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Health insurance and new disclosure rules

A judge was once asked for a definition of obscenity. His reply was that he would know it when he saw it. So, to the courts, it's acceptable to leave a concept undefined so long as anyone would know what it means. When we come to fraud, it's a similar problem. There are so many different ways in which someone dishonest can separate a willing victim from his or her money. It can be the most simple of lies or a complicated web of deceit that lures even the most wary of people into handing over cash. For that reason, we are left with a list of components. There must be a deception of some kind. This deception must be made dishonestly, and it must cause financial loss to the person deceived. After that, it's down to common sense. So here's the question for you. Let's say you ask advice from someone who seems to be an independent professional and then act on that advice by buying a product. Later you discover the professional received a substantial part of the price as a commission and that there were other, better products you could have bought at lower prices. You have suffered a loss by relying on the advice. Had you known the professional was being paid to sell that product, you would probably not have relied on the advice.

Now let's apply that to agents and brokers who sell insurance. You ought to realize these people are being paid a commission. How else can they make the business pay? It's basic common sense. That probably means the brokers are not dishonest by failing to explain a big slice of the first year's premium payments will go to them. But suppose these agents know there are better products at lower prices, but none of these insurers will pay them a commission. Is it dishonest not to tell you? They know you would not buy one of their products, so it's a lie by remaining silent. That's why New York stockbrokers and the brokers who sell mortgages are obliged to disclose their commissions.

Welcome to Regulation 194 which has just been approved by the New York Court of Appeal. Agents and brokers have just lost the case and will now be obliged to tell residents of that state how much they will earn a commission from any sale they recommend, and whether there are any terms and conditions that will make their commission higher or lower. That now puts all agents and brokers advising and selling financial products on the same footing. This is transparency in action. Now you might reasonably ask whether similar laws are in operation in other states. After all, government is supposed to protect consumers from any criminal practices. Well, remarkably, these rules are not so common. There are no federal rules requiring disclosure. It's expected you will protect yourselves. How are you supposed to do that? Well with the internet, you can get free health insurance quotes before you go see an agent. Armed with this information, it's obvious who's offering the best value. If you fail to do this before seeing an agent, you are asking to pay a high price for your health insurance plan .


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