Royally Scammed by Progressive Insurance Snapshot

March 26, 2014

By Karen

Lesson: Scratch the surface of any insurance company and you’ll find a thief whose raison d’être is to take your money and provide as little as possible — or, optimally, nothing — in return.

Shopping for a better deal on car insurance, I foolishly ordered Progressive Insurance’s Snapshot monitoring device and chauffeured it around for 30 days to see if I could earn a discount, which Progressive claims could be as much as 30%.

First, let me set the scene: I’m one step above little old lady who only drives to church on Sundays. I work at home, with no rush-hour commutes. I drive 3-4 times a week on errands on suburban roads, 99% during the day, and mostly within a 10-mile radius. I’ve put 80,000 miles on my car in 14 years (that’s 5,714 miles/year).

I figured I’d be a shoo-in for big savings. Here’s how Progressive explains it:

This video is untrue because Progressive also monitors acceleration (and turns — keep reading), and gives no feedback on time of day.

My driving during this time has been uneventful, yet Progressive projected me as behaving badly per 100 miles from the outset, a lead foot who stomps the brake every 7 miles. When I actually traveled 100 miles, the braking was lower, yet still considered “opportunity” for improvement (i.e., if you ever have to stop, you’re driving poorly):

Progressive-brakes

Progressive averaged my infrequent trips to 6.5 miles per day — placing me on the road and vulnerable to accidents — 7 days a week. In truth, it’s less than half that.

Progressive-mileage

And here’s the unexplained “rapid acceleration” graph…

Progressive-Acceleration

Knowing how I drove, it would seem that what Progressive’s underwriters consider “hard” braking and “rapid” acceleration are what the rest of us call “driving.”

As for turning, the Snapshot occasionally beeped like a panicked backseat driver when I was making perfectly reasonable 90-degree turns.

The 30 days were up today, and Progressive offered me 6% savings.

Progressive

But they still wanted to know more, like my marital status, level of education, home ownership, and Social Security number (which I withheld).

The result was that I qualified for NO DISCOUNT. ZERO.

Progressive-NoSavings

I never got a premium figure, so I’ll never know how Progressive stacks up to my current insurer. But Progressive can take their Snapshot device and…

CAUTION: If your driving ever involves making the car move, your chances of getting a discount from Progressive are probably slim to none, so keep them out of your business. Otherwise, for the rest of your freaking life you’re going to see Flo’s garish face popping up in ads on nearly every screen on the Net.

Progressive-Ad

And I’d be willing to bet Progressive will ultimately profit from my gullibility by selling the tidy trove of personal information they’ve collected.

All I can say is, shame on me.

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Malaysia’s Latest Wishful Thinking on MH370

March 25, 2014

By Cole

If only wishing could make it so.

Malaysia’s prime minister announced yesterday that they’re presuming everyone on Flight MH370 perished in the southern Indian Ocean, based on some brand-new way to analyze the data that British satellite firm Inmarsat collected.

So, with no debris and based on some one-off calculation whose accuracy has never been tested, what’s next? To end the search because it’s getting too pricey?

If information about the pings can be believed, the story is that the plane probably flew until it ran out of fuel, then fell out of the sky. It must have hit the water pretty hard, which in other crashes has left bits of plane all over the place.

Hell, even RMS Titanic, SITTING on the water, left a huge debris field that was found by ships without any high-tech tracking devices, because large objects like planes and ships hold a lot of buoyant materials, and they tend to escape as the thing sinks and breaks up under pressure.

But somehow MH370 sliced through the water clean and intact, leaving not enough of anything for anybody to find and positively identify.

Now it seems that even China, who has seemed unusually quiet in spite of being home to nearly 2/3 of the passengers on board, is getting suspicious, demanding to see the satellite data in question. Does China have another theory about what happened?

At this point, I might consider the possibility that the plane was shot down, after it lost contact and veered off course, by some country that refuses to confess. The backlash over killing innocent civilians for no good reason would be terrible

If the Malaysian government is sincere about one thing in this matter, it seems to be in wishing to make all those screaming relatives shut up and go away, and I think they’ll say whatever it takes to make that happen.

But until I see definitive proof from the Indian Ocean, I still don’t think we’ve seen the last of that plane, and it won’t be a pile of debris.


Are MH370 Searchers on Squirrel Hunts?

March 23, 2014

By Cole

This week we learned that Malaysia Flight 370 flew more than 6 hours after it stopped communicating, performing maneuvers that required consciousness and skill. So all suspicion shifted to the 2 pilots.

That’s because China quickly declared its 152 citizens onboard couldn’t possibly be terrorists, and we know China’s word on security matters is golden. Michelle Obama and the girls are over there now to prove how much we love and trust China.

And those 2 Iranians traveling on stolen passports with one-way tickets bought with cash were also dismissed immediately. Nope, nothing suspicious about them.

So two pilots whose personal lives, by all accounts, seemed normal and on track just up and decided to kill themselves and 237 people after taking one last extended joy ride.

NBC correspondent Robert Hager doesn’t buy it. And neither do I.

In this post-9/11 era, where government spies supposedly know everything about everybody, and we have satellites that spotted Osama bin Laden walking around his compound, we’re supposed to believe that a jet liner can make itself disappear in thin air and fly for thousands of miles without ANYBODY noticing.

I still believe the plane took the northern route and flew over a bunch of dicey countries who are playing it close to the chest because they’re involved OR they’re too ashamed to admit they let this huge mysterious aircraft fly over and didn’t bat an eye. Would YOU blab to the world you got caught with your pants self-defenses down?

Personally, I think many countries (including the U.S.) know a LOT more, and the truth is so damning, they’re willing to lie and play this elaborate charade to keep the media distracted with “something” while they figure out what to do about who’s got the plane.

Just today, the French took their turn throwing the stick for the media to fetch. “Deploy the fleet. There’s a wooden pallet in the water!”

It’s simply too loony to believe that ANYBODY, either a deranged pilot or terrorists, would choose to “make a statement” by ditching a plane where nobody could ever find it or determine who caused it to crash.

Plenty of countries in that part of the world would love to get their paws on a fully-functioning aircraft they could load up with bombs and use to launch a more spectacular attack than 9/11 — and do it while our backs are turned looking for squirrels in the Indian Ocean.


A Cat’s Theory on Flight MH370

March 14, 2014

By Cole

After sitting many hours this week with paws pensively curled, reading and watching news unfold on this “greatest mystery in modern aviation history,” I’ve got some ideas.

Ground sources lost contact with the plane less than an hour after takeoff, yet the plane continued transmitting pings for 4 hours. And military radar may have spotted it 45 minutes after last official contact.

They think it deliberately turned west and continued on a route plotted between established waypoints, which would indicate carefully premeditated effort to further avoid detection.

It seems that mechanical failure should be the most far-fetched scenario now. Maps showing how far the plane could have traveled in 4 hours include a LOT of land.

No wreckage or bodies have surfaced in a week, either near the oil slicks nor anywhere else.

If it was a third-party hijacking or sabotage, why crash the plane where nobody could ever find it, ascertain what happened, or who did it? The act would become totally pointless.

I think all signs indicate the plane landed somewhere, intact, and a group of terrorists are holding 239 hostages, getting more giddy with every hour of the futile search they watch on CNN.

We don’t know how many hundreds of millions of dollars the countries searching will have to squander before the perps think it’s enough to reveal themselves.

Perhaps the world will unwittingly tip the bad guys’ hand by losing interest and giving up. When CNN starts saying “MH370” and “Amelia Earhart” in the same sentence, the terrorists had better speak up before nobody gives a damn.

We just saw Putin flip the world the bird by invading Crimea. I suspect this missing plane could be Al Qaeda’s way of announcing, “We’re back in the game, baby!”

It would have been Step One on board to confiscate all electronic devices so the passengers would have no way of contacting help. If they’re now on an island or in some other remote location, such devices probably wouldn’t work anyway.

I’m hoping I’m right because it means that those innocent people still have a chance of surviving this. Rescuers just need to quit playing in the water and go find them.


If You Like Your Worthless Health Insurance, You Can Keep It

March 5, 2014

By Karen

Obama’s doing such a good job himself of walking back the requirements of his Affordable Care Act, Republicans don’t need to waste any more time trying to repeal it.

Now Obama’s letting people continue to keep policies that don’t meet minimum ACA coverage requirements — possibly for as long as 3 more years. Why? To make it appear he wasn’t lying when he stupidly said, “If you like the insurance you have, you can keep it.”

Here’s the problem with that: Those policies are cheap because they were sold to people who either 1) Think they’ll never get sick, or 2) Didn’t understand how little insurance they were buying.

I’m talking about those hapless schmucks we see on the news occasionally after something catastrophic happens to them and they find themselves bankrupted by medical bills because their el cheapo insurance won’t pay their claims.

Insurers make damn sure their policy documents are so voluminous and opaquely worded that the average consumer needs a Ph.D. in insurance jargon and unlimited time and patience to wade through all the conditions and exclusions.

That’s precisely why insurers need to be kicked out of the healthcare equation in favor of a simpler system. But I digress…

Letting people keep garbage health insurance does them no favors. It just keeps shoveling ill-gotten gains into insurers’ pockets. Between high deductibles and copays and avoidance of the “no-cost” preventive care mandated by the ACA, these premiums must be mostly gravy for insurers because little gets paid out in claims.

On a personal note, Anthem showed me a wisp of mercy to keep me out of the exchange on my March renewal, raising my premium from $392 a month to $413.75, a modest 5.5% increase. But since 2011, they’ve raised my premium 66%.

My policy has a $2,250 deductible, but meets ACA requirements (which Anthem has used to justify hitting me with 15% and 20% yearly hikes since the ACA first passed donkey’s years ago).

I haven’t done 2013 taxes yet, so I don’t know if I can qualify for a subsidized policy on Healthcare.gov. But even if I do, I’m afraid to take advantage of any savings and lose the dubious security of my current policy.

At the lengths he’s taking to protect insurer profits at the cost of people getting better access to medical care, Obama seems poised to pull the rug out from under himself and gut the ACA. That means insurers will once again have free rein to continue raping and pillaging the American healthcare system.

I hate the policy I have, but Obama’s made me afraid not to keep it.


Ken Cuccinelli Builds a New Cuckoo Nest

March 3, 2014

By Cole

Ken Cuccinelli was most recently Virginia’s attorney general, a misogynistic, backward-leaning Republican who was replaced last year by Democrat Mark Herring. Cuccinelli also ran for governor last year and lost to Terry McAuliffe, another Democrat.

You could say that Cuccinelli has done his fair share to turn this red state blue.

But in his newest job, he’s trying to correct that perception. With 3 fellow lawyers, he has opened a firm called Virginia Self Defense Law, whose tag line is…

Defending those who defend themselves.

By that, they mean defending people who aspire to be like George Zimmerman (who provoked a confrontation with and killed an unarmed black teen named Trayvon Martin in Florida) or Michael Dunn, another Floridian who recently dodged a first-degree murder rap after he provoked a confrontation with and killed an unarmed black teen named Jordan Davis by firing 10 bullets at the van Davis was riding in as it sped AWAY from Dunn.

These guys would be Cuccinelli’s dream clients.

For as little as $8.33 a month — “less than half the cost of a hunting license” — wack jobs with violent tendencies who think they might someday shoot inappropriately can have this firm on retainer to defend them at no extra charge when they follow through.

On one hand, you’ve got to admire Cuccinelli’s sheer brilliance at tapping in to the irrational paranoia of his conservative ilk, creating a stream of cushy, mostly-passive income for himself and his cronies while providing nothing in return to most of them (let’s hope).

He’s become the perfect parasite, sucking cash out of wannabe killers by giving them a sense of security while they pursue their dream of ridding the world of everybody who, in their eyes, deserves to be dead.

On the other hand, what kind of bottom-feeding scumbag builds a business on coming to the aid of limp-dicked bigots who use guns to make bad situations worse? When the facts come out, these guys usually deserve to spend the rest of their lives under the jail (as we say in the South).

To address this concern, Cuccinelli offers this caveat: He will only represent a client if the defense can be self-defense or a violation of the client’s second amendment right to bear arms. If any weapons charge is related to a crime like robbery or drug dealing, all bets are off.

Virginia is already famous as the premier supplier of deadly weapons on the East Coast. Now Virginia offers the services of Cuckoo Cuccinelli & Co. to get shooters off the hook for murder — for less than $10 a month.

Can it get any sicker than that?


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