July 10, 2016

UP and the consumer advocate community have been fighting for decades against mandatory arbitration wording in banking and other commercial contracts that force people to use private binding arbitration instead of public courts to resolve disputes.  Although some health insurance and most commercial property policies contain mandatory arbitration clauses, you won't find them in home insurance policies and UP is working to keep it that way.  

As soon as we heard about a new Texas Farm Bureau home insurance policy under review that dangles a...

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July 8, 2016

Flash floods are doubly devastating because they often hit areas that had not been classified as flood risk zones.  Because most people only buy flood insurance if they're in a zone where mortgage lenders by law make them buy it, flash flood victims rarely have flood insurance.  

Standard home policies exclude flood damage.  Insurance adjusters are trained to tell flood victims that from the get-go.  That bad news hits hard.  Most people feel the double blast of the pain of their loss and the news it's not covered.  While the owner is scrambling to...

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May 18, 2016

I had the privilege of working with Gail Hillebrand in the early 90's when she was a Senior Attorney in Consumers Union's West Coast regional office.  Our offices were in the same building, and I was representing Voter Revolt (the predecessor to Consumer Watchdog) in implementing Proposition 103.  Gail is in the top tier of informed and...

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April 13, 2016

Have you ever contacted an insurance agent or company and asked them to insure your home for a specific dollar amount?  If so, you're probably in the .00001% of insurance consumers.  That's just not how it works in real life.  

In real life, we rely on agents and insurers to tell us how much insurance we need on our homes. And when we apply for insurance, they do tell us.  Well, ok, their computer tells us... When we apply for insurance, we answer some basic questions about the size, age and features of our home, and we get a print...

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March 1, 2016

As the health insurance marketplace, American citizens and businesses continue to adapt to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act world, the pending mergers of Aetna/Humana and Cigna/Anthem will provide yet another curveball. Mergers of companies this large are almost never good for consumers.  They generally mean fewer choices, less negotiating options and higher premiums, yet both appear to be on track for approval. The U.S. Department of Justice and state regulators are reviewing the proposals, and...

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