Sunday, April 25, 2010

Classical Music

From todays NY Times:

In the Tampa Bay area, WUSF proudly supports classical and jazz music. Listener supported stations have been essential for the survival of classical music on the airwaves. Support WUSF and classical music!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Did you see this in todays NY Times regarding NY Health Insurance?

A good informative article, and it shows what we will likely see in the future. As we allow more risky individuals into the pool, the less risky (healthy) will flock due to the higher premiums, and now, as a mandate, everyone has to get back into the pool. The result? 'Hopefull reduction in health premiums'.

So this whole historic health care reform bill was passed on hope? That we can hopefully reduce health insurance premiums by requiring everybody to go into the pool?

Its been proven WRONG.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Interesting poll regarding Health Insurance

From the Insurance Newscast Thursday April 14, 2010

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--More than half (53 percent) of consumers are considering switching to a new insurance provider over the next 12 months and a rapidly growing number plan to buy insurance online, according to findings of an Accenture survey. Survey participants included more than 3,500 consumers in Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.

“Consumers are actively seeking better deals, have more options to choose from and are empowered by new Web-driven tools to be more selective”

.“Consumers are actively seeking better deals, have more options to choose from and are empowered by new Web-driven tools to be more selective,” said Serge Callet, global managing director of Accenture's Insurance practice. “For insurance companies willing to take a bolder approach to pricing and distribution and to tailor and target their sales channels more precisely to customer needs, current customer loyalty weakness is a strategic growth opportunity.”

According to the survey, insurance customers are highly inclined to shop around. Asked whether they plan to renew or purchase insurance products with their current providers, 53 percent of respondents said that they did not or that they were unsure and “plan to look around.”

Insurance websites and aggregators are gaining ground in all the countries surveyed

The survey also indicates that the Internet is gaining significant ground on banks and insurance agents as the preferred channel for buying insurance. While most respondents said they had purchased at least one of their current policies through an agent or bank (59 percent and 33 percent, respectively), a much lower percentage of buyers are planning to do so over the next 12 months (49 percent and 27 percent, respectively). Meanwhile, a substantial minority (34 percent) of consumers has purchased at least one policy online -- via insurers’ websites or price-comparison sites -- and an even greater percentage (43 percent) plan to do so over the next 12 months.

“Seventy-percent of the UK consumers surveyed plan to purchase their policies online over the next twelve months,” Callet said. “This confirms the dominance of insurance websites and aggregators in the UK. But our survey also revealed surprisingly strong online growth in France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Brazil, where the number of consumers planning to buy policies online in the next 12 months is 10 percentage points, on average, greater than those who had done so previously.”

Lowest price is not the most important selection criterion for consumers

According to the survey, the most important criteria consumers use when choosing an insurance provider are speed of problem-resolution, transparent pricing and the availability of products that match their needs (cited by 75 percent, 70 percent and 64 percent of respondents, respectively). Insurance agents are perceived as the best at solving problems in a timely manner and at offering products and services that fit their customers’ needs. Insurers’ websites and aggregators are seen as the channels that have the most transparent pricing, offer the lowest price, are the most accessible when needed and provide the best level of information on the insurance products sold.

“The submission of a claim is the moment of truth in the relationship between insurers and policyholders, and this is validated by our research,” added Callet. “For consumers, finding the lowest priced coverage is simply not enough. Quality of service at the first notice of loss and the ability of the insurer to provide prompt claims settlements are pivotal to customer loyalty and satisfaction.”

Monday, April 5, 2010

What is an annuity anyway?

Its essentially a reverse life insurance policy. You can either put in a lump some of money and immediately receive payments over time or you can defer some of the payments later. OR you can set up the payments as often as you want, usually its a $50/month minimum. If you choose to make flexible payments into the annuity, the growth is tax deferred when purchased inside an IRA or similar vehicle. Generally speaking, a simple fixed annuity will earn 2-3 percent interest and will have surrender charges if you take out money early. These are long term instruments. Now, there are several different version of an annuity. There are fixed, which earn a fixed amount, a fixed indexed, which earns money based on an index (usually the S&P500 or you can choose a more riskier index, but that is based on the client), and will NOT lose value when the index loses value, and a variable annuity, which has a separate account where you can choose various mutual funds or indexes as your vehicle to gain or lose value in the account. You can lose value in a variable. Which is the best? It depends on the situation and client risk tolerance. Once again, there is no 'best investment'.

Parents can take advantage of purchasing an annuity for their children. For as little as $50 per month, you can put away money for college, weddings or for their kids' retirement. When they get older, they can take over the payments! If you come into a good amount of money, purchase a fixed indexed annuity with a guaranteed income rider and 20 or so years later receive payments that can help pay for your mortgage or car payments.

Michael and Dana from Islander Insurance Advisors can help you further.