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New to the Marketplace? Here are three ways to get started:
In a survey of auto insurer website quotes, the Consumer Federation of America found that auto insurance premiums are high for about 8 million low- and moderate-income drivers who finance their car purchases.
These drivers are required purchase the comprehensive and collision coverage required by auto lenders in addition to the liability coverage required by states. In the 15 cities the federation surveyed, annual premium quotes were almost always more than $900 and were usually more than $1,500.
“High auto insurance premiums represent a huge barrier to car ownership, and economic opportunity, for millions of lower-income Americans,” said Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the federation. “Researchers agree that they and other Americans, even those in large cities, gain access to better jobs and other opportunities through access to a car.”
With the lowest gas prices in six years and favorable interest rates likely to drive auto sales up significantly in 2015, WalletHub, a personal finance website, offers a report on “2015's Most and Least Risky States for Drivers’ Wallets.”
What kind of financial risks do drivers take when they take to the road?
WalletHub ranked 50 states and the District of Columbia on several risk factors. It analyzed the minimum coverage requirements for the mandatory forms of auto insurance in each state, examined their percentages of uninsured drivers, and added the scores from each category to determine an overall “riskiness” ranking.
Least risky states for drivers’ wallets
2. North Dakota
3. New York
T-4. New Hampshire
9. South Carolina
By Jennifer Payseno, family law attorney at McKinley Irvin
Although the overall divorce rate has declined over the last 20 years, the rate of Gray Divorce – divorce between spouses 50 and older – has doubled. In addition, people 50 and older who have been married more than once are 2.5 times more likely to divorce.
Many factors are causing Gray Divorce including: waiting until after children are grown, financial considerations, “empty nest” syndrome, and developing new interests/lifestyles, among others.
Those going through or considering a Gray Divorce need to examine retirement savings, insurance, Social Security, and estate planning. In all divorces, but especially in Gray Divorce, it’s important to protect beneficiary interests, insurance coverage, and financial accounts while the divorce is pending. For these items, the court will often enter restraints to protect both parties until the divorce is complete.
Spouses in a Gray Divorce have fewer working years left to contribute to separate retirement savings and less time to recover from any depletion of retirement accounts. Both spouses may have to delay retirement or adjust their standard of living to either contribute more to retirement savings now or to live on less later. Early withdrawals from retirement funds can also result in penalties and fees for those younger than 59½ as well as potential increased taxes and delays in retirement.
Consumers need to be aware that con artists are staging automobile accidents, which are being created in order to defraud auto insurance companies.
Staged accident claims increased 46 percent from 2007 through 2009, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau.
The top five states that generated the most staged accident claims are Florida, New York, California, Texas, and Illinois.
“As consumers take the road for holiday travel, it is important to practice defensive driving and to educate themselves about staged accidents,” said Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto. “Drivers may already be distracted with inclement weather, busy streets, and holiday stress but it is equally important to be aware of other drivers who purposefully plan a collision. Staged automobile accidents are one of the fastest-growing types of fraud in the insurance industry.”
In a staged automobile accident, waiting drivers position themselves so they can create auto accidents with unsuspecting drivers. Because staged accidents are difficult to prove, criminals often include passengers in their automobiles who also claim to have had injuries.
Types of staged automobile accidents include:
Swoop and squat – A driver causes an intentional and unavoidable rear-end collision by abruptly entering the lane in front of the victim, or cutting the victim off, pulling in front of the victim, and forcing the victim to break suddenly.
Only 17 percent of Americans are aware that insurance companies can penalize homeowners for prior owners’ claims, according to an insuranceQuotes.com report.
Denied claims can cause car and homeowner’s insurance rates to rise, too. This is also true of potential claims that were never filed but were discussed with an insurance agent. The survey shows that 84 percent of Americans think this practice is unfair.
On average, car insurance premiums increase 38 percent after a claim and homeowner's insurance premiums increase 9 percent.
With open enrollment for Affordable Care Act starting in November, a survey finds that 42 percent of Americans say they probably won’t review a health insurance plan’s details before signing up.
An American Institutes for Research survey found wide gaps in Americans’ health insurance knowledge, with only 20 percent able to calculate correctly how much they owe for a routine doctor’s visit.
“Because many people believe they know more than they actually do about health insurance, they may not fully understand their options before committing to a particular health plan, or they may face the shock of high out of pocket expenses they didn’t expect,” said Kathryn A. Paez, Ph.D., an AIR researcher, and coauthor of the study.
Does your homeowners insurance policy cover earthquakes and floods?
Most homeowners insurance policies exclude these. Consumers need to pay extra to have them covered.
See the Planet Money article “Bedbugs, Lava, and Bowling Balls: Inside My Homeowners Insurance Policy” for more information on what your policy may not cover.
Oct. 15 to Dec. 7 is open enrollment for Medicare Advantage and Part D (Prescription Drugs) so companies are hyping their plans, making them sound wonderful.
Medicare Advantage combines Medicare Part A (Hospital) and Part B (Medical), often covers Part D, and usually covers some of Medicare's deductibles and co-payments.
While Medicare Advantage plans may work well, they also can cost you more money and grief.
Pharmaceutical companies and device makers paid doctors about $380 million in speaking and consulting fees over a five-month period in 2013, according to a new federal database put online last week.
Some doctors received over half a million dollars each, and others got millions of dollars in royalties from products they helped develop.
Doctors claim these payments have no effect on what they prescribe. But why would drug companies shell out all this money if it didn’t provide them a healthy return on their investment?
America spends a fortune on drugs, more per person than any other nation on earth, even though Americans are no healthier than the citizens of other advanced nations, said Robert Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley.