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INSURANCE…The Good, The Bad And The Evil…

The night before Thanksgiving in 2016, I was unfortunately the victim of a horrible car accident. While tooling along in my Bullitt Mustang (for you non-car aficionados, it was, and I say was, a reproduction of the Mustang Steve McQueen drove in the 1968 movie of the same name) someone in a van ran a red light, causing me to stop dead at 30+ miles an hour. It was like hitting a brick wall- moving along one second, appruptly stopped the next. After the hospital and doctor stuff, I came to find that he was a New Jersey resident in the NJ Insurance Pool, meaning because of a previous bad driving record, he had a grand total of $25,000 of liability as opposed to you and me with an average of $100,000/$300,000- $100,000 per occurrence, $300,000 maximum. Now, it would seem to me to protect the population adequately, this person should have been required to carry MORE than the normal since he or she was more prone to accidents and injuring another person, but the insurance companies think the opposite: if he is prone to accidents, then they don't want to be on the hook for much. Therefore, they have this low cost, low coverage: assigned risk pool"- the insurance company is on the hook for a minimal amount, and the poor guy who gets hit by the insured has a small amount of money available to the "hitee" for expenses like medical, loss of wages and damages. Now you know- tell you congressman. I'll be darned if this makes sense for anyone but the insurance company...certainly not for you and me.

We pay a good portion of our income for insurance of various types: car, boat or other hobby vehicle, homeowners, life, disability, long term care, personal umbrella policy, and of course, health insurance- the talk of the town. The goal is to pay out tons of money each year in premiums, every year, and get nothing back- not having a need to put in a claim. This means that over the year you were claim free, healthy and with no need to notify your insurance company, and next year: start over. Yes, we know we have peace of mind knowing that if, in the rare occasion we do need them they are there, but rarely do we think about the insurance we pay year after year cumulatively. So, here I am, to remind you how much you pay out each year out of your hard-earned money, and what to do about it. I am certainly not advocating cancelling any of your insurance: just to advise you that it's time to drag out all your policies and take the time to review them. When you buy a car, do you just pay the sticker price, or try to bargain a better, lower price? Do any of you out there clip coupons to ShopRite or your supermarket of choice to lower the cost of your grocery bill? Do you wait for the major holidays for your Macy's 20% off coupon, or the "don't go to Bed, Bath and Beyond" without your 20% of one item coupon? Are you following the trend here...if you can pay less for an item you need, you do your best to do so, but usually when it comes to insurance you use the same insurance agent you've been using for umpteen years or your parents did without trying to lower the cost. It's hard enough to get by in today's economy- why not look at every facet of your spending to see where you can perhaps adjust or cut down?

The insurance industry is a competitive industry with prices that vary greatly for the same coverage. I always recommend to all clients that they look at the rating of the company for its ability to pay claims when necessary. Consider the internet and look at reviews of other consumers, of both the insurance carrier as well as the agent- you want to know if the time comes, the agent who sold you your policy will be there to help you. Coverages vary from person to person. There are formulas that should be used to determine the amount of coverage you need for each type of insurance: just picking an arbitrary amount can be dangerous and work against you. Ask you agent how he or she concluded the amount of insurance coverage they are proposing. Ask them the difference of changing your deductible a bit higher, and calculate the difference between the savings and the amount you pay out before the insurance starts payments. We all have different lifestyles, and may need different coverages. Are you covered for the housekeeper you have that comes in one day a week? Are you running a business out of

your home...many people do? What they don't realize is if a claim is made because of it being tied to a business venture in the home, they may not be covered.

We all hate paying out so much for insurance, but it's a needed evil. Talk with your present agent and don't be afraid to shop around- just make sure it's for the exact same coverage. You work hard for your money- make sure it works hard for you.

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