 35 miles and travel only on surface streets–at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour.

Woo-hoo! Not exactly lightening speed, huh?

There is more good news though. This little gem costs only $12,500; and in Hungary, it’s free for some individuals through their health insurance plans. Whether or not it’ll land in the good ole’ US of A and become an allowable insurance expense remains to be seen.

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What Does the Insurance Industry Think About Climate Change?

June 21st, 2006 by Jeb Foster

Although only a few argue there was a direct, provable link between last season’s particularly nasty hurricane season and man-made climate change, everyone will agree there was a (very) strong correlation between the amount of devastation and the amount insurers forked over in claims.

After last year’s storms, some scientists noted that, although there perhaps wasn’t a direct connection, future atmospheric warming will bring warmer ocean temps and warmer oceans will bring, in turn, deadlier and, for insurance purposes, more expensive storms.

In December, Ceres, a national organization that “works to advance environmental stewardship on the part of business,” released a white paper entitled “Availability and Affordability of Insurance Under Climate Change: A Growing Challenge for the U.S.” Ceres wrote the paper before Katrina and Rita made landfall.

The mere mention of climate change raises the hackles of some–namely those who believe the term should be put quotes. Climate change is one of the hottest political issues of the day, with one side calling it the most important issue facing mankind, another calling it a fetish of lefty doomsayers.

As it happens, insurers are showing some concern–though not enough in Ceres’ opinion–over climate change. Not lost on the irony, the Ceres paper points out that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners had planned to discuss climate change at their meeting last fall in New Orleans. Of course, the discussion–and the entire meeting–was shelved because the host city was underwater.

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Is Good Health Just a Roll in the Dirt Away?

June 19th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

The Associated Press picked up on two recent studies that suggest our sanitized world is turning us into softies.

The two studies involved rats from clean labs and their counterparts from the sewer. The data reveal that the slum cousins have stronger immune systems. Researchers speculate that they develop a resistance to disease and dirt in adolescence.

“The studies give more weight to a 17-year-old theory that the sanitized Western world may be partly to blame for soaring rates of human allergy and asthma cases and some autoimmune diseases, such as Type I diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis,” the AP reports. “The theory, called the hygiene hypothesis, figures that people’s immune systems aren’t being challenged by disease and dirt early in life, so the body’s natural defenses overreact to small irritants such as pollen.”

According to the AP, the hygiene hypothesis has support from epidemiological studies that show higher rates of asthma in the developed world than in the global south.

Before you embrace your inner dirt bag–or your inner college freshman–remember that scientists believe that protection comes from early exposure to grit and grime.

(Mom and Dad: Thank you for having dogs in the house growing up. Not only were they great fun, they may have made me more resistant to disease!)

The next goal for researchers is to understand how and when these dirty rats develop their strong immune systems. To do this, one researcher cited in the article plans to build a 50-foot artificial sewer.

[Source]: Wired

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Friday Fun Links: TecheBlog.com

June 16th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

I’ve become borderline obsessed in recent weeks with the TecheBlog; while I’m not as engrossed in technology as some people, I still can’t get enough of the blog. I particularly enjoy their Top Ten lists, and I think you will too. Let’s take a peek, shall we?

First up: Top Ten Strangest Mini-Sized Devices

I used to have this roommate in college who was convinced that, because I was a small girl, I loved all things small. Travel-sized shampoos, tiny chapsticks, baby animals…there was never any conclusive scientific proof to back up her claim, and while I stand firm on the belief that I don’t care how big my stapler is, these mini inventions are kinda cool. My favorite is the gold USB drive which is the size of a quarter. Oh, it’s also called “Petito”, which I think is cool.

Next up: Top Ten Strangest Lego Creations

…Read the rest of this entry »

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Medical Tourism, Continued

June 7th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Last month I posted about the rise in Americans traveling abroad for medical procedures, ranging from dental work to orthopedic surgery. Why are people going abroad for health care? According to experts, Americans are receiving treatment for up to one-tenth of the cost of the same treatment in the U.S.

Now, as I said last time, my grandfather still swears the best dental work he ever received came from Mexico, just last summer. And I suppose I could see why some people choose to go overseas for reconstructive or plastic surgery–a little rest and relaxation by the ocean wouldn’t be a bad thing after a facelift I suppose, but I have to draw the line at organ transplants…even with the discount.

Today, one of our affiliate managers received an email from a hospital in Pakistan that’s offering major surgeries at a significant discount. Among their specialties: kidney transplant. And don’t worry about finding a donor on your own–the hospital provides the donor kidney for you. Flowbee

Now, at first blush, that sounds like the worst idea since the Flowbee. Then the sender disclosed the going rate for a Pakistani kidney transplant: $15,500–compared to $140,000 in the states. Wow. That’s a ridiculous amount of money to be saving. It almost seems worth it. Right?

Not really. Remember that most insurance companies don’t pay for elective surgery abroad, which means that you’d be forking over the travel and surgery costs with no help from your health insurance provider–and that they aren’t likely to cover any follow-up treatment once you get back home. Not to mention your life insurance company could up your rates if they learn you’re traveling to a high-risk area. :)

[RELATED POSTS]:
Medical Tourism: How Far Would You Go for Cheap Dental Work?
The Latest on Foreign Travel and Life Insurance

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Peculiar Posting: UK Football Fan Buys Insurance for Possible World Cup Trauma

May 26th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

Paul Hucker just can’t deal with the pain and agony of seeing England get knocked out of the World Cup Tournament. That’s why he’s purchased a 1£ insurance policy to cover himself against the potential trauma of seeing his team lose the tournament…again.

Traditionally, Britain hasn’t had the best of luck at the World Cup; in recent years they’ve bowed out early in the competition, losing through penalty shootouts–probably the most nerve-wracking and devastating way to lose a soccer match.

“The pressure of this World Cup is not just on the players and the managers. I think a lot of supporters are under a lot of pressure and suffer because of England’s performance,” said Hucker. “I find when it goes to penalty shootouts it gets very difficult and I wanted to insure myself against psychological trauma.”

Hucker purchased the policy from a BritishInsurance.com; if England is knocked out of the tournament in the first round, the insurer will consult with five sports commentators to judge if the team’s exit is “premature.” According to BelfastToday, Hucker will then have to provide medical proof that he has suffered “severe medical trauma” because of the World Cup events. Then, and only then, will Hucker receive his seven-figure payout.

As a Chicago Cubs fan who, like the entire generations of Cubs fans, has suffered under the curse of the Billy Goat, I sympathize with Hucker. I really, truly do. But aside from the fact that he’s buying an actual insurance policy to help him get over any residual trauma, doesn’t the act of buying the policy mean that he’s betting against his own team? Seems like bad sports karma just waiting to happen. :)

Have happy and safe holiday weekend, everyone. See you back here on Tuesday.

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Marketers to Start Text Messaging Consumers?

May 25th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

I should preface this post by saying two things:

  1. Text messaging sort of annoys me. It’s good for short communications to a friend, when, say, your date has just made a spectical of himself by flexing his biceps in a five-star restaurant and you can’t slip away to call your friend to share–and that’s about it.
  2. I tend to take some things more seriously than I probably should.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the meat of the matter. SeedsOfGrowth, a blog geared toward generating ideas for small businesses, recently posted about the growing trend of mobile messaging and how marketers can reap the benefits of text messaging prospects and clients.

The topic, which was recently discussed in length by Scott Springer at DestinationCRM.com, left me with my mouth agape.

In the U.S. 67 percent of the population subscribes to a mobile phone service, with an estimated 36 percent of the subscribers using some kind of mobile data application, as reported by Yankee Group. Of those users, 72 percent use SMS [simple messaging service] text messaging. The time is right for retailers to embrace the technology of text messaging.

Mobile marketing provides retailers the opportunity to reach customers with a reminder or incentive anytime, anywhere. More often than not, it is outside of the home, which allows for the opportunity to impact customers while they are out making shopping decisions or in transit.

I shuddered at the thought that I could start receiving text messages from anyone, ranging from insurance agents to long distance phone companies. Could marketers really do that?

…Read the rest of this entry »

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Peculiar Posting: Owner of Insurance Agency Finds Rodent Tooth in Peanuts

May 19th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

It doesn’t get much weirder than this.

Not surprisingly, this story is one of the Insurance Journal’s most emailed stories this week. Check out the IJ report here, and my commentary on the subject over at the InsureMe Agent Blog.

We’ll be back Monday with more insurance excitement. Have a good weekend! :)

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Friday Fun Link: Snack Food Frenzy

May 12th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

FHC makes me go crazy!We all know that kids, plus snacks, equals juvenile bliss. But one snack in particular is wreaking havoc among some school systems: Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.

InsureMe’s own James Omdahl caught the story on NPR earlier this week and I found the full report here. Take a listen–it might be the funniest thing you’ve heard all week. Of course, it’s always good to learn what your kids might be getting into at school, too. :)

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