Texting & Driving Puts Lives at Risk

A Florida driver sent or received upwards of 50 text messages during a one-hour commute to work. And yes, the story ends as badly as you might imagine. The driver hit another vehicle head on and two people were killed.

Roughly 3,000 people die each year from what is described as “distracted” driving. It includes more than just texting but texting is probably the biggest distraction most drivers face. There are other distractions on the road – women putting on make up, checking Facebook or the internet, and people reading things other than phone texts. I saw one driver reading a book once. Those with a GPS may be tempted to drive while typing an address into their GPS.

A movie theatre that we frequent has a rather obnoxious direct message before the movie begins. It tells the audience to not text or even have the bright light of their phone visible during the movie because it distracts other movie goers. The message even goes so far to let you know they will ask you to leave the facility.

While a movie theatre is not the same as driving a car the hope (by me) is that announcements such as this will be another reminder of how texting can interfere with the lives of other people. I only wish this movie theater would add another line to remind people to not text and drive – in addition to not text and watch their movie.

Terrifying Insurance Words

I read an article that talked about words that you do not want to hear or see when it relates to your insurance.

1) Surcharge – meaning you have done something to cause your insurance premium to go up. The most common reason is an at-fault accident. But some insurance carriers can raise your rates for a speeding ticket too.

2) SR22 – is a financial responsibility form that shows you have at least basic Arizona auto insurance. Unfortunately, if you ever need an SR22 you will pay higher premiums. A DUI (for example) may cause you to need an SR22. Or driving without insurance may cause you to need it. An SR22 stays on your record for a few years. If you let your auto insurance lapse this period begins anew.

3) Teenager – all of us with kids who have reached driving age know and understand this all too well. Youthful drivers cause many more accidents than older drivers. As a result they cause insurance premiums to rise. If you are a parent with a teen driver you probably cover the added cost out of your pocket. I feel your pain with two young adults.

4) Non-Standard – Many consumers are not aware there even is such a thing as standard auto insurance companies and non-standard auto insurance companies. Premiums are generally higher with a non-standard carrier. If you have had incidents on your driving record you may be with a non-standard carrier. That does not mean you are stuck with a non-standard carrier forever.

Contact your Arizona independent insurance agent or insurance broker and let them re-shop your auto insurance, even if you like your current agent. We will work hard to give you great customer service so the real question is how much money we can save you.

Even if you must remain with a non-standard carrier sometimes you may find a different non-standard carrier offering a lower rate. This is why you always want to use an independent insurance agent who can compare and shop around on your behalf.

Do You Need Long Term Care Insurance?

Long Term Care Insurance or LTCI helps you pay for costs associated with nursing home expenses or home health care if you are sick or injured.

Over the years LTCI has gone from being relatively unknown and little used to becoming almost too popular. Insurance companies may have underestimated their financial exposure in this product, particularly those carriers who offered a lifetime payout benefit. American’s are living longer and the lifetime payout policies are putting a dent in some carriers finances.

Most, if not all, LTCI carriers now offer a limited benefit – say 2 years or 5 years. So at least they can know their exposure is capped.

Also, many players in the Arizona Long Term Care Insurance market have abandoned the product altogether. It has been reported that one large carrier to allegedly abandon this product in some markets is State Farm Insurance. We do not know for sure if this is the case but others are reporting it to be true.

The American Association for Long Term Care Insurance purportedly reported that the carrier had ceased selling the product in some states, including ARIZONA, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Nevada and New York.

What are the odds?

Statistics indicate that 70% of Americans will need some sort of long term care assistance for an average length of 3 – 5 years at a cost of $250,000 – $1,000,000. As with most insurance you never want benefits to ever kick in but in this arena the financial cost to you could be devastating.

The economy is playing havoc with insurance carriers and even that is affecting the LTCI business. Insurance carriers rely upon investment income. However, this low interest environment is hindering insurance companies from earning much needed investment income.

Other carriers are seeing strong interest in LTCI from 30% to 50% gains in applications being submitted.

Believe it or not, but insurance companies expect a certain number of clients to drop the insurance. So when 100% of new policy holders pay their premiums the carrier knows a certain number will quit paying at some point. Those become pure profits since the carrier did not pay any benefit.

However, what they have discovered with LTCI is that very few ever lapse their policies. As we age we realize the importance and need to have our health care intact.

Do you need LTCI?

If you have the income and assets to warrant protecting then you may want to consider investigating getting a quote. Consider if you need nursing home care for a couple of years. Imagine how much money you would need to spend out of your own pocket. Nursing home costs vary from state to state, and perhaps even city to city, but they have risen dramatically over the past 15 years.

Can you afford the premiums, which could be $2000+ per year. This is an estimate of course as the premiums are substantially cheaper for someone in their late 50’s versus a 72 year old.

Getting a quote is free. Matter of fact, contact any number of reputable companies and ask for an agent to come and explain the product and offer a quote. All of this is free. If you desire a recommendation of a great insurance agent who sells LTCI and who I personally know – please call me.

LTCI is heavily dependent on being in good health. So please do not wait until some health incident occurs in your life to being investigating your potential need. As is the case with most insurance (such as life, disability and health) always buy when you are in the best health possible. You will receive the best rate and lowest premium.

Do you need Long Term Care Insurance? Don’t let it simply be a financial decision. Again, if you have assets and investments that you want to maintain over the long term this is a product that you should indeed consider buying. If you need nursing home or home care at some point you will need to spend your own assets first. Once you have depleted your assets then government assistance may kick in. But by that point you are no longer someone with assets.

The Health Insurance Dilemma

I cannot imagine anyone wants another human being to go without health care. We all need it at some point in our lives. However, health care has become an incredibly polarizing subject in America and that is a shame.

We’ve been discussing health insurance in the United States for many years now. If you are curious, I am not a proponent of Obamacare primarily because it was more about the government overseeing and taking over the total health care industry than in covering the 30-40 million uninsured. When has the government ever done anything efficiently over a long period of time without becoming bloated and hugely inefficient, and without growing far beyond their intended scope and purpose.

I would be happy if the government had formulated a more simple plan to figure out how to provide services to the uninsured and let the rest of the health care industry alone. We have had the best health care in the world and Obamacare is likely to reduce our quality of care. If you disagree, we will simply have to wait and see.

Perhaps one exception to the above comment is our need to reduce the cost of prescription medicine. Anytime you can drive across the border into Mexico and buy the same drug for far less there is a problem. Of course you hear and read about political parties being in bed with the drug industry. Does anyone believe that likely is not accurate?

Anyway, no matter how you land on this difficult subject there is no arguing the impact health insurance or lack of health insurance has on our nation and people.

Back in 2002 the Institute of Medicine figured that around 18,000 U.S. citizens between the ages of 25 and 64 die annually due to a lack of health insurance. The following information is not rocket science yet still informative.

ACCORDING TO THE REPORT:

Uninsured adults without health insurance:

…are far less likely to receive preventive services

…and with cancer are generally in poorer health and die more prematurely than those with insurance primarily due to delayed diagnosis issues.

…and with diabetes are less likely to receive recommended services, which causes uncontrolled blood sugar levels which puts patients are greater risk

…and with hypertension or high cholesterol are less likely to be screened, less likely to receive prescription medication and are at greater risk

…and with end-stage renal disease receive dialysis later than other patients

…and with HIV receive medication later that can improve odds of survival and die sooner

…and are hospitalized are more likely to die in the hospital, receive fewer services after being admitted and experience more substandard care.

…and experience a trauma injury are less likely admitted to hospitalization, receive fewer services and more likely to die as a result

…and with acute cardiovascular disease are less likely to receive hospitalization to receive angiography or revascularization procedures and more likely to die

Again, nothing in this that would shock your world. It’s still important to remember that we have lot of people who forgo health care and the basic services they need.

Black Box for Cars

If you buy a new vehicle model there is a extremely good chance it will be installed with a black box device that will keep a log of most of your driving habits. It is estimated that 90% or more of all new vehicles have this black box pre-installed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering making the installation of these black boxes mandatory in every new vehicle. This device has been installed in some models for many, many years already and the public has been none the wiser. According to this article approximately 96% of all new vehicles already have this device installed.

What is the reason, you ask?

More than likely – to help piece together the final moments before an accident – though proponents often point to the safety aspects of the black box. The box can tell your speed, braking and acceleration, all great things to know if you are researching an accident. The device includes sensors under the seats so the device can confirm how many occupants were in the vehicle at the time of the accident.

The technical term for the black box is Event Data Recorder.

Ironically the EDR was conceived and designed for consumer protection – telling the safety features in your vehicle whether to pull your seat belt tighter and whether to inflate the air bag. However, it has evolved into a way to assist in insurance investigations, lawsuits, and even criminal cases.

GM and Ford have been installing the devices in certain vehicles for at least a decade, according to one report.

The Dangers of Texting and Driving

An auto insurance organization in New Jersey completed a study and found 28% of residents there admitted to texting and driving. Another 27% said they programmed their GPS while driving.

15% of New Jersey drivers said their own texting caused them to narrowly avoid causing an accident and 20% said they know someone involved in an accident resulting from texting while driving.

Texting while driving is illegal in New Jersey.

Chrysler Defies Recall Requests

The government claims upwards of 2.7 million Jeeps are at risk of a fuel tank fire in the event of a rear end collision.

Chrysler was sent a letter by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration encouraging the company to recall Grand Cherokees from 1993 – 2004 along with Jeep Liberty models from 2002 – 2007 voluntarily.

However, Jeep’s response is to claim the vehicles are safe and a recall is not needed. It is a rare step in the motor industry. The government can go to court and force Jeep to comply. The government has 32 such incidents where rear impact crashed in the Grand Cherokee caused 44 deaths. The Liberty model was involved in five rear end crashes that took seven lives.

Are some insurance policies a waste of money?

I sell insurance but try to focus on the policies that people actually need and use – auto, home and life insurance.

However, there are some types of policies that may actually be a waste of money. Here are a few examples:

Flight Insurance – does anyone sell this anymore? Air travel is safer than it’s ever been. If you desire to leave money to loved ones you need basic life insurance. Insurance that pays for a specific reason, like dying from a plane crash, are usually not worth the money.

Extended Warranty on consumer products – we have all been asked by a sales clerk if we want the one year, two year or lifetime warranty on that new computer, dvd player or other electronic device. If you are buying a very expensive flat screen television you may consider adding a warranty. But for most of the consumer goods, the warranty is a bad buy because they almost never are needed.

Flood Insurance – unless you live in a specific flood zone this is a coverage you want to avoid. It may give you peace of mind but empty your pocketbook in the meantime. While we have read many stories about flooding I bet if you check those areas are known flood risk areas.

Unemployment Insurance – sounds good. You get money coming in if you are laid off. And in today’s economy that is a genuine concern, especially for certain industries or fields. However, most households would be better served by becoming disciplined savers. You not only keep that unemployment premium in your pocket but better yet in your savings account.

Accidental Death Insurance – Deaths occurring by accident are small compared to people who die from ill health. You need life insurance that pays your beneficiaries for all risks, not just for accidents. I remember consulting one lady who had something like 7 accidental death policies. She believed they would pay a benefit no matter how she died. When informed she had to die in an accident for her beneficiary to receive money she promptly cancelled them. We found coverage for her that paid a death benefit whether she died from an accident, cancer, heart attack or any other reason.

When you need to talk with someone about your life insurance, please contact us today!

The Auto Glass Endorsement

It is mandatory in the State of Arizona that companies must offer a zero-deductible glass endorsement. That means you do not incur any deductible when your windshield is replaced or repaired.

Arizona House Bill 2464 will change that.

Arizona Insurance companies will no longer be required to offer coverage for the repair or replacement of auto glass without a deductible. Insurers will now be able to offer auto insurance policies that carry the glass endorsement WITH a deductible. So if your windshield is cracked and needs replaced you will have to cough up a deductible to do so.

Keep in mind that this only gives insurance companies the “option” of offering the endorsement that makes you pay a deductible for a replacement or repair of your auto glass. They can still offer the no-deductible glass endorsement.

One benefit to consumers is this – they may now have another option from their insurance company to buy a policy with glass coverage that includes a deductible but at a lower monthly premium.

Would you opt to buy the new glass coverage where you have to pay a $50 or $100 deductible if it meant your monthly premiums were a little less? That is likely the new choice you will have to make when this house bill goes into effect.

Glass claims absolutely can affect the bottom line of an insurance carrier. If a client has two glass claims per year those can total $600 – $900 in cost to the carrier. If an insured has two vehicles and is paying roughly $1,800 per year in auto insurance those two glass claims can wipe out nearly 50% of the premium received before the insurance company pays out of pocket for any other types of claims. And they still hope to make a profit.