Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Controlling Car Insurance Costs - The Big Picture

Aaron Stein, Long Island Insurance BY AARON STEIN

Car insurance in New York is a highly competitive business. You can't pick up a newspaper, listen to the radio, watch TV, or drive by billboards without being assaulted by cute little lizards with Australian accents, companies urging you to honk, etc... As we all know (or at least think we know) competition is very good for consumers, resulting in lower rates and better service as companies trip over each other trying to win your business.

Or does it really work that way? In theory, it should, and certainly we as agents have experienced rate reductions with our carriers, as well as new programs that have lowered costs a good amount for many people. But in a report by New York City comptroller William C. Thompson Jr., as reported in the Insurance Advocate, an industry trade magazine for the tri-state area, it seems like the competitive process is not working well enough or fast enough to be fair to the end consumer.

Now it would be pretty obvious that Mr. Thompson has a particular 'bias' towards his constituents, the residents of New York City. The city tends to be a difficult place for insurance companies to do business, with a high concentration of values, a lot of traffic congestion, and pockets of massive fraud. Still, his statistics apply to the whole state and present a picture that suggests insurance companies have a long way to go to get to rates that are fair to all.

He points out that in 2005, premiums of $10.5 billion were reported, against losses of $5.1 billion, leading to record profits among auto insurers. (Did you think they were doing all this advertising because they just like us a lot as people?) Those premiums are up 29% since 2000, while losses are down by over 20%!

In fairness, he notes that premiums have dropped somewhat and continue to drop. Insurance companies tend to be very conservative, and they are very careful because one good year does not make for a trend in lower costs. In addition, because of injuries that take a long time to treat, and lawsuits that can take years going through the courts, as well as insurance department rules that cause it to take time to process rate changes, we can't expect rates to change this month based on last month's claims.

Still, five years is a long time, and he makes very valid arguments for lower rates and more scrutiny from regulators and municipalities in trying to get the best rate for the buying public. Insurance is not an optional purchase, it's more like a tax on people, with private companies given the right to collect that tax. In that sort of situation, maybe not totally unlike rail, gas, and electric utilities, it's part of the government's job to make sure that private companies are not taking unfair advantage.

You can view Mr. Thompson's full report at

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Letters to the Editor: Long Island Progress or Destruction?

What have they done? The answer is nothing. The animals, trees, and wildflowers have done nothing wrong. We have. They just want to live as God designed them to. What has a small box turtle that eats berries, fruit and insects done wrong to us? or a chipmunk, or a little rabbit? What have the magnificent trees done so wrong to us? or the songbirds we hear each day? Nothing at all. They don't steal, lie, cheat, have a need for money, or demand their way. Man does though.

Nature is a God given creation that deserves and suppose to be here. It has a right to exist. But many have proved they don't see it that way. They, instead, see and open field or woodlands full of trees and wildlife as money. Pure and simple. They will build on it until it is exhausted of every inch of earth. They do not see beauty in nature, they see it in money and materialism. They destroy acres of land that were homes to all kinds of species, just to build another complex, or office building. Then they call it progress. I call it destruction.

Wildlife is insignificant to them; only the land they live in and on is of value. Then they make the buildings pretty by planting flowers and new trees, to cover up and hide the destruction they caused in doing so. They even build their own man-made ponds, yet neglect the natural ones that are full of garbage and debris. They're completely selfish. Man has ruined, and continues to ruin, so much goodness and beauty that God has given us.

We've ruined bays, lakes, streams, ponds, estuaries and creeks. We pollute them until one day they will not be able to sustain life in them anymore. Then one will blame the other, or else blame some species for all of it. The little children will have to resort to parks, zoos and public aquariums to see nature. The one's responsible will care little. Wildlife was insignificant now as it was then to them. They will leave here saying, "So long, your on your own."

One day people will yearn for what their parents or grandparents saw while wildlife was still to be seen around them. Their effforts to bring it back will be in vain. It is up to the property owners not to sell to the builders to begin with. It is up to the government to clean up the bays, creeks, rivers, lakes, estuaries, and streams, and not allow motorized leisure boats on them. As long as money is the only motivator, it won't happen. This is all an inconsiderate, selfish act, that mankind alone is responsible for. It will be irreversible one day, unable to sustain what was once full of life. - Ed Vermeulen

This email was sent to the editors of by a concerned Long Island resident. The views expressed are those of the author. The comment has been published as a courtesy, in an effort to open a public discussion. You are welcome to leave your comments and/or feedback about this post.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

First Battle of the Bands Podcast On Long Island

This is the first official Online Battle of the Bands On Long Island sponsored by the Long Island Podcast Network

The grand prize is a full day of recording at Cove City Sounds Studios, owned and operated by Richie Canatta, Sax Player for Billy Joel. Cove City Sound Studios has recorded such artists as Jennifer Lopez, LL Cool J, Dee Snyder, Jessica Simpson, Marc Anthony, Cheap Trick, Chicago, Billy Joel, and more.

Second place prize will be a music video with JL Video Recording Services.

If you would like to vote, sign up here.

How It Works:

Every Sunday from January 7 to March 25, we will be podcasting the music of 2 to 3 bands. The Long Island Podcast Network web site will be the source of the podcast. On the site each band will be able to get votes for their music for a period of two weeks after their music is podcasted. People will vote and as voters, they will need to register with a valid email address. Bands will be able to get votes for two weeks after their song is podcasted. On Sunday March 25, 2007, after the last podcast, voting will automatically open back up for all bands for 2 more weeks to acquire votes. So, in essence, every band will be able to get votes for 4 weeks.

On Sunday, April 8, 2007, we will tally the votes. The five bands with the highest number of votes will compete live at the Livin' Room Lounge in Glen Cove. The winner will win the grand prize as mentioned above.

To enter the Battle of the Band Podcast Competition, there is a $50 application fee per band per song. As the Long Island Podcast Network has over 10,000 listeners from Nassau and Suffolk counties, your music will also gain great exposure.