The recent mass killings by mentally unstable individuals with high-powered weapons have forced everyone, including the National Rifle Association (NRA), to open up a dialogue about how to put an end to it. Some, such as NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, propose that we have armed guards and teachers in every school. Not that long ago this would have been laughable. Now Utah is already training its teachers to arm themselves for self-defense. Others advocate limiting semi-automatic weapons and large capacity magazines. Liberals favor this, but face staunch opposition from conservatives who believe that any ground given up moves them to the total gun ban approach found in Great Britain, which wouldn't even let some of its own Olympic team practice. But many Americans are simply "voting with their credit cards." Rifles are flying off the rack at gun stores, while 30-round magazines are on back-order all over the Internet. Insuring the way One way to end this arms race, suggests the British-based magazine The Economist, is mandatory insurance: Gun owners would have to buy liability insurance against the threat that their guns would do damage. It's easy to understand because it's like auto insurance. Faster and more dangerous… (continue reading......)
I know an insurance executive who likes to inspect the schools that his company insures. He has children of his own, and says that one day he would like to teach. While inspecting an elementary school he stopped at the emergency exit when he noticed that the panic bar was too high for small children to reach. Then he pushed on the bar. It took all of his strength to open the door. "Fix it, or we won't insure you!" he told the school superintendent. In the aftermath of the terrible tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., where 26 children and school personnel died at the hands of a deranged young man, the time has come to stop feeling powerless and do something. Insurance companies aren't new to this And insurance companies are equipped to do just that. Many are in the business of insuring schools, because every school has to have insurance coverage for the inevitable lawsuits from an accident or tragedy related to school activities. But, more importantly, insurance companies have seen it all before. For all intents and purposes, sociopaths like Adam Lanza are terrorists. Insurers have been dealing with terrorism and ways to… (continue reading......)
Almost anyone who has insurance complains about its high cost. But when insurance companies complain about costs, their favorite target is the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, or NAIC. What is the NAIC? An organization of the insurance regulators in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories. But the NAIC itself doesn't regulate anything. It simply puts together "model laws" or standards that state regulators are supposed to use in their respective states. And, it seems, not successfully. In a letter to the U.S. Treasury Department last year, the Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS), which represents the businesses that actually buy insurance, criticized the "state-by-state patchwork of laws" governing insurance in this country. Insurers often don't respect the NAIC either. They say that its initials stand for No Action Is Contemplated and the National Association of Incompetence and Cost. Pom-poms and marching bands I can attest to that. I used to write for a news service and once talked my editor into letting me attend a NAIC meeting in New York City. I actually thought I could write a story about it. But when I got there, I saw the commissioners on stage shaking pom-poms and… (continue reading......)
State insurance regulators are touting the $17 million settlement they negotiated with Prudential in January as "an important step" in getting life insurers to cough up the estimated $1 billion they owe to life insurance beneficiaries. It's a step, all right, but in the wrong direction. This settlement gives the states which sign on - seven so far, including California - a small amount of money, but even that pittance will ultimately be divided by at least 20 states, the number which need to sign on for the deal to be approved. And since the money goes straight into state coffers, beneficiaries will never benefit. Facing fraud charges But Prudential will. The legal lingo in the agreement says nice things about the second largest domestic life insurer, at a time when it and the biggest, MetLife, face class action lawsuits charging them with fraud. And, thanks to a federal foul-up, the settlement may accomplish nothing at all. Life insurers got in trouble last year when Florida Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty learned that they had been using a Social Security database called the "Death Master File" to stop annuity payments when they learned that those policyholders had died. Death Master is… (continue reading......)
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