Massachusetts rejects health care hikes

The state Division of Insurance denied 235 of 274 increases proposed by insurers.  The requested premium increases were for plans covering individuals and small businesses.

The denial of the insurers proposal marks the first time the state has turned down health premium increases.

Jay McQuaide, vice president of the state’s largest health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield released this statement,

“We share the concern about rising health costs, but we don’t think government price controls will solve the problem”

Insurance Commissioner Joseph G. Murphy found that most of the base rates proposed by state health plans were “unreasonable relative to the benefits provided,” according to a statement issued by the agency.

Further information on this story can be found in the original article in the Boston Globe.

Drivers, beware of potholes!

Due to the record rainfall, puddles remain all over the place.  Drivers should be catious of puddles on the road because they may be hiding potholes

Information that some Massachusetts drivers are learning the hard way.

Limited by financial restraints, the state cannot keep up with the formation of these dangerous holes.

“It seems like everywhere you go, there are a lot of potholes,”  says Patricia Costa in a interview conducted by NECN.

Disaster Strikes Massachusetts

The severe storms and flooding that began on March 12, 2010 has been declared a major disaster by President Barack Obama.

The head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced that federal aid will be available to those affected by the severe storms.  This federal aid will supplement state and local recovery efforts.

The aid will provide federal funding to affected individuals in Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester counties.

State Director of Human Services for the Salvation Army, Brenda Beavers,

“We’re still in immediate response. We’re assessing what the needs will be, of course, like everybody else. We’ve started to distribute clean up kits. We have teams doing recovery all over the state”

IRS delays tax deadline for victims of storms

The severe storms and flooding that have occurred in Massachusetts recently have been classified by the government as federal disaster areas.  The counties of Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk, and Worcester fall under this classification. 

Due to the severe nature of the damage caused by the storms, the IRS has extended the deadline for income taxes for these counties to May 11th. The normal April 15 deadline will still be the due date for the rest of the state.

Taxpayers in the counties listed will not be required to do anything to receive this extension.  The IRS computer system will automatically recognize the affected areas and extend the deadlines for those individuals.

Motorcyclists may have to wait for refunds

If you are a Massachusetts motorcyclists you may be in for a refund!  If you haven’t heard, an investigation by Attorney General Martha Coakley and staff found that state’s auto insurers were calculating their customers’ premiums incorrectly.

So far, sic insurance companies have agreed to refund premiums, Liberty Mutual, Quincy Mutual, Safety Insurance, Pilgrim Insurance (including its Plymouth Rock affiliate) and Metropolitan Property & Casualty Insurance (aka MetLife).  While these companies are the only ones currently named, Amie Breton a spokeswoman for Coakley’s office told Wicked Local that as many as 50,000 motorcyclists could be affected.

Unfortunately, there is no set date that refund checks will be mailed with the exception of Liberty Mutual who has already worked with Coakley’s office to clear up the matter.  Checks for Liberty Mutual policy holders will be mailed in May.

Should elderly drivers be retested?

It has been a long debated question on whether elderly drivers should be allowed to drive at certain ages.  Now that the baby boomers are beginning to reach these ages, this question is getting more attention.  With more then 20 million drivers 70 and older on the road across the nation in 2007, more people are raising the question on whether the elderly should continue to drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration noted some changes that accompany aging that could cause problems for elderly drivers.

Safe elderly drivers require the complex coordination of many different skills. The physical and mental changes that accompany aging can diminish the abilities of elderly drivers. These include: a slowdown in response time; a loss of clarity in vision and hearing; a loss of muscle strength and flexibility; drowsiness due to medications; and a reduction in the ability to focus or concentrate.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also found elderly drivers tend to be “over-involved” in particular types of collisions. To be specific, the most common error they found was collisions caused due to failure to yield the right of way.

The IIHS also looked at insurance claims and found that both collision and property damage claims begin increasing after “about age 65 meaning that seniors more often are involved in crashes.”

For further detail into this report of elderly driving, visit the article Westport News.

Breaking down the facts on Auto Insurance

Auto insurance can be complicated but it is very important that you know all the details.  A recent article published by MSN money breaks down the basics of auto insurance.

  • If you have good credit, you’ll pay less
  • Your car model affects your premium
  • Pay in full to avoid installment fees
  • Personal property within your vehicle is not covered
  • Bad driving leads to higher rates
  • If you lend your car out and something happens, you’ll be the one to pay
  • The value of your “totaled” car may surprise you
  • Check into “diminished value”
  • Taxes can still be owed on a replacement car
  • Wait to add your teenager to your policy until he or she is licensed
  • Officially cancel your insurance policy when you switch insurers

When shopping around make sure to keep these points in mind because they may end up saving you money annually.  MassDrive would like to help you in your efforts! MassDrive is excited about the competition that deregulation has created and we would like to pass on the savings to you.  Our licensed professionals can compare policies from multiple carriers and give you a better understanding of the benefits of each plan!

Inspection fees may rise

A 20 percent increase in the cost of Massachusetts automobile inspection fees may be coming.  The increase is part of a legislation package that is aimed at helping stabilize the finances of cities and towns all over the state.  Extra revenue will be dedicated to local police training.

The increase would cause the inspection charge for a passenger car to rise $6.

State Republican Paul Donato realeased a statement on the matter,

“It was something the commission felt would have a better impace on the communities by allowing them to have the opportunity to have police training.”

Under the new bill, municipalities would be able to e-billing programs and offer employee benefits already available to state workers, such as health care spending accounts and larger optional life insurance maximums.

An interesting new approach the bill proposes is cooperative purchasing agreements and mutual aid agreements with other cities and towns to save money on services, equipment and staffing.

Whether the bill will pass is unknown but it is under review by the House Ways and Means Committee.

Mileage Tax for Massachusetts Drivers?

With the current problem of roads deteriorating and state funds continuing to decline, something must be done. Nothing is set in stone, but Massachusetts is looking into a mileage tax programthat is currently being tested in Oregon. The concept is credited to Intelligent Transportation Systems in Washington DC. Scott Belcher, the CEO of the company believes their new technology is the solution to the country’s transportation problems.

The program would provide a way to tax drivers based on the amount 0f mileage driven versus increasing gas tax.  If the gas tax is increased, individuals who drive gas efficient vehicles will be affected less, and those who drive standard vehicles will make up for the savings of the gas efficient cars.

The proposed program would require that all vehicles install a GPS chip that would track distance traveled.   All gas stations would be fitted with wireless electronic readers to record mileage.  When filling up, the electronic reader would calculate the tax and apply it to the gas bill.

Senator Brown has already spoke up against this new form of taxation but only time will tell if there is a future for mileage tax in Massachusetts.

Gas Prices drop again!

For the second week in a row, gas prices drop in Massachusetts! AAAof Southern New England reported monday that the price of self-serve, unleaded regular at Ocean State stations was $2.72 per gallon. This is a 3 cent drop from last weeks prices.

This may be the cause of the 8.2 percent price drop of oil in January. The first month-to-month decline since July and the biggest decrease since December 2008, Bloomberg News reported.

This is great news for Massachusetts drivers, so get out there and fill up while the prices are low!

About CPA Staff

Mike is in charge of the 'colors and shapes' of Next Generation Insurance Group as well as the front-end development of the site (like this page). A long time standing deck enthusiast, Mike does his best work up-right and rocking out, with the occasional riff of air guitar, to heavy metal bands. Mike attended Northern Kentucky University, is a founding member of Team Do Stuff and a skilled home brewer.


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