Taking a Rest From Thinking

I’ve been procrastinating about writing anything today, hoping for inspiration, but deep thoughts or any thoughts, actually, seem to be absent. I suppose that’s a good thing — it means I’m not obsessing over anything.

At least not today. I have been overthinking my insurance, trying to figure out if I want to stay with my same agent for automobile insurance or bundle the car insurance with my house insurance. It doesn’t save me anything. Even though the house insurance will go down (after it goes up because of the new garage), parts of the auto insurance will go way up. Other parts will go down, but mainly because the deductibles will go up. And then, because of the high comprehensive deductible, I’d have to get full glass coverage so there would be no deductible for replacing a windshield. And that cost alone is more than the comprehensive cost.

What a racket!

The one good thing about changing insurance companies would be that I’d get to set a value on my car rather than rely on the vagaries of the first insurance company. The first insurance people do know I restored the car, and they have a photo of the car as it looked a couple of years ago, so it might work out. Of course, the best thing to do is simply not get in an accident!

There are other differences to consider when switching insurance companies. For example, if I am in a chargeable accident (I presume that means the accident was my fault), and if I have been with the first company for nine years (which I have been), and haven’t had an accident in those years, my insurance won’t go up because of it.

I certainly don’t plan on getting in an accident, but such things to happen — it’s why they are called accidents. I do make sure I don’t drive at night, in bad weather, in heavy traffic, when I’m distracted, or any other unsafe condition, but still, accidents happen.

All these things have to be taken into consideration, so is it any wonder that today I am not thinking about anything and giving my poor brain a rest?

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“I am Bob, the Right Hand of God. As part of the galactic renewal program, God has accepted an offer from a development company on the planet Xerxes to turn Earth into a theme park. Not even God can stop progress, but to tell the truth, He’s glad of the change. He’s never been satisfied with Earth. For one thing, there are too many humans on it. He’s decided to eliminate anyone who isn’t nice, and because He’s God, He knows who you are; you can’t talk your way out of it as you humans normally do.”

Click here to buy Bob, The Right Hand of God

More Concrete

I recently got a bill for my car insurance along with a letter. The company was all puffed up with their magnanimity because — as they said in the letter — people were driving less, saving them billions of dollars, so were giving the money back to their customers via discounts. Sounds great, right? And sure enough, the bill did show a discount of $30. But a quick perusal of my previous bill showed that they had raised my rates by $40 for a net increase of $10. If rates are based on the company’s costs and payouts, and if people were in fact driving less and hence getting in fewer accidents and costing the company less, how could my base insurance have gone up? Sounds arbitrary to me, and just another of the many ways big companies look out for us and thank us for our patronage.

On a less cynical note, the workers finally were able to get the jackhammer to tear up my old sidewalk in preparation for building a new one without bumps and cracks for me to trip over. (Now these people really do look out for me, paying attention to things that might be hazardous around here for me as I get older, and they don’t brag about their magnanimity, either.)

They’re planning on coming back this afternoon to remove the concrete so that tomorrow they will be able to start building the framework for the new sidewalk and stoop, which brings me closer to being able to use the back door. I am so looking forward to not tracking mud into the house! I’d be tracking in some anyway, but I have an area set up in the enclosed porch by the back door for a mud “room” to help keep from tracking the dirt into the rest of the house. (I remove my shoes when I come inside no matter what door I use, but the bigger mats in the back collect more dirt than the smaller ones in front.)

The guys were worried about me inadvertently walking out the back door and damaging myself on the river of broken concrete, but I assured them I am long out of the habit of using that door. (The step is way too steep for my still-healing knee.) Too bad the broken concrete is so dangerous and impractical, because it has a rather appealing artistry to it.

Still, practicality is more important than artistry, and a new sidewalk will be wonderful. It will certainly be more of a boon than any fake discount, and more concrete.

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Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

Driving with “Big Brother”

grilleI just got a notice from my car insurance company telling me that if I have a 1996 or newer vehicle and have In-Drive, or a 2004 or newer vehicle equipped with OnStar, I can save big money on my insurance.

They, of all people, know that my car is much older than that, but insurance companies are not in the business of thinking, apparently, and just mindlessly stuffed the mailing envelope with whatever was within reach. Still, being one of those people who reads whatever falls into her hands, I examined the brochure. It said that if a vehicle is equipped with one of those devices, the information collected can be shared directly to the insurance company in return for a discount. That stunned me into verbosity. (Hence this bloggerie.) It seems unreal that people allow so much intrusion into their lives just to save a few dollars.

In-Drive is a device that records the number of miles a vehicle is driven, how the vehicle is driven, where the vehicle is driven. It also includes features such as automatically summoning assistance in case of emergency and receiving alerts about how a teenage dependent might be driving the vehicle.

OnStar is a service that offers emergency, security and hands-free calling services along with diagnostics reports and mileage records and other features.

Both these services seem as if they’d be helpful to drivers, but sending that information to an insurance company smacks of Big Brother. Sharing that information is optional now, but as such services become commonplace, chances are that insurances companies could compel drivers to have the information sent directly to them. (There must be a story in there somewhere. Maybe the murder of an insurance agent, and the villain needs to find a way to escape undetected? Maybe not. It sounds familiar, and anyway, Big Brother has been done to death — at least in fiction.)

If you are a safe driver (or rather, if the device decides you are a safe driver) you could potentially save 50%, but that’s only if you drive less than 500 miles a year, and even I, who drives but once or twice a week, puts on more miles than that. A more realistic mileage is about 8,500 miles per year. At that mileage, a safe driver could save 25%, while an average driver would save only 16%.

It makes me wonder how many people expect to get a “safe driver” rating only to find out they are an average or high-risk driver. (All drivers assume they are great drivers, but it only takes a few minutes on a busy road to see that most drivers overestimate their ability.)

Still, 16% could add up to a bit of a savings, but . . . (yep, there’s that “but” that always seems to show up in my blog posts) the OnStar service, for example, can cost almost $30.00 a month, which you’d have to take into consideration when figuring out your savings.

This wasn’t quite the humorous blog I intended, but truthfully, surveillance of any kind spooks me.

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Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Connect with Pat on Google+