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......)

Car insurers should stop discriminating against seniors

Last year my car insurance company raised my rate -- and for no apparent reason. When I called my insurer the woman who answered the phone pointed out a small number on the bottom of my policy. "You turned 66," she said smugly. "We charge higher rates for seniors. You people have more accidents." I accepted her version of the truth … then. But over the last year it's become apparent that my insurance company needs to consult with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and stop gouging seniors based on junk science and phony statistics. An IIHS study shows that between 1997 and 2012, fatal crash rates for older drivers fell 42 percent vs. just 30 percent for middle-aged ones, who are considered among the safest. Those aged 18 to 25 are deemed to be the least safe drivers. Myths about senior drivers If older drivers are having fewer accidents insurers would say it's because we tend to leave our old Buicks in the garage most of the time. Remember that infamous phrase the used car salesman said right before you bought that second-hand car: "Only driven to church on Sunday by an old lady." It turns out… (continue reading......)

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