InsureMe's

Making it easy to find the right insurance

California Proposes Insurance Coverage for Smoking Cessation

June 22nd, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

 According to the American Cancer Society, more than 1 in 4 smokers who use medications to quit are able to go smoke-free for more than six months.

Many even succeed in quitting permanently.

However, over-the-counter smoking-cessation treatments, and the counseling that’s often needed to help smokers quit for good, aren’t covered under Californians’ health insurance plans—even though they seldom cost more than a few hundred dollars and double the success rate over trying to quit without help.

Conversely, more expensive treatments like in-vitro fertilization, bone-density screening and chiropractic sessions are covered by insurance.

Doesn’t make much sense, huh? But that’s likely about to change.

A bill introduced by California State Senator Leland Yee would mandate insurance coverage for stop-smoking treatments that have been deemed effective by the American Lung Association. This would include both over-the-counter and prescription medications and programs.

The benefits? Most are apparent. When smokers quit, they improve their health, avoid developing dangerous and deadly health conditions, and reduce the financial load on the health care system from smoking-related diseases and treatments.

There are other, less obvious benefits as well. According to Insurance News Net, cigarette butts are the most common trash item on the state’s beaches. Aiding smokers in giving up their nasty habit means less litter—to say nothing of the clean air gained and the reduced number of illnesses due to secondhand smoke.

Only seven states in the nation require at least some level of smoking-cessation insurance coverage. California will likely become the eighth soon, as it helps lead the way in combating the devastating consequences of smoking, both individually and publicly.

Share & Enjoy:

Texas Taking Steps to Keep Kids Safe

May 14th, 2010 by Penny Hagerman

texasstateflagxsmallBeginning June 1, Texas parents with children younger than the age of 8 better make sure their children are buckled into the appropriate child safety seat when riding in the car.

 Otherwise, they could end up paying a hefty fine—up to $250 a pop, according to ClaimsJournal.com.

 Though this new law, designed to protect children who can’t protect themselves, went into effect last September, police have since offered mostly verbal or written warnings to parents who didn’t buckle their children in the right seats or allowed them to roam while the car was moving.

Next month, that will change.

Anyone younger than age 8 or less than 4 feet, 9 inches should be buckled up correctly in the appropriate car seat according to age, height and weight. (If you’re not sure what type of safety seat your child needs or how to install it, check out our article on the subject here.)

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for children aged 2 and up. And, as we’ve discussed on this blog previously, your children are your most precious cargo. So make sure and keep them safe in the car by buckling them up. Your children are your responsibility, and they rely on you to keep them safe.

Kudos to the great state of Texas for enforcing child car seat safety!

Share & Enjoy:

School Lunches May Get Healthy Overhaul

October 21st, 2009 by Penny Hagerman

Do your kids eat a healthy diet at home, or are burgers and fries more like standard fare? What kind of snacks do they pop in their mouths when they get home from school every day?

If they’re like most of their peers, high-calorie foods like hot dogs and chips are preferred over healthier ones, like leafy greens and fresh fruit. But what’s happening at school, when we’re not around? Are our schools working to cut the incidence of childhood obesity and change our kids’ eating habits or simply catering to their desire for unhealthy, obesity-causing foods because they’re cheaper and easier to serve?  healthy_lunch1

School meal programs provide 40 million meals daily and more than half of students’ food and nutrient intake during the school day, according to an Institute of Medicine report referenced in today’s Reuter’s News.

The obvious conclusion: Lunchroom meals, which represent a large part of our kids’ diets, are at least partially responsible for rising obesity rates among U.S. children—which have doubled in the last 20 years.

So why do the majority of schools choose to serve junk food over healthier, more nutritious fare in the first place? Because fattier, processed foods are much cheaper to buy, enabling them to hold the cost of lunches down so more kids and their families can afford to eat in.

Problem is, it’s compromising our kids’ health in the meantime, reinforcing bad eating habits and leading to heavier, unhealthier kids.

So what can be done about that? How can we prompt schools to take action with regard to our children’s health and well being, and change their approach to nutrition for kids?

Set realistic maximum caloric limits and serve more fruit and vegetables, says the Institute of Medicine. Asking for a revision of current guidelines that set only minimum caloric levels for school lunches, the Institute favors more servings of vegetables with a focus on leafy greens and orange vegetables rather than starchy vegetables like potatoes.

Though doing so could increase the cost of breakfast by as much as 25 percent and lunch by 9 percent, “This will be a very wise investment in children’s health,” said Virginia Stallings, chair of the group that conducted the study.

What do you think? Would you be willing to pay more to ensure your children eat healthy meals at school? Do you think the extra expense would cause financial hardship for the majority of American families, or would they (like you?) welcome the chance to help keep their kids healthy?

Read the entire article here: More Fruit, Fewer Calories Urged for School Lunches.

Share & Enjoy:

Snacking Smart

June 16th, 2009 by Penny Hagerman

appleMany of us grew up in households where snacking was taboo.

We were told that eating between meals would ruin our appetites; and usually the only time our parents let us snack was when we came home from school and dinner was still hours away.

Experts know differently now—and it’s obvious that snacking has gotten a bad rap it doesn’t deserve.

As long as we monitor portion sizes and calorie counts, snacking can be part of a healthy, balanced diet for kids and adults alike, say the American Association for Retired People (AARP) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), both recognized authorities on the subject of nutrition.

In fact, snacking carries a number of health benefits our parents and adults of earlier generations never recognized.

For instance, pairing healthy snacks—like protein-rich nuts, low-fat cheeses, low-fat yogurt and peanut butter—with fresh fruits and vegetables helps maintain energy levels throughout the day, curb hunger and prevent overeating at meals.

It also helps maintain constant insulin and blood cholesterol levels, possibly reducing the likelihood of diabetes and obesity in the process—and promoting healthier lives and lower health insurance rates for our children and future generations.

No matter what your age, snacking can be good for you, if done correctly and planned ahead of time. So find out how to snack healthily, avoid the vending machine when you hit that mid-afternoon slump—and feel better all day long.

Share & Enjoy:

Gun-Insurance Bill Provokes Resistance

April 27th, 2009 by Jeb Foster

The prospect of being forced to buy liability insurance is causing an uproar among gun owners.

Earlier this year, a state lawmaker from Chicago proposed amending Illinois’ State Firearm Owners Identification Card Act to require gun owners to buy $1,000,000 in liability coverage. The policy would cover “any damages resulting from negligent or willful acts involving the use of such firearm while it is owned by such person.”

Under Rep. Kenneth Dunkin’s bill, which he introduced in February but has since tabled, failure to obtain insurance would render a gun owner in violation of the law. What’s more, the potential law would hold gun owners responsible for any injuries resulting from the use of the gun—even if it was stolen and not discharged by the owner himself.

Opponents see the bill as a sly way to curb gun ownership by imposing an additional financial burden. They affirm that users of illegal guns, who are responsible for the majority of gun violence, are unlikely to purchase insurance on a black-market weapon. Thus, they say, the bill simply puts penalizes law-abiding gun owners.

Nonetheless, proponents of similar legislation—Dunkin isn’t the first to float the idea—point to the high societal cost of gun-related deaths and injuries. According to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, guns are the second-highest cause of fatal injury among ages 15-24 and 55-64. Further, gun violence is more prevalent in urban areas like Duncan’s Chicago district.

Read more

Share & Enjoy:

Gastric Bypass Offers New Life for the Obese

April 15th, 2009 by Penny Hagerman

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 66 percent of adults age 20 and over are either overweight or obese. That means that close to three out of four people have a body mass index—a measure of overall body fat—of 25 or more.

That may not sound too bad on the surface, but it really is, considering a healthy BMI ranges anywhere from 18 to 25.

All that extra fat and weight we’re carrying around costs us billions of dollars in health care dollars every year. Why? Because the heavier America gets, the more preventive, diagnostic and treatment services we need to overcome the medical issues obesity causes.

Anyone who has “dieted” at some point in their life (and who hasn’t?) knows how hard it is to lose that extra weight and keep it off. For some, weight loss and gain becomes a self-defeating cycle, causing discouragement and even more weight gain.

Whether caused by a lack of self control—as some critics believe—a negative hereditary scorecard, food addiction, lifestyle or one of many other factors, the end result is the same: living life overweight results in numerous health problems, a lack of quality of life and, often, early death.

For those overweight enough to carry a BMI of 40 or greater—basically 100 extra pounds—gastric bypass surgery may be an option. During the surgery, the stomach pouch is made much smaller than normal, reducing the amount of food a person’s stomach can hold.

This enables overweight and obese adults to lose large amounts of weight quickly—and gives them a chance to:

  • reestablish healthy eating and exercise habits
  • reduce or eliminate health issues like hypertension, diabetes and other dangerous diseases
  • start life anew thinner and healthier
  • live longer

Though definitely not a cure-all and subject to human error (like overeating, which can stretch the stomach back out), studies have shown that, when used as a long-term tool, gastric bypass drastically reduces the number of health insurance claims filed due to obesity.

Because of this, more and more health insurance companies are covering the surgery in an effort to get and keep America healthy, and save money in the long run.

If you’re severely overweight and aren’t sure if gastric bypass is a covered option under your current health insurance plan, try reading the fine print—or call your health insurance company to find out for sure.

Then talk to your doctor, get educated, and weigh the pros and cons. With all the facts at your disposal, the final choice is up to you—and your insurer.

Share & Enjoy:

A Gloomy Outlook Persists in the Sunshine State

April 13th, 2009 by Jeb Foster

evacuation-route-signIt’s not easy living in Florida. Sure, the weather’s great, but with insurance rates poised to increase further and another hurricane season approaching, many people are probably wondering if the sunny skies and warm temperatures are worth it.

Floridians already pay more for property insurance than almost everyone else. Only Texans pay more, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III). This makes sense: Florida has a lot of pricey real estate lining its hurricane-prone coasts. And the state’s insurance woes are likely to grow if past trends continue: between 1980 and 2003, Florida’s coastal population grew by 75 percent.

Oddly, Florida residents are victims of low insurance rates, not high ones. Let me explain. If, throughout the years, insurance premiums had accurately matched the risk, they would’ve been considerably higher, and many homeowners simply would not be living in Florida today. Maybe they’d be shivering through winter with the rest of us, but they wouldn’t be worrying about skyrocketing property insurance rates.

Instead, Florida’s artificially low insurance rates, which, to date, have reflected politics more than risk models, effectively gave people a green light to build in hurricane alley. Now Florida officials are realizing that rates need to increase in order to ensure there’s enough cash on hand when the next big storm arrives. Citizens, the state-run insurer, has $450 billion in exposure yet only $3 billion in surplus.

“Any kind of significant storm event would, or could, wipe that out in a few short hours,” James Malone, chairman of Citizens, said in February 2009.

State Farm, one of Florida’s largest insurers, decided to leave the state after officials said they couldn’t raise rates by 45 percent. Now many of their policyholders are looking to insure their homes with Citizens, adding to frailty of that insurer.

It seems that both consumers and government officials are going to have to get used to paying more for insurance—to catch up for lost time. Or there’s always Idaho, which has plenty of sunshine and the lowest property insurance rates in the country

Share & Enjoy:

Frozen Squirrels, Licking Cows & Weird Insurance Claims

March 4th, 2009 by Penny Hagerman

licking-cowNow that I’ve got your attention, it’s quiz time. Ready?

What do frozen squirrels and licking cows have in common (other than the fact that they’re both animals)?

Here’s the truth, an answer you might not believe: they’ve both been named in weird insurance claims filed in the U.S. during the past few years.

Some policyholders, looking to make a dollar or two through insurance payouts, file strange claims involving animals, food and inanimate objects. Others find themselves in unusual situations involving bumbling burglars, slips and falls or true instances of loss—and sincerely need help.

In fact, some people max out their insurance coverage over some of the strangest and most random occurrences insurance companies have ever heard of.

Take for instance these examples:

  • A homeowner, concerned that her pipes were leaking, submitted a claim for standing water in her backyard garden. When the insurance adjuster came to inspect the damage, he found only the family dog which, it turns out, enjoyed relieving himself in the same spot over and over.
  • A policyholder submitted a claim for a new bed, explaining that he wore out his old one by having too much sex.
  • A woman filed a renter’s insurance claim when she discovered that her cell phone wouldn’t work after she cleaned it—in the dishwasher.
  • A woman sued a nightclub—and won—after she fell through a window and broke some of her teeth. At the time the incident happened, she had been sneaking into the club to avoid paying a cover charge.

Though most of us can’t help but laugh at the ridiculous situations some people seem to find themselves in, how do these strange things happen in the first place—or do they? Who’s to say?

To read some of the other strange occurrences for which people file claims, read our article on the subject here. But please; for your own sake, use some common sense where your insurance is concerned—and save your claims for true emergencies.

Share & Enjoy:

Save Hundreds on Your Insurance Without Switching to Geico

March 2nd, 2009 by Jeb Foster

Here’s where Geico has a monopoly in the insurance market: incredibly funny ads:

Whether it’s a gecko, cave man, washed-up celebrity, or stack of bills with eyeballs, Geico’s myriad mascots never fail to entertain.

But here’s where Geico doesn’t have a monopoly: low-cost insurance.

While the Maryland-based insurer may help you save hundreds on your insurance, it is not the only insurer that can do so. A lot of insurance companies out there may be able to save you hundreds on your insurance.

This is not to denigrate Geico—the only thing they’re guilty of is having a more creative advertising and copywriting department.

The point is that good deals on insurance are everywhere. All it takes is a few minutes to find out if you could be paying less. Start a quote request in the box on the right and find your better deal.

Share & Enjoy:

Is Suze Orman Right about Life insurance?

February 17th, 2009 by Jeb Foster

Life insurance is an important  subject—too important for bad advice. And that’s why I’m going to take a couple minutes to unpack Suze Orman’s unwise counsel.

(For those of you without televisions, Suze Orman is an incredibly popular personal finance pundit and Oprah protégé.)

Too rigid
When answering the question, “How much life insurance should I get?” Orman resorts to a long-discredited formula of multiplying your salary by 20.

The Insurance Information Institute (III) calls this formula “simplistic” because it ignores inflation and other sources of income. The III outlines a scenario in which, at 3 percent annual inflation, Orman’s formula would leave a survivor with no money after 16 years.

Too arbitrary
Orman’s conclusion on the whole life vs. term life insurance debate matches our own, but her reasoning is suspect. She discourages consumers from buying whole life insurance merely because insurance agents make large commissions on such policies.

“While I agree with her that whole life insurance is a poor choice, her explanation for why kind of leaves a person wondering who in the world ever told her she could touch a microphone,” says Ed Hinerman, a life insurance  and blogger. “The reason whole life is a bad deal is that it mixes your family protection with investments … commission is not the issue!”

In other words, permanent life insurance is a bad investment strategy. While it will replace lost income in the event of the policyholder’s death, it will never be a cash cow while the insured is alive. We at InsureMe generally subscribe to this advice: ‘buy term and invest the difference.’

What’s more, Hinerman notes that you should buy a financial product because it’s the right product for you, not because it results in a large or small commission for the agent or broker. The commission is immaterial.

When it comes to life insurance, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, despite what Orman would have you believe. The best way to find the right coverage is to talk to a licensed professional that you trust. He or she will look at your unique situation—your age, income, assets, number of dependents—and help you find the best policy.

Related:

Share & Enjoy:

Get a Cheap Insurance Quote—and Have More Money for Gift Giving

December 11th, 2008 by Penny Hagerman

We’re all looking for ways to conserve money these days. With prices rising and the holidays fast approaching, researchers say we’re spending less than ever on gift giving—and more on everything else.

The one bright spot? Gasoline prices continue to drop—for now at least—something we’re all grateful for after so many months of inflated prices.

But if, like us, you’re looking for additional ways to save on your monthly bills, as you wait and wonder how you’ll buy your wife that new pair of shoes she so desperately needs, there’s good news: using InsureMe to get a cheap insurance quote means you’ll more than likely have extra money to spend on that special someone this year.

If you’ve never shopped your insurance rates through InsureMe, or it’s been more than a year since you did so last, give our agents a chance to compete for your business—and lower your premiums. Whether you need home, life, health, LTC or car insurance, we’ve got connections with agents in your area who need your business as much as you need insurance…and they’ll get you the cheapest insurance quote available just to earn your business.

Spend less on insurance and more on gift giving this year. Then start the New Year with the cheapest rates possible! Here’s to a great 2009….

Share & Enjoy:

The Future of Florida Home Insurance Still an Unknown

December 4th, 2006 by Maribeth Neelis

girl.jpg
Some things just won’t go away–1980s fashion statements, American Idol…Florida’s home insurance problems.

Many Florida homeowners have seen their rates triple in the last few years. And despite the fact that this was a relatively uneventful hurricane season, many have lost home insurance coverage or seen yet another price hike.

Previous inaction had many Floridians up in arms, but Gov. elect Charlie Crist has some semblance of a plan to solve the issues that have been plaguing Florida homeowners for several years.

One of the possible solutions is to model home insurance after other types of insurance, like auto. If a homeowner wishes to choose a higher deductible or forego certain coverage, they may. However, while those changes might make home insurance more affordable, high deductibles and a lack of coverage could have dire consequences when another hurricane strikes.

Another of Crist’s proposed tweaks is the addition of safety credits. If a homeowner has safeguarded their home, Crist says they should be eligible for rate reductions, similar to the way a safe driver pays lower car insurance premiums. However, some oppose state-mandated credits as too much state involvement.

But promising is the optimism Crist has been expressing since he was elected governor nearly a month ago. And those that decried politicians’ previous unresponsiveness can take care knowing that at the very least lawmakers are now addressing the issue in a special session.

Read the article.

Share & Enjoy:

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

Share & Enjoy:

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!

Share & Enjoy:

State Insurance Departments Do It Better, So Says Ore. Regulator

September 5th, 2006 by Megan Mahan

State insurance departments are better consumer protectors than the federal government, according to Oregon State Insurance Administrator, Joel Ario. Ario, who was recently interviewed by the Insurance Journal, said while the federal government does play a role in protecting consumers, individual state departments are “better equipped” to handle insurance issues, simply because they’re closer to those affected by the problem. lincolnsmall.JPG

States also play in important role when it comes to developing new insurance laws and regulations. National programs are often built “on successful state experiments,” Ario said, “It’s in the nature of the 50 states to experiment in different kinds of ways. We’re the laboratories of democracy.”

The state of Oregon is certainly setting that precedent in regard to credit-based insurance scoring–rather than outlawing credit scoring altogether, the state imposed laws that allows credit scores to be used when writing new business, but not on existing clients. The system has worked so far, and if the measure passes on the General Election Ballot this November, it could set the stage for credit-based changes in other states.

And while the credit issue is certainly proof that state initiatives are major players in the national picture, Ario also contends that consumer protection is best done at the state level. “Insurance is one of those messy sort of products,” he says. “A federal consumer protection call center is not nearly as good as state by state protections.”

I have to agree; state departments of insurance (DOI) really take care of business. Because insurance law is regulated on a state-by-state basis, the DOI has more knowledge about insurance regulation, consumer rights and consumer protection laws as it pertains to that state, then just about any federally-based department.

Of course, not many people know that their state has a department of insurance–before working here at InsureMe, I had no idea. But state DOIs have a myriad of tips and resources available to residents, and are also the go-to department for any issues that might arise with an insurance company or agent.

Get better acquainted with your state DOI by visiting this state map, courtesy of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners.

[Source:] Insurance Journal

Share & Enjoy:

Are Florida’s Leaders Stalling on an Insurance Remedy?

August 18th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

No one questions that there is an insurance crisis is Florida. What is open to debate is whether Florida’s political leadership is in crisis mode.

According to a story in the Tallahassee Democrat, the current Republican leadership would prefer to wait until elections are over this fall before taking any substantive action on the lack of affordable property insurance in the state.Hurricane.jpg

Not surprisingly, that leaves more than a few Floridians a little concerned, because November is a long way off and hurricanes don’t wait for political solutions before making landfall.

Democrats, who hope to pick up seats in the legislature and take the top spot in Tallahassee, have spent a large chunk of their summer campaigns hammering the GOP’s response (or lack thereof) to the crisis. Republicans have responded by saying that Democrats shouldn’t “play politics” with such an important and complex issue. They both have good points.

…Read the rest of this entry »

Share & Enjoy:

The California Auto Insurance “War” Continues

August 14th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

The Western Insurance Agents Association offered the latest volley in what it calls a “war” over ZIP code-based underwriting, accusing California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi of using his office to “pander” to voters.

Earlier this month, Garamendi, who is running for Lt. Governor, led a successful campaign to force auto insurers to drop ZIP codes from their rate setting formulas, saying location-based premiums put an unfair burden on minority and urban drivers. The new rule, which will go into effect in two years, requires insurers to use driving record as the primary factor in determining insurance rates. The rule is an outgrowth of a 1988 ballot measure mandating fair auto premiums for all Californians. Last week, industry representatives were denied in their request for a preliminary injuction to stop the change.

In a statement published in the Insurance Journal, the agents association savagely attacked Garamendi’s motives: “Americans would be hard pressed to find anyone across the United States that has exploited his public position as an elected regulator for personal political gain more than California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi,” the release reads.

…Read the rest of this entry »

Share & Enjoy:

California Car Insurers Sue Over Rule Change

August 3rd, 2006 by Jeb Foster

The saga continues.

This story begins in 1988, when California voters approved Proposition 103, a ballot measure mandating that driving record, not the zip code in which you park your car, be the biggest factor in determining your auto insurance rate.
The California.jpg

Despite this straightforward exercise in participatory democracy, Californians today are still paying zip code-based premiums.

So what happened?

According to a recent editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle, Prop. 103’s driving record mandate was shelved because of the appointment, in 1996, of state Insurance Commissioner Chuck Quackenbush. The Chronicle says Quackenbush “was the industry’s water boy until he was chased out of office in a corruption scandal.”

…Read the rest of this entry »

Share & Enjoy:

San Francisco Moves Toward Universal Healthcare

July 27th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

Pending a legal challenge, San Francisco could be the first American city to provide access to healthcare for all of its residents.

In a lopsided 11-0 vote, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors voted to implement the $200 million-dollar “San Francisco Health Access Plan,” which is the brainchild of the city’s iconoclastic mayor, Gavin Newsom. (He last made news when he flouted state law and issued marriage licenses to gay couples.)

In a departure from other universal healthcare concepts, San Francisco’s plan doesn’t provide insurance to the uninsured. Instead, it will provide access to essential medical services to tens of thousands of residents that they previously couldn’t afford care.

According to the AP, the ambitious plan will be paid for through individual premiums, taxes, and business contributions. The latter funding source is a sticking point, and businesses, who say they’ll have to foot a disproportionate amount of the bill, are likely to file a legal challenge to the initiative. In fact, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the city’s private sector has displayed “unmitigated opposition” to the plan.

Proponents say that if people have access to routine care they will be less likely to require later emergency room care, which is prohibitively expensive for most patients.

Medical care would be limited to residents of the city.

Businesses opposed to the plan (most of which make up the 15 percent who currently don’t provide covereage for their workers) threaten to either leave the city or simply pass on the costs to their consumers, a move that would raise the cost of living in this already expensive city. (It typically makes the list of top three most expensive cities in America.) Methinks this fact will likely prevent a “gold rush” for the city’s cheap(er) medical care.

Will the plan work? Let us know what you think.

Share & Enjoy:

Florida Businesses Feel the Insurance Burn

July 24th, 2006 by Jeb Foster

According to an article in the Miami Herald, South Florida businesses face “permanent, crippling economic damage” due to the lack of affordable windstorm insurance.

Further, the high cost of coverage has many business considering a move to less volatile environs–a prospect that bodes ill for the state’s unemployment rate and economy as a whole. Consumers (who have insurance woes of their own) are also feeling the hurt, as businesses pass on the high cost of windstorm coverage in the form of higher prices.

Unlike homeowners, Florida business owners cannot turn to state-sponsored windstorm insurance.

The real estate market–one of the key pillars of the state’s economy–is also reeling from the insurance crisis. Because insurance is so hard to come by, builders aren’t able to get mortgages. This means that the state’s tax revenue will suffer, as much of Tallahassee’s income is tied to taxes on real estate transactions.

So to sum up, Florida faces flighty businesses; high prices for consumer goods; the prospect of a spike in unemployment; economic stagnation; and a hurricane season that is just getting going. (And I heard the organge crop was big dissapointment this year.)

This state just can’t get a break.

Meantime, businesses, insurance companies, real estate brokers and bankers don’t know a way out of the insurance crisis, and they think the state’s political leadership has taken a casual attitude toward finding a solution. ”The insurance department has dropped the ball on this crisis. By the time they finish talking, we could have been hit by a hurricane,” Carlos Allen, vice president of Pan American Assurance, told the Herald.

He’s got a point.

Gov. Jeb Bush created the Property and Casualty Reform Committee last month. Its first report on the state’s insurance crisis isn’t due until Nov. 15–pretty much the time when the hurricane season packs it in for the winter.

Share & Enjoy:
« Older Entries