Not to be too spooky, but how much is your body worth?


Happy Halloween! We couldn’t think of a more appropriate and ghoulish topic for the day than finding out what your body is worth. The excellent infographic below gives you a good body-part-by-body-part snapshot of your market value. (Click for larger). Or fill out a brief questionnaire for a more personalized version of your body’s worth in dollars and cents.

If you are feeling really macabre, you may want to visit the The Death Clock, which bills itself as “the Internet’s friendly reminder that life is slipping away… second by second.” Enter your date of birth, sex, BMI and smoking status. You can choose to your results on a scale ranging from “sadistic” to “optimistic” – or just plain “normal.” If things look really dire, think about your life insurance coverage and update your beneficiaries.  Oh — and we really can’t think of a better way to celebrate the day and ensure your longevity than to sign up as an organ donor.

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What kills us?


Aaron Carroll is a physician and health policy researcher. He produces a series of videos called Healthcare Triage which answer a lot of questions people have about medicine, health, and healthcare. In his recent video, he talks about risk and mortality, saying:

One of the things that baffles me about people is how they completely misunderstand risk. Lots of my friends panic about things that have no real chance of killing them, but ignore the things that will. This can lead us to make irrational decisions, and sometimes irrational policy. What really will kill us? Watch and learn.

Read more about where he got his statistics:

No matter the odds, we never know what life has in store for us … and that’s where insurance comes in. Take reasonable precautions to lower your risk of injury or death and have protection in place to minimize the financial impact of any problems that do occur. If you have dependents who rely on your income, be sure to have adequate life insurance in place.

Insurance on the High Seas



As you doubtless know from the media coverage, the Titanic sank 100 years ago last week. That disaster was long considered to be the most costly maritime insurance loss although the sinking of the Concordia Costa last year in Italy seems to have surpassed it. It’s interesting, therefore, that a Titanic insurance document has just surfaced for the first time in a century. The document, which records the total pay out of £4,000 (an estimated £263,000 or $419,432 in today’s money) by Royal Insurance, now part of the RSA Insurance Group has never before been seen by anyone outside RSA. This was only a small portion of the total insurance payments. As the ship’s hull and machinery was valued at £1 million, owners White Star Line would have had hundreds of different insurers.
The Encyclopedia Titanica has over 100 articles about insurance claims on the Titanic. Initial estimates two weeks after the disaster were that life insurance payouts totaled around $2.1 million, and accident insurance payouts came to a little more than $1.5 million. The industry estimated that life insurance losses would end up at $4 million, accident insurance losses at $2 million. Many passengers carried specific life insurance and travel policies while the survivors of other lost passengers filed claims against White Star Lines. One Mrs. Irene Harris claimed $1,000, 000 for the loss of her husband, a theatrical manager. The first claim settled was for a Mr. Ervin G. Lewy of Chicago and in a morbid note, the article comments that without a death certificate, the company had to “strain certain points” to allow the payment. Eventually, White Star paid $664,000 to settle all the claims.
In a fascinating look back at the insurance industry of a century ago, this New York Times article from April 1912 is highly complimentary to the insurers who settled the Titanic claims so quickly. It also notes that while in the age of sail, a ship was never declared lost until a year and a day after it was expected in port, modern technology – i.e., radios – had changed that age old rule and now ships were considered lost almost immediately upon the disaster.
While the golden age of ocean liners is undoubtedly past, cruise ships are at sea in record numbers. While the chances of anything happening on a modern cruise are so slight as to be almost nil, you, like John Jacob Astor, may want to consider buying travel insurance if you’re planning a voyage on the ocean deep. And you should periodically evaluate your life insurance coverage – a good idea whether you’ll be taking any ocean cruises or not. Your independent Renaissance Alliance insurance agent can help!
*Image source: PD-US – The Titanic

Showing the love, insurance style


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The Insurance Information Institute (III) is showing the love this Valentine’s Day, insurance style. They’ve created a themed Pinterest board to celebrate the day. For those of you not up on your social media trends, Pinterest is the popular “virtual pinboard” that lets you clip and share things you find on the web.
III has gathered some fun images and reminders about showing your love, insurance style… such as making sure that any expensive gifts are insured and practicing safe shopping when making online purchases for your sweethearts.
They also posted a series of three quirky video clips – life insurance promoted by fruit flies. Yes, fruit flies – you will have to watch them to see for yourself. This is part of an informational campaign called Insure Your Love, which is sponsored by the Life Foundation, ostensibly to create some buzz (ahem) around life insurance. If you are wondering what life insurance has to do with fruit flies, you can learn more at Fruit Fly Q&A, which features more clips with Frank and Fran, the stars of the fruit fly campaign.

Unclaimed property


There’s a total of more than $32 billion in the nation’s unclaimed property pools representing more than 117 million accounts. It’s mostly money or assets that were either forgotten or abandoned – and in many cases, the abandonment occurred when the account holder died and nobody else knew the account(s) existed. Don’t let your property become part of that pot!
We’ve previously talked about the importance of updating your beneficiaries on insurance polices and other financial records. Just like changing batteries in your smoke detector and getting your car inspected, you should set a routine time to do this annually – failing to do so might leave your loved ones wrangling with court proceedings – or even totally unprotected. The importance of planning cannot be overemphasized. Not to be grim, but you simply never know when your time will be up. For a statistical assessment, see our prior post What are the Odds where we have a lot of risk tools that you can play with. They range from actuarial tables to to calculators for finding out your relative risk of dying in the next year or being attacked by a shark.
OK, you get the point. Planning is important. This past week, the Wall St. Journal featured an excellent and very helpful article in their finance section about The 25 Documents You Need Before You Die – alternately titled as “Designing your death dossier,” which makes it sound pretty fancy. The article makes the point that it is not simply enough to ensure that your policies are updated – it’s also critical that somebody in your family knows what and where all your important documents are.
We counted more than 25 important documents referenced in the article – but it is unlikely that all will be relevant to your situation. Nevertheless, it’s a great reference article to bookmark and keep as a checklist for your annual planning.
Oh, and about that unclaimed $32 billion, if you think any of it might rightfully belong to you, here’s a good place to check: The National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators will let you conduct a free search.