Sunday, June 24, 2012

Key Figures in Organized Auto Insurance Fraud Ring Nabbed

Teddy Marks, 41, of Morgan Hill, CA, who the California Department of Insurance (CDI) is calling a “key figure” in an organized auto insurance fraud ring, has been arrested on two felony counts of insurance fraud and one felony count of grand theft, according to CDI.

Bail has been set at $1 million. If convicted, Marks could face up to five years in prison and $50,000 in fines for each insurance fraud count, and up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for the grand theft count.

A second suspect is outstanding and believed to be in New Jersey. Louis Miller, also known as “Skippy,” also has a $1 million arrest warrant issued by the Santa Clara County District Attorney.

“Marks and Miller are believed to be the patriarchs of a criminal family that specializes in auto insurance fraud,” CDI said in a press release.

An investigation revealed that Marks, in collusion Miller, conducted a staged auto-versus-pedestrian collision in the parking lot of Artichoke Joe’s Casino in San Bruno, according to CDI.

During the claims process Marks and Miller denied knowing each other, and after the collision, Marks, the driver, and Miller, the pedestrian, proceeded to defraud the insurance carrier and three different hospitals in excess of $200,000, according to CDI.

“Insurance fraud directly affects each of us-the costs to the insurance companies are passed along to consumers through higher insurance premiums,” Deputy District Attorney Charlotte Chang, who prosecuted these cases, said in a statement.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Blue Shield Accused of Culling the Herd

Last week in San Francisco a consumer advocacy group called Consumer Watchdog filed a lawsuit against Blue Shield of California. They accuse Blue Shield of a pattern in which it stops selling a policy and then raises rates for those who are left in the plan. Those who stay tend to have more health problems because they don't have many other options for coverage.

The lawsuit argues Blue Shield is violating a 1993 state law that requires health insurers that intend to stop selling a type of policy to "pool" the health history of the members in the closed block of business with other enrollees to minimize rate increases for those left in the old policy.

The 1993 law also requires insurers to offer members the option to switch to a comparable policy that is accepting new members. But the consumer group's attorney, Jerry Flanagan, said offering members another policy with a deductible more than twice as high as the old policy and fewer benefits isn't "comparable."

"You can't close out older policies for the purposes of kicking out sick people," Flanagan said. "You buy insurance when you're healthy, you pay into it, and eventually people are going to get sick and are going to use their health insurance. That's how it works." He claims Blue Shield is trying to force policyholders out of older, more comprehensive individual plans into newer options that offer less coverage with higher out-of-pocket costs.

Blue Shield officials denied wrongdoing.

When this happens to your pool, call Allied Brokers. There are things you can do to avoid paying the increased rates. Blue Shield establishes lower rates within the same pool for those who are in better health. This is called “tier rating” and it is normally in five different levels.

If you are in good health, you can apply for one of the new plans that have lower rates. Or you can apply for a change to a lower tier premium rate for your present plan.

Another option is to change your deductible and/or drop some of the coverage. One Allied Brokers client saved $4,800 per year by dropping some coverage and raising his deductible from $750 to $2,000.

If you are in poor health, you can apply for a change to a lower tier rate level premium as your health improves. If you do not re-apply to prove you are healthy enough to change tiers, you are stuck. Most people do not know they can transfer to get a better deal. Call us- this service is free.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

The original article, by Victoria Colliver, can be found on SFGate.com

Friday, June 15, 2012

The Lean New Reality Tarnishes Golden Years

The bad news: Many baby boomers are likely to get less money from Mom and Dad than they thought. The worse news: They may have to help their parents financially instead.

For years now, boomers have expected getting tremendous windfalls as their parents pass on. Many boomers, in fact, have been lagging in their savings and betting on big bequests, especially since many of them suffered big losses in 2008.

But for a growing number of boomers, things aren't going according to plan. The postwar generation is living longer and many are spending their savings along the way.

How much longer? Thanks to medical gains, a 65-year-old man has a 60% chance of living to age 80 and a 40% chance of reaching 85. For women, the odds are 71% and 53%, respectively. All of this has made the 85-and-over age bracket the fastest-growing segment of the population.

The result is that, as a group, boomers likely won't be getting as much of an inheritance as they hoped. Even worse, far from receiving a bequest, a growing number are tapping into their own savings to help their cash-strapped parents make ends meet.

For families, the result is often a lot of scrambling, dashed dreams, conflict and anger as parents and children try to come to grips with the lean new reality-and divide up a smaller pie.

Not surprisingly, many families are loath to discuss these issues. In addition to serving as a reminder of the older generation's mortality, a conversation about inheritance or Mom and Dad running out of money can provoke anxiety in parents. Many are uncomfortable disclosing the details of their finances in the first place, even more so when they're worried about disappointing their children.

Adult children, in turn, aren't eager to ask their parents about money for fear of coming across as greedy. Some feel guilty for thinking about their own financial needs at a time when parents could be facing steep medical or long-term-care expenses.

Nonetheless, financial advisers say, it is important for families to talk-if only to establish realistic expectations.

If parents anticipate running short of money-and if they and adult children are able to start a dialogue-there are several measures families can take. Among them: Have parents recalibrate their budgets, downsize to a smaller residence, buy an annuity or longevity insurance to lock in a lifelong income, or take out a reverse mortgage.

In situations where children have adequate financial resources, they can pay a parent's health-insurance premiums, purchase a long-term-care insurance policy for him or her, give a set amount of money each month or purchase the parent's home to generate cash for living expenses.

Before implementing any strategy however, talk with your financial and tax advisers.

If you are interested in learning more about long term care, disability, life, home and umbrella insurance, call Connie Prince at Allied Brokers. Connie is our in-house expert with 26 years of industry experience and strong relationships with major carriers such as Mercury, Travelers, CIG, Hartford AARP, Glenworth, Prudential and Banner.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

A version of this article appeared in the June 11, 2012 edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Counting on an Inheritance? Count Again...

Monday, June 4, 2012

Car Rental Insurance

I recently received this inquiry regarding rental car insurance and foreign travel:

“Hello, I am from New Zealand and my girlfriend and I are planning on travelling across country (US) in a hire car for around 40 days. I have travel insurance but that only covers me for excess on insurance of up to $5000. Basically, I want to know if you can offer either a daily rate or a fixed period rate for this trip. I will need liability insurance/3rd party (coverage up to US $1,000,000) and coverage for damages to the car. Obviously, my excess can be up to $5000. Also, we will be covering many states. I look forward to your reply. “ - Regards, S M.

S.M., “We do not provide short term policies but you can buy coverage through the rental car agency you use, but they may not have the high limits you desire. Check with your New Zealand policy to see if they will endorse it. International companies that do this, that I know of, are USAA, Fireman’s Fund (owned by the Swiss firm Allianz), AIG (called Empcompass] and Chubb- they offer international car rental insurance to their current policy holders. I do not know if they do business in your country. “ - Chris Grammar

If you want to buy USA insurance, go to http://www.car.progressive.com/ Progressive Online will insure a foreign licensed driver driving a rental a car in the United States. Also the credit card you use to rent the car may provide additional coverage to cover the cost of your deductible. AMEX, Visa and MasterCard usually provide some coverage for damage to the rental car. For answers to all your insurance questions, call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote or visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/.