Self-Driving Cars and Auto Insurance

amigo_mga_self_driving_cars_and_auto_insuranceAuto insurance agencies know a lot about traffic, how it works, what causes it, and how to best ensure drivers based on factors like age, college GPA, income, and color of the vehicle. Traffic engineers know well that no matter what they do to direct and control traffic, human error is hard to account for. For example, we have the classic dilemma of when to merge in the event of a road closure or construction. Do you merge over as soon as you see that the road is closing soon, or do you wait until your lane is cut off to merge?

In his landmark work on traffic engineering entitled, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), Tom Vanderbilt helps readers understand the nuances of what makes drivers behave the way they do and how city planners, construction crews, navigation apps, and drivers themselves try to account for this in their day-to-day lives. From an unexpected demonstration to someone distracted by a song on the radio, it’s hard to account for human error when making plans that have to do with transportation.

What if we take the human driver out of the equation, though? For the most part, auto insurance covers the damage drivers cause to their own cars and to the people, vehicles, or other property involved in the accident. It’s been demonstrated that self-driving cars are not immune from getting into accidents and causing havoc. In 2016, a self-driving Tesla car was involved in a fatal accident in Florida. Who, then, bears the responsibility?

Warren Buffett, who owns Berkshire Hathaway, which recently acquired Geico insurance, believes that the onus of protection will shift from drivers to those who manufacture and program the self-driving cars. Already the state of Michigan has passed laws that require the automakers to assume responsibility for any accident that occurred because of a self-driving car.

Since it’s common knowledge that most of the traffic issues that plague our day to day lives are the results of human error, many believe that automation will reduce the instance of accidents. However, if automakers are required to bear the responsibility for insuring these autonomous vehicles, they may experience a disincentive to produce them, since the costs would swell as the technology’s bugs get worked out. Thus, the speed of technology development would plateau and human-caused traffic accidents would continue to occur.

There are a lot more questions than answers right now regarding what will happen as cars are no longer controlled by fallible people. Insurance companies, automakers, and legislators will continue to debate where the burden belongs, but in the meantime, auto insurance will continue to cover must human error.

What you need to know about Travel Insurance

Amigo MGA | What you need to know about Travel InsuranceIf you plan on taking a trip any time soon, you likely get a pop-up at the bottom of your ticket purchase screen asking if you want to purchase insurance for your mode of travel. As spring break and summer break rapidly approach, you may be planning on taking a trip abroad, and you want to make sure you’re protected against theft, identity fraud, injury, transportation problems, and in rare but serious cases, shipping your body back to your family. Travel insurance is an important aspect of your safety overseas, but you need to know exactly what you’re paying for and what your coverage buys.

If you’re planning your trip via a travel site, whatever you do, don’t blindly agree to whatever insurance they’re offering you. A recent article detailed how many people will just accept the policy the travel agency offers, but that shopping around could provide better coverage for a better price.

Most standard life and property insurance policies don’t quite cover anything that happens while you’re away from home. Especially if you fall ill while you’re outside the US, your health insurance will be completely useless to you. Additionally, any luggage you lose in transit likely won’t fall under your standard theft insurance, so you could be naked and afraid once you land in your destination. Travel insurance isn’t required by any stretch, but it sure could make your life easier in the event of an unforeseen incident.

Firstly, of course, is the insurance that covers your transportation. In the event that your flight is cancelled or traffic makes you miss your train, you’ll want to use some of the money you spent on your ticket to purchase a new ticket. This is a decision you need to make on your own. The options listed on the transportation’s sites are usually fine, but again, you may have better options elsewhere.

You also need to take into account whether you have any preexisting medical conditions. In one infamous story, a man in the UK had a heart attack while traveling to the US, but his insurance refused to cover the medical expenses because he failed to disclose that he had experience heart failure a few years prior. Insurance is especially important if you do have any genetic conditions, medical problems, or risks of recurring issues, but by the same token, it’ll take some negotiating with your provider to ensure that all your possible issues are fully covered.

As it turns out, some credit card companies include travelers insurance in their fine print. According to a USA Today article, depending on your policy, some credit card companies will reimburse for items lost in travel, sudden flight cancellations, or trip “interruptions” like illnesses or labor strikes.

You may be tempted to rely on your credit card policy for travelers insurance to pinch pennies, it’s not a catch all, and there are some important instances that they won’t cover. As reported in ITIJ, “credit card coverage falls short in a few areas: robust trip cancellation coverage, medical and evacuation coverage, pre-existing medical conditions, card limits and covering other travelers. CSA explained that only around 15 per cent of credit cards offer travel cancellation insurance and most trip cancellation or interruption protection offered by credit cards is limited to a handful of reasons such as illness, injury or death.”

Traveling should be fun and stress-free, but to make sure that’s the case, you need to ensure that any potential problems are covered by a policy that takes care of any injuries, theft, or transportation issues that could arise.

Insurance & Your Engagement

1In the wake of Valentine’s Day, Facebook is flooded with happy couples who’ve recently become engaged and need to start making wedding plans. With that new ring, though, comes a flood of insurance questions and potential policies you need to consider. Below are a few ways you can protect yourself, your spouse-to-be, and your big day.

Ring Insurance: Many insurance agencies offer policies specific to fine jewelry, including precious metals, rare gems, antique pieces, and famous costume pieces (for example, Beyonce’s golden crown). Some will even insure “smart” jewelry. For engagement rings in particular, it’s important to find a policy that protects you from damage, theft, and loss, as all of these are common for such a small yet valuable piece of jewelry. You can often insure the ring directly from the jeweler from whom you bought it, or you can take out a policy on it separately on your own insurance plan. Especially for beach proposals, engagement rings are easily lost in the sand, in a beach towel, or to the vast ocean, so be sure to protect yourself against losing such a priceless investment.

Wedding Day Insurance: Weddings are expensive, and the last thing you want is to lose all the money you put down because of an unforeseen accident. If, for instance, there’s inclement weather, a parent suddenly becomes very sick, or the venue abruptly becomes unusable. Before purchasing insurance, check with each vendor, as caterers often have their own insurance. Depending on your policy, wedding insurance usually covers the site, the weather, vendor no-shows, sickness, and military deployment. Unfortunately, though, wedding insurance policies don’t usually cover cold feet, so if you or your betrothed have a last minute change-of-heart, you may be out of luck covering the costs of the wedding.

Auto insurance: Once you’re married, you may combine your auto insurance into one policy. For couples under the age of 30, you could receive up to a 25% discount for getting married, since it demonstrates responsibility. Check with your insurance provider about the impacts of potentially combining your policies.

Health Insurance: There are more options for how to deal with health insurance once you’re married, and there are a lot of factors to consider. You could each just keep your individual insurance policies, or one of you could join the other’s policy. This might be tedious, but you and your betrothed need to sit down and consider the details of each of your insurance policies and how adding a spouse would affect the deductibles (which I’ve written about before) and out-of-pocket costs. You also need to consider what would happen if you decide to start a family and whose insurance would handle such an addition better.
There are lots of ways to protect yourself, your stuff, and the person you love when it comes to planning for a future together. Always read the fine print when deciding on a policy, and always think long term.

Insurance and The Gig Economy

Insurance & The Gig EconomyThough the name has been hotly contested, there’s no debate that the gig economy, or the private-citizen-to-private-citizen trade of goods and services, is alive and thriving. From cars to dwellings to clothes to furniture to even friends, app developers have helped facilitate the expansion of a market that lets regular people sell or rent their stuff or labor to strangers online. On the whole, the results have been wonderful. Sellers are finding new, creative ways to bring in extra income, and buyers are happy to spend extra money for a better, more personal experience.

Some dubious scenarios surrounding accident and theft coverage for the sellers in these situations, specifically regarding who’s on the hook for costs, have arisen. One woman publicized a horror story of an AirBNB gone bad when she rented her beautiful condo and returned to find her house trashed, her stuff ransacked, and her memories scattered all over. A man who took odd jobs on Airtasker discovered while he was on a gardening job that the house where he was worked had asbestos. These incidents and more beg the question: Who’s on the hook for insurance in the gig economy?

Insurance agencies got hip to Uber quickly and discontinue the policy whenever a driver has the app open, although Uber allows a small amount of coverage while they’re on the app. AirBNB used to offer nearly no protection whatsoever, but now offers some protection from rare vandalism and theft. Airtasker offers a little insurance to its workers as well, but its policy has a lot of caveats as to which tasks it will offer worker’s compensation for; for example, the business will not offer insurance coverage to building jobs, fitness training, taxi driving, and other “risky” jobs.

The classic argument that the apps offer in court when they’re sued for insurance liability is that the people who use the app do so willingly knowing full well that the coverage is minimal. Furthermore, if a person were doing handiwork for a neighbor without the facilitation of the app, the worker would not expect any sort of compensation in the event of an accident.

Still, there’s a clear void in the market for who’s responsible for accidents that are incurred in the gig economy. Welcome Bunker, an insurance agency that handles the leg-work for freelancers, independent contractors, and other who don’t have employers to cover their risks. Put most simply, Bunker allows contractors and employers to get on the same page regarding required insurance and proof of coverage. While it doesn’t necessarily offer insurance, it does ensure that the employee is covered enough to prevent suits on either side. While the site is still rather young, it’s starting to help fill the coverage void for non-traditional workers.

As the gig economy grows and diversifies, insurance will continue to play catch-up, but if you’re participating in the gig economy either as a buyer or seller, you need to know what you’re covered for on your personal policy and the company’s policy.

High Deductible or Low Deductible?

 

When it’s time to shop for insurance, you may be tempted to pick a plan based on deductibles without knowing the full consequences of what your choice means to your future. Understanding how deductibles work will help you calculate your risk and how to optimize your insurance plan to save you money while properly covering you.

At its most basic, a deductible is the threshold amount an insured person has to pay for a service (accident repairs, an emergency room visit, etc.) before an insurance policy will step in to cover the rest. A premium, conversely, is the amount of money you pay into your insurance on a schedule (yearly, quarterly, etc.). Usually, your premium and your deductible are inversely proportional; that is, the higher your premium is, the lower your deductible is, and vice versa. A plan with low deductibles offers higher coverage, and a plan with high deductibles costs less monthly but demands more out-of-pocket money in the event of an accident.

Note that the deductible is not, in fact, the copayment, or proportion of the cost you’re responsible for. Deductibles exist to deter small claims that an individual could likely pay totally on their own in order to save the insurance company money on petty costs.

When it comes time to decide how much you want to spend on  your premium versus your deductible, there are some important factors to consider regarding your own situation, your budget, and your emergency fund.

Insurance exists to ensure that you’ll be financially stable in the event of an accident or similar tragedy, so picking an premium/deductible package based solely on saving money in the present may not be the wisest solution. Suppose someone chose an insurance plan that demanded a low monthly payment of $100, but a deductible of $3000, for example, confident that nothing bad will happen to them and they can use the extra cash that they won’t be spending monthly on insurance. Such an individual may feel good about spending so little money on a monthly basis to “be covered,” but in the event of an accident, may not have $3000 sitting around to cover costs, so the insurance policy proves completely useless to the person in peril.

Cutting premiums to save money only really works if your emergency fund is well-stocked. That is, if you can easily afford to pay a $3000 deductible in the event of a crisis, then a low premium may be just fine. Without any accidents, the math may look “better” with a low premium, but accidents are just that — unforeseen, unplanned emergencies.

The simple answer to the “high or low deductible” question lies in your ability to pay said deductible in a moment’s notice. Choosing a high deductible for the sake of cutting costs may turn around and bite you if something bad were to happen. Do your math carefully and think about your emergency readiness before you start skimping on insurance premiums.

5 Reasons To Consider A Job In The Insurance Industry

1. Great Vacation Time and Benefits: Most insurance professionals get 15 to 25 vacation days to enjoy away from the office! Just think of all the travelling you can do in 25 days! Insurance professionals also tend to receive great health, life, and dental insurance plans, along with discounts on their home and auto insurance.

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2. 401k and Pension Plans: Most insurance companies offer 401k plans, and many still offer pensions, which seem to be disappearing quickly outside of the financial industry. Having the safety of a 401k and pension plan allow you to focus completely on doing a great job today knowing that your financial future is taken care of.

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3. The Need for Up-and-Coming, Ambitious Leaders (Like YOU): Because of the aging workforce and many insurance professionals preparing for retirement, there is a great need for strong leaders—which, in turn, presents a tremendous opportunity for career advancement. Insurance is the place to be for young go-getters!

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4. A Recession Proof Industry: People will always need insurance. Even with recent years’ downturn in the economy, the demand for insurance professionals has only grown. As long as risks exist, they will need to be managed by the insurance industry, regardless of what the stock market or real estate markets are doing.

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5. Not a Flat Industry: There are numerous levels in an insurance company, which means if you work hard, there is ample room for growth and development in your career. For many entry level roles, it is easy to feel like you’re stuck at the bottom of the food chain with no forecast of moving up. However, the insurance industry provides an environment where growth is inevitable.

The insurance hierarchy often looks like this: You →  Supervisor →  Manager → Associate Director → Director → Assistant Vice President → Vice President → Senior Vice President → COO → CEO. This means there’s potentially 10 levels to get promoted to!

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There is no better feeling than helping others and when you work in the insurance industry, helping people is what it’s all about. In insurance, you have the opportunity to help people file their claims, repair their vehicles, get their medical bills taken care of, and rebuild their lives after major catastrophes. You are making a difference in people’s lives — and there are simply no words for how good that feels.

Questions to Ask Before Buying Auto-Insurance

If you’re thinking about purchasing auto insurance, which we highly recommend you do, there are many factors that determine the price and what you are getting. Here are 5 questions you should always ask yourself before you decide on auto insurance, that may actually help lower the insurance rate:

How much do you drive each week?

This plays an important role in deciphering whether or not you should be taking public transportation to work or wherever you go on a consistent basis. Taking public transportation often helps lower your car insurance.

Can you offer a higher deductible?

Often times, if a person can pay a higher deductible, he or she will pay a lower price each month, which can end up saving you a lot of money in the long-run.

Do you have a good credit score?

This one probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you – bad credit often means you will be charged at a higher rate. This is mostly because auto insurance companies predict that if someone has bad credit, they will probably file a claim after an accident.

How old is your car?

Older cars will generally have higher insurance costs due to safety reasons. If you drive a car that is over 15-20 years old, you might want to think about dropping collision coverage because the monthly premium will most likely be more than the replacement value.

Do you work for a professional group or organization?

Check to see if your company has insurance discounts to offer you – this can save you a lot of money. Most companies will have some sort of employee benefits that you might be able to use for auto insurance. Always double check.

 

Auto Insurance: Why You Need It

Each year there are over 6 million car accidents in the United States. Though you may think that you’re a great driver and haven’t even been involved in a small fender bender before, accidents happen. And you should be insured when they do. On average, according to the National Safety Council the property damage cost of a car accident is around $9,300. If you were to add the amount of money spend after accidents that cause major injuries, you’re looking at around $80,000 each crash.

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Simply put, auto insurance protects you. Accidents happen during the most unexpected times, and there is a large chance that throughout your life, you will be involved in one. Not having auto insurance puts you at risk for not only your bank account, but all of your other assets as well.

Car insurance will help you throughout the entire process of getting into an accident, specifically throughout unpleasant paperwork, finding repair shops, and getting claims settled. In the event that you get into an accident with a driver who is not insured, your auto insurance company can help you recover a multitude of expenses. Auto insurance is there to help you and acts as guidance, which you will be glad you have if an accident happens to you or your family.

In addition, car insurance policies protect you from other drivers who are at fault. Everyone knows the uncanny amount of distractions there are on the road. From cell phones, to crying babies, applying makeup, road rage, or even a beautiful sunset. A reliable auto insurance policy will protect you from those kinds of reckless drivers so that you can drive with a peace of mind. The road is full of surprises, that’s why auto insurance exists to aid with each unique driving scenario.

Another great reason for you to have auto insurance is because it can supplement your health insurance. According to Esurance.com:

“Even if you do not have health insurance, car insurance can help pay for things your medical coverage might night – possibly including care for accident-related injuries, dental work, funeral costs, or extended nursing care during your rehabilitation,” (5 Reasons Why You Need Car Insurance).

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Though it should not be advised to not have health insurance, if you do find yourself in that situation, it is comforting to know that many auto insurance policies will be more than helpful.

Last, you need auto insurance because it’s the law in a majority of states. You should research the specific state you reside in to find out more details on liability coverage and financial responsibility bonds in relation to the minimum amount of car insurance that is required.

In conclusion, you need auto insurance. You won’t want to run the risk of not being insured. Insurance is protection, and we all need to be protected by the unpredictable road.

The Importance of Personal Insurance

Amigo MGANavigating the world of insurance can be a tough one. No one likes the idea of losing their valuables to the unplanned curveballs life throws. How do you know what’s worth protecting when investing in personal insurance? Following this handy list can help inform your choices when understanding which insurance is most important, and what a program typically covers.

Simple, important and a necessity if you’d like to go anywhere with four wheels, automotive insurance is paramount. However, it’s not enough to understand your state’s minimum requirements and purchase a plan based around that. Be sure and consult the agent you’ve chosen to purchase insurance from when building a policy. More often than not, they are genuinely attempting to provide you with the best possible coverage for your money, and auto-insurance is one of the few that get utilized the most.

Renter’s or homeowner’s insurance is fantastic for safeguarding what matters most. Renter’s insurance can differ from state to state, and where you decide to rent. Even if your complex does not require the purchasing of renter’s insurance, protecting your possessions from break-in or incidental damage is always a good idea. Homeowner’s insurance is a must-buy for what will possibly be the largest investment of your life. When carrying a mortgage, homeowner’s insurance is a necessity, but keeping a policy intact for when your mortgage is paid off is the best way to protect yourself from fire or natural disaster. Beyond disasters, homeowner’s insurance can and will protect you should your possessions be stolen, or an accident occur on your property.

Lastly, umbrella insurance is an excellent catch-all should the worst happen. All types of insurance have their limits, and should you find yourself in a situation where those limits are met and exceeded, umbrella insurance is designed to cover the overflow. Able to cover you during overseas travel, umbrella insurance is an excellent safety net should your initial fail-safes give way.