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Don't order 'takeout' insurance if you're a Florida homeowner

I don't live in Florida. But if I did - and owned a home by the water - I'd probably be bombarded with "takeout" offers. Only they're not from the local pizza place, Chinese restaurant or fast-food chain. Instead they're from brand-new property-casualty insurance companies that operate only in Florida and have not yet lived through a hurricane. They’re telling homeowners that their entry into the insurance market is "good news for you!" But is it? Ever since the disastrous 2005 hurricane season when Florida took a one-two punch from Katrina and Wilma, home insurers have been popping up faster than orange blossoms. A quick check of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation indicates that at least 25 are currently operating. But six of these "pop-up" insurers have also gone out of business since 2005, according to the Orlando Sun-Sentinel. Welcome to the neighborhood The Florida insurance department is more than happy to have these new insurance companies because they take pressure off the state-sponsored insurer, Citizens Property Insurance. This "insurer of last resort" was designed to provide windstorm coverage for homeowners who were rejected elsewhere. And in 2005 many Floridians became part of that group after Katrina and Wilma… (continue reading......)

Driverless-car technology: “It’s kinda scary”

Scary driverless car technology In the old sci-fi TV series The Outer Limits each episode began with an eerie voice heard over a scrambled picture saying, "There is nothing wrong with your television … we are now in control of the transmission … we control all you see and hear." I thought about this when I read a recent New York Times story describing how banks and car dealers were installing engine cut-off switches in cars sold to borrowers with less-than-perfect credit histories. If he or she is overdue in paying back the loan, the lender will send out a signal that prevents the car from starting or disables it while driving. One woman found out the hard way that she was delinquent in her payments when she tried to drive her daughter to a hospital emergency room. There are two million automobiles that now have "starter interruption switches" in them, according to the Times. You’re not in control Let's put this aside for now, as well as any thoughts about the danger to drivers -- yourself included -- when a credit loan officer flips a switch that stops the car ahead of you on a freeway. Instead let's focus on the privacy issue.… (continue reading......)

Joan Rivers’ death raises the question: outpatient or hospital?

If you undergo a surgical procedure as I did this year, the tragic case of Joan Rivers should raise a lot of questions – some of which relate to health insurance. Amid all the controversy surrounding what happened at the Yorkville Endoscopy Center in New York City, two investigations are already underway: one by the New York State Health Department, the other by New York City police. And the medical director of the center, who reportedly presided over the procedure on her vocal cords, was fired when published reports alluded to the presence of another – unauthorized – doctor, according to ABC News. It could take months or even years for doctors, lawyers and investigators to sort this out, but the question remains: When your doctor tells you to have a routine surgical procedure, should it be done at an outpatient facility, as Rivers did, or at a hospital? Hospital look-alikes Outpatient facilities, or “ambulatory surgical centers” as they are also known, have become increasingly commonplace. There are more than 5,000 nationwide, and they perform 23 million surgeries a year, ranging from routine colonoscopies to more complicated knee and hip replacements. Many resemble actual hospitals with operating room monitoring equipment… (continue reading......)

Teach your children how to stay safe during football season

I know it's football season when I see the guys walking home from practice still wearing shoulder pads under their jerseys. Last year my local high school team won our state division championship. So when they pass me by I say, "Good luck this year." And one will invariably smile and reply, "No worries, man." Tell that to the NFL No worries? Tell that to all the former professional football players and their families who have sued or already settled with the National Football League. The NFL has spent more than a billion dollars trying to rehabilitate retirees with trauma and brain injuries. Tell it to the family of Junior Seau, the great all-pro linebacker who committed suicide while suffering from a sleep disorder. An autopsy found he had the same type of chronic brain damage that left other pros in wheelchairs or in nursing homes with Alzheimer's. When you're a high school athlete whose dream is to play in the NFL, you don't think about life after your playing career. A study by the non-profit advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide shows that more than half of the 1,000 young athletes surveyed, between 7th and 10th grades, admitted they "played… (continue reading......)

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