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Why U.S. insurance companies turn a cold shoulder to global warming

While American moviegoers and TV watchers are fixating on computer-generated horror shows like Into the Storm and Sharknado 2, they seem to be blissfully ignorant of the fact that we are living through the opening sequence of a real horror show called global warming. For years scientists warned us that the earth's temperature is inching up degree by degree. And as it does, we are starting to see all kinds of climate changes -- combined with some very nasty side effects. Stop me if this sounds all too familiar: drought in southern California, flooding in the heartland, firestorms in the northwest, sinkholes in central Florida, and algae blooms in Lake Erie. Some of these events have other contributing factors, but it's interesting that now even the naysayers don't deny the earth is warming. But they'll only say that it's "temporary." So you might ask: "Temporary for whom?" One of the side effects of climate change is plagues. Its mainly African victims can't get enough food to eat or water to drink and wash in. And many Americans now fear that the deadly Ebola virus will erupt in our country. Insurance companies in denial Given what's at stake you would think… (continue reading......)

As stock market hovers at all-time high, should you lose that whole life insurance?

The U.S. stock market's benchmark, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), is hovering around 17,000. That's a 143 percent increase since 2008 when the recession caused it to topple to 7,000. There's no doubt our nation's stock market is on a tear, which is why I'm hearing investment guru Suze Orman's siren song ringing in my ear. Suze is telling everyone -- and she talks to a lot of people via the Internet, television and Twitter -- to get rid of that stodgy whole life insurance policy, buy a cheap term life insurance policy instead, and invest the difference in the market. In one such presentation on YouTube, Orman answers a question from a lady whose financial adviser sold her a $650-a-month variable life policy with a death benefit of $750,000. Suze is so sarcastic it looks like she's throwing a tantrum. "First, get a new financial adviser!" she berates the caller. Whole life, universal life and variable life "are at the top 10 of Ms. Orman's hate list!" Suze says that whole life policies "do everything for the financial person who sold it to you and do absolutely nothing for you!" Cancel the old insurance and buy a term… (continue reading......)

Inside the secret policies that employers have on workers

You got the job you wanted with the company you chose. And now you’ve gotten your employee benefits package. Read the paperwork carefully. It could contain an insert asking for your signature that you’ll accept a life insurance policy paid for by the company. Often the employer is offering a group life policy benefitting your family, which usually provides a death benefit of one to two times your annual salary if you die under normal circumstances. It might even include a rider for accidental death or dismemberment (AD&D) if you’re injured or killed while working. But be aware of another type of life insurance policy for which your company might want your signature. Its beneficiary is the employer. So, if you die, your family doesn’t benefit at all because your employer gets the money. This type of policy is called Company-Owned Life Insurance (COLI) or Bank-Owned Life Insurance (BOLI) if purchased by a bank. There’s no way of knowing how many COLI/BOLI policies have been written but “it is a very very big market,” says Bruce Elliott, who handles compensation and benefits for the Society for Human Resource Management. “It’s a very lucrative market for life insurers,” says Houston attorney… (continue reading......)

'Clarity Acts' could reveal reasons for high home insurance rates in your state

There's a grassroots movement afoot to deal with rapidly increasing homeowners insurance rates. It started in the Gulf Coast states with senior citizen and middle-class homeowners who are being forced out of their lifelong residences by rapidly rising home insurance premiums. And it could wind its way up the East Coast, following the path of hurricanes, and then gain traction in the Midwest as tornados continue to ravage the heartland. So what is it all about? It's a movement for "clarity": Property insurers such as Allstate and State Farm would have to explain how and why they charge what they do -- and clarify it by ZIP code. Why is this important? Like many homeowners I believe I pay too much for insurance on my small home near the Jersey shore. My premium went up 25 percent after Superstorm Sandy, even though I didn't file a claim. Our area sustained flood damage, but a home insurance policy generally doesn't cover that. Instead, it's covered under the federal flood insurance program. Another Southern rebellion Almost everyone is struggling to adapt to the extreme climate change of hurricanes, tornadoes and baseball-sized hail that we're seeing as lead news and weather stories. So,… (continue reading......)

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