Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Pet Medical Insurance: A Luxurious Necessity?

Given that in most affluent parts of the world veterinary medical treatment of one’s beloved pet often cost more than a typical human’s medical treatment, should one get a pet medical insurance to keep pet medical expenses a bit more bearable?

By: Ringo Bones

Unless you own a show dog whose prize money winnings is enough to pay for premiums for a self-insurance policy to keep skyrocketing medical expenses of your beloved pet a bit bearable, now is a good time as any to shop for a medical insurance for your pet with premiums you can afford and a coverage that’s right for your pet. Pet medical insurance may be a luxurious necessity in our current austere fiscal global environment where a typical human with a minimum-wage job can on the best of days just barely get by. After all, if ever you want to place a price on your pet’s love for you, a pet medical insurance is a good - and quite utilitarian – place to start.

Hong Kong residents often bemoan the price of veterinary treatment in their neck of the woods which on average tends to be 2.5 times more expensive than a typical human’s medical treatment. So owners could have their pets seen as a status symbol if they are in relatively good health – and seen frequenting a posh veterinary clinic.

In the more affluent countries of the European Union – like Germany – if your dog needs to have a hip replacement, veterinary facilities exist that could surgically replace your dog’s ailing hip joint with a brand new one made of medical grade titanium and plastic for around 3,000-euros. The price includes the X-Rays and the specialist fee. Strangely enough, during the 1960s – artificial hip joints intended for medical use were tested on dogs to look out for unforeseen medical side-effects. This is the reason why most veterinarians today can easily learn how to surgically replace artificial hip joints on ailing dogs because the procedure was routinely done with a high degree of success during the 1960s and the procedural steps have since been extensively documented.

Some veterinary practitioners routinely perform canine blood transfusions in their clinics on dogs that need them because knowledge on the different blood types of dogs and related treatments were already extensively documented by medical researchers over 50 year ago during their use of dogs as laboratory test animals. If such “advanced” veterinary procedures become the norm in the near future, will the premiums for medical insurance for one’s pets eventually come down to the level of mass affordability?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Kidnap And Ransom Insurance: Legalized Protection Racket?

Even though it is already freely advertized on-line and many insurance companies provide such policies, but is kidnap and ransom insurance nothing more than a “legalized protection racket”?

By: Ringo Bones

One of the fundamentals that had been laid out by the increasingly globalized insurance business since its establishment was that the first essential factor in insurance is that the element of gambling must not be present. But what if a certain insurance policy involves a sort of tacit contract of indemnity between the insurance company and the criminals doing the criminal act that needs to be insured? Does this make the supposedly “legitimate” insurance company now involved in the complicity of a criminal act? Have you ever checked out some of the policies defining these so-called kidnap and ransom insurance?

A lot of insurance companies plying their “kidnap and ransom insurance” wares on-line seem to have reach a salient consensus in their policies’ themes. Some extolling that kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance should form a part of contingency planning or risk management for any international company whose personnel work in emerging markets designated as “high-risk” as defined by the US State Department or other related global security watchdogs. According to insurance companies selling kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance, “Your employees may be seen as legitimate targets for kidnap and ransom demands”. But what if there’s some kind of collusion between the kidnap and ransom insurance providers and the actual criminals doing the actual kidnapping, abduction, extortion and what have you? Does this mean that we’re screwed?

If anyone out there with concerns like mine, they are totally warranted because of the very definition a typical kidnap for ransom insurance policy is often executed. Like one of the most valuable services that a kidnap and ransom policy can offer is the provision of a crisis management team to handle negotiations and assist with all activities involved in a kidnapping case. So what if the highly trained kidnap and ransom responders are just complicit with the actual criminals doing the actual abduction?

And wait till you hear the “confidentiality clause” about how kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance providers operate a strict policy of non-disclosure of client details. Does this mean there’s also a non-disclosure agreement between complicity of the kidnap and ransom insurance provider and the actual criminals doing the actual kidnapping and extortion?

Unlike insurance companies that issue fire insurance that support the Underwriters’ Laboratories or similar organizations involved in research and other activities actually doing something to reduce fire losses and spur fire prevention, insurance companies that issue kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance don’t seem to be supporting the local law enforcement agencies of the supposedly high-risk countries that their policy holders work. And there’s that moral hazard that it just seems too tempting – not to mention all to easy – for the insurance companies that issue kidnap, ransom and extortion insurance policies to just be complicit with the local criminal elements in order to stealthily fleece their clients with the law enforcement groups concerned being none the wiser.

So is the kidnap and extortion / ransom insurance nothing more than a legalize protection racket? Well, most of them probably provide an honest service but it is all too easy to turn a typical kidnap and ransom insurance clause into a fraudulent scheme, enterprise or even a criminal activity for profit. Given that if these kidnap, ransom and extortion responders employed by the insurance companies that issue kidnap and ransom insurance do the actual groundwork of actually doing old-fashioned legwork in order to identify the rigmaroles of the local kidnap for ransom enterprise of these high-risk business destinations, does this mean that abduction risk will be further minimized making such kidnap for ransom insurance policies just seem so unnecessary?