Affirmative Insurance http://affirmativeinsurance.net affirmativeinsurance Thu, 22 May 2014 16:50:03 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 5 things to know about health insurance http://affirmativeinsurance.net/5-things-know-health-insurance.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/5-things-know-health-insurance.html#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 16:50:03 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=97 1. There are many kinds of private health insurance  policies. Different kinds of policies can offer very different kinds of benefits, and some can limit which doctors, hospitals, or other providers you can use. 2. You may have to pay coinsurance or a copayment as your share of the cost when you get a medical […]

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1. There are many kinds of private health insurance  policies. Different kinds of policies can offer very different kinds of benefits, and some can limit which doctors, hospitals, or other providers you can use.
2. You may have to pay coinsurance or a copayment as your share of the cost when you get a medical service, like a doctor’s visit, hospital outpatient visit, or a prescription. Coinsurance is usually a percentage amount (for example, 20% of the total cost). A copayment is usually a fixed amount (for example, you might pay $10 or $20 for a prescription or doctor’s visit).
3. You may have to pay a deductible each plan year before your insurance company starts to pay for care you get. For example, let’s say you have a $200 deductible. You go to the emergency room and the total cost is $1,250. You pay the first $200 to cover the deductible, and then your insurance starts to pay its share.
4. Health insurance plans contract with networks of hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, and health care providers to take care of people in the plan. Depending on the type of policy you buy, your plan may only pay for your care when you get it from a provider in the plan’s network, or you may have to pay a bigger share of the bill.
5. You may see products that look and sound like health insurance, but don’t give you the same protection as full health insurance. Some examples are policies that only cover certain diseases, policies that only cover you if you’re hurt in an accident, or plans that offer you discounts on health services. Don’t mistake insurance-like products for full comprehensive insurance protection.

Health coverage helps pay costs when you need care
No one plans to get sick or hurt, but most people need medical care at some point. Health coverage helps pay for these costs and protects you from very high expenses.

What is health insurance?
Health insurance is a contract between you and your insurance company. You buy a plan, and the company agrees to pay part of your medical costs when you get sick or hurt.
There are other important benefits of health insurance. Plans available in the Marketplace (and most other plans) provide free preventive care, like vaccines and check-ups.They also cover some costs for prescription drugs.

Health insurance helps you pay for care
Did you know the average cost of a 3-day hospital stay is $30,000? Or that fixing a broken leg can cost up to $7,500? Having health coverage can help protect you from high, unexpected costs like these.Your insurance policy or summary of benefits and coverage will show what types of care, treatments and services are covered, including how much the insurance company will pay for different treatments in different situations.

What you pay for health insurance
You’ll usually pay a premium every month for health coverage, and you may also have to meet a deductible once each year before the insurance company starts to pay its share. How much you pay for your premium and deductible is based on the type of coverage you have.Just as important as the premium cost is how much you have to pay when you get services.
Examples include:
• How much you pay for care before your insurance company starts to pay its share (a deductible)
• What you pay out-of-pocket for services after you pay the deductible (coinsurance or copayments)
• How much in total you’ll have to pay if you get sick (the out-of-pocket maximum)
What your policy covers is often directly related to how
expensive the health insurance policy is. The policy with
the cheapest premium may not cover many services and
treatments.

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Gender-based Car Insurance http://affirmativeinsurance.net/gender-based-car-insurance.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/gender-based-car-insurance.html#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 15:54:59 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=93 Insurance has long been split on the gender issue – not whether they can use gender to determine rates, but if men should be charged more than women or vice-versa. The ethical question, however, has been debated by governments recently, leading to several industry regulations changes that now restrict the use of gender statistics in […]

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Insurance has long been split on the gender issue – not whether they can use gender to determine rates, but if men should be charged more than women or vice-versa. The ethical question, however, has been debated by governments recently, leading to several industry regulations changes that now restrict the use of gender statistics in determining insurance prices.

The Case Against Gender Rating

Gender rating, as it is known in the insurance industry, is the practice of using statistical analysis to assess risk based on gender and then to charge for insurance accordingly.

Traditionally, this has led to higher prices in health insurance for women as compared to men, and lower auto insurance premiums for women as compared to men.
Health insurance, and to a large degree auto insurance also, is largely determined by two statistical categories: age and gender.

While long practiced, people outside the industry have been critical for decades of this practice that they argue is sexist, archaic, and ineffective.
One activist argued that, “how effective this is doesn’t really matter. The fact is, whether gender rating benefits men or women, it is unethical. It sets a bad standard for the way we do things in this country, where there are few women CEOs and women make far less money than men doing the same jobs.”

“The statistics are pretty prosaic and don’t seem to back up the rates,” a former insurance actuary said, adding, “there are far more effective ways to determine rates.” Industry-hired actuaries dispute this claim.

California Regulators Ban Gendered Pricing for Health Insurance

In 2010, activists struck a big blow by pushing the state legislature to pass a law that prevents health insurance companies from factoring in gender when determining health insurance rates. The efforts were aided by large national reform on an industry that many feel discriminates unfairly and fails to protect consumers, since they are motivated entirely by profits.

The new law takes effect far before the date a federal ban will come into effect: 2014. Women should see there health insurance rates come down by as much as 30% at this time, as has been observed in California.

Car Insurance Gender Rating Ban to Follow?

Women are generally considered to be less of a driving risk to auto insurance companies, and generally receive cheaper premiums as a result. Still, there are female activists joining with men to call for a similar ban on the car insurance industry’s gender bias. While there is less motivation due to the lower costs already, protesters have been boosted by a decision in the European Union to ban gendered pricing in health insurance and a decision pending on auto insurance.

Analysts have argued that there will not be sufficient motivation to push new regulation through on a national level. While California may go its own way, as she often does, the United States will likely not be ahead of the curve on this one. That’s because of the impact a ban would have.

Сar insurance prices for women will likely go up, while prices for men will only drop slightly if at all due to other risks tied to the Y-chromosome bearing sex.

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Pregnant Without Insurance http://affirmativeinsurance.net/pregnant-without-insurance.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/pregnant-without-insurance.html#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 14:27:29 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=91 You may be one of the millions of Americans that are living without health insurance. You know that you should probably have health insurance, but for whatever reason you have put off getting insurance. Maybe you are low income and cannot afford insurance or perhaps you have been putting off getting insurance in hopes that […]

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You may be one of the millions of Americans that are living without health insurance. You know that you should probably have health insurance, but for whatever reason you have put off getting insurance. Maybe you are low income and cannot afford insurance or perhaps you have been putting off getting insurance in hopes that you will not need it. If you have an unplanned pregnancy, you may be caught off guard and not know what to do. Before you set into panic mode, try to make some phone calls and see what options are available in your state. Medicaid and State Assistance Programs Approximately one third of uninsured Americans will qualify for public programs like Medicaid. Medicaid is a state funded program to provide health care for eligible individuals. If you are pregnant and low income you may qualify. Pregnant moms and children under the age of six whose family income is at or below 133% of the Federal Poverty Level automatically qualify for Medicaid. Many states have higher minimum mandatory income levels (around 185-200% of Federal Poverty levels) for pregnant woman and infants and some states even cover all prenatal care for pregnant women. Check with your state to see what options are available for you.

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Universal Life Insurance http://affirmativeinsurance.net/universal-life-insurance.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/universal-life-insurance.html#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 14:25:35 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=89 Universal life insurance can be viewed as a marriage between life insurance and saving. You decide how much death benefit you want your universal life insurance policy to have and the frequency of your premium payments. You also decide how much money should be applied to your saving account and how much to life insurance. […]

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Universal life insurance can be viewed as a marriage between life insurance and saving. You decide how much death benefit you want your universal life insurance policy to have and the frequency of your premium payments. You also decide how much money should be applied to your saving account and how much to life insurance. The amount of monthly outlay can vary as long as there is a sufficient amount to take care of the death benefit plus administrative costs.

In other words you say to the insurance company, for example, “I have $200.00 per month that I want to put in this policy, I want $250,000 of life insurance and the rest of my monthly payment should go into a savings plan. The insurance company will come back with a quote for your scrutiny and approval.
You can look at it this way…with a universal life policy you get all the benefits of a whole life insurance policy for a lower premium. If the investments of the life insurance company perform well you will be ahead of the game.

A universal life insurance policy offers ample guarantees. The policy incorporates a guaranteed minimum interest rate as well as guaranteed charges. There is usually a minimum guaranteed interest rate of about 4%. The policy is also guaranteed not to lapse as long as the premiums are paid.

This is a great policy to use as the foundation of your life insurance portfolio …especially if you are a young person. Anyone who desires to have some sort of life insurance and also needs to save some money will also find this policy a great buy.

In some instances the insurance company may not perform as anticipated. If this should happen an increased premium may be required by the life insurance company to maintain the death benefit.

Federal income tax is deferred on your universal life insurance policy interest.

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Best Term Policy http://affirmativeinsurance.net/best-term-policy.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/best-term-policy.html#comments Fri, 02 May 2014 14:24:03 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=87 20 Year Term Life Insurance Is Probably The Best Term Policy One of the most popular life insurance policies is the 20 year term life insurance policy. The purchaser of the policy usually pays a level premium for the first 10 years. In some cases the premiums remain level and at the same rate for […]

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20 Year Term Life Insurance Is Probably The Best Term Policy

One of the most popular life insurance policies is the 20 year term life insurance policy. The purchaser of the policy usually pays a level premium for the first 10 years. In some cases the premiums remain level and at the same rate for the entire 20 year period, however, some companies increase the premiums starting in year 11 and they remain level for the balance of the 20 year term. The 20 year term life insurance policy earns no cash values and there, therefore, are no dividends.

20 year term life insurance
This type of life insurance policy may be totally or partially converted to a permanent policy at any time during it’s lifetime without having to prove that you can qualify for it, that is without having to do a medical examination. There are several uses for 20 year term insurance. You may use it to pay off a mortgage in the event of premature death. In this case…let us assume you have a mortgage balance of $100,000. You buy a policy for the entire $100,000. Let us assume you die years later when the balance owed is only $60,000. The insurance company pays off the mortgage and the $40,000 balance goes to your named beneficiary. This is a good policy for a young family to start off with because it is fairly inexpensive. Young married people need to accumulate as much cash as possible as quickly as possible. They may need to save for an upcoming baby, or, may be, for the down payment on a house. They need an inexpensive life insurance policy for family protection. They can, thereafter, put their noses to the grindstone and save as much as they can in their bank accounts…with their aforementioned goals in mind.

Business people find this 20 year term policy very useful. You just started your business, you are reinvesting every dollar that you can put your hands on in your business. You need the least expensive life insurance to cover shareholders in the event of premature death. This 20 year term life insurance policy is ideal for the situation.

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Best Cities for Cheap Car Insurance http://affirmativeinsurance.net/best-cities-cheap-car-insurance.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/best-cities-cheap-car-insurance.html#comments Fri, 25 Apr 2014 09:09:14 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=83 There are many factors that influence car insurance rates. A recent study by InsuranceQuotes.com finds that buying car insurance in December is cheaper than buying it in any other month. Timing affects car insurance rates, but location is a strong determinant as well. Weather, crime rates and traffic congestion are just some of the factors […]

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There are many factors that influence car insurance rates. A recent study by InsuranceQuotes.com finds that buying car insurance in December is cheaper than buying it in any other month. Timing affects car insurance rates, but location is a strong determinant as well. Weather, crime rates and traffic congestion are just some of the factors that might influence your annual car insurance premium. But how much does location actually matter? NerdWallet crunched the numbers to find the average annual car insurance premium in the largest U.S. cities.

Methodology:

To find the average car insurance rates of the 125 largest cities in the United States, we used the profile of a 26-year-old male without any history of accidents, insuring a 2012 Toyota Camry with extended coverage (100/300/50 with a 500 deductible). In calculating averages for each city, we only used zip codes within city limits and not in the city’s metro area.

Key Findings:

  • Six of the top ten cities were in North Carolina
  • North Carolina has driver-friendly car insurance laws

If you are looking for the country’s best car insurance rates, you should move to North Carolina. Six of the ten cheapest cities for car insurance were in North Carolina. North Carolina enjoys pleasant weather, but it also has car insurance laws conducive to low prices. Unlike U.S.’s worst cities for car insurance rates, North Carolina does not have no-fault car insurance laws.

Here are the best cities for car insurance in the U.S:

(Interested in your area’s car insurance costs? Check out NerdWallet’s car insurance tool here.)

Best Cities for Car Insurance

1. Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Average car insurance premium: $969.10

Winston-Salem tops our list with average premiums of $969.10. The city is home to Wake Forest University and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company as well. Winston-Salem is a point in the Piedmont Triad, a region known for its contribution to culture and education. It is also a hub for transportation and manufacturing. Winston-Salem is classified as a sub-tropical area and the temperature averages a high of 51 degrees in the winter and 89 degrees in the summer.

2. Greensboro, North Carolina

Annual car insurance premium: $1,089.58

Greensboro is another city in the Piedmont Triad. It is also the city with the second cheapest annual car insurance premiums on our list. Greensboro is a transportation hub. It is the home of Piedmont Triad International Airport. Greensboro also has Amtrak trains that connect to other major U.S. cities such as New York and New Orleans.

The city also benefits from state policies aimed at curbing insurance fraud. Widespread insurance fraud can raise average premiums. North Carolina offers a toll-free hotline within North Carolina so that you can report suspected insurance fraud: (888) 680-7684).

3. Raleigh, North Carolina

Average Car Insurance premium: $1,098.48

Raleigh a city in North Carolina’s research triangle and is home to North Carolina State University. Raleigh has an extensive public transportation system, which has 43 fixed bus routes. North Carolina State University also runs its own bus line, which helps alleviate congestion.

Large numbers of uninsured drivers can increase car insurance rates for all drivers. North Carolina has one of the lowest rates of uninsured motorists in the country, at just 8 percent.

4. Durham, North Carolina

Average car insurance premium: $1,100.50

Another vertex of the Research Triangle, Durham, also makes the list. Durham is home to Duke University and North Carolina Central University. Commuters traveling to other Research Triangle cities can take Triangle Transit, a commuter bus that also helps alleviate the area’s congestion. It is warm most of the year and Durham only averages 6.8 inches of snow a year.

5. Charlotte, North Carolina

Average car insurance premium: $1,123.09

Charlotte is blessed with good weather, which helps contribute to the city’s low car insurance rates. It also rarely snows in Charlotte, averaging around just six inches of snow a year.  The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) operates light rail and bus systems, which city planners hope to extend to the University of North Carolina-Charlotte campus.

6. Boise, Idaho

Average car insurance premium: $1,221.65

Boise’s low crime rate and lack of congestion help keep its car insurance rates low. Its average commute time is 20 minutes, which is much lower than the national average. Companies such as Albertsons and Bodybuilding.com have their headquarters in Boise. The city has a 5.9 percent unemployment rate, which helps keep Boise’s average car insurance premium low.

7. Rochester, New York

Average car insurance in Rochester: $1,249.26

Rochester is often touted a good city to raise a family. It is home to world-class universities, most notably the University of Rochester and the Rochester Institute of Technology. The city is also home to large companies such as Eastman Kodak and Bausch and Lomb, which help keep employment levels at reasonable rates.

Large numbers of uninsured drivers can increase a city’s average car insurance premium, but the New York Automobile Insurance Plan helps high-risk drivers find insurance. Drivers can apply for insurance through NYAIP and take a course to automatically lower their insurance rates.

8. Fayetteville, North Carolina
Average car insurance premium: $1,294.80

Fayetteville is home to Fort Bragg, a major army installation. Fort Bragg is the main economic driver in Fayetteville and as such Fayetteville boasts a relatively low unemployment rate.

Fayetteville also benefits from North Carolina’s Safe Driver Incentive Plan. The program promotes safe driving by increasing insurance costs for unsafe drivers. For example, a moving violation will increase a driver’s premium by 30 percent.

9. Spokane, Washington 

Average car insurance premium: $1,307.68

In Washington, high-risk drivers are encouraged to enroll in the Washington Automobile Insurance Plan (WAIP). The WAIP is a part of the Western Association of Automobile Insurance Plans (WAAIP), a group that allows insurance companies to share the risk of high-risk drivers.  High-risk drivers often have trouble finding insurance, but through WAIP, they are can purchase insurance, albeit at a much higher price. Interested drivers can apply for car insurance through the WAAIP website.

10.  Montgomery, Alabama

Average car insurance premium: $1,375.82

Montgomery is home to many government agencies and is the home of Maxwell Air Force Base. Many insurance companies offer military discounts. USAA, which only accepts military personnel and their family as members, is often rated highly for its service and price.

What can be done about insurance rates?

Although residents of Winston-Salem, Boise and Rochester pay reasonable car insurance premiums, we have found that on average drivers overpay $368 for car insurance every year. No matter where you live, you should compare insurance rates and seek relevant discounts to truly minimize your car insurance payments.

NerdWallet also found the cities with the most expensive car insurance premiums.Winston-Salemvia Shutterstock

Rank City State Population Average Car Insurance Premium
1 Winston-Salem NC 232,397 $969.10
2 Greensboro NC 273,419 $1,089.58
3 Raleigh NC 416,126 $1,098.48
4 Durham NC 233,210 $1,100.50
5 Charlotte NC 751,074 $1,123.09
6 Boise City ID 210,151 $1,221.65
7 Rochester NY 210,850 $1,249.26
8 Fayetteville NC 203,922 $1,294.80
9 Spokane WA 210,107 $1,307.68
10 Montgomery AL 213,132 $1,375.82
11 Des Moines IA 206,577 $1,420.07
12 Birmingham AL 211,458 $1,429.36
13 Albuquerque NM 552,801 $1,442.01
14 Anchorage AK 295,570 $1,449.39
15 Mobile AL 194,887 $1,470.68
16 San Diego CA 1,326,183 $1,474.71
17 Chesapeake VA 225,050 $1,479.11
18 San Jose CA 967,478 $1,483.83
19 Madison WI 236,889 $1,490.36
20 Chula Vista CA 247,514 $1,490.56
21 Virginia Beach VA 442,707 $1,494.24
22 Irvine CA 215,511 $1,498.10
23 Fremont CA 216,912 $1,502.47
24 Huntington Beach CA 192,868 $1,510.83
25 Pittsburgh PA 307,498 $1,514.27
26 Oxnard CA 199,917 $1,519.11
27 Fort Wayne IN 258,803 $1,532.76
28 Bakersfield CA 352,429 $1,560.93
29 Tallahassee FL 182,955 $1,573.02
30 Norfolk VA 242,628 $1,591.95

 

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Are Car Insurers Gouging Us Over Speeding Tickets? http://affirmativeinsurance.net/car-insurers-gouging-us-speeding-tickets.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/car-insurers-gouging-us-speeding-tickets.html#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 11:12:21 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=80 No one enjoys getting stopped by a cop for speeding. It’s embarrassing. It also defeats the purpose of speeding in the first place. You sit by the side of the road, twiddling your thumbs, watching the minutes tick by. This is the opposite of “speeding” to your destination. Plus the ticket. According to U.S. Highway […]

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No one enjoys getting stopped by a cop for speeding.

It’s embarrassing. It also defeats the purpose of speeding in the first place. You sit by the side of the road, twiddling your thumbs, watching the minutes tick by. This is the opposite of “speeding” to your destination.

Plus the ticket. According to U.S. Highway Patrol data cited by Statistic Brain, Americans pony up $6 billion for speeding tickets every year — an average of $150 per violation.

And your insurance company wants its cut as well.

Costly Rules of the Road

A recent study by Bankrate (RATE) subsidiary insuranceQuotes.com reveals how much you can expect your insurer to ding you for violating traffic rules.

Crunching insurance data on a hypothetical 45-year-old married, college-educated, employed female with a clean driving record and excellent credit, driving a 2012 sedan when caught for speeding, IQ discovered that a single moving violation can raise a driver’s insurance premium by as little as 21 percent (for speeding 15 mph or less over the limit) — or by as much as 82 percent, for speeding to such an extent as to constitute “reckless driving.”

Other violations and the financial hit examined by IQ include:

  • Seat belt violation — 5 percent hike to insurance premium on average.
  • Driving solo in the HOV lane — 18 percent.
  • Failure to signal a turn or lane change — 19 percent.
  • Tailgating — 19 percent.
  • Driving drunk — 93 percent.

These higher rates can stick around for as long as three years after you get caught.

Speed Trap!

Surprisingly, these rate hikes aren’t even the worst news. The really bad news may be this: The insurance companies appear to be using traffic violations as an excuse to hike rates — perhaps even more than necessary.

For years, we’ve been telling you about how insurance companies have been hiking rates in response to a weak stock market and low returns on their bond investments. Insurers depend on the profits from investing their premiums to raise money to pay out insurance claims down the road. When those investment gains don’t materialize, though, the insurers must raise money by raising premiums.

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All About Retail Security http://affirmativeinsurance.net/retail-security.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/retail-security.html#comments Sun, 06 Apr 2014 12:51:55 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=76 In our recent series of business blogs we focused on some of the different types of insurance certain businesses should have in place. The blogs focused on theinsurance requirements of tradesmen and van drivers as well as a briefexplanation of professional indemnity insurance. As part of our series we also looked at 5 types of insurance cover required by […]

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In our recent series of business blogs we focused on some of the different types of insurance certain businesses should have in place. The blogs focused on theinsurance requirements of tradesmen and van drivers as well as a briefexplanation of professional indemnity insurance. As part of our series we also looked at 5 types of insurance cover required by anyone who currently operates a retail business. We got some great feedback on this particular blog as well requests for some additional tips for people who operate in this environment. Many of the readers comments asked us for some of our tips on retail security and some ideas on how to protect your own business.

Although we are not security experts we have put together a quick and easy A to Z of retail security ideas that we believe will protect you, your stock and your customers.

 

Alarms
This goes without saying. Making sure you have a security alarm system in places ensures that your business is not left exposed or unprotected.
CCTV
We suggest positioning your security cameras both inside and outside the business in places such as doors, counters and merchandise. Ensure your systems are recording 24 hours a day. Many CCTV systems currently allow for remote viewing so you can watch your business from home as well.
Closing
It’s a good idea for employees to open/close the retail store together as thieves are less likely to enter your business if there is a group of people opening/closing together.
Community
It’s essential to use your community to your benefit in respect to safety. Get involved with the community network where other local businesses are involved. This is a good way to share information and link with community Gardaí, and other crime prevention groups in your area.
Gardaí
We suggest working with your local Gardaí to obtain planned and unplanned visits such as asking them to drive through your car park. It’s also a good idea to install silent alarms to notify Gardaí.
Glass
Install security glass. Employ the use of roll down security panels or screens over vulnerable glass doors. It’s highly effective at deterring break-ins.
Insurance
As always, we cannot stress how important having the right insurance is. If you would like to learn more about how quick and easy it can be to get a business insurance quote click here or call us today on 1890 30 20 20 and we’ll ensure that you are covered with the right policy for you.
Keys
Never leave keys in an unsecured location and change locks if keys are lost. Consider updating systems to access card that can easily change employee access or deactivate lost and/or stolen cards.
Lighting
Having good lighting in place is essential from both a security and safety standpoint. Reduce potential dark spots by using photo sensors and security lighting as much as possible.
Merchandise
Never place valuable goods in the shop window as this is an invite to robbers. Always keep them on top shelves, close to the counter or inside locked cases where staff can see them. See our vulnerability sections below for further information.
Money Matters
The Gardai have recently released information on a number of counterfeit notesthat have entered circulation. Ensuring your team are up to date with information such as this will increase their vigilance when handling cash at the counters. When taking a trip to the bank, be careful. We suggest going with security personnel or another employee, concealing the money and not wearing your uniform at that time. Routinely check details on debit/credit cards to protect against fraud and don’t leave money in your till overnight.
Mirrors
Strategically place mirrors in locations where both you and your staff can view as much of your premises as possible during peak time.
Opening Hours
Be extra vigilant when opening/closing the store. It’s common for criminals to force staff inside and get them to open the safe or tills. Close up at night and leave the till drawer open when the shop is closed.
Personal Items
It’s important to have facilities to allow staff to keep their personal items in a locker. This will cut down on the potential of internal theft and the chance that their goods might be stolen.
Reporting
Have a clear process in place for reporting theft or any other crime that may occur in your store.
Signage
Put up robbery prevention signage such as stickers and decals as this will show customers/robbers that you are doing to deter robbery.
Staff
Train all employees (including security officers) on emergency cases so they can react effectively to an emergency situation, such as first aid. Since security officers are the face of safety and security it is important to train them just as much as other employees.
Video Surveillance
Video systems that includes a monitoring centre is another effective way to control theft, as businesses can quickly ascertain what happened and help Gardaí to catch the offender.
Vulnerabilities
Getting inside the mind of someone gives you a great insight into how they think. This especially true of potential shoplifters. As the saying goes, “To catch a thief, you have to think like one”. To insure that your stock doesn’t go missing you should start by identifying your most vulnerable areas in your store. This can be done by looking at the layout of your store and identify security blackspots. Make sure you don’t place your vulnerable (i.e. small or expensive items) here. One such area is around your tills. Although placing stock here can be a good way to increase impulse buys it can also be one of your least secure areas on your premises.

Some ways to increase security without having to invest in high tech systems include:

  • Providing personal customer service to as many people as possible.
  • Assigning zones for staff to own. This means that you can have all areas of the floor covered by small numbers of staff.
  • Lower displays around the cash registers so that cashiers have full view of the floor.

Identifying potential vulnerabilities of your business is a good starting point for any retail business that wishes to review their security. Once you have done this many of the other parts of our A-Z will fall into place.

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Getting the Truth of Investment Performance http://affirmativeinsurance.net/getting-truth-investment-performance.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/getting-truth-investment-performance.html#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 15:34:13 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=73 When thinking about investment performance in the insurance industry, I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Bull Durham when Nuke LaLoosh said, “A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it […]

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When thinking about investment performance in the insurance industry, I’m reminded of a quote from the movie Bull Durham when Nuke LaLoosh said, “A good friend of mine used to say, ‘This is a very simple game. You throw the ball, you catch the ball, you hit the ball. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains.’ Think about that for a while.”

When you get right down to it, investing is a simple game. You buy securities, you watch them go up, you sell them, and then reinvest the proceeds. If your returns are greater than your costs, then you make a profit. But insurance investment managers, of course, know that it’s not that easy.

To begin with, you have to diversify. It’s important to watch allocations to avoid concentration in certain securities or asset classes. Investing in a broad array of asset classes will help control risk, as does employing multiple investment managers to take advantage of their areas of specialization. And then there’s state compliance rules, regulatory reviews and company investment policies to follow.

John Vercellino, Sungard
John Vercellino, Sungard

Today, investing for insurance companies is a much more complicated game than Nuke LaLoosh could have imagined. How are insurance investment managers expected to sustain returns while also meeting the demands of NAIC guidelines, state regulators and company compliance?

With today’s innovations such as business intelligence (BI) tools, investment managers can improve visibility across their investment portfolios, enhance transparency within portfolios, and deliver insights that can lead to better investments and generate greater total returns.

BI tools can give investment managers greater visibility into which asset classes or investment themes are performing best, and which managers seem to have the upper hand. With this information, it’s easier to direct assets to managers positioned to perform well over the short term and long term, and to divest assets from managers facing performance challenges.

Transparency comes from being able to determine the true cause of outperformance and underperformance. Did a manager outperform because of a single bet on duration or an overweight to a lower credit quality? Has the performance been consistent, repeatable and explainable? With greater transparency comes an understanding of the sources of return and the path taken to get there.

With visibility across multiple portfolios, and transparency down to the security level, comes the insight to make better decisions about your investment portfolio. BI tools give investment managers the ability to identify specific portfolios that have outperformed or underperformed, and then isolate the reasons for the performance delta. Armed with this information, they can then make adequately informed decisions about the manager (was the result due to the investment process, or just dumb luck?)

With all the information available on investment portfolios, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of data. But at the core, it’s as simple as baseball – sometimes you underperform, sometimes you outperform, and sometimes it rains. Today’s BI tools may not be able to predict the rain, but they can provide greater insight into performance, and a road map to do something about it.

<strongAbout the author: John E. Vercellino, AAM, AIAF, is vice president of product management for SunGard’s iWorks Financials solutions. He holds the Associate of Automation Management and Associate of Insurance Accounting and Finance designations from the Insurance Institute of America, and is currently an Expert Level candidate in the Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement (CIPM) program of the CFA Institute.

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Insurance Companies’ Untapped Digital Opportunity http://affirmativeinsurance.net/insurance-companies-untapped-digital-opportunity.html http://affirmativeinsurance.net/insurance-companies-untapped-digital-opportunity.html#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 14:54:18 +0000 http://affirmativeinsurance.net/?p=71 Consumers fumed over the rollout of Healthcare.gov and the state health insurance exchanges last fall. First, they couldn’t get online. Then, once they did, the information was hard to understand. For consumers accustomed to easy shopping on Amazon or eBay, choosing a health insurance plan online was an exercise in frustration. That frustration highlights how […]

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Consumers fumed over the rollout of Healthcare.gov and the state health insurance exchanges last fall. First, they couldn’t get online. Then, once they did, the information was hard to understand. For consumers accustomed to easy shopping on Amazon or eBay, choosing a health insurance plan online was an exercise in frustration.

That frustration highlights how important it is for insurers – not only health insurers, but also property and casualty and, increasingly, life insurers – to master digital. While retailers and cable companies moved their businesses online years ago, many insurers, struggling with legacy technology and outmoded organizational structures, are playing catch up. And yet a shift to digital would improve performance across three areas:

1. The ability to mine the digital data consumers leave behind on the internet, social media, driving apps and even health-monitoring wearables could help carriers to better target customers, price and underwrite policies more accurately, and manage claims more effectively.

2. The simple digitization of existing insurance processes (allowing quotes to go straight through processing, for example, and rapid product configuration) could yield strong improvement to operating profit margins.

3. Increased digital marketing could improve opportunity to connect with existing customers, allowing firms to better upsell, cross sell and retain valuable customers.

Based on our experience, a thoughtful digitization program can deliver up to 65 percent in cost reduction, a 90 percent reduction in turnaround time on key insurance processes, and improve conversion rates by more than 20 percent.

Yet, while insurance companies all understand that digital is having an impact on their business, few appreciate how fast and how fundamentally the business is changing. In a recent McKinsey survey of the digital practices of more than 30 leading U.S. and European P&C and life insurers, 39 percent had not articulated a digital strategy across the customer decision journey at all. While most insurers do focus their digital efforts in marketing (83 percent) and sales (78 percent), carriers have focused on the early stages of the customer decision journey (supporting research and quotes) and lagged in their post-purchase ability to serve existing customers digitally).

Some carriers’ budgets are so fragmented they cannot even tally their total digital spending, while others have so many organizational silos that it’s impossible to get any alignment on digital direction and scale. In fact, only 50 percent of carriers have budgeted for long-term digital goals, and just 30 percent have a multi-year investment plan to support digital.

So what does digital excellence in insurance look like?  Based on our survey, we found that the top performers consistently do the following things well:

1. They have a digital strategy that’s well defined along the lines of marketing, sales and service—and well-informed by customer insights.  In fact, digital leaders know their customers so well that 50% of their interactions with them are personalized.

2. They’ve placed bets on specific digital capabilities for the future (such as mobile) and have invested to rapidly build those capabilities.

3. Their operating model and governance are suited to the organization’s digital maturity, size and capability levels.  As the organization’s digital maturity increases, many digital functions become decentralized and are integrated into broader business unit activities.

4. They have good talent: 80 percent of their digital talent has digital experience (e.g., from leading academic institutions and digital organizations), and over 60 percent have a rigorous digital training program in place.

5. They’re committed to a test-and-learn culture: top digital performers reward risk-taking as part of the learning process.  They have robust analytics in place, with 85 percent of their digital spend measurable in terms of return on investment.

Any effort to become a great digital insurance carrier must begin with a deep understanding of consumers and their shopping journeys. Today’s consumer decision journey is a highly iterative and fluid process, where digital tools make it easy for consumers to check out brands, compare offers, and get recommendations. For example, as auto insurance shoppers move from gathering information through the quote and purchase phases (and beyond to post-purchase support), they are more open than ever to considering new brands and dropping considered brands at each step. Most consumers no longer stick to a preferred channel from start to finish. Some 33 percent of shoppers will switch carriers when it comes time to purchase. We’ve found that about 70 percent of car shoppers start their shopping online, and many are heavily influenced by word-of-mouth (including social media) along their journey.

The digital carrier takes advantage of those insights, and others, to inform which battlegrounds are most critical for success, which processes to digitize for a better customer experience, and how to use digital data to inform business decisions, such as whom to target and how to price a policy more accurately. For instance, Progressive has been very focused on the initial consideration and moment-of-purchase battlegrounds. To that end, it has developed the Progressive app, which makes buying insurance simple by generating quotes for auto insurance from just a photo of the applicant’s license.

Other insurers, who focus more on the experience phase of the journey, have digitized claims. Those insurers offer apps that allow people who’ve been in an accident to file claims via their phones directly from the scene of the accident, often eliminating the need for an appraiser. Taking mobile one step further, USAA is piloting voice-activation software that could turn customers’ phones into virtual clerks, drastically cutting the costs of customer service.

Harvesting digital data has enormous potential in a world where people leave vast amounts of information behind from the websites they visit, the words they search, and the social media posts they make. Numerous carriers are already mining data on social media to provide their agents with real time information about their policyholders’ life events (moves, job changes, new babies) for sales, and similarly using digital data to curb fraudulent claims. Progressive has sold more than 1 million snapshot policies where driving behaviors are monitored, and the data collected helps it tailor its pricing.

Parsing digital data could help insurers figure out a driving score, which customers to attract, and how to decrease payouts for fraudulent claims. While there are important privacy issues to address, the benefits for both insurers and customers would be significant.

Just as Darwin found that the survival of the fittest was not necessarily a function of the strength or intelligence of species but rather their adaptability, so too with successful businesses. Senior insurance executives will need to figure out how to adapt, or risk having their businesses left behind as the industry evolves.

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