Insurance brokers will try to get the best deals -- but sometimes for themselves

When people like me have to make the often confusing decision on what kind of health insurance we need, we often turn to an insurance broker -- or an independent agent -- to make that decision for us and find the best deal at the best price. I've had good experience with my broker. But recent events in Hamilton, New Jersey -- where I live -- have shown me that you have to keep a close eye on your agent or broker. 'Who's the boss?' The upshot is: Your insurance agent or broker doesn't really work for you. He or she is nearly always paid -- and very well I might add -- by the insurance company that writes your policy. According to one survey, top insurance brokers earn an average $273,000 a year. So when former insurance broker Marliese Ljuba was willing to forgo both a contract and paycheck to work for our school board, someone should have sensed something was rotten in the state of New Jersey. And someone eventually did. But not the school board, which, by Ljuba's own testimony, was being wined, dined and feted by her on someone else's tab. Romancing the school board That… (continue reading......)

Squeeze the most from your health insurance

Many people don't fully understand their health insurance benefits, according to a new survey from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC). And this lack of understanding often leads people to pay more out of pocket for health care than they have to. For example, 61% of people say they understand their right to appeal a health insurance claim denial, according to NAIC. That means everyone else could get a denial and think they have to live with it. In addition, only 19% of people know that they can go to an out-of-network doctor and still get some health insurance coverage for the visit. With open enrollment period in full swing at many workplaces, it's vital to understand the benefits you're buying. Your choices today affect your health insurance happiness for the next year. (continue reading......)

Attention germophobes! | Insure.com

My former publisher is an unabashed mysophobe. This is someone who has a pathological fear of being contaminated by germs. He would come into work and immediately break out the Lysol wipes and clean everything on his desk and in his cubicle — every single day. When he would join employees for lunch at a restaurant, he would wipe down every piece of silverware and demand a new drinking glass. Let's face it, germs are everywhere, and if you allow yourself to be plagued by germ fears you could be looking at hefty therapy bills down the road — just to cope with everyday life. I read in a recent study by the Department of Biology at Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas, that some germs cannot thrive on stainless steel surfaces. The study measured the growth rate of bacteria on plastic and stainless steel push plates in 45 public restrooms. After contaminating the plates with S. aureus, researchers found that the staph germ could not survive on the stainless steel surfaces. Regrettably, the bacteria remained on plastic surfaces for up to five hours. Here's more about hidden health risks. (continue reading......)

The problem of lost life insurance policies

This guest post comes from Angie Picardo at NerdWallet. It's amazing how many people pay for life insurance for years and years but then don't give their beneficiaries the information needed to make the claim. According to Consumer Reports, there are over $1 billion in forgotten and lost life insurance policies that have gone unclaimed. If you have been wondering where to look for life insurance you think is lost, there are plenty of resources available to assist you in your search. If you're lucky, you'll know which life insurance company held the policy on your deceased relative. Then it's a simply matter of contacting the company directly and initiating the claim paperwork. If you aren't sure if there was a life insurance policy, it certainly won't hurt to do some research to check. It would be a shame if that person paid into a policy for many years, only to have it go undiscovered. Labor unions, fraternal orders and former employers should be contacted to see if they provided a life insurance policy as a part of membership. Websites like Missing Money are designed to help you search for any unclaimed benefits in your state for immediate family members.… (continue reading......)

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