About Pablo Horteg

Pablo Horteg is a writer with expertise in numerous topics including insurance, debt reduction and health.

Insurance Company Pays People to Keep Fit

Misfit Fitness Band

Misfit Fitness Band

Insurance companies are becoming increasingly proactive in how they help consumers. One new insurance company aims to use technology to better tailor health insurance to people.

An insurance company named “Oscar” has unveiled an initiative where every member can obtain a free “Misfit fitness band”. The band allows people to track how much exercise they are performing every day and sync the data on their smart phone. Customers who already use fitness tracking software can also sync their data with Oscar’s fitness tracking system.

The insurance company then rewards people who exercise regularly with rewards. The application sets a number of health goals, and for every health goal passed they receive $1. The user can cash-out when their total reaches $20 and will receive the amount in Amazon gift cards.

This isn’t the first time this company has provided rewards for when customers make smart decisions about their health. They previously gave customer $20 if they had a flu shot by a certain date.

Schlosser admits that this is “very much the beginning,” and that one of Oscar’s main goals is to collect more health data on its members to make sure doctors have the most information available on them. Down the line, that could include nutrition data, sleep data, and as tracking technology becomes more sophisticated, perhaps even blood pressure data.

“We aren’t the people who deliver your healthcare, but our job is to facilitate the delivery of your healthcare,” Schlosser says. “To do that, we can get more information to your doctor.”

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Health Insurance Applications Top 1 Million in First Week Enrollment

Affordable Health Care Act enrollment

Affordable Health Care Act enrollment

According to the federal government, the first week of the “Affordable Health Care Act enrollment” period brought in 1 million applications. The huge number of applications indicates that the government’s HealthCare.gov website was functioning better than last year. In 2013 a number of technical issues hampered some people finding the right insurance policy for them.

The secretary of health and human services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell, suggests the numbers are positive but more work needs to be done, saying: “We are off to a solid start, But we’ve got a lot of work to do every day between now and Feb. 15.”

This enrollment period ends on February 15. The HealthCare.gov website operates as an insurance exchange for 37 states, while the remaining states have their own state-based exchanges.

The Affordable Care Act has been widely criticized by conservative politicians in the United States, who intend to wind back the changes. The question that needs to be answered is “does it work?”. The data indicates that many people who were previously not eligible for health insurance can now obtain it. So in terms of people with chronic conditions, it’s clearly working.

The number of people who have managed to buy insurance has also greatly increased. There are some questions about the cost of the insurance plans and the efficiency of the insurance exchanges to provide the best deal.

The total enrollment for federal and state exchanges was 6.7 million by mid-October. 3.7 million of those users enrolled using healthcare.gov. The federal government is hoping to have more than 9 million enrolled by the end of 2015.

Terrorism Insurance Legislation Falters

Terrorism Insurance Stalls in Congress

Terrorism Insurance Stalls in Congress

A significant piece of legislation providing emergency insurance against massive terrorist attack has been stalled in congress.   The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA) is due to expire at the end of the year.

The senate passed the bill to extend TRIA by 7 years, but it has stalled in congress due to demands by Republicans that it be tied to spending cuts.

The program was initially established after the September 11 attacks in 2001 and allows the US government to cover insurance industry losses from damage caused by terrorist attacks.

That gives the insurance industry and businesses piece of mind that their financial future is safe in the event of a terrorist attack.  The business community is understandably upset by the delay in renewing the insurance and is lobbying congress to have the legislation passed before 2015.

16 Helpful Tips to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance

16 Helpful Tips to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance

16 Helpful Tips to Get the Cheapest Car Insurance

It seems like the cost of car insurance premiums is constantly rising!  Running a car can be very expensive when you consider the price of gas, the expense of maintaining the vehicle and paying those insurance premiums.  Fortunately there are a number of clever tactics that can be used to obtain the cheapest car insurance premiums possible.  This article will go over 16 clever ways to ensure you get the cheapest car insurance premium possible.

Look at the cost insuring the car before you buy it

The smartest time to look at the cost of car insurance is before you actually purchase the vehicle you are interested in.  You can visit a number of insurance companies online or use online comparison tools to check how much the car you like will cost to insure.  If it is a private sale, you can even use the registration number of the car when getting the quote from the insurance company.

Avoid cars with high performance modifications

Including the cost of any high performance car modifications in the insurance will add to your premiums.  So while many modifications can look good, they can be very costly to insure.

Avoid cars that have large engines, turbo or have sports in their name

Any cars that are capable of extreme speeds will cost more to insure because the insurance companies knows those kinds of cars are more likely to be involved in a crash.

Get additional driving skills

This one works for young drivers especially — gain some additional qualifications and tell you insurance company.   Programs like “Pass Plus” can give insurance companies some additional certainty that the young driver has basic skills and is less likely to crash.

Use Online comparison tools

With the advent of the Internet, comparing policies is incredibly easy.  You no longer have to walk to an insurance broker to get a quote, you can get a dozen quotes in 10 minutes via insurance comparison websites. 

Be sure they take into account any special circumstances you have or discounts you are eligible for.  To obtain the very cheapest insurance it’s usually important to negotiate with your insurance company, so the comparison tools should be considered a ballpark figure.

Check for discounts

Ask your insurance company about every kind of discount they offer.  Insurance companies offer many types of discounts including: discounts for retired people, army veterans, single mothers, low income families, for loyal customers and more.  Make sure you aren’t missing out on any savings!

Compare renewal costs to new policy costs

Some insurance companies offer fantastic deals to attract new customers, and current customers sometimes miss out.  If you spot a deal for new customers that you didn’t receive as an existing customer, simply ring the insurance company.  Demand they give you the deal — you will usually find them very apologetic and helpful because they want to retain you as a customer.

Pay yearly, not month

You can receive some hefty savings on car insurance premiums by simply paying it annually.

Drive carefully and avoid getting any traffic fines

One of the worst things you can do as a driver looking for cheaper premiums is to get a traffic fine, or worse still a conviction for a traffic offense!  Insurance companies will know of any traffic infringements you are involved in, so always drive carefully!

Avoid claiming for small bumps and scratches on your car

If you have a small fender bender that only damages your car, reconsider claiming it.  If it is minor damage to your vehicle it might only cost $500 to repair, however if you claim it your excess may be $300, then on top of that your premiums might be higher for the next 5 years.  You will lose any “no-claim” bonus that you had, and you will be paying higher premiums for a few years — Insurance companies don’t forget.

Use multi car policies

If a number of people in your family are driving, for example your two teenage children have cars, you should look at multi car policies.  You could get a better deal if you insure 3 or 4 cars at once.

Drive Less

Some companies offer discounts if you can demonstrate you rarely drive your vehicle and it is garaged in a safe location most of the time.

Pay as you go insurance

“Pay as you go” insurance uses telematics technology to track your car use and give you cheaper insurance based on that usage pattern.  The devices track things like including total miles traveled, speed and trip distance (long trips or short trips).  These devices are becoming more complex and are starting to track things like deceleration (braking speed) to evaluate your driving ability.  If you are proud of your driving record, you don’t speed and you don’t drive regularly, pay as you go insurance could save you a lot of money.

Increase your excess

The simplest way to obtain cheaper premiums is by increasing your excess, something that can done by emailing or calling your insurance provider.

Do you really need theft coverage?

Some people tend to buy theft coverage or premium insurance for piece of mind.  However if you own an aging car, you should consider the declining replacement cost of the vehicle.  Comprehensive insurance may only be a sensible decision for the first 8-10 years of owning a vehicle. If your car is rarely left on the street and usually secure in your locked garage, you should also reconsider comprehensive insurance.

Cut out optional extras from the policy

There may be some optional extras on your insurance policy which the insurance company includes without consulting you.  You may be able to remove certain aspects like free hire car rental after car theft, which could save you some money.

So there you have it, 16 simple tips to get cheaper car insurance premiums.  The key is to demand more from your insurance company, tell them about your specific circumstances and get the best deal possible!

Pay As You Drive Car Insurance Explained

Pay as you go car insurance

Pay as you go car insurance

“Pay as you drive” insurance has become more prevalent within recent years due to large advertising campaigns touting the money saving potential of this form of car insurance.  Within the insurance industry these kinds of policies are referred to as “usage based” policies.  They place more emphasis on your usage of a vehicle to determine what premium you should pay for the policy.

Many people are interested in pay as you drive insurance but don’t understand exactly how it works.  This article will look at the basics of this kind of car insurance policy and help you understand if you should purchase it!

These kinds of policies often utilize something called “telematics” to determine car usage.  Telematics deals with technologies that are capable of recording and reporting how far your car travels, what speeds it travels, how long each trip is and other information which you agree to share with your insurance company.

Telematics help an insurance company build a very detailed risk analysis profile from your car usage and driving style.  The devices can also record data like car acceleration and car braking speed, which the insurance companies can use to determine if you are a “safe” driver.  That more detailed risk analysis allows them to offer you lower instance rates if you drive your car less than the average person.

In the United States over 1 million cars have these devices fitted and that number is growing quickly.  Many of those cars are fleet vehicles that have the devices fitted so companies know where their assets are located but the insurance industry is pushing hard for customers to use these devices.

How much can you save?

Essentially it comes down to how far you drive, how frequently you drive and how safely you drive.  If you drive daily the savings might be limited because your vehicle is still regularly exposed to all of the dangers of being on the road.  If you are a safe driver who is not on the road every day, you can expect savings of between 25-50% compared to a standard insurance policy.

Because the technology is new, many companies are offering cheaper insurance premiums just to install the device, so there are savings to be had there as well.

Telematic devices are also becoming more advanced and will be capable of storing more detailed driving data.  At the most basic they measure speed, time of the trip and distance of the trip.  However the more advanced units can measure breaking power, acceleration speed and location to ascertain what kinds of traffic the vehicle is exposed to and how safely you are driving. 

Not every insurance company will use the more advanced capabilities of telematic devices and the precise capabilities of the installed device will be detailed in the insurance policy.

Are there any drawbacks?

Insurance companies claim that these devices are only designed to reward good drivers, so there are no penalties attached if you install one and drive badly.  However it is unknown if it will always remain that way and insurance companies might eventually use them to determine which drivers are high risk.

If they do eventually start using the devices to build a record of your driving ability, and that information is sold onto other insurance companies, it could mean an increase to your premiums.  However it is important to note that insurance companies are not at that stage yet and it may not be legal for them to do so.

There are also some concerns about the security of these kinds of systems also.  Every computer system has vulnerabilities, and some of these telematic devices are capable of tracking your position with GPS.  Even though it has not happened yet, there may come a point when the devices or systems that send data are compromised.

The bottom line

If you are a safe driver and drive infrequently pay as you drive insurance could save you a lot of money.  Telematic devices are becoming more popular and help insurance companies provide better coverage tailored to your particular driving habits.  If you are interested in saving money, it’s worth taking a look at these kinds of policies as soon as possible!

Do You Know These 9 Common Car Insurance Myths?

Car Insurance Myths

Car Insurance Myths

Insurance contracts can be very complex and there is often a great deal of fine print involved.  It’s no wonder that many people end up learning what they know about car insurance from other consumers.  Unfortunately a lot of the information that gets passed around about car insurance is actually incorrect.  This article will highlight some of the most common misapprehensions about car insurance!

Having a bad driving record is the only factor insurance companies consider

There are  actually a number of variables that go into determining how much your insurance premium will be, in addition to your driving record.  Your age, how many years you have been driving, the age of your vehicle, the place you live and even your credit history can go into determining your insurance premium. 

Every insurance company has their own formula for calculating risk and that is one of the reasons why it is always a good idea to shop around for car insurance.

Having a good driving record will bring down my premium

You might have 20 years of good driving under your belt and expect your premiums to go down.  However if you continued to drive the same model car that you did 20 years ago, your premiums might go up despite the good driving record.

The color of your car influences insurance costs

Many people incorrectly believe that a red car will cost less to insure because it is very easy to see on the road or that a black/grey car will cost more to insure because it blends in with the road.  The reality is car insurance costs are not affected by the colour of the car.

Little cars are cheaper to insure

Smaller vehicles tend to take more damage in crashes, so are easier to write off.  For that reason small cars are not always cheaper to insure. Some cheap smaller cars might not have the safety equipment of larger vehicles either, for example, ABS braking systems.

If I still owe money on my car loan, the insurance will pay for it

Some people incorrectly believe that if a car is written off after an accident, the insurance company will give you cash equivalent to the amount you still owe on the car.  Unfortunately this is not true, and the insurance company will only pay you what the car was worth.

Because my car is old it is less likely to be stolen

On the surface it seems logical that car thieves would try to steal more valuable newer cars.  However older cars tend to be targeted because there is a market for parts for those cars and the security on older cars is typically weaker than a new car.

Insurance companies can cancel your insurance at any time

Without a compelling reason (for example fraud), insurance companies must fulfil their end of the insurance contract.

If your car is stolen, the contents are covered

Unfortunately anything inside the car when it is stolen are not covered by insurance.  However if you have a good home and contents insurance policy they might provide coverage if one of your personal items is lost when the car is stolen.

Drivers of fast and expensive sports cars pay more for insurance

This is not always the case because there are various factors at play when determining the cost of your insurance premium.  A 40 year old person who drives a sporty Mercedes coupe but has an impeccable driving record might end up with cheaper premiums than someone under 25 who has had a few crashes and drives a Subaru WRX. 

So we have checked out some of the most common car insurance myths.  Just remember, any time you are shopping for car insurance, it always pays to look around for the best deal!

10 Ways For Retirees to Save on Car Insurance

10 Ways For Retirees to Save on Car Insurance

10 Ways For Retirees to Save on Car Insurance

Most people see a significant change to their driving habits once they retire.  Instead of driving to work everyday, they usually end up driving irregularly.  Usually the driving involves a trip away or a trip to visit friends.

For most retirees, that means they drive less often than they used to.  Why should they pay the same level of insurance as someone who is constantly on the road?

Here are some tips to help retirees save on their car insurance.

Look for Limited-Driving Discounts

Many companies offer discounts that specifically target older drivers.  The fact that your driving is less frequent than a younger person should immediately obtain a significant discount.  Make sure that your insurance provider is giving you this discount and if not, call them about it.  Inform them of your retiree status and tell them about your driving habits.  If they don’t provide a discount, change providers.

Collision Coverage

If you have an older car you might consider completely removing your collision coverage.  When you are driving less, you might be perfectly happy with your old car that is not worth much money.  If it is only worth a few thousand dollars, there isn’t much point insuring it.

Increase Your Collision Deductible

By increasing your deductible you can save hundreds of dollars.  You won’t be driving much and most older drivers take a great deal of care on the road.  It is unlikely you will be involved in a crash so increase the deductible.

Install a Telematics Device

A telematics device keeps track of how often you drive your car, how far you drive and how fast you go.  It allows insurance companies to offer better value on your insurance policy based on your driving habits.  This can be a big saving for people who don’t drive very often.

Keep the Kids off Your Policy!

Young people who don’t have a proven driving record can be extremely expensive to insure.  Keep your grandchildren off you policy!

Use Your Good Track Record to Negotiate

If you have decades of unblemished driving, make sure you impress your insurance company with it, then ask for another discount.  If they will not reward you for that sterling driving record, find a company that will.

Loyalty Discounts

You probably have years of car insurance through the same company.  Ask for a loyalty discount, even it’s not mentioned in their brochures.  Insurance companies like to hang onto customers who have good driving records and who have been with the company for many years.

Take a Driving Safety Course

This tip applies to anyone who wants to obtain cheaper insurance premiums.  Many insurers will offer you a discount if you have successfully completed a driver’s safety course.

Buy a Car That is Cheap to Insure

It might be nice having a fast sports car to show off to your friends.  But when you retire you won’t be speeding around like a hoon anymore.  Sports cars with large engines can be more expensive to insure.  Consider buying another car that focuses on safety features instead of speed.

Keep Your Car in Great Condition

Even you have an older car, make sure it is well maintained.  Some insurance policies have clauses that limit coverage if your car causes an accident, due to mechanical failure.  Read the fine print and make sure your car is in great shape.

 

 

How Gender Affects Car Insurance

Women Get Cheaper Car Insurance

Women Get Cheaper Car Insurance

Despite women getting paid less than men in the United States, there are some benefits for being a woman, particularly when it comes to car insurance!  Most insurers charge women less for car insurance.  Many people would be curious as to why, so here are some reasons why women get cheaper car insurance.

Men Choose Faster and Riskier Cars

Men are more inclined to choose a car that is faster than a car that has the best safety features.  The faster the car is, the more likely it is that the driver will be involved in a crash.  Fast cars can be harder to control and fast sports cars are more likely to be stolen.  The drivers of these cars are more likely to be involved in risky activity like speeding or drag racing. 

Men Crash More

Despite what some chauvinistic males suggest, men crash cars more than women.  They are more likely to speed than a woman and more likely to drink drive.  Even though only 11% of the adult population is made up of males between the ages of 21 and 34, they are responsible for 32% of all drunk driving episodes (http://www.drunkdrivingstats.org/menversuswomendrunkdrivingstatistics.html).  Men are also more likely to speed, increasing their crash risk substantially.

Men are more likely to be involved in other forms of risky driver behaviour as well. They are more likely to drive like hoons, brake quickly and are more likely to be involved in road rage events.

Men Are Fined More
Men are more likely to be ticketed for speeding offences than women.  As a result of this, their insurance premiums will be higher.

Women Drive Less

Statistically, women are less likely to be in the drivers seat and they spend less hours per week driving.  The less time spent driving, the less risk of a crash.

Women Buy Cheaper Cars
Men are more likely to spend substantial amounts of money on an expensive car.  Generally, the more expensive the car, the more expensive the insurance costs.

Some Statistics

The statistics are very compelling.  According to the DMV:

  • 71% of all car accident-related deaths in 2012 were male.
  • Men are 50% more likely to die in a car crash (2008 figures)
  • Men drive under the influence of alcohol more often.  In 2012, 38% of fatally injured male drivers had BACs of over 0.08%, compared to 20% of fatally injured female drivers.
  • Women are more likely to use seat belts.  88% compared to 84% for males
  • For all fatal accidents, 23% of males were speeding at the time of the accident.  14% of females were speeding (2012 figures).

It is estimated that men pay as much as $15’000 more for insurance over their lifetimes, so this is a substantial difference!

What Can Be Done?

There are many ways for men to lower their car insurance premiums.

How to Avoid Under-Insuring Your Home

Avoiding Home Under-Insurance

Avoiding Home Under-Insurance

For most people, the family home is the most expensive asset they will own in their lifetime.  It usually takes decades of mortgage repayments and hard work to pay off the family home.  Unfortunately there is also a risk that your home will be damaged or destroyed by accident, fire or natural disaster.  That’s why most people insure their property.  But what if your level of insurance was inadequate and you couldn’t afford to rebuild?  That is called under-insurance.  Here are some simple tips to make sure your policy will cover the cost of rebuilding or repairing your home, if it is damaged.

Update Your Policy When you Renovate

Many people spend thousands of dollars updating their property, including expensive new bathrooms, kitchens, decks and pools.  However, many of them forget to increase the value of their insurance policy.  What happens if there is an earthquake and the pool you just spent $25’000 on develops a massive crack?  It is very important to remember to include any changes in the value of your property in the insurance policy.

Get an Evaluation

One way to ensure your property is fully insured, is to hire a property evaluator to examine it.  A property evaluator is knowledgeable about construction techniques, materials and the costs of rebuilding.  You might have built your property 25 years ago when materials were cheaper and the quality of the construction may be to a higher standard.  A property evaluator understands the cost of materials in today’s money and can price in any higher quality construction used within your home.

Think About Additional Costs

Many people think about the costs of rebuilding without considering the additional costs involved.  If your house burns down, there may be additional costs to remove the wreck of the house.  There may be damage to the utilities going into the house, which require more money.  An earthquake could destroy long water pipes, gas lines and sewerage which run on your property.  If the house contains asbestos, there may be expense associated with removing it.  There may be substantial groundworks required before rebuilding.

If your house was built with poor quality foundations that conformed to the building requirements 50 years ago, that may no longer be the case.  If that house is destroyed, the new house may have to comply to an array of new building requirements.  If your house is built using materials that are now expensive, ensure the policy will cover buying those materials again.

Think About Site Problems

Some properties have tricky issues involved with building on the site.  These issues can increase the cost of rebuilding a home.  Is your land severely sloped?  Are there issues with sinkholes in the area?  Is the site geologically stable for a modern house to be built upon?

Are There Additional Structures?

Think about the expense of attached structures.  If you have recently built a very expensive garage, garden shed or workshop, make sure it is covered in your insurance policy.  If you have an expensive stone wall, make sure your insurance policy also covers that.  An earthquake could destroy everything on your property, not just your house.

Understand Exactly What is Covered

It is crucial to understand that only certain risks will be covered by an insurance policy.  Not all policies cover flood damage in the same way, with water run off being treated differently than flooding from a river.  Many people have been caught out by insurance companies in the past for that.  Read the fine print and understand what natural disasters and criminal acts your property is covered against.

Get Quotes

One way to ensure you are sufficiently insured, is to get a qualified builder to estimate the costs of rebuilding your home.  He will have access to the actual prices of the materials used and will understand the quality required.

Ask Questions

If you are unsure about what is covered in your policy, ask questions!  The insurance company must be upfront about your policy and inform you about what is covered.  If you are talking to them on the phone about a specific point, ask for a reference to the terms and conditions which demonstrate it is covered.

 

 

Detroit Most Expensive Auto Insurance

Detroit Auto Insurance Expensive

Detroit Auto Insurance Expensive

A blog post from insurancequotes.com suggests that Detroit might have some of the most expensive car insurance in the country.   The cost of insuring a car in Detroit came in at a massive 165% higher than the national average.  That makes it the most expensive of the largest 25 metro markets in the USA.  The cheapest was Charlotte, North Carolina, where they pay 43% less than the national average.

Insurance industry experts suggest that population density plays a role in determining which markets have higher or lower auto insurance costs.  Basically, the more people on the road where you are driving, the more likely it is that an accident will occur.  That’s why you wind up with New York and Los Angeles near the top of the list.

Other areas like Miami don’t have the same levels of traffic as New York, but they do have a problem with cars being stolen.  Another factor to consider is the type of cars being driven in the area.  In some parts of Miami there are a large number of expensive luxury cars being driven.   It’s a lot more expensive to repair a ding on a Lamborghini than it is a Ford.

Detroit has it’s own reasons for being so very expensive.

1) It is a no-fault auto insurance state.  Insurers must pay people even when they were at fault in the traffic accident.
2) The state compels insurers to provide lifetime medical coverage for injuries results from auto accidents.

While it costs a lot to insure your vehicle in Detroit, it’s important to remember that many other costs of living are cheaper than comparable metro areas in the USA.  But for citizens of Detroit, it’s enough to make them consider selling the car and taking the bus!