We should start by applauding the ruling of the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission which confirmed that Title VII of the Civil Right Act 1964 outlaws discrimination on the basis of the assumed gender identity. That means 2012 is a major step forward in the fight to protect the transgendered community from discrimination. Yet this is actually little more than a gesture in the steady wave of prejudice that affects most members of the LBGT community. As an example of this bias, we have a recent report published by Queen Mary University of London. The author, Dr Qazi Rahman, finds gay men are like women, i.e. apparently both groups lack spacial awareness and so are likely to crash into anything around them while driving. It also means they have problems with maps and so are more likely to get lost.
American insurers have seized on this report as a justification for loading up the premiums of gay men. Now let’s be clear about the law. As it stands, car insurance companies are not allowed to take sexual orientation into account when setting premiums. Indeed, in many states, insurance companies are not allowed to ask people for their sexual orientation. Yet the results of a recent survey in New York confirmed gay men were being charged an average $400 a year more than straight men for the right to drive. This is not only unfair, it’s also illegal. Except, so far, there’s no sign of any ublic-spirited litigation to take on this discrimination and force insurers to set a fair rate based on each individual’s actual driving record.
The national body with the responsibility of coordinating the response to the problem of vehicle theft is the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB). This is a not-for-profit corporation that liaises between local and national law enforcement, the FBI, the manufacturers, and the insurance industry. It’s also responsible for establishing lines of communication with the public to ensure you help out. After all, if owners walk away from their vehicles leaving the keys behind, this helps the thieves. The manufacturers can have put every possible security measure in place, but it ultimately comes down to the majority protecting their property. If you’re tempted to rely on the comprehensive insurance policy, remember the car insurance premium rate rises every year. The reason is the volume of claims. If you contribute to the total by making a claim yourself, the quote when you come to renew is not going to make comfortable reading.
Check the NICB site for the latest list of the vehicles it’s easiest to steal. If at all possible, don’t buy anything in the top ten for your state. One emerging factor is the ability of professional thieves to steal the key codes for specific vehicles. In the first three moths of 2012, there have been about one-hundred thefts a month using replacement keys and stolen codes. The NICB is working with the manufacturers to repair this security breach.
There are some very comprehensive rules protecting European citizens when they travel around Europe. If the airlines fail to comply with these rules, they will be prosecuted and heavy fines are payable. So it’s in your interests to know your rights. Let’s start with the not uncommon situation of overbooked flights. You have paid for your ticket, you told the airline you were coming, and you present yourself at the airport on time only to find there are too many bodies waiting to get on the same flight. If this happens to you, the airline must first call for volunteers to give up their seats in return for agreed compensation. But suppose no one volunteers. Well, the choice falls to you.
If you decide not to travel, you are entitled to a full refund and compensation of up to 600 Euro. The actual amount varies depending on how long the intended flight and how many miles. But if it will still be worth traveling onward, you are entitled to be booked on to the first available flight to your destination. If you are offered a seat upgrade, the airline cannot ask you for the difference in price. If you must now break your journey and catch a connecting flight, all expenses must be met. Food and accommodation may also be necessary. Should the only available seats be in a lower class, you are entitled to a refund of the difference in ticket price.