Tuesday, July 19, 2016

What’s Next in Insurance

Cha-Cha-Changes. Everything changes.  Insurance sometimes plays catch up but not this time.  Five new technologies that your insurance company is already thinking about

  • Drones:  They are the outlawed in some areas with charges of invasion of privacy yet in the insurance industry they are a life saver.  Imagine a disaster where it is dangerous to enter, your home is in the area and is no longer standing, no insurance adjuster can enter the area and you cannot get paid for your claim.  Enter the drone which can fly over the area into your home or at least where your home was and then next thing you know the insurance adjuster is giving you a check for your claim and the area has yet to be cleared for entry.  Drones have a place in the insurance industry. 

  • Self driving cars:  they are a game changer.  In theory 95% of claims can be eliminated by self driving cars. Where will car insurance and all those crazy commercials go?  What will happen if there is a sun flare that interferes with your satellite connection?  No worries;  there is an app for that.
  • Wellness Programs:  Big brother is watching you.  Want a credit on your health insurance wear a monitor that test your sugar levels, wear a monitor that test your nicotine levels in your blood and so on.  Some facets of this is already happening in life insurance you are up charged if you are a smoker or have high cholesterol.  Is it for our own good? 

  • Computers in cars already testify about our behavior but only your mechanic knows for sure.  Progressive and Allstate have a small device, Snapshot and Drivewise respectively, that you add to your car that reports on your driving.  Speeding? There will be an increase in your premium, driving further than 10 miles every day to work another increase in your premium.  Conversely, if you are obeying the laws you may see a decrease in your premium.

  • My favorite is Telemed.  I really do not like going to the doctors.  I have to leave work or if I have a fever I have to leave my house, go into a doctor’s office where other people are as sick as I or worse and then wait 45 minutes to an hour, to be taken back to an examining room to wait another 30 minutes and then pay before I leave.  Sound familiar, maybe my doctor is too popular.  It is even worse if you are coming for a recheck and you are now healthy walking into a doctor’s office with a room full of sick people. 

With Telemed you meet your doctor over the internet.  He checks your vitals via the telephone or over the internet and then you discuss your symptoms.  Currently the Telemed doctors are using the internet for routine follow-up.  It is very similar to calling your doctor to either get routine information for ongoing care.  Telemed versus in person doctor visit is different charge just like generic versus named brand medication.  

Which is your favorite?  Are you ready for the new wave of technology in the insurance industry?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Moving on Out

Are you moving out? Finding your new apartment or moving up and renting a house? Once you have all your budget items laid out, think about adding one more – insurance.
Why buy renters insurance? You have clothes to insure and most people have furniture, even when renting a furnished apartment. If there is a fire or a burglary and your “stuff” is gone, would you have the money to replace everything? Even a gofundme page may not raise enough money to replace everything you own. 

There is a difference between actual cash value and replacement cost for your belongings.  Think of it this way, a ten year old chair you bought at target for $50 is worth maybe $3.00 but to replace it today at Target could cost $150.00.  If you pay extra for the replacement cost your coverage for that chair is $150.00 not $3.00.

 Another reason to have rental insurance is liability coverage; we have become a society that sues. You may not think you need it but you would be surprised by the crazy claims that occur. For example: a burglar breaks into the window of your apartment he gets cut on the glass you dropped that morning and did not have time to pickup before leaving for work. You left your apartment unsafe. The burglar sues you for the glass that cut him and the resulting stitches he needed. Now the case may get thrown out but in the meantime you will have to pay to defend the case. Your renters insurance would pay for the defense. 

 Suppose you are playing golf and your swing is off one day. The next thing you know the golf ball is soaring overhead into a car’s windshield.  Your renters insurance liability coverage would pay for the windshield.  If you own a pet, renters insurance will pay for the injury resulting from a cat scratch or a dog bite.   
Back to the budget.  The cost for renters insurance is surprisingly affordable.  It runs about $150 a year.  The cost depends on your coverage but $150.00 is an average premium.  Insurance companies usually have payment plans to make it easier on your monthly budget.  Adding one more line to your budget is easier than you think.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Fatalist or Realist?

The week before I travel I review my life insurance, will, documents noting websites and passwords along with any instruction I want either my husband or daughters to follow in case something happens to me.  Am I a fatalist or a realist?

The most recent incidents in Orland, New York and on board the plane from Paris to Cairo would validate my realist attitude.  While the plane crash has not been ruled an act of terrorism, plane accidents do occur. When I travel I take that into consideration and prepare as if I am not coming back.  Am I a fatalist or a pessimist?

There are famous songs and speeches discussing this very subject: Live like there is no tomorrow, If today was your last day, Someone should tell us right from the start that we are dying…there are only so many tomorrows.  Do we abandon all and do what we want, some say yes.  Are they fatalists or realists?

Realism tells us events happen and to be prepared; fatalism tells us it is going to happen and nothing you can do about it.  I believe in the good in the world, even when the bad is spotlighted.  I believe in the helpers and the love that most people have that calls out to help even at the risk of their own safety. I guess I am optimism with a dash of realism. 
I pray for us, as we are all affected by these tragedies.  I pray for peace and understanding.  I look at the bright sky realizing it does seem bluer on days when tragedy strikes while I and my loved ones are safe. I am grateful for what I have at this very moment.  Fatalists, realists, omptistics and all other personality types, We got to make this land a better land than the world in which we live. Yes we can, yes we can.

I still believe in Mr. Rogers and I hope you do too.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day, especially in times of 'disaster,' I remember my mother's words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers--so many caring people in this world." Mr. Rogers

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Spring Roads Can Be Treacherous

Earlier in our posts, we discussed the need to drive cautiously during winter weather.  Now that spring is upon us, defensive driving appears just as important.  Potholes have been in the news and areas still are minefields. The extreme climate changes have resulted in extreme ice covered roads.   

We are once again advising slow driving, if you can call ahead and ask are there any areas I need to be aware of when driving.  Keep in mind at anytime you may need to make a safety maneuver.  Try to remain in your lane. Swerving into another lane may result in a multicar accident.  Stay alert, avoid use of the telephone and minimize passenger interactions. 


Making Camping Fun

Making Camping A Sweet Experience

My family went camping for our summer vacation.  We took the usual items: pillows, clothing, towels, sleeping bags, tent and cooking gear.  This year we decided to make camping a bit more comfortable.
In order to camp in comfort we added a few more items to our list.  The first was ascreened tent to enclose our picnic table (provided by the campgrounds).  That made our eating experience much nicer without the buzzing of bugs.  The second was the essentials of camping: bug spray, sunscreen and first aid kit.  I cut my finger twice, my husband cut his hand and my grandson scraped his foot.  The bugs still bit since we did not realize they were fleas and not mosquitoes. 
We had electricity at our site so the air mattresswas wonderful; next time I’d add a mattress pad. The other thing we used electricity for was a fan.  It was hot and humid so the fan made all the difference between miserable at night and comfortable.  We slept in the screened tent one night due to the heat.
Color campfire crystals make the campfire more exciting.  The sparkles that change color once sprinkled on the fire is a like a box of crayon fairies dancing in the fire.  To enjoy your fire, folding canvas chairs with arms that each have a cup holder make the experience more enjoyable.  With each cup holder on the armrests you can have your drink and telephone safely stored.  
After enjoying the campfire a walk to the showers to remove the campfire smell before bed is very satisfying.  Just as in college, flip flops and a shower container makes the task much easier.  The container, mine was a small bucket, held a flashlight, toothpaste, toothbrush, towel, night clothes and tea tree shampoo body wash combination (another defense against bugs).  
It seemed we were either always eating or thinking about eating.  We took two coolersif they had with wheels  that would have been even better.  One cooler was for cold food and one for dry food.  We needed the cooler for dry goods to keep the mice away. Who knew we would have a family of mice (maybe a colony) joining us on our camping trip?

I included a small rug for our tent this year.  Placed outside our door, we were able to take our shoes (slip-ons or velcro shoes) off before going into the tent keeping the inside of the tent much cleaner.  I am a firm believer in velcro or slip-on shoes for camping.  If you have to go in and out of the tent you are not likely to remove your shoes every time if you have to untie and tie your shoes. 

Lastly is a camera.  If your phone has a good camera then you are set.  A camera captures the fun experiences like the bedtime stories with your grandson and even the not so fun experiences like picking up duct tape not realizing you captured a mouse in the duct tape.  You’ll have that one photgraph that reminds you of the glow of the campfire which immediately brings you back to enjoying everyone’s company wishing you were back at the campground.   

 If you have special equipment that you take camping to make camp life easier please let us know.  We are always interested in comfort. 

Credit Reports

I ran my free credit report through annualcreditreport.com.  I chose only one credit reporting agency.  You can receive all three from Equifax, Experian and TranUnion.  Since I am not making a major purchase i.e. car or home, I chose only one agency.

Once you fill in your information: name, address for the past two years and social security number, some security questions pop-up.  If you have a mortgage, they ask what the name of the institution is.  Do not be alarmed if mortgagee is not listed, mine was not.  They asked about a credit card I was issued in a specific year and to match the name of the institution.   All were easy to answer even for me and I am not a detail remembering type of person. 

The next screen is the breakdown of your credit history.  There is a pie chart, a listing of all lenders including how much you owe, what your limit is for each lender, when it originated and your debt to credit ratio.  I have been told 20 to 25 percent is a good number for your ratio.  I also have heard that 30% and under is a good ratio to have.  I think the goal is to have your debt to credit ratio be no higher than 25 to 30 percent.   At this point, you can figure your debt to income ratio by dividing your monthly payment as shown on the credit report by your monthly gross income.  I did just my income, I did not include my husband’s income.  I guess I could have included his income, since the mortgage and such are in both our names. 
not my actual pie chart
The screen with your credit breakdown also shows what credit cards have been cancelled, if you have applied for any credit in the past two years and any negative comments about your credit history.  Thankfully, I have no negative comments.  My identity has not been stolen, yet.  It was very interesting to see who and how often my credit report was requested.  The screen also indicates that the credit reports that were requested did not affect my credit score.  If you want your credit score then you can pay $7.95 to obtain it.  Since I am not making a purchase I am not interested in my score, I just wanted to know what the report stated.
not my actual score
Since I requested only one report from one agency, I can request another report in 6 months from a different agency and then request another a few months later.  By law, you can receive your credit report free every year.  I am spacing them out so I can keep track of any credit report requests for possible identity theft.  Once I decide to make a purchase like a new car in a year or two, I will request all three credit reports at once.  However, I will not pay for my credit score as I can obtain that free from a credit card company I have.  
I would like this to be my new car ....
I have a plan to watch my credit report since it seems so important to so many people.  Do you have a plan?