Poverty is Expensive, Car Insurance Edition

How much more? On average, 59% more, but it can vary wildly. GEICO apparently charged one Minneapolis woman 300% more than a similar woman of “higher socioeconomic status.”

Insurance companies say the disparity is actually due to risk factors like education level and homeownership, not income. Those with less money tend to have less education and lower rates of homeownership, which apparently makes them more likely to get into an accident. But it amounts to the same thing: the less money you have, the more you probably pay for car insurance.

[Star Tribune via MinnPost]

Force-Placed Insurance: Another Mortgage Servicer Ripoff

Force-placed insurance is an insurance policy your mortgage service picks out when your homeowners insurance policy expires. It can cost up to ten times more than a regular homeowners policy, in part because mortgage servicers are often getting kickbacks and other incentives due to self-dealing.

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Bankruptcy: The Best Argument For a Public Option

A recent study published in the American Journal of Medicine (PDF) reviewing personal bankruptcies found that medical bills contributed to 62.1% of all bankruptcies in 2007; 92% of these debtors had medical debts over $5,000. The rest met criteria for bankruptcy because they had lost significant income due to illness, or mortgaged a home to pay medical bills.

While that is not too suprising, what is interesting is that most medical debtors were well educated, owned homes, and had middle-class occupations. Three quarters had health insurance.

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Insurance Whistleblower Questions Industry’s Trustworthiness

Former Cigna executive Wendell Potter says the insurance industry is playing dirty in an effort to manipulate public opinion. He said “I know from personal experience that members of Congress and the public have good reason to question the honesty and trustworthiness of the insurance industry.”

Whistle-blower: Health care industry engaging in PR tactics | CNN
Wendell Potter’s Blog | Center for Media and Democracy

U.S. consumer spending visualized

CARFAX: Know Its Limits (Auto Fraud Week)

CARFAX ads make me want to scream. CARFAX will not give you the “real history” of a car. What a CARFAX report gives you is the reported history. There can be a big difference between the reported history and the actual history of a car. CARFAX just collects information reported to the various states’ motor vehicle departments. But each state has its own standard as to what information it collects and what that information means. Also, the manner in which accident information is recorded—if at all—varies widely.

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Bailouts galore: Fed takes over AIG

It’s official, the U.S. taxpayer is now buying bad debt by the billion. The Fed just decided to give insurance giant AIG an $85 billion loan to keep it solvent. Can governments declare bankruptcy?

U.S. Plans Rescue of AIG to Halt Crisis; Central Banks Inject Cash as Credit Dries Up | Wall Street Journal

Two banks fail, 90 on FDIC problem list

If anyone were still in doubt as to whether or not the United States economy is in recession, the FDIC’s problem list now includes 90 banks at risk of failure. This is not a large number, since there are about 8,500 banks in the country, but it is up from 76 last year.

Historically, only about 13% of banks on the FDIC problem list do fail, and those that cannot correct their problems are either sold to another bank or taken over by the FDIC.

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Insurance company rules

“Why play fair when you can use nunchucks?”

Insurance Insider Tells How To Appeal Coverage Denial