Thursday, January 28, 2010

Of Stagecoaches And Continuous Coverage Discounts

It's generally accepted, albeit not authoritatively documented, that most stagecoach providers during the wild West days had a set of rules, or at the least broad hints, for passengers. Mixing common sense ("never attempt to fire a gun or pistol while on the road, it may frighten the team; and the careless handling and cocking of the weapon makes nervous people nervous") and courtesy ("don't smoke a strong pipe inside especially early in the morning"), one rule has survived to this day as advisable for those wishing to keep things peaceful in mixed company: don't discuss politics or religion.

Which naturally leads to a discussion of politics.

One of the ballot measures now qualified for the June primary in California would, if passed, allow auto insurance companies to base their prices in part on a driver's history of insurance coverage. Presently, many insurers, including CSE, offer a persistency discount on certain kinds of policies. The longer a customer stays with us, the lower their premium. It's a tangible thank you for loyalty. However, the law currently prohibits an insurer from offering a similar discount to a policyholder presently with a different carrier.

If passed, the ballot measure would encourage greater competition among insurance providers by leveling the field. If Company A doesn't have an immediate disadvantage over Company B due to the insured having been with Company B for a certain number of years, Company A is free to tout both price and service without price being a penalty. This can result in only good things for the public, as insurance providers will be looking to gain position in the marketplace. You won't see reckless price slashing, but you will see those companies with proven track records of standing by their customers when they need them shining even brighter. Like us.

And we promise a smoother ride than the average stagecoach!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What Can iPad Do For You?

Now that the Big Announcement is done and the Apple iPad is a known entity, the question arises: okay, so what are we supposed to do with it?


Set aside for a moment the fact that Apple has a collection of fans best described as Trekkies with day jobs, thus more than a tad excitable about anything Steve Jobs announces. Also set aside the "it's just a bigger iPod Touch" notion. The iPad is much, much more.

The iPad is the laptop for people who hate laptops. It can do the usual laptop things people do: check e-mail, surf the Web. It also has the multimedia capacity most laptops have, but due to their cumbersome nature are inconvenient for: music, video, reading. Far, far easier to curl up with a lightweight tablet than a keyboard and monitor.

The iPad can serve as a fairly full-functional computer, especially when paired with its optional external keyboard. The addition of iLife, if desired, enables the user to do spreadsheets, word processing and slide presentations. Plus it'll handle Office files. Do your work wherever you are, sync with your regular computer and you're done. Hardcore cubicle warriors probably won't be able to adapt, but for those who want something enjoyable in-between work sessions this is a combo that can't be beat.

There's no genuine downside to the iPad. We'll be able to use it for pleasure and business. We'll be able to go online and do what we usually do, plus have a touch screen making it easier to get around Web sites. Its portable nature will enable us to be comfortable using it whether at home or on the go.

I'm excited to see what developers come up with to take advantage of the iPad's features. Right now more than a few people are asking what is it purpose. I suspect that in a year's time the only thing the same people will be asking is why they waited so long to get one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Our Scholarship Contest... And The Ultimate Essay

Every year, CSE has a scholarship contest. It's for high school seniors who are the children of public employees. The theme they're being asked to write about is how the auto accident rate among teenagers can be reduced. There's more background about it here, and a nice write-up about it is currently on Insurance Journal's Web site.

While the topic of our essay contest is quite serious, not all essays are this somber. This is especially true when the writer decides to take a less than serious approach to the subject. From this comes the following, an excerpt from an actual college entry essay.



I am a dynamic figure, often seen scaling walls and crushing ice. I have been known to remodel train stations on my lunch breaks, making them more efficient in the area of heat retention. I translate ethnic slurs for Cuban refugees, I write award-winning operas, I manage time efficiently. Occasionally, I tread water for three days in a row.

I woo women with my sensuous and godlike trombone playing, I can pilot bicycles up severe inclines with unflagging speed, and I cook Thirty-Minute Brownies in twenty minutes. I am an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Using only a hoe and a large glass of water, I once single-handedly defended a small village in the Amazon Basin from a horde of ferocious army ants. I play bluegrass cello, I was scouted by the Mets, I am the subject of numerous documentaries. When I'm bored, I build large suspension bridges in my yard. I enjoy urban hang gliding. On Wednesdays, after school, I repair electrical appliances free of charge.

I am an abstract artist, a concrete analyst, and a ruthless bookie. Critics worldwide swoon over my original line of corduroy evening wear. I don't perspire. I am a private citizen, yet I receive fan mail. I have been caller number nine and have won the weekend passes. Last summer I toured New Jersey with a traveling centrifugal-force demonstration. I bat 400. My deft floral arrangements have earned me fame in international botany circles. Children trust me.

I can hurl tennis rackets at small moving objects with deadly accuracy. I once read Paradise Lost, Moby Dick, and David Copperfield in one day and still had time to refurbish an entire dining room that evening. I know the exact location of every food item in the supermarket. I have performed several covert operations for the CIA. I sleep once a week; when I do sleep, I sleep in a chair. While on vacation in Canada, I successfully negotiated with a group of terrorists who had seized a small bakery. The laws of physics do not apply to me.

I balance, I weave, I dodge, I frolic, and my bills are all paid. On weekends, to let off steam, I participate in full-contact origami. Years ago I discovered the meaning of life but forgot to write it down. I have made extraordinary four course meals using only a mouli and a toaster oven. I breed prizewinning clams. I have won bullfights in San Juan, cliff-diving competitions in Sri Lanka, and spelling bees at the Kremlin. I have played Hamlet, I have performed open-heart surgery, and I have spoken with Elvis.

But I have not yet gone to college.

The capper?

The writer did go to college.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

It Never Rains In California? Yeah Right

Southern California continues to be pummeled by a series of storms. The one currently working its way through the area has forced the closure of the Grapevine, the main roadway connecting central and southern California, due to snow. Further south, all airports except Los Angeles International are closed for the afternoon. Even Disneyland is closing early tonight.

At least there are no tornadoes today!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Weather Outside Is Frightful

And the danger of mudslides resulting from last year's fire is not delightful. A quick glance at how things currently stand in southern California:

The second of four storms this week will be hitting the area today by mid-morning. Although this one should be less potent than yesterday's, it will be adding one to two inches of rainfall to yesterday's totals.

There is the potential in this storm of thunderstorms and periods of localized heavy rain, with anywhere from a half-inch to an inch per hour.

Look for winds in the mountain areas blowing south to southwest with gusts of over 50 MPH. Also, expect snow in the mountains above 5500 feet, with four to eight inches of the white stuff predicted.

The bad news is this storm is but a precursor to the much stronger one coming tomorrow. It portends strong, potentially damaging winds across the entire region along with up to three inches of rain along the coast and five inches in higher elevations. Snow is predicted to be in the amount of two to four feet above 6000 feet, with the snow level dipping down to 4000 feet.

As development occur they'll be posted here.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Saluting Our Employee Of The Month For December 2009...

... Bob Pick from our External Relations department!

Bob is a true asset to CSE who simply does many tasks well in an understated fashion.

Bob received his award from CSE's President and CEO Pierre Bize yesterday. Click here for a picture of the presentation.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ruling Against Insurance Industry Harms, Not Helps Consumers

An appeals court in California has upheld a part of Proposition 103, the initiative passed in 1988 guiding much of the insurance business in the state, stating that insurance providers must pay the legal costs of consumer challenges to rate increases even if the challenge is settled out of court.

While the exact effect of this ruling on the industry is unknown, it is more than likely it will lead to providers being far more caution in requesting any rate increase due to the potential costs incurred should an individual or organization choose to object.

Although on the surface this comes off as a win for the consumer, in fact it could well turn into a detriment. If reluctance to request rates at an appropriate level due to lack of desire for incurring extra costs takes root, inevitably this will lead to carriers being in a weakened condition and/or pulling out of California altogether.