Tuesday, October 17, 2006

 

New Insurance Website Launched

Whether you are an insurance agent or a business owner this new website is for you. InsureMyWork.com just went online yesterday and promises to be biggest business insurance website to hit the net.

This site has been put together by the same people that started InsureMyHouse.com, a national directory of homeowners insurance agents.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

 

My Friend is a Band Promoter

Ok. So this has nothing to do with insurance, but I had to write about it. I was talking to my friend, Megan Wetzel, the other day who works during the day in the dreaded corporate world. She recently started a band promotion company - MW Sound Promotions.

The thing that really got my attention is that she has begun to publish articles for bands. These are articles that bands can use to build their fan base. I am a strong supporter of online content / SEO. And I have to say she really has hit the nail on the head. Her first article, Top 10 Ways To Promote Your Band, is a great resource for bands to use as a checklist of things they need to do to increase attention to their band.

She has several other articles on the way and I look forward to reading them.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

 

Insurance Library

Have you ever talked to someone that is trying to explain the work that they do and half the words have more than ten letters? Some people either do not know how to translate their technical talk into common language or they think that they are impressing someone by making them dizzy and tired. Just like other industries the insurance world can be just as technical and confusing.
Now there is a new website just for insurance and financial STUFF. Its the Insurance & Financial Library.
There are mortgage companies that still call a condo policy an HO6 policy.
And what exactly is whole life insurance?
They answer these questions and much more.
This is worth a bookmark!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

 

Support the Search for a Cure

My wife made a decision last month to walk in this year's Susan G. Komen Three Day Walk. The walk is 60 miles! Her mom had breast cancer and my wife is walking on her behalf. She is trying to raise $2200 of donations for the cause. Anyone out there that can pass this link around? http://www.the3day.org/philadelphia06/megankahmer

If you have a website and make a donation let me know and I'll get your site listed on the Kahmer Web Directory.

Monday, April 24, 2006

 

Totalled My Car


About three weeks ago I was driving home from work and the car in front of me came to a quick stop. The sun caught my eyes and I didn't see the guy braking. I slammed into the back of an SUV. The joke going around is I did it on purpose (being that I hate SUVs).

As much as I hate SUVs I would never crash into one. I must have hit pretty hard because I just found out that the insurance company is declaring my car totalled and sending me a check for $24,300!

Anyway, I just wanted to show off a picture of my 2005 Toyota Prius. Anyone want to buy it?

Monday, April 10, 2006

 

What is a 529?

I have been asked this question many times and now I can finally answer this a lot easier than I used to. A friend of mine created a new website that is all about 529s and provides additional resources. Best of all its an easy web address - www.529s.com

Thursday, March 30, 2006

 

Insurance & Financial News Group

There is a new insurance and financial discussion group on Yahoo that is worth joining:






Click to join InsuranceFinancialNews


Monday, March 20, 2006

 

Don't Leave Your Keys in Your Car in Arizona

The Arizona State Senate approved today a bill that will allow insurance companies to charge a triple deductible for cars stolen when the cars keys are left in them.

I'm curious to see how this plays out with the insurance companies in the state. I'm sure that companies will have to update their policies to state this new clause. Or is the state saying that this will automatically be part of all policies? Triple deductible? Theft falls under Comprehensive coverage. I know some people that have a zero deductible for comprehensive coverage. So zero times three is still zero.

I can actually see the good intentions here with the Arizona State Senate. They saw the stats - 1 out of 5 cars stolen in their state occurred when the keys where in them! I know people that come to our insurance office to pay their bill and leave their car running when they come in. Some even leave their car door open! (Its usually the same people that can't get off their cell phone.)

So I don't know if Arizona has a minimum comprehensive deductible limit, such as $100.. But that would be one way to make the triple deductible effective. If your car is stolen without the keys being in the car - you pay your $100. If the car is stolen and the keys were inside the car - you pay $300.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

 

Pennsylvania sees possible change in lawsuits

Everyone has heard the story of the lady that purchased a cup of coffee at McDonalds and burned herself on it. She sued and won $2.9 million. I think that is absolutely insane. I've gone back and looked at the lawsuit and I have to say McDonalds did a poor job defending themselves in this case. At the time that this lady purchased the cup of coffee, McDonalds was making their coffee at least 20 degrees higher than anyone else. They had actually settled many of these claims out of court before deciding to take this one to court. The woman had asked McDonalds to pay her medical expenses of $800, which they refused.

Personally I am not a fan of fast food restaurants. If you ever want to see a good movie about fast food, rent "Super Size Me". I'd love to see all fast food restaurants close.

Ok. I've diverged long enough. In Pennsylania, legislation has been passed by both the State Senate and the House of Representatives and is now waiting on the Governor for a final signature. This legislation will scale back payout amounts by companies that are sued. This will have both positive and negative results.

On the positive side...

This should encourage people to start new businesses in Pennsylvania and bring their current business into the state.

On the negative side...

This could attract the type of business owner that the state does not want. The new slogan - "Businesses. Welcome to Pennsylvania. We expect you to run your business at the highest standards, but if you decide not to we will issue you a light slap on the wrist."

I'm not sure what the answer is here. I hope that the state looks at what is working in other states and uses that information to make some decisions here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

 

Irresponsible Smokers Get Some Help

Fires started by cigarettes are the leading cause of home fires in the United States. They are also one of, if not the leading cause of field and forest fires in the U.S.

Cigarettes are thrown out car windows, dropped along sidewalks and let burning next to the bed everyday. (Quick side note: If you see someone throw a cigarette out their car window, go to: www.LitterButt.com)

The Maryland government has created new legislation requiring all cigarettes made or sold in the state to be rated "fire-safe". This would reduce the cigarette's ability to burn when left unattended. New York and Vermont have already implimented this law and it has reduced deaths from cigarette-ignited fires by 33%.

Its sad to see that the government had to step in to create a law. Its sad that people throw cigarettes out their window or leave them burning where ever they feel like it. To be honest I think its sad that people still smoke at all. This goes to show that the industry CAN NOT regulate itself. If they had any values at all they would make all cigarettes fire-safe. They would not wait for each state to mandate it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

 

Teachers get lesson on Insurance Fraud

Two teachers from Solanco High School, Lancaster County Pennsylvania, were arrested for insurance fraud. Turns out that James Helman purchased a new snowmobile, but forgot to get insurance.

He then let his friend, David Stokes, ride it.. oops.. crashed it.

Since Helman had not purchased insurance for the snowmobile, they told State Farm that Stokes had cut-off Helman with another snowmobile and that caused the crash. State Farm paid out $763.

Shortly after State Farm received an anonymous letter claiming that Stokes was operating the snowmobile when it crashed.

Let me make a few points here as I am still shaking my head:
  1. These were TEACHERS!
  2. Fraud was committed over $763!
  3. Anonymous letter received!

The worst part of this whole thing was the fact that this was two teachers. When you commit to a career where people look up to you ,such as a professional sports player, a movie star, a politican or a TEACHER, you also commit to leading by example. If you are going to teach kids to break the rules, find a new career.

They broke the rules over $763 dollars. You can argue that teachers are not paid enough, but they are paid well enough to split $763!!

Here is the one good thing that came from this story - they got caught! Someone reported them. The letter was anonymous so it could have been a neighbor, a friend, a family member... Whoever it was, they could have looked at this and said to themselves, "Its a small thing. The insurance company can afford it." The importance of this is that someone decided it was not a small thing. Someone gets away with $763 of fraud and then they do it again and again. Everyone else gets to pay for. I know one thing - I don't want to be paying any more than I have to.

If you know of an insurance fraud, click here to learn about reporting it.


Friday, March 03, 2006

 

Katrina storm cars, coming to a used car lot near you.

Roughly 500,000 cars were damaged from hurricane Katrina last year. It seems that many of these vehicles were purchased by evil auto dealers. They have since been "cleaned up" and resold with their flood damage history hidden.

Here are some things to look for when buying a used car:

The NICB (National Insurance Crime Bureau) has created a list of cars affected by the storm. By visiting their website: http://www.nicb.org you can search using the VIN (vehicle identification number) to see if the car you are interested in was in a flood.


Thursday, February 16, 2006

 

Florida Homeowners Insurance? Ouch.

A panel of insurance experts met yesterday in Florida. Apparently they had to go standing room only as over 1000 people showed up.

The discussion was on homeowners insurance in Florida and how insurance companies could continue to write policies in the state. Between the hurricanes and the sinkholes, the cost of reinsurance is skyrocketing.

So what is the answer here?

The homeowners are paying through the nose for insurance and there are more big rate increases on the way. The insurance companies are paying a fortune for reinsurance and are afraid the next hurricane will be the end of their company.

Monday, February 13, 2006

 

Volunteers Denied

We can learn a lot from Huricane Katrina.

1. When a big storm is coming and evacuations are ordered, don't wait and see.

2. Don't depend on the federal government to help.

3. Understand your insurance policy. You need to know that most homeowners insurance does not provide for flood damage.

4. Some laws need to be changed.

For example: Liability Law Blocks Doctors From Helping in Disasters.

Did you know that because of restrictions on Doctors' Liability Insurance much needed help from doctors outside of the Gulf Coast could not get involved? It turns out that insurance coverage is not extended outside of their own state.

History will continue to repeat itself over and over again.

Just this week the director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami suggested that there could be more hurricanes this year than last year.

Look. When an evacuation is called for a town or state, all local buses should be made available INSTANTLY for outgoing citizens. All roads should become one-way.

Just today a report was released on the FEMA relief fund that shows a lot of wasteful spending. $438 a night for a hotel room?!!! Audits found that 900,000 of the 2.5 million applicants who received aid were based on invalid or duplicate social security cards.

I think it is great that we live in a country where we can help people, here and abroad, when there is a disaster. When people scam and steal from those trying to help... That is so wrong.

I say we bring back Tar and Feathering.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

 

I could really use some suggestions here.

Let me start off by stating the obvious. I'm an insurance agent.

Duh.

Here is where I'm having a tough time. I currently work for one insurance company and another company is recruiting me. I know people everyday go through this. People in thousands of different fields. That does not make me feel any better.

The company that I represent right now has treated me great and the other company has a great reputation also. The one thing that is pushing me to this new company is TIME. To me that is more important than the money. I recently started a side business and its going pretty well, but I need more time to build it. I'm not ready to completely leave the insurance business, but I still need more time. The current company is really giving me a hard time about it. This other company is using this as the "carrot". I would be able to work from home part of the week.

I also have started to train for a marathon. Again, need more time. As I build my distance, my runs take longer.

I'm feeling so torn. I have put so much time into my work, it would be extremely tough to leave. Plus I would be leaving all the renewals from all the customers that I wrote. I can say that money doesn't matter, but I still have to support my family.

Argh!...

Friday, January 06, 2006

 

Take a Seat... And Pay Your Fee!

Do you remember that teacher back in high school that would march up and down the rows in the classroom? Pausing behind each student to glare over their shoulder, reviewing their work.

Fortunately my employer is not that way at all. Unfortunately, several of our customers are.

Today must have been a full moon. In walks one of our regulars. He bypasses the front desk and goes straight to the nicest support person in our office. I felt so bad for her. He literally throws a big stack of papers on her desk and proceeds to tell her that his bill is wrong. Then he starts picking up one paper at a time and points at a few things on the page and then picks up another paper and on he goes. Terri, the nicest support person in the whole world, is doing everything she can to help this man. She has his account up on the computer and tries to explain that he used to pay his insurance annually, but when he switched to monthly he now has to pay the monthly service fee with his payment. As she is reviewing the account he is standing over her shoulder and pointing at things on her screen. Now if this sounds at all similar to something you have done, seek help.

An hour later we had this 85 year old lady in that just had her 12th accident in the last 5 years. I'm still trying to figure out how she hasn't been nonrenewed yet. She comes in every month and tells everyone, "You're sweet as a lemon".

So here are the tips for today: When you visit your agent, please sit down to talk to them. If you are not happy with a monthly installment fee, pay in full.

Have a great weekend! (Especially you Mr. Shoulder Peeker)

Thursday, January 05, 2006

 

Who Has My Identity?

Six months ago someone got ahold of my credit card and racked up all sorts of charges on there. Then last month someone stole my wife's Boscov's card. Actually, they didn't take the card, but somehow just the info off the card and went on a shopping spree.

Fortunately the credit cards were notified right away and we were not responsible for the charges.

This has become very common. I hear from customers about every week that this has happened to them. Sometimes its the credit cards and sometimes its the check book. And sometimes its a lot worse.

Imagine this.. an identity thief goes into your trash and steals some statements. Then they use your name and social security number to open a new credit card. The bill is sent to an apartment where no one currently lives, so you never know this is even happening until you go to apply for a loan and find that your credit score is in the tank. Now you have an uphill battle with the credit agencies.

Here is a good article about this - Identity Theft and your Social Security Number

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

 

Need a Receipt?

When you mail out your payment for utility bills or your mortgage payment or car payment or your taxes, do you get a receipt? Last time I check my mailbox, I did not. Maybe they lost mine.

Did you know that you can take your insurance payment in to your insurance agent? We take payments here all the time. We are glad to see our customers come in as it gives us a chance to review coverages, make sure there has not been any changes, talk about life insurance...

Here is where I'm left scratching my head: Receipts. People come in with a check and want a receipt and some even demand that we sign the receipt!

There is this one Russian that comes in every month and when the receipt prints out he always says or shouts rather, "You sign it"!

This brings up all sorts of questions. What do these people do with all these receipts? They must have a seperate drawer marked, "Insurance Receipts". Or maybe they hang them on the fridge like a proud parent displays their kids artwork. For whatever reason, some people like their receipts.

Why would we have to sign your receipt? When you get groceries at your local store, does the person at the checkout sign your receipt?

Here is what I think the real reason is: Some people feel that when they buy something they should get as much out of it as possible. At our front desk we have a bowl of mints. There are certain customers that when they come in each month to pay their insurance they take huge handfuls of mints and fill their pockets or purses. Maybe we should start selling tupperware.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

 

Flooded House on the Hill

Have you ever witnessed something so wierd, so strange that you know you must be dreaming or just completely losing it? Like the time this mortgage underwriter witnessed a river flow up a hill and into a house. Had to have happened. Why else would he require flood insurance for homes that are well above the flood plain?

I don't think there ever was an underwriter who witnessed a river running up a hill. If there was they would probably work at Wells Fargo.

Let me set something straight. I'm not against flood insurance. People that live within a flood plain should have, no I mean they better have flood insurance. But I hate to see people pay for things they don't need and will never use. For some reason there are a few mortgage companies out there that want to see flood insurance on more houses than actually should have it. Some companies want to see flood insurance to cover the amount of the loan. Let me tell you how silly this is. Flood insurance only covers certain things within a home. You could take out $1,000,000 of flood insurance, but that does not mean that you will get $1,000,000 if you have a claim.

Flood insurance can easily cost more than you pay for your homeowners insurance. Before you refinance or buy a new house, ask the company if they will require flood insurance.

Monday, January 02, 2006

 

Auto Insurance from the Environmentalist

Have you ever stopped to think about the companies that you do business with? Or even the people that you interact with at those companies?

Imagine getting pulled over by a police officer and you have a bumper sticker on your car that says, "Oink if your a cop". Or you call into your phone company to dispute a long distance change and when the customer service rep answers you say, "Took you long enough!"

Let me tell you a little something about me. I'm an environmentalist. A tree hugger. I drive a Toyota Prius. I replaced my hot water heater with a tankless unit. I support the Sierra Club. You'll find me at the park on Earth Day. I love renewable energy. I have a great bumper sticker I wish I had the courage to use. ("September 12th - Sell your SUV Day")

So here's the thing. Sometimes being an environmentalist and an insurance agent can be frustrating. I get phone calls everyday from customers that trade in their Chevy Cavalier for a Pathfinder or a Escalade or a Hummer. Arghhh!!!

It used to drive me nuts. I wanted to tell them that they are the reason the price of gas is so high (gas guzzlers increase the demand of fuel). I wanted to tell them they are destroying our environment and increasing asthma in kids across our country. I wanted to tell them about the horror stories of kids getting run over in their own driveways because the parents can't see behind their big monster trucks they now drive. But as a professional or maybe a wimp, I could not tell them these things.

So I came up with my own solution.

When someone calls in to add a hybrid vehicle (Toyota Pruis, Honda Civic Hybrid...) I find every possible discount I can for them.

When someone calls in to add an SUV I ignore all the discounts.

Happy New Year everyone! Watch out for those crazy SUV drivers.

Friday, December 30, 2005

 

Read A Good Book?

DAY 7

Talk about a quiet day. Why was our office even open today?

It was so slow I read a book all day. Probably the best book I have ever read. Its called, "Ultra Marathon Man". I'll admit that I am a little bit of a runner, but this book is for everyone. Even more so as you start to think about your New Year's resolution. I'm not saying make your resolution to run a marathon. (Although to be honest, that is mine.) This book is very motivating.

The book is about an ultra marathon runner named Dean Karnazes, who has actually ran 226 miles straight! That would be almost 9 marathons in a row.

Anyway, the book goes into detail about Dean's struggle through life and races. I would recommend this book to anyone.

Have a safe and happy New Year's !!

Thursday, December 29, 2005

 

Life Calls

DAY 6

Six months ago a short, heavy-set man came into office to get some life insurance. According to him, his wife wanted him to have it. I took the application, scheduled the medical and followed up with underwriting regularly to make sure everything went smoothly. Like many life insurance policies in underwriting, it did not go smoothly.

Underwriting requested a statement from his doctor which after 3 weeks of fighting with the doctor's office we received 166 pages by fax. This guy has some nice health problems. I'm sure medical students would love to study him.

Needless to say, underwriting rated his policy up. For those of you not familar with life insurance ratings, this meant he would be paying about 4 times the amount we had originally quoted him. He said he would have to think about it. Soon after he started calling me everyday to see if I could get it cheaper. I told him I can't control the rates and he had to make a decision soon or underwriting would drop the case.

A week later he stopped his daily calls. Until now.
Now he needs the policy. Right now.

Six months has gone by. Underwriting dropped this at least five months ago. I tell him we would need to reapply and he would have to take another medical.

Why am I always the bad guy?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

 

Young Driver

DAY 5

Wednesday, December 28th

I have a 10 month old daughter that loves to ride around our living room on her toy cow. Moo! Its the greatest thing to watch. Her face is so serious you'd think she is in some kind of competition for her binkie.

What I'm not looking forward to is 15 years and two months from now. I'm an insurance agent. I see what people pay to add their kids to their policy. I also see the accident reports.

We had a customer call in to add his son, who just passed the driving test, to his policy. He called all the information in last week and had not asked what the increase to the policy would be. He called back today to scream. Now he says he just called last week to see how much it was going to cost, not to actually add him. I tried to explain to him that any young licensed operaters must be listed on the policy or have their own policy.

He said he could not afford it and his son would not drive. I said that would be fine, but we would need proof from the state that his son had turned in his license. Talk about pouring gas on the fire.

I hate being the bad guy. Let me give you some tips on how to avoid bankruptcy when your kids absolutely have to have their license:

1. Have them pay part or all of their part of the insurance.
2. Explain to them that good grades (honor roll) can mean a discount.
3. Don't let them take their test until they have successful completed both parts of Driver Training and received the certificate. (discount)
4. Meet with your insurance agent before they take the test. Go over pricing. Look at the cost of adding the young driver. Ask about buying an old car to add to the policy and have them rated on that.

I started saving today. Hoping to get by in 2021.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

 

File That Claim

DAY 4

Tuesday, December 27th

Its 9:30 am and I already have my customer of the day. One of our insureds called to say that she was involved in an accident over the weekend. She was not at fault and has a copy of the police report. She tells me that the report does not state who the other person's insurance is, but there is a company code and she wants me to decipher it. (Let me just get out my lucky decoder ring).

She turns furious when I tell her that we do not have anyway to decode the code here. I go on to tell her that if the other person was at fault she should call them to see if a claim has been setup. She does not want to do that. I tell her the other option then would be to file a claim with us and we will go after the other person's insurance for the deductible. She does not want to do that either. She wants to call the other person's insurance and file the claim herself. I tell her that she would not be able to do that. I try to explain that she would not want someone to be able to file a claim on her policy, but she does not believe me. She hangs up!

I have a feeling we will be hearing from her again soon.

Monday, December 26, 2005

 

Drug Addicts Need Life Insurance Too

DAY 3

Merry Christmas everyone! Today is Monday, December 26th. Our office was closed today so I thought I'd share a life insurance story.

For those of you out there that sell life insurance, many of you will be able to relate:

It was spring of last year. Our office had just opened for the day and in walks a shopper. I hear him ask the receptionist about life insurance, so I introduce myself to him.

Let me tell you upfront my view on life insurance:
Its the most important type of insurance for a married person and disability insurance is the most important type of insurance for a single person. BUT 99.99% of the general public does not understand this or chooses not to. If they did feel the same way, my job would be a whole lot easier.

So when a total stranger comes walking in asking for life insurance...
I can't help but to be a little suspicious.

I go over everything with him. We fill out the application and I collect the check.

Three weeks later underwriting calls to say its rejected. Something illegal in the blood results.
Ok, here is the slam-your-head-50-times-on-the-desk part of it - in the application, it specifically asks if you take drugs, when I'm working on the quote I ask do you smoke or take any medications, when the medical examiner comes out to your house they ask the same medical questions again... THEN they draw blood and collect a pee sample. Do you really feel that you are answering the questions honestly or that the test results will somehow, just this once, work in your favor?

Please, I can't write life insurance for drug addicts. Try the Walmart down the street.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

 

Homeowners Insurance is not for maintenance.

DAY 2

Well today is Saturday, December 24th. Our office is closed so I don't have any stories about our wonderful customers today. Instead I thought I would discuss something that has been a heated issue at times with customers and claims - Homeowners Insurance does not cover maintenance issues.

If you have a pipe that has been leaking for 3 years and then decide one day, I could use a new floor in the bathroom and I guess they should fix that pipe while they're at it... I'm sorry. I'm very sorry. At least that is what I will tell you when you call to start a claim.

Look. Don't be mad at your insurance agent when you neglect your house. I live next to someone that does just that. The siding is falling off the walls. Insulation is blowing everywhere. They had me help them last winter to find the shutoff in the basement when the pipes burst. TAKE CARE OF YOUR HOUSE!!

Its the snowball effect. The house continues to fall apart, your energy costs go through the roof (literally), the neighbors all hate you, and none of this will be covered on your insurance policy.

By investing a little bit of money in your home, you can save a fortune in the long run.

Friday, December 23, 2005

 

Workin 9 to 5... 5:30

DAY 1 (part 2)

While it is still fresh in my head I must add my first entry of frustration. How many people out there have regular working hours? You know the Dolly Parton song, Workin 9 to 5..

Well anyway. Today is Friday, December the 23rd. The Friday right before Christmas. I would vote this to be the biggest holiday weekend of the year. Do I have any supporters out there? Our office is open until 5:00 pm on Fridays. Not just this Friday, but every Friday. Starting about 10,000 Fridays ago.

Let me set the scene: Office opens at 9:00 am. Two agents and two support staff persons sitting around listening to the phone not ring from 9:00 until 3:30 pm. So quiet all day the support staff head home early.

Now its 4:50 pm. Phone rings. Two customers come in to make payments in a panic because they are late. (Here is to one of the greatest quotes ever - "Your procrastination is not my emergency".)

OK. So now its 5:10 pm. ANOTHER customer walks in before we can close up. He needs to add a car to his policy. I process it real fast as the other agent forwards the phone to voicemail. ( He makes sure the customer hears him say he is closing up. ) That does not matter. He wants to know if we are open tomorrow. Saturday the 24th? Sure buddy. Just for you. He needs to know how much his insurance is going to go up for adding the car. "Thats too much!" Of course it is. Its 5:20 pm on Friday. I don't have anywhere to be. I don't have presents to wrap.

Merry Christmas everyone!!

 
Insurance World

DAY 1

Being that this is the first post to my blog, I want to take a second to explain what it is that I'm doing.

I'm an insurance agent. I sit at a desk and quote auto, home and life insurance. I'm going to leave out my name and the name of the company that I work for to enable me to discuss more freely the world of insurance and the life of an insurance salesman.

The goal of my blog is to type down one thing that happen that day. Whether it be funny, sad, frustrating or completely stupid.

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