Saturday, February 28, 2009

Car Insurance Fraud, Are You Next?

Posted by: Madeleine Brooks

An insurance fraud scheme that hasn't been repeated since the 1990's has come back in full force as of recently. Four creative men devised a scheme that put insurance companies out of $500,000 and having innocent people paying for the repercussions. 48-year-old Michael Bozzi, devised a scheme to obtain Pennsylvania auto insurance policies and sell them to people living in New York City.

The scam was going on from January 2005 to September 2006 getting hundreds of New York citizens involved. A man named Bien Aime was being paid to advertise in New York City for cheap automobiles and cheap car insurance. Bien Aime was in charge of selling cars to New Yorkers and dealing with Michael Bozzi for the fake auto insurance policies. Bien Aime had an assistant to help him create fake P.O. Box addresses in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Auto insurance premiums in New York are estimated to be around $4,000 however through this amazing scam people were paying only $1,500 for a premium in New York. The biggest problem with this scam was that if a New York resident insured under this false auto insurance policy got into an accident who will pay for the damages? You would think that if you got into a car accident, your insurance would go up, however, the people who have to pay for the damages and premiums are residents of Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

Michael Bozzi was a licensed insurance broker who operated his very own insurance company. With the help of his very own employee, Josh Green, they were able to take the hundreds of applicants and submit the applications for out-of-state residents to insurance companies with false addresses and information. The men were able to print out fraudulent insurance cards and get around the system (but not for very long). All four men were charged with theft, corrupt organization, insurance fraud and many other crimes. Also Michael Bozzi who was once a licensed insurance broker with his own company is also being charged as well.

So how can you prevent this from happening to you? You, as an owner of an auto insurance policy, should do heavy duty research about the insurance company that you are receiving a policy from. Making sure that the company is real and the information they present you is not falsely represented. You should also educate yourself with knowing what is and what is not a fraudulent scam. People can stage accidents, add damage to an already damaged car to make it seem worse than it is, and having fake helpers. In the case of getting issued fake auto insurance policies, the best advice one can give is not to fall for an offer that looks and seems to be "too good to be true" and to research what you are doing before you get yourself stuck in a sticky situation.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Car Insurance for Teens

Posted by: Madeleine Brooks

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Car Insurance Deductibles

By JieYing Peng

When choosing what insurance policy you want to purchase, selecting a deductible is a very important step. Deductible is the amount an insured person must pay before the insurance company pays the remainder of each covered loss, up to the policy limits. For example, if an accident that causes $3000 worth of damage and your deductible is $500, you have to pay $500 and the insurance company would cover the remaining which is $2500.

Figuring out how much you are willing to pay and how often you think you will need to make an insurance claim will help you decide what deductible amount is right for you. Moreover, the premium you pay, or the price of your total coverage annually, can be lowered by choosing a higher deductible. If you are willing to pay higher out-of-pocket costs, you can lower the total cost of your insurance. You should also consider a deductible that you can afford to pay if you are involved in a car accident.

When choosing the policy, you want a policy to take care of your expenses in the event of accident, theft, vandalism or most any other instance in which there is a damage to your or someone else’s car. You also want to find out what your state requires and discounts you qualify for.


How To Choose the Right Health Insurance

By Chaoran Hu

Health insurance is important in our life, most people choose to put it behind. However, better dealing with this issue will make your life easier. Here are some tips in choosing a health insurance.

Location: Insurance plans vary by states, and the prices will be different accordingly. Take New York for example, has some of the most expensive individual plans in the country, largely due to its guaranteed-issue policy that requires companies to insure everyone, regardless of health. If there are not too many differences between the health insurance in different places, it is wise to pick up the package that cost you less.

Don't be afraid to use a broker: An insurance broker can be a huge help. He can do the legwork to find a well-suited insurance company, help shop for the best rates, and explain the ins and outs of your plan. So, do not hesitate to find someone professional to help you out of picking the right and economic health insurance package.

Ask for a "free look" : A free book means that you can get your money back if you're unsatisfied within a set period of time. The key here, though, is staying on top of things and making sure you follow the guidelines. Restrictions vary by company and plan, but you could have anywhere from one to six weeks to ask for a refund — probably in writing. So ask for any free book that consist of various kinds of tips and suggestions, and getting yourself ready to know more about the policy just in case there is some emergencies.

What is No-Fault Car Insurance?

By Michael W. Collins

It is common to see advertisements for car insurance everywhere. Whenever I watch television, I am bombarded by ads for Geico, AllState, and the like. However, in some states, including my home state of Massachusetts, we have what is known as "no-fault" car insurance.

The basic idea of no-fault car insurance is to avoid determining fault and dealing with the court system. This is done with the belief that settlements will be reached more quickly and that it will result in lower costs for all parties involved. "no-fault coverage is usually limited. It usually only pays for medical bills and lost income up to the limits of your policy. Pain and suffering and any expenses over the policy limits aren't covered."1

Despite lower overall costs when there is an incident, no-fault car insurance does not cover property damage. This may lead to lawsuits in order to cover the costs of repairs or replacement. Also, because fault is not determined in incidents, insurance quotes may be initially higher for policyholders.

No-fault insurance has many critics and supporters. Supporters tend to highlight how this type of insurance results in quicker settlement and does not place blame. Critics, however, believe that it de-emphasizes personal responsibility and essentially penalizes safe drivers by forcing them to pay higher fees than they would otherwise have to.


Myths About Health Insurances

Posted by Connie Yee

When it comes to purchasing health insurance, individuals do not investigate the various options that are available on the market. In fact, young adults tend to ignore this process, and have emerged as one of the largest group to be uninsured. To discourage any fears, here are the three myths about health insurances.

Myth #1: Health insurance is expensive if you purchase it by yourself- If you know the type of coverage you need, you can choose an affordable plans that cover those medical needs.

Myth #2: It is better to purchase your employer-sponsored health insurance- As the cost of employer-sponsored health insurance continues to increase, employees are paying more for the coverage. This type of insurance is great for individual with chronic medical conditions, but it is not economically friendly for those who are healthy and rarely goes to the doctor.

Myth #3: I have a job so I can pay for my medical debt over time- This mindset by young adult is simply false. When you get sick, you would be unable to work for a period of time, thus reducing your income. Even when you are able to get back to work, the amount of debt will hinder your finances for a long time.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Even Expatriates Need Health Insurance

By: Tsu-Han (Ina) Chang
What is expatriates insurance? Expatriates insurance is a policy that can be purchased by either the expatriate or their company. The policy can be designed by the employer and employee to cover a wide range of risks faced by the expatriate while working abroad. The most common coverage purchased is the health insurance policy.

Expatriates health insurance are considered to be short-term policies; lasting anywhere from six to 24 months. The purpose of the insurance is to provide the employer as well as the employee a peace of mind while working in a foreign country. Depending on the plan selected, an employee may be covered for emergency medical care when needed, and coverage for the emergency trip back to the employee’s country of origin. Other coverage may include: hospital room and board, doctor visits, emergency room fees, prescription drugs, laboratory services, etc. The importance of the policy is to prevent having to spend unforeseen hefty medical bills.

In one case, while working as an expatriate in Africa an American (left unnamed by article) suffered a massive heart attack and required immediate expert medical attention. The cost to evacuate him out of the area was $280,000. However, due to the expatriate insurance the man had purchased prior to leaving for his job, the cost of his care was covered. It is important to remember that as many of us are looking to either travel or work abroad, to consider the importance of having health insurance.


Medicare vs. Medicaid

By: Li Bin Chen

Medicare is a federal health insurance program for people age 65 and older, certain people under 65 with disabilities and certain people with kidney disease. Every senior who has paid into the Medicare system during their working years is eligible for Medicare. Medicaid, which is administered by each individual state, is a need based program of health coverage for certain people with low incomes or very high medical bills. While the eligibility for Medicare depends on age or disability only; eligibility for Medicaid depends on age, disability or family status and on an individual’s (or family’s) income and resources. To qualify for Medicaid, your family needed to be in the low income bracket or having trouble affording the medical bills but Medicare disregarding the individual asset of the person.

There are two "parts" to Medicare Part A and a Part B. The "A" part pays for hospital visits while the "B" part picks up part of your outpatient doctor visits and some other medically related services. And Medicaid benefits are paid directly to the provider of services without the individual having to pay anything out of pocket first. Most of us are fairly familiar with the Medicare program. We either has used it to pay for hospital and doctor visits, or our parents/grandparents have. Regardless, everyone has seen the deduction on their paycheck. Often Medicaid is view as a needs-based social welfare or social protection program rather than a social insurance program.

Did you know that Medicaid is also the program that provides the largest portion of federal money spent on health care for people living with HIV. Typically, poor people who are HIV positive must progress to AIDS before they can qualify under the "disabled" category. More than half of people living with AIDS are estimated to receive Medicaid payments.

Health Insurance Policy Terms

posted by SooYeon(Pia),Shin

Medical Marijuana, Hospital Laborists and Americans Without Insurance


Expectant Mothers Find a New Face in the Delivery Room
Laborists -- hospital-based specialists -- are filling in the gaps as a growing number of obstetricians stop delivering babies because of malpractice insurance costs and long hours, the Boston Globe reports. Pregnant women don't even meet a laborist until they arrive at the hospital to deliver, but some experts say the change will improve safety. Laborists start caring for women on arrival and have defined shifts, so they're not overworked and fatigued.

Leeches Used to Help Reattach Severed Arm
Surgeons in Australia used leeches to reattach the severed arm of a surfer who was mauled by a great white shark. Agence France-Presse reports that doctors used the leeches to restore blood flow to the injured hand after 33-year-old Glenn Orgias almost lost it; surgeons said they are hopeful Mr. Orgias will regain some of the use of his hand. He was attacked by an eight-foot great white shark on Sydney's Bondi Beach on Feb. 12.

New Jersey Contemplates Medical Marijuana Law

New Jersey may soon allow patients with cancer, AIDS or other chronic illness to use marijuana for medicinal purposes, becoming the 14th state with a medical marijuana law, reports. A bill passed by the state senate would allow patients to keep six marijuana plants and one ounce for personal use if diagnosed by physicians as having a debilitating medical condition. Patients would also need to register with the state.

For full article : click here

Posted by: Stephanie King

Monday, February 23, 2009

Will Your Insurer Pay Up?

Posted By: Michael W. Collins

There have been enough headlines, lawsuits and regulatory concern in recent years to give us pause. Here's just a sample:

  • Nearly two years after Hurricane Katrina inflicted a record-setting $66 billion in insured losses -- more than the toll of Hurricane Andrew, the Sept. 11 attacks and the Northridge, Calif., earthquake combined -- thousands of policyholders who thought they had full coverage are still bickering with their insurers over whether wind or water destroyed their homes.
  • Blue Cross and Kaiser Foundation Health Plan were both recently assessed regulatory fines for "wrongful recession" -- illegally withdrawing individual insurance coverage from people after they got sick. Critics say the companies scoured the consumers' applications for minor errors or omissions to use as an excuse for ending their coverage.
Click Here to Read More

Essentials of a Valid Insurance Contract

By Pooja Dave
Posted by Chaoran Hu

1. Offer and Acceptance: When applying for insurance, the first thing you do is get the proposal form of a particular insurance company. After filling in the requested details, you send the form to the company (sometimes with a premium check). This is your offer. If the insurance company accepts your offer and agrees to insure you, this is called an acceptance. In some cases, your insurer may agree to accept your offer after making some changes to your proposed terms (for example, charging you a double premium for your chain-smoking habit).
2. Consideration: This is the premium or the future premiums that you have pay to your insurance company. For insurers, consideration also refers to the money paid out to you should you file an insurance claim. This means that each party to the contract must provide some value to the relationship.
3. Legal Capacity: You need to be legally competent to enter into an agreement with your insurer. If you are a minor or are mentally ill, for example, then you may not be qualified to make contracts. Similarly, insurers are considered to be competent if they are licensed under the prevailing regulations that govern them.
4. Legal Purpose: If the purpose of your contract is to encourage illegal activities, it is invalid.

Challenges With New Health Care Insurance

Written by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Posted by Connie Yee

WASHINGTON (AP) — Now for the hard part.
Even if the national credit card is maxed out and partisanship remains the rule for Washington's political tribes, President Barack Obama and Congress are plunging ahead with a health care overhaul.

This week, Obama will start the dialogue on how to increase coverage, restrain costs and improve quality.

Whether a bill can get through Congress and to Obama this year is uncertain. For half a century, the track record on health care has been one of missed opportunities, spectacular failures and hard-won incremental gains.

Obama plans to stress the need for major changes in his address to Congress on Tuesday, administration officials say. He quickly will follow up with a budget that includes a commitment to expand coverage for the uninsured. A White House summit on health care is being planned in coming weeks.

Insurance Upgrade Helps Homeowners Go "Green" After a Loss

Posted by JieYing Peng

WARREN, NJ--(Marketwire - February 23, 2009) - If a home is damaged or destroyed, homeowners may want to rebuild with "green" materials and processes, but the additional cost can be prohibitive. Now, homeowners can obtain insurance through the Chubb Group of Insurance Companies that will pay to rebuild using environmentally friendly materials, low-impact processes and ultra-efficient heating and cooling technology after an insured loss.

Under Chubb's Masterpiece® GreenWise(SM) Upgrade coverage option, Chubb will pay the difference between rebuilding the house as it was and rebuilding "green," up to the amount of GreenWise insurance purchased. The new upgrade option can also help customers who have homes that have already been "green" certified to rebuild to the most recent certification standards.

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Obama's new plans for health care

Posted by SooYeon(Pia),Shin

According to liberal think tank Center for American Progress’ Action Fund, about 4million Americans have lost their health insurance since the recession began. Also, they predicted that an estimated 14,000 people might be losing their health coverage every day. Furthermore, the report also states that at least half of those who lost their health insurance since the recession began still are uninsured. An estimated 46 million Americans did not have health insurance before the recession started.

When President Barack Obama campaigned, he promised to expand government health programs and provide people funds to help them afford coverage. Also, Obama “…proposed creating a public plan to compete with private health insurers and taking steps, such as putting more health records in digital form, to help reduce costs (Marcus, Bloomberg).”

Last week, President Obama signed a stimulus package which the U.S. will spend $150 billion on health care. This movement is very important for health care reform in the U.S., since there are so many Americans who do not have health coverage due to poor income. Some says the plan could bring two further outcomes: bringing new jobs in the health care field and other areas and lowering costs of health insurance.

Are You Covered?

Copied and Posted by Ryan Johnson

Like many people, Nancy Dalrymple and Michael Flannery never thought much about their homeowner's insurance. Every so often they put a check in the mail for their agent and figured coverage would be there if, God forbid, they ever needed it.

Until their Winthrop single family went up in flames in November 2005, that is. "I thought everything was fine," Dalrymple says. "But they said we were way underinsured. We only had something like $193,000 on the structure, and we had damage of about $360,000. Then of course you have other coverage for contents, but it was a total loss. We lost far more contents than we had coverage for."

Full Article: 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Are you thinking about Retirement?

By: Li Bin Chen

NEW YORK (Money) -- Question: My wife and I are 27 years old and have contributed to a Roth IRA the past two years. Our money is in a 2040 target-date retirement fund that has about 90% of its assets invested in stocks and the rest in bonds and money-market funds. Should we continue to contribute the maximum to our Roth IRA if this is our only retirement vehicle? And is a portfolio mix of 90% stocks and 10% bonds and cash right for this volatile market? ?Joe, Lancaster, Ohio

Answer: Let's start with the more straightforward of the questions you ask: Is a portfolio mix of 90% stocks-10% bonds and cash appropriate given today's yo-yoing financial markets?

The short answer is yes.

Click to read more

Insurance Companies Purposely Drag Out Cases to Avoid Full Compensation

Posted By: Tsu-Han (Ina) Chang

Friday, February 20, 2009

How do People Who Get Laid-off get Health Insruance?

Posted By: Madeleine Brooks

Every day I read about how companies are laying off more and more employees because of the downturn in the U.S. economy. These former employees may also have had a health insurance plan through the company that they used to work for. What happens once these employees are laid off? Does there health insurance end as soon as their job does?

Health insurance policies cover medical expenses for varieties of diseases and treatments. If you recently got laid off there are a few steps in which you should take to find out if you can still receive the health insurance you had. Here are the steps to find out:

1. Ask about COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act). COBRA was an act passed in 1985 to provide laid-off workers with their continuing health insurance if they lost their job.

2. Make sure that the company you once worked for qualifies for COBRA. The qualifications for COBRA is that the company offers health insurance, has twenty or more employees and that they company is still currently in business.

3. Contact the company you were just laid off for to inform them you would like to enroll in COBRA as well as keeping the insurance policy you originally had. Most likely you will have to fill out some paper work and also have to pay the insurance monthly in order to be insured.

4. Do some research to learn more about COBRA and to see if there are benefits that you are able to receive during your time of unemployment.

5. Learn about the coverage you have under COBRA. There is a possibility you can still have your health insurance up to 18 months from the date you got laid off from the previous company. You can also accept a job at a different company while still being on the insurance policy of your old company.

6. If your company doesn't qualify for COBRA, contact your local insurance agent to see how you can receive an insurance policy.

Having COBRA definitely helps a bit of the way. However, there is always a downfall to something beneficial. It is said that 75-85% of employers pick up the tab for their employees' health insurance. If an employee gets laid off, the entire bill that once was being paid by your employer is now placed in the palm of your hand. Health insurance sky rockets and you as the former employee will be paying out of pocket for your health coverage.

How can you find Health Insurance once you get laid off? People try to hold out until they are age 65 when they can start collecting Medicare. However, some people won't be able to wait until 65 to see the money, so what should you do? You can:

1. See if you qualify for COBRA

2. If you are married, try to get under your spouse's health insurance plan until you find another job that will provide you with coverage.

3. Do your best to find a job and do extensive research to find out their health insurance policies.

4. Insure yourself for health insurance. However it is very time consuming, difficult and hard to insure yourself when you do not have a job. A lot of health insurance policies don't cover certain ailments and illnesses that one might have. The more sicknesses one has, the higher the insurance rates will be for that person.

5. You can take a gamble and see what would happen if you went to a doctor and receive a bill. You can talk out your options with the doctor to see how you can pay them for the visit and treatment.

6. Try to sustain a healthy lifestyle as best as possible.

Health insurance is so expensive and when you get laid off from a job, does not make the situation any better. By reviewing these steps, it will be helpful for you to understand the necessary actions you should take.


Understanding Insurance

Posted by: Madeleine Brooks

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Insurance Fraud and Abuse: A Very Serious Problem

By Stephen Barrett, M.D.
Posted by Chaoran Hu

Fraud and abuse are widespread and very costly to America's health-care system. Fraud involves intentional deception or misrepresentation intended to result in an unauthorized benefit. An example would be billing for services that are not rendered. Abuse involves charging for services that are not medically necessary, do not conform to professionally recognized standards, or are unfairly priced.

An example would be performing a laboratory test on large numbers of patients when only a few should have it. Abuse may be similar to fraud except that it is not possible to establish that the abusive acts were done with an intent to deceive the insurer.

Although no precise dollar amount can be determined, some authorities contend that insurance fraud constitutes a $100-billion-a-year problem. The United States Goverment Accountability Office (GAO) estimates that $1 out of every $7 spent on Medicare is lost to fraud and abuse and that in 1998 alone, Medicare lost nearly $12 billion to fraudulent or unnecessary claims.

Many frauds can be detected by examining insurance payment reports to see whether they accurately reflect the services rendered. Suspicious reports involving a private insurer claim should be reported to the company's fraud department.

Gov. Gregoire signs bill to increase unemployment insurance benefits

Posted By SooYeon(Pia),Shin

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Gov. Chris Gregoire Monday signed House Bill 1906, which will give Washingtonians receiving unemployment insurance an additional $45 a week in benefits, coming at the same time the federal government is increasing benefits by $25 a week.

Along with an increase in benefits, the legislation expands the program that allows employers to reduce workers' hours by up to 50 percent while workers receive partial unemployment benefits. The goal is to keep people working and help employers retain their skilled work force until times get better.

In addition, the bill expands eligibility requirements for unemployment insurance claimants attending school or training. The bill extends the deadline for participants to enter the program, and expands eligibility beyond dislocated workers to include disabled workers, low-wage earners, military and Washington National Guard members who were honorably discharged within the previous year, and current members of the National Guard.

Click here to read more

Monday, February 16, 2009

14 Useless Insurance Policies

Posted By: Michael Collins

When Shakespeare observed, "What fools these mortals be," he easily could have been referring to our tendency to buy unnecessary or downright useless insurance.

Granted, some insurance coverage is absolutely necessary, including home, health, auto, life and long-term disability. Ignore these at your peril.

But on more than a dozen policies -- especially narrowly focused single-purpose coverage on things like accidental death, cancer, credit card fraud and mortgages -- we simply fall victim to fear and salesmanship and purchase coverage that is redundant, unnecessary, impractical or downright wasteful.

"All of the single-purpose insurances turn out to be a bad deal," says Gail Hillebrand, senior attorney for Consumers Union.

"You have to ask what the loss ratio is, which is for every dollar taken in, how much is paid back out in claims? It's quite common in various kinds of credit insurance for it to be 10 (cents to) 15 cents on the dollar and even less, as opposed to your car insurance, which turns out to be paying 80 (cents to) 85 cents on the dollar. It just illustrates how bad a deal it can be."

What's worse, 19% to 25% of us overpay for insurance by purchasing coverage with zero or low deductibles, according to a recent study, "Why Do People Buy Too Much Insurance?" by New York University professors Zur Shapira and Itzhak Venezia.

"It was kind of surprising," says Shapira. "Almost always, you should get a high deductible rather than a low deductible."

Jack Hungelmann, a veteran Minneapolis insurance agent, risk management consultant and author of "Insurance for Dummies," says our tendency to buy too much and/or frivolous coverage is the norm rather than the exception.

"You want a balanced program so that all the major losses are equally well-covered, with prudent use of deductibles," he says. "Most insurance programs I audit are out of balance."

Ready to trim your insurance costs? Here, in alphabetical order, are 14 policies you can probably scale back -- or live without.

1. Accidental death insurance
Accidental death covers you in some, although by no means all, of the ways you could die accidentally -- that is, perishing due to something other than disease or old age.

However, chances are your existing life insurance policy will cover you in most of those events anyway.

Accidental death falls under what Hungelmann calls "Las Vegas coverage," because the odds of it happening are slim.

"Don't waste your money on that," he says. "If you need life insurance, buy enough so that it covers all circumstances. Don't buy just for certain scenarios."

Click Here to Read More

Rental Car Insurance Tips

by Chaoran Hu

While spring break is drawing near, a lot of students are planning their trip for vocation. After purchased their airline tickets, planed the tourist attractions at the destinations, and gathered their maps, it is time to find a rental car. Have you ever considered about the rental car insurance when you are asked on the other end of the phone if you would like to purchase a collision-damage or personal liability insurance with that contract, you might be thinking what are they? Here are some tips of rental car insurance.

1. Knowing your own auto policy
Talk to insurance agency to examine your personal auto insurance policy to determine what type of car insurance you have, and whether it will cover your rental car. If you have an existing collision and comprehensive coverage, you probably do not need to purchase insurance for your rental car.

2. Credit Card Coverage
Check with your credit card agency to see whether they offer rental car coverage. If so, what are the details of this offer? Ask as many questions as you can to make sure all the details about the insurance package.

Finally, after gathering all the relevant information, compare the rental care insurance policy to your own auto vehicle policy and credit card coverage, and thus make an informed decision. Without doing researching and comparing these difference insurance policies, one would be most likely end up with either too much insurance or too little insurance coverage.


Bailout – what is in it for Insurance Company?

By Li Bin Chen

The original $700 billion bailout package was intended to save the American banking system. But the insurance industry was hoping for some money too. With the initial financial crisis, if insurance companies in America and Europe come under pressure, equities and bonds worldwide could easily be hit with another wave of selling. Some people even consider that the insurance industry is even more international in term of its transaction of material purpose given the extensive, long standing reinsurance agreements between domestic policy writers and specialist risk buyers internationally.

If AIG’s portfolio was simply a reflection of established practice, then the amount of money required to support the insurance industry could well exceed the Treasury’s budget for banks and financial institutions. Insurance industry report losses from real estate investments and derivatives making them vulnerable to the financial crisis, that they need the help from the government. The nearly collapse of AIG establish the foundation of where the crisis will be heading to, triggering a new wave of problems for the financial markets.

After the bailout of insurance giant AIG, insurance companies are lining up for federal dollars, leaving some consumers worried about their insurance policies. Consumers were asking what would happen to their insurance policies if their insurers went under. They want some “insurance” on the condition of the investment or the contracts that they have purchased. Most of the insurance companies had request for a TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) investment from the government saying that it will be a prudent move given the potential market volatility. The insurance guaranty fund organizations had claim that if one or more insurance companies go under, they are prepared to step in to ensure that most consumers will continue to receive the benefits guaranteed by their policies.

Insurance Companies Hit By Economy Mid-Recovery

Copied and Posted by Ryan Johnson

Many politicians, editorialists and citizens have weighed in on the recent decision by State Farm to withdraw from Florida's property insurance market.

Some of the comments have derided State Farm and some of these came long before the announcement. These comments sometimes emanate from a lack of understanding of the issues and, unfortunately, others come from people who know better.

Gov. Charlie Crist has said that Florida is better off without State Farm; he says the policies will be picked up by a group of new smaller insurers or the state's insurer, Citizens Property Insurance Company (Citizens).

The national A-rated companies have been reducing Florida business for years. State Farm is just the latest and largest example.

Health care reform shaping up to be as divisive as stimulus package

Posted by JieYing Peng

Health care reform is still on the agenda this year in Congress, despite the departure of President Barack Obama’s point man on the issue.
Tom Daschle’s withdrawal as Obama’s health czar and nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services is a glitch, not a fatal blow, to the push for comprehensive health care reform, according to most observers.
The chairmen of the two Senate committees with jurisdiction over health care reaffirmed their plans to pursue reform this year.
“Incremental efforts will no longer suffice, and we cannot afford to wait any longer,” stated a letter to Obama last week from Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.)
Neil Trautwein, vice president and employee benefits policy counsel for the National Retail Federation, said health care reform still has a lot of momentum, even though it’s “going to take a while to percolate,” and probably won’t be considered until this summer at the earliest.

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Health Insurance tips when you lose your job

Posted by SooYoen(Pia),Shin

When people lose job, they starts to cut any expense that are not necessary. However, experts say keeping health insurance is essential. Most experts suggest to extend COBRA. COBRA stands for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act which was passed by Congress in 1986. COBRA allows people who have lost job recently to keep their former employer’s health benefits for up to 18 months. To extend the policy, people must contact their old employer and sign up for COBRA within 60 days after layoff. However, COBRA is quite expensive for unemployed people. It is because employers pay health coverage for active workers, while COBRA participants have to pay the full premium themselves. More specifically, employers, generally, run for one’s COBRA program with charging the full cost of premium plus a 2% administrative fee. However, COBRA payment is usually less expensive than individual health coverage.

Experts advise more tips for when people lose their jobs. The easiest and cheapest way to acquire health coverage is through working spouse. Most companies offer “emergency inclusion” allowances for when employees’ spouses lose their jobs. People may consider a high-deductible plan to cover minimum health care need such as doctor visits, prescription drugs, and check-ups for your kids. And also, people can acquire short-term health care coverage only if they expect to be back in the workforce within six months to a year. Getting group plans through church, social club, any professional service, or veterans’ organizations or acquiring State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) for children and applying for cheaper coverage for parents through SCHIP is other options as well.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Is Your Health Insurance Covered By The Stimulus Bill?

Posted by Connie Yee
Written by Noam N. Levey

WASHINGTON — John Peeler, an unemployed computer technician in South Carolina, may soon get health insurance for his wife and three children. Four months after being laid off, he is one of the lucky jobless Americans who could receive thousands of dollars in government subsidies from the new stimulus plan.

Susan McKowen, a 62-year-old breast cancer survivor from Illinois, is not so fortunate. Though she, too, lost her job in the current economic crisis, she won't be getting help with health insurance under the new law.

When President Barack Obama and his allies pulled together the $787 billion bill that passed Congress on Friday, they talked of helping workers like Peeler, McKowen and others rapidly swelling the ranks of America's 46 million uninsured.

But in the scramble to pass a bill, lawmakers made changes that left out millions of middle-class Americans who have lost their jobs and are struggling to fill a prescription or pay for a visit to the doctor.

Click here to read more.

Buying insurance as a less risky investment

Posted By: Tsu-Han (Ina) Chang
Written By: David Serchuk

Insurance is not a bad place to wait out this recession, says the Investor Team.
Insurance firms are considered dowdy, boring and safe. Or at least they had been before American International Group helped push the American financial system to the brink of collapse.

So, investors can be excused for wanting to pass on the whole sector. But if you did you might miss out on some investment opportunities that, if nothing else, pay healthy dividends and in some cases have done so while outperforming the stock market.

Humana (nyse:
HUM - news - people ), for example, has had a stellar 2009, up 15%, as compared with the Standard & Poor's 500, which is down 7.7%. Over the past year it's down 41%, a bit worse than the market, down 37.7%. Over five years, however, it's paid off handsomely, up 91% versus the S&P, which is down 27%. It has a price-to-earnings ratio of 11.2, lower than the market's, and has a market capitalization of $7.5 billion. It pays no dividend, but as a straight investment you could do a lot worse.

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What Obama's Health Care Plan Means for You

By Li Bin Chen

Successful heath care reform eluded both Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. It could be argued that one tried a bit harder at it than the other, but there's little question that the issue will command a significant amount of Barack Obama's attention after he's sworn into office--in large part because the people who elected him care so much about it.

Though 62% of voters ranked the economy as their chief concern, according to exit polls conducted Tuesday by the Associated Press and major television networks, 9% of voters listed health care as a primary concern. That trailed the number of voters worried about Iraq by only 1% and tied the percentage of those troubled by terrorism.

Though some experts don't expect to see major changes until 2010, Obama's proposal has set the tone for a debate about how to cut rising costs while providing insurance to 45 million Americans. While certain elements of Obama's proposal could be modified, at its core are principles that would change health care delivery and coverage in the U.S.

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College Students Saving Money on Car Insurance

Posted by: Madeleine Brooks

From my own experience, I do not own a car but plan to do so in the fall of my senior year. My parents keep talking to me about how they will have to put me on their insurance and how expensive it will be to do so. Therefore, I decided to do some research on saving money for my parents and myself on car insurance. There are many ways to save money on car insurance. Here is a list of items that will help reduce the cost:

1. Being a good and responsible driver. By being a good and responsible driver, you pay less for your car insurance. The more accidents one incurs, the price of your car insurance increases. Also getting tickets from the police and having that on your license will also increase your car insurance. If you avoid tickets and accidents you will be considered a "low risk driver" and your car insurance will be much lower.

2. Be careful with the vehicle you wish to drive. Every car is priced based on the model, year and the make. The first thing a college student should do is research different cars of their liking to see the insurance quote on it. If you decide to drive a Porsche, you will be spending a fortune as oppose to driving a station wagon.

3. Take a defensive driving course. If you want to reduce your car insurance, going to a defensive driving course can be beneficial. The courses are relatively long, however, insurance companies offer reductions and discounts to those who take these courses.

4. NEVER drive under the influence of alcohol. The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. Most college students are not 21 until the end of their junior year into senior year. Drinking under age or of age and under the influence not only will increase your car insurance but you most likely will have your license suspended for an allotted time. Getting into an accident and being under the influence of alcohol will ruin your chances of lower car insurance. Basically, DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE!

5. Receiving Good Grades. Insurance companies like to believe that responsible students are also responsible and good drivers. Insurance companies can offer discounts and reductions for students that have good grades. Ask the insurance company that you are under if they have this policy. Most of the companies offer discounts if a student makes Deans List, has a GPA of a 3.0 or higher, have a grade point average of a B or higher. Do well in school, it pays off in the long run.

There are other ways to save money on car. Click this link to see the rest of the list. Another question a college student needs to think about is: Do I really need a car at school? There is more than just driving your car up to college. Students need to take into consideration factors such as:
  • Auto Insurance
  • Parking Expenses/Permits
  • Gas
  • Maintenance
  • Registration
Other things students should consider are places to park on campus. Syracuse University has limited parking and that can be a determining factor in having a car up at school. Also where you go to school, if its in a rural or urban area. If it is in a major city, car insurance will go up and there is the possibility of car theft, limited parking and stress because of the traffic and heavily populated roads. If there is public transportation provided at your college, you should do some research and see if using this will reduce your expenses.

There are a lot of things that college students should think about to save money on car insurance as well as bringing a car to school. I know that I will be spending quite some time to figure out the costs and benefits of having a car up for my fall semester of my senior year.


9 Ways to Lower Your Auto Insurance Costs

Posted by: Madeleine Brooks

1. Ask for higher deductibles

Request higher deductibles on collision and comprehensive (fire and theft) coverage and lower your costs substantially. For example, increasing your deductible from $200 to $500 could reduce your collision and comprehensive cost by 15 percent to 30 percent.

2. Drop collision and/or comprehensive coverages on older cars

It may not be cost effective to have collision or comprehensive coverage on cars worth less than $1,000 because any claim you make would not substantially exceed annual cost and deductible amounts. Auto dealers and banks can tell you your car’s worth.

3. Buy a “low profile” car

Before you buy, check insurance costs because fast and expensive cars that cost more to repair and are a favorite target for thieves have much higher insurance costs.

4. Take advantage of low mileage discounts

Some companies offer discounts to motorists who drive a limited number of miles a year.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Be Careful about Student Health Insurance

By Shu Zheng

Every college student needs a health insurance plan. However, it is difficult to choose a good one or a right one. Usually, due to lack of information, many students take those insurance plans recommended by their schools. In fact, the insurance plans that colleges recommend are not always the best one. The reason is that these plans reimburse only up to a very limited amount that may not even sufficient to cover student’s hospital and doctor bills.

There are some facts you need to know about college health plans:
· Colleges and universities sometimes recommend students to buy a certain health plans due to their financial connection with the insurance companies. These plans are not the best for students’ benefits
· A recent investigation by a New York attorney Cuomo shows that institutions such as Cornell, Georgetown Universities, Sarah Lawrence Colleges and several campuses of SUNY may have financial ties to student health insurers.
· Low maximums as rare disease or health accidence may be very expensive
· A bad deal can be any premium returned to customers vs. profit and administrative costs lower than 75%
· Sometimes it is better to choose plans with higher deductible, but cover much more

So before you make a choice on purchasing college health plan, see if you have any other option rather than the one school recommend. Most parents’ employee-sponsored group health insurance can cover their children up until they are between 20 to 24 years old. If this option is not available for you and you want to buy through school, you should test the plans before you buy:
· Does the plan have HMO (health maintenance organization), or can you use any provider?
· Does the plan cover emergency room visit without any approval?
· What needs to be done to ensure coverage if there is an emergency?
· Is there coverage available during vacation and school breaks?
· Which campus health clinic service is free or cheap?


Choosing Homeowners Insurance Wisely

blogged by: Thomas Gillick

There are many aspects to buying a home but one that could be overlooked and is crucially important is homeowners insurance. Some people believe that the amount of money they pay is not worth what they are receiving. The thing is many homeowners are not very clear on their coverage. More than half the homes in the U.S. are under insured by 22%. Also many homeowners are not insured if there is a sewage leek or a flood. Imagine having homeowners insurance and your basement gets flooded and you thought you were insured but when looking closely at your policy you realize that you are not and the replacement purchase is going to come out of your wallet. These liability overages are not very expensive in most cases very inexpensive its just you must choose your coverage very carefully and asses the risk of your home. Also if something gets stolen can you prove you owned it? It is very important to do an inventory of your home in case of a theft. After all this the main goal is to find a good insurance company, one that you can trust. It is a good idea to shop with care and pay attention to the competition while your under a policy. Also it is important too look for ways to save on homeowners’ insurance, example: buying car insurance form the same company. All in all homeowners insurance is a very big deal and when choosing coverage pay close attention on how to insure your belongings at the best rate.


Reducing Your Car Insurance Costs

By Lauren Cappelli

Car insurance costs can be pretty high; however there are ways to reduce your costs by cutting out unnecessary things. Within many insurance policies there are certain aspects tied into it that aren’t needed or that are covered by other policies you may have. One example is maximum personal injury protection (PIP). If you already have a good health insurance policy then your injuries will most likely be covered through that. If you want some protection the minimum will most likely be sufficient. Another example is roadside assistance. If you belong to a program such as AAA this is insurance is not necessary and shouldn’t be in your insurance policy. Mechanical breakdown insurance can be another thing that can reduce your insurance costs. If you drive a car that is still under warranty mechanical breakdown insurance is simply adding to your insurance costs and has no benefit to you. Once the warranty is up on the car then including this in your policy would be beneficial. Knowing and understanding your car insurance policy will help you determine what you really need and what things are unnecessary costs associated with your policy.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Yes! There IS Relief For Medical Debt!

By Kaitlin Lanier

The weight of medical bills can take a tremendous toll on the average individual. People that become swamped by these bills often do not realize that there is relief offered for them. With the increasing economic troubles, more and more people are feeling the wallet pinch that comes along with medical treatment. In fact, about 80% of bankruptcies in the United States are due to medical expenses. Medical insurance can obviously help, but even those with insurance are still forced to pay thousands of dollars. However, learning the ropes of bill reduction can help forgive medical debt.

The first step is simply read the bills. It is not unlikely that bills will have errors, so make sure to check for accuracy so there are no over or extra charges. Then, look into researching and learning about public aid programs, foundations, or hospital discounts. Many hospitals are willing to forgive a portion of the debt if they are contacted before things get out of hand. If there are still charges to be paid, talk to the hospital about payment plans. Hospitals can offer severe discounts if they are paid all at once or help set up a monthly payment plan that is convenient for the patient. After all of these options, if the bills are still too steep, discussing the problem with friends and family can help. Community support and fundraisers should not be overlooked.

Medical bills do not need to be as troublesome as they seem. There is relief out there that can help the average person. Each patient should be aware of all the options available before diving into more debt, or even worse, declaring bankruptcy.

How to Manage the Maze of Medical Debt by Tom Murphy
Help Paying Medical Bills
Help for Medical Bills Debt at Your Fingertips

How is AIG doing after bailout?

Posted by: Yi Xin Jin (Lily)

The congressional leaders are requesting the Government Accountability Office to assess the impact of the 150 billion dollars rescue package for the insurance giant American International Group Inc has had on the U.S. insurance market. According to Paul Kanjorski, chairman of the Capital Markets and Insurance Subcommittee, studying the impact of the rescue plan we have to “look at how funds were being deployed, whether they were serving to alleviate systemic financial risk and what sorts of distortionary effects they could have on market pricing, terms and capacity.” Even though the Federal government’s assistance saved AIG from collage, however the future of the insurance industry still remains uncertain. Any negative news could cause more declines in the fragile and volatile market. AIG is slowly working towards achieving the Federal government’s goals and objectives. However, in the process, there has been negative news regarding what the company has done with the rescue fund. For example the executive party scandal, where 500,000 dollars were spent on the AIG executives celebrating bailout. And recently AIG decided to use the taxpayer’s money “to provide an average of $1.1 million to about 400 of its employees at the very business unit.” Many people believe this decision is boggling and wrong.


Insurers Shift Cost Burdens to Homeowners

- By Kevin Yu

Although our economy is currently in recession, the cost of insuring a home doesn’t seem to decline, in stead, it is climbing sharply and is expected to continue doing so for several years. It is shown from the New York Times, the prices to insuring a home are rising at more than twice the 3 percent average of recent years, and by more than 10 percent in many states.

Just to show an example of what I meant by the rising price of home insurance. Allstate, the second-largest home insurer, has increased range from 10 percent to 25 percent in several states. State Farm, the largest home insurer, has lifted premium 6 percent to 10 percent in a handful of states. Safeco, the eight largest insurers, says it expects increases to average more than 25 percent for its 1.5 million customers this year.

Experts suggest that insurance companies, after paying out more than $22 billion in claims inflation-adjusted dollars, they began rewriting policies to protect themselves as mush as homeowners. Experts also believe that insurance companies developed computer programs intended to limit payouts on claims. As a result, American homeowners have to make do with much less coverage at steadily rising prices.

Shopping for Insurance

by Jenny Sutton

Many people, when insuring new items, stick with their insurance company that insure all their other posessions. This may cause problems since the buyer is not looking at competitive rates. For example, when a person needs to insure a boat, it is easy to have the same company that insures your home and cars to be your continued provider. While this may be the best rate, to be sure, a person should always look around.

First, if there are any precausions to lower insurance, such as a boat safety course, it should be taken to receive a lower price. Next, one should get a quote from their provider, then be proactive to find competitive rates. This may take awhile, but being honest and firm with competitors, a person may find a cheaper rate. With that in mind, it is possible to find lower rates on all possesions covered under insurance.

The most important thing the buyer needs to realize is the limits to which he or she needs to be insured. Without knowing what kind of coverage is acceptable for the time, then providers can easily persuade opinions and convince a person to spend more on needed coverage. While this process may take time, it is crucial for a buyer to shop around for insurance and to resist calling their current provider. Many times this seems as a safe and easy way, but may end up costing more in the end.


Protect Your Belongings

Posted by Stephen Mills; Group1a

Renters Insurance

As college students a large number of us either currently live in an off-campus apartment or will soon after graduation. In either case we must consider whether to get renters insurance or not. Many students on campus live in an apartment and opted not to get insurance. At this time it may be convenient not to insure your apartment, maybe you will be studying abroad in an upcoming semester or just flat out can’t afford it.

Renters insurance is convenient for someone who will be renting an apartment or condo because while the building itself is covered under the landlords insurance plan, your personal items are not as fortunate. This is where renters insurance (also known as tenant’s insurance policy) comes in handy. This type of insurance will provide you with piece of mind knowing that your personal items will be fully insured under a number of different circumstances including: fire, smoke, vandalism, theft along with a number of other common loss types. Some renters insurance policies even covers expenses brought on from legal issues in situations that involve you having to appear in court.

The nice part about this type of insurance is that its not expensive, relative to say car insurance or life insurance. Some policies start as low as $12/month and have reasonable deductibles. Along with low deductibles there are several factors that can help keep your monthly price low such as installing fire detectors, burglar alarms and even by having fire extinguishers readily available.

Overall renters insurance is an easy and relatively inexpensive way to protect your belongings incase of emergencies.


How to file an insurance claim

By Jen Lynch

  • Know what your policies cover. Make sure you understand the coverages and exclusions in your insurance policies because they can differ from those of your friends.
  • Talk to your insurance company BEFORE you talk to a lawyer. Lawyers come with extra fees and the majority of claims are settled without legal representation. Remember that when you hire a lawyer, you lose your ability to represent yourself with the insurance company.
  • Get more than one estimate. If your vehicle or home is damaged, it's smart to get two opinions before you submit the amount to your insurance company.
  • Document Everything! Keeping records of all financial expenses, legal documents, police reports and any other information relevant to the accident, is vital for successful reimbursement. *Remember to make copies of everything you send to the insurance company.*
  1. If your policy has a deductible, know the amount you've agreed to pay out of pocket. 
  2. If your state has a no-fault policy, and how this affects your insurance coverage. 
  3. The amount of liability insurance you have, in case you cause damage to other parties.
  4. Prepare for the other insurance company to call you. Make sure you get the name of the agent, and that you make record of everything you say.
  1. Get help for any injured parties, and have someone call 911 immediately. Only move injured people if it is absolutely necessary, and do not administer aid unless you are certified to do so.
  2. Be cooperative with the police, and ask how to get a copy of the police report- which may be necessary to support your insurance claim. 
  3. Be careful not to directly admit guilt. Remember, anything you say can be used in court.
  4. Make sure your vehicle is safe from further damage, call AAA or a tow truck to have your vehicle transported. 
  5. Do not order repair work yet, your insurance company may want to inspect your vehicle and appraise the damage. 
Make sure to carry a pad and pen to take down necessary information such as drivers involved in the accident, police information, vehicle information, and injuries. If you have a camera or cell phone, take pictures of the scene and the damage.

  1. The liability coverage within your homeowner's policy. Ask your insurance agent if you do not know!
  2. The amount of medical payment coverage within your homeowner's policy. This is important if someone else gets injured in your home.
  3. If your home is insured for at least 80% of it's replacement value, because less than 80% coverage may not cover expenses for partial damage to your home.
  4. If your belongings are insured for replacement cost or actual cash value. Replacement Cost would reward you with more compensation, but it usually requires an additional premium. Most insurance policies insure for Actual Cash Value, so check if the premium would be a better option for you.
  1. In the case of burglary or theft, call the police immediately to begin documentation of the crime. Keep a record of the police report in case your insurance company requests it. 
  2. Insurance companies place a time limit on claims, so you MUST call your insurance company IMMEDIATELY. 
  3. Find out how long it will take for your claim to be processed, if you need to get any estimates for damages, and if your claim amounts to more than your deductible, so you can plan for how much you will have to pay out of pocket.
  4. Make a list of all damaged or lost belongings. 
  5. Save ALL receipts for temporary repairs to your home and additional living expenses (if you can't stay in your home) and submit them to your insurance company for reimbursement.