Putting the brakes on no-fault auto insurance

tire-marks A 71-year-old grandmother was driving to her daughter's house when her car was intentionally hit from behind as part of a staged accident. She swerved, hit a tree and died, thus becoming an especially tragic victim of "no-fault fraud." While loss of life may be rare, the crime is rarely harmless. It's a billion-dollar racket that bilks both insurers and the public. Law enforcement and state legislatures are just starting to catch up with this crime in states where it's at its worst, such as Florida and New York. "These states are a 'field of dreams' for fraudsters," says Jim Whittle, chief claims counsel with the American Insurance Association. In New York, state and federal investigations have resulted in arrests of 52 people, including 10 doctors and three lawyers. In Florida, the state senate - with the support of Gov. Rick Scott - just passed a comprehensive reform of its no-fault law. No good deed goes unpunished Unfortunately, no-fault insurance shows that no good deed goes unpunished. When a fender-bender occurs with minor injuries, there's no reason why the driver's own insurance shouldn't pay a reasonable amount -- up to $10,000 in most cases -- to settle the matter and… (continue reading......)

Are you happy with your auto insurance?

happy-driver-small Are car insurers and agents keeping customers satisfied? According to new research from Deloitte, the answer, in part, depends on how old the customers are. Age was by far the most significant differentiator among the various demographic factors examined by Deloitte Research. Age was a factor in terms of the openness of consumers; changing carriers and channels; willingness to do business without an agent; and interest in high-tech options for sales and service, says Rebecca Amoroso, vice chairman and insurance sector leader for Deloitte. They're called the young and the restless for a reason. Generally though, those surveyed were satisfied with their car insurance. The research revealed that there's something to be said for doing business the old fashion way: face-to-face. A higher percentage (30 percent) of those who bought car insurance directly from an insurer were dissatisfied with the purchase experience, while a smaller percentage of those who bought through an agent (20 percent) were dissatisfied. Despite the growth in opportunities to buy direct, customers give the edge to agents. In fact, when asked how much of a discount might convince those with agents to buy direct the next time they needed a new car insurance policy, one in… (continue reading......)

How to get your auto insurer to pay your claim

Money in human hands With warm weather and summer coming fast, you'll likely be hitting the road more often, despite climbing gas prices - and more driving always means an increased risk for a claim. A little time spent thinking about the filing process now may pay off later, should you need the information. First off, don't be intimidated by the claims process. Maybe you've never taken this journey before, but when you're prepared you'll be a bit more confident. And you'll need to act boldly. According to the Consumer Federation of America, in recent years, some auto insurance companies have begun using practices that can make it tougher for you to get what you should for your claim. For example, insurers sometimes use computerized systems that don't adequately consider the individual circumstances of each claim, which means you might get an unfairly low settlement. Here's what you need to know to increase the odds that you get your claim paid fully and quickly. Take a good look at your policy. What's covered? Once you've determined the compensation to which you are entitled, contact your insurance company or agent as soon as possible. Make sure you get the full name of the person to… (continue reading......)

The long and winding road to improve car safety

road-sign-slippery-small With all the new, high-tech safety features touted by automakers, you'd think we could stop worrying about traffic accidents. But a new report from the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) shows why we can't let down our guard. Although new technology reduces the odds of crashing and getting hurt in an accident, it takes at least 30 years for a safety feature introduced on a luxury vehicle to trickle down to lower-cost vehicles on the road, institute researchers found. Take air bags, for instance. Automakers started including frontal air bags in vehicles in the mid-1980s -- back when Ronald Reagan was president and "The Cosby Show" topped the TV ratings charts. But we still have four years to go before 95 percent of all registered vehicles are equipped with frontal air bags, the study's authors say. Some new features could take even longer to reach the whole fleet. HLDI researchers predict we might have to wait until 2049 for forward warning collision systems to be installed in 95 percent of all registered vehicles. Introduced in some new U.S. vehicles in 2000, the systems use cameras or radar sensors to alert drivers to potential crashes. A couple of factors cause the… (continue reading......)

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