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Next Year’s Benefit Planning — Life Insurance?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

As we push into the fall season independent agency owners, insurance companies and human resources departments are deep into deciding what benefits will be offered to employees in 2020.

A new online survey OneAmerica — done by The Harris Poll — found that a high percentage of American workers would like group life insurance as an employee benefit.

  59% of workers say they would purchase such insurance through their employer if offered as an option

  28% of the workers over 1,000 workers surveyed said the already have voluntary group life insurance

  47% that do not have voluntary group life insurance say it is because the employer does not offer it

The survey also paid attention to the employees who have such insurance through their employer:

53% say they have the life insurance for peace of mind

44% say they have it to protect their family from future financial hardship

39% say the picked it up to pay off debts and final expenses in the event of their death

23% say they have the insurance to leave an inheritance for their children and grandchildren

21% say the insurance will replace a spouse or partner’s income in the vent of their death

OneAmerica spokesman Dan Aiello said, “September is Life Insurance Awareness Month, and the information gathered by The Harris Poll provides further proof of the strong desire for employed Americans to have access to solutions to protect the financial future of their families.”

He also pointed out that the workplace is the best place for employees to be educated on the importance of life insurance

 

Source link: Insurance Business America

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California Legislature Addresses Wildfire Homeowners Claims

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

The California Legislature has passed a bill designed to help homeowner victims of the state’s many — and very destructive — wildfires. Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Bill Dodd of Napa, SB 240 is the Legislature’s response to problems last year with claims settlements and mistakes.

Dodd said when insurers bring people in from out of state to help settle claims they need to “have the training to provide accurate information to survivors of future fires.”

The bill’s language requires the California Department of Insurance to put out an annual bulletin on state laws regarding property insurance policies. Independent adjusters coming into an area to deal with claims will be required to read and understand the bulletin before they can begin settlements.

It also makes insurers create a single point of contact if more than two adjusters are assigned to a client within a six-month period.

Dodd said most of the mistakes were — according to testimony — because of claims adjusters brought into the state from other states. “Insurance adjusters should not be putting people through that kind of an ordeal,” Dodd said.

Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara likes the bill and said “a well-trained insurance adjuster often makes the difference.”

Dodd added that he and his staff got a lot of complaints from victims of fires who said insurers sent untrained agents with very little knowledge about handling complaints to do the adjusting.

Many — he said — gave out erroneous information and some filing claims told him that they were bounced from adjuster to adjuster and had to keep repeating the story over and over yet no settlement was forthcoming.

Republicans and Democrats alike voted for the bill. There was not one no vote in either house. The governor is expected to sign the bill into law.

As for the insurance industry, Mark Sektnan — the vice president, state government relations of the American Property Casualty Insurance Association — said his association was originally opposed to the bill. It was, however, neutral on the final product.

He said rules are important and that claimants have questions and need “a way to get them answered. A consistent message is a benefit to both the policyholder and the company.”

 

Source link: The Press Democrat

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Dogs in the Workplace: Happy — Yes but there are Risks

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

No one wants to leave their pets at home when they go to work. Dogs suffer more than cats and — maybe — birds. More and more corporations are putting pet-friendly policies into effect. Most pets That makes dog owners really happy but some co-workers — especially those afraid of dogs — are not so happy about those policies.

Dogs registered under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are okay with them but others pose big risk to business owners. Those risks — says Loretta Worters of the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.) — begin with dog bites.

She said insurance policies will cover the medical bills and legal and court costs if a medical coverage suit is filed. There is — however — no coverage for the cost of reputational damage if a dog bites a customer. That can be really bad especially if there is media coverage.

Insurance also won’t cover a dog owner if the person being bitten decides to sue. Then there’s the case of who is responsible? The owner for sure but what — also — about the employer. After all, they made the decision to allow the dog into the workplace.

Worters says probably both.

She suggests employers deciding pets are okay in the workplace have some sort of a written policy that clearly lays out the responsibility of the owner and the responsibility of the company. Also suggested is a policy on what animals are allowed.

Policies should include:

  Noise

  Weight of the animal

  Hair length

  Is the animal dangerous

  Should it be tethered or caged

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

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Around the PIA Western Alliance States

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Washington — A Wake for Liberty Mutual’s Jim Anderson: The friends of Jim Anderson (a spontaneously formed group of friends, co-workers and agents) would like to invite you to an Irish-style wake to honor the life of our former colleague and friend who passed away in July. So many have expressed a desire to share stories and celebrate a life which brought smiles to so many of us.  So please join us for a celebration of Jim’s life.

You’re Invited

Friday, September 13th – 4:00-6:00 p.m.

Shawn O’Donnell’s Irish Pub – lower event space

122 128th St. SW

Everett, WA

Appetizers will be served / Beer & Wine provided

Please RSVP francina.noordhoek@libertymutual.com or 206/473-5426

California — Work Comp Bills: California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed two work comp bills into law. The first is A.B. 1804. It requires employers to immediately report serious occupational injuries, illness or death to the California Department of Industrial Relations’ Division of Occupational Safety and Health.

The report must be done by telephone or an online mechanism yet to be determined.

The second bill is A.B. 1805 and it modifies and redefines the definition of a serious injury or illness. It removes the 24-hour minimum reporting time requirement for qualifying hospitalizations.

Source link: Business Insurance

California — Lara Appoints Members to Diversity Task Force: Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara announced the newest members of the 2019 - 2020 Insurance Diversity Task Force, which makes recommendations to the Insurance Commissioner regarding innovative ways to increase diversity within the insurance industry. The Insurance Diversity Task Force was formed in 2012 as a component of the Department’s Insurance Diversity Initiative, which encourages insurers to increase procurement contracts with diverse business owners, such as a woman-owned, veteran-/disabled veteran-owned, minority-owned or LGBT-owned businesses, as well as advance diversity of insurance company corporate boards.

The newest members include the Task Force’s first female representative of the veteran/disabled veteran-owned business enterprise seat and first woman and Latina CEO of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce in its 130 years, among other exceptional new members and trailblazers.

“I am honored to announce the new members of the Task Force, who all share the common goal with me to create greater diversity in the insurance industry,” said Commissioner Lara. “We are building the bridge that connects our state’s diverse business owners with the nation’s largest insurance industry, as well as continuing to push for boards of directors that reflect our state’s increasing diversity. I am confident that the wide range of knowledge and expertise of our new Task Force members will advance greater supplier and governing board diversity within this industry.”

Task Force members propose ideas and actions to the commissioner and the Department to encourage insurance companies to utilize diverse suppliers and to increase diversity amongst their governing boards. The transparency achieved through this initiative has helped demonstrate the progress of increased procurement between insurers contracting with California’s diverse-owned businesses which significantly increased by 93% over a five-year period, from $930 million in 2012 to $1.8 billion in 2017. However, diversifying insurer governing boards to reflect a broader set of backgrounds and perspectives remains a challenge. In 2017, insurers reported nearly 80% of governing board seats were held by men and only 12% of board seats were held by persons of color.

These appointments to the Task Force come on the heels of the timely signature of Senate Bill (SB) 534 by Governor Gavin Newsom, a bill sponsored by Commissioner Lara and authored by Senator Steven Bradford, which will continue the great strides achieved under this initiative. Among its provisions, SB 534 would (1) require insurance companies to report on their supplier diversity and governing board diversity efforts; (2) expand the diverse supplier categories to include LGBT and veteran-owned businesses; and, 3) codify the Insurance Diversity Task Force in law. Governor Newsom’s signature on

SB 534 provides critical support for the Insurance Diversity Initiative to continue to fulfill its mission to increase supplier diversity and advance diversity on insurer governing boards.

“California insurers should be using their enormous buying power to invest in California’s minority, woman, LGBT, veteran, and disabled veteran owned businesses as well as work towards achieving a governing board that reflects the diverse population in California,” said Commissioner Lara. “Since its inception, the Department’s Diversity Initiative has helped empower diverse businesses to put resources back into their local communities. Thank you to Governor Newsom and Senator Bradford for reauthorizing and expanding this valuable program to help more people and communities throughout the state.”

The next Task Force meeting will be held on Thursday, September 12, 2019 at the Department. More details are available at: www.insurance.ca.gov/diversity or you may send an email to: diversity@insurance.ca.gov.

 

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Preventing Turnover — Keeping Top Talent

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The improved economy has many people jumping to better jobs. Sometimes the talent leaving a company is talent the company can’t afford to lose. A survey from Robert half says a bunch of high-level professionals say they have what is termed “short-timer mentality.”

The conclusion comes from 2,800 senior managers from companies with 20 or more employees. Robert Half said 81% of those companies are worried they won’t be able to retain their most valued employees. That connects perfectly with a second Robert Half study of 2,800 workers.

It found 43% plan to look for a new job in the next 12 months.

Paul McDonald is Robert Half’s senior executive director. He said the big question then is how to keep these high-level professionals. Here’s what the professionals said:

  43% want more money

  20% want more time off and more and better benefits

  19% want a promotion

  8% think a new boss could keep them

  10% said nothing can convince them to stay

“In a tight employment market, workers have more options, and the grass may look greener somewhere else,” McDonald said. “Employers can help prevent turnover by learning what motivates their most valued employees and customizing their retention strategies. While money is an important motivator, benefits or growth opportunities are also strong enticements.”

The study also looked at what employers are doing to try to keep these employees:

  46% say they’re increasing communication via town hall meetings and employee engagement surveys

  41% are working to improve recognition programs

  41% are providing more professional development programs

  40% are bumping up compensation and benefits

  26% a giving reimbursement for ongoing education

  26% and putting mentoring programs in place

  24% are working on ways to keep full-time employees from getting burned out

Sadly, 7% of senior managers say they do not have any kind of retention strategy.

Here’s what else the survey found:

  Sacramento, Miami, Austin and Denver have the highest percentage of workers looking for a new job

  Minneapolis, Philadelphia, Boston and Indianapolis and Pittsburgh have the fewest

  Portland, Oregon, Charlotte, Indianapolis and Philadelphia have the most people who’d say in the job if they got more money

  Los Angeles, Miami and Tampa have the highest percentages of workers that will stay if they get a promotion

 

Source link: PropertyCasualty360.com

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Workplace Violence — Prevention Starts at the Beginning

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Environmental Resources Management is an employer consultant company. The firm’s focus is employee and employer safety. At a recent conference on workplace safety, the company’s main consultant Phil La Duke said the best place to start safety in the workplace is in the interview process.

This is where an employer does a better job of vetting the candidate. It helps avoid the hiring of a potentially dangerous worker. “If we can predict them, we can protect the people and we can prevent this,” he said.

La Duke’s expertise includes studying workplace safety and violence for the last 30-years. It led to his writing a book on safety titled Lone Gunman: Rewriting the Handbook on Workplace Violence Prevention.

He said one of the things that stood out to him while writing the book was researching job candidates and weeding out the people with potential mental health issues. They have been most connected to workplace violence.

“It begins before you even have the candidate in the interview,” he said and noted employers need to start at social media. There you need to look for “aggressive or angry posts, racist, misogynist, or otherwise offensive posts, look at their friends’ posts for ways to gauge whether a person is angry or has possible mental health problems — ‘red flags.’”

Social media shows a lot about a person. “Do they have an obsession with guns or mass shootings… if you see all their (posts are) reporting on violent events, it could be a warning,” he said.

Another warning sign might be a non-social media presence. “In an age where we have 88-year-old grandmoms with Facebook accounts, do you find it a bit odd or suspicious when you see someone with no social media presence,” he said.

He also suggests a solid background check. Look at:

  Sex offender registries

  Arrest records

  Check the National Domestic Abuse Database

  Look for restraining orders filed in local courts

La Duke definitely suggests drug testing and complains that a lot of employers do not do drug checks because too many of them come back with potential employees using drugs like marijuana.

Another very good tip is checking for lies. And La Duke gave a tip for that check. Establish a baseline. Questions asked are small talk things like the weather outside or the time. These are things people don’t lie about. Then move forward. Look at job history gaps and then start asking harder questions.

“Let these people talk; they will sink themselves if they are a bad candidate,” he said. Also make sure you look for eye contact and other non-verbal clues like excessive sweating or blushing.

Last — whatever you do — don’t ignore warning signs just because a potential job hire has the right skills. “The best candidate in the world that exhibits a penchant for violence is not the best candidate,” he pointed out. “You can train people to do their job; you can’t train people to not be mentally unstable.”

In other words, these checks and good reference checks will give you a better understanding of a candidate. But whatever you do, don’t forgo a very good background check to save money or time.

Unfortunately, he said some — maybe many — employers do.

 

Source link: Business Insurance

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China Tabbed as Nation’s Top Cybersecurity Risk

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

It’s called the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The agency is part of the Department of Homeland Security and was created in November of last year. It is tagged with coordinating the protection of the nation’s very vulnerable infrastructure from bad actors.

The baddest actor — says the agency — is China.

As part of the five-year plan it put out to take care of the country, agency head Christopher Krebs said the biggest worry is risks from that China could compromise the supply chain around the world and that includes the soon-to-come 5G technology. Other worries involve the nation’s elections systems, cybersecurity troubles nationwide and risks involving industrial control systems.

As noted in the first paragraph, the CISA doesn’t do the work. It mainly makes sure the other federal agencies charged with the safety of these systems are doing what they are supposed to do.

Krebs said he is also worried about Russia. “When we think about Russia, they’re trying to disrupt the system,” Krebs said. “And China is trying to manipulate the system, so that requires us to take different approaches.”

 

Source link: Insurance Journal

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Special Report — Medicare for All

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

As the 2020 presidential election rushes toward us, one of the most important issues that will drive how we all vote is health care. Both political parties are putting a lot of stock on the issue.

As you know the Republican Party continue to tolerate ObamaCare — though some in the party want it gone completely — and some Democrats are thinking Medicare for All is the answer.

What led us to this story is one we found about a research firm out of Seattle — Elway Research — that took a look at how people in Oregon view universal health care. Most Oregonians lean on the liberal side of things so it’s not a surprise that 75% said they prefer a single-payer healthcare system to what we have now.

What’s odd about the poll is that most are happy with their current health insurance. They did — however — find the current system confusing and growing too expensive.

The poll was commissioned by two Republican business owners and involved 400 people. Of them, 35% said they are Democrats, 25% claimed to be Republican and 21% identified themselves as independents.

The polling company urged caution on the 75% figure. Supporting a single-payer system and paying for one are two different things. “It is easier to tell a pollster that one favors a new health care tax than it is to actually vote for one,” Elway said. “Still, with 6 in 10 respondents open to a measure that would eliminate or replace private insurance, establish a new state agency and a new health care tax to fund it, these findings indicate that Oregon voters are ready to have that discussion.”

But is the rest of the country? A poll done by Hill-Harris found the discussion has started. It found:

  13% of us want a health care system that covers all of us and that does completely away with private insurance plans

  32% want a government run insurance company that coexists with private insurance

  It is the most popular plan and allows the purchase of supplemental insurance much like Medicare allows

  26% want a government insurance company called a government option that coexists with the current insurance system

  15% want the government completely out of insurance

  14% said they like things kept just the way they are now

Mohamed Younis of Gallup said the results of the survey is not surprising. “Folks are clearly saying the system is still sort of broken to some degree, but there isn't a lot of consensus around how to fix it in one way or another.”

Here’s what the poll asked those being surveyed and the responses:

Yes, the government should remove itself from paying for all health care:

  Total — 15%

  Males — 17%

  Females — 14%

  18-34 — 12%

  35-49 — 13%

  50-64 — 19%

  65+ — 17%

  Republicans — 26%

  Democrats — 6%

  Independents — 15%

Yes, the current healthcare system should be kept as is:

  Total — 14%

  Males — 17%

  Females — 12%

  18-34 — 7%

  35-49 — 10%

  50-64 — 13%

  65+ — 30%

  Republicans — 21%

  Democrats — 8%

  Independents — 15%

Yes, any citizen should be able to sign up for Medicare/Medicaid regardless of age or income while those with private plans could keep their existing insurance:

  Total — 26%

  Males — 26%

  Females — 26%

  18-34 — 24%

  35-49 — 36%

  50-64 — 23%

  65+ — 21%

  Republicans — 24%

  Democrats — 29%

  Independents — 26%

Yes Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to cover all citizens regardless of age or income and private health plans should be abolished:

  Total — 13%

  Males — 11%

  Females — 14%

  18-34 — 21%

  35-49 — 10%

  50-64 — 13%

  65+ — 5%

  Republicans — 8%

  Democrats — 17%

  Independents — 10%

Yes, Medicare/Medicaid should be expanded to cover all citizens regardless of age or income but people should be able to purchase private supplemental plans:

  Total — 32%

  Males — 29%

  Females — 34%

  18-34 — 36%

  35-49 — 31%

  50-64 — 32%

  65+ — 28%

  Republicans — 21%

  Democrats — 39%

  Independents — 34%

Source links: OregonLive.com, The Hill

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Driving — Growing More Dangerous Daily

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says we are in too big of a hurry in our vehicles. The deaths from drivers running red lights are at a 10-year high. Or to put it a different way, two or more people are killed every day by someone running a red light.

AAA looked at traffic fatalities from 2008 to 2017. Drivers ripping through red lights killed 939 people in 2017. That’s up 31% from 2009 when just 715 people were killed.

  Half of those killed were passengers or people driving in other vehicles

  35% were the drivers of the vehicles that ran the light

  5% were pedestrians or cyclists

No one — says Jake Nelson of AAA — is sure about the why of the increase but he thinks distracted driving may be a major contributor to the deaths. “Drivers distracted on their phones, pedestrians distracted when crossing intersections, are all reasonable contributing causes to what we see the data telling us,” Nelson said.

AAA did a separate survey and learned in the last month a third of drivers admit to have whizzed through an intersection when the light was red. This is in spite of knowing it’s a safety concern. “So that implies that they weren't distracted," Nelson said.

Longer commutes also might be part of the issue. Nelson said people are driving longer distances to work than they did in 2008.

“Ten years ago, we were recovering from an economic recession, and people were driving a lot less. So, pure exposure to more driving is going to result in increased crashes of all kinds,” Nelson said. “As a result of that, there will be more people who die in crashes involving red-light-running drivers.”

AAA wants more red light cameras in areas where there is a pattern of crashes.

Another part of the problem could be drivers turning off part or all of the safety systems in their vehicles. J.D. Power and Associates said some consumers are turning them off because they are “annoying or bothersome.”

Spokeswoman Kristen Kolodge said these systems are designed by automakers to improve safety and put drivers more at ease. However, it doesn’t appear to be doing that in some cases.

“Automakers are spending lots of money on advanced technology development, but the constant alerts can confuse and frustrate drivers,” she said and pointed out that the technologies are coming off like “a nagging parent; no one wants to be constantly told they aren’t driving correctly.”

This all comes from the J.D. Powers 2019 U.S. Tech Experience Index Study. It found that those turning the devices off were most ticked-off at the lane-keeping and lane-centering systems.

  23% said the systems are annoying or bothersome

  Of those, 61% said they sometimes disable them

  21% said they aren’t bothered by them at all

Kolodge said all this portends negatives for the acceptance of self-driving vehicles. “If they can’t be sold on lane-keeping — a core technology of self-driving — how are they going to accept fully automated vehicles?” she asked.

When it comes to technology satisfaction in a vehicle the 2019 Kia Stinger topped the best-performing vehicles.Of the 250 vehicles tested it came in at 834 out of 1,000 points. The lowest scoring model is 709 points.

The average is 781 points. Here are the other top performers:

  Hyundai Kona

  Toyota CH-R

  Kia Forte

  Chevrolet Blazer

  Ford Expedition

  Porsche Cayenne

For the ratings J.D. Power specifically looked at:

  Entertainment systems

  Collision protection

  Comfort and convenience

  Driving assistance

  Smartphone mirroring

  Navigation

Here is how these systems rated out of 1,000 points:

  Collision protection — 813

  Smartphone mirroring — 789

  Comfort and convenience — 787

  Entertainment and connectivity — 782

  Driving assistance — 768

  Navigation — 744

One other distracted driving problem? Pets. Dogs specifically. Volvo Car USA did a study with Harris that found allowing a pet or pets to roam unrestrained through a vehicle leads to significantly higher dangerous driving behaviors.

To come to the conclusion the Volvo and Harris looked at 15 drivers and their dogs in 30 hours of driving and came to the conclusion that they were “significantly more unsafe driving behaviors, more time distracted, and increased stress.”

Things were much calmer when the pets used pet seatbelts, harnesses, crates or carriers. Allowed to freely roam and the unsafe behaviors doubled and the distracted driving time doubled as did the stress level on humans and the dogs.

Dr. Elisa Mazzaferro is an emergency-car veterinarian (EDITOR’S NOTE: What the heck? There are veterinarians specifically for vehicles? Seriously?) She said, "While pets roaming around the car can be cute and convenient, it poses serious risk for both drivers and their pets both in terms of causing distractions and increasing the chances of serious injury in the event of an accident."

 

Source links: NPR, CNBC, Car and Driver

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Divorce After 50 Hard on the Finances

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Divorce over the age of 50 has doubled since 1990. Few things — even if you’re wealthy — can be more devastating. It’s hard on people emotionally and physically and — just as badly, or maybe even worse — financially. A study done in Germany said divorce leads to higher blood pressure and — in men — considerable weight gain.

Here’s a twist on the topic. The rate of divorce is falling for younger people and on the rise for those over 50. Part of the reason is people in their 20s, 30s and 40s are waiting longer to get married or — sometimes — not getting married at all.

Those getting married later in life also tend to stay together.

Baby boomers tend to break up. In fact, Susan Brown — a sociology professor from Bowling Green State University and the co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research calls them “gray divorces.”

She says look for many more of them in the future. From now until 2030 you’ll see about 828,000 baby boomer divorces per year. That’s close to 30% more than 2010 and four times the 206,000 that divorced in 1990.

Brown said divorce at 50 or over is far worse to experience than when you’re much younger. The level of depression rivals that of the death of a spouse. “It’s a grim picture and getting a gray divorce is a major financial shock ” she said.

Worse. Get one after 50 and expect to see your personal wealth drop by at least 50%.

  For women it falls 45% — double what happens to younger divorced women

  Older men have it better and only lose 21%

  Older people don’t come back after a financial shock like divorce

Older Americans don’t have the time to undo the financial damage of a divorce. Women who spent years at home caring for children have it even worse because it’s very hard for them to enter the workforce.

“There is no appreciable recovery on the wealth front,” Brown said. “There’s no appreciable recovery in standard of living.”

Women 63 and older getting a gray divorce have a 27% higher poverty rate than any other group that age. That includes widows. And it’s nine-times greater than couples that stay married.

Looking at that more deeply, the poverty rate for gray divorcing women is 26.9%. For men it’s 11.34%. And it’s just 3% for couples that stay married. Here’s a look at Americans 63 and older who qualify as poor after a divorce:

  Continuously married — 3.4%

  Remarried after early divorce — 3.1%

  Remarried after a gray divorce — 3.3%

  Early divorced women — 18.6%

  Early divorced men — 10.7%

  Gray divorced women — 26.9%

  Gray divorced men — 11.4%

The solution? If you’re going to divorce then you’ll need to quickly find a new partner.

  22% of women repartner within a decade of a gray divorce

  37% of men repartner in the same time span

Brown and her collogues say women tend to have a tougher time repartnering. One reason is that they live longer than men so the partnership pool shrinks as time marches on.

Another reason — says Brown — is they just prefer to stay single.

Source link: Bloomberg

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