August 2015 - Susman
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Driving without car insurance? Soon, they’ll lock you up and throw away the key!

See, a couple months back a young married woman ran a red light (accidentally) and smashed into my car. Astonishingly enough, she had 2 weeping children by her side with no driver’s license. As she frantically scrambled for her phone to call her husband, he arrived shortly with the insurance information scribbled on a crumpled piece of scratch paper.

Being the nice guy that I am, I wrote down the information and then reluctantly reported the incident to my insurance company.

My insurance agent rang back within a couple of hours, and guess what I hear next? The information that this nice young woman gave me was totally bogus! The woman who totaled my car was did not have car insurance. What!

I couldn’t believe this. I was had! All of us hard working, law abiding, car insurance paying citizens fork over hundreds of dollars a month in order to comply with our mandatory car insurance laws. It seems like we are paying the bills to push back our dismay at spending large sums on something we cannot immediately see, touch, smell, or hear. Soon enough everybody will be forced to acquire car insurance.

California legislators are now debuting a three-phase plan focused on uninsured motorists. California legislators are creating this plan for people like me, for people that do pay insurance, for people that don’t make bogus claims, for people that are law abiding citizens like you and me. This plan will be enforced with the sole intent on making uninsured motorists pay the ultimate price.

Get ready uninsured motorists, here comes the bad news! As of January 1st, insurance agencies are required to electronically submit evidence of financial responsibility to the DMV. This means, if your car insurance faults at any time, the DMV will be notified immediately. What does this mean for uninsured motorists? The DMV will send you a nasty little note along with your registration renewal notice requesting that you submit proof of financial responsibility before they will ever renew your registration again. This is a must people. There is no getting around this one.

Alright people, let’s do the simple math here. If you get pulled over on or after July 1 of this year, do you really think that the excuse that you left your car insurance card in your house really going to fly with the authorities? Come on. These are the fat kids in high school who you used to pick on. It’s payback time in their eyes. As of right now, law enforcement has the same access to the current status of your insurance just like the DMV. Don’t fret, because I have good news for everybody. Read on.

The final cut throat will come on October 6th as when the California DMV will be required to suspend the registrations of uninsured motorists. Wait, what does that mean? That means there is no getting around it. It means there is no where to go. It’s your dead end buddy. Insurance is a must.

Now, I’m a nice guy. I’m a very understanding person. I’m willing to look at both sides of the fence here. Given, some people just outright choose to not have car insurance; however there are the few out there that simply cannot afford the sky-high car insurance premiums that are simply out of budget and quite frankly out of reach for some motorists.

No worries, the state of California has the bases covered for most. See, as of April 1, the California Low Cost Auto Insurance Program is being offered to low-income drivers in Alameda, Fresno, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego Counties, previously only available in San Francisco and Los Angeles.

This low cost insurance is available from any licensed insurance agent at a cost of just over $300 per year. Lower-income drivers who meet the qualifying guidelines will be able to protect themselves and their families while complying with the law. More information about the program is available at the state department of insurance website.

If you drive into Los Angeles County today, look around you, because it is estimated that one out of four people on the road are driving without car insurance.

When the new laws kick in, sorry Charlie, but you must get car insurance, and you must get car insurance right now.

Driving An Expensive Or High-Performance Car? Make Sure Your Car Has Adequate Insurance

When buying insurance, most people ask for “full coverage” without knowing what they’re asking for. What’s the problem? There is no such thing as “full coverage”. While understanding your coverage is important for everyone, it is vitally important if you’re driving a Mercedes, BMW, Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Porsche, Viper, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, or Aston Martin.

If you’re driving an expensive, exotic or high-performance car, you will want to make sure that after an accident you receive OEM parts, OEM paint, the ability to repair your vehicle at the auto body shop of your choice, and the amount of money needed for the repair.

Repairing an expensive car with non-OEM parts and/or improper workmanship will result in substantial diminished value. With expensive cars, even a proper repair will result in diminished value. What is diminished value? It is the lowered market value of a vehicle subsequent to repair. For instance, a Porsche or Ferrari will be worth less after an accident, even after it has been properly repaired. For research on diminished value, see http://www.hurt911.org/accident/car-accident-car-value.html

You do not want to get into an argument with your insurance company as to whether or not your vehicle can be repaired or should be totaled. Often, insurance companies will want to repair your car, when you think it should be totaled. If the insurance company agrees to total your car, most insurance policies only provide “actual cash value” insurance coverage which would only give you with a payment based on the current replacement cost of your vehicle, less depreciation (the decrease in the value of your car due to use, deterioration and the passage of time).

In the event that an exotic or high-priced car is totaled, the best replacement coverage is “agreed value” or “stated value”. The only insurance companies I have found to offer agreed value insurance are Chubb and MetLife.

Chubb’s web site states: “You and Chubb can agree on a value and lock it in for a full year. That’s the exact amount you’ll receive if your car is stolen or totaled in a covered loss. Never mind the “book” value. We even waive the deductible. No haggling, no depreciation, no deductible, no problem.”

MetLife’s web site states: Equivalent New Automobile Replacement for Total Loss is offered for vehicles within the first year of purchase or the first 15,000 miles, whichever comes first.

What’s the difference between Chubb’s “Agreed Value Option” and MetLife’s “Equivalent New Automobile Replacement” coverage? For high-value cars, Chubb is definitely the better choice. Chubb offers its agreed value coverage every year and readjusts the agreed value upon policy renewal. From what I have seen, the adjusted agreed value even years and over 100,000 miles later is substantially higher than actual value. Additionally, on a different topic, Chubb also offers up to $1 million of underinsured coverage, which is also vitally important. Make sure you ask your Chubb agent for the maximum underinsured coverage.

For average value new cars, MetLife is a good choice. MetLife does not offer its Equivalent New Automobile Replacement coverage after the first year or first 15,000 miles. For drivers of most new cars, this is still a good value because it is not uncommon for someone to total their new car soon after purchasing it. Usually, just driving a car out of the showroom can result in as much as $10,000 depreciation.

Don’t be excluded! Know what your travel insurance covers—and more importantly, what it doesn’t.

Whatever your travel plans, buying travel health insurance is a smart idea. Without proper insurance, you could subject yourself and your family to potential risk — and huge financial losses.

Why travel insurance?
When you are away from home even the most minor injuries or illnesses can become a major expense. So while an accident or illness can happen anywhere at anytime, emergency medical travel insurance helps to protect you from the unexpected costs that can come with a visit to a doctor or hospital outside of your home country.

Out of country medical expenses are costly.
The cost of medical treatments and services abroad can be staggering. Even the most minor injury or illness could cost you thousands of dollars. Consider the following example provided by a leading Canadian travel insurance provider – the total cost of medical expenses for a 44-year-old who accidentally fell from a ledge was a staggering $457,370. His provincial health plan only covered $29,149, which means that, without emergency medical travel coverage he would have been $428,221 out-of-pocket.

Your provincial health plan may not cover the bill.
Many travellers don’t realize that their provincial health plan doesn’t cover all the costs of medical treatments received outside Canada. At best, your health plan may cover a small portion of your medical emergency costs.

A flight home may not be an option.
Medical evacuation can easily cost more than $10,000, depending on your location and medical condition.

The good news is that even the most basic emergency medical policies can cost as little as $13 dollars a week and provide coverage for emergency medical treatment and services such as:

 Hospitalization
 Ambulance services
 Lab tests
 X-rays
 Prescription drugs
 Emergency flights home

In addition, more comprehensive packages can be purchased that include:

 Transportation of a relative to your bedside
 Dental accidents
 Vehicle return
 Out-of-pocket expenses
 Childcare attendant
 Meals and accommodation
 Pet return
 Baggage loss or damage

However, you should be aware that emergency medical travel insurance policies do have exclusions, which is why it’s important to read through the coverage details carefully.

Common travel insurance exclusions
In general, most emergency medical policies do not cover the cost of medical treatment for accidents, injuries or illnesses caused by or related to the following conditions or activities:

 Professional Sports
 Elective treatment or surgery
 Alcohol or drug use
 Pre-existing conditions
 Mental, emotional or nervous disorders
 Speed contests or organized motor contests

In addition, most basic emergency medical policies do not provide coverage for or have significant restrictions on the following activities or events:

 Scuba diving, sky diving, rock climbing etc.
 Pregnancy/Childbirth
 War or Terrorism

If you plan to participate in any sports or activities similar to the ones highlighted above you should speak to a travel insurance representative to get more information on any exclusions or conditions. Additional coverage may be available for certain activities.

Finally, some travel insurance savings tips

 Don’t accept the first package you’re offered. Travel insurance policies can vary by over 100% for similar coverage. By doing a little legwork, you could save a lot of money.
 Don’t feel pressured into buying a policy from your travel agent. Although you may save a little time by buying your policy through your travel agent, it is unlikely you’ll get your policy at the best price.
 If you are a frequent traveller consider purchasing an annual policy. If you plan to take more than one trip this year, buying an annual policy instead of a single trip policy could save you both time and money.

Before you leave, get emergency medical travel insurance quotes from competing insurers online and get the coverage you need. Compare emergency medical travel insurance today!

Does Your Student Health Insurance Make The Grade?

A growing number of colleges and universities have instituted a new requirement-student insurance.

However, when they attempt to comply, some students find that the insurance plan offered by their college may be less than adequate or that they are no longer eligible for coverage under their parents’ health plan. Others find that their school is outside the HMO or PPO region or their parents’ plan.

An alternative is purchasing insurance coverage through a plan designed specifically for college students.

When selecting such a plan, it’s wise to compare the cost of a college-sponsored plan against other policies and to find one that’s really designed to fit a student’s lifestyle. You might be surprised to learn that a college-sponsored plan isn’t necessarily the most affordable or comprehensive coverage available. What’s more, the plan should accommodate travel and stay in place should a student transfer to another school. Also, the coverage should be in place year-round, not just during the school year, and be priced to fit a student’s budget.

Experts say one policy that fits these criteria is Student Select from Assurant Health. This permanent, renewable, individual medical insurance plan is designed specifically for college students under the age of 30. Students must be under the age of 30 when they apply but they can keep renewing the plan when they are no longer in college and keep it up to the age of 65.

Since the policy is not an HMO plan, you can visit the doctor or hospital of your choice. No referrals are needed, no non-network penalties are incurred.

The plan can be paid for on an annual or semiannual basis. The company offers two convenient payment methods of credit card or personal check. Both the annual and semiannual payment options are available with the credit card payment method.

If you are not satisfied with the plan, you can return the contract within 10 days of delivery for a refund. If a cancellation request is received after the 10-day period, a prorated refund will be provided as described in the contract.

Does Your Insurance Company Want You

Is it better to be loyal to your auto insurance company or yourself? Does it pay to stay with the same company for a long time or not? When it comes to auto insurance these days, if you are with the same company for over a year, then your more than likely being treated like yesterdays success. When I say yesterdays success I mean, your agent usually doesn’t have time to focus on old business, instead they are hungry looking for new auto insurance policies to write. There are multiple reasons why it pays to be willing to pack up and leave for the next good deal!

First off, did you know that most companies have a discount for new customers? They entice you to stay by lowering that discount each year, in hopes of gaining loyalty in the meantime. Isn’t this backwards? Shouldn’t they be lowering the rate each year for being loyal and staying with them?

Then there are all the really old customers out there with low deductibles. Once again the agent didn’t have time to review deductibles and educate how much money could be saved by raising them even a few hundred dollars. Think of your policy. When was the last time your agent called to make sure you were happy with your coverage?

What about credit and your auto insurance policy. This topic has raised more controversy than any when it comes to auto insurance. If you have been with the same company for a long time, this area is far too often costing the customer hundreds of dollars. I have even seen where up to date Insurance scores have saved thousands per year!

The list could go on and on forever why you will save by being a new customer. Let me sum it all up for you in simplified terms. Insurance companies are literally fighting for your business now days. Competition does one simple thing, saves you money. The same companies have become far too comfortable with there loyal customers. Wake them up. Comparison shop to get better prices.

Take advantage of the competition. Get quotes from multiple companies and let them start competing for your business. If your interested in an excellent source to get quotes from multiple companies with one simple process, then click on the highlighted text. Otherwise shop around wherever you feel comfortable. Take my advice though, and your going to be surprised how much you can save.

Does My Child Need Life Insurance Coverage?

Whether or not a child needs life insurance coverage is a widely argued debate. If you examine the following information and feel that you are in a position that would benefit from life insurance being placed on your child, then this would be the best decision for you. Some people are not in a situation that would be helped by their child having life insurance. The conclusion to this debate will vary from person to person and you will only be able to get to the appropriate answer for your situation by thinking about the main points of such coverage.

Many people argue that children do not need life insurance. Being as the mortality rate for children is much lower than that of adults, some people feel that such coverage is an unnecessary economic drain on a family. On top of that, insurance is given out to individuals who have something to lose in the event of the untimely death of the individual insured. Adults often provide for their family. While children are beloved and indispensable on an emotional and mental level, they very rarely offer their family financial or monetary stability. As such, it is unlikely that, from a financial standpoint, individuals would have something to lose from the death of a child.

On the other side of the argument, some people feel that having a life insurance policy on a child is a good thing to put in place since it is never too soon to get life insurance coverage. Everyone dies, and these people will be prepared from a fiscal standpoint. As a person gets older, their life insurance premiums almost always increase over time. This is because individuals often open themselves up more to either short-term or long-term life-threatening practices, such as smoking, drinking, driving vehicles including motorcycles and the like. Children are still fairly innocent and limited in their exposure. Children can get some of the lowest insurance premiums offered by life insurance companies. In addition, many life insurance companies that offer coverage for children will keep the premiums the same, no matter how old the child eventually gets. There is definitely an advantage for individuals who have their insurance premiums set when they are three years old as opposed to fifty years old.

For the most part, a family’s financial situation will help them to determine which decision might be best for them. If a family has the extra money needed to pay for such a policy, it might be good for the child when it comes to the long-term experiences of their life. Specifically, it would be great for the child when it gets to the point that they would eventually need to file for life insurance coverage. However, if a family does not have the money needed for such a venture, this is not necessarily a bad thing. Most families do not need the policy coverage that the child’s policy would offer. The benefits are often established and developed later, when the child needs to take over such payments and they find out they will be paying a lot less compared to other people their age who are just now taking out life insurance policies.

Do You Really Need Disaster Insurance?

The expenses involved with owning a home can be overwhelming at times – routine maintenance, repairs, seasonal preparations, improvements. Not to mention taxes, fees, and all those monthly bills. Some homeowners, in trying to reduce their expenses, wonder if they really need disaster insurance.

Disaster insurance is typically defined as additional homeowner’s insurance to cover events like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods. Home insurance policies typically cover hurricanes and tornadoes (review your policy to be certain in covers damage from such events). But often damage from floods and earthquakes isn’t covered. This extra insurance, if desired, must be purchased in addition to your standard homeowner policy, and it can be expensive, depending on where you live.

Because disaster insurance can be expensive, it’s a type of coverage some homeowners opt not to buy. But in some cases they are required to buy. For example, mortgaged homes in the US that are located in designated flood hazard areas are required to buy flood insurance through the US National Flood Insurance Program. Of course, once those mortgages are paid, there is no longer a requirement to buy such insurance. But homeowners in those areas should carefully consider whether they really want to take the risk that their home and everything in it could be swept away, leaving them with nothing but an empty lot. Homeowners that aren’t in designated flood hazard areas should still know that floods can cause plumbing problems, like sewer and septic backups. These often aren’t covered in a standard homeowner’s policy, and they may want to consider an endorsement for coverage.

In the US, many tend to think that only the area along the west coast is subject to earthquakes. This isn’t true however, and 39 US states have some potential for earthquakes. Coverage for seismic events can be very expensive in California and other western states, but homeowners in other states should evaluate the cost vs. the earthquake risk for the area where they live.

Do You Need Rental Insurance?

Many renters don’t stop to think about what happens if there is a fire, someone breaks in and steals their new TV or stereo, or a visitor slips and falls on their property. The sad truth is; you will be responsible! While your landlord has
insurance that covers the actual building, that coverage does not include your personal property or liability for injuries which occur in the space you rent ~ be it an apartment or a house and yard.

If a fire should destroy or damage your home, your landlord’s insurance will cover the structure. It won’t cover damage or loss of your belongings. Neither will it provide for the cost of temporary housing for you and your family.

You may think you don’t own enough personal property to make the cost of insurance worthwhile. You’re probably wrong! If you sit down and add up the cost of everything you own, you may be in for a big surprise. Consider what you have invested in such things as:

• Furniture and accessories
• Electronics like TV, stereo, computers
• Small appliances like microwaves, toaster ovens, etc.
• Clothing
• Art work like paintings or prints
• Dishes, silverware and cookware
• Sporting equipment
• Books
• Jewelry

Could you afford to replace all of these things?

Even worse, what would you do if a friend is injured on your property and decides to sue you for medical costs and more? It’s a scary thought, isn’t it?

Are you beginning to see why rental insurance may be a very wise investment?

The cost of rental insurance is based on several factors:

• The dollar amount of your coverage

• Deductibles

• Whether you choose to be reimbursed for Actual Cash Value or Replacement Costs (more about that in a minute)

• Where your rental property is located and the number of previous claims made, not only by you, but by others living in the same area.

Let me explain the difference between Actual Cash Value (ACV) and Replacement Costs. ACV is the value of your property at the time a loss takes place. For example, if your television set is five years old, it’s valued at much less than if it were brand new. The lesser amount is what you are reimbursed.

However, if you opt for Replacement Cost, you’re paid whatever it costs to go out and buy a new TV with similar features. Insuring for replacement cost raises the amount of your premium so it’s a good idea to get quotes for both ACV and Replacement Cost policies. Then you can decide which option fits your needs and budget.

Another thing to keep in mind is that jewelry, valuable collections, and guns are usually covered under a separate policy or “rider”. If you own these kinds of items, be sure to tell your insurance agent. You don’t want to find out after disaster strikes that they aren’t covered or that they aren’t covered for their true value.
One way you can reduce the cost of your rental insurance is to check with whichever company insures your car. If they provide rental insurance you may be eligible for a multi-line discount.

Rental insurance may be worth the investment just for the peace of mind it offers you.

Do You Need Life Insurance

It can be very difficult to decide if you need life insurance. Life insurance can be an extremely onerous financial commitment and investment, and it will also last for a considerable period of time, so you should take careful consideration in deciding if it is the best way of achieving the financial and other goals you and your loved ones may have.

Life Insurance Policy

Basically, a life insurance policy will cause a sum to be paid to the named beneficiary upon the death of the insured. This sum will generally be paid to the beneficiary, free of income tax. So in which instances is life insurance generally used above its alternatives? Well its primary function is to provide death benefit protection in a tax efficient way. For example, if you would like to transfer wealth from your estate to your beneficiaries you can do it through life insurance.

You should now that it may still be liable to federal estate taxes. It can also be used to ensure the continuation or protection of a business and to provide financial benefits to your partners or employees who may otherwise be at risk financially. It may also be used to support your family or other dependents that rely on your income during life. It can replace this income and support them in your place for a period. It can also be used to supplement retirement income in various instances when other contributions are not possible.

Be Aware

You can access the money in your policy unless it is a Modified Endowment Contract. What’s more, it will be federal income tax free so long as you make the withdrawal by borrowing against the policy and do not exceed what you have paid into the policy. Withdrawals from an MEC are subject to federal income tax on the gains they have made. There is an additional 10% tax in certain situations.

You should be aware that all withdrawals and loans against a permanent life insurance policy would reduce the policy’s value and the amount of any pay out upon death of the insured. There may also be various fees and penalties associated with accessing the money early so you should be aware of these and if they are very onerous, you may wish to look for an alternative source of funds so that you don’t have to fall prey to these. Also, if your policy is invested on your behalf, the amount available for withdrawal or loans may be less or more than what you have paid in, depending on how your investments perform.

Do You Need Health Or Travel Insurance?

Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care can be costly for travelers who are injured or who become seriously ill overseas. The Social Security Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical services outside the United States.

Before you leave the United States, you should be informed about which medical services your health insurance will cover abroad.

Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.

If your health insurance policy does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs abroad, you are urged to purchase a temporary health policy that does provide this type of coverage. There are short-term health and emergency assistance policies designed for travelers.

You can find the names of companies that provide such policies from your travel agent, your health insurance company, or from advertisements in travel publications. In addition to health insurance, many policies include trip cancellation, baggage loss, and travel accident insurance in the same package. Some traveler’s check companies have protection policies available with the purchase of traveler’s checks.

Medical Evacuation

Although some health insurance companies may pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 or more, depending on your location and medical condition.

One of the main advantages of health and emergency assistance policies is that they often include coverage for medical evacuation to the United States. Even if your regular health insurance covers you for emergencies abroad, you should consider purchasing supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Whichever health insurance coverage you choose for travel overseas, remember to carry with you both your health insurance policy identity card and claim forms.

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

You may not need travel insurance, if you are already adequately covered by other insurance policies.

Depending on the travel insurance plan, travel insurance usually promises to cover you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, some form of emergency medical care while you are traveling, lost or stolen luggage, and various other troublesome occurrences.

Before you decide on a travel insurance plan, it is wise to investigate the plan carefully and read the fine print. You should closely check any agreements with your travel agent, tour operator, airline, or other companies involved with your travel plans. The agreements may include written guarantees.

If you have a fully refundable airline ticket, you may decide that you would not need trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

On the other hand, it may be worthwhile noting that certain insurance plans can protect you by covering the financial costs in case of the following situations:

A sudden, serious injury or illness to you, a family member, or a traveling companion.
Financial default of the airline, cruise line or tour operator.

Natural disasters or strikes that impede travel services.

A terrorist incident in a foreign city within 10 days of your scheduled arrival in that particular city.

The fact that you, a traveling member of your family, or a traveling companion were quarantined served with a court order or required to serve on a jury.

A circumstance in which you were directly involved in an accident enroute to departure for your trip.

It is a good idea to check your other insurance policies. For instance, your homeowners or tenants insurance may cover the loss or theft of your luggage.

Certain credit cards may also provide additional travel insurance, if you have used them to purchase the ticket for your trip.

Your health insurance may provide certain coverage, regardless of where you travel. But it is very important to note that some policies only partially cover medical expenses abroad. Moreover, as previously explained in the section on Health Insurance, Medicare/Medicaid will not cover hospital and medical services outside the United States.

Your travel agent should be able to advise you about the right plan for you. Before purchasing travel insurance, review the plan carefully, and be wary of buying coverage that you may already have.