Insurance Companies and Universal Health Care

Insurance companies serve a very important function in our society. The purpose of insurance is to share risk. Risk is the amount of economic loss that someone is willing to assume in an activity. For instance, a bank would not loan money for the purpose of buying a house, unless the house was protected against losses such as fire, wind and other perils. That protection is provided by a Homeowner’s policy.

A loan to purchase an automobile would not be available unless the car was insured for losses by theft or collision. That protection is provided by an auto policy.

Health insurance is a policy that shares the risk of losses caused by injuries or illness. A share of the risk is assumed by the individual through a deductible or co-pay. In-other-words, if someone visits the doctor, that individual may be required to pay the first $15 or $20 of the visit. The health insurance company assumes the risk of the remainder of the cost.

That shared risk comes about through an exchange of ‘consideration’. Consideration is value. The insured pays a premium in exchange for the promise of the insurance company to pay certain costs associated with the insured’s health care. Which brings us to the controversy surrounding the government’s efforts to institute what some call universal health care.

No matter what side of the argument you are on, in favor or against universal health care, one issue has been settled. President Obama stated publicly that it is impossible to insure the ‘uninsured’ without additional costs. So, the idea that this will be a ‘deficit neutral’ policy has been debunked by the administration itself. Either taxes go up to pay for the program, or health care will have to be rationed to keep costs neutral, or bring them down.

In response to the public out-cry about a government health care program, the administration has called the insurance companies villains. After all, insurance companies exclude preexisting conditions for some period of time when an individual enrolls (however that is not always the case with group policies), and insurance companies are making a ‘profit’.

PreExsiting Conditions

Think about the concept of risk and preexisting conditions. An individual has a home that has been damaged by fire. Would a homeowner’s insurance company now write a policy that would cover the repairs to home caused by the preexisting fire? Of course not! That is not shared risk, that is bad business.

An individual has a preexisting health condition, say diabetes. Purchasing a policy that would exclude the treatment for diabetes for a limited period of time (usually two years), now results in a shared risk. The health insurance company will cover the person for other perils, and if that individual pays the premiums over time, that exclusion regarding the preexisting condition is then dropped.

Is it possible for the government to insure everyone in the United States and force insurance companies to provide policies without regard to preexisting conditions? It is possible, but not without driving the cost of health-care way up. After all, the money to pay the doctors and hospitals have to come from somewhere and President Obama stated that ‘We are out of money’. Since the government doesn’t earn money, its only source of revenue is taxes.

Profit

Insurance companies are being cast as the bad guy since companies make a profit. Which do you prefer, companies that are well run that make a profit, or a company like General Motors that required billions of dollars of taxpayer money to bail the company out? A profit is what allows companies to expand services and provide jobs. Companies that fail to make a profit, go out-of-business.

The government not only fails to make a profit, as a well run business entity should, it runs at a deficit. The latest example is Cash for Clunkers. Not only was taxpayer money used to subsidize auto sales, now car dealers are complaining that the government is not sending the checks for the Clunkers that were promised. It appears that many buyers will have lost their old cars and now face repossession of the new cars purchased since the money for the program did not actually exist.

This does not bode well for a government run health care system.

Tort Reform

Doctors and hospitals must practice defensive medicine. People will sue for anything. Tort lawyers use a ‘shot-gun’ approach when filing a malpractice lawsuit. All doctors, nurses, technicians and hospitals involved in a case are named as a defendant, whether that party had any actual responsibility for the claimed injury and damage.

We need a loser pay system, which provides that anyone who brings a lawsuit and loses, is required to pay the other side’s attorney fees and expenses. That would do away with most frivolous lawsuits and bring the costs of health care down.

Big Government Solution

Government should be required to live within its means. It does not, and the government, not insurance companies, is the villain in this scenario.

The founding fathers did not foresee a large, powerful centralized government. That is what was the war of independence against England was all about. The US Constitution delegated specific powers to the Federal Government, and it does not specify taking over any private sector industry.

Medicare and Medicaid are government health care programs on the verge of collapse. Even President Obama admits Medicare cannot be sustained. No program can be sustained when it runs at a deficit and all government programs run at a deficit.

Universal Health Care will run at a deficit from day one and that is just bad business.

Insurance Company Complaints – Who Are the Top 10 Companies With the Least Number of Complaints?

The New York State Department of Insurance (DOI) just released the 2008 Annual Ranking of Automobile Insurance Complaints. The report has been issued to help consumers find the automobile insurer that best meets their needs. You can use this report to compare the ranking of the insurance company you are doing business with now, or check another company you may be considering.

This report analyzed data collected from 2006 and 2007. It only ranks companies doing business in the State of New York. However, as New York is a heavily populated state, with both big urban centers and big suburban areas, the report can be considered a good representation of insurance company performance nationwide.

How The Ranking Works

The insurance companies are ranked on a complaint ratio. The ratio is calculated by the number of complaints upheld against companies as a percentage of their total private passenger auto business.

Insurers with the fewest upheld complaints per million dollars of premiums are shown at the top of the list. The companies with the highest ratio of complaints are ranked at the bottom.

Other Information to Consider

The ranking of an insurance company is important, but it is only one characteristic that consumers should weigh when considering doing business with an insurance company. Others are:

o Referrals from friends, relatives, neighbors or co-workers about the experiences they had with their insurance companies
o Price of the premium versus perceived value
o Search the Internet for other ideas
o Check your state’s DOI website, which may contain valuable consumer information about companies doing business in your state.

What The Ranking Does and Does Not Contain

o Private passenger insurance is the only type evaluated.
o It only includes the complaints referred by consumers to the DOI. It does not include complaints made directly to the insurance companies.
o Complaints are “upheld” when the DOI agrees with a consumer that an insurance company made an inappropriate decision.
o Information from prior years is included in the tables so consumers can see if the company has improved or gotten worse.
o All companies with at least $10 million in premium in 2006 and 2007 are included in the ranking. Insurers with less than $10 million were included if they had 10 or more complaints against them.

Top Three Most Common Complaints

1. Monetary settlements – settlement amount is too low.
2. Policy terminations
3. Promptness of insurance payments

2007 Auto Complaint Listing (ranked lowest number at top, higher as you go down)

1. Mercury General Group
2. American Express, Amex Assurance, IDS Property Casualty
3. Eveready Insurance Co.
4. Electric Insurance Group
5. Amica Mutual
6. Preferred Mutual Insurance Co.
7. United Services Automobile Assurance Group (USAA)
8. Chubb
9. Utica Mutual
10. State F*arm
11. Central Services Group, Central Insurance Group, NY Central Mutual Fire Ins.
12. Main Street America Group, National Grange Mutual
13. Progressive
14. Liberty Mutual
15. Kingsway Insurance Group, Lincoln General Ins.
16. Response Insurance Group
17. Nationwide Insurance
18. American Modern Ins. Group, American Family Home Ins.
19. St. Paul Travelers
20. Unitrin Group, Kemper
21. Erie Insurance Group
22. Berkshire Hathaway Insurance, GEICO
23. Allstate Insurance
24. The Hartford Insurance Group
25. Hanover Insurance, Citizens Ins., Allmerica Financial Alliance
26. Metropolitan Group
27. American National Financial Group
28. Allianz Insurance Group
29. GMAC, Integon, MIC P&C, National General Ins. Co.
30. Zurich Ins.Group, Foremost, Maryland Casualty
31. Hannover RE Group, Clarendon National
32. State Wide Insurance
33. White Mountains Group, OneBeacon, Esurance, Auto One Ins.
34. Countrywide Insurance
35. Safeco Insurance Group
36. American International Group (AIG)
37. Tri-State Consumer Ins. Group
38. Interboro Mutual
39. Infinity Property & Casualty
40. Long Island Insurance

Conclusion

If your auto insurance provider is not shown on this list, it could be that they don’t sell insurance in New York. Or, it could be that their number of complaints is worse than the company in the #40 position!!

Think about this statement, my friends.

The only thing that truly matters about your auto insurance is what happens when you submit a claim. Claims are about KEEPING PROMISES. When the insurance companies don’t keep their promises, the complaints pile up!

So, why would you EVER consider doing business with any insurance company LOWER than NUMBER 10 on the list?

If you are one of the unfortunate people who experience an automobile loss of any kind, you’ll need to know how to handle your insurance claim so that you maximize your recovery. I’ll even be so bold as to say this: If you do not use the strategies for submitting a claim found in my book, you will not collect all the money you are entitled to collect. You will need to know how to take control of your insurance claim, and add hundreds or even thousands more dollars to your claim settlement. For more information, check out the website shown below in the Resource Box.

Auto Insurance Company Comparison – Discover The Only Criteria You Should Ever Use

Making an auto insurance company comparison relies heavily on having a sound judgment of what makes a good company. This article will reveal a simple but effective criteria for selecting a good company and hopefully getting the best deal on car insurance ever.

Start With Cost Savings
When seeking auto insurance, cost will surely be in the forefront of your mind. It’s important that when you make a comparison among insurance companies, cost is central to the criteria. It’s also important to bear in mind too that cheapest does not translate into best, so any cost comparison must be tied to the benefits associated with such costs.

The Company’s Payout Record
This is another important variable that should form any criteria for comparing companies. The main reason for having insurance is to ensure protection when and if something does go wrong.

It stands to reason therefore that if a company has poor track record of honoring claims then this basic reason for having insurance is defeated. You can always find out about a company’s past record by searching online for any negative consumer reports.

Built-in Deductible Amount
The deductible represents the amount that you’ll have to fund out of pocket towards the cost of repairs should you suffer an accident. This amount will vary across providers and so it’s important for use in comparing a companies overall suitability towards your needs. It ties in with cost, but should be looked at separately because it’s basis is quite often arbitrary. One company may have a deductible of 5%, while another may have stipulate 10%.

So, when you next go to make an auto insurance company comparison, use the criteria above. Not only will you find that your ultimate choice is better in terms of coverage, you’ll also save money on quotes as well.

How to Compare Term Life Insurance Companies

When you are purchasing term life insurance for yourself or a family member, you are creating a contract between you and the insurance company. When you hire a contractor, wouldn’t you check out the company before you hire them? Getting to know the insurance company that you are going to trust with your family’s future is far more important. There are some basic things that you need to look at before you sign on the bottom line.

Currently in the United States, there are over 1,500 insurance companies operating that sell life insurance policies to clients. Most of these companies are simply subsidiaries of their parent companies. These subsidiary companies are commonly created because each state has different laws, and this allows the companies to be able to tailor their policies to be able to meet that state’s rules and regulations. The parent company and the subsidiaries are separate companies, but they all operate under the same corporate umbrella. Using a single centralized company would not work due to all the disparate laws and jurisdictions. A very important consideration is whether the insurance company has an entity in your local state. Otherwise, in the case of a dispute, you will not be able to bring the case before your state insurance regulatory agency.

Once you find a company that has an operation in your state, there are some important considerations that you should look at, including the following: the policy, the company, financial stability, and claims settlement.

Obviously, you want to verify the policy. Typically, this is the step where most people stop, but this is only one part of what you should check. Make sure that the policy meets your needs. Read the whole policy, including the fine print. Make sure that the policy has all of the features and services that your agent promised. After you sign the policy, it is too late.

When selecting the insurance company, never rely solely on the company name. The name that they select has a lot to do with marketing, and the name that they choose is intended to project financial strength, fairness, dependability, etc. Words that are commonly used in the name include reserve, security, assurance, and equity. Don’t trust these words without examining the company’s history and credentials. It is also a good idea to go with trusted companies that have been in the business for many years. They have been around long enough to have a trusted name in the business.

Because you are buying this policy for many years, you want to make sure that the company will be there when you need them most. It is important to take a look at the financial strength of the company. In order for the company to survive, you need to make sure that they have a strong financial foundation so they can survive down times in the market. You can check their financial ratings from several independent agencies. You want to select a company with the highest rating possible.

Also take a look at the company’s record for paying claims. You can get this information from the national claims database or from your state’s insurance regulatory agency.

These are just some of the things that you should check on before you sign up for any policy. Make sure you are comfortable with it before you purchase the policy. There are many companies that can offer you quotes on term life insurance.