Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nine out of 10 Americans are Vulnerable to Home Break-ins

State Farm® Identifies Misconceptions about Entry Points for Burglars, Finds Front Doors Overlooked

December 4, 2008, Bloomington, Ill., –State Farm released findings of a national survey today revealing that nine out of 10 Americans are unaware that front doors are the No. 1 entry points for burglars1, leaving homes vulnerable to break-ins. State Farm conducted the survey to identify common safety practices and help families take the correct measures to protect their homes.

In 2007, the average paid claim for stolen personal property was more than $5,000, according to State Farm, which insures one in every five homes. Findings from the survey indicate that Americans are putting their personal properties at risk because they often leave key entry points unprotected:

  • Less than half lock their front door at all times

  • Nearly half of have left their windows open

  • 33 percent have left their back doors unlocked

  • Nearly 3 in 10 hide a key outside their house, such as under a doormat

  • 22 percent have left their inside garage doors unlocked

“The most important thing people can do to deter break-ins is to make sure all their home entrances are locked at all times,” said Betsy McDermeit, State Farm Underwriting Analyst. “The second thing people can do to ensure security is to ensure doors have good quality locks that have deadbolts. Too often we see burglaries that could have been prevented with higher-quality locks.”

The FBI estimates more than 2 million burglaries occurred in 2007, of which nearly 61 percent involved forcible entry. Many Americans assume state and city building codes require a level of quality and security for the door locks installed on their homes. However, most building codes don’t even require a lock on exterior doors, let alone require a level of quality. This leaves personal safety and property protection in the hands of consumers, who are likely to be unaware of the safest locks and hinges for their homes.

To help protect homes against thieves, researchers at State Farm’s Building Technology Research lab test various grades of door locks and hinges through a standardized weight test to identify optimal front-door safety measures. The test simulates the force that burglars use to enter homes.

State Farm researchers recommend windows and doors are kept locked at all times and warns consumers to be careful if they leave keys outside as most burglars know to check common hiding places, such as under doormats or flower pots. Additionally, Americans should consider the following door upgrades to reinforce their safety and help deter unwanted intruders:

  • Deadbolt – a deadbolt extends farther into the strike plate than a latch bolt and is manually operated by either a thumb-turn or by key.

  • American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Grade 1 classification – the ANSI has standards that measure the security and durability of door locks; Grade 1 is the best and most secure lock.

  • Key control – many manufacturers offer locks using keys that cannot be copied, except by certain locksmiths or only by the manufacturer.

  • Reinforce door jambs - materials and techniques are available that will help strengthen the door jamb and hinge points, making it more difficult to gain entry - and install heavy duty strike plates with 3” screws

The survey found that more than 25 percent of people haven’t taken an inventory of their personal goods in more than two years. Additionally, nearly 30 percent can’t remember or have never taken stock of their belongings. State Farm recommends that people review their insurance policies and conduct regular home inventories to ensure they’re adequately covered in the event of a burglary.

1 National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association, 2005.

Source Article:

American Values Blamed For Health-Care Crisis

To heal our ailing health care system, we need to stop thinking like Americans. That's the message of two articles by UCLA's Dr. Marc Nuwer, a leading expert on national health care reform, published this week in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Americans prize individual choice and resist limiting care," says Nuwer, a professor of clinical neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. "We believe that if doctors can treat very ill patients aggressively and keep every moment of people in the last stages of life under medical care, then they should. We choose to hold these values. Consequently, we choose to have a more expensive system than Europe or Canada."

Consider these statistics:
  • The United States boasts the world's most expensive health care system, yet only one-sixth of Americans are insured. Medical expenditures exceed $2 trillion annually, making health care the economy's largest sector, four times bigger than national defense.
  • By 2015, the U.S. government is projected to spend $4 trillion on health care, or 20 percent of the nation's gross domestic product.
  • An aging population will boost spending. Half of Medicare costs support very sick people in their last stages of life, and experts estimate that Medicare funds will be exhausted by 2018.
  • 31 percent of U.S. health care funds go toward administration. "We push a lot of paper," Nuwer says. "We spend twice as much as Canada, which has a more streamlined health care system that demands doctors complete less paperwork."
  • 10 percent of U.S. expenses are spent on "defensive medicine" - pricey tests ordered by doctors afraid of missing anything, however unlikely. "Doctors don't want to be accused in court of a delayed diagnosis, so they bend over backwards to find something - even if it's a rare possibility - in order to cover themselves," Nuwer says.

Reforming the U.S. health care system with the goal of providing universal, affordable, high-quality care will require rethinking our overall values and paying greater attention to care-related expenditures, according to Nuwer.

Part of the current problem, he says, is that doctors are oblivious to the price tags of options they're prescribing for patients. He recommends educating physicians about the costs of care, including imaging, blood tests and specific drugs. "Does a fancy electric wheelchair cost $500 or $50,000?" Nuwer asks. "Most doctors have no clue. We need to give physicians feedback about the dollar signs behind their orders."

Source: Medical News Today
Sourced Article:

Original Source: Elaine Schmidt
University of California - Los Angeles

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Farmers Insurance Bikes for Babies

(Middletown, CT) September 3, 2008 – Farmers Insurance agents and employees will join motorcycle enthusiasts for the March of Dimes “Bikers for Babies” road rally. Farmers Insurance Group is a national sponsor of the March of Dimes.

Held in cities across the country, these rides will raise an expected $500,000 for the March of Dimes. More than 1500 riders are expected to take to the roads for the Connecticut ride and raise approximately $100,000 to help end premature births.

The ride will take place on Sunday, September 7, 2008. Registration begins at 9:00 am at Palmer Field in Middletown. The 40 mile ride goes through the scenic Connecticut River Valley and ends with a BBQ by the shore at the Westbrook Elks. “This is a fun way to raise money for a very worthy cause,” said Karen Ricketts, Zone Executive Director of Farmers. “We are deeply committed to the March of Dimes and this is one of many fundraising efforts we will take part in to help Connecticut families.” Karen continued, “This is the first year Farmers has sponsored a motorcycle ride for babies. We’ve been in partnership with the March of Dimes for more than 20 years, and thought we would ‘rev’ our fundraising engine this year.”

Farmers is one of the top contributors to the March of Dimes. “These rides will allow us to reach an all new group people to help us in our fight to end prematurity, “said Paul N. Hopkins, Chief Executive Office of Farmers Group Inc. “We’re proud to join the March of Dimes in its mission, while having some fun at the same time.”

The March of Dimes is a national voluntary health agency whose mission is to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth, and infant mortality. Founded in 1938, the March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies and in 2003 launched a campaign to address the increasing rate of premature birth. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at or its Spanish language Web site at

Farmers Group, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zurich Financial Services, an insurance-based financial services provider with a global network of subsidiaries and offices in North America and Europe as well as in Asia Pacific, Latin America and other markets. Farmers® is the nation's third-largest Personal Lines Property & Casualty insurance group. Property and casualty products are underwritten and issued by the Farmers Exchanges and their subsidiaries, which Farmers Group, Inc. manages but does not own. Headquartered in Los Angeles, the Farmers insurers provide Homeowners, Auto, Business, Life insurance and financial services to more than 10 million households. For more information about Farmers, visit our Web site at

Sourced from: Farmers Insurance Group

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Americans Still Confused about Flood Insurance, Lack Coverage

The severe hurricane season of 2005 should have been a wake-up call to Americans about their lack of flood insurance.
But a new survey conducted for the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) shows that more than 25 percent of Americans still mistakenly believe that damages caused by flooding from a hurricane are covered under standard homeowners and renters policies.

The survey asked, “Does your homeowner’s policy cover damage from flooding during a hurricane?” Twenty-seven percent said yes, and in the South, a region more vulnerable to hurricanes, 39 percent said yes.

Only 17 percent of Americans have a flood insurance policy, the survey showed—an inadequate number of insureds, given where they live. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), more than 90 percent of all U. S. natural disasters include flooding. Changing weather patterns, increased urban development, and the leveling of forests have reduced the land’s natural ability to absorb water. For instance, large-scale erosion and flooding after severe wildfires are common in mountainous or hilly terrain.

The I.I.I. wants to remind homeowners and renters about some facts regarding flood insurance:

1. Flood damage is excluded under standard homeowners and renters insurance policies. Flood coverage, however, is available as a separate policy from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and from some private insurers. Nearly 100 insurance companies write and service NFIP policies.


This excerpt was written by U. S. Insurance News
Monday, 18 August 2008

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MetLife Introduces New Benefits Benchmarking Tool

MetLife has introduced its latest tool to assist brokers and employers find the best employee benefits. MetLife Benefits Benchmarking Tool is a Web-based application for comparing and contrasting benefit offerings and objectives in 35 areas. The new tool can use demographic sectors like an employee’s income and stage in life to sort data and can provide a more in depth view of relevant customer needs such as wellness programs and retiree benefits.

“Employers are increasingly viewing employee benefits programs as strategic differentiators because they can help employers address employee loyalty, satisfaction and retention goals,” said Anthony J. Nugent, senior vice president, MetLife Employee Benefits Sales. “Companies and brokers that are well informed about benefits trends across various industries, geographies and demographics – and how theirs or their clients’ benefits programs compare – are better positioned to develop competitive and effective programs that attain their business objectives.”

By using the MetLife Benefits Benchmarking Tool, users can select, view, and download benefits data relevant to current marketplace topics. Topics can include benefits objectives, strategies and offerings; communications and decision making; employee retention and loyalty goals; retirement and the aging workforce; and health and wellness.


This excerpt was written by U. S. Insurance News
Monday, 18 August 2008

View the original news article