Hey Buddy, Can You Spare $650 Million?

September 25th, 2007 by Jeannine C

That’s what Washington residents will be asking, if a motion to repeal Referendum 67 fails in November. 

Originally passed into law by the state legislature without going to voters, Referendum 67 allows consumers to collect triple damages if an insurer is found to have unreasonably denied a claim or to have violated unfair practice rules.  That so significantly increases the risk to issue insurance policies in Washington that premiums are expected to rise up to $650 million dollars.

Supporters claim that R-67 helps consumers by severely penalizing Washington insurance companies that fail to treat everyone fairly and equally.  Opponents are concerned that the law will result in frivolous lawsuits, resulting in higher insurance rates for everyone, which has happened in the five other states which have similar laws.

Honestly, how many people do you know who were happy with an insurance settlement from an incident, or think they received a great rate?  I know I wasn’t happy with the check I received after a woman rear-ended my car at a stoplight.  Suing could only have been marginally better, so it wasn’t worth the effort.  But if I could have received triple the payout, who knows?  I might have considered it. 

Bottom line – it seems as if the only ones who will benefit from this law are the trial lawyers. 

Listen to Hey Buddy, Can You Spare $650 Million?
Listen to Hey Buddy, Can You Spare $650 Million?

Posted in Insurance, Insurance Information by State | 3 Comments »

Colorado Auto Insurance

September 15th, 2007 by Brad C

With Colorado’s winding mountain roads and super fast highways, having auto insurance is a must, even if it wasn’t required by state law.  The minimums for Colorado auto liability insurance are $25,000 for bodily injury for an individual and $50,000 per accident, plus $15,000 for property damage liability.  Colorado also allows a single limit liability policy of $65,000.

Colorado once ranked highest in the nation for the number of uninsured motorists on the road; now a computerized system available to police has helped to improve that ranking, but uninsured motorist coverage is still strongly recommended.  The state changed the laws on medical coverage in 2003, requiring each individual to initially pay for their own medical bills, so most people carry at least $25,000 in medical payments coverage as well.  (If you have health insurance, this will usually pay for initial treatment, but check with your health insurance provider.)

Adults over 55 enjoy a great break on Colorado senior auto insurance because the state requires insurance providers to give a discount to anyone completing a DMV approved driving course, such as the ones taught by AARP.  The discount is good for three years.

Make sure to pay your insurance premiums on time if you live in Colorado as there’s no grace period for late payments.  Non-payment is also one of the few approved reasons for cancellation of a Colorado auto insurance policy.

There are many factors which affect the quotes you’ll receive for car insurance in Colorado, plus a bunch of ways to save money on your policy.  Make sure you know them all before you start shopping for auto insurance in Colorado.

Listen to Colorado Auto Insurance
Listen to Colorado Auto Insurance

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Georgia Auto Insurance

September 10th, 2007 by Jeannine C

Requirements for Georgia auto insurance are a bit higher than most states, at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per incident for bodily injury liability insurance and $25,000 for property damage liability insurance, according to the official Georgia state insurance website.  Though that’s still not a realistic amount to cover your personal assets, it’s good to know that if you are in an accident with an insured motorist, there’s at least that much coverage you can count on.

Georgia doesn’t require personal injury protection (PIP) or uninsured/underinsured motorists like some other states, but both are still good ideas to have as part of your auto insurance coverage.  If your car is financed, your lender will probably require you to also carry comprehensive and collision coverage, so that if there’s an accident that’s your fault, if the car gets stolen, or even if a tree falls on it, you’re covered. 

As you’re shopping for auto insurance in Georgia, if your budget allows, spring for a few extras in the policy such as towing insurance coverage and loss of use, which will help pay for a rental car if your vehicle is in the shop due to a covered event, like an accident (sorry, it won’t pay just because your car broke down). 

Car insurance companies in Georgia look for pretty much the same things as companies in other states – good driving records, type of vehicle, credit scores, so make sure you make smart choices in each of those areas.  Make sure you compare quotes from at least 3-4 companies too before making your final decision on Georgia auto insurance.

Listen to Georgia Auto Insurance
Listen to Georgia Auto Insurance

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Alabama Life Insurance

September 5th, 2007 by Jeannine C

If you’re an Alabama resident searching for life insurance, you’re fortunate to have many great choices.  There aren’t too many regulations on life insurance that will affect your buying process, regardless of the state, so it’s important to shop around for the best Alabama life insurance rates.  Life insurance is an extremely competitive industry, so with a little effort, you should be able to find a policy which meets your needs at a price you can afford.

The Alabama Department of Insurance has one of the best websites around, including a great worksheet to calculate your net worth and thus determine how much life insurance coverage you need.  Most experts suggest an amount that’s six to ten times your annual salary to cover the expenses your family will face during the transition to your new life.  There are things you can do to save money on life insurance too.

Fortunately all types of life insurance policies are available in Alabama, including term life insurance, whole life insurance, and specialty policies as well.  Top rated companies, like Prudential and AIG offer coverage within the state, and are happy to provide free Alabama life insurance quotes.

I know it’s difficult to think about buying life insurance.  For most people, just the idea of buying it sends chills up their spine.  That’s the number one reason why most people put it off.  But if you have a family, little ones that count on you for support, it’s one of those necessary evils you have to deal with as a responsible adult. 

So start the process, decide whether term life insurance, whole life insurance, or a different policy is best for you and your family, then find an affordable policy from a licensed Alabama life insurance company, and be done with it.

Listen to Alabama Life Insurance
Listen to Alabama Life Insurance

Posted in Insurance, Insurance Information by State, Life Insurance | 1 Comment »

California Health Insurance

August 30th, 2007 by Jeannine C

It’s estimated that as much as 20% of the population in California is not covered by health insurance.  While there are many programs offering medical services to those without insurance, the first choice is always to have your own coverage, which puts you in control of your own health.  Before you buy California health insurance, you need to know about the choices of policies available in the state so you can make the wisest choice for you and your family.

Basically there are five types of health insurance policies in California

  • HMO – Health Maintenance Organizations, which require that you only use physicians or providers within their system, unless it’s an emergency. 
  • PPO – Preferred provider Organizations, that provide a list of approved service providers but also allow you to see physicians not on the list with reduced benefits.
  • Indemnity Policies – use any doctor or hospital you choose, after meeting a deductible and/or paying a co-pay.
  • Self-Insured Health Plans, normally used by unions or school districts, which draw from a pool of funds to pay for member’s healthcare expenses.
  • MEWA – Multiple Employer Welfare Arrangements are trust funds available through professional or trade organizations to cover employee healthcare.

California has very specific laws concerning pre-existing conditions, so if that’s an issue, make sure that you know your California Health Insurance rights.  For more information, you can always call the California Department of Health at 800-927-HELP.

Listen to California Health Insurance
Listen to California Health Insurance

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The Five Types of Missouri Home Insurance

August 27th, 2007 by Jeannine C

If you’re a Missouri resident, make sure you have the right type of insurance to match your property and needs.  There’s even an unusual additional peril specified by the Missouri Department of Insurance that’s important to consider when buying Missouri Home Insurance.

The first type of home insurance is the Homeowners Broad Form (HO-2), which covers all the basic perils, like fire and smoke, windstorm, theft, vandalism, and many others, including volcanic eruption.

Homeowners Special Form (HO-3) is the second type, which covers all buildings from almost all perils except things like flood, earthquake, neglect, or nuclear war.  Personal property is also included in this policy.

The third policy type is the Special Homeowners Policy for Renters Contents (HO-4), specifically designed for individuals renting a home or apartment.  Coverage includes household contents, loss of use, liability coverage and medical payments.

The Homeowners Condominium Policy (HO-6) is designed for condominium unit owners.  It covers everything included in HO-2, plus personal property, liability and medical payments coverage.  Here it’s important to confirm that the policy allows for items not insured by the condominium association.

Finally Homeowners Actual Cash Value (HO-8) is designed for folks owning an older home which would be too expensive to cover at replacement value.  This policy will return the property to serviceable condition.

More information on Missouri Homeowners insurance is available through Insurance-Rates-Online.

Listen to The Five Types of Missouri Home Insurance
Listen to The Five Types of Missouri Home Insurance

Posted in Home Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Information by State | No Comments »

Time to Search for New Texas Home Insurance

August 25th, 2007 by Jeannine C

If you’re one of the 917,000 policyholders in Texas with either Allstate Texas Lloyds or Allstate Fire and Casualty, its time to check out rates with other Texas homeowners insurance companies.

Allstate plans to go ahead with a 5.9% rate increase, even though the Texas insurance commissioner ordered them not to implement the hike.  Allstate responded by going to court for a restraining order to permit them to proceed with the higher rates.  Currently the state’s consumer advocate has requested a $25,000 fine for each policy that is renewed under the new rate.  Originally Allstate had asked for a 6.9% increase, but withdrew that request.

After all the expenses from recent catastrophes, the company claims it needs the increase to cover rising construction and reinsurance costs

Texas law has standardized home owner insurance offerings, which makes it easier for consumers to compare home insurance rates between companies.  Non-standardized policies are also available, but frankly the state mandates have created excellent Texas Homeowners Insurance Policies.

Currently the Texas Department of Insurance hasn’t indicated whether they would permit any level of increase by Allstate.  Other home insurance companies are watching the situation closely to determine their next steps as well.  This will certainly get dragged through the courts for a while.

If you live in Texas and are covered by Allstate, you have nothing to lose by checking out the rates of other companies.  It is a good idea to do this on an annual basis anyway, to insure that you have adequate coverage based on the current value of your home and property.  Now, with this looming rate increase, it is more important than ever to make sure that the hands you are in are indeed good ones.

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Listen to Time to Search for New Texas Home Insurance
Listen to Time to Search for New Texas Home Insurance

Posted in Home Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Information by State | No Comments »

Texas Raising State Minimum Auto Coverage Amounts

August 24th, 2007 by Jeannine C

Drivers must carry more auto insurance in Texas beginning April 1, 2008.  Though the state has always required coverage, the limits were low at just $20,000/$40,000 for bodily injury liability insurance and $15,000 in property damage liability coverage.  The new minimums will now rise to $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 for two or more injured people in an accident, and $25,000 for property damage, according to a report by Insurance Journal.

This change coincides with the launch of the Texas Financial Responsibility Verification Program, which is a very long name for a new real-time system designed to reduce the number of uninsured motorists on state roads.  The system enables law enforcement officers and other state personnel to instantly access a database telling the insurance status on each driver and vehicle.  Failure to comply by not carrying at least the minimum insurance has serious consequences, starting with having the vehicle impounded if the driver can’t show proof of insurance.

Although critics worry that maintaining such a huge database could lead to reporting errors, and fret about a individuals who may be inconvenienced by mistakes, other states have successfully operated similar databases with minimal issues.  Meanwhile, incidents of uninsured motorists decreased, consequently reducing the cost of that coverage.  Currently experts estimate that 15-20% of Texas motorists are uninsured.  Let’s see what just how low that number goes by April, 2009.

Listen to Texas Raising State Minimum Auto Coverage Amounts
Listen to Texas Raising State Minimum Auto Coverage Amounts

Posted in Auto Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Information by State | 1 Comment »

Virginia Auto Insurance

August 22nd, 2007 by Brad C

It is important for residents searching for Virginia Auto Insurance to be familiar with the many laws the state has in place concerning auto insurance.  Fact is, it seems that Virginia has more laws than most other states, but those laws have a good balance between protecting citizens and the insurance companies.

Virginia minimums include bodily injury liability coverage of $25,000 for one person; $50,000 for two or more people in one accident, and $20,000 for property damage coverage.  While most states merely recommend uninsured/underinsured coverage, Virginia actually requires it for all drivers, at the same amounts shown above.  Of course higher coverage levels are strongly recommended, because any damages above the maximum liability covered by the auto insurance policy are the personal responsibility of the car’s owner.

Drivers choosing not to purchase insurance can do so, provided they pay an annual $500 Universal Motorist Fee to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  This doesn’t provide any insurance coverage – just officially notifies the state of the decision not to carry car insurance coverage.

The Virginia Competitive Rating Law allows each insurance company to set their own rates for auto insurance coverage, which results in competition between companies.  This means it is extremely important to shop several insurance providers because there could be a huge difference in rates based on their experience within each zip code.

If a driver is over 55 and successfully completes a DMV-approved accident prevention course, Virginia state law requires they automatically receive a reduction in the automobile insurance premiums.

Finally, Virginia has a law about Contributory Negligence, which recognizes that an individual may be partially responsible for their injuries in an accident.  An example of this might be crossing a street against the “Don’t Walk” sign.  If this is the case, that person may actually receive less compensation from the insurance company because of failure on their part to avoid the accident as well.

So, Virginia drivers, make sure you shop around, purchase more than the minimum amounts, and never ever cross against the light!

Listen to Virginia Auto Insurance
Listen to Virginia Auto Insurance

Posted in Auto Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Information by State | No Comments »

No-Fault Insurance Law Expires in Florida Oct. 1st

August 20th, 2007 by Jeannine C

Florida’s no-fault insurance law, which makes every Florida driver carry at least $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) will expire on October 1st.  The change is putting the insurance industry and Florida drivers into a tailspin as both try to figure out what this means to everyone.

For starters, Florida drivers who are considered “safe drivers” will no longer be required to have proof of insurance to get their drivers licenses, though they will still be responsible for any damage they cause for an accident that’s their fault.  Unfortunately if an uninsured driver doesn’t have insurance, the only way for the victim to recover damages will be through a lawsuit.

Folks with insurance love the idea, because their insurance rates will drop.  State Farm has already received approval for a 16% reduction effective Oct 1; Allstate and AIG have also filed for approval for a similar reduction.  Florida auto insurance companies have lobbied hard against the no-fault provision, claiming that it’s caused a tremendous amount of fraud through staged accidents, false crash reports, and fraudulent billing since no matter who is to blame for an accident, the company has to pay the expenses.

Florida already has over 750,000 uninsured drivers on the road, and losing the PIP requirement will just add to that number.  If you do drive in Florida, make sure you have uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage, because things are just going to get worse.  Though the legislature could vote to keep no-fault and PIP coverage requirements in force when they reconvene on Sept 18, the odds are unlikely they will do so.

I can definitely see both sides of this argument.  Sadly there are so many unscrupulous people that look for a way to get away with something for free that I’m sure the insurance companies are paying a fortune in fraud.  Adding more prosecutors to combat the fraud will only further clog up the courts.  But good people injured in an accident deserve to have some recourse to pay for their injuries.  Personally I think stronger prosecution of uninsured motorists is necessary, to the point that the penalties are just not worth the risk.

Only three states do not require PIP.  It will be interesting to watch what happens in Florida once this change occurs.  In fact, it could set a precedent for other states to follow.  We’ll see.

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Listen to No-Fault Insurance Law Expires in Florida Oct. 1st
Listen to No-Fault Insurance Law Expires in Florida Oct. 1st

Posted in Auto Insurance, Insurance, Insurance Information by State | 1 Comment »

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