After years of flying-car-envy from watching “The Jetsons” and “Back to the Future Part II,” drivers are months away from being able to buy their own. Experts say that insuring one, however, might be an even more futuristic challenge.
Auto show attendees will get their first glimpse this week of Massachusetts-based Terrafugia’s Transition, a two-seat car with wings that fold out for flight. The company announced earlier this week that the vehicle completed its first flight — and could be on sale within a year. About 100 people already plunked down a deposit for the flying car, which is expected to sell for $279,000.
She wasn’t as bad a guest as we had feared. But Hurricane Irene still left a clean-up behind. The storm left most buildings without major damage, but with not a small amount of flooding. The hurricane made its way up the 1,100-mile stretch of the East Coast last week and around 100,000 people are expected to make claims of up to $4 billion, better than earlier worst-case scenarios of $15 billion.
Experts say now is the time to familiarize yourself with the details of your homeowner’s insurance. Some possible pitfalls: Renters need separate rental insurance for their belongings, flood damage policy is not typically covered by homeowners insurance – see the National Flood Insurance Program for the next time – and you should always alert your insurer to any house renovations.
While you assess the damage, here are some questions worth asking:
From a protect-your-home standpoint, there are two ways to thumb your nose at Hurricane Irene and other natural disasters like her.
Option One: Have an insurance policy that covers windstorm damage and flooding (or whatever natural disasters are typical in your area). Two, fortify your house so that should a disaster strike, the building has a better chance of making it through undamaged — which keeps you safe if you’re weathering in place better phrase? confusing, and gives you a home to come back to, if you’ve evacuated.
Option Two comes with some financial incentives. As we reported earlier this year, more insurers are offering policy discounts:
Do Americans have more in common with their European cousins than they realized? Nearly half of Americans lack dental insurance and nearly three-quarters of those without such coverage are neglecting their teeth, a new study says. It may be a cliché, but Americans are famous for their pearly whites and porcelain veneers, while Europeans are often derided in the media for their wooden-looking teeth. If there is any truth to that, it seems the gap is closing.
More people go without dental insurance due to cut-backs in employee benefits and rising insurance premiums, according to a new study by dental comparison website Brighter.com and EmpiricaResearch.com.au in conjunction with David Neal, professor of psychology at the University of Southern California. Only a quarter without insurance visit the dentist one or two times a year. “Poor dental health is a silent epidemic in the U.S. and a trigger for serious health problems,” Neal says.
If only “The Office” star Mindy Kaling had access to the corporate credit card or a travel-booking HR rep, she might not have overpaid for car rental insurance.
Kaling, who plays Kelly Kapoor on the popular show, tweeted Thursday, “Beware guys! Rented a car on Expedia. They sold me car insurance. I picked up the car, was told the insurance didn’t cover that type of car.” She said she ended up buying insurance from the rental company, but couldn’t get the “25-50 bucks” spent through Expedia refunded.
Without more information from “The Office” actress (who declined to comment), it’s tough to say who’s at fault — the unnamed car rental company, Expedia, or Kaling herself, says Phil Reed, consumer advice editor for Edmunds.com. “I can’t think of any reason why it would not be covered,” he says. (An Expedia spokesman says the company is investigating, and that its policy is to offer a refund in cases where there has been a miscommunication on coverage. The company tweeted Kaling to apologize, asking her to follow them and send them a message with details so that they could look into the issue.)
There’s new evidence that whether or not you’re trying to keep up with the Joneses, their fiscal fitness — and that of everyone else in your city — has an impact on yours.
This month, Men’s Health — perhaps better known for its “fattest cities in America” feature and shirtless male cover models – has now graded the financial fitness of 100 American cities. The magazine examined personal bankruptcies, average credit scores, debts, late payment rates, credit usage, homes in the foreclosure process, spending on housing and average 401(k) contributions to award grades from A+ to F. Lincoln, Neb., topped the list and was one of just six to receive an A+. Dead last: Las Vegas. (The opening salvo: “Have you heard about the new high-stakes game in Vegas? It’s a gamble called ‘living there.’”)
No surprise, the list is heavily influenced by to the poor economy: the bottom 10, along with Sin City, also includes five California cities and two in Florida. It’s not a stretch to guess the housing market collapse and high unemployment rates have led consumers in those troubled areas to put more on their credit cards and less in their retirement accounts.
Despite the Obama administration’s ambitious health care overhaul, insurance premiums are on the rise.
The May 2011 medical index by consulting firm Milliman Inc. says health care costs for a family of four will rise 7.3% in 2011 to $19,393 for those insured through work, with employee out-of-pocket expenses up 9.2% this year versus 6.6% last year. “Trends in health care spending still far exceed most other goods and services,” it said.
Milliman’s researchers said that employees are paying around $8,000 of the total annual healthcare costs, higher than other areas of consumer spending, as employers offer health plans with higher deductibles, and co-insurance and co-payment limits to control costs and to encourage workers to use medical care more selectively. That includes $4,728 in an employee contribution and $3,280 in employee out-of-pocket costs.
Premiums are rising even faster in Massachusetts, even after that state introduced its own health care reform in 2006 requiring residents to buy health insurance in that state, according to Consumer Watchdog. Insurance premiums for a single plan have risen 13.4% nationally from 2006 to 2009 versus a much larger 18.4% in Massachusetts, while premiums for a family plan rose 19.8% in Massachusetts in the same period, versus 14.5% nationally.
Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @SMPayDirt.