Big news that I am excited about! Last week I was a featured guest on Real Talk San Diego, ESPN 1700 AM. This was my first time actually being featured on the radio, as opposed to a call-in.
The host was my good friend Elizabeth O’Daly, aka the Loan Whisperer. Elizabeth does a show every so often where she discusses trends in the mortgage industry and related financial fields.
I was asked to speak about insurance, specifically home insurance and what homeowners in areas like Escondido, Fallbrook, Julian, Ramona, and similar rural areas might want to look out for when it comes to insurance.
My fellow guest was the very knowledgeable Mrs. Nino Kiria. Nino and I happened to meet in the lobby before the show and she is an extraordinarily talented and smart lady, and well traveled. She started her journey in the biology field in Georgia, moving to South America, then to Texas, and finally to beautiful San Diego where she settled and now is an accomplished real estate agent.
I guess I can’t really call this news since it happened last week but I just recently got the link to the podcast hence the untimely post.
Thank you to everyone who tuned in to listen, Jenny, Ashley, Josh, JVM and mom.
I didn’t get a whole lot of ‘face time’ but it was still a great experience and I was told I did rather well! I’m hoping to get invited back. Fingers crossed! Follow the link below to listen to the radio session on podcast (03-23-16). You can quickly jump to some of my segments at 19:00-25:30, and 54:10.
Uber busted on to the scene a couple years ago and it has made a ton of waves and headlines since. The taxi cab replacing service has garnered tons of popularity and enthusiastic response. However what you don’t know can hurt you, and my guess is that in a few short years some of the popularity surrounding Uber will turn into notoriety.
The truth is, that as of right now, the current Uber model really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, not only might Uber simply not be as financially lucrative as many other articles have bemoaned, Uber might actually ended up royally fucking you over.
Most of the anti-Uber stuff I have read either deals with things like politics, whether Uber is profitable for drivers or not (the answer is no, it’s not), and then the occasional scare blog that you’ll get raped by your Uber driver. The authors of the pieces don’t do themselves any favors because the pieces are so narrowly focused on one minor issue that they downplay the real urgency related to Uber, it’s drivers and their passengers.
And while these might be real issues related to Uber, they aren’t central to the reason you should stop using it. Each driver will wrongly or rightly decide to what extend if at all Uber/Lyft and similar services are profitable for them, and if it’s worth doing. And the rape/murder kidnapping stories are to avoiding Uber, as shark attacks are to avoiding surfing – statistically ignorable.
Trouble with the Law
The real dangers with Uber are legal and liability related. Insurance isn’t sexy and it certainly won’t make any headlines but insurance – or the lack thereof – is the single greatest reason for not using Uber, especially as a driver.
(I am a licensed and very knowledgeable insurance agent, so trust that this isn’t just hearsay coming out of my ass. This is some real advice you can take to the bank.)
Vehicle owners are required by law to have insurance on every registered vehicle. Given that all reputable car insurance companies exclude livery service from their personal auto products, this effectively means that if you are an Uber driver, and you have a regular ol’ car insurance policy, you are driving without insurance, and you are breaking the law.
Don’t believe me? Ask your agent for a copy of your auto application. I know, I know. You flipped right to the last page, signed your name, and didn’t read a single line. But if you had, you’d have notice the part of the contract stating you decline coverage for livery, delivery, and other commercial use.
Ways this can screw you:
Having your driver’s license suspended
Having your vehicle registration suspended
Receiving a traffic ticket for a no insurance violation, in addition to the ticket you got for the original reason you were pulled over
Meeting SR-22 requirements (if you are required to have one, if for example you are required to because of a DUI)
Increased future insurance premiums
Insurance and Financial Liability
All the other stuff above is really just annoyances and inconveniences. Granted some of those things can cost you a couple hundred dollars, but ultimately they’ll waste dozens of hours of your time. I suppose time is money though.
But, back on track, Uber driving is a great way to screw yourself financially. Kids, it’s time to review insurance 101. In the United States owners of vehicles are financially responsible and liable for any damage or bodily injury resulting from the use of said vehicles.
What this means is that if you get into an accident and damage another party’s car or property, you are responsible for all costs of repairing / replacing whatever it is you messed up.
Now comes the real juicy stuff. What if in addition to damaging property you ended up injuring someone, or actually hospitalizing someone? Or dare I say it, you paralyze or kill someone?
Either way, if you don’t have insurance, you are screwed. And if you are driving Uber at the time the accident happens, I repeat again, you are screwed.
Uber has gained some negative attention in the past couple years for not covering accidents their drivers get into. The rationale was always that you were a private contractor, not an employee, and while Uber has applied that thinking to their stance on employee benefits, they’ve also applied it to their stance on auto insurance. You are responsible for your own insurance, not Uber. So while many rumors abound that Uber does over you, if that was the case you’d have to ask yourself why they mandate you have coverage of your own.
The only guaranteed way to have proper liability coverage would be to take out a commercial auto policy that explicitly includes coverage for livery services. Such policies are more expensive and might be with “surplus” carriers.
If your car is being leased or financed for personal use (pleasure, commute, etc) and you use it for Uber or Lyft, you may actually be in violation of your lease/loan agreement since commercial usage is strictly prohibited. If you do your due diligence and get a commercial auto policy and submit it to your finance company, they’ll surely spot it, and take action against you. So while you might spare your left foot, you may inadvertently end up shooting your right foot.
By The Books
Proper licensing and decals are also important. Certain areas mandate that taxi cabs be registered and have all the proper decals. Uber is a taxi by any other name, like it or not. And if you are performing taxi services without getting all the necessary permits/licenses/registration in place, again, you may be breaking the law and subject to fines.
Lastly, you shouldn’t even use Uber as a passenger. Would you knowingly use a roller coaster if you knew the amusement park carried no liability insurance? If not, why would you get in someones car if you knew they did not have auto insurance? Considering 32,000 people in the U.S. die in car crashes each year, and only 3 die on roller coasters in the same amount of time, if you could justify not getting on an uninsured roller coaster, not getting in an uninsured car is should be a no-brainer.
Uber drivers not getting paid enough or the prospect that your next passenger might be an axe murderer are certainly issues worth discussing in a different post. However the main reasons for not participating as an Uber driver is because you can get royally screwed in the event of an accident. Life won’t be very fun for you once the injured party lawyers up, and you’re staring down the barrel of a lawsuit with no insurance company standing behind you. Add to this that when the DMV finds out, they’ll also take away your license and your car, you’ll be traveling up shits creek, and it won’t be in an Uber.
It’s 5:41 in the morning and I just finished my life insurance “paramed” exam. To the uninitiated, when you take out a life insurance policy, the insurance company sends someone to meet with you, and check your health using a variety of questions, diagnostics, etc. This process is called the paramed, or para medical examination. My examiner was a nice guy named Tony, who arrived at my front door around 5:15 AM.
What to Expect
It was a pretty easy process. Here’s a quick rundown of what we did:
Check blood pressure
Measure waist (it felt like I was being measured for a tailored suit)
Collect urine sample
Collect blood sample
Ask a bunch of questions about my health, medications, and the health of my blood related family members
Early Bird Special
The early bird slot wasn’t randomly assigned to me. I opted to get the early appointment for a reason. Your body isn’t as compressed in the morning as it is after a whole day of walking, running, driving, and sitting. You also usually use the facilities before going to bed. Basically, you’re taller and you weigh less, so it helps with your height to weight ratios Even if just a little, it makes you appear healthier, which can be the difference between one rate class and another, if your health is on the edge. I’m healthy as a horse according to Tony, but still, why risk it?
Also, you are usually calmer in the morning, not having endured 8 hours of stressful work, and 2 hours of stressful traffic, plus whatever other chores life throws your way. So your pulse and blood pressure will ready healthier results in the morning, than they would if you did the exam after clocking out of work, or sitting in rush hour.
Urine or You’re Out
They do require a urine sample for most life insurance paramed exams. Unless you are getting a super small $10,000 “funeral policy” as we call it, they’ll want to get some indicator of your health.
Make sure you drink water in the 4 to 8 hours leading up to your exam. If you don’t provide a urine sample then and there, they will have to reschedule the exam.
I had a problem with this part of my exam. No, no. My problem wasn’t performance related. It was actually that I had to pee really freakin’ bad, and had to hold it. Whether I wake up at 7AM, noon, or 5AM, using the john is the first part of my morning routine. My dude was running about 15 minutes late, and it had me bouncing on my tippy toes like a 6 year old waiting in like to use a porta potty.
When Tony arrived at my door I politely asked if we could do the urine part first and he obliged. I have the feeling it was not his first time being asked.
The blood part is super easy. I know a lot of people are a bit squeamish when it comes to getting their blood drawn. If you’ve ever donated blood you know that needle is the size of a 7 Eleven Slurpee straw.
The needle they use for donating blood is a 16 or 18 gauge (1.27-1.65mm outer diameter).
The needle they use for the paramed is about 21 or 22 gauge, which despite the larger number actually means it’s considerably smaller and less intrusive. It’s about 0.82mmm or 0.03 inches, smaller than most pencil lead.
Don’t worry, unlike giving blood the needle is in and out. I think it took about 15 seconds to get all the blood they needed.
I did not, to my disappointment, get a Ninja Turtle Band-Aid and a lollipop. I’m writing a stern letter to management over that one.
Do Yourself a Favor
Here are some things I recommend you do to make the process of obtaining life insurance and the paramed easier for you, and get this, your kids too.
Come prepared. Make sure that you are wearing light clothing, or easily removable clothing. Mine was at the crack of dawn, so I was still in my PJs. But remember that every ounce counts, and they don’t deduct the weight of shoes, your cellphone, etc. So make sure to empty your pockets and strip down as much as possible for your weight measurement.
If you are taking any medication, instead of making a list or stumbling to remember everything just bring all the prescription bottles with you to the exam. The examiner will make sure to notate everything for you. They’re the professional. Let them do the hard work.
Do NOT have your exam in a stressful place. So don’t have your kids running around wreaking havoc while the examiner is reading your blood pressure. It’ll mess with your results. Meet someplace private, away from stressors and distractions, and of course, some place where you can pee. So avoid the zen-filled park down the street.
Think About the Children!
I’m going to take this in a direction you probably didn’t think of. Yes, many people get life insurance to help take care of their kids in the event of the worst. But that’s not what I mean.
Many life insurance policies let you pay a little extra to add your kids on to the policy as well. So they might have a little $5,000 or $10,000 policy on them too. The benefit to this is that when your kids reach a certain age, like 18 or 25, they have the option of converting their policy to a big-boy policy like you have.
Most companies that offer this product don’t require the kids to get a paramed exam of their own. Basically, if you add your kids on to your life insurance policy, they don’t have to jump through all the hoops that you did. On top of that, they get locked into a particular health category. So if your kid started on your policy at 7 when they were super healthy, developed diabetes at age 15, and then converted to their own policy at 18, they don’t have to worry about being up-rated, because they started their life insurance when, and are being rated as if they are healthy. The only thing that they will be charged more for is aging.
I’m 99.9% certain on this, so I will make a few inquiries and find out, and retract/modify anything in this post later on if I am incorrect.
Get a Life… Insurance Policy
No seriously, you really ought to. Same thing I mentioned earlier about the kid, applies to you. A lot of people don’t even consider life insurance until too late. They think they are too young and even if they are married, if they were to die their spouse still has plenty of time to remarry, or get a job, etc.
Get a policy as soon as you can before any health conditions kick in like diabetes, high blood pressure, gout, or even an STD. Again, you’ll be locked into the risk category the policy was written at.
Plus, if you actually get a decent whole life policy there are a ton of benefits. They let you squirrel away money tax free. They have the ability to grow in value over long periods of time, especially if you have a universal or variable policy. You can borrow against your own life insurance policy if it has a built up a cash value, which pretty much acts as a miniature banking account that you can borrow from with no penalties and no obligation to ever pay it back. Many people borrow against their own life insurance policies to help their kids pay for things like their first home, or their grand-kids’ college.
Some of them kick in early if you suffer a terrible accident or are expected to die soon. For example a $500,000 policy might kick in $250,000 while the insured is still alive but are expected to not make it very long due to a medical condition. This can make the final hours much easier for the insured and their family (paying for travel expenses of family members to visit, hospice care, etc). And then the final $250,000 is paid out after departing.
And finally, many of them have Long Term Care riders built in to them. The life expectancy of Americans are getting longer and longer and more of us are expected to life into old age. To quote the Wall Street Journal, “more than 70 percent of Americans over the age of 65 will need long-term care services at some point in their lives, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”Sources. Individual LTC policies can be pricey, but you can save a ton by bundling it with your life insurance.
Alright, I’m done. It’s getting late – 6:38AM. So I gotta get going. But thank you for reading. I hope you learned something interesting or two and chuckled a bit. And if you are curious about life insurance and live in California, message me.