Pink Fire Pointer December 2009

Apple Care does not cover smoking damages

By Jameel Murray

Recently an Apple Mac user was denied Apple care insurance due to a smoking condition. Apple Care, which costs over $200, is a warranty that guarantees the repair of an apple device if it malfunctions. One Mac customer was denied insurance service because the device was contaminated with cigarette smoke. Although the warranty does not state that the product cannot be repaired if it contains cigarette smoke, the warranty does state that the company would offer repairs if the product is not considered a biohazard. According to the company, cigarette smoke is considered a hazardous substance that can endanger workers. Apple has stated that it they would not have any employee repair a product that poses as a risk to their health. The moral of this story is to shop around and read into the fine prints of all warranties and insurance policies. Consumers must analyze and research all insurance policies or they may end up on the shorter end of the stick.

New Health Care Insurance Attempts

By, Meredith Anderson

For many Americans the idea of health insurance is too far about of their reach to even think of. With the growing demand for modern medicine medical coverage has been increasing to drastic extremes. Without benefits from jobs even more people would not have health insurance due to the increase in price tag in private health insurance.

Much debate over the years has risen due to the fact that since 1998 the average cost of health insurance has nearly doubled! President Brarack Obama has said that the Democratic's plan would in fact reduce the growth of health care costs. Much controversy of whether or not this is accurate has been quite heated lately. A recent report obtained by the Republicans proved there suspicion that the bill will in fact cause health costs to rise as well as take away significantly from Medicare. The new bill would in fact allow for almost 93% of Americans to have health insurance. The bill would also allow for an increase in long-term care. This all sounds perfect however does not come without and hefty price tag. Because of the extreme new demand prices will go through the roof for people that can actually afford insurance in the first place. In order for this to successfully work the government cannot pull all the wait by themselves.


The Value of Insurance

By, Meredith Anderson

Many people have the opinion that insurance is a waste of money. Everyone thinks that it won't happen to them and insurance is just a way for the companies to make a little extra cash. However the importance of any insurance is really something to know about. The way most insurance plans work is that you pay a premium which is a small amount and in the case of an accident of any sort the insurance will cover a much larger cost in return. Its a life line that could save you a couple hundred dollars if you crash your car to a couple hundred thousand if save your house burns down.
What kind of insurance should you get and how much of it really depends on a number of factors. It measures your risk of the incident happening and how much it will cost. First you must decide how much coverage you think you are going to need. After that some other things to consider are how much of a deductible are you willing to pay? Once you have establish those details you will look for an insurance company that fits your needs and values. Its important to visit all your options. A insurance agency will help you through the details of how much you really need and set you up with specific plans that cater to your families needs.
The most common types of insurance include auto, homeowner, and medical. Paying a little each month to protect us from suffering great financial burdens if and when something goes wrong is a small price to pay.


Universal Health Insurance Costing More Than Anticipated

Posted by Kenny Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Democrats trying to push President Barack Obama's health care overhaul plan through the Senate got a sober warning Friday that costs will keep going up and proposed Medicare savings may harm the program.

A new report from government economic analysts at the Health and Human Services Department found that the nation's $2.5 trillion annual health care tab won't shrink under the Democratic blueprint that senators are debating. Instead, it would grow somewhat more rapidly than if Congress does nothing.

Insurance Advice

By Shawn Chandok

The following list includes advice on insurance for anyone interested in saving money and taking precautions.
1. Invest in Health Insurance: Although President Obama is working on health care reform, do not rely on that happening anytime soon. If possible, get under your parents health care plan and invest in yourself because if things go for the worst, all your hard work on education can be lost forever in hospital bills.
2. Life insurance: Assuming you are a newly married couple with young children, invest heavily in life insurance. The rule of thumb implies you should have at least 5 years of salary to cover your life insurance policy, 10 years if you have children because there is nothing sadder to see a single parent trying to raise a child. On the other hand, if you are single with no relatives you probably do not need life insurance.
3. Consider car insurance when buying a car: Typically, the more expensive the car the higher the insurance. Take this into account when buying a car, and thing about maybe buying a pre owned vehicle. Furthermore be careful when picking the color of the car too, because it is rumored bright colors such as red have a higher insurance cost since they are more likely to be pulled over.
4. Don’t be frugal: Don’t buy the cheapest auto insurance because you don’t think you will get into an accident. Use comparative shopping, and see how much coverage you need.
5. Write a Will: No matter how many times people say this; there are always some whom do not listen. The consequences of not writing a will ALWAYS negatively affect your loved ones.


Expansion of Medicare, Good or Bad?

By: Nicole Nelson

Medicare could be changing and changing soon. Some people are very enthusiastic about the idea, others, not quite the case. Washington (specifically the Senate) has been weighing options about expanding Medicare to people aged 55 to 64. Although this seems like a great idea, a large amount of people in these age ranges may not be eligible, and those who are might be paying more than expected. The original idea of expanding Medicare coverage started when the health care debate started. This step to expand Medicare was to appease the liberal push of a “public option” for health insurance as part of the reform. Currently, Medicare rates range from $110 to $353 a month. These premiums depend on the individual’s income. If Medicare was expanded, it would be expected that the premiums would be around $633 a month totaling about $7600 annually. The reason for the difference in premiums is that Medicare as it is now is federally subsidized. The expansion would not be federally subsidized until about 2014, about 5 years from now. Although this seems to be very expensive, if someone does qualify for this expansion, they probably should take advantage of it considering it is very hard for people in this age range to get health insurance. Again, another problem arises with cost because about half of the uninsured people aged 55 to 64 have incomes below $29,000. So although this plan may sound terrible in some aspects and great in others, I believe it depends on the individual and whether or not they can afford this, or need this plan at all.

Auto Insurance Sales Growing Online

Posted by Chris O'Sullivan

The insurance industry has long been known for its personal sales tactics and face to face negotiations. However, as with most industries, the shift to online services has taken off in recent years. Allstate, currently the largest publicly traded personal lines insurer, claims that nearly half of its customers first make contact through their website.

This has led a shift in the number of salesmen needed to conduct typical neighborhood sales. In 2008, Allstate took in $500 million in premiums through its direct channel, which includes its Web site and toll-free phone lines, and direct premiums are growing at a 25% rate so far this year. Though direct premiums are still a tiny part of the $26.9 billion Allstate earned in property/casualty premiums last year, premiums have been sinking for auto insurers in general, and the share that comes in through direct channels is rising.


Separate But Equal? Insurance, Abortion, And Politics

Could creating two insurance pools solve the health-care impasse?
By Al Lewis
Posted by Jonathan Tse

Though the Nelson amendment, which attempted to restrict federal insurance funds for abortion, failed in the Senate Tuesday, the issue of abortion's role in health care is far from settled. While the Senate version, if passed as now written, would allow federal funding, the House version, thanks to the Stupak amendment, does not even allow private purchase of a rider. Democrats are still divided on this issue, and without Democratic unity, health reform fails. Fortunately, the point of contention is not the thornier one of whether abortions should be legal, but rather how to accommodate both those who want to provide federal coverage and those who refuse to vote to earmark government funds to do so.

Both views can be accommodated by the simple step of establishing two insurance pools, one covering abortion and one not. Each would have the same premium, and people would sign up for the pool of their choice, depending on whether they wanted abortion coverage or not. To fully understand why this math works despite the extra cost of abortions, you must first understand abortion financing and rates in general. (What's the best way to take the passion out of the abortion fight? Turn it into an insurance equation).

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Too Little , Too Late

By: Zachary Pienkowski

It's never too late to procrastinate. People always feel invincible, like nothing in the world could happen to them. Until it does. Insurance planning is not for everyone, but for those that have responsibilities to dependents, it should be a top priority. Having worked as a financial representative and dealing with clients on an everyday basis, the importance of getting the right amount of insurance while you are still eligible can not be overstated. Many people have waited too long or put off buying insurance and then when the time came for them to get around to it, it was either much more expensive than it would have been if they did it earlier, or they were denied coverage completely. Sometimes medical issues can come up that you do not even know about, deeming you too high of a risk to insurance companies. However, if you purchase insurance early enough and come down with something at a later date, the insurance company do not have the right to take away your coverage. As long as you continue to pay premiums the coverage will stay in force. Struggling over the decision to buy term or whole life insurance is not something that should put off the actual purchase. In most cases, while term comes much cheaper for a large amount of coverage, it can also be converted into permanent insurance. The most important thing is that some coverage is put in place in order to take care of your loved ones if anything ever happened.


Getting Car Insurance...How Much Is enough?

By: Robert Katz

When having to buy car insurance you should make sure you understand the suggested minimum requirements by your state and then address your personal situation to properly determine the amount of insurance that best fits you and your budget. There are various different types of coverage you need associated with any given policy, while some may be included and others not, make sure you understand them all and which are most important to you. They include: Bodily Injury Liability, Property Damage Liability, Collision and Comprehensive, Medical Payments or Personal Injury Protection, Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage, Uninsured Motorist Property Damage, Glass Breakage, Rental Reimbursement and Towing. Now the state required minimums for Bodily Injury Liability, if at fault covering costs to the injured party and your legal expenses, are at least $100,000 per person on the plan or $300,000 per accident. Most minimum deductibles for collision and comprehensive coverage are $250 and $100. Now if you are someone who gets into a lot of accidents you may want to consider a much larger Liability policy; however, if you don't get into many accidents and have a brand new expensive car paying to have a lower deductible for collision coverage may be a good investment. Sometimes if you have a really cheap car it isn't even worth the money to you to pay for collision coverage since the yearly coverage costs more than the cars total value. While bodily Injury Liability and Collision Coverage are the two most important aspects of any policy other more specific offerings (glass breakage, rental reimbursement, and towing coverage) for you personal situation may be very important things to consider based on your likelihood of incurring those associated costs.


Sex, Abortions and Health Insurance

Posted by Quang Nguyen

The latest stupefying complication in the health care reform debate comes in the form of the Stupak-Pitts amendment in proposed House legislation that would prohibit companies from offering policies covering abortions in subsidized health insurance exchanges.

Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, has vowed to insert similar language into the Senate version of the bill.

Reproductive rights activists are outraged, but others argue they are overreacting.

What are a few more restrictions on abortion, given what we already have in place? If health insurance reform passes, after all, the expansion of medical services to low-income women, including improved family planning services, would compensate for the risks of paying for abortions out-of-pocket.

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What My Amendment Won’t Do

Posted by Quang Nguyen
By BART STUPAK, New York Times

OVER the past month there has been a great deal of discussion about the Stupak-Ellsworth-Pitts amendment in the House health care reform bill. Unfortunately, much of this discussion has been driven by misinformation about what our amendment does and does not do. I would like to set the record straight: Our amendment maintains current law, which says that there should be no federal financing for abortion.

Under our amendment, women who receive federal subsidies will be prohibited from using them to pay for insurance policies that cover abortion. The amendment does not prevent private plans from offering abortion services and it does not prohibit women from purchasing abortion coverage with their own money. The amendment specifically states that even those who receive federal subsidies can purchase a supplemental policy with private money to cover abortions.

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When looking for a job, consider the benefits!

Post by David Held

As everyone knows the economy is poor and companies are not hiring, but this is bound to turn around. Economies are cyclical and you have to be ready for the time when hiring becomes a new “fad.” When most people are looking for a job they tend to just look at the salary and the capability of bonuses at the end of the year. It is extremely to remember to look into the types of benefits that you can receive during your employment. One benefit that should be at the top of this list, especially if you have a family is health insurance. Getting health insurance through your employer can potentially save you a tremendous amount of money, and during a time like this saving money is crucial!

Types of health insurance that an employer might provide could be HMO, PPO, and POS. A Health Maintenance Organization is a managed care plan that attempts to lower health care coverage by encouraging preventative care measures. A Preferred Provider Organization is a group of doctors who cut deals with insurance companies to produce services at a reduced rate. A Point of Service plan is similar to a PPO but it allows you to use doctors who aren’t part of the plan, if necessary. All three types of coverage are great benefits, if provided to employees. It is important to carry health insurance because you never know when an emergency can unfold.

Sources #1, #2, #3

Senate Turns to Medicare, Medicaid

By Greg Hitt and Janet Adamy
posted by Jameel Murray

WASHINGTON -- Senate Democrats are considering a significant expansion of Medicare and Medicaid, the health programs for the elderly and the poor, as part of a package of potential changes to health-overhaul legislation that would also sharply scale back a proposed new government-run insurance plan.

The proposals have emerged in closed-door negotiations among 10 Democratic senators -- five moderates and five liberals -- assigned by party leaders to break the political deadlock that has slowed Senate action on the health bill.

Negotiators Monday were considering a proposal that would open Medicare to people ages 55 to 64 if they couldn't find coverage elsewhere. The proposal would allow them to buy insurance coverage at subsidized rates under Medicare, though the subsidies wouldn't be as great as those for people 65 and over, said congressional aides and lawmakers.

A companion proposal would expand Medicaid beyond what is already called for in the bill. Under one scenario, people with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level would qualify for the program. The poverty level is currently about $22,000 for a family of four.

Both changes would represent major expansions of the programs. They were sought by liberal Democrats after moderates won concessions on the government-run plan that would give private entities a bigger role.

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Do you need a flood insurance?

By Alma Zhumagulova

According to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) “floods are the most common hazards in the US.” That is why FEMA periodically evaluates the entire territory of the US for the level of flood risk that people face in individual areas. Flood risk maps have last been updated about 25 years ago; they are currently being evaluated by FEMA and are expected to be published next year.
Homeowners who live in the areas with high flood risk are obliged to purchase flood insurance. However, even the population of moderate- to low-risk flood areas should consider purchasing insurance (which is optional to them) since 25% of all flood claims occur in those areas. Therefore, flood insurance is critical to almost every homeowner since the basic homeowners insurance does not cover flood damages while “just a few inches of water can lead to thousands of dollars in damages.”
The rates for the flood insurance are established by FEMA. In general, the premiums range between $200 and $1,600 per year. David Schein, senior flood insurance liaison official for the FEMA region based in Chicago, also adds that purchasing the flood insurance now, i.e. before FEMA updates the maps and rates, can result in substantial savings. For example, if based on the previous evaluation you were in a moderate-risk area and paid $300 per year, after with the new maps the area you live in could be regarded as high-risk, and so you would have to be paying $1,300 per year. To conclude, if you are a homeowner you should check the rates before the new maps come into effect.


US Senate push to ban abortions on health insurance

Posted by Jonathan Tse

US senators are expected to vote tomorrow on changes to healthcare legislation that would stop medical insurance schemes from paying for terminations, as the battle over abortion rights moves back to the US Senate.

The issue is proving among the most divisive in the healthcare debate, along with proposals for government-funded medical insurance. The Senate debate on the abortion restrictions opened the day after Barack Obama met Democratic party senators to appeal for them to overcome policy differences on health reform and consider the broader sweep of history. He described the reforms as the "most important social legislation" in decades, while Republicans are predicting the president will meet his "Waterloo" over a signature campaign issue.

A Democratic party senator, Ben Nelson, introduced an amendment today modelled on a similar measure passed by the House of Representatives that effectively blocks women from obtaining an abortion on heath insurance other than in cases of rape, incest or when the mother's life is in danger.

The proposed legislation bars public funds from being used to pay for terminations after a lobbying campaign by the Catholic church and rightwing fundamentalist Christians was instrumental in forcing the issue on to the healthcare agenda. Pro-choice groups say the effect will be to bar most terminations from being paid for by medical insurance because almost all plans will be touched by government subsidies.

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Insurance: Don't get caught without it

By Lew Sichelman
Posted by Alma Zhumagulova

Insurance is one of those things you don't need until you need it. But by then, it's often too late. Every homeowner knows –– or at least should know –– that they should carry a homeowner's policy. Indeed, mortgage companies require coverage.

But did you know that if you allow your policy to lapse, lenders retain the right to purchase a policy for you? That can be an expensive proposition, because "force place" coverage can easily cost two or three times what you would pay on your own.

Because insurance protects the underlying collateral for your mortgage, lenders can even go so far as to foreclose if you refuse to carry insurance.

But there are all kinds of other coverage over and above your standard homeowner's policy that you also may want to consider. "There are lots of things people don't think about until after the fact," said Chad Mirock, product manager for opportunity lines at Travelers in Hartford, Conn.

Here's a rundown:

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Ways to improve

By Alma Zhumagulova

With the new health care system under development the US Government should consider many different aspects of a good health care system before finalizing it. While 18% of US national income is spent on health care 47 million people are still uninsured. It could be beneficial to “borrow” some ideas from the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany that have universal coverage while providing the highest quality health care at a very affordable price. These countries prohibit the insurance providers from “refusing to cover the sick.” The Dutch Government handles this through paying more to the insurers for covering people with preexisting conditions. The new health care bill also bans the insurers from refusing to cover the sick people, approximately 2% of the US population. However, CBO predicts that the public option so favored by the liberals will actually be beneficial to only these 2% and, thus, eventually it will drive up the costs even higher. On the other hand, the proponents state that public option will be cheaper since it will resemble a “large employer”, i.e. create a larger risk pool that will cancel out the larger claims with the smaller claims. Only after it is established we will know who is right. In the meantime, in the survey conducted by Thomson Reuters Corp, it was found that less than 60% of the respondents would like a public option as part of any final healthcare reform legislation, and about 59.9% believe in public option.


Auto Insurance Premium Rate Drops

Posted by Shawn Gao

It is a good and bad news. Auto Insurance rate droped around three percent from 2007 nationwide;however; New York drivers are still paying the most expensive insurance in the country. New York drivers paid an average premium of $1,179 in 2007, the last year for which information was available, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners said in an annual report.
That was down 2.8% from $1,213 in 2006, slightly higher than the 2.6% national average decline. The national average is $912.
Not only NY state drivers, but also NJ drivers have to twice expensive auto insurance cost. The average Garden State resident paid 4 percent less in auto insurance premiums in 2007 than the previous year — and 9 percent less than the peak year of 2004, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners reported this week. Nationally, rates fell by only 5.6 percent between 2004 and 2007.
Unlike the drivers in North Dakota and Winsconsin, both NY and NJ drivers pay as twice expensive as the drivers in these states. Nevertheless, it is hopeful that the direction of droping auto insurance rate is right. A affordable insurance is a good idea for the drivers to buy.

Health insurance premiums rise as Congress debates reform

posted by Shawn Gao

Wrangling in Congress over health care reform hasn't succeeded in curbing the double-digit increases many Utah employers and workers will face for health insurance next year as open-enrollment season rolls around.

One explanation is that insurance companies and customers usually agree on the terms and conditions of health insurance plans at least 90 days before they go into effect. The House passed its reform bill Nov. 7, more than a month after most employers had signed contracts for 2010, and the Senate vote is weeks away.

Another reason is nobody knows which bill may emerge from the Senate and how it will be resolved with the House bill before a final measure goes to President Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, health care costs are still surging. And at the state level, where insurance companies are regulated, officials are waiting for Congress to act before they press for reforms.

"I don't think that health reform is really a driving force in how these negotiations [between employers and insurance companies] are playing out right now," said Kathleen Stoll, director of health policy at the nonpartisan advocacy organization Families USA.

As Congress continues to debate, premiums show no sign of reaching a plateau, forcing more businesses to pare back benefits or cancel them altogether.

"The trend for [2010] is still up," said Candace Daly, Utah director of the National Federation of Independent Business. Many of the group's 4,000

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Picking the Correct Medicare Plan is a Challenge

By: Sara Sindelar

A few years ago Medicare plans changed to two option, Advantage and Medicare Part D. Now since the health care reform is taking place more and more changes are occurring in Medicare. These changes are hurting those holders financially as insurance companies try to safe themselves financially.

Along with the new health care reform are coming cuts from insurance companies. “UnitedHealth Group Inc. and WellCare Health Plans Inc are minimizing the number of plans they hold due to government cut backs” (WSJ). All of these people whose plans are being cut will need to find another option soon, December 31. The deadline for the drug plan is January 31st. If the policy holder does not select by these dates then they are placed in Medicare.

Other issues are the rise in premiums and co pays for holders. People are finding there are worse plans that are charging more for less and high co pays. These Advantage plans are really cutting down plans and the benefits included in plans. Many are dropping the gym membership and dental. Not only are the health care plans dropping but the prescription plans are dropping as well. Costs are increasing for many prescriptions putting a financial burden on those already struggling to pay health care costs.

Michigan Debate Over Proposed Auto Insurance Changes Heats Up

Posted by Quang Nguyen

Democratic lawmakers in Michigan are promoting proposals they say would make auto insurance more affordable and strengthen consumer protections in the state. Opponents including the insurance industry say the proposals would drive up costs for customers and are a political stunt geared toward the 2010 elections, according to Associated Press reports.

The Democratic proposals would require that companies get prior approval from the state insurance commissioner before raising rates. A driver's education level or credit history could not be used as factors in determining rates.

The proposed initiative would allow Michigan voters to weigh in on consumer-oriented insurance reforms that have saved California drivers an average of $3 billion per year since being enacted in 1988, according to consumer advocacy groups Consumer Watchdog and Consumer Federation of America (CFA).

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House Committee Passes Federal Insurance Office Act

Posted by Quang Nguyen

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee has passed a measure to create a scaled-back federal office that would be a national insurance information agency with some authority in the area of international insurance agreements.

The new federal office would not have any regulatory authority over the business of insurance and would not be able to override state insurance laws.

The key committee passed H.R. 2609, the Federal Insurance Office Act of 2009, by a voice vote today.

The bill would create the Federal Insurance Office (FIO) within the U.S. Treasury Department to address two major areas that have been the focus of criticisms of state insurance regulation. First is the lack of a knowledge base or informational source in Washington, D.C. (something especially evident following the 9/11 attacks and Hurricane Katrina). Second, is the challenge state insurance regulators occasionally face in representing the United States in multilateral insurance discussions or entering into binding international agreements.

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Dental Insurance: More important for some, but necessary for all

Posted by Lindsey Connell

Dental insurance may be just another free benefit some receive at work but it could be a life saver for others. While most people get their teeth checked twice a year, some require additional attention for their teeth and if teeth or gum problems arise in someone’s mouth, the fix for it is usually very expensive. One way to prepare for these expenses is to use a flexible spending account to pay pretax dollars toward medical and dental costs. If your company does not offer dental insurance, it is very beneficial to purchase an individual dental insurance plan to cover a portion of any dental expenses you may incur. Dental checkups shouldn’t be taken lightly because bad teeth could mean gum diseases or infections in the mouth. These diseases can add up causing extreme sickness, so it is definitely worth buying dental insurance to get your mouth checked every once and a while. It is important to note however that no dental insurance company is going pay for the full amount of your dental expenses so it is necessary to find an insurance plan that fits your situation and lifestyle. If you require a lot of dental attention than it would be appropriate to talk with your employer about trading in a company benefit for dental insurance or you should invest more money into a good health insurance company that will cover more of your expenses.

Why it is necessary to have car insurance

Posted by Lindsey Connell

Car insurance is extremely important to have whether you are a good or bad driver. Although car accidents usually are very infrequent, most people will make a claim at least once in their lifetime. If you are pulled over without having car insurance, you will lose your license but there are other reasons to have insurance besides the legality factor. If you are in a car accident and are at fault, if you don’t have insurance you cannot cover the other victim’s recovery expenses. In the reverse, if you are the victim and are hit by an uninsured driver while you are uninsured yourself, than you will have to pay for your health care out of pocket, which is extremely expensive. Also, driving without car insurance could leave you personally liable for significant third party claims in the event of an accident. Although car insurance isn’t something that is necessarily used every day, it is better to be safe than sorry. With this type of insurance, paying insurance expenses over the years is usually less expensive than getting in a bad accident and not being insured. As health care expenses continue to increase, it makes it nearly impossible for those without insurance to receive the treatment they need after being involved in a car accident. Therefore, it is extremely important and beneficial to invest in auto insurance.

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