• Department of Insurance Cautions Senior Citizens of Unlicensed Company Selling Dental Products
  • Senior citizens are being warned to be on the lookout for a company called Dental2U that is unlicensed to sell dental insurance in Louisiana.

Q: How do you feel about using homeowners insurance to get a roof replaced? I have had insurance with the same company since 1995 and never made a claim. I have hail damage and my roof is 20 years old. Should I file insurance to have it fixed?

A: The reason you have homeowners insurance is specifically for the damage you sustained in the hail storm. If you have substantial damage, contact your insurance company to assess the damage.

You might find that the cost to replace your roof and the amount your insurance company will cover for the damage might not make the claim with the insurance company worth it, but you should assess that now.

For example, if the cost to replace your roof is $10,000 and the type of insurance you have will pay only the prorated amount of the roof based on the life remaining on it (according to the insurance adjusters), you might get only $3,333 on a 30-year roof. We don't know what your policy says, but it's worth looking at.

Also, if your deductible is $10,000, your claim will be within your deductible limits and you'll end up paying the whole amount.

Having said all that, if you have a $250 deductible and the insurance company will pay the full $10,000 less your deductible, you will end up with a new roof and pay only your $250 deductible. Again, you've paid 20 years' worth of premiums to cover yourself for this type of an issue.

If we knew that our insurance company's obligation was to replace the roof and have us only pay the deductible, we'd have been on the phone the day after the hail damage to make our claim.

If you're concerned about having your premiums increased or having your insurance company drop you, we don't think that will happen. We've heard of some insurance companies dropping customers after one claim. We think that's the exception rather than the rule, especially with reputable companies.

Usually, insurance companies drop customers when they have repeated claims in one year or repeated claims in a two- or three-year period. Talk to your agent. Ask questions about your specific coverage, claim and concerns.

Send questions to Real Estate Matters, 361 Park Ave., Suite 200, Glencoe, IL 60022, or contact author Ilyce Glink and lawyer Samuel Tamkin through her website, www.thinkglink.com.

Finance and insurance. Finance and insurance has recovered less than 15 percent of the jobs lost in the recession, said Flaherty, a former state Representative and one of three experts on the economics panel at the Connecticut Business and Industry conference Friday.

Boosting the minimum insurance coverage required for vans that take railroad workers to and from their trains would help protect those workers in the event of a crash, supporters say.

But railroad companies have opposed an attempt by the Nebraska Public Service Commission to require six-figure coverage for protection against accidents involving uninsured or underinsured drivers.

The new rule, which the commission is still considering, would apply to more than a hundred vans that crisscross the state, delivering engineers and other railroad workers to locations that are often impossible to predict, said Mark Breiner, director of the Public Service Commissions transportation division.

Because railroad workers hours are strictly limited, trains must stop essentially on the spot so crews can be relieved at the end of their shifts.

That could be anywhere, Breiner said.

Theyre traveling at all times of the day and night, Richard Dinsmore, an attorney who represents railroad workers, told a legislative committee in February. Theyre traveling in all kinds of weather, 3 in the morning.

That increases the chance a drunk person or an uninsured driver might crash into one of the vans, injuring railroad workers inside, union officials say.

Taxis, limousines and other ride services the commission regulates are currently required to have just the statewide minimum level of uninsured motorist coverage: $25,000 per passenger and $50,000 per crash. Thats required of every driver in the state.

The commissions proposal would increase the minimum for commission-regulated rides to $100,000 per passenger and $300,000 per crash.

Taxi companies and others who provide rides for hire havent opposed the plan, perhaps because they already have that level of coverage, Breiner said. But at a public hearing Sept. 1, attorneys for BNSF and Union Pacific said they didnt see any need for the change.

Railroads already pay injured workers medical bills and provide them with other compensation under the Federal Employers Liability Act, a workers compensation law that protects railroaders, said BNSF attorney Jeff Davis.

While the railroads arent directly responsible for the vans -- most of which are owned by a Kansas company, RailCrew Xpress -- the extra insurance costs would almost certainly be passed along to the railroad companies.

That means railroads would pay twice for the same crash, Davis said: once as part of a settlement and again through the insurance premiums.

Those who support boosting the insurance requirements cant give any examples of people not receiving settlements, Davis said.

Where are these people? he asked. If the railroads not paying them, if they have not been paid, where are they?

Commissioners Gerald Vap of McCook and Frank Landis of Lincoln questioned why they should wait for disaster to strike -- or for evidence of unpaid medical bills -- before protecting railroad workers.

Photo: Jay-P, Flickr

As far as budget items go, car insurance is a significant cost for most Americans, and a shockingly steep one for some. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to keep your car insurance rates cheap -- or at least cheaper than they otherwise might be.

First, though, just how costly is car insurance? Well, according to a 2015 report by the American Automobile Association, the average annual cost for a low-risk driver with an excellent driving record is about $1,115, up $92, or 9%, over last years rate. Thats $93 per month -- for a best-case-scenario driver. How bad does it get for higher-risk drivers, and/or those with less stellar driving records? Well, according to a study by CarInsurance.com, the average annual car insurance rate for one ZIP code in Detroit is $5,109 -- ironically, its a ZIP code where the median annual household income is $29,000. In Brooklyn, one zip code sports an average of $3,877. Plenty of ZIP codes across America have average rates topping $2,000, and some states, such as California, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and Montana, have average rates topping $1,500, per a study by Insure.com. (NYSE: HRB)

Below is a list of lots of ways that drivers in America achieve lower car insurance rates. See which of them you might adopt. Some, such as your age, are not too negotiable, but others are.