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Daniel T. Murray Blog Page 6

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With 4th of July coming up, you’re probably starting to daydream about things like BBQs, fireworks and frosty beers. Topics like burns and fire safety might not be top of mind, but they deserve some attention, too. There are typically more fires reported on July 4th than any other day of the year. Plus, thousands of BBQ-attendees are sent to the emergency room each year due to holiday-related injuries. Don’t skip the party! Just be aware of these July 4th safety tips as you celebrate.

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Big savings are not all they seem, at least when it comes to buying auto insurance.

The just-released J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Insurance Shopping Study finds that poor service is a leading reason why customers shop for and switch to a new auto insurer, rather than price.

Declining satisfaction with new price is also the primary reason customers are less satisfied when they do switch insurer, according to the study findings.

J.D. Power notes that some 30 percent of auto customers shopped for a new insurance provider in 2013, of which 36 percent ultimately switched insurers.

Perhaps surprisingly, increases in premiums do not drive shopping as much as poor experience.

Customers who have a poor experience with their insurer shop at a rate of 28 percent – more than double the rate of shopping among those who experience a premium increase (13 percent).

Another key takeaway is that customers are tolerant of rate increases at a certain level. However, rate hikes of more than $200 can triple the rate of customers who switch insurers.

A press release quotes Jeremy Bowler, senior director of the insurance practice at J.D. Power:

Price, however, is still important in the selection process with eight in 10 customers selecting the lowest-price insurer.

Price is also an increasingly important driver of new-buyer purchase experience satisfaction once customers have selected a new insurer. Overall new buyer satisfaction with the auto insurance buying experience averages 821 (on a 1,000-point scale), down significantly from 828 in 2013.

J.D. Power notes that the decline in satisfaction is driven by a 17-point drop in the price factor, which has the greatest impact on customer satisfaction.

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A report just released by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) puts a $277 billion price tag on the economic costs of traffic crashes in the United States in 2010, a 20 percent increase over its 2000 data.

The economic costs are equivalent to approximately $897 for every person living in the U.S. and 1.9 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, the NHTSA says, and based on the 32,999 fatalities, 3.9 million non-fatal injuries, and 24 million damaged vehicles that took place in 2010.

Included in these economic costs are lost productivity, medical costs, legal and court costs, emergency service costs (EMS), insurance administration costs, congestion costs, property damage and workplace losses.

When you add in the $594 billion societal cost of crashes, such as harm from the loss of life and pain and decreased quality of life due to injuries, the total impact of crashes is $877 billion.

It’s interesting to note that the most significant components were property damage and lost market productivity. In dollar terms, property damage losses were responsible for $76.1 billion and lost productivity (both market and household) for $93.1 billion.

The NHTSA explains that for lost productivity, these high costs are a function of the level of disability that has been documented for crashes involving injury and death. For property damage, costs are mainly a function of the very high incidence of minor crashes in which injury does not occur or is negligible.

Another takeaway from the survey is the impact of congestion, which accounts for some $28 billion, or 10 percent of total economic costs. This includes travel delay, added fuel consumption, and pollution impacts caused by congestion at the crash site.

There’s a separate chapter of the NHTSA report devoted to congestion impacts that includes some fascinating data.

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If your husband or wife drives up with a brand new dent on the car, you might not get the truth about what happened.

Some 35% of spouses admitted to dinging the family car, then telling their loved one that someone else did it, according to a new survey by the insurance website insure.com.

Something similar occurs with traffic tickets. About a quarter of the roughly 1,000 married people surveyed said they'd gotten a traffic ticket and kept it secret from their spouse, the survey said.

Surprisingly, almost the same number kept mum about an actual car crash. These would, presumably, be relatively minor crashes, Insure.com editorial director Amy Danise said.

Husbands, meanwhile, tended to be overly suspicious of their wives when it comes to matters like this. While only 17% of wives said they'd covered up a car accident, 38% of husbands thought it possible their wives had done so, according to the survey. Similarly, only 16% of wives had kept a traffic ticket secret, but 32% of men thought their wives had.

Wives, on the other hand, trust their husband more than they should. While 31% of men said they had kept a car accident secret from their wives, only 23% of wives thought their men would ever do such a thing, the survey said. And while 34% of men kept traffic tickets secret from their wives, only 25% thought that was even possible.

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Life insurance is kind of like the Rodney Dangerfield of financial planning. As one of most people’s least favorite financial topics, it gets no respect. Yet, it’s something that almost everyone needs and not having it when you need it can be devastating to your family’s well being. Here are some of the most common and dangerous myths about this often misunderstood product:

1) Your employer-provided life insurance is all you need.

Your employer may provide you with life insurance equal to 1-2 times your annual salary and you may even be able to purchase up to 4-6 times your salary. But there are several problems with that. First, your “salary” doesn’t typically include commissions, bonuses, and second incomes. Second, to replace your income for dependents, you generally need at least 5-8 times your income and some experts even recommend 10-12 times.

Even if you do have enough insurance through your job, you may lose it when you leave. You may be able to convert your optional insurance to an individual policy or purchase one on your own but either way, it may be much more expensive than purchasing a policy today, especially if your health deteriorates.

Finally, you may actually be able to get a better deal on your own, especially if you’re young and/or in above average health. Even if your employer’s policy is initially cheaper, the cost may go up each year and you may not be able to take it with you when you leave, You can purchase an individual policy that locks in your rate for a period of time or allows you to build cash value if you want to keep the policy your whole life. Only include your employer’s coverage in covering your needs if you can take it with you at affordable rates. Otherwise, consider it a  bonus.

2) Only the breadwinner needs life insurance.

“Imagine if something were to happen to the stay-at-home spouse in your family. The breadwinner may need to hire someone to clean and take care of the kids and that can cost a lot of money. Unless your family would have that extra income to spare, you may need life insurance on both spouses,” advises Marvin Feldman, President and CEO of life insurance non-profit organization, Life Happens. Insurance on the stay-at-home spouse also gives the working parent the opportunity to take time off work and help the family adjust to their loss.

3) Life insurance is really expensive.

A recent study conducted by Life Happens and LIMRA, found that 25% of Americans said they need more life insurance but only 10% planned to purchase it within the next year. The main reason given was cost, with 63% saying that it’s too expensive. However, 80% of them overestimated the cost. 25% thought that a $250k 20-year level term policy for a healthy 30-yr old would cost $1k a year or more when it actually would cost about $150.

4) My health disqualifies me from life insurance.

There are a lot of companies that cover a range of health conditions and some even specialize in high-risk cases. You can also purchase a policy that is not medically underwritten at all. Just be aware that they tend to be more expensive and have lower coverage limits.

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