Avoid Being Vulnerable to Bad Credit Exploiters and Secured Credit Card Scams

According to a report released by the Federal Trade Commission, a Florida man was recently sentenced to spend 13 years in federal prison and to repay $12 million after being convicted of a credit card scam that issued thousands of fraudulent credit cards to consumers. Of the more than 150,000 people he defrauded or attempted to defraud, many had bad credit, which is what left them vulnerable to being victimized in this fashion. It is important for those with bad credit to be very careful when it comes to differentiating between legitimate credit opportunities and those that are merely seeking to capitalize on their past mistakes and current desires.

Understanding Terms and Conditions

If you have bad credit, the fact of the matter is that the credit opportunities available to you are going to feature terms and conditions that are less favorable than those that are offered to those with better credit ratings. That, however, is not the end of the world, as you do have the opportunity to earn those more favorable terms and conditions by meeting your financial obligations and proving your credit worthiness. Repairing bad credit takes time, something that can be hard to accept in our instant-gratification oriented society. And, that is exactly how scammers get their hooks into so many people with bad credit – they promise the consumer that he can have it now or offer what they claim to be a fast way out of a bad credit situation, a quick credit repair scheme. The scammers count on the consumer wanting the credit card bad enough that the consumer will not question the terms and conditions too deeply. They also pin their scamming hopes on reaching consumers with little credit knowledge or experience, those that will not fully understand what exactly the terms and conditions, such as additional fees, mean until it is too late.

In this recent case involving the Florida man, through an assortment of companies — including Bay Area Business Council, Inc. and American Leisure Card Corp. — he was offering consumers low-interest unsecured MasterCard credit cards. Via telemarketing, the companies he was running would tell consumers that there would be a one-time processing fee charged for the issuing of the card. At that point, the savvy consumer with bad credit, understanding that terms and conditions are generally related to his credit history, would recognize that — particularly in today’s economic climate — it is highly unlikely that they would be eligible for a credit card that included a low rate of interest among its terms and conditions. A significant advance fee should rank as a red flag, something worthy of questioning and collecting the full details of.

Secured credit cards, a credit card option used frequently by those with bad credit that are seeking to repair their credit or by those with no credit at all, are another popular device that scammers use to defraud consumers. The National Consumer Law Center, a non-profit organization that devotes its energy to consumer issues that affect people with lower incomes, recently published a report of what they call fee harvester cards.

This predatory form of secured credit card makes money for its issuers specifically because consumers do not question or understand the terms and conditions associated with the card, or are simply unaware that the negative terms and conditions exist when they enter into the agreement. One of the secured credit card offers that the NCLC report detailed told consumers that there was a $250 credit limit associated with the card. By the time that the various processing and other fees were attached to the card, the consumer was left with a mere $72 and a debt of $178, before ever actually making a purchase with the card.

When considering bad credit opportunities for credit cards, it is essential to understand the terms and conditions of the offer completely. Remember, even though you may have bad credit or no credit, there are legitimate opportunities out there, and you should never settle for those with excessive fees or other terms and conditions that vary quite significantly from the norm. Doing some research will help you to have a fuller understanding of what the norm is and will help protect you from being vulnerable to fee harvesting and fraud.

Rebuild or Establish Credit Over Time

When it comes to rebuilding bad credit to a more favorable rating or establishing credit, meeting financial obligations regularly over time is the best way. There are no legitimate quick fixes to buy and there is no way to hurry the process towards long-term improvement or establishing of credit. Any offer of credit purporting to do so should be immediately suspect.

Legitimate offers of credit for those with bad credit or no credit do exist. However, the consumer should be prepared to spend time and effort in research prior to formalizing any agreement. Finding the right credit card opportunity may take time. If terms and conditions currently offered are not satisfactory or manageable, then the consumer may be better served by focusing his efforts on reducing prior debts and working to improve overall financial standing and health, and seeking to apply for credit at a later date.

With a take it or leave it sort of attitude, backed up with the financial knowledge and understanding necessary to accurately assess credit card terms and conditions, a consumer is far less likely to be victimized by predatory lenders and scammers who seek out those with bad credit, little credit experience, or a low-income. While it is great to have a credit card for in case of emergency or for car rentals and other types of business, a credit card is not essential. It may be wiser to do without a credit card until the right sort of offer is made available. Working to improve the credit rating will help the consumer to be eligible for the better terms and conditions that reduce the overall cost of credit. With that sort of strategy, a consumer can make smart credit decisions that will enhance fiscal health and well-being.

Home Buyers: Improve Your Credit Score

Several months before you begin to look for a home, you should take steps to get “credit approved” for your loan. Your first step should be to make a list of all your existing loans and credit cards, with the company names, account numbers and monthly payment amounts. This will help you to analyze the information shown on your credit report. Include all closed loans and credit accounts if these records are available.

1) Get a Financial Check-Up

Next, make an appointment with a good mortgage lender, and request a full credit approval. As a part of the approval process, your credit report will be ordered. It will include data from the three main credit reporting agencies – Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union. The report will show three credit scores – one from each agency. The interest rate and type of loan available to you is related to your credit score.

The assistance of a mortgage professional to help you to understand your credit report and offer suggestions on how to improve your score is invaluable. For the average person, interpreting a credit report and dealing with errors is a daunting task. Credit reports are filled with frustrating jargon and codes. They are not written for the general public to read. Even more intimidating is the task of communicating with credit agencies to dispute or correct information.

2) Correct Mistakes

Credit reporting agencies often have mistakes in their data. Everything is done by computer. The data in your file is input by computers. A computer weighs your data using complicated mathematical formulas to arrive at a credit score.

Nearly everyone has paid bills late for one reason or another. Perhaps a bill was sent to a wrong address, or you have had a dispute with a vendor. It is likely that you have some issues on your report that should be disputed or corrected. Each of the websites of the three main agencies has a dispute resolution page. Feel free to use it.

3) Deal With Real Credit Issues

You may have had serious credit problems at some point in the past. Reviewing this can be emotionally draining, and will bring up the underlying situation that caused the credit problems. You will need advice on how long the issues will remain on your report, and how to re- build your credit worthiness.

Or, you may have a persistent habit of overspending. In this case, you should talk with a financial advisor or personal counselor to help you work out of debt, and establish better habits. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling – http://www.nfcc.org – offers low cost assistance for serious credit problems. If you place yourself under their supervision to handle your debts, you will not be able to obtain new credit during the work-out period – which may be years. Before doing that, ask a mortgage lender or financial advisor if there is a way to redeem your credit without their supervision.

4) Check Your Credit File

A law, passed in 2005, requires the three main credit agencies to provide a free credit file disclosure each year. It has been suggested that you could order a file from the first agency in January, one from the second in May and one from the third in September. This is the central site where your file can be ordered: https://www.annualcreditreport.com/cra/index.jsp

The purpose of this law seems to be to help people find out if they are a victim of identity theft. This enables you to monitor your file for any new credit that did not come from you.

If you take advantage of the free credit file reports, you should check them for mistakes. Use the credit report that you reviewed with your mortgage lender to compare with the data in your credit file. Keep in mind that the free credit file disclosure is not a credit report. It does not include a credit score.

5) Understand Credit Scores

Less than 620 – Poor

620-680 – Average – You may need to put more cash down on your loan.

680-720 – Good

720 – 800 – Excellent

800-850 – Seldom seen

6) Play by the Rules

The information in your credit file is scored by these factors:

35% – Payment history – Paying bills on time is very important. Today many people use auto draft or pre-written checks through online banking to pay bills. These help to prevent late payments. If you want a good credit score, do not pay late!

30% – The relationship between your available credit versus how much you have used is an important factor in your score. If you are over 50% drawn against your available credit, this will count against you. For this reason, it helps to keep old credit card accounts open, even though you do not use them. They build up the total amount of credit available to you, relative to what you have charged.

15% – The length of credit history on each loan has an effect on your score. A more seasoned loan is scored higher. For this reason it is not a good idea to open credit cards offering low initial rates, then close them after a few months and open new credit cards.

10% – The number of inquiries made on your credit report affects your score. Each time you open a credit card or new loan, your credit information is pulled. Keep these to a minimum. A recent law has made it possible for people shopping for homes or autos to have multiple inquiries, from the same industry (mortgage or auto), done over a 30 day period without penalty. However, to be on the safe side, do not allow your credit report to be pulled unless absolutely necessary.

10% – The types of credit used may hurt your score. Loans from finance companies, signature loans, furniture loans and some retail store loans are considered a poor judgment because of their high rates, and may count against you.

7) Improve Your Credit Score

It is easy and necessary to borrow money. We customarily make everyday purchases using credit cards, and set up loans for homes, cars and other purchases. Your credit score is especially important in the purchase of your home. It will affect the type of loan available, down payment required, and interest rate charged. A low score can cost you thousands of dollars in additional interest over the years. Even insurance companies factor your credit score into their decisions. More than ever, you need a good credit score, or you will pay the price.

Finance providers, rental agencies, car dealers, insurance companies and credit card companies are not going to help you improve your credit score. In fact, they have an economic interest in charging you a higher rate. It is up to you to be proactive about understanding and improving your own credit score. A good time to start is when you begin the mortgage approval process for a home purchase. It is a good habit to have.

Search Results

Bad credit is like an ongoing battle for many loan borrowers. Bad credit has many repercussions for the people when they apply for personal loans. You usually are branded as a bad credit borrower if you have anywhere in your credit history terms like late payments, county court judgments, bankruptcy, foreclosures, charge offs etc. All such financial blunders are termed as bad credit while applying for personal loans. But then again there is a solution to every difficulty. In this case it is called – personal loans for bad credit.

Bad credit borrower when applies for personal loans usually face the liability of higher interest rates. This is. When you make late payments on your loans, it is a negative sign with respect to loan borrowing. It is termed as bad credit on your credit report. The loan lender sees this and charges you more because your credit report indicates a paradigm of risk. It suggests that you might make the same mistake again.

The threat of higher interest rate can be considerably reduced by placing collateral for personal loans with bad credit. Secured Personal loans for bad credit will be easily approved. Also, they have lesser interest rates. This is because you are placing a security which can be used by the loan lender to pay for their money if you fail to repay. This minimizes the risk of the loan lender. A home or real estate makes the best collateral for bad credit personal loans. You can’t slip with secured bad credit personal loans. It is absolutely advised against. For you can lose your property in such a deal. The loan lender providing bad credit personal loans will also be looking at things like your job profile. If you have a stable job which you have been continuing for some years – your bad credit personal loans application will not be passed unheard.

Avoid These Six Common Life Insurance Mistakes

Life insurance is one of the most important components of any individual’s financial plan. However there is lot of misunderstanding about life insurance, mainly due to the way life insurance products have been sold over the years in India. We have discussed some common mistakes insurance buyers should avoid when buying insurance policies.

1. Underestimating insurance requirement: Many life insurance buyers choose their insurance covers or sum assured, based on the plans their agents want to sell and how much premium they can afford. This a wrong approach. Your insurance requirement is a function of your financial situation, and has nothing do with what products are available. Many insurance buyers use thumb rules like 10 times annual income for cover. Some financial advisers say that a cover of 10 times your annual income is adequate because it gives your family 10 years worth of income, when you are gone. But this is not always correct. Suppose, you have 20 year mortgage or home loan. How will your family pay the EMIs after 10 years, when most of the loan is still outstanding? Suppose you have very young children. Your family will run out of income, when your children need it the most, e.g. for their higher education. Insurance buyers need to consider several factors in deciding how much insurance cover is adequate for them.

· Repayment of the entire outstanding debt (e.g. home loan, car loan etc.) of the policy holder

· After debt repayment, the cover or sum assured should have surplus funds to generate enough monthly income to cover all the living expenses of the dependents of the policy holder, factoring in inflation

· After debt repayment and generating monthly income, the sum assured should also be adequate to meet future obligations of the policy holder, like children’s education, marriage etc.

2. Choosing the cheapest policy: Many insurance buyers like to buy policies that are cheaper. This is another serious mistake. A cheap policy is no good, if the insurance company for some reason or another cannot fulfil the claim in the event of an untimely death. Even if the insurer fulfils the claim, if it takes a very long time to fulfil the claim it is certainly not a desirable situation for family of the insured to be in. You should look at metrics like Claims Settlement Ratio and Duration wise settlement of death claims of different life insurance companies, to select an insurer, that will honour its obligation in fulfilling your claim in a timely manner, should such an unfortunate situation arise. Data on these metrics for all the insurance companies in India is available in the IRDA annual report (on the IRDA website). You should also check claim settlement reviews online and only then choose a company that has a good track record of settling claims.

3. Treating life insurance as an investment and buying the wrong plan: The common misconception about life insurance is that, it is also as a good investment or retirement planning solution. This misconception is largely due to some insurance agents who like to sell expensive policies to earn high commissions. If you compare returns from life insurance to other investment options, it simply does not make sense as an investment. If you are a young investor with a long time horizon, equity is the best wealth creation instrument. Over a 20 year time horizon, investment in equity funds through SIP will result in a corpus that is at least three or four times the maturity amount of life insurance plan with a 20 year term, with the same investment. Life insurance should always been seen as protection for your family, in the event of an untimely death. Investment should be a completely separate consideration. Even though insurance companies sell Unit Linked Insurance Plans (ULIPs) as attractive investment products, for your own evaluation you should separate the insurance component and investment component and pay careful attention to what portion of your premium actually gets allocated to investments. In the early years of a ULIP policy, only a small amount goes to buying units.

A good financial planner will always advise you to buy term insurance plan. A term plan is the purest form of insurance and is a straightforward protection policy. The premium of term insurance plans is much less than other types of insurance plans, and it leaves the policy holders with a much larger investible surplus that they can invest in investment products like mutual funds that give much higher returns in the long term, compared to endowment or money back plans. If you are a term insurance policy holder, under some specific situations, you may opt for other types of insurance (e.g. ULIP, endowment or money back plans), in addition to your term policy, for your specific financial needs.

4. Buying insurance for the purpose of tax planning: For many years agents have inveigled their clients into buying insurance plans to save tax under Section 80C of the Income Tax Act. Investors should realize that insurance is probably the worst tax saving investment. Return from insurance plans is in the range of 5 – 6%, whereas Public Provident Fund, another 80C investment, gives close to 9% risk free and tax free returns. Equity Linked Saving Schemes, another 80C investment, gives much higher tax free returns over the long term. Further, returns from insurance plans may not be entirely tax free. If the premiums exceed 20% of sum assured, then to that extent the maturity proceeds are taxable. As discussed earlier, the most important thing to note about life insurance is that objective is to provide life cover, not to generate the best investment return.

5. Surrendering life insurance policy or withdrawing from it before maturity: This is a serious mistake and compromises the financial security of your family in the event of an unfortunate incident. Life Insurance should not be touched until the unfortunate death of the insured occurs. Some policy holders surrender their policy to meet an urgent financial need, with the hope of buying a new policy when their financial situation improves. Such policy holders need to remember two things. First, mortality is not in anyone’s control. That is why we buy life insurance in the first place. Second, life insurance gets very expensive as the insurance buyer gets older. Your financial plan should provide for contingency funds to meet any unexpected urgent expense or provide liquidity for a period of time in the event of a financial distress.

6. Insurance is a one-time exercise: I am reminded of an old motorcycle advertisement on television, which had the punch line, “Fill it, shut it, forget it”. Some insurance buyers have the same philosophy towards life insurance. Once they buy adequate cover in a good life insurance plan from a reputed company, they assume that their life insurance needs are taken care of forever. This is a mistake. Financial situation of insurance buyers change with time. Compare your current income with your income ten years back. Hasn’t your income grown several times? Your lifestyle would also have improved significantly. If you bought a life insurance plan ten years ago based on your income back then, the sum assured will not be enough to meet your family’s current lifestyle and needs, in the unfortunate event of your untimely death. Therefore you should buy an additional term plan to cover that risk. Life Insurance needs have to be re-evaluated at a regular frequency and any additional sum assured if required, should be bought.

Conclusion

Investors should avoid these common mistakes when buying insurance policies. Life insurance is one of the most important components of any individual’s financial plan. Therefore, thoughtful consideration must be devoted to life insurance. Insurance buyers should exercise prudence against questionable selling practised in the life insurance industry. It is always beneficial to engage a financial planner who looks at your entire portfolio of investments and insurance on a holistic basis, so that you can take the best decision with regards to both life insurance and investments.

The Basic Credit Card Types

It may seem incredible, but credit card issuers clog the mails with over 2.5 billion offers inviting people to apply for a credit card. Even those who would not qualify for a conventional credit card due to serious credit problems are now able to get one; some credit card issuers even specialize in this particular type of market. And according to financial gurus, there are at least a billion credit cards in active circulation throughout the United States alone.

Credit has been an economic cornerstone for some time now. Surveys show that the average American household is estimated to have at least twelve credit cards, including charge cards. While you may tend to think that one credit card is pretty much the same as the next, there are in actual fact distinct characteristics for each different credit card type. It is good to know these difference between the three different types of cards in the market: a bank credit card, a travel credit card, an entertainment credit card (although nowadays the combined travel and entertainment card has become more common) and a retail credit card or house card.

Bank Credit Cards

You have probably noticed that most credit cards bear either the logo of Visa or MasterCard together with the name of the bank. It would appear that the credit card has been issued by either Visa or MasterCard. That is not quite an accurate assumption: these two companies do not issue credit cards directly to the consumers. Most of the credit cards on the market today are offered by thousands of banks around the globe. Each bank is linked to the credit card association, because are not allowed to issue any kind of card unless they are association members.

Visa is a privately held membership association, although it is preparing to go public. It started as an association of banks in California and the West Coast. There are over 20,000 financial institutions in the membership rolls, and virtually all of them offer Visa Card. MasterCard is also a membership association, similar to Visa, and originally consisted of member banks in the East.

A bank credit card is in reality a revolving credit line. When you receive your statement, you can pay all or part of your balance each month, run up the balance again and so on. Being a credit line, the account comes with a pre-determined credit limit that depends on key factors like disposable income, credit history, etc. The credit limit can be as low as a $100 or as high as many thousands of dollars.

It is possible for card holders to get themselves into trouble when they do not properly manage the revolving credit line. When you carry a balance instead of paying it off, the credit card issuer starts charging interest on that balance — in some cases, this interest could be pretty steep. The interest rate varies widely, depending on who issued the card, but you could expect the average credit card interest rate to be at about 18 percent.

For instance, if you carry forward a $1,000 balance for 12 months, you pay $180 in interest per year or $15 every month. If you maintain a $1,000 savings account, you will earn about $40 in interest per year. Those who get into trouble will have to reduce debt, and one of the more common ways to go about this, is to arrange for credit card debt consolidation, which helps lighten the interest burden.

Travel and Entertainment Card

Travel and entertainment cards are similar to bank credit cards in the sense that holders can charge purchases at various stores and locations. However, they are also different from bank credit cards because they are offered directly by the credit card companies, namely, American Express and Diners Club.

This credit card type was once accepted primarily at travel- and entertainment-related businesses such as airlines, hotels, restaurants and car rentals. Nowadays, all other establishments, such as upscale department stores, gas stations and drugstores, accept them. Like any bank card, the typical travel and entertainment card of today offers the menu of features that most credit card holders have come to expect, such as frequent flyer miles, luggage insurance and collision insurance coverage on rented cars.

A further difference between travel and entertainment cards, and bank cards, is that travel entertainment cards do not carry an extended line of credit. This means that you will are required to pay your outstanding balances in full, either within one or two billing periods, in order to for the account to stay current.

Both travel and entertainment credit card providers, such as American Express and Diners Club, also deliver categorized summaries of expenses charged to the credit cards at the end of each year. This certainly is a convenience at tax time.

House Card

Unlike a bank credit card, and a travel and entertainment card, which you can use in many purchase locations, a house card is accepted only at a particular store or stores within the same chain. House cards (also referred to as retail charge cards) are the second largest category of credit cards; major house issuers include department stores, oil and gasoline companies, and telephone companies. Discover Card, once owned by Sears, was probably the biggest house card until it was purchased by a financial institution to become a distinct credit card company.

Merchants are very much in favor of house cards as these cards are valuable in helping them to both develop customer loyalty and enhance sales; you may appreciate the shopping convenience they give you. Just like bank credit cards, house cards give you a line of credit, with a limit that varies depending on your creditworthiness. For this reason, you may choose not to pay your credit card bill in full each month. Note, however, that the majority of house cards charge fixed interest rates of between 18 and 22 percent annually; thus a house card is more expensive in terms of interest cost than a bank credit card.

All types of credit cards involve costs when you use them. After knowing the different credit card types, you may choose the credit card that best fits your personality and needs. If you have a number of credit cards on your wallet, you may also consider discarding some.

If you are the type who does not carry a monthly balance, you can have a credit card with no annual fee but make sure that there is a grace period on purchases. However, if you do carry a balance, it is wise to do away with a credit card that has the worst of the following:

· High interest rates

· Unfavorable interest calculations. A credit card may calculate interest charges based on average daily balance, not on the balance due.

· No grace period. Some credit cards might charge interest from the date of purchase until payment date, even if you pay off your balance.

· Nuisance fees. Try to do away with credit cards that have late-payment fees, over-limit fees, fees for not carrying a balance or only a balance below a certain level, or a percentage fee on your credit limit.

The modern bank credit card was first introduced in the 1960s by the Bank of America; the travel and entertainment credit cards were both introduced in the 1950s. Much may changed since then in terms of features and benefits, but the basic characteristics of each type of credit card have remained the same.

Finding the Best Mexico Insurance Solution For Your RV

For the bold and adventurous RV enthusiast, Mexico can be an RVers paradise. There are hundreds of incredibly scenic and not too crowded RV parks up and down the shores of the Baja Peninsula and Mexico’s Pacific coast. The weather is nice, the sport fishing is great, the surf is always up somewhere, and the free-spirited culture makes for a friendly and entertaining community. But before the fun begins, you need to make sure your beloved travel companion, your RV, will be protected with the proper insurance in Mexico.

For those of you not familiar with the rules about Mexican auto insurance, here is your crash course. Mexican authorities, meaning the Mexican police and the Mexican court system, do not recognize US or Canadian vehicle insurance. At a bare minimum, you must get a Mexican liability auto insurance policy to pay for damages you might cause to third parties. If you do not have liability insurance that is underwritten by a Mexican insurance company, you could face a real nightmare if you were involved in a traffic accident. If you are in a traffic accident in Mexico and you can not prove that you can pay for the damages you caused to a third party with a Mexican insurance policy, there is a good possibility that your vehicle will be impounded and you will be detained until you come up with the funds to pay for the damages. All of this hassle can be avoided if you have a Mexican liability insurance policy that demonstrates your ability to pay for the damages. So always purchase a Mexican insurance policy before you drive your vehicle into Mexico.

OK – So now that you understand that you must get a Mexican RV insurance policy, you are now probably wondering where to purchase this insurance, and what coverage do you actually need. This article will give you a road map of how to shop for your Mexico RV insurance.

Is your RV registered in the US or Canada?

This actually can make a huge difference in the options available to you for insuring you RV in Mexico. Many US RV insurance companies have recently introduced special RV insurance programs which actually extend physical damage and theft insurance coverage in to Mexico. Sorry Canadians, at this time there are no Canadian RV insurance companies who extend any type of RV insurance coverage into Mexico, but perhaps this will change in the future. Until then, this portion of the article only applies to US registered RVs.

Insurance Law – An Indian Perspective

INTRODUCTION

“Insurance should be bought to protect you against a calamity that would otherwise be financially devastating.”

In simple terms, insurance allows someone who suffers a loss or accident to be compensated for the effects of their misfortune. It lets you protect yourself against everyday risks to your health, home and financial situation.

Insurance in India started without any regulation in the Nineteenth Century. It was a typical story of a colonial epoch: few British insurance companies dominating the market serving mostly large urban centers. After the independence, it took a theatrical turn. Insurance was nationalized. First, the life insurance companies were nationalized in 1956, and then the general insurance business was nationalized in 1972. It was only in 1999 that the private insurance companies have been allowed back into the business of insurance with a maximum of 26% of foreign holding.

“The insurance industry is enormous and can be quite intimidating. Insurance is being sold for almost anything and everything you can imagine. Determining what’s right for you can be a very daunting task.”

Concepts of insurance have been extended beyond the coverage of tangible asset. Now the risk of losses due to sudden changes in currency exchange rates, political disturbance, negligence and liability for the damages can also be covered.

But if a person thoughtfully invests in insurance for his property prior to any unexpected contingency then he will be suitably compensated for his loss as soon as the extent of damage is ascertained.

The entry of the State Bank of India with its proposal of bank assurance brings a new dynamics in the game. The collective experience of the other countries in Asia has already deregulated their markets and has allowed foreign companies to participate. If the experience of the other countries is any guide, the dominance of the Life Insurance Corporation and the General Insurance Corporation is not going to disappear any time soon.
The aim of all insurance is to compensate the owner against loss arising from a variety of risks, which he anticipates, to his life, property and business. Insurance is mainly of two types: life insurance and general insurance. General insurance means Fire, Marine and Miscellaneous insurance which includes insurance against burglary or theft, fidelity guarantee, insurance for employer’s liability, and insurance of motor vehicles, livestock and crops.

LIFE INSURANCE IN INDIA

“Life insurance is the heartfelt love letter ever written.

It calms down the crying of a hungry baby at night. It relieves the heart of a bereaved widow.

It is the comforting whisper in the dark silent hours of the night.”

Life insurance made its debut in India well over 100 years ago. Its salient features are not as widely understood in our country as they ought to be. There is no statutory definition of life insurance, but it has been defined as a contract of insurance whereby the insured agrees to pay certain sums called premiums, at specified time, and in consideration thereof the insurer agreed to pay certain sums of money on certain condition sand in specified way upon happening of a particular event contingent upon the duration of human life.

Life insurance is superior to other forms of savings!

“There is no death. Life Insurance exalts life and defeats death.

It is the premium we pay for the freedom of living after death.”

Savings through life insurance guarantee full protection against risk of death of the saver. In life insurance, on death, the full sum assured is payable (with bonuses wherever applicable) whereas in other savings schemes, only the amount saved (with interest) is payable.

The essential features of life insurance are a) it is a contract relating to human life, which b) provides for payment of lump-sum amount, and c) the amount is paid after the expiry of certain period or on the death of the assured. The very purpose and object of the assured in taking policies from life insurance companies is to safeguard the interest of his dependents viz., wife and children as the case may be, in the even of premature death of the assured as a result of the happening in any contingency. A life insurance policy is also generally accepted as security for even a commercial loan.

NON-LIFE INSURANCE

“Every asset has a value and the business of general insurance is related to the protection of economic value of assets.”

Non-life insurance means insurance other than life insurance such as fire, marine, accident, medical, motor vehicle and household insurance. Assets would have been created through the efforts of owner, which can be in the form of building, vehicles, machinery and other tangible properties. Since tangible property has a physical shape and consistency, it is subject to many risks ranging from fire, allied perils to theft and robbery.
Few of the General Insurance policies are:

Property Insurance: The home is most valued possession. The policy is designed to cover the various risks under a single policy. It provides protection for property and interest of the insured and family.

Health Insurance: It provides cover, which takes care of medical expenses following hospitalization from sudden illness or accident.
Personal Accident Insurance: This insurance policy provides compensation for loss of life or injury (partial or permanent) caused by an accident. This includes reimbursement of cost of treatment and the use of hospital facilities for the treatment.

Travel Insurance: The policy covers the insured against various eventualities while traveling abroad. It covers the insured against personal accident, medical expenses and repatriation, loss of checked baggage, passport etc.

Liability Insurance: This policy indemnifies the Directors or Officers or other professionals against loss arising from claims made against them by reason of any wrongful Act in their Official capacity.

Motor Insurance: Motor Vehicles Act states that every motor vehicle plying on the road has to be insured, with at least Liability only policy. There are two types of policy one covering the act of liability, while other covers insurers all liability and damage caused to one’s vehicles.

JOURNEY FROM AN INFANT TO ADOLESCENCE!

Historical Perspective

The history of life insurance in India dates back to 1818 when it was conceived as a means to provide for English Widows. Interestingly in those days a higher premium was charged for Indian lives than the non-Indian lives as Indian lives were considered more risky for coverage.

The Bombay Mutual Life Insurance Society started its business in 1870. It was the first company to charge same premium for both Indian and non-Indian lives. The Oriental Assurance Company was established in 1880. The General insurance business in India, on the other hand, can trace its roots to the Triton (Tital) Insurance Company Limited, the first general insurance company established in the year 1850 in Calcutta by the British. Till the end of nineteenth century insurance business was almost entirely in the hands of overseas companies.

Insurance regulation formally began in India with the passing of the Life Insurance Companies Act of 1912 and the Provident Fund Act of 1912. Several frauds during 20’s and 30’s desecrated insurance business in India. By 1938 there were 176 insurance companies. The first comprehensive legislation was introduced with the Insurance Act of 1938 that provided strict State Control over insurance business. The insurance business grew at a faster pace after independence. Indian companies strengthened their hold on this business but despite the growth that was witnessed, insurance remained an urban phenomenon.

The Government of India in 1956, brought together over 240 private life insurers and provident societies under one nationalized monopoly corporation and Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) was born. Nationalization was justified on the grounds that it would create much needed funds for rapid industrialization. This was in conformity with the Government’s chosen path of State lead planning and development.

The (non-life) insurance business continued to prosper with the private sector till 1972. Their operations were restricted to organized trade and industry in large cities. The general insurance industry was nationalized in 1972. With this, nearly 107 insurers were amalgamated and grouped into four companies – National Insurance Company, New India Assurance Company, Oriental Insurance Company and United India Insurance Company. These were subsidiaries of the General Insurance Company (GIC).

The life insurance industry was nationalized under the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC) Act of India. In some ways, the LIC has become very flourishing. Regardless of being a monopoly, it has some 60-70 million policyholders. Given that the Indian middle-class is around 250-300 million, the LIC has managed to capture some 30 odd percent of it. Around 48% of the customers of the LIC are from rural and semi-urban areas. This probably would not have happened had the charter of the LIC not specifically set out the goal of serving the rural areas. A high saving rate in India is one of the exogenous factors that have helped the LIC to grow rapidly in recent years. Despite the saving rate being high in India (compared with other countries with a similar level of development), Indians display high degree of risk aversion. Thus, nearly half of the investments are in physical assets (like property and gold). Around twenty three percent are in (low yielding but safe) bank deposits. In addition, some 1.3 percent of the GDP are in life insurance related savings vehicles. This figure has doubled between 1985 and 1995.

A World viewpoint – Life Insurance in India

In many countries, insurance has been a form of savings. In many developed countries, a significant fraction of domestic saving is in the form of donation insurance plans. This is not surprising. The prominence of some developing countries is more surprising. For example, South Africa features at the number two spot. India is nestled between Chile and Italy. This is even more surprising given the levels of economic development in Chile and Italy. Thus, we can conclude that there is an insurance culture in India despite a low per capita income. This promises well for future growth. Specifically, when the income level improves, insurance (especially life) is likely to grow rapidly.

INSURANCE SECTOR REFORM:

Committee Reports: One Known, One Anonymous!

Although Indian markets were privatized and opened up to foreign companies in a number of sectors in 1991, insurance remained out of bounds on both counts. The government wanted to proceed with caution. With pressure from the opposition, the government (at the time, dominated by the Congress Party) decided to set up a committee headed by Mr. R. N. Malhotra (the then Governor of the Reserve Bank of India).

Malhotra Committee

Liberalization of the Indian insurance market was suggested in a report released in 1994 by the Malhotra Committee, indicating that the market should be opened to private-sector competition, and eventually, foreign private-sector competition. It also investigated the level of satisfaction of the customers of the LIC. Inquisitively, the level of customer satisfaction seemed to be high.

In 1993, Malhotra Committee – headed by former Finance Secretary and RBI Governor Mr. R. N. Malhotra – was formed to evaluate the Indian insurance industry and recommend its future course. The Malhotra committee was set up with the aim of complementing the reforms initiated in the financial sector. The reforms were aimed at creating a more efficient and competitive financial system suitable for the needs of the economy keeping in mind the structural changes presently happening and recognizing that insurance is an important part of the overall financial system where it was necessary to address the need for similar reforms. In 1994, the committee submitted the report and some of the key recommendations included:

o Structure

Government bet in the insurance Companies to be brought down to 50%. Government should take over the holdings of GIC and its subsidiaries so that these subsidiaries can act as independent corporations. All the insurance companies should be given greater freedom to operate.
Competition

Private Companies with a minimum paid up capital of Rs.1 billion should be allowed to enter the sector. No Company should deal in both Life and General Insurance through a single entity. Foreign companies may be allowed to enter the industry in collaboration with the domestic companies. Postal Life Insurance should be allowed to operate in the rural market. Only one State Level Life Insurance Company should be allowed to operate in each state.

o Regulatory Body

The Insurance Act should be changed. An Insurance Regulatory body should be set up. Controller of Insurance – a part of the Finance Ministry- should be made Independent.

o Investments

Compulsory Investments of LIC Life Fund in government securities to be reduced from 75% to 50%. GIC and its subsidiaries are not to hold more than 5% in any company (there current holdings to be brought down to this level over a period of time).

o Customer Service

LIC should pay interest on delays in payments beyond 30 days. Insurance companies must be encouraged to set up unit linked pension plans. Computerization of operations and updating of technology to be carried out in the insurance industry. The committee accentuated that in order to improve the customer services and increase the coverage of insurance policies, industry should be opened up to competition. But at the same time, the committee felt the need to exercise caution as any failure on the part of new competitors could ruin the public confidence in the industry. Hence, it was decided to allow competition in a limited way by stipulating the minimum capital requirement of Rs.100 crores.

The committee felt the need to provide greater autonomy to insurance companies in order to improve their performance and enable them to act as independent companies with economic motives. For this purpose, it had proposed setting up an independent regulatory body – The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority.

Reforms in the Insurance sector were initiated with the passage of the IRDA Bill in Parliament in December 1999. The IRDA since its incorporation as a statutory body in April 2000 has meticulously stuck to its schedule of framing regulations and registering the private sector insurance companies.

Since being set up as an independent statutory body the IRDA has put in a framework of globally compatible regulations. The other decision taken at the same time to provide the supporting systems to the insurance sector and in particular the life insurance companies was the launch of the IRDA online service for issue and renewal of licenses to agents. The approval of institutions for imparting training to agents has also ensured that the insurance companies would have a trained workforce of insurance agents in place to sell their products.

The Government of India liberalized the insurance sector in March 2000 with the passage of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (IRDA) Bill, lifting all entry restrictions for private players and allowing foreign players to enter the market with some limits on direct foreign ownership. Under the current guidelines, there is a 26 percent equity lid for foreign partners in an insurance company. There is a proposal to increase this limit to 49 percent.

The opening up of the sector is likely to lead to greater spread and deepening of insurance in India and this may also include restructuring and revitalizing of the public sector companies. In the private sector 12 life insurance and 8 general insurance companies have been registered. A host of private Insurance companies operating in both life and non-life segments have started selling their insurance policies since 2001

Mukherjee Committee

Immediately after the publication of the Malhotra Committee Report, a new committee, Mukherjee Committee was set up to make concrete plans for the requirements of the newly formed insurance companies. Recommendations of the Mukherjee Committee were never disclosed to the public. But, from the information that filtered out it became clear that the committee recommended the inclusion of certain ratios in insurance company balance sheets to ensure transparency in accounting. But the Finance Minister objected to it and it was argued by him, probably on the advice of some of the potential competitors, that it could affect the prospects of a developing insurance company.

LAW COMMISSION OF INDIA ON REVISION OF THE INSURANCE ACT 1938 – 190th Law Commission Report

The Law Commission on 16th June 2003 released a Consultation Paper on the Revision of the Insurance Act, 1938. The previous exercise to amend the Insurance Act, 1938 was undertaken in 1999 at the time of enactment of the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, 1999 (IRDA Act).

The Commission undertook the present exercise in the context of the changed policy that has permitted private insurance companies both in the life and non-life sectors. A need has been felt to toughen the regulatory mechanism even while streamlining the existing legislation with a view to removing portions that have become superfluous as a consequence of the recent changes.

Among the major areas of changes, the Consultation paper suggested the following:

a. merging of the provisions of the IRDA Act with the Insurance Act to avoid multiplicity of legislations;

b. deletion of redundant and transitory provisions in the Insurance Act, 1938;

c. Amendments reflect the changed policy of permitting private insurance companies and strengthening the regulatory mechanism;

d. Providing for stringent norms regarding maintenance of ‘solvency margin’ and investments by both public sector and private sector insurance companies;

e. Providing for a full-fledged grievance redressal mechanism that includes:

o The constitution of Grievance Redressal Authorities (GRAs) comprising one judicial and two technical members to deal with complaints/claims of policyholders against insurers (the GRAs are expected to replace the present system of insurer appointed Ombudsman);

o Appointment of adjudicating officers by the IRDA to determine and levy penalties on defaulting insurers, insurance intermediaries and insurance agents;

o Providing for an appeal against the decisions of the IRDA, GRAs and adjudicating officers to an Insurance Appellate Tribunal (IAT) comprising a judge (sitting or retired) of the Supreme Court/Chief Justice of a High Court as presiding officer and two other members having sufficient experience in insurance matters;

o Providing for a statutory appeal to the Supreme Court against the decisions of the IAT.

LIFE & NON-LIFE INSURANCE – Development and Growth!

The year 2006 turned out to be a momentous year for the insurance sector as regulator the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority Act, laid the foundation for free pricing general insurance from 2007, while many companies announced plans to attack into the sector.

Both domestic and foreign players robustly pursued their long-pending demand for increasing the FDI limit from 26 per cent to 49 per cent and toward the fag end of the year, the Government sent the Comprehensive Insurance Bill to Group of Ministers for consideration amid strong reservation from Left parties. The Bill is likely to be taken up in the Budget session of Parliament.

The infiltration rates of health and other non-life insurances in India are well below the international level. These facts indicate immense growth potential of the insurance sector. The hike in FDI limit to 49 per cent was proposed by the Government last year. This has not been operationalized as legislative changes are required for such hike. Since opening up of the insurance sector in 1999, foreign investments of Rs. 8.7 billion have tipped into the Indian market and 21 private companies have been granted licenses.

The involvement of the private insurers in various industry segments has increased on account of both their capturing a part of the business which was earlier underwritten by the public sector insurers and also creating additional business boulevards. To this effect, the public sector insurers have been unable to draw upon their inherent strengths to capture additional premium. Of the growth in premium in 2004-05, 66.27 per cent has been captured by the private insurers despite having 20 per cent market share.

The life insurance industry recorded a premium income of Rs.82854.80 crore during the financial year 2004-05 as against Rs.66653.75 crore in the previous financial year, recording a growth of 24.31 per cent. The contribution of first year premium, single premium and renewal premium to the total premium was Rs.15881.33 crore (19.16 per cent); Rs.10336.30 crore (12.47 per cent); and Rs.56637.16 crore (68.36 per cent), respectively. In the year 2000-01, when the industry was opened up to the private players, the life insurance premium was Rs.34,898.48 crore which constituted of Rs. 6996.95 crore of first year premium, Rs. 25191.07 crore of renewal premium and Rs. 2740.45 crore of single premium. Post opening up, single premium had declined from Rs.9, 194.07 crore in the year 2001-02 to Rs.5674.14 crore in 2002-03 with the withdrawal of the guaranteed return policies. Though it went up marginally in 2003-04 to Rs.5936.50 crore (4.62 per cent growth) 2004-05, however, witnessed a significant shift with the single premium income rising to Rs. 10336.30 crore showing 74.11 per cent growth over 2003-04.

The size of life insurance market increased on the strength of growth in the economy and concomitant increase in per capita income. This resulted in a favourable growth in total premium both for LIC (18.25 per cent) and to the new insurers (147.65 per cent) in 2004-05. The higher growth for the new insurers is to be viewed in the context of a low base in 2003- 04. However, the new insurers have improved their market share from 4.68 in 2003-04 to 9.33 in 2004-05.

The segment wise break up of fire, marine and miscellaneous segments in case of the public sector insurers was Rs.2411.38 crore, Rs.982.99 crore and Rs.10578.59 crore, i.e., a growth of (-)1.43 per cent, 1.81 per cent and 6.58 per cent. The public sector insurers reported growth in Motor and Health segments (9 and 24 per cent). These segments accounted for 45 and 10 per cent of the business underwritten by the public sector insurers. Fire and “Others” accounted for 17.26 and 11 per cent of the premium underwritten. Aviation, Liability, “Others” and Fire recorded negative growth of 29, 21, 3.58 and 1.43 per cent. In no other country that opened at the same time as India have foreign companies been able to grab a 22 per cent market share in the life segment and about 20 per cent in the general insurance segment. The share of foreign insurers in other competing Asian markets is not more than 5 to 10 per cent.

The life insurance sector grew new premium at a rate not seen before while the general insurance sector grew at a faster rate. Two new players entered into life insurance – Shriram Life and Bharti Axa Life – taking the total number of life players to 16. There was one new entrant to the non-life sector in the form of a standalone health insurance company – Star Health and Allied Insurance, taking the non-life players to 14.

A large number of companies, mostly nationalized banks (about 14) such as Bank of India and Punjab National Bank, have announced plans to enter the insurance sector and some of them have also formed joint ventures.

The proposed change in FDI cap is part of the comprehensive amendments to insurance laws – The Insurance Act of 1999, LIC Act, 1956 and IRDA Act, 1999. After the proposed amendments in the insurance laws LIC would be able to maintain reserves while insurance companies would be able to raise resources other than equity.

About 14 banks are in queue to enter insurance sector and the year 2006 saw several joint venture announcements while others scout partners. Bank of India has teamed up with Union Bank and Japanese insurance major Dai-ichi Mutual Life while PNB tied up with Vijaya Bank and Principal for foraying into life insurance. Allahabad Bank, Karnataka Bank, Indian Overseas Bank, Dabur Investment Corporation and Sompo Japan Insurance Inc have tied up for forming a non-life insurance company while Bank of Maharashtra has tied up with Shriram Group and South Africa’s Sanlam group for non-life insurance venture.

CONCLUSION

It seems cynical that the LIC and the GIC will wither and die within the next decade or two. The IRDA has taken “at a snail’s pace” approach. It has been very cautious in granting licenses. It has set up fairly strict standards for all aspects of the insurance business (with the probable exception of the disclosure requirements). The regulators always walk a fine line. Too many regulations kill the motivation of the newcomers; too relaxed regulations may induce failure and fraud that led to nationalization in the first place. India is not unique among the developing countries where the insurance business has been opened up to foreign competitors.

The insurance business is at a critical stage in India. Over the next couple of decades we are likely to witness high growth in the insurance sector for two reasons namely; financial deregulation always speeds up the development of the insurance sector and growth in per capita GDP also helps the insurance business to grow.

A Guide to Business Insurance for UK Marine Trades

Introduction

Insurance solutions for businesses operating in the Marine Leisure Sector have been slow to evolve compared to other sectors. Until relatively recently, a boatyard owner could find him/herself having to source a suite of insurance products to cover buildings, contents, financial risks, vessels, pontoons and indemnity against a range of legal liabilities. Whilst the first Marine Traders “Combined” policy that provided cover for all these risks appeared in the late 1990s, the market did not rush to embrace the new paradigm. Some significant providers of insurance in this Sector did not release a “Combined” solution until as late as 2007 and others still only offer stand-alone covers.

Advantages of Combined Insurance Policies

There are numerous advantages to business owners of having a single insurance policy that combines cover in respect of the majority of their needs. First and foremost it streamlines administrative processes by reducing documentation considerably, thus saving business owners time and money. It also ensures the owner has a single renewal date to deal with. Probably the main benefit to businesses is the potential premium savings that can be made through this type of system: the more cover that can be placed on a single policy gives the provider more scope to reduce the overall insurance premium.

Marine Trades Insurance Providers

Combined Insurance policies for marine-related businesses are now available from a number of specialist providers. Whilst the majority of these providers will deal direct with the public, some will deal only through insurance brokers. An insurance provider that sells direct to the public will only offer their own product. Dealing directly with insurers not only restricts you in terms of available insurance options, it also means you have to invest valuable time in shopping around providers for competitive quotations. An independent specialist Marine Trades Insurance broker can potentially save you and your business time and money by conducting a full broking exercise across the market on your behalf.

Specialist brokers can also assist in arranging bespoke cover as opposed to a standard “off-the-peg” solution. This can give your business vital benefits where standard policy exclusions are amended or removed, widening the overall scope of protection. You may also benefit in the event of a claim:

  • Where a business buys direct from an insurer, in the event of a claim the owner is left to negotiate a settlement from the insurer. This can put the business at a disadvantage where there is a dispute over liability or settlement. Using an independent specialist broker to arrange cover provides the business owner with an experienced advocate in the event of suffering a claim. The broker is bound to act in the best interests of the client at all times and a specialist broker can often assist in instances where claims have initially been repudiated.

Structure of Marine Combined Insurance Policies

Before outlining the structure of a policy it is necessary to stress the importance of ensuring that the correct limits of indemnity form the basis of your insurance cover. It is tempting for businesses seeking to reduce their costs to deliberately underinsure their businesses. This can potentially prove catastrophic in the event of a loss, as an insurer will almost certainly invoke the principle of “Average” when underinsurance is discovered.

  • The Principle of Average: In the event of underinsurance any claim settlement will be based on the ratio of the sum insured to actual value. For example, where a business has insured stock worth £100,000 for only £50,000, the business has underinsured by 50%. In the event of a loss of £25,000, the insurer will apply average and only pay a settlement of £12,500.

The example above underlines the importance for businesses to establish the correct basis of cover with their provider and then negotiate a competitive premium. An independent specialist broker with access to a number of alternative markets will help you obtain the right solution at the best available premium.

Marine Trades Combined Insurance policies generally follow the same model, with the odd exception as to where a particular item may appear. For example, some policies will include pontoons in the Material Damage Section whilst others may bracket them in the Marine Section. Outlined below is a typical policy structure:

  • Material Damage: This Section will cover all property other than vessels at your business premises. It is split into various sub-sections that vary from provider to provider, but the splitting of property into these sub-sections enables you to benefit from lower premium rates on the lower risk items to be covered. Typically, a Material Damage Section will be divided as follows:

  • Buildings (with or without subsidence cover)
  • Marine Installations (pontoons, slipways, wet/dry docks etc)
  • Computers and Associated Equipment (at the business’ premises)
  • Machinery and Equipment (at the business’ premises)
  • General Stock (at the business’ premises)
  • Valuable & Attractive Stock (at the business’ premises)
  • All Other Contents (at the business’ premises)
  • Glass: Some insurers will include Glass within the cover for Buildings. However, most Marine Trade insurers will not cover Glass unless specifically requested and will also levy an additional premium. Cover will be provided for external and internal glass with additional extensions available for items such as glass signage and sanitary ware.

  • All Risks Cover: Must be obtained for businesses wishing to insure items they remove from the business’ premises such as:
  • Tools & Machinery
  • Laptop Computers, Mobile ‘Phones etc
  • Trailers (thease can also be covered under the Marine Section)
  • Frozen Food: Covers loss or damage to fuel resulting from change in temperature in fridges or freezers resulting from breakdown or interruption to power supply.

  • Goods in Transit: Protects against loss of goods whilst in transit or whilst temporarily stored in the course of transit. Business owners need to beware of the variation in scope of cover from policy to policy and of the plethora of exclusions that each insurer applies to cover.

  • The premium for Goods in Transit insurance is based on a combination of the total sum insured per vehicle, the number of vehicles used and the estimated total annual carryings of the business.

  • This Section can also be extended to insure postal sendings and carriage by third parties.

  • Goods in Transit cover for vessels is excluded on many policies unless specifically mentioned. However, it is possible to include insurance for vessels whilst in transit by endorsing the Marine Section of the policy. Organising a policy in this way can save a business money if vessels are the only items to be insured whilst in transit.

  • Exhibitions: Covers exhibits, stands and other materials at exhibitions.

  • Whilst insurers include this Section within their policies, a business could reduce costs by having the Marine Section of their policy endorsed to cover vessels at exhibitions rather than pay their insurers an additional premium for the same benefit.

  • Business Interruption: Covers the loss of Gross Profit and/or the Additional Cost of Working in the event of the trading activities of a business being interrupted by an insured peril, such as fire or flood. Extensions can be purchased to cover losses arising from perils such as:

  • Breach of Canal
  • Damage in the vicinity of Premises or to Contract or Exhibition Sites
  • Denial of Access to the vicinity of Premises
  • Damage to Moulds, Patterns, Jigs, Dies, Tools, Plans, Designs, etc
  • Loss or Damage to Property stored in locations other than own premises
  • Loss or Damage to Property in Transit
  • Damage to Premises of Suppliers or Customers
  • Loss of Utilities
  • Disease & Illness

  • Just as it is essential to insure property on the correct basis to avoid insurers applying “Average” in the event of a claim, it is vital to ensure the correct level of Gross Profit is used to determine Business Interruption cover.

  • The definition of Gross Profit in insurance terminology differs from that of accountancy. A business should always check with its provider as to the exact terms of their Business Interruption policy but the procedure below provides a general system that should fit most insurers’ methodology:

  • Obtain the income statement for the last full operating month and locate the net profit amount.
  • Employers Liability Tracing Office

  • Review each individual expense line item on the income statement to identify costs of operation that are not directly related to production, also referred to as “standing charges.” For example, office rent is due whether the business is in operation or not, and the price does not fluctuate based on production, whereas some worker salaries (such as casual, seasonal labour) would cease when trading is interrupted.
  • Employers Liability Tracing Office

  • Add each standing expense identified in Step 2 to the net profit obtained in Step 1 to obtain gross profit, or the company’s loss from lack of operations.

  • Money: Provides insurance for cash, cheques etc whilst on premises, in transit or in bank night safes. Some policies will also provide extensions for money in directors’ homes and at exhibition or contract sites. Policies will usually provide a Personal Accident extension that offers nominal sums in the event of Death or Disability arising from assault during attempted robbery or theft.

  • Defective Title of Vessels: Reimburses the purchase price of a vessel bought or sold by a business in the event of the true owner of the vessel reclaiming it (or its value). It will also provide indemnity where a business has a valid claim brought against it as a result of being unable to provide good title for the vessel.

  • Employers Liability: It is a statutory requirement for all businesses to carry Employers Liability Insurance where they employ people be it on a paid or voluntary basis. It indemnifies the business in respect of its liabilities arising from death, injury or illness to its employees

  • Premium is based on the total annual wages of the business. Each occupation within a business’ workforce will attract its own premium rating based on the perceived hazards associated with that particular occupation. A rigger, for example, will attract a higher premium rating than an employee engaged in light yard work.

  • You should ensure you accurately declare your annual wageroll to insurers. Deliberately under-declaring could be construed as failing to disclose a material fact and may result in a claim being repudiated.

  • Labour only sub-contractors should be treated as Employees as far as insurance is concerned. Generally they work under the direction of the Insured and do not provide their own materials or tools (with the exception of small hand tools). Cover would therefore be arranged for such individuals by the hiring business under the Employers Liability Section of their policy.

  • There is a requirement that businesses must confirm their Employers Reference Number (ERN) or as it is commonly known Employers PAYE Reference to the insurer covering the Employers Liability which is recorded centrally with the Employers Liability Tracing Office (ELTO). This is to ensure that the correct insurer can be identified where claims are submitted by an individual, which can be years after their employment has ceased. It is not unusual, for example, for certain diseases or conditions such as respiratory disease, industrial deafness or repetitive strain injury to take many years to manifest.

  • The ERN is the unique reference which attaches to a business and does not change which means that it will identify the correct employer and then the insurer for any given time period from 2011 onwards.

  • Public Liability: Indemnifies your legal liabilities to third parties arising from your business activities that result in death or injury to any person or loss of or damage to property. The insurance only attaches to those activities disclosed to your insurer and noted on your schedule so it is essential that a full description of all your business activities is provided.

  • Premium is based on the estimated annual turnover of the business. Each activity will attract its own premium rating based on the perceived hazards associated with that particular activity. Paint Spraying, for example, will attract a higher premium rating than Chandlery Sales.
  • You should ensure you accurately declare your annual turnover. Deliberately under-declaring could be construed as failing to disclose a material fact and may result in a claim being repudiated.

  • Exclusions and Extensions to Public Liability Insurance vary from insurer to insurer. For example, some policies will automatically provide Yachtyard Liability Insurance as a standard extension to their Public Liability cover. Others will charge an additional premium for Yachtyard Liability.

  • Liability in respect of hiring-in of cranes is normally excluded on most Marine Trade policies unless specifically requested. The additional premium for this cover is based on your estimated annual hiring-in costs. Standard cover is usually £100,000 which may not be adequate to replace the crane you hire. Find out what your exposures are and get your cover topped-up if necessary.

  • Yachtyard Liability: Protects your liabilities in respect of moving vessels on water for reasons such as testing, demonstration and deliveries. Like most policy sections, scope of cover will vary from insurer to insurer. For example, policies will restrict your permitted range, but distance you are permitted will vary greatly.

  • Not all insurers provide this cover under the “Yachtyard Liability” heading. Some insurers will provide “General Liability” that will automatically encompass the Yachtyard Liability element of other policies.

  • Products Liability: Insures your legal liabilities in respect of the products you manufacture and/or supply.

  • Whether you are manufacturing or distributing (wholesale or retail), you need to make sure the products you supply are safe. Failing to meet your responsibilities can have serious consequences. You could face legal action with possible fines or even imprisonment. You could also be sued by anyone who has been injured or has suffered damage to personal property as a result of using your product.

  • Products Efficacy Insurance: Designed to cover the failure of an item to perform its intended function Efficacy Insurance is often excluded from the Public & Products Liability Sections of Marine Trade policies. If your business is involved in the manufacture, supply or installation of performance critical products you need to check with your insurance provider to ensure you and your business have the right scope of Liability Insurance.

  • Marine Risks: Non-Marine Commercial policies have virtually no insurance provision for vessels. They are specifically excluded, with the odd exception such as rowing boats. The Marine Section of a specialist Trader’s policy is divide into 3 distinct parts:

  • 1. Vessels: This part of the Marine Section will cover all vessels not undergoing construction and includes Stock Vessels, Work Boats, your Private Craft and Charter Vessels. It can also be extended to cover other types of Marine Stock such as engines and parts.

  • Sums Insured for vessels are usually determined on an “Agreed Value” basis. This can be the price you paid for the vessel plus the cost of any improvements, or it can be a depreciated or written-down value.

  • The cruising range of your vessels will be clearly defined in this Section of your policy. You should check to ensure that you and your hirers are actually insured to sail or cruise to your intended destinations. For example, an insurer may assume that, if you are based on the Thames, you are only on the non-tidal stretch and will endorse your policy for”Inland Waterways” use only.

  • The are several extensions that can be purchased for this part of your policy such as:

  • Social use of vessels by Directors, Employees, Family Members.
  • Racing Risks (Sails, Masts, Spars & Rigging).
  • Water Skiing, Towing of Toys.
  • Angling and/or Diving Parties.
  • Personal Possessions

  • Exclusions in respect of vessels will vary from policy to policy. You should ask your provider to go over any exclusions with you in detail in case you require a special endorsement or extension.

  • 2. Builders Risks: Whilst scope and definitions may differ from one insurer to another, Builders Risks insurance will usually cover your vessel at the yard or dock where it is being constructed, including the yard or premises of a subcontractor. It may also cover the vessel whilst in transit between your yard and your subcontractor’s yard. Extensions can also be obtained to cover:

  • Movement of the vessel on water around the dock where it is being built.
  • Sea Trials
  • Delivery voyages under own power
  • If the vessel in build is being towed on the water a special extension is usually required to insure this activity.

  • The premium for this Section is based on a combination of the maximum completion value of an in-build vessel and the maximum value of vessels in-build at any one time.

  • 3. Marine Third Party Liability: This insurance is an extension of the Vessels Section and covers your legal liabilities in respect of your interest in or use of your vessels by your skipper and crew. The usual limit of indemnity provided is £3,000,000 but higher levels of cover can be purchased where required.

Policy Conditions, Exclusions and Warranties

As detailed above, policy conditions and exclusions will vary from insurer to insurer. Even if you are purchasing your policy by telephone you should always ask your provider to go through them with you in addition to any warranties that will have been imposed. There are significant differences between each of these:

  • Conditions: Policy conditions basically set out a code of conduct you’re your business and also outline duties and obligations required for cover to be in effect. If policy conditions are not met, the insurer can deny a claim specific to that condition.

  • Eg. A theft from a business premises is discovered and not reported to the insurer for a month. If there is a policy condition that all losses must be reported within 7 days, the insurer could refuse to pay the claim.

  • Exclusions: An exclusion actually removes cover from the insurance policy.

  • Eg. Boats are excluded from the Goods in Transit Section of a Marine Trades Policy unless an endorsement is put into effect.

  • Warranties: A policy warranty is an instruction by the insurer that must be carried out by the insured. For example, the business may be warranted to work on vessels worth no more than £500,000. In such a case, if the business worked on a more valuable vessel then it would be in breach of warranty.

  • The breach of a warranty by a business would enable an insurer to void the whole policy. In the above example, if the business owner suffered a theft of outboard engines, the insurer could void the policy on the grounds that the business had breached a warranty – even though that warranty was totally unrelated to the theft.

  • As you can see, warranties can potentially have a huge impact on your business. You should ensure your insurance provider goes through each warranty with you and explains what it means. Insurers can impose a warranty for just about anything – some common examples are below (the list is by no means comprehensive):

  • Compliance with Flammable Liquids & LPG Regulations.
  • No paint or GRP Spraying.
  • Automatic fire alarms to be tested weekly.
  • Fire extinguishers to be professionally inspected annually.
  • Fireproof doors to remain closed during working hours.
  • All stock to be kept at least 15cm off floor
  • Waste & dirty cloths to be kept in metal bins.
  • Waste bins to be kept outside premises out of working hours.
  • Intruder alarm to be set whenever premises is unoccupied.
  • Electrical circuits to be inspected within 30 days of policy inception.
  • Cash registers to be left empty & open when premises closed.
  • Vehicles to be fitted with immobilisers and alarms.
  • Premises to be inspected daily.
  • No artificial heating to be used on premises.
  • Machinery only to be running when premises is occupied.
  • No flammable liquids to be kept on premises.
  • Moorings to be lifted & inspected at least annually.
  • Terms of trade to incorporate BMF Terms of Business.
  • No work carried out on commercial vessels
  • Trailers to be secured with a wheelclamp whilst unattended.
  • Vessel not be let out for hire or reward.
  • Vessel will not tow or be towed

  • British Marine Federation (BMF) Terms of Business

  • Most Marine Trade policies warrant that you operate under BMF Terms of Business. You do not have to be a member of the BMF to use their terms. The essential point from an insurance aspect is that you ensure all your customers insure their own boats. This is a crucial factor that defines the mechanics of how your Public Liability insurance works and how it differs from non-Marine commercial insurance policies.

  • If you have a customer’s boat, outboard etc in your custody or control and it is lost or damaged due to your negligence, your legal liabilities in respect of the property are covered under the Public Liability Section of your Marine Trade policy.

  • This cover would not be provided on a non-Marine policy as legal liability in respect of goods in custody or control is specifically excluded. To insure these items you would have to procure specific insurance which, as leisurecraft and associated equipment are very expensive, would be financially prohibitive for a business to purchase.

Other Insurances for your Marine Trades Insurance Programme

Directors & Officers Liability Insurance (Management Protection)

Modern legislation now means company directors can now be sued as individuals in respect of their decisions and actions as directors or managers of businesses. The duties of company directors are established in law and include the following areas of responsibility:

  • Duty of Care: Directors are required to act with ‘the care an ordinary man would take in the same circumstances on his own behalf’ and with the skill expected from someone with his ‘particular knowledge and experience’. Where duties are delegated the Director is responsible for ensuring that the person to whom the duties are delegated is sufficiently experienced, reliable and honest.

  • Fiduciary Duty: Directors must act honestly, in good faith and in the best interest of the company and must ensure they do not have any conflict of interest.

  • Statutory Duty: Company directors are legally bound by legislation such as the Companies Act 1985, Insolvency Act 1986, Financial Services Act 1986, Environmental Protection Act 1990, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974.

How Can Claims Arise?

Whilst public bodies such as the Health & Safety Executive can prosecute directors if they are perceived to have failed to comply with their statutory duties, claims could also arise from numerous third parties such as employees, creditors, customers or suppliers.

With the number of employees injured at work increasing by over 100,000 in 2010 and lawyers able to act on a “No-Win, No-Fee” basis, directors appear to be more exposed than ever.

What Are The Financial Implications of a Claim? Directors will be personally liable for meeting the cost of legal expenses as well as any damages awards, fines or penalties. This means assets such as their cars, houses, stocks and money could be lost. Companies are prohibited from indemnifying their directors in the event of their insolvency.

How Can Directors & Officers Liability Insurance Help?

Whilst a D&O policy will not cover any fines against directors it will cover the cost of defending a prosecution until the point when guilt is established. This could potentially save tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of pounds of an individual’s assets in legal expenses. A D&O policy can also cover awards for damages and legal expenses made against directors in civil cases.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

If you give advice, conduct surveys or inspections for a fee, your legal liabilities in respect of these activities are excluded on your Marine Trade policy. A stand-alone Professional Indemnity policy will fill the gap in your insurance cover.

Tractor & “Special Types” Insurance

Tractors and other special type vehicles which are road-registered are excluded from standard public liability policies, as are many unregistered vehicles, if travelling on, or crossing, public highways. This may also apply to areas where the public have access such as ports, harbours and boatyards. Types of vehicles that fit into this class are: Tractors, Cranes, Fork Lifts, Cherrypickers, Boat Lifts and other self-propelled mobile plant.

Third Party insurance is compulsory and a failure to have this basic cover is considered one of the most serious offences. A substantial fine and disqualification are amongst the recommended penalties.

Driving uninsured (or allowing your employees to do so) is an absolute offence which means there is no discretionary defence available, ie the vehicle is either insured or it is not. If, for any reason it is not insured, the offence is committed.

Without insurance your business and your personal assets are at risk from potentially huge compensation claims being made against you

Comprehensive Road Risks insurance in for tractors and “Special Types” is available at very competitive rates from your specialist broker.

Summary

Modern businesses need modern insurance programmes. Cutting cover to cut costs is not the solution. Your 9-point step to getting the right cover for your business at the best available premium is:

1. Choose an independent specialist broker.

2. Ask them what they can offer you in terms of support in the event of a claim.

3. Ask them to visit you to look over your business.

4. Ensure you fully disclose all relevant information about your business

5. Accurately assess the value of your premises & property and the levels of your turnover, payroll and gross profit.

6. Request 3 quotations.

7. Ensure you have all conditions, exclusions, warranties explained to you verbally – a written summary is not sufficient.

8. If you think some of the exclusions or warranties are unreasonable then ask your broker to negotiate their removal.

9. Finally, negotiate the best premium you can get from your appointed broker.

Disclaimer: This article does not constitute specific advice or recommendation to any individual or business. Individuals and businesses should seek the advice of an appropriately authorised and regulated insurance broker or intermediary.

Insurance – Why Should You Go For It?

Insurance is a form of risk management. It can be defined as the transfer of a risk to an insurance company in exchange for a premium paid by the insured at regular intervals. Insurance is useful both for the insurer and the insured. The insurer earns profit by investing the money of the insured and getting returns on it. The insured, on the other hand, has the security of the sum assured which he will earn at the end of the insurance term.

In United Kingdom, you get insurance products like motor insurance, home insurance, pet insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, health insurance and business insurance etc. motor insurance covers both the driver of the car and the car itself. Health insurance covers medical bills incurred due to illness or accidents. Travel insurance covers certain losses such as medical expenses, loss or theft of personal belongings while traveling, traveling delay etc. pet insurance will cover your pet’s medical expenses, loss or death. Home insurance covers your house and in some cases its contents. Damages arising due to natural calamities like earthquake, floods etc are excluded. You are also not supposed to get the assured sum when the damage caused was an ‘act of god’ or a result of war. Business insurance covers losses that you may incur in your business.

The type of risk involved to the risk determines how much will be the premium. For example, if you have bought a home insurance and your house is in good shape and situated near a fire station, the insurance company will charge you lower premiums. Risk factor therefore determines the premium amount.

UK ONLINE MARKET is a guide to hundreds of insurance companies who offer you attractive cash back offers on your purchasing their insurance products. We have merchants for every type of insurance available: motor insurance, home insurance, life insurance, travel insurance, health insurance, business insurance, and pet insurance. You may get attractive discounts on buying the products online.

What You Need To Know About Insurance

Getting an insurance is one of those ‘life’ requirements that you should be looking into early in your career, especially now when you are still able to work and earn money. in addition to being better able to pay for the insurance, younger individuals also pay less. This is one of the principles of insurance. Since younger people are less likely to die, they are given cheaper rates as compared to older individuals.

Insurance protect financially you and your family in the future. Depending on the kind of insurance that you will choose to get, insurance can even provide for your health concerns, for your retirement and even for your death and burial.

But while it is important that we are protected against any unexpected eventualities, some people still shy away of availing insurance on their own, preferring their companies to do it for them. Like legal matters, all those insurance mumbo jumbo tend to confuse and sometimes even frighten people.

Here are some of he frequently asked questions about insurance.

What are the kinds of insurance?
There are two major types of insurance. The life and the non-life insurance. The life insurance, as the name suggests, protects the family of the person in case something happens to him. When a person who is insured dies, the money that he insured will be given to the beneficiary that he has chosen.

The non-life insurance is an insurance that protects properties. Under this category, there are several different types. There car insurances, which protect automobiles from wreckage in case of accidents; property insurance, which protects properties especially houses from fire and other forms of destruction; deposit insurance, which most banks have in order to protect their depositors from losing their money in case the bank suffers financial setbacks; and health insurance, which helps in covering for medical and hospital costs. Among the various non-life insurance, the most popular is the health and car insurance.

Some insurance also provide for the future. Some of the insurances are retirement plans and death plans, which covers for burial costs.

What is the difference between a premium and a face amount?
Premium refers to the amount that you have to pay every year for the insurance. Some insurance companies also offer to divide the premium into monthly installments to help their clients. The face amount on the other hand is the amount that you have insured yourself into. For example, if the face amount in your policy is set at $500,000, then your beneficiary will receive $500,000 when you die.

What do you mean by double indemnity?

Some insurance policy offer an accidental clause that would double the face amount in case death has been established as accidental. This is done to protect the insured’s family in case of an untimely death. Double indemnity means that the face amount will be doubled when death is accidental.

Is the beneficiary always the legal spouse?

No. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not always the spouse who is the beneficiary. It is up to the person to choose, who he names as beneficiary. It can be any member of the family as long as insurable interest is established. If in case, the children are named beneficiaries and are still not in legal ages, a guardian will be named to assume control of the money for them.

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