Certain insurance products and practices have been described as rent-seeking by critics. That is, some insurance products or practices are useful primarily because of legal benefits, such as reducing taxes, as opposed to providing protection against risks of adverse events. Under United States tax law, for example, most owners of variable annuities and variable life insurance can invest their premium payments in the stock market and defer or eliminate paying any taxes on their investments until withdrawals are made. Sometimes this tax deferral is the only reason people use these products. Another example is the legal infrastructure which allows life insurance to be held in an irrevocable trust which is used to pay an estate tax while the proceeds themselves are immune from the estate tax.
In determining premiums and premium rate structures, insurers consider quantifiable factors, including location, credit scores, gender, occupation, marital status, and education level. However, the use of such factors is often considered to be unfair or unlawfully discriminatory, and the reaction against this practice has in some instances led to political disputes about the ways in which insurers determine premiums and regulatory intervention to limit the factors used.
If you find yourself unable to remember the last time you were in a doctor’s office and think you don’t need health insurance, think again. You should definitely have health insurance, and there are plans that are cost effective for healthy people. For example, you can opt for a high deductible health insurance plan – you pay more for things like doctor visits, but you pay less overall for your health insurance plan. This is ideal if you only go to the doctor once or twice a year. These plans also work well in partnership with flexible spending accounts (FSA) or health savings accounts (HSA). You can put pre-tax dollars into these accounts and use the money later on medical expenses.
You’ll notice that none of that liability coverage pays for your car or injuries, nor for any injuries your passengers sustain if you cause a wreck. This is why many people — particularly those whose car isn’t yet paid off — want “full coverage” car insurance. This isn’t actually a type of coverage, but instead typically refers to policies that include liability coverage, plus comprehensive and collision coverages.
Naturally, the float method is difficult to carry out in an economically depressed period. Bear markets do cause insurers to shift away from investments and to toughen up their underwriting standards, so a poor economy generally means high insurance premiums. This tendency to swing between profitable and unprofitable periods over time is commonly known as the underwriting, or insurance, cycle.
Progressive is another solid option for Texans, but it lags slightly behind our top picks in both financial strength and claims satisfaction ratings. The differences are pretty minor, but they make it hard to justify Progressive over State Farm or Allstate on the basis of anything except price, which was about average. We did like how easy it was to get a quote through the website, though, and Progressive was one of the only companies we looked at to provide a Live Chat option.
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High Income: Those with a high income are facing a different problem. Many who have high incomes didn't purchase insurance in the past; they just paid health care expenses as needed. Paying two percent of a high income for the penalty can be a rather large sum for high-income persons. In this case, it might be cheaper to just buy qualifying health insurance. If you are in good health, you might want to choose the lowest qualifying plan. If you have ongoing health issues, you may as well bite the bullet and choose a more exhaustive plan and lower your out-of-pocket expenses.
We started by identifying Texas’ five biggest auto insurers by market share and comparing their financial strength, coverage options, and customer service using methodology similar to that in our review of nationwide providers. Then we checked J.D. Power and Consumer Reports to see how each company’s customers scored them on overall satisfaction and on the claims experience. Finally, we collected quotes for six hypothetical drivers, taking note of each company’s available endorsements and discounts.
Know when to cut coverage. Don’t strip away coverage just for the sake of cheaper insurance. You’ll need full coverage car insurance to satisfy the terms of an auto loan, and you’ll want it as long as your car would be a financial burden to replace. But for older cars, you can drop comprehensive and collision coverage, which only pay out up to your car’s current value, minus the deductible.