When the end is near, there's no place like home

For many people the thought of dying in a nursing home is worse than death itself. Those I've spoken to -- particularly the ones reaching their 80s or 90s, when they have to consider the inevitable  -- want to die in their own home, in familiar surroundings. My mother wanted nothing more than to remain in her home in her later years. And she did. I can't blame them. I recently watched someone  -- a World War II veteran  -- die in a nursing home. Although he received decent care, and the nurses were kind to both him and his visitors, noisy and constant interruptions, people screaming for the nurse when they didn't even know what they wanted, televisions blaring and the smell of disinfectant permeated the air. "No matter how they disguise it, it's an institution," says Richard Gelula, executive director of TheConsumerVoice.org, which advocates for the elderly. "They operate for themselves -- and you're on their schedule." Overstaying your welcome The insurance industry -- until recently -- embraced the concept of long-term care insurance (LTCi), which was sold as a way to pay for nursing home care. This product sold well in past years, due in part to… (continue reading......)

Should home insurance companies make life harder for gun owners?

Florida is one of the southern tier of states in which the right to bear arms is considered fundamental. But recently, Citizens Property Insurance, the state-run insurer of last resort, sent out a questionnaire asking homeowners about their gun ownership. And another home insurer, Castle Key Insurance, allegedly canceled a policy because the policyholder had ammunition in the home. These actions raise questions that have been at the forefront of the gun debate: Does gun ownership make a home more dangerous? And should homeowners with weapons and ammunition pay more in insurance premiums based on the number and type of guns they own? Straight shooter There are an estimated 300 million guns in the hands of about 50 million households nationwide. Among the biggest sellers recently are rifles modeled on the military's M-16, along with semiautomatic pistols, both of which can have large capacity magazines. But the issue isn't just safety. Gun-rights groups such as the National Rifle Association (NRA) view this kind of "questionnaire" as both a way to penalize gun owners with higher premiums and as a backdoor way to find out who owns guns. So it's not surprising that these Florida insurers got an immediate rap on… (continue reading......)

Why this car costs $4,400 a year to insure

2009 Chevrolet Aveo (Photo courtesy General Motors) Reader Eric's e-mail landed in our mailboxes with the subject line "Criminally high insurance rates." I just finished reading two articles on your website. One article featured the least expensive cars to insure. The other article explored the most expensive cars to insure. The most expensive car being a 2014 $115,000 Nissan GT-R that cost $3,169 to insure for annual coverage. The question I have is why did I just receive an automobile insurance quote of $365 per month, $2,200 for six months, and, thus, $4,400 for one year’s full coverage 2009 Chevy Aveo subcompact that cost only $9,900? I live in Detroit. I'm well aware of the practice of paying more due to crime, etc. But these grossly excessive rates seem criminally high.  I agree that car insurance rates in certain cities, Detroit being one, are insanely high.  And while I wouldn’t want to spend this much on car insurance, I can explain why it is that some folks, like Eric, are receiving car insurance rate quotes higher than what it would costs others to insure an “affordable supercar” like the $115,000 Nissan GT-R. Where you live matters – a lot Car insurance rates are based on many factors,… (continue reading......)

A method to the ‘Madness’: Hole-in-one insurance

While we were picking our brackets in the annual college basketball tournament known as "March Madness," insurers were busy with their own game of chance. It's called "hole-in-one insurance." Hole-in-one insurance is often behind the scenes on basketball courts, football fields and baseball diamonds -- in fact, virtually every sporting event ranging from golf to hockey. Here's an example. It's halftime during a basketball game. To keep fans and viewers entertained while the opposing teams are in the locker room, kids from the audience are escorted to the half-court line. Each has one chance to sink a basket and earn college tuition. What happens if one of these lucky kids does make the free throw? Management isn't going to pay and neither is the university. Instead, the cost of this unlikely win will be paid for by the "hole-in-one" insurance company. Insurance madness Most major insurers, such as AIG, Lloyd's and even Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway, are involved in this sports-betting business. But, unlike us, they bet these kids wouldn't make the basket, because if they do then the insurance policies have to pay. Or, in the case of Warren Buffett himself, out of his own pocket in his recent… (continue reading......)

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