Categories
Budgeting

Top 3 Costs Travelers Leave Out When Making Their Travel Budget

In spite of world events, travel is still an activity that continues to be extremely popular. People will still have the desire to see new places and experience new things in the way that only travel can give them. Because of the importance of travel, an affordable and relatively pain free experience is high on the traveler’s adjenda. A successful trip starts off with proper planning, but many beginner travelers don’t realize that planning your travel budget, is just as important as planning your travel itinerary. The more successful you are with creating a budget that will work for your itinerary, the happier you will be about your travel experience.

Outside of major mishaps that can occur during travel, such as bad weather, theft, and mechanical breakdown, there are some costs that many travelers forget to take into account when budgeting for their trip. These are costs that can’t usually be avoided, but can be easily planned for.

1. Extra Hotel Charges

When most people book hotels online, most times they don’t see the extra taxes and fees included in the prices that are quoted. Sometimes when the quote is given, it will include estimated taxes, but the quote may not list the exact cost. Therefore, you should plan your budget to include unexpected taxes.

Other costs could be movies charged to the hotel room, tipping the concierge, and room service. These charges can vary greatly depending upon how often they are used. Movies charged to a hotel room can be as much as $10 per movie, and room service is usually more expensive than eating out at a restaurant.

The key is to determine before hand, a daily budget for extra hotel charges and stay within that budget. If you choose one day to go over your budget, use it from any leftover balance you may have from the previous days. If you use any of your daily alotment designated for the future days, you run the risk of spending all of your budget for extra hotel charges before your stay is up. Some self control is obviously required, however, it can also lead to having enough to do something really extravagant on your last day.

2. Transportation Costs

Transportation costs include expenses such as cab, bus, or train fares, any rentals of cars, bikes or motorcycles, and also gasoline and parking costs for rented vehicles. Many travelers will take into account the major costs such as car rentals, and even some occasional fares, but may leave out other required costs such as parking, and gas which can add up.

If you plan to travel to a destination where you will need to rent a car, it is a good idea to plan for at least $30 per day for every day you have the car, for parking expenses and gasoline. This amount can vary depending upon the destination, but if you are planning on being in a metropolitan area, you will find out that your $30 daily budget can be eaten away quite easily.

If you are driving to your destination, you should calculate the milage you get per gallon of your vehicle and then calculate the distance you need to drive to your destination and determine how many gallons of gasoline it will take you to get to your destination. Take the national average of the price of a gallon of gasoline, and add an extra 15% on top of that. Then you can determine how much it would cost to get to your destination by car. You should also add the cost of at least two tankfulls of gas once you are at your destination if you plan on using the vehicle after you arrive.

If you plan to use the public transportation system, you can look in any number of the latest guide books to find the expected costs of bus and train fares at your destination. Once you know these, and know your itinerary, you can make a reasonable guess on what your daily budget would be for public transportation. Always add an additional 10-15% for contingencies.

3. Special Attractions and Events

Costs for special attractions and events can really creep into your expenses when you are either traveling to your destination or are at your destination. Occasionally, featured attractions, or other events will pop up on your radar as you go through your itinerary.

When making travel plans, make sure you consider the trip in addition to your hotel stays along the way, food, and gasoline. Most travelers don’t take into account how they will feel as they are traveling. It could be that at some point along the way, everyone in the car is really getting on everyone’s last nerve, and a movie, or a half day at the amusement park will put everyone in a better mood to complete the trip without it resembling a Jerry Springer episode. Or it could be that your favorite band is performing in the city you will be driving though, and you just can’t pass up that opportunity.

It is usually difficult to know of every last thing before you start your trip, but you should still budget for unexpected activities you may want to do on your way to your destination. It will make traveling much more fun and spontaneous.

Planning your travel budget is something that can be a bit of an art, but there are decisions you can make that will make it less likely you will run out of money before your trip ends. Just take into account your everyday costs and will greatly increase your chances in establishing a budget that will give you enough money to complety your trip with minimal drama. You can easily find information and tips online to help you with your travel plans when setting your budget limits. Go online today to find these resources.

Copyright 2006 B Hopkins

Categories
Taxes

Making Your Divorce Easier

There's nothing easy within the divorce process. Apart from becoming emotionally tiring, it can turn out to be time-consuming, and also a demand on one's finances. What a few measures you should take so as to make this divorce a little easier?

Money could be an essential aspect in a divorces, whether it's to leave a harmful circumstance, secure a new home, settle payments if your spouse leaves or won't pay them, and also to cover legal service fees. Verify the amounts of personal accounts and inform all banks and brokers to not allow a withdrawal of money before your authorization. You can remove money and utilize it for rational expenditures or put it in a separate account. Checking and credit documents, stocks, bonds, and reports regarding all mutual important assets or property are vital. Insurance plans, tax records, and files describing a joint business enterprise are equally indispensable.

Thorough records ought to be made not only of financial circumstances, but all aspects of the marriage. This would matter when relating the facts of your reasons for legal separation to a lawyer, and to the court. Marriage background may include abandonment, infidelity or some other state-recognized reasons for divorce.

From a monetary perspective, earnings and expenditures and outstanding debts must be discussed. Spousal support could be a consideration if one party is not able to support his or her self, or when their earnings are a great deal higher or less than the other's. If kids are involved, child custody expectations must also be talked about and any unique conditions taken into account.

Another important component of your divorce process will be to select a good lawyer. Be certain that you will feel confident in the lawyer and that they are responsive to what you want. The attorney should speak with you in a very understandable way, pay careful attention, help keep you notified on all times, discussions and court judgments as well as be readily available when you want information or a summary of your case. On your end of things, getting each of the listed documentation can assist you to supply as much information as possible to your lawyer. This will save you some time and preventable anxiety especially during a hectic time.

Categories
Taxes

FL Condos – The Investor Wave in 2010 That is Making People Money Again!

Florida condos have been looked upon unfavorably in the recent past as being a source of loss for many “investors”. This is what the media, and many people who lost these properties to foreclosure, have spewed all over the internet and news channels and aside from their point of view there is an untold story that many people are missing. The CONDO BOOM in S FL and many other cities in the US…

I’m a Realtor in the S FL area who helps people buy foreclosures and short sales and also list and sells short sale properties for homeowners everyday. I know the market, I know what it is taking to get these places sold, and what it takes to try to scoop one up as an investor. Right now the average time working with buyers for these types of properties has about doubled due to bidding wars with mostly cash buyers…

That’s right, bidding wars and cash buyers. That was something you heard a lot about in 2004-2005, but maybe not so much these days. Well let me explain what’s going on here. With the value of these properties SO LOW compared to where they used to be, and the rental rate for many of the areas widely unchanged, you are seeing a chance for investors to finally see some cash flow from renting these units out, but also a chance for buyers to come into the market again.

The majority of what I’m seeing is investors, or buyers that will live in the homes, but are paying cash. That is largely due to many lenders NOT loaning on these places anymore since they see too high a risk. That in turn makes prices stay lower than they would if they could be financed since investors (or good ones anyway) will not pay retail for a property most of the time.

Until earlier this year many of these condos might qualify for FHA loans and fit FHA’s guidelines, but due to condo complex’s financial hardships this has changed everything. There is also no spot approvals available to qualify new, financially stable condo complexes that were not already approved so this has reduced the number of options buyers have when it comes to FHA approved condos. I’ve outlined similar issues that are effecting these properties here: fha loan requirements as an additional resource…

Right now in many places in Broward county, where I service, you can find short sales and foreclosures that are 2/2 condos in decent complexes that are selling in the $50K-$70K range that used to sell for over $220K just a few years back. That doesn’t make them good investments, but let me give you a look at the numbers. For example:

A 2/2 condo that I buy for $60K cash costs me approx. $300 per month for condo fees and $250 per month in taxes. Let’s add an additional $100 per month for miscellaneous fees or costs. Depending on the complex and area, you can get anywhere from $1000-$1250 per month from a tenant and even Section 8 housing. Assuming we are getting $1050 per month that would NET a profit of $400 per month which is a 8% return on my investment at the end of the year ($400 x 12 months/$60,000). That’s a much better ROI than many other investments these days and thats from ONLY 1 property.

This is what’s really happening in many markets around you (including S FL where I am) and this is also the opportunity many people have been waiting for. I wrote this article because MANY people have no idea this is going on unless their “in the biz”, but now you know….it’s up to you to take action though!

Categories
Taxes

Breaking Up Wax Is Hard To Do – Setting A Wick In A Container Candle – Candle Making Additives

The following article contains three topics that are related to candle making: How to Break Up a Slab of Wax, How to Secure a Wick in a Container Candle, Candle Additives.

HOW TO BREAK UP A SLAB OF WAX

Wax generally comes in 10 pound slabs. How do you break up the slabs?

If it’s a slab of soft container wax – a sharp knife can be used to cut the slab into pieces.

If it’s a slab of hard wax – place the slab in a sturdy trash bag and lay it on a sidewalk or cement floor. Place a piece of lightweight cardboard on top and then break up the slab with a hammer. The trash bag keeps the wax clean and keeps the pieces in one place – and the cardboard prevents the hammer from tearing through the plastic bag.

CANDLE ADDITIVES:

Vybar 103 – Opaque wax hardener. Use in high meltpoint waxes (pillar and votive candle wax) / raises the meltpoint of the wax, making the wax harder / softens dye color and increases opacity, giving candles a creamier look / reduces seepage of the fragrance oil from the wax / eliminates mottling.

Vybar 260 – Opaque wax hardener. Use in low meltpoint waxes (container candle wax) / raises the meltpoint of the wax, making the wax harder / softens dye color and increases opacity, giving candles a creamier look / reduces seepage of the fragrance oil from the wax / eliminates mottling.

Stearin (also known as Stearine or Stearic Acid) – Opaque hardener. Stearin raises the meltpoint, making the wax harder / softens dye color and increases opacity, giving candles a creamier look / reduces seepage of the fragrance oil. (Vybar is generally preferred in place of Stearin).

Gloss Poly (Polyethelene) / Luster Crystals – Opaque hardener. Improves glossy appearance.

Translucent crystals Translucent hardener. These crystals can be added to straight paraffin to make it more translucent. Increases the meltpoint of the wax.

Microcrystalline (Micro Wax) 180 – Translucent hardener, increased elasticity. Increases the hardness but not the opacity. Elasticity makes wax less brittle.

Microcrystalline wax (micro wax) 195 – Translucent hardener. Micro 195 will increase the hardness, raise the melt point, and reduce or eliminate mottling. Recommend for pillars and tapers.

UV Inhibitor– A small amount helps reduce fading and discoloration from exposure to light (especially sunlight).

CONTAINER CANDLE HOW TO SECURE A WICK IN A CONTAINER CANDLE:

First, place the candle wick in a length of drinking straw that’s about ½” shorter than the wick itself. This makes it easier to place the wick tab where you want it to go.

Apply a drop of hot glue – or super glue – or double sticky tape to the bottom of the wick tab and then secure the wick tab in the center of the container and remove the drinking straw.

Categories
Insurance

How Do I Go About Making PPI Claims?

If you are looking to get back your PPI payments after being a victim of mis-sold PPI policies, you can now take all your money back from your policy lender without much hassle and extra fees. Thanks to the latest high court ruling that has made reclaiming much simpler provided you hire a licensed claim management company. Irrespective of whether you hire or not, you need to know about how you can go ahead and make your PPI claims.

The very first step is to find out whether you have a PPI or not. It makes no sense to claim without a PPI from your insurer just because it was involved in selling misleading policies. In order to find out whether you are a PPI holder, check your statements for your loan or credit card for any additional payments that may be towards PPI. In case there are no such documents, the most obvious way to find that out will be to contact your lender directly. Therefore, the initial contact point is the company from whom you got your loan or credit card. This also means that directly approaching your provider may be the quickest way to make PPI claims.

In most cases due to the new ruling, the company or provider will repay your payments without backfiring or challenging it. This means you can claim your PPI payments hassle-free. However, there have been cases wherein the provider itself has disagreed with the PPI claims by upholding the fairness and transparency of selling the PPI policy. In such a situation, you will have to request for your claim and prove them false about their claims.

In case such a direct approach does not work, the next step would be to seek the help of the consumer complaints organization. This is none other than the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) that is legally authorized to formally get involved in case the lender does not resolve your complaint in eight weeks of your notice or request, or if you are unsatisfied with the company’s response. It acts on your behalf without charging you a penny to independently assess whether the policy was sold in an unfairly manner to you. This is the best alternative to a claims management company who will make claims on your behalf but will charge 20-30% of refunds.

You need to write and send a complaint letter to your provider in an official format that will be explained to you by FOS. Just focus on listing the reasons why you think that the policy was mis-sold and attach copies of relevant documents to justify your claim.

Categories
Insurance

Home Insurance Claim – Making a Complaint

As an Insurance Consumer, you have a number of rights:

– That your insurance product performs as sold to you

– You receive fair and prompt treatment

– Your claim is not unreasonably rejected

It is not uncommon throughout the life of a household claim for a claimant to experience some difficulties relating to the above points with either the Insurer or their appointed Loss Adjuster and in the event that any of these difficulties arise, you have a right to consider a formal complaint.

Before escalating to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) however, you should initially raise the complaint via telephone or in writing to the Loss Adjuster / Insurer to give them an opportunity to review. They will then have 2 options:

1. Resolve your complaint within 24 hours of receipt

2. If unable to resolve your complaint within 24 hours of receipt, they are required under FSA regulation to record and deal with the complaint formally (these recorded complaints are required to be declared to the Financial Services authority who monitor complaints levels and Insurers are therefore keen to prevent these as much as possible).

If you are unable to easily resolve the complaint via telephone or email etc or if the complaint is of a substantial nature, it is recommended that you issue your complaint in writing and if possible, it is more effective if you can locate the details of the Insurers Chief Executive name and location as any complaints addressed to them are generally treated as higher profile.

In the event that your complaint is formally logged, it will normally be dealt with by a Customer Relations team which reside within most key Insurer firms. You will receive a written acknowledgement of the complaint and this will also outline their internal process which will normally require a full review of your claim and a formal response to any points raised.

An effective letter of complaint should include:

Your policy information-

-Full details of your issues (including dates, times, who dealing with etc – this is where keeping a detailed claim log from the start of your claim can prove very valuable).

-It is useful to cite some breaches under FSA regulation if applicable ie: for unwarranted delays, a breach of treating customers fairly principle – refer to ‘Your Consumer Rights’ factsheet for more detail.

-Detail the detriment that the poor service or claims decision has had on you or your family (such as health risks, stress, inconvenience, loss of earnings etc as appropriate to your own situation).

-If you feel strongly about how you have been treated or how your claim has been handled, make it clear within your letter that if you do not get a satisfactory outcome to your complaint, you will be required to escalate the complaint to the Financial Ombudsman.

Insurers have an 8 week deadline to fully deal and respond to your complaint (they can request an extension from the FSA however, these are not common), however, the majority will be dealt with much sooner than this, especially if less complex issues are raised. Insurers final response should detail:

-A summary of your complaint

-A summary of the outcome of their investigations

-If they agree that they are at fault, or partly at fault

-Detail on how they propose to settle your complaint (ie: decisions, outline of any compensation if appropriate etc).

-Timescales on what they are proposing to do and for your acceptance

-A leaflet with the Financial Ombudsman contact details including the procedure for escalation together with confirmation that you have a 6 month timeframe in which to pursue

Following the final response to your complaint, if you are still not happy with the outcome, you are then entitled to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) which is a free service for Consumers (paid for by charges to UK Insurers).

It costs an Insurer a £500 fee for each and every case that is referred to the Ombudsman and in addition, the complaint is recorded as a statistic against the Insurer which can have an adverse affects and publicity on an Insurer if their complaints ratio is high. This is worth noting as the majority of Insurers will exhaust all avenues in trying to resolve the complaint to prevent it being escalated to FOS which on occasions will result in them offering financial compensation, paying some items of claim under dispute even in the event that it is not fully evidenced that it’s covered etc. to avoid this.

THE OMBUDSMAN COMPLAINT

Once a complaint has been referred through to FOS, they will review:-

-The nature of your complaint and whether the issues raised have caused you any financial loss, distress or inconvenience to ensure that you have had a valid reason for complaining.

-Insurers previous involvement and complaint response to establish if this was actually fair and reasonable.

-As to whether the complaint has any reasonable success prospects.

If the complaint review is to proceed, they will then proceed to review the claims paperwork and will also provide the Insurer with an opportunity to make any representations in support of their own decisions and having obtained all sides of the story and facts surrounding the case.

Insurers will tend to apply contract terms more strictly on a Consumer, however, the FOS will tend to review a number of factors when considering the overall decision – the policy wording, the decisions made and why, good industry practice and whether an Insurer decision has been fair to a customer. As such, the FOS tends to be perceived as more lenient in a number of cases than the Insurance company claims department / adjusters would be and many cases are ruled in favour of the Consumer. The Customer relations departments who deal with complaints within the insurance companies would normally be trained to take a similar approach to the FOS to enable them to resolve a higher number of complaints themselves without them being referred.

Following completion of the investigations, they will make a final determination on the complaint which will be:

– They will reject the complaint (it will be in favour of the Insurers)

– They will uphold the complaint (it will be in favour of you)

– They will partially uphold and reject certain aspects of the complaint

Formal written confirmation of the decision will be provided to both the Insurer and to you and this will outline the decision and the reason it has been made. In the event that your complaint is successful or partially successful, they will outline the remedy required by Insurers and if you accept, both you and the Insurer are legally bound to accept. These may include:

– Compensation payable to you from the Insurer

– An apology to you from the Insurer

– Payment for part or all of your claim where appropriate

If a compensation payment is ordered as a result of the Insurer’s behaviour, there will be a number of things taken into consideration to establish a fair amount to be paid including what your financial loss equates to together with consideration for stress & inconvenience caused to you and occasionally, if there has been any damage to your reputation.

WHAT IF I DISAGREE WITH THE OMBUDSMAN DECISION?

If you are still not satisfied with the outcome and do not accept the decision / remedy within the specified timeframe, the decision is therefore not binding on any party and if you wish to pursue the matter through the courts, you are legally entitled to (please note however that this can be a costly process for you and it is not recommended if there are not any further grounds to continue disputing).

Categories
Insurance

Making Motorcycle Accident Claim

If you are taking your motorcycle accident claim to court, you'll need a suitable qualified lawyer. The best way to get your motorcycle accident claim started quickly and completed with the best outcome for you is by using the services of a specialized lawyer.

Not only will your lawyer help you with court proceedings, they will also be very helpful in negotiating an out of court settlement should the opportunity arise. If your opponent has their own experienced and strong legal representation, you'll be glad you've got a good lawyer on your side too.

The number of accidents involving motorbikes is rising every year. Some of the main reasons given for these accidents are negligence by rider or the driver of another vehicle, poor road conditions and unavoidable circumstances. Whatever the reason for your accident, if you feel you are entitled to some form of compensation, here are some useful tips on preparing for your motorcycle accident claim.

Assuming your accident doesn't leave you unconscious or incapacitated, try the following. Take photo's of the accident scene if you can before things are moved around. Also take some pictures of the surrounding areas leading up to the accident site. It is also useful to write down your recollection of the accident as soon as you can after the accident itself has been cleared away. The more evidence you have supporting your claim, the better off you will be when it comes to making a claim for an accident on your motorbike.

The payout for your motorcycle accident claim (assuming you win) may vary depending on your age, sex, number of dependants, seriousness of the accident and your injuries, and so on. Don't be surprised if there is a long time involved in concluding your case.

You must know your rights and the type / level of compensation that you are entitled to. If you are not knowledgeable about this, then it is best that you use a qualified lawyer to guide you through the process. A good lawyer will give you sound advice on whether your claim has a likelihood of winning, how much you should be claiming and how long the process should take.

The increase in motorcycle accident claims is worrying to some insurance providers. Some insurance providers have decided to take a harder line on motorcycle accident insurance claims. If you are up against one of these, a skilled lawyer will be your best ally.

This article is intended as definitive legal advice in any way. It represents general information that you should check with your own trusted legal professional. You are advised to consult with a suitable qualified legal profession on your individual situation and motorcycle accident claim.

Categories
Currency Trading

Building Financial Freedom Through Online Forex Trading – An Intro to Making Money Online!

The gas crisis, along with the weakening economy is pushing everyone in America and abroad to try to make some extra cash. Many are turning to the internet to make money. Their looking to get rid of their debt, to buy a better vehicle, or to improve their quality of life. Making money online is one of the best and most accessible ways to start earning money. However, many people don’t know how to get their foot in the door. A lot of people put a lot of work into things but don’t consider what their doing. Building financial freedom, through the forex market is incredibly easy, and in recent years has exploded in popularity.

Many will try to tell you that online forex trading is tough stuff, and you need to spend thousands on books to get started. This is only true if you intend on becoming a forex guru, as they are called. New advances in automated technology have led to the development of forex autopilot programs. These programs, run on any capable computer buying and selling for you at a profit. You heard that right. Essentially, you turn on the program and it makes money. This is simply the easiest way to get your foot into the online world. You’ll be making money almost effortlessly, and without a huge time commitment.

The autopilot programs come in varying degrees of quality, and there are people everywhere trying to scam you. I found the perfect site that had all the research already on it for me, and I picked a program. I won’t name the program here because I’m not trying to sell you anything personally. The nicest thing about the trader I purchased, was it came with a 60 day money back guarantee. If online forex trading wasn’t working out for me, I could have just canceled. However, it’s working out for me in a big way (I’m a couple of weeks away from making more online than I do at my day job.)

I’m telling all my friends about the programs as we speak. It couldn’t be easier and the money is there for everyone to make. It’s quick, easy, and the perfect way to get started online.

Categories
Insurance

Is the "Never Pay" Insurance Policy Making a Comeback? How to Fight It (Part II)

“In your policy it states quite clearly that no claim that you make will be paid. You unfortunately plucked for our Never-Pay Policy, which if you never claim is very worthwhile – but, uh, you had to claim – and there it is.”

-Mr. Devious to Reverend Morrison about the letter from the insurance company refusing to pay the Reverend’s claim for damage to his car that was hit by a lorry while standing in a garage. Monty Python and the Flying Circus, circa 1971.

In the last article, I focused on the business and societal ills that can result from insurance carriers acting as if they were selling Monty Python’s proverbial “Never Pay” policies. I also mused about a Utopian carrier that would write clear and easily understandable policies, and that would actually pay claims instead of paying claims adjusters to write reservation of rights and denial letters and a legion of lawyers to fly around the country litigating with the insurer’s own customers.

Now, I do not mean to suggest that carriers never pay claims. In many instances, they act responsibly. Unfortunately, it seems that some carriers (or certain claims adjusters) act as if they sold you a Never Pay Policy, and this attitude, at least based on observations from my little part of the legal world, seems to be increasing. Equally unfortunately, our Utopian carrier, at least to my knowledge, does not exist.

This article will begin to explore how the real world works and some tips for navigating the confusing world of insurance. I must, however, begin with this caveat. There is no way to make sure that claims that arise in the future will be covered, and there is no way to assure that your carrier will be reasonable. I am often truly astonished at the positions taken and incredibly creative arguments that insurance adjusters make to try to deny claims. There are some tips that may, however, increase your chances of success. This article will cover some of the basics. The next article will discuss when you probably need to consult with coverage counsel.

1. Find a good broker. Most insurance is bought through brokers or agents. Find an experienced broker, preferably one with experience in writing insurance in your industry. The broker should take the time to meet with you and develop an understanding of your business. The broker should know what you do and how you work in considerable detail. You may have particular risks that raise concerns. These risks should be discussed in detail. A good broker will likely raise other issues that may never have occurred to you. If a broker does not want to take the time to understand your business and review the risks, find another broker.

How do you find a good broker? Ask around. Do some research on the broker. Find out how many people the broker employs. It is probably not necessary to use a giant like Aon or Marsh, but be sure that your broker is well established. It is also helpful if the broker has a little size. Why? If a carrier is balking regarding a claim, a broker can sometimes step in and act as your advocate. It does not always work, but sometimes it helps. If the carrier views the broker as an important source of business, it may be more likely to pay the claim.

It may be helpful if you put in writing to the broker the risks that you want to make sure are covered. This will make sure that the broker has focused on the issues. Ask the broker to review any exclusions to coverage or endorsements that the insurer will require. Endorsements can include additional exclusions. Go over all exclusions and endorsements with the broker, and try to make sure that they do not create a hole in the coverage for potential risks of your business. If the broker makes a mistake and advises you improperly regarding coverage, the broker may be liable to you if the carrier fails to cover a claim.

A necessary implication of using a broker is that you will not be purchasing insurance online. Many carriers, particularly personal lines carriers (home and auto) are selling insurance online in an effort to cut out broker or agency fees and commissions. I would not advise buying business insurance online and would advise you to exercise extreme caution in buying even personal lines insurance online. A good broker is well worth having.

2. Check out the carrier. A broker may propose one carrier or several. Check out any proposed carrier’s financial strength. The broker can usually provide financial strength ratings, such as by A.M. Best, and explain them to you.

Any broker or policyholder’s coverage lawyer knows that some carriers are better about paying claims than others. Ask the broker about this issue. Ask the broker whether the broker would be comfortable relying on this carrier for its own insurance. Do some of your own research. “Google” the carrier online. You will probably begin to get a feel for the carrier’s reputation.

3. Do not buy based solely on price. It is tempting, particularly in the current economic environment, to take the cheapest quote that is offered. If your choice, however, is between buying a cheap policy from a carrier with a bad reputation and buying a somewhat more expensive policy from a carrier that has a good reputation, think very carefully before taking the “bargain.”

It is also worth noting that you should make every effort to make sure that you are comparing “apples to apples.” Make sure that your broker outlines any substantive differences between the cheaper policy and the more expensive policy. The cheaper price may be partially explained by higher deductibles or self-insured retentions (the part of the loss you must pay), lower policy limits, or endorsements that eliminate coverage for particular risks that may be important to your business.

4. Get copies of your policies and keep them with other important papers. I am often asked to evaluate insurance coverage issues. Of course, the first thing I need is a copy of the insurance policy. It amazes me how difficult it is in many instances simply to get a copy of the policy.

It also is clear to me that many business people do not even have a clear understanding of what an insurance policy is. Often, when I ask for a copy of the policy, I am provided with a one page copy of what is known as the “dec page.” This provides almost no help in evaluating coverage, other than determining the policy limits.

Just so the issue is clear, an insurance policy typically consists of three components. First, there is the previously mentioned declarations page, or “dec page.” This is usually one page (sometimes two) and it summarizes the types of coverage and the policy limits. The policy limits establish the maximum amount the carrier will pay. Limits are typically stated as “per occurrence,” meaning the maximum the carrier will pay for one event. Sometimes, the limits are stated to be “per claim” or “per accident,” which will establish the maximum amount the carrier will pay for a single claim or accident. There are also “aggregate” limits. Aggregate limits establish the total maximum amount the carrier will pay in a given period (typically a year) regardless of the number of “occurrences” or “claims.”

Note: There are important differences between “occurrence” based coverage and claims made coverage. These differences are beyond the scope of this article, and should be discussed with the broker. Most general liability coverages are “occurrence” based. Much professional liability coverage (for architects, engineers, attorneys) is written as “claims made” coverage.

The second part of the policy is the “body” or “policy form.” This is the main part of the policy, and includes the insuring agreement (what the policy will cover), exclusions to coverage (types of events that are not covered), conditions to coverage, and definitions. This, in essence, is the insurance contract, and is what a coverage lawyer or insurance professional will need to begin evaluating any coverage question.

The third part of the policy consists of any endorsements. Endorsements are amendments to the policy. Endorsements can be very important and they can substantially alter the rights of the insured. Endorsements can include, for example, additional exclusions to coverage. For example, one now often sees endorsements with “fungus” exclusions. These exclusions were added by many carriers after many claims were reported several years ago for alleged mold-based property damage or bodily injury.

The policy will usually be delivered after it is purchased, sometimes long after it is purchased. The policy should include the declarations, policy form and any endorsements. Typically, it will be stapled together.

It is a good idea to keep a copy of the policy stored away from your place of business. Why? If there is a loss (a fire, for example) at your place of business, the policy will probably be destroyed. Copies can be maintained in a safe deposit box, or a copy could also be stored in an electronic form where it will be remotely backed up.

The important thing is to have ready access to the policy. Yes, your broker should have a copy. Yes, it should be possible to get a copy from the insurer. However, you would be surprised how tedious this process is. If you have a catastrophic claim and need to consult with a coverage attorney, it is vastly preferable to have a copy of the policy readily available.

5. When you get the policy, review it. Take a careful look at the policy. Does it appear to be what you and the broker discussed? Do there appear to be exclusions or endorsements that affect coverage that were not discussed? If so, call your broker and go over these issues immediately.

One of the practical problems with the way insurance is sold in the U.S. is that the policies are not written in a readily understandable way. Unfortunately, even a careful reading of the policy is not likely to identify every possible issue that may arise. However, it does not hurt to go over the policy and to bring any possible issues that jump out to your broker’s attention.

6. Make inventories and take pictures. A big problem that exists for many property claims is documenting the property that was destroyed. It is a good idea to make lists of property (including, if known, the purchase price), and to take photos or videotapes of property. There are many cheap and easy to use video cameras, such as those by Flip video, that will fit in a shirt pocket. Many digital cameras, even ones that are quite inexpensive, now have video capability. Lists and videos can help eliminate disputes in the event of a claim. Electronic copies of lists and videos should be stored remotely or so they are backed up remotely.

7. If there is an event that may lead to a claim, take pictures. If there is an unusual event that may lead to a claim – such as, for example, a large hail storm – take pictures of the event. Take photographs of the hail or the weather event. If you have a video camera, take video.

It is unfortunate, but some insurance claim adjusters will try to deny that a weather event was substantial enough to cause damage. They may argue that generalized weather information, or even damage to surrounding buildings, is not enough. Although I do not think that many courts would agree with this approach, having photos or a video can end the debate.

Note that some policies require that particular types of property be separately scheduled. This can be true for personal and business lines of insurance. Ask your broker whether this should apply to you, particularly if you have unique and highly valuable property (jewelry, artwork, unique business machinery, etc.).

Conclusion. If you follow these basic steps, you will be more ready to deal with a claim than the average insured. In the next article, I will get into some of the details that may arise if there is a claim and if you need to consult with an insurance coverage attorney.

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Currency Trading

Online Currency Trading – Making A Profit By Trading the Forex Market

Can anyone really make a business out of trading the Forex market? Or, shall we say, can one make enough of a profit to make a living trading the Forex market? Many would not attempt to answer that question, and realistically, there is no real easy answer. Some people do, in fact, make a living as traders, not only in Forex, but in the stock market, futures market, or other types of investment instrument markets. However, it’s important to understand that making a profit in the Forex market, or any other kind of liquid financial market, takes time and effort. It’s not something that you can suddenly make a decision to do and expect to become successful without Forex education, mentoring and most important your personal desire, dedication and perseverance.

Making a profit in Forex trading requires knowledge of which economic and geo-political news events moves a currency pair and its seasonal fluctuations. You need to know what affects the spot price and how to adjust your trades accordingly. In other words, you need to understand the fundamentals, as well as the technicals.

In order to learn the important things about the Forex market, you need to have experience; it is not something you can learn from simply reading a Forex dummies book, surf currency trading sites on the web and following the global currency trends. The key to making a profit trading the Forex market or any trading in any other market for that matter, is knowing when and how to trade, and equally important, when not to trade, and that comes not from reading the newspapers or a book but from gaining the experience. Trading with a mentor can accelerate the process.

If you are limited on the amount of funds in your Forex trading account, you might want to consider utilizing a mini account or super mini account and compound that account to profit. The Forex trading process, once learned, will have typical deviations built into the methodology. Adjusting to the nuances of currency trading will become inherent and you will learn to process a $5,000 account applying the same principals as you would manage a $500,000 account. The power is truly in the Forex trading process.

Choosing currency pairs that are less volatile (read more liquid) gives you a better chance of making a profit during your early trading transactions. The experience will allow you to gain insight into how the Forex market works and teach you the best way to conduct Forex trading business. Once you gain the experience that you need, you are in a better position to consider some of the more volatile currency pairs since you will be better educated with the knowledge of how certain events affect the price of most currencies.

The most important thing is to remember that not to rush into anything. Do all of your research first so that you will make the right choices in your swing trading activities. Choose a Forex education course and mentor that specializes in swing trading. In the end, you are only in competition with yourself, so there is no need to think you need to make a decision right away on any currency pairs you need to trade. Your goal should be first getting comfortable with the strategic concepts. Second, master money management techniques and finally, learn to trade from your personality.