Sunday, October 31, 2010

Food Trucks Spice Up the Nation's Capital


About 20 food trucks are currently operating in the Washington, D.C. area, with another five coming soon, according to the Food Truck Fiesta blog, which also provides a daily, real-time automated "DC Food Truck Tracker" map and updated Twitter feeds with information about where the trucks are located on a given day. The trucks typically move around each day, and about three locate daily at Farragut Square (conveniently located just down the block from AEI), often with blankets for a full picnic experience (see top picture), and often with ridiculously long lines at the Lobster Truck (see bottom picture), which currently ranks #1 among DC food trucks for having the most Twitter followers.

Some of the food trucks offer limited State-fair type junk food menus like Fry Captain (fries and milk shakes only, menu here), and others have a more sophisticated international street food menu like Sauca, which sells Mumbai butter chicken, Vietnamese pork banh mi, beef Shawarma, Italian salsiccia con Puttanesca, and Mexicali fish tacos (they come to Farragut Square every Tuesday).

With long, Soviet-style queues like those at the Lobster Truck, it's no surprise that according to the Wall Street Journal:

"A small but growing number of chains—such as Cousins Submarines Inc., Tasti D-Lite LLC and Toppers Pizza Inc.—are following in the tire tracks of those local food-truck businesses popping up on city streets around the U.S. Many brick-and-mortar eateries have added mobile units in recent years, and more are expected to do the same, including national brands.

Sites like Twitter, Facebook and FourSquare are making it easy for consumers to track mobile vendors' whereabouts, says Hudson Riehle, senior vice president of research for the National Restaurant Association in Washington, D.C.'

Strongest Consumer Spending Growth Since 2006


The BEA reported today that real GDP grew at 2.0% in the third quarter, boosted by a 2.6% rise in inflation-adjusted consumer spending, the highest quarterly increase since the 4.1% growth in the fourth quarter of 2006, 15 quarters ago. This healthy growth in consumer spending from July through September is consistent with: a) the many states that have been reporting increases in tax revenues in the third quarter from sales, individual income and corporate income taxes, and b) the stronger-than-expected retail sales report for September (7.2% annual growth).

Average GDP Growth of 2.81% Over Last 5 Quarters Compares Favorably to the Last Two Expansions


We're now in the fifth quarter of economic expansion since the recession officially ended in June 2009. How does this economic expansion compare to the last two? Most reports describe the recovery as "sub-par," "weak," "fragile," and "anemic," etc.

And yet real GDP growth over the last five quarters of expansion (1.6%, 5%, 3.7%, 1.7% and 2% for an average of 2.81%) compares very favorably with the five-quarter periods following the 2001 recession (3.5%, 2.1%, 2%, 0.1% and 1.6%, for an average of 1.87%) and the 1990-1991 recession (2.7%, 1.7%, 1.6%, 4.5% and 4.3% for an average of 2.96%). Based on average real GDP growth (subject to revisions of third quarter GDP) for the five quarters following recession, this expansion is stronger than the 2002 expansion by almost a full percentage point (2.81% vs. 1.87%), and just slightly below the 1991-1992 period (2.96%).

Global Economic Recovery Watch


1. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for Australia increased 0.2% and the Conference Board Coincident Economic Index increased 0.3% in August.

2. The Conference Board Leading Economic Index for Mexico increased 0.8% and the Conference Board Coincident Economic Index increased 0.5% in August.

Hispanics: Longer Life Expectancy, Less Insurance


John Goodman points out on The Health Care Blog that Hispanics live longer than non-Hispanic whites on average, and the table above based on CDC data shows that life expectancy is greater for Hispanics than for whites both at birth (by 2.5 years), but also at other selected ages (20, 40, 60 and 80 years). At the same time, Census data for 2009 shows that only about two out of every three Hispanics is covered by health insurance, compared to 88% of whites being covered, so that Hispanics are almost three times as likely as whites to be uninsured (32.4% vs. 12%).

John concludes that these findings 'make mincemeat out of the oft-repeated idea that the uninsured get less health care and die earlier than everyone else.'

Higher Education Bubble Update; New York Daily News Calls It a "Government-Sanctioned Racket"



The College Board released new data this week on 'Trends in College Pricing" for 2010, and reported that four-year public universities raised tuition this year by 8%, almost twice the 4.5% average increase for tuition at America's private universities. That differential follows a well-established pattern over the last decade of higher tuition increases at America's public universities than at private schools (see the chart above). Public university tuition has increased faster than private tuition in each of the last four years, and in eight out of the last nine years, by an average of 3% per year. As the chart above shows, the trajectory of college tuition in the U.S. is on a path that makes the recent housing bubble seem like a minor historical footnote by comparison.

In assessing the College Board data, a NY Times article 'As College Fees Climb, Aid Does Too' finds some 'good news,' but only by reversing cause and effect:

'The good news in the 2010 “Trends in College Pricing” and “Trends in Student Aid” reports is that fast-rising tuition costs have been accompanied by a huge increase in financial aid, which helped keep down the actual amount students and families pay.'

The New York Daily News does a much better job of reporting the true causal relationship in an editorial that could be titled 'As College Financial Aid Climbs, Tuition Follows:'

'College financial aid comes largely from the federal government. Meaning, out of your pocket. And ours. And out of the pockets of families scraping to raise that extra 8% for tuition. A government-sanctioned racket is what it is. States cut back on assistance to schools, so the schools raise tuition. Then the feds jump in, dish out billions in taxpayer dollars in student aid, and tuition goes up again. And again (see chart above).

Meanwhile, those fortunate folks who inhabit the groves of academe feel absolutely no need to hold the line on expenses. They ought to be ashamed, most of all for sending so many graduates out into the world with diplomas and loan statements showing a near-lifetime's worth of debt.'

And this ongoing 'higher education bubble' is especially troubling at a time when economist Richard Vedder reported recently that millions of students with college degrees not only graduate with debt, but "are doing jobs that the BLS says require less than the skill levels associated with a bachelor’s degree." Some of those jobs include bartenders, janitors, and food preparation workers, all the more reason to call it a "government-sanctioned racket."

Thanks to Gregory Tetrault.

How To Carve a Pumpkin


without getting your hands messy......


HT: Andy Roth

Restaurant Performance Index Rises Above 100 For 1st Time in 5 Mos., Current Index Highest in 3 Yrs.


'Driven by improving same-store sales and customer traffic levels as well as growing optimism among restaurant operators, the outlook for the restaurant industry improved in September. The National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Performance Index (RPI) – a monthly composite index that tracks the health of and outlook for the U.S. restaurant industry – stood at 100.3 in September, up a solid 0.8 percent from its August level (see chart above). In addition, the RPI rose above 100 for the first time in five months, which signifies expansion in the index of key industry indicators.

The RPI’s solid gain in September was the result of broad-based improvements among both the current situation and forward-looking indicators. Restaurant operators reported positive same-store sales and customer traffic levels for the first time in six months, which propelled the RPI’s Current Situation Index to its highest level in nearly three years.'

MP: On a year-over-year basis, the RPI increased by 2.87% in September, the highest annual increase in at least four years (see bottom chart above).

The Power of Freedom Overcomes All Obstacles

Don Boudreaux explains how the immense strengths behind freedom and the human spirit provide the power to triumph over all obstacles - both those obstacles that result from natural disasters like earthquakes, and man-made obstacles like taxes and regulation. Call it a "Ganesha-like" power of freedom to overcome all obstacles:

'Freedom is a beautiful flower with more robustness than crabgrass. Freedom is not delicate or easily uprooted, and is not a frail institution that collapses and dies the moment it is attacked by some element foreign to its nature. If it were, we all would long ago have been well and truly enslaved.

The human spirit seizes opportunities to flourish even with less-than-maximum scope; it naturally resists being confined to the arbitrary will of others. We do not all fall in line behind the commissar or Congress’s commands simply because we’re ordered to do so. (How many Americans really care if the busboy at a restaurant is an “illegal” alien?) And even when we abide by the letter of legislation, we are wonderfully crafty at violating its spirit if that legislation is felt to be inappropriate.

So, too, with the free market. It is perhaps the most remarkably vigorous of all human institutions. Heavily taxed and loaded with arbitrary regulations, the market keeps on keeping on. Entrepreneurs creatively find ways around government intrusions or they discover techniques for reducing the intrusions’ ill effects.

Everyone who understands the logic of markets knows that, say, the unexpected destruction of a factory by an earthquake will barely slow the market’s relentless push to improve living standards. We understand that markets are remarkably resilient at dealing with natural obstacles such as mountains that separate suppliers from customers, or weather disasters that destroy existing inventories and supply lines.

Although we’d be even wealthier if these obstacles and weather disasters never materialized, their existence does not condemn us to everlasting poverty. Entrepreneurs—given sufficient freedom—are guided by prices and profits to overcome these obstacles. Likewise, entrepreneurs—given sufficient freedom—are guided by prices and profits to overcome government-erected obstacles.

To point out that freedom can be hobbled and hamstrung by a predatory State and nevertheless continue to shower blessings on ordinary men and women is to praise freedom—to applaud it loudly and lovingly.'

Getting Elderly People Life Insurance Policies

Do older people need to cover their lives?

You may be surprised to note that life insurance for the elderly is actually a pretty popular topic. Contrary to popular belief, not everybody outlives their need for a policy when they turn 65, 75, or even passes into their 80's!

Why do older people look for coverage?

There are some valid reason that an older person could benefit from coverage. They range from personal reasons like concerns over affording the high cost of funerals to business reasons like guaranteeing financing arrangements.

The first thing to consider is the reason that you think an older person needs a policy. Is it for the transfer or an estate, business reasons, or simply to make sure end of life expenses can be paid? Once you have figured out what you hope to gain with a policy, you can move onto narrowing down your search to the type and amount of coverage you may want to find.

Note that insurers differ, and it is important to find the top rated company with policies that are friendly to a customer like you! Many seniors choose whole life, while others are happy to find term life for older people!

The good news is that you can find life insurance for older people. Insurers are more willing to extend coverage to older people, and some rates are dropping!
Visit My Online Quotes to save time and money:

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Online Insurnace Quotes Save Time and Money!

Do Online Insurance Rate Quotes Work?

Online insurance quotes are not shady at all. Oh, please be careful and look for the forms that have 3rd party verification (i.e. Better Business Bureau) and run on a secure severe. Just like anything, it pays to go with trusted firms.

What you will get is an easier way to compare different policies and plans. This is true if you are looking for home, car, or life insurance! The forms take less than 5 minutes to fill out, and some take just a few clicks. What you will get are a few insurers that do business in your area that are eager to work for your business because they are out there competing in the competitive online market place!

If you would like to see if you could find a better insurance rate, try it! It is free, it takes less than 5 minutes, and it can really save you hundreds of dollars a years on your premums.
Visit My Online Quotes to save time and money:

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Lower Cost Home Insurance

Got The High Home Policy Blues?

Experts always tell us to evaluate our policies every year or so. This may seem like a lot of trouble, but there are actually some good reasons for this advice.

1. Things may have changed in your home that will affect your coverage and your premiums. This could go either way. For example, if you just tossed out your old 19 inch TV in favor of an expensive home entertainment system, you may not be covered well enough. On the other hand, if you did some home repairs or added a security system, you could be paying too much. You need to make sure you are well covered, but also taking advatage of homeowners discounts!

2. The market changes too. Another insurer may be more competitive or friendlier to a home ower like you!

Does this all seem too complicated?

Try finding a good insurance agent who can help you evaluate your coverage! You can also use online insurance rate quote forms which will show you competitive home insurers in your area. They also provide contact information for local agents who are eager to compete for your business.

This is true if you are a home owner, but it also applies to renters, landlords, and condo owners!
Visit My Online Quotes to save time and money:

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How Do Online Car Insurance Quotes Work?

Are you satisfied with your auto policy?

At some point, most of us get notified of an auto insurance premium increase and wonder if another insurer will be cheaper. Or, we may not be satisfied with the claims process after a wreck and wonder if another company would be faster and better at handling our business. A quick car insurance quote is one way to compare competitive policies and prices in your area.

You simply fill out a quick form which asks you some basic questions like where you live, what type of car you drive, etc. It takes about 4 minutes. What do you get back for your time? Well, you get competititve auto insurance quotes online, plus the contact information for eager local agents in case you have questions.

Fast and free car insurance policy quotes can save you money. They can also save you time over having to do all that insurance research without the help of an online system. Thousands of drivers are finding good coverage at an affordable price with online car insurance quotes - why not you?
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Would You Be Happy In A Mobile Home?



More and more home buyers are turning to mobile and manufactured homes instead of traditional houses made of wood or bricks. This may seem extreme, especially if you are not familiar with modern alternative houses. Consider some of the reasons why people want to live in a factory built home!

Who decides to buy a mobile home? Retired people may choose to sell their old house and then replace it with a mobile home. While this trend is more common with older people, some younger folks are also embracing the idea. There are advantages to owning a solid and fixed home, but there are also many disadvantages.

You may think of camping when you picture mobile homes. You may need to update your ideas. The newest models come with many luxuries, including a good use of space and modern appliances. Some are nicer than houses.

Beyond the home iteself, if you park in a good place, you may be able to take advantage of a lot of amenities. Some of the best mobile home parks rival fine resorts. They offer swimming, exercise, community rooms, and more. These perks may be much better than anything you can find in a neighborhood at a modest price!

This may be a tough thing for many home owners to understand. Look at some of the advantages we have heard.

These days, everybody wants to save some money. The job market is slow and house prices are not rising. A new mobile home, with lots of luxuries, will be a lot cheaper than a modest brick and mortar house. This is one of the biggest advantages for many buyers.

They also cost less to repair and keep up. For example, it costs a lot less to replacce the roof of a mobile or manufactured home than it does to rebuild a traditional roof. You can order and install many parts. You will not have to hire a builder to do the job. The expense of repairs and upkeep forces many people out of their houses.

You will not have to wait as long to move in either! You can wait for months before your new house is constructed. Even if you purchase a home that is already built, it could take a long time to close. You can order your new manufactured or mobile home, and then you can move in days later.

While interest rates on loans may be hire than home mortgages, you may not have a lot of closing costs either.

Your insurance bill could be high or low depending upon what type of manufactured home you buy and where it is located. Look into Mobile Home Insurance Discounts. This will give you an idea of which sorts of choices are more expensive or cheaper to insure.

Mobile home living also has some disadvantages. If the area you want to live in has bad storms, you might worry about safety. Some mobile homes are simple to move. But manufactured homes may need to be taken apart and hauled on a semi. Where houses are expected to appreciate, mobile homes may depreciate.

Mobile home living is not the best choice for everybody. But you should compare alternatives in order to find the best place for your family to live!


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Do you need to cut costs where you live? Get the best rates from top homeowners insurance companies!

Best Homeowners Insurance Rates




Mobile Homes
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Shopping for Auto Insurance Quotes


When looking at Auto insurance quotes, you will want to find the best and most coverage possible. Although most states auto insurance laws do not require a minimum Personal Injury Protection (PIP), for example, there are advantages to having this type of coverage. If you ever have an accident, PIP will pay for you and your passengers' medical expenses. Another type of optional coverage you can consider getting is Uninsured/ Underinsured Motorist Coverage. This coverage will help pay for any injury resulting from an accident caused by an uninsured driver. It's estimated that approximately 14% of American drivers are uninsured, despite the fact that most states have laws against driving uninsured vehicles. A car accident occurs approximately every five seconds in America; it is simply safer to have comprehensive auto insurance on the vehicles you drive.


For your free auto insurance quotes, simply fill out a short form, and we give you multiple free auto insurance quotes from some of the best insurance carriers in the business. Then, we require no further obligation whatever from you. You can compare the offers you receive, and then you can purchase the auto insurance policy that best meets your needs- without having to leave the comfort of your home! If you're looking for a better rate with better coverage, just try our free quote system and find the auto insurance policy that fits you. There is no charge, and it will take only a few minutes of your time.


There are plenty of reasons to insure your vehicle, but what kind of insurance should you get? The first place to start is to become thoroughly acquainted with your vehicle. It is a good idea to know as much about your vehicle as possible, including its general state of repair. Most auto insurance companies will give you discounts if your vehicle is equipped with properly functioning safety features, like safety belts and air bags. Be sure to let your auto insurance agent know about these details when getting your quote. These details can result in differences of hundreds of dollars, depending on the auto insurance company and their familiarity with your vehicle. Be sure to note whether you are entitled to other bonuses. You can get discounts for being a non-smoker, or for taking driver's safety courses. Also try to find a company that has a good, financially stable reputation and one that will process claims quickly.

Getting those free rate quotes is the first step in getting that good rate on your auto insurance. All of the auto insurance carriers you receive quotes from want your business, but it is up to you to decide which one is going to be the best for you and for your budget. With the current economic trends, having auto insurance premiums that are as low as possible is just one more way to save money that might be needed somewhere else in your life.


It is possible to save money, even hundreds of dollars on your auto insurance premiums. Every auto insurance company says this, but they are actually correct! You can save money on your auto insurance, from just a few dollars up to as much as five hundred or sometimes even more. But you can't expect to find that deal unless you look for it. So give us a chance to help us help you find that rate you desire! InsuranceUSA.com is easy to use, and our short form to get free auto insurance quotes online gives you access to free quotes which will give you the information you need to make an educated decision.



Browse around InsuranceUSA.com and see what we have to offer! Save money, get great auto insurance rates, and get the coverage you. We will make it so your auto insurance is one less thing you have to worry about in your daily life.

What is Auto Insurance ?


Auto insurance (also known as vehicle insurance, car insurance, or motor insurance) is insurance purchased for cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Its primary use is to provide protection against losses incurred as a result of traffic accidents and against liability that could be incurred in an accident.




In many jurisdictions it is compulsory to have Auto insurance before using or keeping a motor vehicle on public roads. Most jurisdictions relate Auto Insurance to both the car and the driver, however the degree of each varies greatly.

Auto insurance can cover some or all of the following items:


The insured party


The insured vehicle


Third parties (car and people)


Third party, fire and theft

In some jurisdictions coverage for injuries to persons riding in the insured vehicle is available without regard to fault in the auto accident (No Fault Auto Insurance)




Different policies specify the circumstances under which each item is covered. For example, a vehicle can be insured against theft, fire damage, or accident damage independently

10 Steps to buying auto insurance


Step 1: Starting Out


When it comes to auto insurance, you want to be adequately covered if you get in an accident but you don't want to pay any more than you have to. So how can you navigate your way through this murky subject?




Keep telling yourself there is money to be saved. How much? Hundreds, even thousands, per year. For example, one of our editors typed all of his insurance information into a comparative insurance service. The quotes (for very basic coverage on two old cars) ranged from $1,006 to $1,807 — a difference of $801 a year. If you're currently dumping thousands into your insurance company's coffers because of a couple of tickets, an accident or a questionable credit rating, shopping your policy against others may be well worth the effort.


Look at it this way — you can convert the money you save into the purchase of something you've desired for a long time. Hold that goal in your mind.




Step 2: How Much Coverage Do You Need?

To find the right auto insurance, start by figuring out the amount of coverage you need. This varies from state to state. So take a moment to find out what coverage is required where you live. Make a list of the different types of coverage and then return for the next step. (You will find a list of each state's requirements and an explanation of the various types of insurance in 'How Much Auto Insurance Do You Really Need?' Also, check out 'Little-Known but Important Insurance Issues' as it has a glossary of basic insurance terminology.)


Now that you know what is required, you can decide what you need in addition. Some people are quite cautious. They base their lives on worst case scenarios. Insurance companies love these people. That's because insurance companies know what your chances are of being in an accident, and how likely it is for your car to be damaged or stolen. The information the insurance company has collected over previous decades is crunched into 'actuarial tables' that give insurance adjustors a quick look at the probability of just about any occurrence.


So how much insurance should you buy beyond your state's minimum?


Experts recommend that if you have a lot of assets you should get enough liability coverage to protect them. For instance, if you purchase $50,000 of bodily injury liability coverage but have $100,000 in assets, attorneys could go after your treasures in the event of an accident in which you're at fault and the other party's medical bills exceed $50,000.


General recommendations for liability limits are $50,000 bodily injury liability for one person injured in an accident, $100,000 for all people injured in an accident and $25,000 property damage liability (that is, 50/100/25) given that half of the cars on the road are worth more than $20,000. Here again, though, let your financial situation be your guide. If you have no assets, don't buy excess coverage.


Another issue to consider is that the limits of any uninsured and/or underinsured motorist coverage that you purchase cannot exceed the limits of your liability coverage. Such coverage, he said, can be valuable, as it will cover lost income if you're out of work for several months after being injured in a major accident.


Your driving habits may also be a consideration. If your past is filled with crumpled fenders, if you have a lead foot or a long commute on a treacherous winding road, then you should get more comprehensive coverage. Keep in mind that you don't have to buy collision and comprehensive coverage. If your vehicle is older, if you have a good driving record and if there is a low likelihood that it would be totaled in an accident, but a high likelihood of it being stolen, you could buy comprehensive but not collision.



Step 3: Review Your Driving Record and Current Insurance Policy

Before you begin shopping for insurance you should check the following: the status of your driving record, your current coverage and the premiums you are paying.


You should know how many tickets you have had recently. But time plays tricks and our memories repress painful incidents. If you can't remember how long that speeding ticket has been on your record, check with your state's DMV. If your record will soon improve, and the points you earned will finally disappear, wait until that happens before you get quotes. Nothing drives up the price of insurance like a bad driving record.


Also, you should contact your auto insurance company or pull out a recent bill. Jot down the amount of coverage you have and what you are paying for it. Take note of the yearly and monthly cost of your insurance since many of your quotes will be given both ways. Now you have a figure in mind to try to beat.



Step 4: Solicit Competitive Quotes

Now that you have made several practical and philosophical decisions, it's time to start shopping. Begin by setting aside about an hour for this task. Bring all your records — your current insurance policy, your driver license number and your vehicle registration. Drink plenty of coffee. Have a phone at your elbow. And, of course, power up your computer.


Begin with the online services. If you go to InsWeb.com or other online insurance quote sites, you can type in your information and get a list of comparative quotes. These forms take about 15 minutes to complete. If this bores you, just remind yourself how much you will be saving and that you can use the money to buy something nice for yourself. If the entire shopping process takes you two hours to complete and you save $800, you're effectively earning $400 an hour.


A few things to keep in mind: 1) When you use quote sites, you may not get instant quotes. Some companies may contact you later by e-mail, and some that are not 'direct providers' may put you in touch with a local agent, who will then calculate a quote for you. (A 'direct provider,' like Geico, sells an insurance policy to you directly; other companies like State Farm sell insurance through local agents. We'll discuss the pros and cons of each later.) 2) It's not easy to get quotes from these sites in all states — if you live in New Jersey, for instance, you'll probably find it faster to pick up the phone, since most insurers in this state currently don't provide online quotes.


You can also try getting quotes from some of the insurance companies listed on the Edmunds.com Web site — Liberty Mutual, Geico or Progressive. These forms will take about 10 minutes each to complete.



Step 5: Record and Compare Quotes

While you're researching companies, make notes in a separate computer file or on a piece of paper divided into categories. This will keep you from duplicating your efforts. When you visit the different online insurance sites, you should take note of several things:


Annual and monthly rates for the different types of coverage — make sure to keep the coverage limits the same so that you can make 'apples-to-apples' comparisons
An 800 number to call for questions you can't get answered online:
The insurance company's payment policy (When is your payment due?
What happens if you're late in making a payment?)

Discounts offered by the insurance company that pertain to you

The insurance company's consumer complaint ratio from your state's department of insurance Web site (more on this later)

The insurance company's A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's ratings (more on this later)



Step 6: Work the Phones

Once you have exhausted your online options, it's time to work the phones. Those companies you haven't been able to get an online quote from should be contacted. At times, doing this process verbally can actually go faster than the online counterpart, providing you have all the information regarding your driver license and vehicle registration close at hand. When you get a quote, be sure to confirm the price. Also, ask them to fax or e-mail the quote to you as a record.



Step 7: Look for Discounts

While talking to the insurance companies' telephone salespeople, make sure you explore all options relating to discounts. Insurance companies give discounts for a good driving record, favorable credit score, safety equipment (for example, antilock brakes), certain occupations or professional affiliations and more. For more guidance in this area, check out 'How to Save Money on Auto Insurance.'



Step 8: Choosing the Right Insurance Company

You now have most of the information in front of you that you need to make a decision. However, there is something more to consider. You can clearly see which company is least expensive, but when you need them to cover a claim, what kind of job will they do? To put it another way, which is the most reliable insurance company?


Below, we offer a number of issues to guide your thinking and help you reach a decision:

Visit your state's department of insurance and check consumer complaint ratios and basic rate comparison surveys.

Get in touch with local body shops or dealerships you trust and ask which insurance companies they recommend.

Consider contacting an insurance agent for additional information about a particular company.

Check out the financial strength ratings for an insurance company by referring to the A.M. Best and Standard & Poor's ratings.

Look over J.D. Power and Associates' consumer satisfaction surveys reviewing auto insurance companies.


Step 9: Review the Policy Before You Sign

So, you've done your research, and you've decided on a company. Before you sign, though, read the policy. In addition to verifying that it contains the coverage you want, there are two clauses that you should look for in the contract:
Retain your right to sue. 'Find out if you are giving up your right to go to court and will be forced into arbitration if there is a disagreement [between you and the insurance company],' one expert advised. 'You're much better off if you don't give up this right…. It makes it easier for [insurers] to take advantage of you.' If you find a clause to this effect, all isn't necessarily lost. 'At least in theory, a contract is a mutual agreement, so you should be able to cross out that line in the policy,' he said. If the company won't agree to the policy sans clause, then you should probably take your business elsewhere.



Avoid aftermarket parts requirements. If an insurance company has written in the policy that 'new factory,' 'like kind and quality' or 'aftermarket parts' may be used for body shop repairs, go to another company, one expert advised. If you own a relatively new car that you plan to keep for a while, you will probably be much happier if you spend a little more time researching companies on the front end rather than try to fight the company when you have a claim.




Step 10: Cancel Your Old Policy


After you lock in the insurance policy you want with the company you select, you have two more things to do. The first is to cancel coverage with your existing insurance company. Second, if your state requires you to carry proof of insurance, make sure you either have it in your wallet or the glove compartment of your car (some experts discourage this, however — if your car is stolen, the thief has everything he needs to prove the vehicle is his).




Now, there's one last thing to do: reward yourself for saving so much money on car insurance.


Checklist
Determine your state's insurance requirements.

Consider your own financial situation in relation to the required insurance and consider buying more to protect your assets.

Review the status of your driving record — do you have any outstanding tickets or points on your driver license?

Check your current coverage to find out how much in premiums you are paying.

Get competing quotes from our web site

Make follow-up phone calls to insurance companies to get additional information about coverage.

Inquire about discounts you might qualify for such as a multiple policy discount.
Evaluate the reliability of the insurance company you're considering by visiting your state's insurance Web site.

If you have chosen a new insurance company, remember to cancel your old policy.

How to Resolve a Dispute With Your Auto Insurance Company

Many auto insurance policies contain what is known as an "appraisal clause," meaning any disputes that arise between insurance providers and policyholders are to be arbitrated instead of litigated in a courtroom. Each party is expected to hire their own appraiser to review the claim and any offer to settlement figures. If the appraisers are unable to agree on a settlement, they will submit their

How to Determine the Right Amount of Car Insurance Coverage

Car insurance is not a one size fits all service. Trying to figure out how much auto insurance you really need can be confusing unless you've got an idea what to base that critical decision on. Why is it so critical? Although most of us don't think about our auto insurance on a daily basis, when you find your self in need of coverage due to an accident or other unexpected event, too little

Layoff Insurance Can Help You Plan For the Unexpected

By Marilyn Katz Platinum Quality Author

We are reading some grim unemployment figures on the news. According to the latest data, unemployment is higher than it has been in years. It doesn't matter if layoffs are at an all time high or your job seems secure, everyone knows how fast things can change. Loss of income occurs from layoffs and other circumstances changing. There are both expected and unexpected changes in finances that should be planned for to assure financial security.

Sometimes changes in finances can be expected and planned for. You may be able to save for these things: birth of a child, caring for an elderly parent, medical procedures, education expenses, and temporary unemployment.

Sometimes changes in finances are unexpected and there is no time to plan for them. I have known people who reported to work on Friday, and were shocked to learn they did not have a job to come back to on Monday. Some things that you may not be able to predict: layoffs, reduced hours, illness, injury, sudden job loss, major auto repairs, or a death.

Some people are great with money and have enough in savings and investments to cover an extended period with no income or reduced income. They are confident that their resume is strong and they will find a job quickly. Things don't always go as planned. Savings and investments can be drained by the time a new job is found. Unemployment mortgage protection is needed to avoid that from happening. Most unemployed people will find a job before their unemployment mortgage insurance is depleted. For the few that don't or must accept a job temporarily that pays less than their previous job, unemployment mortgage insurance allows for them to still have savings and investments to fall back on if needed.

Using savings and investments during a layoff makes a person financially vulnerable if it becomes depleted. There is no guarantee that a layoff will be the only financial trouble that a person must face. Sadly some people who are laid off may also face illness, injury, and car repairs. If the savings and investments have been being used during a layoff, there may be no funds available for other financial circumstances that may arise. Financial security during a layoff will depend on the balanced use of both unemployment mortgage insurance and savings.

Unemployment insurance doesn't mean that you can stop saving. Savings should continue. A general rule of thumb is to be able to save the equivalent of 3-6 months' expenses in a savings account that is easily accessed. Once that has been accomplished, the savings account can be added to for a 'cushion' and then the money that was budgeted to savings can be used to invest.

Even with unemployment mortgage insurance, there may be a need to take a temporary lower paying job if the unemployment lasts longer than 4-6 months to protect savings and investments from being completely depleted. During a layoff, volunteering can be an opportunity to gain new experience that may be helpful if a change in the field that you normally work in is being considered.

Solid financial security will depend on the combination of several sources being available when there is a change in income.

Plan ahead with Layoff Protection that pays you cash. You can use the cash to keep your bills current in any way you choose.

http://www.ushomepay.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Marilyn_Katz

Home-Based Business Owners, You Need Insurance Coverage

When you start a home-based business, buying insurance may not be your first priority, but you cannot afford to ignore it either. When the unexpected happens -- and it will -- having insurance coverage may mean the difference between the success and failure of your home-based business.

You may not require all types of insurance listed here, but taking some time now to consider your insurance needs can save you money and headaches in the future. Ultimately, after reading this article, the best way to determine your complete needs is to consult with your insurance agent. Explain to them the details of your home-based business and he or she should be able to determine the best insurance coverage for you (and any employees).

Health Insurance

Health insurance should be the first consideration for yourself and any employees you may have. If you have just left your current job to start your own business, you may be eligible for COBRA, which will provide temporary interim coverage. This will keep you covered while you search for the best health insurance policy.

Disability Insurance

Disability insurance will guarantee that you have some income should you suddenly become unable to work because of injury or illness. Having this extra peace of mind is almost always well worth the extra money you pay.

Life Insurance

Life insurance will help ensure that your family has the money it needs should you meet with an untimely death. Some lenders require that you have life insurance before they'll issue a loan; this guarantees that the loan will be repaid if you meet with an untimely end.

Business Property Insurance

Business property insurance helps protect you against loss of inventory or equipment. If your business equipment or inventory is damaged in a flood, fire, or other disaster, this type of insurance will allow you to recoup your losses.

General Liability Insurance

Comprehensive general liability insurance is necessary for your home-based business if you plan on having clients or customers visit your home. Whether you plan to hold meetings, allow customers to pick up merchandise, or have members of the public enter your home for any other reason, this insurance will protect you if someone is injured while on your property. This insurance will typically pay for your legal defense should you face a lawsuit as the result of a fall or other damage that occurs on your property.

Business Interruption Insurance

Business interruption insurance will help your business recover from natural disasters. It will cover you for income lost during the disaster, and will pay for operating expenses that continue to accrue, even though your business isn't up and running.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Workers' compensation insurance is an absolute necessity if you plan on having employees working out of your home. Without workers' comp, you'll be responsible for any medical expenses arising from injuries employees sustain while working for you. Many home-based business owners mistakenly believe that this type of insurance is only required by businesses that have a retail or separate location, but that's not the case. Another mistake is assuming that only ‘dangerous’ employers (such as construction or movers) need this type of insurance. But what if your employee slips on the stairs or their chair breaks? While those are both unlikely, they are possible and the less risky your business, the cheaper the insurance will be.

These insurance plans can help ensure that you are prepared to face any eventuality that might occur while you are running your own business. Disasters, accidents, and crises can strike at any time. By preparing now, you may be saving you and your company significant financial loss, wasted time, and difficulty.

Article Courtesy of http://www.hometownquotes.com

Young Mom Can't Work - Income Insurance Brings Single Mothers Help

By John Massa

Income insurance is often the last type of coverage on anybody's mind. This is even more so true for single working moms who have a world of concerns to address every day. Career moms, however, can have a real problem if they suddenly can't work due to illness or injury. When the paycheck stops, life can change very quickly.

Dr. Carrie Birdwell is a single mom and practicing obstetrician with a thriving practice. Her 9 year old daughter attends a local grade school and plays soccer in the local league. Dr. Birdwell was sidelined with pancreatitis last year and was unable to work for over five months, during which her practice was closed.

'I still don't know how I got pancreatitis.' says Dr. Birdwell. 'It almost exclusively occurs in people who drink heavily and I don't drink at all!'

The severity of the illness kept Dr. Birdwell off her feet for months, during which she had to send patients to other doctors. 'I had no income from the practice... literally zero. Luckily, my income insurance kicked in after 60 days and I started receiving checks from the policy.'

Dr. Birdwell carried short-term and long-term income insurance (also called disability insurance). Her policy paid $6,000 per month. 'What a Godsend. I was having to dip into savings for everything from groceries to my daughter's dance classes and to hire a car to take me back and forth to the doctor each week.'

Statistics show that 1 in 3 American workers will miss work for at least 90 consecutive days due to illness or injury. 1 in 5 will be out for over a year. Without income insurance, all expenses, including the monthly mortgage, come directly out of savings.

A recent study revealed that nearly half of all foreclosures are the direct result of the owner not being physically or mentally able to work. Once the savings are gone, the house is next, and from there... financial ruin.

Income insurance can be the fallback position that gets you through a tough time. Individual policies, on average, cover up to 60% of your income and potentially more. Coverage can be written to provide benefits to business owners until their regular income returns to normal, not just until they are able to return to work. Numerous other options are available depending on your occupation.

'My short term policy paid for the first 6 months while I wasn't even able to work. My long-term policy kicked in after that and paid for another 6 months until the practice was up and going again and my take home pay got back on track', comments Dr. Birdwell.

Supplemental income insurance can plug the many holes commonly found in employer-sponsored group coverage. Such coverage usually protects up to 60% of your income, however, benefits are taxed as regular wages, lowering your take home to roughly 42%. Group policies are also riddled with exceptions and exclusions that limit benefits and even exclude certain conditions.

Supplemental coverage can affordably fill in the gaps of a group policy and literally extend coverage up to 100% of regular income. In addition, benefits from a supplemental policy are not taxable because you, not your employer, pay the small premium.

'Income insurance was an afterthought, to tell you the truth. I was more concerned about life insurance. But, in the end, the income insurance is what kept us from having problems', Dr. Birdwell emphasizes.

A young mom needs all the help she can get, especially single working moms. Being a single mom means your paycheck is how the bills get paid. Losing that paycheck during an illness or injury can be catastrophic. An affordable income insurance policy can provide cash flow when you can't work, and deliver single mothers help when they need it most.

Please visit us at http://www.disability-insurance-update.com/ with any questions or to find further information regarding the protection of your income.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Massa

Illinois Workers' Compensation - Knowing Your Rights When Visiting a Doctor After a Work Injury

By Peter Drummond

Illinois workers' compensation is a program that allows employees who have been injured while on the job to receive compensation from their employer while they recover. Under the current Illinois workers' compensation program, an employer is also required to provide medical care and pay for all necessary visits to a physician. But in a normal work injury and Illinois workers' compensation case, there may be some disagreement as to how much medical care is actually necessary, and how much medical care an employer must pay for.

It can be frustrating when someone who has been injured while at work doesn't receive the medical care that they think they deserve under Illinois workers' compensation and the care they think they need to recover and become a healthy and reliable worker. And there are some things you can do to pursue the proper amount of medical treatment, even if you find the initial medical care more than a bit lacking.

A good first step in the quest to receiving proper medical care guaranteed under the Illinois workers' compensation law is to meet with at least one trusted physician. Under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, an employee has the right to receive medical treatment from two physicians of his or her choice. In addition, those two physicians are able to refer the employee to any other specialists or doctors they feel are necessary. This is called the 'chain of referral' and every physician in a chain counts as only one of the two physicians that an employee is allowed under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act to see at the employer's expense.

Some employers and insurers may do everything they can to try to retain control of the injury case. They may tell you that a certain doctor is not authorized or that the doctor is not in their network. If you hear these statements, or similar ones, you should consider yourself in a delicate and possibly precarious situation and it's highly recommended that you see a lawyer about your situation, in order to make sure you are able to connect with a doctor or physician that you trust and are guaranteed under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

Under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, your employer has no right to authorize a physician and has no right to refuse any licensed physician. But it's also important to know that, under the Illinois Worker's Compensation Act, your employer or employer's insurance company is not explicitly required to provide authorization for a payment. Yes, this is a bit confusing. But that usually only turns into a problem when a physician refuses to provide treatment for any reason. This isn't a very common situation, but if it does occur in your case, once again, it's highly recommended that you see a lawyer.

In some cases, employers have entered into an agreement with workers' unions that only allow an injured employee to select from a list, or panel, of physicians provided by the employer.

If your employer is one that offers a panel, you will be able to schedule an appointment with one of the doctors on the panel, with the employer or insurer footing the bill. It may happen that the employer will try to convince you to select a particular physician, one that the employer has a relationship with. There may be several reasons why an employer would do such a thing, and many of them may be benign. But injured employees should always remember that, under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act, they are in no way required to see the physician that their employer would like them to see. Just remember that while it's not always the case, there is a chance that a doctor who's favored by your employer may not have your best interests at heart. You should see who you are comfortable with seeing.

It's probably best to select a doctor on the list, or the panel, who's different from the one that your employer suggests. You should still call the doctor's office before the appointment just to verify that your employer will, in fact, be paying for the appointment. Some employers may wrongly think that they do not have to pay for a physician's appointment if it's not from their preferred physician on the list. This may either be a genuine mistake, or an intentional attempt to force you to see their preferred physician. Either way, it's important to be vigilant and make sure that you are granted all the rights granted to you under the Illinois Workers' Compensation Act.

Peter Drummond is a social security disability and workers compensation attorney licensed to practice law in Illinois and Missouri, and owns a law firm called Drummond Law with offices throughout Illinois and Missouri.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Peter_Drummond

How to Document Your Way to a Bigger Insurance Check


By Mark Decherd Platinum Quality Author

We've said it before, and we'll say it again: document, document, document. This is the key to getting a bigger insurance check. After all, the burden of proof is on you, not the insurance company. So, how do you document your way to a bigger insurance check? Here's how:

First, think ahead. Documenting your property before a loss is one of the best steps you can take. Start by taking a video camera and going through your house, room by room. Videotape everything and narrate as you do so. For example, in your bedroom, take a wide, sweeping shot of the room and say, 'This is the master bedroom located in the northeast corner of the house.' Then focus on individual items such as the bed, again discussing specifics such as 'Notice the king size bed which is dressed in an expensive down comforter by Ralph Lauren and topped with dozens of designer pillows.' Zoom in on the labels. Record everything including the contents of your closet and drawers. Focus on details such as the model and serial number of your flat screen television.

Once you have a video, store it in a safe place such as a safe deposit box and add to it each year. An excellent option is to make a digital video and store the video securely and privately online. Should a loss occur, you can easily access the video from anywhere in the world. Likewise, you can give your insurance adjuster access to the file as needed. Similarly, you can do the same with photos.

As you purchase new items, keep your receipts. These could prove invaluable should you ever have a loss. In addition, create a detailed inventory of your property and update it as needed. For example, use a spreadsheet and list each room along with its contents and their details including price, model number, serial number, etc. Update this file whenever you make a purchase. Again, store it in a safe location or online.

Okay, so you have a loss but you didn't think ahead and you do not have a video. It's not too late. Document the damage now. Take pictures and video of everything, again paying attention to details. For example, if your home is flooded, take pictures of the standing water and the damaged contents as well as the structural damage, inside and out.

Create a list of everything you can think of. Do this methodically by going room by room just as you would have done when making a video. For example, if your home burnt down, you may have only your memory and it can be overwhelming. Break it down by room and work through your memory of that room in a clockwise fashion such as Wall 1, Wall 2, Wall 3, and Wall 4. Wall 1 may have had a desk, dresser, mirror, and television, Wall 2 may have been the walk-in closet, Wall 3 may have had two nightstands, a painting, and the bed. Once you have the basics, drill down. What was in the dresser? What was on top of the dresser? Keep remembering and keep writing - one room at a time.

Finally, get estimates for repairs and replacements, gather receipts and past credit card statements, put together a file or disc containing all of your supporting videos and photographs and have these readily available to show your insurance adjuster.

Mr. Mark Decherd
http://www.dryout.net
1415 Colonial Blvd.
Fort Myers, Fl. 33907
1-800-330-1504
Water Damage

Mark Decherd - EzineArticles Expert Author

Selecting the Right Dental Insurance Coverage


When it comes time to renew your group health coverage through your employer, do you select the cheapest plan available? Does the dental insurance go along with the same cheap plan?

In today's economy, saving money is important, but getting the most for your dollar is even more important. Selecting the right dental insurance plan will save more than just premium dollars in the long run.

Are you familiar with the plan's annual limit and lifetime limits? Dental insurance plans vary widely and you should take a little time to analyze them.

Here's an article that may help when it comes time to analyzing your dental insurance plan options: Analyzing Dental Insurance Coverage - How to Select the best Dental Insurance Plan for Your Needs.

Workers Compensation Checklist

If you’re a business owner looking to secure Workers Compensation coverage, it’s best to assemble the necessary information prior to contacting a broker.

Here’s an article outlining the underwriting information necessary to obtain a quote for Workers Comp coverage. Your insurance broker may ask for further details or explanations, but having the basics will expedite receiving your quote.

Supplement Your Medicare Insurance with Medigap

Medigap insurance is also known as Medicare Part C. If you currently have the basic Medicare plan (Parts A & B) and are considering a supplemental plan to fill in the insurance gaps, check out this article: Supplement Basic Medicare with Part C Coverage

It gives an explanation of what Medigap offers and shares a resource that outlines the various Medigap plans.

The Low Down on High Risk Insurance Pools

Very recently the National Association of Sate Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (NASCHIP) put out a paper explaining the role, necessity and dispelling the myths of high risk insurance pools.

Used by many because pre-existing exclusions prevent individuals from securing insurance from the traditional insurance market, the high-risk insurance pool is sometimes the only remaining health insurance alternative.

Anyone who is in the position to consider approaching one of the State Health Insurance Pools should read the paper. In addition to valuable information, the paper provides a listing of the 35 states that currently have Health Insurance Pools along with the website and contact information for each.

It’s January - Flexible Spending Account Time


It’s the beginning of the year; it’s time for you to consider how much money you want to put aside in your Flexible Spending Account. You know that annual account that helps you to pay for medical expenses that aren’t covered by your health insurance plan.

Don’t let the current economy stop you from participating. Before you decide not to join a Flexible Spending Account plan because you just don’t want additional money taken out of your paycheck, think again. Having the money taken out of your account actually saves you money.

Check out this article for more information on Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and how they can compliment your health insurance program.

Free Insurance Rating Tool for Florida Homeowners

If you live in Florida and are looking for homeowners insurance, take advantage of the Shop and Compare Rates tool. It's a state run website that was created to help its residents become informed shoppers.
Florida Home
The good thing about the tool is that it not only provides a listing of insurance companies writing insurance in each Florida County, it also gives a ball park estimate of homeowner’s insurance costs. Keep in mind, however, that the premiums listed are average rates that will vary depending on the underwriting particulars for your home.

If you are in the market for homeowners insurance, I recommend that you start your shopping process by visiting the Shop and Compare rates website. You could conceivably save yourself a lot of time and money by avoiding insurance companies that are known to charge higher rates.

Homeowner's Insurance Property Valuation

It's time to get a homeowners insurance policy, but you're not quite sure how much your house is worth. What limit should you set as the building limit?Do you use the market value? No, market value fluctuates too widely and you may end up being over or under insured.Do you use the purchase price? No, you shouldn't use the purchase price for the exact same reason you shouldn't use the market

Stimulus Plan Helps the Unemployed Save Money on Health Insurance Costs


Did you know that you can save 65% on your COBRA health insurance premium payments? With the signing of the Economic Stimulus Bill (The American Recovery Reinvestment Act of 2009), qualified individuals can save a significant amount of money if they qualify.

To Qualify for the COBRA Savings

You must have been involuntarily separated from your job between September 1, 2008 and December 31, 2009. The key word here is involuntarily. If you quit your job, you are not eligible for the premium savings.

Opt to receive COBRA benefits. Even if you initially decided that you could not afford COBRA and didn't extend your health insurance coverage when you were terminated, you can now opt to receive the benefits. If you were terminated between September 1, 2008 and February 16, 2009, you have 60 days in which to opt in.

Meet the income requirements. If your adjusted gross income falls below $125,000 as an individual and $250,000 filing jointly then you qualify. If you earn between $125,000 and $145,000 individually and $250,000 and $290,000 jointly, you still qualify for a savings, but you won't be able to participate in the full 65% savings. The savings dwindle on a sliding scale. If you earn over $145,000 individually and $290,000 jointly, you cannot qualify for the COBRA savings.

For more up-to-date information follow these links to the topic specific page on the IRS website and the Department of Labor site.

Something You Should Know if You Drive in New York State


If you’re operating a motor vehicle in New York State, be careful. A few years ago, New York State enacted the Driver Responsibility Program. This program affects every person driving a motor vehicle, boat or snowmobile in New York.

The purpose of the law, enacted on November 18, 2004, is to deter motorists from becoming repeat or even first time offenders (unfortunately, most people don't realize the law exists until their a first time offender). In essence, the law places a hefty fine on motorists who have been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, refuses to take a chemical test (to prove whether or not one is driving under the influence), or have managed to rack up 6 points or more on your driver's license in an 18 month period of time.

The fines range from $100 to $250 per year (this does not include the hit you’ll take on your auto insurance premiums). Failure to pay the fines can result in license suspension. If you recently have been convicted of DWI or have managed to incur several points on your license, you should read this article on the NYS Driver Responsibility Program which gives a better overview of the law and the consequences of violating it.

P.S. This law applies to boats and snowmobiles too.

Tools for Calculating a Home's Replacement Cost


If you’re in the market for homeowner’s insurance premiums, it’s wise to have a good understanding of the replacement cost for your home. One sure way to pay more than you should for homeowners insurance is to over value the replacement cost of your home.

  • Utilize one of the free online replacement cost calculators. Homeinsurance.com offers a simple straight forward calculator using the cost/per square feet. All you need to have is your zip code and the square footage of your home.

  • Visit the Xactware.com website. They create software that helps homeowners calculate the amount insurance they’ll need to protect their home. The cost for new users is currently $8.95, but it’s a small price to pay for ensuring the proper insurance value of your home.

  • Insure to Value is another website that provides replacement cost calculators for homeowners insurance. They have three products that range in price from free to $15.95.


  • Use the step by step building cost calculator to rebuild your home using today’s material costs. The calculator offered at Building-cost.net is free and detailed. When using this calculator, make sure you have a little extra time on your hands to insert the necessary information to get as accurate a quote as possible. Their report breaks out the costs by material, labor and equipment.


  • Select a coinsurance percent. When you finally determine the true replacement cost of your home, it’s common practice on homeowner’s
    insurance policies to insure 80% to 90% of the full replacement value of your home. The thinking behind such a coinsurance clause is that
    it’s unlikely that 100% of the building will be destroyed (foundations are usually left standing), why pay for more insurance than necessary.

Baby Boomers can Save Money on Auto Insurance

GEICO offers a guaranteed renewal auto policy to qualifying policyholders aged 50 and over. If you match the following criteria, contact GEICO for a guaranteed renewal auto policy:
Baby Boomers Save on Auto Insurance
* Must be 50 or older
* No drivers under 25 to be covered on the policy
* Clean driving record for the past three years
* Vehicles are used for personal use only (no business use).

Some insurance companies prefer to non-renew insurance policies once the driver reaches a certain age. With GEICO's auto policy renewal, baby boomers don't have to worry about being tossed out by their insurance company.

After qualifying for the guaranteed renewal program (not available in all states), baby boomers should check out several of the other discounts you may be eligible for like the Multi-Car Discount or Retired Government and Military Discount or even the Five-Year Good Driving Discount. Applying these discounts and other available auto discounts can save baby boomers money on auto polices.

Put on your reading glasses, wear your gray hair proudly and visit the GEICO website or call and ask for the mature driver's discount. Don't be ashamed, after all, you earned it.

An Insurance Industry Rant

I interrupt this blog to bring you an insurance rant…

As a former insurance broker I understand what goes into underwriting an insurance policy. I also understand that there are rules and regulations that insurance companies and agents must follow. Without those rules, the insurance industry would be in chaos.

My Health Insurance Rant

I’m old enough to remember when HMO’s first became an option when selecting a health insurance plan. They were touted as a way for the insurance industry, medical industry and the consumer to streamline costs and manage a person’s health care needs better.

Like most of my counterparts, we all bought into the program. After all, having to pay a $5 co pay to obtain medical care was a steal. Better yet, the copay for prescription drugs was a mere $2 or $3. I thought it was a win-win situation. All I had to do was make sure that my current doctors were in my health insurance company’s network and all was good.

Times, They are a Changin’

To take a phrase from the Bob Dylan song, insurance times have changed. Over time I noticed that the HMO insurance premiums slowly began to increase and so did the copay. In addition to the increase in premium and co pay there was a decrease in coverage and more red tape when I needed medical attention. My health insurance plan was becoming more and more of a headache.

My usual chiropractic needs were barely covered by my insurance plan. I had to go to a primary care physician to explain why I needed to see a chiropractor. After jumping through many hoops they allotted me a miserly 6 visits. When will the insurance and medical community realize that chiropractic care is a preventative type of care? Traditional medicine is a reactive type of care. You wait until you get sick and then go to the doctor to get better. Chiropractology works in reverse. It keeps you well (this is a subject for a different rant…back to my insurance rant).

How High or Low will it Go?

My HMO $5 co pay is now $25. My prescription co pay goes as high as $50. My chiropractic care is not covered and my insurance premiums keep going up. My daughter’s dislocated pinky not only required a visit to her doctor, but out of frustration I ended up in the emergency room in order to get her finger fixed.

The primary care physician wanted me to take her to the orthopedic doctor who didn’t have hours until the following day. Additionally, that doctor wasn’t accepting new patients and was located 45 miles away (he was, however, in my health insurance plan’s network). In the meanwhile my daughter’s pinky was pointing due east and sticking out like a weather vane. Off to the emergency room we went to the tune of $95. At least they x-rayed and splinted her finger.

Two days later we were able to get an appointment with an orthopedic doctor to care for her finger (another $25 please).

From the Health Insurance Plan to the Homeowners Insurance

Several days ago as a result of a vicious storm, a tree fell and pulled down the power lines to my house. It also ripped the wood panel that affixed the electrical wires to the house.

I called my homeowners insurance company, my electric company and my cable company (in that order). They arrived as follows, my electric company, my cable company and still, 5 days later, nothing from the homeowners insurance company.

When I reported the claim, the claims handler said, “If they have to shut your power down and your food begins to spoil in your freezer, save the labels and we’ll reimburse you.” Oh, great! It’s been 5 days. If my power were out, they would have a heck of a claim because I’d be living in a hotel room eating out every day adding to the total amount of the claim.

If I paid my homeowners insurance bills the way they responded to this claim, they would cancel my coverage.

This Concludes My Insurance Rant (for now)

Just felt I had to get that off of my chest. Thanks for reading.

I will now return this blog back to the somewhat informative usually level-headed insurance blog that it was…