How to Start a Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Business

By now you must be aware of the many compelling reasons why a non-emergency medical transportation business offers entrepreneurs such a great business model. With the growth in the health care industry and the explosion of baby boomer retirees, this market is big and set to get even bigger still.

In this article we look at how to start a non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) business. Learn about some of the steps that are involved and some of the aspects of this business that you will have to consider.

Franchise or Independent Operator?

There are now several players offering non-emergency medical transportation franchises. Entrepreneurs benefit with the franchise model as they can operate under an established brand and get advice and training to get started and run a business. However, with the franchise fees that must be paid initially and on an ongoing basis, the upside potential for profit is reduced. If you do your homework, you will find that this business is not that difficult and it is possible to start up and thrive independently.

Choosing the Right Area

Give some thought to the demographics of the area where you are setting up your business. Look for statistics that prove that there are a good number of elderly, disabled or Medicaid citizens living nearby. Compile a list of hospitals, dialysis centers, retirement homes, assisted living centers and other relevant operations. You could even make initial contact with some of these organizations and find out about the transportation solutions that they currently have in place.

Research the Competition

Identify all of the major competitors that you will have in your area and evaluate them in terms of their strengths and weaknesses. You may decide to incorporate parts of their business model into your own business and reject other parts. Learn as much as you can about them by reading their websites and calling their offices to ask questions. You can even spend some time following around some of their vans in order to understand how they work and to find out exactly who their customers are.

Getting Started – Licenses and Permits

Regulations and requirements for medical transportation businesses vary from state to state so you should make enquiries at the local level to find out what your obligations are.

As you are in the business of transporting paying customers from one place to another you will need some kind of permit, just as a taxi driver does. Your application for this kind of license will be handled by transportation authorities at the state or local level. Due to the nature of this work, some states will also require businesses in this industry to be registered with local health authorities.

There may also be other paperwork that needs to be done such as registering your business name, getting a business license (possibly more if you serve multiple counties) and zoning considerations if you run a home business.

Vehicles and Equipment

It is common for medical transportation services to purchase regular vans, either new or used, and then have them fitted out to suit special needs clients. Business owners typically start out with one vehicle and gradually add to their fleet as their business grows.

The best vans for an ambulette have a high raised roof and doorways. Access is usually on the side of the vehicle but can also be at the rear.

Some operators still use manual lifts to help them get wheelchair passengers into and out of their vans. However, you should be able to provide a faster, more professional service if you have a modern hydraulic lift installed.

Once inside the van, wheelchairs can be fastened to various securing devices so that they do not move around during transit. Vehicles also require customized seatbelts for wheelchair bound passengers. You can also improve the quality of your service if you have some comforts like TV and air conditioning.

A decent sized van that is properly kitted out should be able to transport four wheelchair bound passengers at a time as well as have extra seats available for caregivers. Depending on your clients, you may also need a space in your van that will allow you to fit in a passenger that is confined to a stretcher.

Insurance Policies

To protect yourself from unforeseen events you will need to purchase a variety of insurance policies. A general liability insurance policy will ensure that you are covered in situations where your customers are injured or suffer losses while they are in your care. You will also need regular automotive insurance to protect yourself in cases where your vehicles are damaged, stolen or involved in traffic accidents.

Payment Options

Decide on how you want to collect payment for your services. You may have to invoice medical institutions on a monthly basis or you may need to process credit card payments for individual clients. If you service large clients like Medicaid then it may be as simple as receiving a check in the mail each month. Talk to some prospective clients and look at what their needs are. Find out what payment options your competitors are offering.

Service Hours

Give some thought to your operating hours. The best ambulette services in the market usually offer weekday service from early morning to late at night with decent hours on Saturdays too. As a sole operator you will be limited in the hours that you can take on. As you expand into a multi-driver operation you will be able to offer more flexible scheduling to clients.

Staffing Requirements

If you start out doing all the driving while also managing your business you will quickly get burnt out. In order to grow you need to step back and hire some drivers so that you can move into a purely management and marketing orientated role.

Staff should have a drivers license that allows them to take passengers and they may also be subject to certain standards or requirements at the local level. No matter what you should make sure that your staff are trained on how to do the practical side of the job. They need to know how to assist passengers and their caregivers as they get in and out of vehicles. They should also be instructed to smile and make pleasant conversation if the opportunity arises so that they help your brand to gain a positive reputation.

Marketing

There are many different ways to market a non-emergency medical transportation business. For some ideas on markets that you can target read our article on Medical Transportation Business Opportunities.

Initially you will have to go out and meet prospective clients and possibly even bid to try and win contracts. However, if your team are doing a good job then you will find that eventually business will come directly to you through word of mouth and referrals.

You can of course improve your chances of getting calls from private paying clients if you do a little advertising. A website that comes up in the search results when people search for ambulette services in your area can really help. A small Yellow Pages listing will also almost certainly be worth the cost. You can pretty much try any method that other local service businesses are using to promote themselves. Vehicle advertising is great for exposure and flyers, postcards or door hangers may work as well.

10 Steps to Effective Communication

At the root of any successful leader is a strong ability to communicate. Sure, there have been leaders who have ascended into the highest positions and not had that skill, but they likely did not last long. This point was illustrated recently as I listened to a NPR program about the failure of the big banks on Wall Street. When Congress grilled executives from these institutions about why they did not catch the risky investments that were being made that ultimately failed, their answers were all the same and quite simple – we did not know. It was their job to know and either nobody told them or they did not catch it in the data they had access to. No flags were raised; nobody asked so nobody told. This is definitely a communication meltdown that had widespread negative consequences.

What is communication? Communication in life is the pinnacle of every successful – and not so successful – relationship. According to Webster's dictionary, communication is defined as a process of transferring information from one entity to another. Communication processes are sign-mediated interactions between at least two agents, which share a repertoire of signs, and semiotic rules. Communication is commonly defined as "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs". Although there is such a thing as one-way communication, communication can be perceived better as a two-way process in which there is an exchange and progression of thoughts, feelings or ideas (energy) towards a mutually accepted goal or direction (information) .

Why is communication important? Often times, we have a message which we want to communicate or we want the receiver of message to understand our message in the same sense as we convey it. Take for example a company's need to raise the cost of health insurance. Often times, this is conveyed through a written document to the employees at open enrollment time. The employee's reaction is usually anger towards the company for making them pay more money for health coverage. The miss here is that the company is not sharing as much information as they should to help the employee understand how the raising cost of health insurance coverage affects the company and their contribution too. A company should give the employee a total compensation statement at that time so all employees can see how much the company invests in him / her as individuals. Giving each employee a clear, individualized picture and then telling the employee the cost is raising would change the way the message is received. There may still be anger, but it will be focused on the right culprit of raising costs, which are the insurance and medical companies and not the employer. Effective communication helps in that the message is enable to achieve its goals and helps in receiving the desired response from the reader of the message. Effective communication helps organizations in keeping good relationships with their customers and employees; forwarding information effectively helps in avoiding any dispute that can arise because of a misunderstanding.

The 4 Types of Communication. I used to work with someone who I refer to as a "chit-chatter." He'd walk the halls every day knocking on doors and say, "do you have a minute? ' An hour and a half later he'd still be sitting there rambling. I learned very quickly that my body language could help deter this activity without me having to be rude or disengaging. When Mr. Chatter would show up at my door and say, "do you have a minute?" He'd start to walk in the door before I would answer and I would throw my hand up in the "stop" mode. I would say, "actually, I'm in the middle of something right now, can I get you on my calendar for later today? "His answer was always," Oh. No, I just came by to say hello. "That one gesture changed the whole dynamic of the conversation. There are 4 types of communication that are present in our lives: verbal, non-verbal, written and visual.

Verbal Communication: Verbal communication includes sounds, words, language and speaking. Language is said to have originated from sounds and gestures. There are many languages ​​spoken in the world. The bases of language formation are: gender, class, profession, geographical area, age group and other social elements. Speaking is an effective way of communicating and is again classified into two types viz. interpersonal communication and public speaking. Good verbal communication is an inseparable part of business communication. In a business, you come across people from various ages, cultures and races. Fluent verbal communication is essential to deal with people in business meetings. Also, in business communication self-confidence plays a vital role which when clubbed with fluent communication skills can lead to success. Public speaking is another verbal communication in which you have to address a group of people. Preparing for an effective speech before you start is important. In public speaking, the speech must be prepared according to the type of audience you are going to face. The content of your your speech should be authentic and you must have enough information on the topic you have chosen for public speaking. All the main points in your speech must be highlighted and these points should be delivered in the correct order. There are many public speaking techniques and these techniques must be practiced for an effective speech.

Non-Verbal Communication: Non-verbal communication involves physical ways of communication, like, tone of the voice, touch, smell and body motion. Creative and aesthetic non-verbal communication includes singing, music, dancing and sculpturing. Symbols and sign language are also included in non-verbal communication. Body language is a non-verbal way of communication. Body posture and physical contact convey a lot of information. Body posture matters a lot when you are communicating verbally to someone. Folded arms and crossed legs are some of the signals conveyed by a body posture. Physical contact, like, shaking hands, pushing, patting and touching expresses the feeling of intimacy. Facial expressions, gestures and eye contact are all different ways of communication. Reading facial expressions can help you know a person better.

Written Communication: Written communication is writing the words which you want to communicate. Good written communication is essential for business purposes. Written communication is practiced in many different languages. E-mails, reports, articles and memos are some of the ways of using written communication in business. The written communication can be edited and amended many times before it is communicated to the second party to whom the communication is intended. This is one of the main advantages of using writing as the major means of communication in business activity. Written communication is used not only in business but also for informal communication purposes. Mobile SMS is an example of informal written communication.

Visual communication: The last type of communication out of the four types of communication, is the visual communication. Visual communication is visual display of information, like, topography, photography, signs, symbols and designs. Television and video clips are the electronic form of visual communication.

What is Your Communication Style? I come from a family where being direct is considered combative. To me, honesty is the best policy and the only way to be honest is to be direct. Of course that ends up causing conflict between myself, my mother and my siblings because they would rather agree with the person to their face then disagree behind the scenes. My style is direct and their style is harmonious (with a bit of passive aggressiveness in my opinion, but that's a blog for another time!) I have adjusted my style to reduce the conflict and I have learned to get my point across without ruffling anyone's feathers. Does it always work? No, but it has reduced my stress and those around me. It is critically important to know your style of communication and recognize the style of others so that you can learn to be flexible in your message without compromising it and drastically reduce the possibility of miscommunication. I found an interesting article that had some critically important information relative to communication style: The 21 most important words in the English language:

The two most important words:

Thank You

The three most important words:

All is forgiven

The four most important words:

What is your opinion

The Five most important words:

You did a good job

The six most important words:

I want to understand you better

The least important word:

I "

The Power of Listening: There is nothing that will derail effective communication quicker than one of the parties not really listening to the other. This recently happened to a client with the financial aid office of the University of Michigan, where his child attends school. Every single person that he have dealt with in that office since his child first attended there in 2009 had been short, curt and robotic in conveying the Federal guidelines for student aid. Clearly, there is a budget they adhere to and there is no going outside the box, which is a total disconnect for him as the recipient of financial aid when he attended the Western Michigan University years ago. HIs perception was that the financial aid office exists to help student find a way to fund their education when they do not have money out of pocket to cover the entire cost. The University of Michigan's Financial Aid Office employees make it clear through their words and non-verbal communication that their mission is to limit the amount of funds that go to each student to meet some secret budget goal. He tried on several occasions to explain this to the head of the department and each time she twisted it around and blamed him for misunderstanding the counselors, or not following their guidelines, or taking what was said out of context. Not once did she acknowledge that she heard what my client was saying or that she would try and help him find financial resources to help him cover the $ 26,000 annual cost of school. His child asked, "How can I find more money to go to school?" The counselor responded, "By getting married, having a baby, joining the military or your parents dying." He said, "None of those are a remote possibility, to which he responded," Well maybe you should have chosen a school that was more affordable to you. "His child worked hard to get accepted to U of M and he worked hard to save enough money for him to go there. The counselor was actually conveying the Federal guidelines of student aid to him, but it was the way he conveyed it that was totally inappropriate. When my client brought it to the attention of the department director, she was very defensive and blamed the entire issue on me in that he was not accepting that these were the guidelines. That was not the point, but rather there is a right way and a wrong way to say, no, which is exactly what they were telling his son in terms of getting more aid. The last exchange my client had with the department head, she said, "Please accept my apologies for any response you feel was inappropriate." My client did not feel the responses were inappropriate , they were. He totally understands the Federal guidelines, and she repeatedly and robotically recited them to him over and over and over again, missing the point. Putting the blame back on my client and his son clearly showed she never listened what I was trying to say and my client was not heard. That's an unfortunate gap between a parent and a major function at a major institution.

Managing Conflict: To say my client had a conflict with the U of M financial aid office is an understatement. It was a major communication breakdown, one I'm sure he'll pay the price for at a later date – literally. However it is a normal part of life to have conflict at home, in the workplace, in any situation where two or more people are exchanging information. What is key is how we manage conflict and bring it to successful resolution. In the case of the financial aid office, my client has agreed to disagree, take what they will give and find another resource to cover the gap in tuition. The head of that office will never get what was said to her and he can live with that, it's her loss. There are many effective ways to defuse a tense situation and one thing that has been successful is to decide – what can you live with and what are you not willing to budge on? Knowing conflict happens and being armed with tools to manage through it and resolve it are keys to having the right mindset while it is happening. My client's situation was unfortunate but not personal and I guarantee he is not the first nor will he be the last to experience a brick wall when it comes to the U of M financial aid office. Removing the emotion and defusing the situation helped bring this to a reasonable conclusion.

How Your Attitude Affects Communication: Every attitude is a combination of feelings, beliefs and evaluations. Behavior refers to the reactions or actions of an object or organism and attitude predicts behavior. Persuasive communication changes attitudes, which then affects behavior, which then creates a more productive environment. Persuasive communication involves openly trying to convince another to change their behavior and only works when the source is credible and trustworthy. Addressing trust and credibility first among your coworkers and other critical relationships you have lays a strong foundation. Learning to clearly state your position, followed by supporting arguments and obtaining others' agreement are the keys to persuasion.

Giving and Receiving Feedback: Feedback is a type of communication that we give or get. Sometimes, feedback is called "criticism," but this seriously limits its meaning.

Feedback is a way to let people know how effective they are in what they are trying to accomplish, or how they affect you. It provides a way for people to learn how they affect the world around them, and it helps us to become more effective. If we know how other people see us, we can overcome problems in how we communicate and interact with them. Of course, there are two sides to it: giving feedback, and receiving it.

Getting Feedback: Some people experience feedback as pure criticism and do not want to hear it. Others see it as spiritually crushing; a confirmation of their worthlessness. Still others only want to hear praise, but nothing that might suggest imperfection. That's not the case for everyone, of course. Some people are willing to accept feedback and seek it out, even if it is sometimes disturbing, because they believe they can grow from it. It comes down to whether you believe feedback will harm you or benefit you.

This is not to say that we should always have to accept feedback or the manner in which it is sometimes given. We all have the right to refuse feedback, and we can expect feedback to be given in a respectful and supportive manner. But for every positive and open way of accepting feedback, there's an opposite; a negative and closed manner which pushes feedback away and keeps it at bay.

Negative / Closed Style

Defensive: defends personal actions, frequently objects to feedback given. Attacking: verbally attacks the feedback giver, and turns the table. Denies: refutes the accuracy or fairness of the feedback. Disrespectful: devalues ​​the speaker, what the speaker is saying, or the speaker's right to give feedback. Closed: ignores the feedback, listening blankly without interest. Inactive listening: makes no attempt to "hear" or understand the meaning of the feedback. Rationalizing: finds explanations for the feedback that dissolve any personal responsibility. Patronizing: listens, but shows little interest. Superficial: listens and agrees, but gives the impression that the feedback will have little actual effect.

Positive / Open Style

Open: listens without frequent interruption or objections. Responsive: willing to hear what's being said without turning the table. Accepting: accepts the feedback, without denial. Respectful: recognizes the value of what is being said and the speaker's right to say it. Engaged: interacts appropriately with the speaker, asking for clarification when needed. Active listening: listens carefully and tries to understand the meaning of the feedback. Thoughtful: tries to understand the personal behavior that has led to the feedback. Interested: is genuinely interested in getting feedback. Sincere: genuinely wants to make personal changes if appropriate.

Giving Feedback

The other end of feedback is giving it. Some people deliver feedback with relish; after all, it's easier to give advice than take it. Some use feedback as a weapon, or offer it as tit-for-tat. For others, feedback is a great way to be critical. How you deliver feedback is as important as how you accept it, because it can be experienced in a very negative way. To be effective you must be tuned in, sensitive, and honest when giving feedback. Just as there are positive and negative approaches to accepting feedback, so too are there ineffective and effective ways to give it.

Ineffective / Negative Delivery

Attacking: hard hitting and aggressive, focusing on the weaknesses of the other person. Indirect: feedback is vague and issues hinted at rather than addressed directly. Insensitive: little concern for the needs of the other person. Disrespectful: feedback is demeaning, bordering on insulting. Judgmental: feedback is evaluative, judging personality rather than behavior. General: aimed at broad issues which can not be easily defined. Poor timing: given long after the prompting event, or at the worst possible time. Impulsive: given thoughtlessly, with little regard for the consequences. Selfish: feedback meets the giver's needs, rather than the needs of the other person.

Effective / Positive Delivery

Supportive: delivered in a non-threatening and encouraging manner. Direct: the focus of the feedback is clearly stated. Sensitive: delivered with sensitivity to the needs of the other person. Considerate: feedback is intended to not insult or demean. Descriptive: focuses on behavior that can be changed, rather than personality. Specific: feedback is focused on specific behaviors or events. Healthy timing: given as close to the prompting event as possible and at an opportune time. Thoughtful: well considered rather than impulsive. Helpful: feedback is intended to be of value to the other person.

The Importance of Feedback

Feedback is a must for people who want to have honest relationships. A powerful and important means for communication, giving feedback connects us, and our behavior, to the world around us.

Communication and the Digital Age: There are now multiple means of causing communication barriers between people; texting, Facebook-ing, Twittering, instant messaging, voice mail and email to name a few. Stephen Covey's Time Management program preaches for us to be the master of technology versus letting technology being our master. I recently attended a baseball game and when I looked around the stadium, I saw a sea of ​​people looking at their cell phones. They were texting, taking pictures, uploading them to Facebook, talking – it was a new age of mass media blitz. I frequently get instant messages from clients and potential clients asking me in-depth life changing questions and expecting a simple answer in return. It's hard to be an effective communicator in the digital age unless we learn how to use these means in a persuasive and appropriate manner. A client of mine has an employee who constantly fires off scathing emails. My client gets constant complaints about the employee who is perceived as being combative and abrasive. I advised her to sit down with the employee, show her examples of the inappropriate emails, advise her to a 24-hour "cool down" period, then initially reviewing the emails with someone they can trust before hitting the send key. A month later the client reported that 9 out of 10 emails were scrapped before sending. The employee then learned the skill of not reacting via email to other communication that was angering her. It is especially important in this economic climate where we're doing much more with much less and tensions are high.

Ask yourself the following questions:

How would your professional and personal life change if you could successfully master these basic skills? Can you afford not to make the investment to improve your communication? You will be amazed at the startling turn your life will take once you learn how to communicate effectively and successfully. Did you know that the most important asset to a company or to a client is a person who communicates effectively, someone who has the ability to influence and persuade others? Are you communicating successfully and effectively to influence others or are you just talking?

i. 2007, Stoney deGeyter; Pole Position Marketing. ii. 2009, Phil Rich, Ed.D., MSW, DCSW; Self-Help Magazine.

Concern About Fraud In Crude Oil Selling? 2 Percent Performance Bond Surest Proof of Genuine Seller

Concerned About Fraud In Crude Oil Selling? Why, for Buyers, getting the 2 Percent Performance Bond by the seller is the Simplest & Surest Proof of a Genuine Seller

Credible research has shown that, while virtually every supposed crude oil seller who goes to a potential crude buyer to solicit business, would almost ALWAYS profusely forswear heaven and earth that he, or the crude oil he professes to be selling, is "absolutely trustworthy, reliable, genuine, authentic, and honest, "virtually every OBJECTIVE, CREDIBLE EVIDENCE available, on the other hand, gives a completely opposite and contrary REALITY – namely, that the overwhelming majority of these supposed sellers and their offers (in deed, up to the level of 99.999999%, according to one report) are totally fake, bogus, fraudulent or not legitimate.

MASTERFULLY FORGED & FALSE DOCUMENTS ARE AT THE HEART OF THE CRUDE / BUYING SELLING SCAM OPERATIONS

The primary instrumentality by which these fraudulent con artists and crude "sellers" operate or perpetrate their con game, is the use of skillfully forged or false documents. Such fraudulent and fake "sellers" – or, at least, the ultimate masterminds who originate and stand behind the scheme – are notorious for being master forgers and excellent copiers of every conceivable legitimate refinery and government agency documents related to crude sales or purchases. In deed, according to experts, so masterful at this game are these fraudsters, that the documents they provide to prospective buyers are often so strikingly convincing and real-looking that they are frequently plain difficult, if not impossible, for almost all but the most skilled of document authentication experts to immediately distinguish from the real and authentic ones.

As one report by the Fraud Watch International summed it up, "Victims [of such fraud] are often convinced of the authenticity of Advance Fee Fraud schemes by the forged or false documents bearing apparently official Nigerian government letterhead, seals, as well as false letters of credit, payment schedules and bank drafts. "

The US State Department's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, in a report titled "Nigeria Advanced Fee Fraud," describes the documents employed by the Nigerian Advanced Fee Fraud (AFF) or 419 perpetrators, as "official-looking stationery with appropriate government seals, stamps, and signatures, "whose quality, it says, has" evolved over the years, from poorly handwritten letters to more professional products prepared on word processors. Word processors also allow AFF criminals to generate more letters. " It adds that the "AFF criminals include university-educated professionals who are the best in the world for nonviolent spectacular crimes."

THE MAIN PROBLEM: INABILITY BY BUYERS TO VERIFY SELLERS 'CLAIMS & DOCUMENTS

The point is that, largely in consequence of the above reality, for serious international buyers of Nigerian crude oil, the single most critical and most difficult and risky problem they confront in the open market, is now often the verification and confirmation of the seller's claims about having an authentic crude allocation and / or its current availability, and the confirmation of the proofs and documents submitted by them in support of those claims. For most buyers, undertaking that task is often dreaded and viewed as something fraught with massive risks and uncertainties that should only be threaded with the utmost caution, and the greatest care and deliberation.

BUYERS ' "PREFERRED" PROOF & EVIDENCE OF CREDIBLE SELLER TODAY – a 2% PB

Because verification and confirmation of such documents from sellers are generally so difficult and dicey, most such international crude oil buyers seek, therefore, to buy ONLY from sellers who can provide them what they consider the safest, most tangible, and most easily reliable kind of proof and evidence of credibility by a seller . And what is this "preferred" proof and evidence that most buyers would rather have? It is simply this – the provision by a seller of a 2% Performance Bond (PB) to the buyer.

THE USUAL VERIFICATION & CONFIRMATION APPROACHES

In a word, the usual proofs and evidence of crude allocation and availability offered by sellers to prospective buyers, is often the provision to the Buyer of the cargo's PROOF OF PRODUCT or POP. In a CIF or FOB deal, for example, the typical manner by which a supposed crude oil seller shows "proof" or evidence to a potential buyer that the Seller has a genuine crude allocation or crude available to sell, is for the seller to provide the buyer the PROOF oF PRODUCT, and the buyer is asked to "verify and confirm" the authenticity of this on his own, and, upon that, for the buyers to issue their Bank Guarantee or Letter of Credit (or other payment instrument) to cover the purchase cost of the product at delivery.

But the problem with this traditional method, is that for most international crude buyers, the average Nigerian seller's POP (an array of documents that could include the current loaded vessel documents, current Authority to Board (ATB) that was specifically issued to the initial buyer (consignee) of the crude in whose name the vessel was issued, Certificate of quality, Certificate of origin, Cargo manifest, Vessel ullage report, Certificate of quantity, Bill of lading, the Bulk Allocation Details, the Seller's Authority to Sell (ATS) from the NNPC, etc), is NOT reliable or readily verifiable for genuineness. For example, the POP, which is, in a word, the seller's main document that's meant to prove to the buyer that the seller actually has the product being sold, might be showing that an owner of the oil allocation or commodity has possession of the product as of the specific time of the transaction, say, at a certain hour of the day today. But yet, there is no guarantee that the product might not have been sold to another buyer just hours, or even minutes, right after that transaction, and that the commodity is actually still available for sale or delivery to the buyer.

"Most buyers do not accept Nigerian sellers' proof of product (POP)," says Sam Nelson, an expert in crude buying and selling methods and the author of a primer on the subject. "As a result of this, they (the Buyers) want a tangible (Physical) proof of product. The buyer would request that the seller inspect the cargo and present a verifiable inspection report from accredited agencies like SGS, Q & Q or Robinson International before they (the Buyers) will charter a vessel for the transaction. This is because some so-called Nigerian sellers have false claim over products that never existed and they would forge documents to present as POP. Nigerian market has to be followed very carefully and all documentations thoroughly verified. "

Nelson adds: "Please do not give any inspection money to the seller. Always pay the money directly to the inspection company after they have collected samples of the crude oil from the mother vessel for chemical analysis to confirm the quality and quantity of the crude in the vessel. Also, insist that the ATB (Authority To Board) from the vessel for inspection originated from the captain of that vessel. Do not accept any documents as authentic if you did not verify it from the captain of the feeder vessel. Any documentation from a Nigeria seller must be verified for authenticity. "

MOST DOCUMENTS OR PROOFS BY NIGERIAN SELLERS ARE VIEWED WITH SUSPICION

In deed, nowadays, the same problem of general inability to definitively authenticate genuine crude allocation or availability, now pervades even situations where "tangible, physical" POP inspection has supposedly been made. And some buyers find that even this cautionary advice by Nelson, that the buyers should "insist that the ATB (Authority To Board) from the vessel for inspection originated from the captain of that vessel," would often not quite work any more in many situations today.

In a TTO deal, for example, the fact of the buyers' representatives boarding the vessel to make an "inspection" or "confirmation" of the "loaded" vessel, is often no more a guarantee that the transaction is necessarily genuine or legitimate. Nigerian con men and 419ers who operate in the crude oil industry, have been known to work with fraudulent vessel managers and captains or con men disguised as staff of the Shell / JV terminal operators. And Vessels confirmed as "pregnant" (ie, loaded) even by the buyer's representatives and his appointed SGS inspectors invited to come aboard the ship on a presumed ship "captain's" ATB document, have been known to be actually arranged by fake ship operators and ship managers and "captains"; and in such cases the buyer will only be taking over a ship and cargo with FAKE Charter Party Agreement executed between the buyer and fake ship manager, with no AUTHENTIC ship owner's approval and no authentic shipping documents. And once the buyer's representatives aboard the vessel confirms that the vessel is "pregnant," the buyer pays for the cargo, takes over the vessel, and the con men quickly split the money and vanish. The buyer losses everything since the legitimate vessel owner never authorized the captain to issue the CPA, and the essential cargo shipping documents used in the transaction are all merely fake.

Nigeria's bureaucratic quagmire

And there's yet another problem involved in trying to authenticate Nigerian crude oil documents. The problem of the bureaucratic quagmire associated with doing business in Nigeria. One expert vastly experienced in doing crude oil buying business in Nigeria, put it this way to this writer: "NNPC Crude Oil Marketing Department, Abuja, is the authoritative source to verify the Authority to Sell document. But you will spend an endless amount of time trying to verify it. As with most Nigerian establishments, people use personal connections to get such documents, but that does not mean that they can deliver. "

WHAT BUYERS NOW VIEW AS THE BEST AND MOST "PREFERRED" PROOF OF AN AUTHENTIC CRUDE SELLER – A SELLER WHO CAN PROVIDE BUYER A 2% PERFORMANCE BOND

In short, the point is that virtually all traditional manners of verification and confirmation of crude oil ownership and availability have become seriously infected and adulterated by con artists and fake operators to the point that many international crude oil buyers regard those methods as largely unreliable, too difficult to verify, and fraught with intolerable risks. And consequently, there has evolved among them what could today be called a "preferred" method for determining an authentic and credible seller of crude oil in today's market. Such a seller is simply one who can meet one basic requirement – namely, is willing and able to provide the buyer a 2% Performance Bond upfront in a transaction.

What is a Performance Bond or PB?

This is, in a word, an insurance document issued for the seller by seller's bank or insurance company guaranteeing that the issuer will pay a stipulated amount (a sum amounting, in this case, to 2% of the total value of the cargo being purchased ) to the buyer in the event that the seller breaches (fails to perform) the terms and specifics of the contract signed by the seller with the buyer. (The Performance Bond could also be posted in the form of a Cash Bond). The bank or insurance company which issues the PB acts as the responsible "surety" of the bond

If a seller contracts with a buyer to put up a 2% PB – and is able to actually post that bond with his bank or insurance company – the seller is, in a word, guaranteeing the buyer that if he were to fail to perform his obligations under that contract, his bank or insurance company, in their roles as the "surety" of the bond, will pay the buyer a sum amounting to 2% of the value of the crude being purchased, regardless.

WHY BUYERS LOVE THE PERFORMANCE BOND GUARANTEE

Buyers love finding sellers who can provide them UPFRONT 2% Performance Bond, overwhelmingly viewing that as the "preferred" option as they consider that the safest, most reliable, most tangible, and most assured and least fraud-prone kind of proof and evidence of credibility by a seller. Most experts contend that if a seller can offer a 2% PB deal – and, what is even more important, is actually able to post the PB because he has the financial wherewithal to do so – it is almost assured that the seller will not fail the buyer in the actual execution of the deal, but will almost surely perform those obligations as contracted with the buyer.

Sam Nelson, expert in crude buying and selling methods and the author of a primer on the subject, put it this way: "A contract with any of these bonds in place will be successfully completed. A bonded contract has a higher degree of success than a non-bonded contract. A bonded contract is a bankable contract. The players have their money at stake and that is a good reason for them to perform. "

And the Legal Dictionary explains it this way: "The purpose of a bond is to provide an incentive for the fulfillment of an obligation. It also provides reassurance that the obligation will be fulfilled and that compensation is available if it is not fulfilled. Performance Bonds guarantee for the satisfactory completion of a project. "

There are a few specific bases why buyers and experts feel that way:

1. Being able to post a PB is a sign of financial credibility and ability.

To be able to finance an actual posting of a 2% PB (which will mean, for example, at the current crude prices, 2% of, say, $ 200 million for a 2 million barrels cargo, something amounting to $ 4 million), a seller would have to have some substantial financial ability and resources.

2. Financial Cost and Penalty Involved In Posting a PB, is a Powerful Disincentive Not to Perform.

Sam Nelson: "The players have their money at stake and that is a good reason for them to perform." In deed, most buyers, upon getting the 2% PB issuance from a seller, would promptly accept that as equivalent to POP and forgo having to review the POP.

3. The Normal Con Man or 419er Will Not Have the Disposition, the Reputation & Financial Wherewithal to Post a PB.

Robert Strickland of Strickland Associates, an experienced New York dealer in crude oil deals, says as follows: "If you are concerned with FRAUD! ONLY true Sellers that offer a 2% + Performance Bond are genuine Sellers of Nigeria [crude oil]."

Sam Nelson, the crude oil deals expert and author: "These bonds are necessary to protect the interest of the parties involved for unnecessary losses due to fraud or complete negligence."

4. Being able to post a PB is a solid indication to a buyer that the Seller has already been vetted.

Obtaining a PB is generally not an easy or automatic thing. Before a bank or insurance company would give a seller a bond, the seller shall have gone through a rigorous application process, and must have met a set of stringent financial and character requirements and conditions. Hence, when a buyer gets a seller who can, and does actually, post a 2% PB, the buyer is almost assured that he's got a credible seller, and one most unlikely to be a fraudster or a 419er.

For just an example, one Syracuse, New York, insurance company requires applicants for a Public Construction job PB to provide them the following items, among others:

Surety Questionnaire Filled Out Completely
Copy of Contract / Award Letter or Solicitation Letter
Business Financial Statements (2 years audited fiscal year financials) OR
Last 3 years Company Income Tax Returns
Personal Financial Statements and Resumes on all owners of 10% or more
Work in Progress Schedule (if applicable)
Insurance Confirmation
A. Workman's Compensation
B. Liability Certificate
C. Key Man Policy
Supplier and Contractor Reference Letters
Schedule of Completed Jobs
Bank Reference Letter
Company and Personal Indemnification (GAI we supply)
Articles of Incorporation
Corporate Resolution
Job Cost Breakdown and / or bid specs

IN SUM

To most buyers of crude oil in the international open market, getting an UPFRONT 2% Performance Bond issuance from a seller, is the overwhelmingly "preferred" method for doing a sales / purchase deal. It is the option they consider to be the safest, most reliable, most tangible, and most assured and least fraud-prone kind of proof and evidence of credibility by a seller.

For various reasons and factors, many of which are outlined above, most buyers and experts believe that if a seller can offer a 2% PB deal – and, what is even more important, is actually able to post the PB because he has the financial wherewithal to do so – it is almost assured that the seller will not fail the buyer in the actual execution of the deal, but will almost surely perform his own obligations as contracted with the buyer. Hence, in a deal of that kind the buyer has little or nothing to worry about concerning a potential risk of fraud or scam. In consequence, buyers love finding sellers who can provide them – who can actually post – a 2% PB, and consider that to be the best evidence and assurance of having a credible seller, and one most unlikely to not perform the contract, or to be a fraudster or a 419er

NOTE: As with many things concerning many a Nigerian crude seller, it's one thing for a seller to claim to a buyer that he'll post the PB, but quite another thing altogether for the seller to be able to actually do it, or to actually do it!) ,.

FOR A FOLLOW UP

YOU WANT TO FOLLOW UP ON HOW YOU CAN ASSURE GETTING A NIGERIAN CRUDE OIL SELLER WITH A TRUE, UPFRONT 2% PERFORMANCE BOND? OR SELLER WITH OTHER KINDS OF SALES DEALS THAT ARE GENUINE, "SAFE" AND SCAM-FREE?

INSTRUCTION: You can do so. You can readily obtain the specific basic requirements you'd need to meet in order for you to become automatically considered "proven" as a truly LEGITIMATE seller who really genuinely has some crude to sell. USE THE AUTHOR'S FIVE BASIC OPTIONS PROGRAM.

Just send an email and simply ask for "the FIVE OPTIONS." ON THE AUTHOR CONTACT BACK_SEIGEL COUNTRY THIS ONLY BY EMAIL, PLEASE, at: [email protected] the OR [email protected]

The AND THIS ON the MORE RELATED TOPICS ON THE AUTHOR'S BLOG the AT: Http://www.affordablebankruptcy.blogspot.com/

What You Need to Know About Chimney Sweep Certification

Whether you're in the market for a chimney sweep or you're thinking about becoming one yourself, you'll need to understand the process through which a chimney sweep becomes certified. Such certification proves that these individuals have been properly trained to install, maintain, clean, and even repair chimneys.

Chimney Sweep Association of America (CSIA)

The CSIA requires candidates interested in obtaining CCS (Certified Chimney Sweep) credentials to pass two tests. Candidates will need three books to study and test. Currently, these include:

· Successful Chimney Sweeping, 2011 edition;

· NFPA 211, 2013 edition; and

· International Residential Code, 2006 edition.

The CSIA requires all first-time test takers are required to attend either a review session (sessions are held throughout the country) or attend a six-day hands-on program through the National Chimney Sweep Training School. Once these requirements are met, students must take two tests within one year of attending the review or program. The tests are proctored, and they can be taken in-person on paper or online.

· The first exam is based on the Successful Chimney Sweeping and NFPA 211 textbooks. The closed book exam must be completed in one hour, and it consists of a variety of true or falls and multiple choice questions.

· The second exam is based on the International Residential Code textbook. It is an open book exam and candidates are given 90 minutes to complete it.

The CSIA requires individuals to recertify annually in order to maintain their credentials. Requirements include a mix of CEUs, or Continuing Education Units, reviews, exams, and a fee. Sweeps who earn 48 CEUs during the year following certification do not need to attend a review or take an exam.

Certified Chimney Professionals (CCP)

The CCP is an independent company that provides credentialing for chimney sweeps. It offers three different certifications, and most sweeps prefer to obtain one of these credentials along with their CSIA certification.

· Certified Chimney Professional – Candidates must study a manual understand fire codes and safety, and take an exam that consists of 100 multiple choice and true or false questions. A score of 70% is required to obtain this credential.

· Chimney Reliner Certification – Candidates for this credential must study only from the CCP Reliner Manual provided by the company. The exam mimics the Certified Chimney Professional exam; there are 100 questions and candidates must score 70% to pass.

· Certified Master Chimney Technician – The Certified Master Chimney Technician is the highest available credential, and only sweeps who have eight years of experience along with six years of active certification can obtain it. There is no exam; candidates must only prove their experience through test scores and certification badges, and they must prove that they have business liability insurance. Certification (and annual recertification) has a $ 99 fee.

When you hire a chimney service, it is always a good idea to ask about credentials. This way, you can rest assured that you are hiring an experienced and knowledgeable individual to maintain, repair, or clean your chimney to keep you and your family safe.

50 Ideas For Increasing Profits and Cost Reduction

Do you want to know 50 great profit building ideas that you can put to immediate use in your business to increase profits and reduce costs?

If yes, read all these ideas that have been implemented by clients and have benefited them giving their businesses dramatic boost in profitability. Most ideas can be put to action immediately. Each idea has the potential to give you many% points increase in net profits.

Research shows profits increase by 4% -56% and costs reduce by 18% -37% within 2 years using the simple 5 step process called the Profit Maps Model. Usually a 5% reduction in cost is adequate to turnaround most loss making businesses.

Businesses can calculate the value of the savings by these 2 simple formulas

If the business made a loss

Total Costs and Expenses = sales + absolute value of net loss +/- income tax = say X

Minimum Savings you will make in 2 years = 5% of X (which was calculated above)

If the business made a profit

Total Costs and Expenses = sales + net profit +/- income tax = say Y

Minimum Savings you will make in 2 years = 5% of Y (which was calculated above)

So how much can you save? Improve your profits by?

Revenue

This category typically contains inflows of resources into the business generated through operations.

Needless to say the profit building process can be used to generate marketing and sales ideas. The following ideas were generated with the objective of increasing revenue with little or no impact on the cost structure.

Revenue Increasing Ideas

1. If your company has facilities located over a multi-geographical area you may be able to rent antenna space to cellular phone companies. Typically these companies will pay for the use of rooftops as a place to erect their antennas. Another option is for billboards as advertising if you occupy a central location with a high visibility building. This enhances your revenue without any additional cost you. The point here is to explore alternative uses for your facilities. Remember they are assets that can be used 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are numerous opportunities available for increased revenue if you look for them. Training room and function room facilities can be rented out in the evening or weekends. How about spare land or excess slots you own for public car parking?

2. Determine whether your business can market commission and non-commissioned products as add-on sales. Look for opportunities to sell products to your existing customer base at no additional cost. Examples are catalogue sales to airline passengers and the sale of miscellaneous products to credit card customers. You may have the opportunity to do something similar. Your customers have more value than you realise.

3. Is there any additional value in your customer database? Perhaps your business could generate additional revenue by selling the data. Alternatively consider starting a telemarketing department to market another line of products or services. Depending on your business and the nature of your customer base you may have something great here.

4. Explore the advantages of an effective e-strategy including e-commerce, e-business, e- people and e-technology. There is no question that the new opportunities available through the Internet offer new and innovative ways to increase profits and reduce costs. Consult with an expert in this area including a cross-section of your employees and magic will happen.

5. Segment your customers into heavy user and light user categories and determine the difference between these two groups. What needs to be done to generate another sale from both categories? All customers are critical. What can you learn about the different types of customers to determine whether more selling occasions possible? Make the most of these customers; you already have them.

6. Develop retention strategies as well as growth strategies. In today's markets, it is as important to hold on to your existing customer base as it to grow your business. It took you a certain amount of resources to attract your customers: you may want to explore ways to retain a high percentage. What is your cost to acquire a customer? What is your cost to retain a customer? Do your employees know?

7. Continue to look for augmented products and / or services that would add value without adding expense.

8. Explore opportunities to licence or franchise your business products or services for additional market share or penetration

9. Explore merger and acquisition scenarios where efficiencies would be gained for all businesses concerned.

10. Develop a relationship with a long-distance carrier whereby your company will distribute phone cards to your customer base in return for a fee or residual commission.

Salaries

This category typically contains charges associated with

· Management Pay
· Non-management Pay
· Hourly Wages
· Training Labour
· Overtime Pay
· All Other Pay, Wages and Salary items

Cost Saving Ideas

11. Establish a 45 to 60 hour per week work environment among the managers. Cost structures among your competitors are basically similar to your cost structure so you will obtain an advantage because your managers are working more hours. This assumes that your managers are productive. Managers who have responsibility for a workforce of hourly employees are usually at the facility, a retail outlet, restaurant or office at least this amount of time. Sometimes business volume is extremely low at early or closing hours. During the slow hours managers can save substantially by scheduling fewer employees and filling it themselves. In addition to the Labour savings, managers will become more knowledgeable about operations and will find ways to improve customer service, training and operations. I have put this procedure in place in several places. At the beginning there will always be resistance, but once managers get beyond the initial hump things will run smoothly. I also find that certain incentive programmes work well here. Get the manager's incentives based on Labour dollar saved and they come to understand the process.

12. Effectively manage your salary administration programs. Many companies pay lip service to this principle but failed to obtain true levels of success in salary administration and management. To start, make sure you have a salary range for every position in the company. Salaries should be structured so that the midpoint is 100, the minimum is 80% and the maximum is 120%. The basic philosophy is that the candidate should be hired into a position between the minimum and the midpoint on the basis of his or her level of experience. The employees are then moved higher in the range on the basis of performance. This philosophy is based on the premise that mid-point is the amount the position is worth to the company. Employees can obtain an additional 20% through stellar performance. Few employees should be paid over the 120% range. Each job is worth a specific amount to the organisation. If a new hire needs training to become efficient in a particular job, that employee is working at a level below the worth of the position and therefore should be paid at the minimum salary range. When the employee's performance rises at successful completion of training and can perform 100% of the job duties move the employee quickly toward the midpoint of the salary range.

13. Insist that a salary survey be done every year to ensure that you have achieved the desired community position relative to your competition. In this case the competition is those companies that would recruit your employees. You need to make sure that if you survey 10 competitors; you have a salary range higher than 75% of these companies for your key positions and higher than 50% of these companies for lower-level positions. Implementing this strategy will help you reduce turnover and will also ensure that you are not overpaying for positions.

14. Make sure your salary administration program allows for regular salary review. Typically, this is done once a year for salaried employees and every six months for hourly employees. The review should include a performance appraisal form and the employee's performance levels should correspond with established pay increases. In other words, establish the pay for your performance review system.

15. Establish a bell curve of salary increases. Let's say that approximately 8% of your employees are superior performers, 12% are above average, 60% are average, 12% are fair, and 8% are poor. Create a salary increase guideline that mirrors this curve, with the better performing employees receiving higher increases. For example superior employees are given 6% to 7%, above average employees 4% to 5%, average employees 3%, fair employees 2%, and poor employees 0%. This allows the organisation to check and reward performance whilst still meeting its salary increase budget. Obviously, your goal is to continue to train and develop your workforce. Occasionally, low performing employees have to be replaced with those most suited to the position. The Bell curve is just a process to ensure that star performers are recognised and rewarded for their work.

16. Establish the salary increase guideline budget and stick to it. Plan salary increases for the coming year by using the Bell curve mentioned in the above idea. Department managers should budget salary increases for employees assuming that the next year's performance will be at the same level as this year's. Please be aware that some performance ratings will change. There will always be exceptions. This process will help ensure that your organisation will remain within the new salary increase budget.

17. The salary increase guideline budget should be preapproved. When a different rating is submitted during the year, treat it as an exception and make sure to justify it because performances can change- it may go up or down. A strict salary administration program will ensure that budgets are achieved.

18. Establish a training rate for all appropriate positions. This is crucial when your organisation experiences higher levels of turnover during the first and second months of employment. The training rate is lower than the standard pay rate and is applicable only during the training period. Employees are given a raise once the training has been completed satisfactorily. Determine whether the training rate could be established for other positions in the organisation.

19. Where the training rate is not appropriate, establish a probationary rate for the standard 90 day period. This rate is lower than the standard pay rate and is applicable only during the first 90 days of employment. If performance is satisfactory, the employee will receive a raise to the standard pay rate. Determine whether a probationary rate could be established for all positions in the organisation.

20. Develop a labour-management system whereby a computer predicts daily or hourly volume and the amount of labour needs on the basis of seasonality. Most businesses have a trend cycle that can be measured with 15 minute increments. First, you must find a way to get past the notion that your business can not be tracked this way. There is a pattern to your business. Discovering your business pattern is the first step toward determining how to manage your Labour cost. Management will give you many reasons why the business can not be tracked. Once you work through all their concerns, you and your team can identify those trend items, aspects of your customer behaviour that, in fact, can be tracked and schedule Labour accordingly.

21. Determine whether your new hires would qualify for the targeted job tax credit program whereby a percentage of training dollars is refunded by the government.

22. Determine whether your organisation would qualify for tax benefits for providing employee childcare services.

23. If your employees handle cash transactions, install software driven cash reconciliation process to save time at shift changes and at closing. This will also reduce cash shortages. This type of procedure also saves time in the cash out process.

24. Constantly look for software modifications that can reduce labour. Seconds saved could also mean dollars earned. Using technology is a natural approach to the whole effort of productivity improvement. If your business has not recently explored this area, effective tools that currently exist may surprise you.

25. Have an industrial engineer evaluate your business in terms of time and motion studies to determine whether additional efficiencies can be achieved in areas where high throughput is important. This approach can still work today. Some managers run their businesses the same way they did 10 or 20 years ago. Time and motion studies can have an impact on cost savings, productivity, customer service, and employee morale.

26. Establish a self-regulating team with the specific responsibility of improving productivity and reducing costs in a particular department or area of ​​the organisation.

27. Develop an incentive to reduce absenteeism. This incentive should be linked to productivity improvement goals and to the availability of the workforce. It should be based on reducing absenteeism from previous period. The incentives could be a vacation bonus based on a 1% reduction in absenteeism

28. Develop a variable pay program whereby management salaries are reduced 5% to 10% across the board and these dollars are set aside into a bonus pool. When there is goal achievement, managers have the potential to earn even higher levels of compensation. However, these dollars will be at risk if managers do not achieve profit objectives. The potential to earn even higher levels of compensation will help sell this item.

29. Controlling your staff turnover is another way to reduce operating costs. Implementing strategies throughout the entire human resources cycle to ensure that all systems, procedures, policies, and practices are tight preventing employees from falling through the cracks. I refer to this as the human resources closed loop. If you think about it you will see that there is a cycle to the human resources process. It starts with recruitment, interviewing, selection and placement and continues to orientation, training, salary administration, performance appraisal, development, promotion, and finally termination. Then the cycle begins again. Make sure that all of the areas mentioned are employee friendly and are designed to retain employees. Identify any areas where improvements would reduce the number of employees leaving.

30. In order to determine where are to place additional controls, measure your labour costs in terms of cost per unit, cost per test, cost per guest check, etc. Breaking your labour costs down to the lowest unit will help you better identify cost saving ideas. It will also make it easier to affect and control.

Other Personnel Costs

This category would typically contains charges associated with

· Applied Payroll Burden
· Superannuation Employers Portion
· Vacation
· Paid Holidays
· Sick Leave
· Bonuses
· Short / Long term disability
· Group medical

Cost Saving Ideas

31. Make sure your company has a program that offers all full-time employees the opportunity to receive a higher salary in lieu of accepting certain benefits (such as medical, dental and life-insurance). Today many employees are being carried on a spouse's plan. Why not let these employees choose a higher salary instead of benefits? As long as salary increases less than the cost of benefits, the company will save money and employees will increase their income.

32. Evaluate the cost of your superannuation administration. There are competitive programs that can reduce administrative costs. A simple evaluation of three different companies will determine whether you have an opportunity to realise savings. Even if you do not want to change the current superannuation administration you may still be able to negotiate better terms by showing your evaluation.

33. Reduce workers compensation insurance by aggressively reducing accidents. Evaluate your workers compensation actual to determine your claims history. Most companies set an actual rate and never re-evaluate them even though their experiences change. Depending on your business you may be surprised at the potential savings here.

34. Using the Internet conduct benefit surveys to comply your cost with those of similar organisations.

35. Challenge third-party providers to reduce administration costs by using the Profit Maps Model and passing those savings along to you.

36. Continue to monitor workers compensation costs and develop action plans to reduce them.

37. Develop a back to work programme that puts injured employees in alternative positions. There are times when injured employees want to remain active in the organisation and appropriate positions are available.

38. Negotiate settlements when long-term workers compensation situations dictate.

39. Eliminate alcohol at all company sponsored activities. This approach can prevent accidents, cut beverage costs at functions and reduce risks.

Communications

This category typically contains charges associated with

· Long-Distance Telephone
· Cellular Phone
· Pagers
· Data lines
· Fax lines

Cost Saving Ideas

40. Authorise a telecommunications consultant to analyse all your communication costs in terms of rates charged, equipment used, and programmes offered, promotions available, usage, cellular phone options, long-distance carrier performance and pricing, fax and security line combinations, past bills , and so on. Structure the contract so that the consultant bills on the basis of percentage of cost saved or refunds received. In this way, there will be no cost to you if the consultant is not successful in improving your bottom line. Review all areas of communication to ferret out these pockets of expense that often go unnoticed. Pagers and cell phones are usually ordered and distributed without the benefit of an organised plan. There are real and meaningful discounts if you shop around.

41. Continue to renegotiate rates and terms with the vendors who provide services. Set up an ongoing procedure for constantly renegotiating rates and terms.

42. Monitor and control your communications cost on the basis of the cost per unit test (guests check, or that like) in order to determine locations for exerting any additional control.

Utilities

In this category typically charges associated are

· Gas and Electricity Usage
· Water

Cost Saving Ideas

43. Authorise a utility consultant to analyse your utility costs. Such consultants would know how to deal effectively with the local public service companies in order to discover advantages or missed opportunities associated with gas and electric services. They should be fully authorised to check existing equipment and records. They should be experienced in developing an index and analyses and creating demand graphs to spot situations where you may have been overcharged. They would also represent your issues to the public utility commission.

44. Pay your consultant on the basis of a percentage of the savings associated with his or her action steps. The typical rate is 25% to 30% of the demonstrated savings and refunds over a specific period of time. There should be no charge if savings are not demonstrated.

45. Take energy conservation action steps including setting thermostats at 72 ° F. Automatic controls should be put in place to control temperature during off hours.

46. ​​Turn off lights in conference rooms, restrooms and officers when they are not in use.

47. Turn off all lights not related to security at the close of business.

Professional fees

This category typically includes charges associated with professional services such as

· Legal and Human Resources Related Fees
· Proposals (domestic and international)
· Fees for Technical Services
· Other professional fees

Cost saving ideas

48. Talk about fees. If your lawyer does not bring up the subject of fees, you should. Do not be shy. In business, lawyers are free to set their own fees. The best time to discuss is at the beginning of a new legal matter.

49. Try to settle cases rather than litigate.

50. Have lawyers design standard forms you can use in routine transactions.

Conclusion

An Explanation of Lloyd's Slips

Lloyd's slips were originally pieces of paper containing all the details of a risk to be placed on the Lloyd's of London insurance market, although today these are accepted electronically. Lloyd's slips are documents in a standard format which are intended to assist not only the underwriter giving consideration to the risks presented to them but also the policy drafter and those responsible for checking and accounting for the premium. The slip has to be correctly compiled or it will be rejected.

The slip provides a precis of the risk, but an insurance broker passing the slip on a clients behalf needs to be well briefed with additional facts figures and to have available all relevant material such as survey reports, maps, plans, detailed claim records and any other documents or information which may have a bearing on the risk. The insurance broker when preparing the slip, is required to assemble a balanced and accurate representation of the risk and should anticipate as far as possible questions which are likely to arise and disclose this on the slip. If, however, a question is asked to which the broker does not know the answer, it is his duty to say so and refer back for further information. The need to disclose every material fact must always be borne in mind when completing a Lloyds slip.

Where it is necessary that a risk be spread among a number of syndicates, for a rate to be agreed that is likely to prove acceptable to other subscribing underwriters the lead underwriter, or 'leader', must have the confidence of other underwriters. To know which leader to approach first is an important part of the Lloyd's broker's expertise, though it does not follow that the first underwriter approached will necessarily lead the slip. If high amounts are required to be insured, and a large number of syndicates have to be involved, there is less opportunity for competition. For smaller risks the broker may find a keener rate or better terms by shopping around. The lead underwriter is not necessarily the one who can write the biggest line, though normally he will write a substantial line.

A good insurance broker needs to be a good negotiator. Tenacity is required but not to such a point as will prevent conclusion of the business. The aim is to bring the discussion to such a successful conclusion that both the underwriter and the broker together with his client are reasonably satisfied that the best possible arrangements have been made. There are times when a Lloyd's broker needs to obtain almost unfairly competitive terms. A co-operative underwriter may provide these, so long as there is a bulk of business which has been concluded at sensible rates.

After obtaining a lead (which may be for only a small percentage), the broker needs to complete the placement. It may be that the risk can be placed using only Lloyd's underwriters for which a slip will suffice, but sometimes the size of the exposure may necessitate the use of insurance companies in London or even overseas.

A binding authority or a 'cover' provides the cover holder with authority to accept risks within the limits and terms set out on the slip. The broking operation here is to negotiate the binding authority, the limits and the terms agreed. No reference is required to the underwriters once the arrangement has been set up though the binding authority will need to be renewed annually.

Line slips, on the other hand, do not give full authority to the cover holder. If a risk is to be placed under a line slip, it is normal that the two or three lead underwriters have to be seen, and they have to accept the risk and its terms and conditions. The remaining underwriters, however, abide by their agreement under the line slip for their stated proportion.

Once an underwriter has signed the slip as accepting the risk from a given date, then the insurance is effective from that date. As soon as the placement is completed, the client will be advised and the slip and its document will go through the policy issuing and accounting process.

The Lloyd's broker who has placed the risk may sometimes be required to negotiate with the underwriter regarding a claim. However, except for the very smallest broking companies, it is more usual for a special claims broker to be appointed whose sole responsibility is to deal with these items. If loss adjusters or other assessing and negotiating parties are employed by the underwriter, then it may be the broker's duty to negotiate with them as well. In the event of a claim the slip will be very carefully scrutinized.

In the recent past slips would have to be sent to the Lloyd's underwriting room itself, but today this would be totally impractical for Lloyd's to transact insurance business in this manner. Many car insurance syndicates at Lloyd's have overcome this problem by allowing insurance broker firms to pass slips directly to them. Some of these motor syndicates have actually set up offices in towns around the country and the local motor insurance brokers deal direct with these offices, passing the slips to them to complete the deal. This method now enables Lloyd's syndicates to easily compete with the large insurance companies on a national scale.

Supplemental Infertility Insurance – When Your Employer's Plan Does Not Cover IVF

Infertility treatments are very expensive, and there are no guarantees that you will conceive. Health insurance plans that cover IVF and other infertility treatments are hard to find. Fourteen states have laws mandating some level of coverage, but each state mandate is full of holes; most couples have little or no coverage.

If you employer does not offer a group plan with infertility coverage, your chances of finding individual coverage is slim. And if you do find coverage, it comes in the form of a rebate. You get a partial refund if you do not conceive. But this approach covers your smaller exposure: the cost of infertility treatment that fail. Your costs are just beginning when you conceive.

Would not it make sense to purchase insurance coverage that pays benefits for you bigger exposure: you conceive and have a baby? Supplemental insurance pays a benefit for your normal delivery. Your benefit may greatly exceed the premium you pay. Use this excess to cover some of your infertility treatment costs.

State Mandates for Group Coverage

Fourteen states have health insurance laws that mandate some form of coverage for infertility treatments, and sometimes for IVF explicitly. If you are fortunate to live in one of these states, or work for an employer headquartered in these state, count yourself very lucky. You have at least some level of coverage.

Couples living in one of these states are not guaranteed infertility coverage. Some states have a mandate to offer coverage. Insurers are required to offer these plans, but employers are not compelled to buy them. Other states limit the mandate to employer groups of a certain size based upon the number of employees. States can only regulate insurers. If your employer self ensures, they are exempt from the regulations. Also if your employer is headquartered in one of the thirty six states with no state mandate, they are exempt as well.

If you live in one of the thirty six states with no mandate, you are on your own.

Individual Health Coverage for Infertility

Most infertility health insurance options sold to individuals are rebate plans. You are refunded a portion of your infertility or IVF treatment cost if you do not conceive and / or delivery a baby. The insurer will provide this option only if you qualify medically.

Many couples find this option appealing – after all who wants to pay lots of money only to get nothing in return? Upon closer inspection, these plans do not make sense for everybody for three reasons. First, insurer offers the refund program only to couples likely to conceive based upon their extensive knowledge of fertility rates and medical conditions. Second, couples are asked to bet against the insurer who is better informed, and has deeper pockets. Third, this insurance fails to address couples biggest exposure: when happens when they get pregnant?

When infertility treatments fail, you get a portion of your money back. When they work, you pay for the insurance, plus the infertility treatment, and then have to deal with the possibility of a high risk pregnancy, followed by a loss of maternity leave income, followed by the cost of raising a child.

Individual Coverage for Your Bigger Exposure

Supplemental insurance, when purchased preconception provides a means to cover some of your infertility treatment costs, and protect you in case of complications. Your benefit for normal delivery may greatly exceed the premium you pay. Use this excess to fund some of your infertility treatment costs. Plus, you have extra security in case of complications, premature birth, accidents and illnesses – all at no additional cost.

Cliches Associated With Insurance

Is not it funny how many cliches can be associated with insurance? I think when a couple of sayings and anecdotes were invented; the inventors had the term insurance in mind!

Have a look at a couple of the following sayings and tell me if you agree …

Nothing is certain, but death and taxes. This can be changed to – nothing is certain, but death and insurance. No matter who we are, what we do, how much money we have or which car we drive … we need insurance!

All is fair in love and war. Once again, this can be changed to "all is fair in love and insurance." Do not you agree that we are at the mercy of insurance companies? What they say is law and we have to just sign on the dotted line and accept the fact that we are paying tons of money each month on something that we do not really want. Do not accept the first quote that you are offered. Shop around until you find a policy that you are completely satisfied with. Do not allow any broker, agent or insurance company to force you into taking a policy that you are not happy with.

He has been taken for a ride – he has been taken for an insurance ride! It's unfortunate to hear how many insurance companies take their clients and customers for a ride. This is usually by means of not wanting to pay out a claim, increasing premiums drastically, or other matters that we have no control over. Always read the fine print before signing any insurance document. By having a good understanding of what your insurance policy entails, a lot of this can be prevented.

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link – An insurance company is only as strong as its weakest link. When wanting to obtain insurance, make sure that you talk to an agent or a broker who knows what they are doing! The worst thing in the world is dealing with an insurance reseller who has only one thing on the mind and that is to meet their monthly sales targets. Insurance is a very important investment; therefore it is crucial that a qualified professional takes care of your needs and requirements.

A good beginning makes a good ending. Change this to "a good insurance company makes a good ending" and you will be one of the many individuals who are satisfied with the service received from their insurance companies. If a company offers outstanding service and handles queries and claims effortlessly, even a burglary or an accident can have a good ending.

After a storm comes a calm. If you can change this saying to "after an insurance claim, comes a calm" – congratulations! That means that you have recently put in a claim and that it was handled successfully, enabling you to relax after everything has been taken care of.

I hope you have enjoyed this tongue in the cheek look at insurance sayings – it might be a bit of useless information, but hopefully it managed to put a smile on your dial!

New York Life Insurance Company Career – New Personal Financial Representatives Doomed?

New York Life Insurance Company is large and successful. If you think life insurance careers are easy, think again. If you think personal financial representatives are entry level careers, you are doomed. Want the true facts about life insurance careers and personal financial representatives? Read this article.

I remember that years ago 15% of the women entering life insurance careers were women. Today with some career life insurance companies like New York Life Insurance Company that figure is now approaching close to 50%. Moreover, in a business already flooded with far too many male and female life insurance agents, their recruiting figures are up. This is a marketing scheme. Change the name to possible applicants from life insurance agents to financial representatives and suddenly an image of prestige and easy money appears. However, ask yourself why the insurer's name is New York Life Insurance Company and not New York Financial Company. It is just a name game.

FACTUAL INFORMATION Recruiters of insurance agents or so called personal financial representatives have hardly been able to increase their retention rate during the first year and a half of the new recruit's career. 10 years ago, 86% of newcomers left life insurance selling during their first 18 months, now that figure is 85% leaving, 15% remaining. After four full years of gaining experience, only 7% remain, and gender is not a factor.

Why does a highly respected company like New York Life Insurance Company hire over 3,500 reps in 2008? Their figures show appointing around 3,200 in 2007, and expecting 2009 to produce 3,500 new financial representatives to train. To me that adds up to 10,200 inexperienced reps in 3 years. Does anyone logically look at the numbers? This financially solid company founded in 1845 has a total agency force numbering slightly over 11,500. 90% of these are certainly are not newer financial representatives. The common interpretation of new hires retaining a lasting career is False. My analytical studies of New York Life Insurance Agents indicate slightly elevated retention than others. A similar insurance provider loses at least 70% of their first year agents.

New York Life Insurance Company still has poor retention rates. However, during the past 10 years they have implemented a strategy few of their competitors have not been as successful at imitating. That strategic method means recruiting agents, "financial representatives" with a keen emphasis on a wide diversity of cultural backgrounds. This a rapidly expanding area underserved by agents possessing the same nationality and ability to speak the language. This strategy involves personal representation into Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, India, Asian along with Hispanic and African-American and other cultural residents.

Even though New York Life Insurance Company recruits excessive numbers of agents, to result with the skilled few, this is the same numbers game practiced by competitors. Factually, it is a profitable tradition for the insurance provider, as departing agents sacrifice 100% of premiums collected to the company. To the credit of New York Life Insurance Company is this distinction. For many years, they hold the prestigious recognition of having the most MDRT, million dollar roundtable members. This does not mean making anywhere near a million dollars. However MDRT selling principles and premiums are adjusted yearly and strongly enforced to make sure qualifying is left to many of the best of the best.

A new agent is not a financial representative . This is where calling a new agent a financial representative or financial advisor, hurts all the truly experienced and knowledgeable professional personal financial representatives and planners. New York Life Insurance Company mentions on their website regarding new recruits the opportunity to provide vital insurance protection and financial advice. Be honest here. An agent trainee is barely able to properly perform prospecting and life insurance sales effectively. This explains why industry turnover is so great. Selling life insurance to cover death expenses or pay off a mortgage is a far cry from providing the accurate financial advice of a professional. Likewise obtaining a variable contract license to sell investment products does not mean an agent has the ability to do so properly.

A true financial representative must be very qualified to give advice. This often means meeting semi-wealthy to wealthy prospects and advising them how to lay out their entire financial situation. The planning could involve rearranging hundreds of thousands of dollars of assets. Given the economics of the near past, even some of the best financial planners have been given the cold shoulder by clients seeing their wealth accumulation slashed in half. New York Life Insurance Company certainly has some of the best experienced financial representatives in the business. However, most of these pros average 10 years of continued education and specialization while earning various designations as proof of their abilities.

An agent trainee is in the wonder years . Just selling enough insurance to survive the critical beginning years is a challenge few can master. Taking agents living in a $ 45,000 income area environment and getting them in front of million dollar clients is truly throwing them in the furnace to be burned. All salespeople have a comfort level of selling starting with prospects close to their own level. After sales skills and product knowledge, this level gradually increases. Few new agents comfortable with clients making $ 50,000 a year can quickly adapt to working in the $ 200,000 + yearly income bracket clientele. Ordinary middle class Americans do not need a financial representative, the service of a hard working life insurance agent will do fine.

Can a new financial representative make it? Although New York Life Company provides quality training, it can not guarantee success. My previous insurance career and 25 years as an insurance advisor analyzing mountains of agent data says NO. However if a rep already has most of the following qualities or characteristics I could be convinced to say a 50/50 chance at best. You must enter the business in good financial condition, no loaded up credit cards, and hopefully a decent nest egg. If you have the ability to speak fluently a second language and are going to concentrate on your ethnic group that is a plus.

You must realize the average insurance agent earns around $ 25,000 yearly in the early stages, so you have to view this career as a step building process. Very few insurance agents or financial representatives, percentage wise, earn $ 100,000, especially during their initial four years. While product knowledge and most selling skills are learned over time, other career makers must already exist. An extraordinary dose of never-ending determination to break the odds, backed up with phenomenal self-confidence, plus a lack of fear and rejection are required prerequisites. Add to this the ability to take everything you are initially taught as a grain of salt and then revise it to perfection.

Never are you in the business as a company representative, you are in business for yourself. Financial rewards only come to those that separate themselves quickly from the failing masses. IF you still really feel you have what it takes after reading this article, a New York Life Insurance Company Career could become a reality.

Fire Insurance Under Indian Insurance Law

A contract of Insurance comes into being when a person seeking insurance protection enters into a contract with the insurer to indemnify him against loss of property by or incidental to fire and or lightening, explosion, etc. This is primarily a contract and hence as is governed by the general law of contract. However, it has certain special features as insurance transactions, such as utmost faith, insurable interest, indemnity, subrogation and contribution, etc. these principles are common in all insurance contracts and are governed by special principles of law.

FIRE INSURANCE:

According to S. 2 (6A), "fire insurance business" means the business of effecting, otherwise than incidentally to some other class of insurance business, contracts of insurance against loss by or incidental to fire or other occurrence, customarily included among the risks insured against in fire insurance business.

According to Halsbury, it is a contract of insurance by which the insurer agrees for consideration to indemnify the assured up to a certain extent and subject to certain terms and conditions against loss or damage by fire, which may happen to the property of the assured during a specific period.
Thus, fire insurance is a contract whereby the person, seeking insurance protection, enters into a contract with the insurer to indemnify him against loss of property by or incidental to fire or lightning, explosion etc. This policy is designed to insure one's property and other items from loss occurring due to complete or partial damage by fire.

In its strict sense, a fire insurance contract is one:

1. Whose principle object is insurance against loss or damage occasioned by fire.

2. The extent of insurer's liability being limited by the sum assured and not necessarily by the extent of loss or damage sustained by the insured: and

3. The insurer having no interest in the safety or destruction of the insured property apart from the liability undertaken under the contract.

LAW GOVERNING FIRE INSURANCE

There is no statutory enactment governing fire insurance, as in the case of marine insurance which is regulated by the Indian Marine Insurance Act, 1963. the Indian Insurance Act, 1938 mainly dealt with regulation of insurance business as such and not with any general or special principles of the law relating fire of other insurance contracts. So also the General Insurance Business (Nationalization) Act, 1872. in the absence of any legislative enactment on the subject, the courts in India have in dealing with the topic of fire insurance have relied so far on judicial decisions of Courts and opinions of English Jurists.

In determining the value of property damaged or destroyed by fire for the purpose of indemnity under a policy of fire insurance, it was the value of the property to the insured, which was to be measured. Prima facie that value was measured by reference of the market value of the property before and after the loss. However such method of assessment was not applicable in cases where the market value did not represent the real value of the property to the insured, as where the property was used by the insured as a home or, for carrying business. In such cases, the measure of indemnity was the cost of reinstatement. In the case of Lucas v. New Zealand Insurance Co. Ltd. [1] where the insured property was purchased and held as an income-producing investment, and therefore the court held that the proper measure of indemnity for damage to the property by fire was the cost of reinstatement.

INSURABLE INTEREST

A person who is so interested in a property as to have benefit from its existence and prejudice by its destruction is said to have insurable interest in that property. Such a person can insure the property against fire.

The interest in the property must exist both at the inception as well as at the time of loss. If it does not exist at the commencement of the contract it can not be the subject-matter of the insurance and if it does not exist at the time of the loss, he suffers no loss and needs no indemnity. Thus, where he sells the insured property and it is damaged by fire thereafter, he suffers no loss.

RISKS COVERED UNDER FIRE INSURANCE POLICY

The date of conclusion of a contract of insurance is issuance of the policy is different from the acceptance or assumption of risk. Section 64-VB only lays down broadly that the insurer can not assume risk prior to the date of receipt of premium. Rule 58 of the Insurance Rules, 1939 speaks about advance payment of premiums in view of sub section (!) Of Section 64 VB which enables the insurer to assume the risk from the date onwards. If the proposer did not desire a particular date, it was possible for the proposer to negotiate with insurer about that term. Precisely, therefore the Apex Court has said that final acceptance is that of the assured or the insurer depends simply on the way in which negotiations for insurance have progressed. Though the following are risks which seem to have covered Fire Insurance Policy but are not totally covered under the Policy. Some of contentious areas are as follows:

FIRE: Destruction or damage to the property insured by its own fermentation, natural heating or spontaneous combustion or its undergoing any heating or drying process can not be treated as damage due to fire. For eg, paints or chemicals in a factory undergoing heat treatment and consequently damaged by fire is not covered. Further, burning of property insured by order of any Public Authority is excluded from the scope of cover.

LIGHTNING: Lightning may result in fire damage or other types of damage, such as a roof broken by a falling chimney struck by lightning or cracks in a building due to a lightning strike. Both fire and other types of damages caused by lightning are covered by the policy.

AIRCRAFT DAMAGE: The loss or damage to property (by fire or otherwise) directly caused by aircraft and other aerial devices and / or articles dropped there from is covered. However, destruction or damage resulting from pressure waves caused by aircraft traveling at supersonic speed is excluded from the scope of the policy.

RIOTS, STRIKES, MALICIOUS AND TERRORISM DAMAGES: The act of any person taking part along with others in any disturbance of public peace (other than war, invasion, mutiny, civil commotion etc.) is construed to be a riot, strike or a terrorist activity. Unlawful action would not be covered under the policy.

STORM, CYCLONE, TYPHOON, TEMPEST, HURRICANE, TORNADO, FLOOD and INUNDATION: Storm, Cyclone, Typhoon, Tempest, Tornado and Hurricane are all various types of violent natural disturbances that are accompanied by thunder or strong winds or heavy rainfall. Flood or Inundation occurs when the water rises to an abnormal level. Flood or inundation should not only be understood in the common sense of the terms, ie, flood in river or lakes, but also accumulation of water due to choked drains would be deemed to be flood.

IMPACT DAMAGE: Impact by any Rail / Road vehicle or animal by direct contact with the insured property is covered. However, such vehicles or animals should not belong to or owned by the insured or any occupier of the premises or their employees while acting in the course of their employment.

SUBSIDENCE AND LANDSLIDE INCULUDING ROCKSIDE: Destruction or damage caused by Subsidence of part of the site on which the property stands or Landslide / Rockslide is covered. While Subsidence means sinking of land or building to a lower level, Landslide means sliding down of land usually on a hill.

However, normal cracking, settlement or bedding down of new structures; settlement or movement of made up ground; coastal or river erosion; defective design or workmanship or use of defective materials; and demolition, construction, structural alterations or repair of any property or ground-works or excavations, are not covered.

BURSTING AND / OR OVERFLOWING OF WATER TANKS, APPARATUS AND PIPES: Loss or damage to property by water or otherwise on account of bursting or accidental overflowing of water tanks, apparatus and pipes is covered.

MISSILE TESTING OPERATIONS: Destruction or damage, due to impact or otherwise from trajectory / projectiles in connection with missile testing operations by the Insured or anyone else, is covered.

LEAKAGE FROM AUTOMATIC SPRINKLER INSTALLATIONS: Damage, caused by water accidentally discharged or leaked out from automatic sprinkler installations in the insured's premises, is covered. However, such destruction or damage caused by repairs or alterations to the buildings or premises; repairs removal or extension of the sprinkler installation; and defects in construction known to the insured, are not covered.

BUSH FIRE: This covers damage caused by burning, whether accidental or otherwise, of bush and jungles and the clearing of lands by fire, but excludes destruction or damage, caused by Forest Fire.

RISKS NOT COVERED BY FIRE INSURANCE POLICY

Claims not maintainable / covered under this policy are as follows:

o Theft during or after the occurrence of any insured risks

o War or nuclear perils

o Electrical breakdowns

o Ordered burning by a public authority

o Subterranean fire

o Loss or damage to bullion, precious stones, curios (value more than Rs.10000), plans, drawings, money, securities, cheque books, computer records except if they are categorically included.

o Loss or damage to property moved to a different location (except machinery and equipment for cleaning, repairs or renovation for more than 60 days).

CHARACTERICTICS OF FIRE INSURANCE CONTRACT

A fire insurance contract has the following characteristics namely:

(A) Fire insurance is a personal contract

A fire insurance contract does not ensure the safety of the insured property. Its purpose is to see that the insured does not suffer loss by reason of his interest in the insured property. Hence, if his connection with the insured property ceases by being transferred to another person, the contract of insurance also comes to an end. It is not so connected with the subject matter of the insurance as to pass automatically to the new owner to whom the subject is transferred. The contract of fire insurance is thus a mere a personal contract between the insured and the insurer for the payment of money. It can be validly assigned to another only with the consent of the insurer.

(B) It is entire and indivisible contract.

Where the insurance is of a binding and its contents of stock and machinery, the contract is expressly agreed to be divisible. Thus, where the insured is guilty of breach of duty towards the insurer in respect of one subject matters covered by the policy, the insurer can avoid the contract as a whole and not only in respect of that particular subject mater, unless the right is restricted by the terms of the policy.

(C) Cause of fire is immaterial

In insuring against fire, the insured wishes to protect him from any loss or detriment which he may suffer upon the occurrence of a fire, however it may be caused. So long as the loss is due to fire within the meaning of the policy, it is immaterial what the cause of fire is, generally. Thus, whether it was because the fire was lighted improperly or was lighted properly but negligently attended to thereafter or whether the fire was caused on account of the negligence of the insured or his servants or strangers is immaterial and the insurer is liable to indemnify the insured . In the absence of fraud, the proximate cause of the loss only is to be looked to.

The cause of the fire however becomes material to be investigated

(1). Where the fire is occasioned not by the negligence of, but by the willful

(2) Where the fire is due is to cause falling with the exception in the contract.

LIMITATION OF TIME

Indemnity insurance was an agreement by the insurer to confer on the insured a contractual right, which prima facie, came into existence immediately when the loss was suffered by the happening of an event insured against, to be put by the insurer into the same position in which the accused would have had the event not occurred but in no better position. There was a primary liability, ie to indemnify, and a secondary liability ie to put the insured in his pre-loss position, either by paying him a specifying amount or it might be in some other manner. But the fact that the insurer had an option as to the way in which he would put the insured into pre-loss position did not mean that he was not liable to indemnify him in one way or another, immediately the loss occurred. The primary liability arises on the happening of the event insured against. So, the time ran from the date of the loss and not from the date on which the policy was avoided and any suit filed after that time limit would be barred by limitation. [2]

WHO MAY INSURE AGAINST FIRE?

Only those who have insurable interest in a property can take fire insurance thereon. The following are among the class of persons who have been held to possess insurable interest in, property and can insure such property:

1. Owners of property, whether sole, or joint owner, or partner in the firm owning the property. It is not necessary that they should possession also. Thus a lesser and a lessee can both insure it jointly or severely.

2. The vender and purchaser have both rights to insure. The vendor's interest continues until the conveyance is completed and even thereafter, if he has an unpaid vendor's lien over it.

3. The mortgagor and mortgagee have both distinct interests in the mortgaged property and can insure, per Lord Esher MR "The mortgagee does not claim his interest through the mortgagor, but by virtue of the mortgage which has given him an interest distinct from that of the mortgagor "[3]

4. Trustees are legal owners and beneficiaries the beneficial owners of trust property and each can insure it.

5. Bailees such as carriers, pawnbrokers or warehouse men are responsible for there safety of the property entrusted to them and so can insure it.

PERSON NOT ENTITLED TO INSURE

One who has no insurable interest in a property can not insure it. For example:

1. An unsecured creditor can not insure his debtor's property, because his right is only against the debtor personally. He can, however, insure the debtor's life.

2. A shareholder in a company can not insure the property of the company as he has no insurable interest in any asset of the company even if he is the sole shareholder. As was the case of Macaura v. Northen Assurance Co. [4] Macaura. Because neither as a simple creditor nor as a shareholder had he any insurable interest in it.

CONCEPT OF UTMOST FAITH

As all contracts of insurance are contracts of utmost good faith, the proposer for fire insurance is also under a positive duty to make a full disclosure of all material facts and not to make any misrepresentations or misdescreptions thereof during the negotiations for obtaining the policy. This duty of utmost good faith applies equally to the insurer and the insured. There must be complete good faith on the part of the assured. This duty to observe utmost good faith is ensured b requiring the proposer to declare that the statements in the proposal form are true, that they shall be the basis of the contract and that any incorrect or false statement therein shall avoid the policy. The insurer can then rely on them to assess the risk and to fix appropriate premium and accept the risk or decline it.

The questions in the proposal form for a fire policy are so framed as to get all information which is material to the insurer to know in order to assess the risk and fix the premium, that is, all material facts. Thus the proposer is required too give information relating to:

o The proposer's name and address and occupation

o The description of the subject matter to be insured sufficient for the purpose of identifying it including,

o A description of the locality where it is situated

o How the property is being used, whether for any manufacturing purpose or hazardous trade.etc

o Whether it has already been insured

o And also ant personal insurance history including the claims if any made buy the proposer, etc.

Apart from questions in the proposal form, the proposer should disclose whether questioned or not-

1. Any information which would indicate the risk of fire to be above normal;

2. Any fact which would indicate that the insurer's liability may be more than normal can be expected such as existence of valuable manuscripts or documents, etc, and

3. Any information bearing upon the more; hazard involved.

The proposer is not obliged to disclose-

1. Information which the insurer may be presumed to know in the ordinary course of his business as an insurer;

2. Facts which tend to show that the risk is lesser than otherwise;

3. Facts as to which information is waived by the insurer; and

4. Facts which need not disclosed in view of a policy condition.

Thus, assured is under a solemn obligation to make full disclosure of material facts which may be relevant for the insurer to take into account while deciding whether the proposal should be accepted or not. While making a disclosure of the relevant facts, the

DOCTRINE OF PROXIMATE CAUSE

Where more perils than one act simultaneously or successively, it will be difficult to assess the relative effect of each peril or pick out one of these as the actual cause of the loss. In such cases, the doctrine of proximate cause helps to determine the actual cause of the loss.
Proximate cause was defined in Pawsey v. Scottish Union and National Ins. Co., [5] as "the active, effective cause that sets in motion a train of events which brings about a result without the intervention of any force started and working actively from a new and independent source." It is dominant and effective cause even though it is not the nearest in time. It is therefore necessary when a loss occurs to investigate and ascertain what is the proximate cause of the loss in order to determine whether the insurer is liable for the loss.

PROXIMATE CAUSE OF DAMAGE

A fire policy covers risks where damage is caused by way of fire. The fire may be caused by lightening, by explosion or implosion. It may be result of riot, strike or on account of any, malicious act. However these factors must ultimately lead to a fire and the fire must be the proximate cause of damage. Therefore, a loss caused by theft of property by militants would not be covered by the fire policy. The view that the loss was covered under the malicious act clause and therefore .the insurer was liable to meet the claim is untenable, because unless and until fire is the proximate cause f damage, no claim under a fire policy would be maintainable. [6 ]

PROCEDURE FOR TAKING A FIRE INSURANCE POLICY

The steps involved for taking a fire insurance policy are mentioned below:

1. Selection of the Insurance Company:

There are many companies that offer fire insurance against unforeseen events. The individual or the company must take care in the selection of an insurance company. The judgment should rest on factors like goodwill, and long term standing in the market. The insurance companies can either be approached directly or through agents, some of them who are appointed by the company itself.

2. Submission of the Proposal Form:

The individual or the business owner must submit a completed prescribed proposal form with the necessary details to the insurance company for proper consideration and subsequent approval. The information in the Proposal Form should be given in good faith and must be accompanied by documents that verify the actual worth of the property or goods that are to be insured. Most of the companies have their own personalized Proposal Forms wherein the exact information has to be provided.

3. Survey of the Property / Consideration:

Once the duly filled Proposal Form is submitted to the insurance company, it makes an "on the spot" survey of the property or the goods that are the subject matter of the insurance. This is usually done by the investigators, or the surveyors, who are appointed by the company and they need to report back to them after a thorough research and survey. This is imperative to assess the risk involved and calculate the rate of premium.

4. Acceptance of the Proposal:

Once the detailed and comprehensive report is submitted to the insurance company by the surveyors and related officers, the former makes a thorough perusal of the Proposal Form and the report. If the company is satisfied that their is no lacuna or foul play or fraud involved, it formally "accepts" the Proposal Form and directs the insured to pay the first premium to the company. It is to be noted that the insurance policy commences after the payment and the acceptance of the premium by the insured and the company, respectively. The Insurance Company issues a Cover Note after the acceptance of the first premium.

PROCEDURE ON RECEIPT OF NOTICE OF LOSS

On receipt of the notice of loss, the insurer requires the insured to furnish details pertaining to the loss in a claim from relating to the following information-

1. Circumstances and cause of the fire;

2. Occupancy and situation of the premises in which the fire occurred;

3. Insured's interest in the insured property; that is capacity in which the insured claims and whether any others are interested in the property;

4. Other insurances on the property;

5. Value of each item of the property at the time of loss together with proofs thereof, and value of the salvage, if any; and

6. Amount claimed

Furnishing such information relating to the claim is also a condition precedent to the liability of the insurer. The above information will enable the insurer to verify whether-

(1) The policy is in force;

(2) The peril causing the loss is an insured peril;

(3) The property damaged or lost is the insured property.

Rules for calculation of value of property

The value of the insured property is-

1) Its value at the time of loss, and

2) At the place of loss, and

3) Its real or intrinsic value without any regard for its sentimental vale. Loss of prospective profit or other consequential loss is not to be taken into account.

FILING OF CLAIMS

How a claim arises?

After a contract of fire insurance has come into existence, a claim may arise by the operation of one or more insured perils on an unsecured property. There may in addition one or more uninsured perils also operating simultaneously or in succession of the property. In order that the claim should be valid the following conditions must be fulfilled:

1. The occurrence should take place due to the operation of an insured peril or where both insured and other perils operated, the dominant or efficient cause of the loss must have been an insured peril;

2. The operation of the peril must not come within the scope of the policy exceptions;

3. The event must have caused loss or damage of the insured property;

4. The occurrence must be during the currency of the policy;

5. The insured must have fulfilled all the policy conditions and should also comply with requirements to be fulfilled after the claim had arisen.

MATERIAL FACTS IN FIRE INSURANCE: PREVIOUS CONVICTION OF THE ACCUSED

The criminal record of an assured could affect the moral hazard, which insurers had to assess, and the non-disclosure of a serious criminal offence like robbery by the plaintiff would a material non-disclosure.

INSURED'S DUTY ON OUTBREAK OF FIRE, IMPLIED DUTY

On the outbreak of a fire the insured is under an implied duty to observe good faith towards the insurers and the in pursuance of it the insured must do his best to avert or minimize the loss. For this purpose he must (1) take all reasonable measures to put out the fire or prevent its spread, and (2) assist the fire brigade and others in their attempts to do so at any rate not come in their way.
With this object the insured property may be removed to a place of safety. Any loss or damage the insured property may sustain in the course of attempts to combat the fire or during its removal to a place of safety etc., will be deemed to be loss proximately caused by the fire.

If the insured fails in his duty willfully and thereby increases the burden of the insurer, the insured will be deprived of his right to revive any indemnity under the policy. [7]

INSURER'S RIGHTS ON THE OUTBREAK OF FIRE

(A) Implied Rights

Corresponding to the insured's duties the insurers have rights by the law, in view of the liability they have undertaken to indemnify the insured. Thus the insurers have a right to-

o Take reasonable measures to extinguish the fire and to minimize the loss to property, and

o For that purpose, to enter upon and take possession of the property.

The insurers will be liable to make good all the damage the property may sustain during the steps taken to put out the fire and as long as it in their possession, because all that is considered the natural and direct consequence of the fire; it has therefore been held in the case of Ahmedbhoy Habibhoy v. Bombay Fire Marine Ins. Co [8] that the extent of the damage flowing from the insured peril must be assessed when the insurer gives back and not as at the time when the peril ceased.

(B) Loss caused by steps taken to avert the risk

Damage sustained due to action taken to avoid an insured risk was not a consequence of that risk and was not recoverable unless the insured risk had begun to operate. In the case of Liverpool and London and Globe Insurance Co. Ltd v. Canadian General Electric Co. Ltd., [9] the Canadian Supreme Court held that "the loss was caused by the fire fighters' mistaken belief that their action was necessary to avert an explosion, and the loss was not recoverable under the insurance policy, which covered only damage caused by fire explosion., and the loss was not recoverable under the insurance policy, which covered only damage caused by fire or explosion. "

(C) Express rights

Condition 5- in order to protect their rights well insurers have prescribed for better rights expressly in this condition according to which on the happening of any destruction or damage the insurer and every person authorized by the insurer may enter, take or keep possession of the building or premises where the damage has happened or require it to be delivered to them and deal with it for all reasonable purposes like examining, arranging, removing or sell or dispose off the same for the account of whom it may concern.

When and how a claim is made?

In the event of a fire loss covered under the fire insurance policy, the Insured shall immediately give notice thereof to the insurance company. Within 15 days of the occurrence of such loss, the Insured should submit a claim in writing, giving the details of damages and their estimated values. Details of other insurances on the same property should also be declared.

The Insured should procure and produce, at his own expense, any document like plans, account books, investigation reports etc. on demand by the insurance company.

HOW INSURANCE MAY CEASE?

Insurance under a fire policy may cease in any of the following circumstances, namely:

(1) Insurer avoiding the policy by reason of the insured making misrepresentation, misdescription or non-disclosure of any material particular;

(2) If there is a fall or displacement of any insured building range or structure or part thereof, then on the expiry of seven days wherefrom, except where the fall or displacement was due to the action of any insured peril; notwithstanding this, the insurance may be revived on revised terms if express notice is given to the company as soon as the occurrence takes place;

(3) The insurance may be terminated at any tie at the request of the insured and at the option of the company on 15 days notice to the insured

CONCLUSION

Tangible property is exposed to numerous risks like fire, floods, explosions, earthquake, riot and war, etc. and insurance protection can be had against most of these risks severally or in combination. The form in which the cover is expressed is numerous and varied. Fire insurance in its strict sense is concerned with giving protection against fire and fire only. So while granting a fire insurance policy all the requisites need be fulfilled. The insured are under a moral and legal obligation to be at utmost good faith and should be telling true facts and not just fake grounds only with the greed to recover money. Further all insurance policies help in the development of a Developing nation. Hence insurance companies have a burden to help the insured when the insured are in trouble.

REFERENCE:

1. (1983) VR 698 (Supreme Court of Vienna)

2. Callaghan v. Dominion Insurance Co. Ltd. (1997) 2 Lloyd's Rep. 541 (QBD)

3. Small v. UK Marine Insurance Association (1897) 2 QB 311
4. (1925) AC 619

5. (1907) Case.

6. National Insurance Company v. Ashok Kumar Barariio

7. Devlin v. Queen Insurance Co, (1882) 46 UCR 611.

8. (1912) 40 IA 10 PC

9. (1981) 123 DLR (3d) 513 (Supreme Court of Canada)

Books Referred:

1. The Economics of Fire Protection by Ganapathy Ramachandran

2. Modern Insurance Law, by John Birds

3. The Handbook of Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority Act and Regulations with Allied Laws, by Nagar