Posted on September 26th, 2011 No comments
USA Today recently published an article discussing a recent study by the non-profit group Safe Kids USA that shows that most parents aren’t using child seats correctly. Only 30% are using the tether straps that keep the tops of child seats — and children’s heads — secured in crashes, and many are not using the safest seats for their children’s ages.
In light of this report USA Today published a follow-up article showing How to Transport Children Safely. The article discusses the appropriate stages of child car safety from rear facing car seats to booster chairs for younger children, and when each is appropriate. According to the guidelines:
- Children should ride in the back, facing the rear in safety seats until they are 2 or until they exceed the weight limits of the safety seat.
- Children above the age of two should ride in the back in forward facing safety seats until they exceed the weight limits.
- Children who have exceeded the height and weight limits of safety seats should ride in a booster seat until the lap and shoulder belts fit property, usually between 8 and 12.
- Seat belts fit correctly when the child can remain with his or her back against the seat and the knees bend naturally over the edge of the seat. The lap belt should fit comfortably across the hips and the shoulder belt across the mid chest.
- Children under 13 are 40% safer in the back seat, whether or not they have airbags. Never put a rear facing child safety seat near an active air bag.
These are must read articles for parents who transport children in cars and who might be unsure how their children should be secured or whether or not their child is ready to move to the next safety level.
Posted on September 12th, 2011 No comments
USA Today posts an article on data compiled by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) pursuant to the recently passed health care law, showing the denial rates for health insurance. Using this data a Government Accountability Office study of 459 insurers published earlier this year found an average of 19% of applicants nationally were denied coverage. The study showed a wide range of denial rates. A quarter of insurers had denial rates of 15% or below and a quarter had rates of 40% or higher.
The article noted that a House Energy and Commerce Committee investigation into four large for-profit insurers last year found that the denial rates have steadily increased from 11.9% in 2007 to 15.3% in 2009. The companies reviewed were Aetna, Humana, UnitedHealthcare and WellPoint.
The article quotes Kentucky resident Amanda Hite who says she felt “really healthy” when she applied recently for health insurance. But Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield denied her, because she had seen a chiropractor a few months earlier for a sore back and later had visited an emergency room because of back pain. Hite’s case isn’t unusual. Many of the plans offered by Anthem Blue Cross in Kentucky reject about one in five applicants, according to data provided by insurers to the HHS. Rival insurers in the state have even higher denial rates: Humana rejects 26% to 39% of applications in Kentucky, while UnitedHealthcare denies 38% to 43%.
This is yet another example of how insurance companies seek to avoid risk. Health insurance companies only want to insure healthy people who don’t use their benefits. Car insurance companies only want to insure people who don’t get into accidents. The difference? Well, most states require insurance companies to offer minimum car insurance, while also requiring all drivers to have this minimum insurance. Health insurance companies for the most part were not so obligated. However, the recent Health Care Law bans health insurance companies from denying coverage for health reasons starting in 2014.
Insurance companies are in the risk business. The more risk a person has, the more premiums that person will pay to offset the risk the insurance company takes on by insuring that person. Mandatory insurance requirements favor consumers, because they inherently spread the risk among a larger group of people, while denying insurance companies the luxury of cherry picking only those consumers who carry the lowest risk.
Posted on September 7th, 2011 1 comment
By now we’ve all seen the commercials where some catastrophe befalls an insurance customer for a national insurance company. Surprisingly, the customer is not too worried. They sing a little jingle about “good neighbors” and poof! an insurance representative shows up to handle the situation. This representative calls the person by name and tells them not to worry, they will handle whatever problem has presented itself.
The commercial is meant to give the viewer the impression that if you have insurance with this particular insurance company that any problems you might have will be met by a known, friendly, and helpful insurance agent. This scenario couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Consider a typical situation when you first buy car insurance. You go to a local insurance agent and request insurance for your car. You might have had a previous relationship with this agent over many years. He is a representative of the insurance company. The agent’s job is to take down some information, have you fill out the necessary paperwork, and submit your application, along with your first month’s premium to the insurance company. He then receives compensation in the form of commissions based on each application he submits that is later approved by the insurance company. Your interaction with an insurance agent is likely to be very pleasant. Does this commercial show anything remotely similar?
Now consider a typical situation when you file a claim against an insurance company after some type of loss, such as a car crash. This might be your insurance company or somebody else’s. You get a call from the insurance company adjuster who says he will be handling your claim. It is doubtful you have ever met this person before. Unlike the agent who is an independent representative of the insurance company, the adjuster is an employee. He is paid a salary by the insurance company. His job is to get information about your claim, review the damage (called adjusting), and then offer to settle your claim. Your interaction with an insurance adjuster isn’t likely to be as pleasant. But, the commercial comes a lot closer to showing this scenario doesn’t it?
The purpose of the commercial is to make you identify with something about insurance that you like, such as your insurance agent, while giving you the impression that your agent is involved in the claims process. Well, they aren’t. The unknown, potentially adverse, and likely biased insurance adjuster is.
The insurance agent facilitates your purchase of insurance with the insurance company. The adjuster is the insurance company. The insurance adjuster’s job is not to facilitate anything, but to make sure the insurance company doesn’t pay out anything unless it has to, and only then as a little as possible. Insurance companies don’t make money paying out claims.
But what if you disagree with the adjuster about the value of your claim? What if you believe the adjuster is improperly delaying or denying your claim? What if you think the adjuster is being unfair? What if you think the adjuster has undervalued your car, or other property? Do you think the insurance company is acting like a good neighbor then?
Don’t be fooled by commercials or catchy jingles. Insurance companies are in business to make money. They do not make money by paying out more on claims than they take in on premiums. Adjusters know this. The next time you suffer a casualty loss or turn in an insurance claim, remember no amount of catchy singing is going to make your dealing with the insurance company pleasant. When you ask an insurance company to settle your claim remember good neighbors are hard to find.