How Insurance Companies And Appraisers Scam Their Customers

House On Golf Course In HawaiiI’ve always trusted my insurance company, which I’ll call TRICKY DICK in this article, to do the right thing. After all, I’ve been a client of theirs for almost 20 years. They’ve benefited from my growth in assets and I now have auto insurance, homeowner’s insurance, valuable personal property insurance and an umbrella policy with them.  Furthermore, I’ve got a relatively large chunk of change in CDs deposited with them as well.

I had a unwelcomed change in my credit card the other day and had to call Tricky Dick to cancel my existing card on file and add a new one. Imagine my surprise when looking over my previous statement that they were billing me 45% more a month in premiums!  What the hell, I thought to myself.  Clearly there must be a mistake.  Oh how wrong I was.

HOW I GOT SCAMMED

Open Enrollment: You Might Die An Expensive Death So Sign-up Now

Updated for 2015 and beyond!

It’s open enrollment time again for insurance and benefits for the following year.  With all this talk about health insurance costs going up and benefits going down, I’m surprised to see my total insurance and benefits costs hover the same at around $150 a month for an individual.  I looked carefully at each line item and compared it to the previous year, and the costs are only about $5 dollars a month higher.

Your company benefits have real value that is calculated as part of your total compensation, so pay attention and maximize these benefits to your full advantage.  The deadline to enroll is usually by mid-December, otherwise what you have now *might* get carried forward to the next year except for some discretionary flex spending decisions, which reset to zero.  You don’t want to die an expensive death for your loved ones just because you forgot to enroll and didn’t understand what the term “excess liability insurance” means!  Get thinking and get cracking!

THE INSURANCE AND BENEFITS CHECK LIST

The Best Way To Lose Weight And Become Debt Free

Yesterday was one of those perfect gastronomic days.  For breakfast, there was all you can eat fruit and pastries.  For lunch, some deliciously “low calorie” Greek baked spaghetti with garlic bread you see to the left.  To top off the evening, a bone-in filet mignon, with baked potato with the works, blue cheese wedge salad, and a couple glasses of pinot noir from Napa Valley.

All told, I probably consumed some 5,500 calories worth of food!  I didn’t feel incredibly sick to my stomach (OK, maybe a little bit!) because I made sure I played an hour and a half of tennis before dinner.  It was actually a wonderful experience since I normally eat half as much.  When I was in the cab ride home, I had an epiphany.

Perhaps the reason why there are so many large folks in America is because people purposefully gorge themselves in order to lose weight!  Eating great food is such a wonderful pleasure that it’s irrational not to.  It trumps any negative feels about packing on weight otherwise we wouldn’t let ourselves go.  Furthermore, the reason why there are so many people in debt is because it’s just so rocking fun to spend money you don’t have!  Finally, it feels great once you pay back that debt!  Double pleasure going both ways is why there is such a correlation.

GAINING WEIGHT IS THE PERFECT SOLUTION

Basics Of Buying Auto Insurance Online

Lamborghini AventadorWhen it comes to purchasing car insurance, more consumers are putting down their telephone and picking up their mouse. A record 2.8 million auto insurance policies were purchased online last year. That’s an increase of 80% since 2006, according to the 2010 U.S. Online Auto Insurance Report by ComScore. It’s not that surprising given the way everything is moving online.

Shopping for car insurance online is a quick and easy way to get the coverage you need to insure your vehicles.

THREE THINGS TO DO

Tips and Tricks to Getting Auto Insurance Discounts

Badly Damaged CarAs a recovering car fanatic who has literally bought and sold 8 different cars in the past 10 years I’ve come to appreciate the intricacies of getting a good deal.  One of the most important things people don’t think about when they are about to buy that fancy European automobile is how much car insurance will cost.

On an absolute dollar level, driving a $50,000 car could cost anywhere between $2,000-$3,000 a year, depending on your record.  At 4-6% of the annual cost of your car, car insurance is a big deal!  The irony is, the cheaper the car you buy, generally the higher car insurance is as a percentage of your total cost.

Feeling Like A Burden Is A Terrible, Terrible Thing

My nose plugs up and I can hardly breathe when I’m around cats too long.  I don’t know why I’m allergic, I just am.  One time I stayed over a friend’s place with three cats, and I woke up with red hives.  It was a surprise that I was able to fall asleep at all, because I could have sworn I sneezed over 100 times until the underside of my nose bled.

One of my best friends invited me over to visit her childhood home this fall.  Her mother lives near Boston, and unlucky for me another downside of East Coast living is the enormous pollen count.  I remember countless days when I couldn’t go to work because my allergies were so bad.  Ever since moving out West, my reactions have been much tamer.  The San Francisco Bay acts as a natural filter, sucking out stagnant air to sea.

In addition to being out East, my friend’s mother also has a couple of dogs and cats!  She sees this trip as a fun homecoming to introduce me to where she grew up.  To me, I have no attachment there and it’s like going to a gas chamber for vacation.  Imagine only being able to breathe through your two front teeth.  That’s how I feel sometimes when allergies attack.  You can’t get enough oxygen, so you aren’t able to speak.  You lose energy and let sleep take over even though it’s in the middle of the day.

THE QUIET PLEA

Don’t Have Children If You Can’t Take Care Of Yourself

In “How To Dramatically Increase Your Job Security For Life“, the article suggests managers are more inclined to fire those workers who have nobody to support but themselves.  As a result, one should strategically at least hint at the intention of starting a family to protect oneself from unemploymentville.  Clearly I’m being somewhat flippant.  My goal is to make people realize that relationships and emotion play enormous roles in shaping work success.

Whether you work for a small family business or a large corporation, hiring and firing is a very personal decision that comes down to one or only a handful of decision makers.  By tugging at their souls, and increasing their guilt factor, you’re well on your way to dramatically higher job security for life.

Let’s say you’re not particularly wealthy, nor make a particularly impressive amount of money.  You still have loads of student loans and consumer debt to pay off.  In essence, you’re the typical American!  Shouldn’t you be putting on your air mask before helping others?

Child raising is estimated to cost anywhere between $250,000 to $1 million from birth to after college.  If a family can’t even have the discipline to save 20% of their paycheck after contributing to their 401K and IRA, how can one consciously start a family?

$250,000 ISN’T A LOT, YET HOW MANY CAN SAVE THAT MUCH?

Insuring The Uninsured Is Worth It

Congratulations to the Democrats for passing a smaller, less corrupt version of Obama’s health care plan to cover the 30 million+ Americans who are uninsured.  I’ve read numerous articles about the pros and cons of this plan, and I still can’t figure it all out.  An Associated Press article writes, “Obama practically needs a spreadsheet to tell people what’s going on and when.”  That said, progress has been made.  I’d like to go over some of the basics, and end with a discussion.

LOOKING OUT FOR EACH OTHER

The Katana: Revisiting Our New Year’s Resolutions

The last month of the first quarter is upon us.  Now is as good a time as any to revisit our new year’s resolutions to make sure we’re on track.  I’m on pace to achieve 4 out of 8 so far: 1) meet 36 new people, 2) see the good in others, 3) stay consistent, but not obsessive over this site, and 4) save 50% of my gross income.  Regarding the other four goals, I’m not on pace to make a million bucks, haven’t won any tennis tournaments, nor have I been regularly practicing my acoustic guitar or cooking skills.  Better get cracking!

With 10 months left in the year, it’s time to really ramp up the creative juices and think up some back-end business to help create additional income.  Tennis season is starting up and I plan on doing everything possible to give myself at least a physical edge over the competition.  Finally, from now on at least one hour every weekend will be dedicated to guitar and cooking.

In terms of predictions for 2010 it’s still too early to tell, but 4 of 5 have held up so far: 1) inflation and interest rates remain low with the 10-yr yield still below 4%, 2) the USD dollar has strengthened, 3) the markets have not double dipped, and 4) The Samurai Fund is outperforming the S&P 500 by 2.64% as of Feb 28.  Regarding #5, it’s just a matter of time before Facebook goes public and Twitter gets bought out don’t you think?  We’ll revisit the predictions mid year and see if they still hold true!

Readers, how are you guys doing with your new year’s resolutions?  If you wrote any prediction for 2010, I’d love to see them so feel free to post your links below.

FINANCIAL SAMURAI ARTICLES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

* “Be A Sloth And Don’t ROTH – Why Converting to A ROTH Is A Mistake

* “How To Get Your Super Motivated Boyfriend (SMB) To Marry You

* “Do “C” Students Deserve “A” Lifestyles?”

* “Someone Always Farts In A Crowd – The Moral Hazard Of The World

* “Let Freement Reign! Spending Paralysis, Material Lust and Obsession

* “Where Americans Pay The Most To Live And Why

HIGHLIGHTS FROM AROUND THE BLOGOSPHERE:

Sometimes Saving Money Is About Principle

For the past two years I’ve taken the bus to work after driving for 7 years prior.  The company removed our free parking benefits and I wasn’t about to pay $350/month to park in a garage just 5 miles away.

I have a love hate relationship with the bus.  When it’s raining, and I have to stand outside shivering, I hate it.  When the bus skips my stop every so often, I hate it.  When the bus driver slams on the brakes a couple feet away from the stop light and we all go flying, I hate it.  When the bus is packed like sardines, but there are some very attractive riders I need to squeeze next to, well, I guess it’s OK.

My VIP Pass aka monthly bus pass costs $60, while taking a cab to and from work costs $30.  Hence, the cost breakdown is simply $60 for a bus, $350 for parking, and $600 for a cab every month.  Out of principle, I wasn’t going to spend 5-10X more on transportation if I could just ride the bus.

WHAT A DUMMY