What’s the difference between brand name and generic drugs?

During the Medicare webinar I presented yesterday for A.D. Banker & Company, we were talking about Medicare Part D and prescription drugs. When I explained the differences between brand name and generic drugs, nearly everyone was amazed that there were differences–they thought brand name and generic drugs had to be the same, but only with different names. Wrong.

One of my students suggested I write a blog post about the subject, so, thanks to her, here is some information you may not have known:

Brand name drugs are designed and manufactured by pharmaceutical companies that obtain patents for the drug. Once the company files for the patent, no other company can manufacture the drug for the term of the patent, which is 20 years from the date of filing. These drugs are issued two names: the brand name and a generic equivalent. For example, Tylenol® is the brand name drug and its generic equivalent is acetaminophen.

Generic drugs are similar, but not identical to brand name drugs. They’re required to have the same active ingredients and different inactive ingredients. Once the brand name drug’s patent expires, other companies are able to sell the generic equivalent. That’s why your RX migraine tablet is blue and round one month, and a different shade of blue and in an oblong shape the next month–your pharmacist used generic drugs from different manufacturers when filling your prescription.


Brand name and generic drugs must:

a) Have the same ingredients

b) Have the same dosage strength and form

c) Be administered in the same way

d) Deliver similar amounts of the drug to the bloodstream


Brand name and generic drugs:

a) Must look different, as required by law

b) Must have different inactive ingredients

Generics may vary by manufacturer and usually cost less than their brand name equivalents because much the costs of R&D have been recouped by the original manufacturer during the 20-year term of the patent. Once multiple companies are legally permitted to sell the drug, the single company holding the patent now has competition, which causes the price to drop.

Sometimes the difference in inactive ingredients affects a patient, either because of their interaction with other drugs being taken or side effects. In this case, a doctor might prescribe the brand name drug, rather than its generic equivalent.

Click here to see what the FDA has to say about generic drugs. Obviously, I am not a doctor or pharmacist and you should direct your medical inquiries about the differences between brand name and generic drugs to the appropriate medical professional.

I hope you found this information interesting. Bet you didn’t know how easily so many things in our society affect the cost of insurance!


The Pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence

As if driving motor vehicles weren’t risky enough, the second fatality involving an autonomous vehicle has scientists going back to the drawing board to see where artificial intelligence failed.

The first reported fatality involving a driverless car killed a driver in Florida in 2015. This most recent fatality, which occurred in Arizona last month, involved a pedestrian and halted Uber’s use of autonomous vehicle testing on public roads in several cities.

For information about insurance legislation involving autonomous vehicles, visit the website of the National Conference of Insurance Legislatures. I wrote and teach a 3-hour insurance CE webinar for A.D. Banker and Company, Driving into the Future: Uber, Drones, and Driverless Cars if you’re interested in more information about how this technology affects the insurance industry.

Unmanned Aircraft Systems (aka Drones)

Drones are hot these days. You see them flying everywhere: at the beach, in parks, and sometimes over your back yard.

Did you know drones need to be registered with the FAA to be operated legally? The reason you fly, and the weight of the drone, dictates the registration process and the fee.

If your drone weighs between .55 and 55 pounds:

And you only fly recreationally, you need to register either under the Special Rule for Model Aircraft (fee is $3 for a 3-year registration). If you fly for any other reason, you need to register under the UAS Special Rule (fee is $5 for a 3-year registration).

Under the UAS Special Rule Part 107, operators must obtain a Remote Pilot Certificate issued by the FAA and meet a few other requirements.

If your drone weighs 55 pounds or more, you need to register in accordance with a paper filing process.

Generally speaking, rules for flying require drones:

(a) To be flown no higher than 400′ above the ground

(b) To be kept in the visual line-of-sight of their operators

(c) To NOT fly in restricted airspace, such as:

-1- Within 5 miles of an airport

-2- Over groups of people, stadiums hosting certain events, and public events

-3- Near emergencies, natural disaster sites, and wildfires

Keep in mind that your personal and business insurance policies may not provide coverage for your drone, or its activities. If you violate any FAA, state, or local rules for drone operation–including where you fly your drone and how you operate it–you may be subject to fines, penalties, and paying out of pocket for any damage.

Right now, how drone operators invade the privacy of other individuals is almost as hot a topic as drones, themselves, are. If your insurance policies don’t provide liability coverage for your drone’s activities, they won’t defend you if you’re sued.

For all kinds of details specific information, the FAA has a user-friendly section of its website devoted to Unmanned Aircraft Systems. For insurance information about drones, either contact your insurance agent or us. Happy flying!


Linda’s Most Recent Fiction Publication is Available

Linda’s most recent fiction story appears in the 17th Annual Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition Collection, which was just released.

Of more than 5,200 entries, Linda’s story placed 15th. Only the top 25 stories were chosen for publication.

To purchase a copy of the book (it is currently being offered at 50% off the retail price of $10), visit the Writer’s Digest website by clicking this link.


What Activities Void My Rental Car Agreement?

Allowing an unauthorized person to drive your rental car is the biggest mistake you can make when renting a car. Not only does it void your rental agreement, it will probably result in your insurance policy declining to pay any claim for damage that results while the unauthorized person is driving.

Auto insurance policies only provide coverage when authorized drivers use or have possession of a vehicle. Language exists in personal auto policies that SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDES COVERAGE for two types of unauthorized drivers–you need to read your policy (or ask your agent to do so) to determine which exclusion applies to you:

  1. A person who does not have the permission of the vehicle’s owner to drive the vehicle
  2. A person who does not have a “reasonable belief of entitlement” to drive the vehicle

So, what’s the difference? Here’s a brief story that explains:

Doris detests her daughter’s boyfriend. When Irene borrows her mother’s car, Doris informs her daughter that her boyfriend is not allowed to drive the car. Irene agrees. However, when they leave the restaurant after dinner later that evening, Irene gives her boyfriend the car keys and asks him to drive. The boyfriend is tailgating and rear-ends the car in front of him when it stops at a red light.

  1. If Doris’ auto insurance policy excludes coverage for a driver operating a car without the owner’s permission, the policy WILL NOT PAY for this accident. (Doris did not give the boyfriend permission and, in fact, withheld permission in her instructions to Irene.)
  2. If Dori’s auto insurance policy excludes coverage for a driver operating a car without a reasonable belief of entitlement to drive the car, the policy WILL PAY for this accident. (When Irene handed the boyfriend the car keys and asked him to drive, it was reasonable for him to believe he had permission to drive.)

What does this story have to do with renting cars? Well, if you allow an unauthorized person to drive your rental car, your insurance company will recognize that the driver did not have (1) permission of the rental car company to drive AND DID NOT HAVE (2) a reasonable belief he or she was able to do so … everyone knows (or should know) you can’t drive a rental car unless your name is on the agreement. Therefore, you not only voided the rental agreement, you also triggered one of your auto policy’s exclusions.

People rent cars when they go on vacation or travel for business. But they also rent cars because they want to conduct activities they’d rather not engage in while driving their own cars … such as all the things that prompt rental car companies to devise their list of prohibited uses. Not all rental car agreements contain these prohibitions, but they all contain MOST of the following activities that result in a loss that occurs:

  • During the commission of a crime
  • While the driver is under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • While carrying people or cargo for a fee
  • While pushing or towing anything
  • During any type of race or speed contest
  • While teaching someone to drive
  • While using the rented vehicle outside the area stated on agreement
  • While driving on unpaved roads
  • While having more passengers than there are seatbelts
  • While transporting children without approved seatbelts
  • While the vehicle’s fluid levels are low
  • Because inadequately secured cargo, or an animal, inside the vehicle caused damage
  • While the vehicle is unlocked or the keys are lost, stolen, or left in the vehicle while not in operation
  • Because the driver did not allow enough height or width clearance
  • By theft and the renter does not return all the keys that were provided at the time of rental
  • Because the renter allowed an unauthorized driver to use/drive the car

Does Your Auto Insurance Follow You When You Rent a Car?

I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard this question. And the answer is yes … AND no!

Item 1

Under your PERSONAL auto insurance policy, the broadest coverage applies to the cars you own and insure on the policy. While coverage does follow you when you drive certain types of cars you don’t own, that coverage is limited. Most BUSINESS auto insurance policies do NOT follow the business or its employees when driving non-owned cars–unless the business has specifically purchased this coverage.

Item 2

When you rent a car, you sign a contract. That contract contains all kinds of terms and conditions. If you don’t read the contract, you don’t know what those terms and conditions are. If you don’t show the contract to your insurance agent, he or she doesn’t know what they are, either.

Regardless of whether you or anyone else reads the contract, you are still bound by its terms once you sign it!

Other Items of Note

I’ve read LOTS of auto rental agreements and ALL of them include terms that surprise most people who sign them, such as:

  1. You agree to be legally responsible for anything that happens to the car, or resulting from the car, during the term of your agreement. This agreement applies even if you would not otherwise be legally responsible under law.
  2. You agree to replace the car at a value determined by the rental car company if it is destroyed  (this includes numerous fees and charges the rental car company also determines). Unfortunately, your auto policy usually only provides coverage at book value, which is generally much less than the amount demanded by the rental car company.
  3. You agree that your insurance policy will pay first, before all other insurance policies pay, in the event of a claim. Unfortunately, the auto policies in most states say they’ll pay AFTER the rental car company’s policy pays first.

So, what does all this mean? Here are some examples of the three points I just mentioned:

  • When driving a rental car you are the middle car in a 3-car accident. Although the person who hit you from behind is legally responsible for your damage and damage to the car it pushed you into, when you signed the rental agreement, you agreed to be responsible for the damage to your rental car and the car you struck.
  • Your rental car is torched while parked in the lot at Disney World. The rental car company says the car’s replacement value is $33,000. However, your insurance company says it will only pay the car’s actual cash value (i.e., book value) minus your deductible, or $21,000. You signed the contract, so you’re legally responsible for the $12,000 difference.

In most states, your auto insurance company will not make payment for damage to the rental car until AFTER the rental car company’s policy pays first. It will eventually pay, but it could take months…

Trust me, the rental car agreement contains other provisions that disagree with your auto policy–these are just three of the big ones. If you have any questions, ask away…

Identity Theft: What You Need to Know

Identity theft and data breach are two evolving crimes that affect more and more people each year. The stories are horrendous. But plenty of information exists to help you prevent becoming a victim.

Here’s a little video from the FTC, followed by some resources that can help you understand the crime, how it’s committed, and how to avoid it.

Federal Trade Commission

Identity Theft Resource Center

True Stories of Identity Theft





Q: Do you know how hiring a ride with a Transportation Network Company (TNC) like Uber or Lyft works?

Q: Do you know if the TNC has auto insurance, requires its drivers to have insurance, and/or conducts background checks before hiring drivers?

Q: If you want to drive for a TNC, do you know if you must pass a background check, if your car must pass an inspection, if you must have certain types and limits of insurance?

Q: When does a ride really begin and end? How much does one cost and how high can the prices go?

Q: What’s all the hooplah about?

We’ll answer these and other questions during our live webinar, Ridesharing, which will be presented on May 16 at 11 a.m. Mountain/1 p.m. Eastern time. Insurance producers and adjusters in Montana will earn 1 hour of continuing education (CE) credit for completing the webinar and click here to register.

New for 2017 … Webinars by Request!

In addition to our monthly schedule of insurance continuing education webinars, we are now offering insurance CE webinars by request. This means is we will hold webinars just for you–at dates and times that work for you, including Saturday mornings. Choose from among the 15 courses in our curriculum or arrange for us to develop a webinar to meet your particular needs.

How does it work?

  1. You contact us with your preferred date and time, and the webinars you are interested in
  2. We check Linda’s availablity as instructor
  3. Our fee is based on the number of attendees; the more attendees, the lower the cost per person

For more information, click here.