Insurance In Tort Laws

INTRODUCTION

This project has been an eye opener for me. It is extremely relevant to the modern times and as the future of India we should understand that it is the common mass that runs the country. Consumer protection rights are an important issue in modern days. The law can be effectively used to stop any abuse of the common people especially illiterate masses who do not understand the rules and regulations which is to be followed while buying particular item. It is law, the controller of the entire society which can stop this abuse from taking place. It can place effective standards guiding a product’s genuinity and the proper verification of its price. No extra taxes should be issued according to the seller’s wish. I have proceeded by referring to the books written by Avtar Singh, Venkat Rao and others. It has been a wonderful and educational delight in going about this topic and making a project which is of greatest importance in the present day scenario.

DEFINITION OF CONSUMER

The words “consumer”, “consumed”, “consumption” is all cognate, and when one is defined, the contents of the definition go into all of them wherever they occur in the same act.

Section 2 of the act wherein ‘consumer’ is defined. According to him, the definition of the consumer will not take a client who engaged the advocate for professional services.

Consumer means any person who-

– Buys any goods for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid and partly promised or under any system or deferred payment and includes any user of such goods other than the person who buys such goods for consideration paid or promised or partly promised or under any system of deferred payment when such use is made with the approval of the person, but does not include a person who obtains such goods for resale or for any commercial purpose

– Hires or avails of any services for a consideration which has been paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred payment and includes any beneficiary of such services other than the person who hires or avails of the services for the consideration paid or promised or partly paid or partly promised or under any system of deferred payment when such services are availed of with the approval of the first mentioned person but does not include a person who avails of such services for any commercial support

In Black’s Law Dictionary it is to mean:

One who consumes. Individuals who purchase, use, maintain or dispose of products and services. A member of that broad class of people who are influenced by pricing policies, financing practices, quality of goods and services, credit reporting debt collection and other trade practices for which the state and federal consumer laws are enacted.

OBJECTVES OF THE ACT

The act is dedicated, as its preamble shows, to provide for better protection of rights of consumers and for that purpose to make provisions for the establishment of consumer councils and other authorities for settlement of consumer disputes and for other connected matters. In the statement of objects, reasons it is said that and the act seeks to provide speedy and simple redressal to consumer disputes. Quasi judicial body machinery has been set up at the district, state and central levels. These quasi judicial bodies have to observe the principle of natural justice and have been empowered to give relief to a specific nature and to award, wherever appropriate, compensation to consumers. Penalties for non compliance of orders given by quasi judicial bodies have also been provided.

The object and purpose of rendering the act is to render simple, inexpensive and speedy remedy to consumers with complaints against defective goods and deficient services and for that quasi judicial machinery has been sought to be set up at the district, state and national levels. These quasi judicial bodies are required to apply the principle of natural justice and have been empowered to give relief of specific nature and appoint wherever necessary, compensation to consumers.

INSURANCE

An operational definition of insurance is that it is

– the benefit provided by a particular kind of indemnity contract, called an insurance policy;

– that is issued by one of several kinds of legal entities (stock company, mutual company, reciprocal, or Lloyd’s syndicate, for example), any of which may be called an insurer;

– in which the insurer promises to pay on behalf of or to indemnify another party, called a policyholder or insured;

– That protects the insured against loss caused by those perils subject to the indemnity in exchange for consideration known as an insurance premium.

The influence of insurance on the law of torts has been significant, both on theoretical level and on practice. Insurance has undermined one of the two main functions of awarding of damages, and it has in cast doubt on the value judgements made by the courts in determining which particular test of liability is appropriate in the given circumstances.

Regardless of whether in the particular circumstances the appropriate principle of liability is intention is malice, fault or strict liability, the purpose of common law damages remains the same. The primary purpose of an award of damages is to compensate the victim for his loss, with view to restoring him as near as possible to the position he would have been in but for the tort of the wrongdoer. But damages have another: by making the wrongdoer responsible for meeting an award of damages, the courts are trying to deter others from committing similar tortuous wrongs.

Insurance vitiates the secondary purpose of damages, at the same time incidentally ensuring that the primary purpose is more often achieved.

It can scarcely be realistically asserted that insured defendants are deterred by the prospect of losing no-claims bonus or by increasing of premium on renewal of their policies. Once it is conceded that insurance renders compensation for the sole purpose of damages but then the tort action itself becomes vulnerable to attack, for there are many ways-some perhaps fairer and administratively cheaper than tort- of compensating a victim for a loss he has suffered.

Prima facie, where a person suffers loss of recognized kind as the result of another’s act, then the latter should have to make good that loss. But for valid reasons, the courts have held that, in certain circumstances, the actor will have to compensate his victim only if he is at fault. The victim’s right to compensation is, therefore curtailed in an attempt to be fair to both the parties. The courts have made a policy decision that, in the circumstances, it is right to reward a defendant who has been careful by protecting him from liability for the consequences of his actions and that, as a corollary the plaintiff must forego his compensation. The policy decision is made on the supposition that the wrongdoer would himself have to pay for the damages but for this protection; it by no means follows that the same decision would be made if there were no risk of the wrongdoer having to provide the compensation.

It is difficult to judge the victim’s right to compensation should be curtailed when that curtailment is not justified by a corresponding benefit to the wrongdoer. The requirement of fault ceases to play its role as the leveler between the victim’s legitimate expectations and the wrongdoer’s legitimate expectations, and becomes simply a hurdle to the victim’s progress to compensation. If it is accepted that no one can insure against liability for harm caused by intentionally to another , then similar arguments can be made by the inappropriateness of the victim’s having, in certain circumstances to prove an intention to do him wrong or harm, when it is irrelevant to the wrongdoer whether he had such an intention or not.

Again the victim’s right to compensation is being curtailed without any corresponding benefit to the wrongdoer.

However, insurance has influenced the law of tort on a much more practical level as well. While the fact of insurance is not of itself a reason for imposing liability , there can be no doubt that it does add “a little extra tensile strength” to the chain which a wrongdoer to his responsibilities.

As well it has given new horizon to damages ; it is true that traditionally it was considered to inform the court that a defendant was insured , but “those days are long past” and now it is frequently openly recognized that the defendant would be insured.

The policy of insurance constitutes a contract of insurance between Life Insurance Corporation or a subsidiary of General Insurance Company of India, as the case may be, such services such has been undertaken to render under the contract of insurance. However as a rule, occasion to render services arise only when insured surrenders his policy, or the policy matures for payment or the insured dies or any other contingency which gives rise to render service occurs.

Breach of contract of insurance may give rise to a cause of action to file a civil suit, but such breach of contract may itself constitute deficiency in service, so as to give a cause of action to file a complaint under the consumer protection act for one such more relieves awardable hereunder.

Section 13(4) of the act vests in a redressal agency powers of the Civil Court, while trying a suit in respect of such matters as examination of witnesses on oath and production of documents. Declining to exercise jurisdiction in a case before it only because it involves examination and cross examination of facts, witnesses and production and consideration of documents would amount to abdication of its jurisdiction.

Such discretion can be exercised only when the gives rise to several issues and necessities taking of voluminous oral and documentary evidence, or otherwise involve complex questions of fact and law which cannot be decided in time bound proceedings under the consumer protection act.

MOTOR VEHICLE INSURANCE

Where the sale of a vehicle is complete, the title therein passes to the purchaser notwithstanding that his name has not been recorded in the R.C.Book. Such owner is entitled to get his vehicle insured and also to maintain a claim on the basis of such insurance. The earlier owner, who has lost insurable insurance on the sold vehicle, cannot advance a claim on the basis of policy of the said vehicle, earlier taken by him, on the ground that he is still the recorded owner of the said vehicle.

Section 157 of the motor vehicles act is only in respect of third party risks and provides that the certificate of insurance described therein shall be deemed to have been transferred in favour of the person to whom the motor vehicle is being transferred. It does not apply to other risks, if any, covered by the policy. If the transferee wants to avail the benefits of other risks covered by it, he has to enter into an agreement thereof with the investor.

FRAUD BY INSURER

If it is established that the discharge voucher was obtained by fraud, misrepresentation, undue influence or coercive bargaining or compelled by circumstances, the authority of the consumer forum may be justified in granting relief. Mere execution of the discharge voucher would not deprive the consumer of his claim in deficiency of service.

DELAY IN SETTLEMENT OF CLAIM

In Sarveshwar Rao v. National Insurance Company Ltd. , it was held that the delay of two or more years in settling the insurance claim would result in inadequacy in the quality, nature and manner of the service which the insurance company has undertaken to render, and amounts to deficiency in service.

In Delkon India Pvt. Ltd. V. The Oriental Insurance Company Ltd. . The National Commission has held that it was a deficiency of service to have delayed the claim by two years on the ground that the final police report was not coming.

INTERPRETATION OF TERMS

In Skandia Insurance Company v. Kokilaben Chandravadan , the honorable Supreme Court ruled that the exclusion terms of the insurance must be read with so as to serve the main purpose of the policy, which is to indemnify the damages caused to the vehicle.

CONDUCT OF THE INSURER

In Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. V. Mayur Restaurant and bar , the conduct of the insurer was under question. The commission held that deficiency of the service was established on the part of the opposite party on two counts i)delay in settlement of claims and ii) unreasonable and un maintainable reasons for repudiating the claim of the complainant, and the compensation with the interest and cost was awarded.

SUICIDE BY THE ASSURED

In Life Insurance Corporation v Dharma Vir Anand, the national commission refused to hold the insurance commission liable as the insured committed suicide before the expiry of three years from the date of the policy.

BREACH OF TERMS

In B.V.Nagarjuna v Oriental Insurance Company Ltd., the terms of insurance contract permitted the insured vehicle to carry six passengers at a time but the driver allowed two more persons to get in. It was held that merely adding two more persons without the knowledge of the driver did not amount to indemnification by the insurance company.

NOMINEE’S RIGHTS

In Jagdish Prakash Dagar v. Life Insurance Corporation , it was held that a nominee under a policy of life insurance will be a consumer within the meaning of section 2(1) (d) of the Consumer Protection Act. The commission held that the nominee could legislatively maintain an action against deficiency raised in service by the arbitrary decision of the insurer.

REPUDIATION

Repudiation is defined as the renunciation of a contract (which holds a repudiator liable to be sued for breach of contract, and entitles the repudiatee on accepting the repudiation to treat the contract as at an end

This concept of repudiation is needed in the concept of insurance. The concept of repudiation will be dealt hereto a number of times and to provide beneficiary evidence, the definition has been given.

Unilateral repudiation of its liability, under the contact of by the life insurance corporation or an insurance company does not, by itself oust the jurisdiction of a redressal agency, to go into the sustainability of such repudiation, on facts and in law and to decide and to adjudicate if, in the facts of the case, it amounts to deficiency in service or unfair trade practice, and if so, to award to the aggrieved person, such relief or reliefs under Section 14(1) of the said Act as he or she is entitled to. The fact that before such repudiation it obtained a report from a surveyor or surveyors also does not oust the jurisdiction of a redressal agents to into the merits of such repudiation, for otherwise in each case the corporation or such company, and deprived the aggrieved person of the cheap and expeditious remedy under the consumer protection act.

Where, however the corporation or the company conducts thorough investigations into the facts which have given rise to claim and other associated facts, and repudiates the claims in good faith after exercise with due care and proper application of mind, the redressal agency should decline to go into the merits of such repudiation and leave the aggrieved person to resort to the regular remedy of a suit in a civil court.

The law does not require the life insurance corporation or an insurance company to accept every claim good or bad, true or false, but it does require the corporation or the company to make a thorough investigation into such claim and to take decisions on it, in good faith, after exercise of due care and proper application of mind and where it does so it renders the service required by it and cannot be charged with deficiencies in service, even if, in the ultimate analysis, such decisions is wrong on the facts and in law and the redressal agency would be disinclined to substitute its own judgement in the place of the judgement of the corporation or insurance company.

The question as to whether repudiation of its liability does or does not amount to deficiency in service would depend upon the facts of each case.

Where a cheque sent towards a premium is dishonoured by the drawee bank and consequently the policy is cancelled or it lapses or the injured dies before the proposal is accepted and contract of insurance results, no claim can be founded in such a policy, which was cancelled or has since lapsed, or a contract of insurance, which did not materialize at all. Repudiation of such claim can never amount to deficiency in service.

Insurance agent is not entitled to collect premium on behalf of the corporation. Where an insured issues a bearer cheque towards premium and hands it over the insurance agent who encashes it, but does not deposit the premium with the corporation event till the expiry of the grace period and consequently the policy lapses and meanwhile the insured also dies, his nominee has to blame himself or herself for the indiscretion of the insured and cannot blame or fault the corporation.

BASIC PRINCIPLES OF INSURANCE

There are some basic principles concerning the topic of Consumer Protection Law and Insurance.

– Settlement of insurance claim is service, default or negligence therein is deficiency of that service

In the case of Shri Umedilal Agarwal v. United India Assurance Co. Ltd, the National Commission observed as under:

“We find no merit in the contention put forward by the insurance company that a complaint relating to the failure on the part of the insurer to the settle the claim of the insured within a reasonable time and the prayer for the grant of compensation in respect of such delay will not within the jurisdiction of the redressal forums constituted under the consumer protection act.

The provision of facilities in connection with insurance has been specifically included within the scope of the expression “service” by the definition of the said word contained in section 2(i) (o) of the act. Our attention was invited by Mr. Malhotra, learned counsel for the insurance company to the decision of the Queen’s Bench in national transit co. ltd. V. customs and central excise commissioners . The observations contained in the said judgement relating to the scope of the expression insurance occurring in the schedule of the enactment referred to therein are of no assistance to all of us in this case because the context in which that expression is used in the English enactment considered in that case is completely different. Having regard to the philosophy of the consumer protection act and its avowed object of providing cheap and speedy redressal to customers affected by the failure on the part of persons providing service for a consideration, we do not find it possible to hold that the settlement of insurance claims will not be covered by the expression insurance occurring in section 2(1)(d).Whenever there is a fault of negligence that will constitute a deficiency in the service on the part of the insurance company and it will perfectly open to the concerned aggrieved customer to approach the Redressal Forums under the act seeking appropriate relief.”

– L.I.C. Agent has no authority in collecting the premium

The supreme court held that under regulation 8(4) of life insurance corporation of India (agents) regulation, 1972 which had acquired the status of life insurance corporation agents rules with effect from January 31, 1981, which were also published in the gazette, LIC agents were specifically prohibited from collecting premium on behalf of LIC and that in view thereof an inference of implied authority cannot also be raised.

– Rejection of claim as false after full investigation

The national commission held as follows:

” from the facts disclosed by the record and particularly averments contained in the consumer affidavit filed by the first respondent it is seen that the insurance company had fully investigated into the claims put forward by the complainant that his claim was rejected. Thus it is not a case where the insurance company did not take a prompt and immediate option for deciding the claims against the insurance company. Having regards to the facts and circumstances of this case and the nature of the controversy between the parties we consider that this is a matter that should be adjudicated before a civil court where the complainant as well as the respondent will have ample opportunities to examine witnesses at length, take out the commission for local inspections etc. and have an elaborate trial of the case.”

– Unilateral reduction in the insurance amount.

The national commission held that the insurance company is not entitled to make a unilateral reduction of Rs. 4, 29,771 from Rs. 30, 12,549 at which its own surveyor assessed the loss.

– Mere repudiation does not render the complaint not maintainable.

The national commission overruled the objection of the insurance company that merely because the insurer had totally repudiated its liability in respect of the claim, no proceedings could validly be initiated by the insured under the consumer protection act.

– Mere unilateral repudiation does not oust the jurisdiction.

The national commission held that merely because the insurer has repudiated the insurance claim under the policy unilaterally, it is difficult to hold that the various redressal forums constituted under the consumer protection act, 1986 will have no jurisdiction to deal with the matter that if such a contention of the insurance company can get a report from the surveyors, repudiate the claim and oust the jurisdiction of the redressal forums, that the redressal forums are, therefore, bound to see whether or not the repudiation was made in good faith on valid and justifiable grounds that if the surveyor or surveyors choose to submit the wrong report and the insurance company repudiates the claims without applying its mind then the repudiation cannot be said to be justified that the report of the surveyor will show that the investigations have been proper, fair and thorough and that it has to be remembered that the surveyors bread comes from the employer.

– Mere unilateral repudiation no ground to oust jurisdiction.

The national commission repelled the objection and observed as under:

“Ordinarily a remedy is available to a consumer in Civil Court but mere repudiation of claim arising out of policy of insurance under section 45 of the insurance act, 1938, cannot take away the jurisdiction of the redressal forum constituted under the act. The avowed object of the act is to provide cheap, speedy and efficacious remedy to the consumers and it is with this object that section 3 of the act lies down as follows:

3. Act not in derogation of the provisions of any other law: – the provisions of this act shall be in addition to and not in derogation of the provisions of any other law for the time being in force.”

The national commission overruled the objection in the view of repudiation of contract of insurance by the corporation; the redressal agencies under the act cannot entertain the claim of the insured and reiterated the law laid down by it in the Divisional Manager, Life insurance Corporation of India, Andhra Pradesh v. Shri Bhavnam Srinivas Reddy.

– Removal of insured goods on attachment no theft.

It was ruled in the stated case that attachment of certain items of insured Machinery and goods by the bailiff of a civil court, though later found to be illegal and consequent removal did not amount to theft and or house breaking by force so as to entitle the insured to prefer a claim under the policy.

– When repudiation amounts to deficiency and when it does not?

The national has held:

In M/s Rajdeep Leasing and Finance and others v. New India Assurance Company Limited and others –

That rejection of the claim by the insurance company after examining and considering the two separate survey reports from qualified surveyors and three legal opinions from different oriental counsels could not be said to constitute a deficiency in service so as to give a rise in the cause of action for a complaint under the consumer protection act.

In Oriental Insurance Co. Ltd. V Modern Industries Ltd. , the national commission has held that where the cover note inter alia mentions that the risk is subject to the usual terms and conditions of the standard policy, it is equally the responsibility of the complainant to call for these terms and conditions even if they are not sent by the insurance company, as alleged, to understand the extent of risk covered under the policy and associated aspects.

In Life Insurance Corporation of India v. Dr. Sampooran Singh

The complainant had taken out an insurance policy of 40,000 rupees in 1982, for the purpose of payment of estate duty on his only residential house in chandigarh in the event of his death and paid 5 premia, but with the abolition of estate duty on one residential house owner in 1985, the policy became inoperative due to the act of the state and not due to any deficiency on the part of the corporation any dispute between the parties as to the amount payable there under cannot be construed as deficiency in service on part of the corporation.

In LIC of India v M/s Kanchan Murlidhar Akkalwar

The complainant applied to the opposite party for housing loan, and on the advice of the latter, she took two LIC policies, one for Rs. 90000 and the other for Rs. 20000 entered into an agreement for the purchase of the house with the house with the owner on the advice of the opposite party obtained a fire policy for Rs. 2 lakhs. The opposite party advised the complainant to obtain a release deed from the zilla parishad co operative society in respect of the she proposed to purchase with a certificate that the said plot is not mortgaged therein. The complainant got a certificate from the Maharashtra government that the vendor had re paid the housing loan and interest thereon due to Zilla Parishad Krishi Karmachari Sehakari Gribe Narman Sanstha and that there was nothing outstanding from him towards loan amount or interest. Still the opposite party did not release the loan. On these facts the national commission by its majority judgement observed that:

“We have carefully gone through the records and heard the counsel. Clause 1 (c) of the loan offer letter clearly states that the advance of the loan is subject to the property being free from encumbrances to the satisfaction of the insurance company and a good and marketable title. At the same time it appears that the respondent-complainant had to go through a number of steps, although necessary, having financial implications and causing mental and physical stress to her and at the end of all of which she was told that no dues certificate given by the maharashtra government in respect of the prospective seller of the property in question, was not “release of mortgage” certificate that was obtained. The respondent complainant perhaps also had in her mind the case of Mr. Vaishempayam who got the loan under similar circumstances. Thus the evasion petition is disposed of as above.”

CONCLUSION

This project topic is increasingly beneficial in the modern times with the consumer protection rights being redressed with due care. It is being advertised in the mass media in our country. The slogan which our consumer is using is: “JAGO GRAHAK JAGO”. The time has come to realize the ideal market situation in which the buyers are not persuaded or coerced falsely into buying items which are of no use to them at all. Besides the relationship between buyer and seller should not be damaged at any cost. The relationship between the buyer and seller is said to be a fiduciary relationship and the trust between them should remain intact. A time has come in which the customer should get his proper position in the market conditions. He has to have proper knowledge about what is going on in the market and the concerned prices and the supply and the different other practices referred to.

Insurance is a very sensitive issue in the modern times. People are being hoodwinked into signing up in companies which are turning out to be frauds in the true sense of the term. This project has been an eye opener to me and I have come to realize the importance of the consumer protection act and insurance.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Insurance In Tort Laws

Your Homeowners Insurance May Not Cover Woodpecker Damage

Meet Amy, City Girl that became a small town resident upon her marriage to George. The stark difference between living in the very center of urbanized civilization and township dwelling was somewhat of an adjustment for Amy. Sure she loved the sights and sounds of nature exposed: the lake, the trees, grass, flowers and the vibrant color of winged birds. Nonetheless, how she missed the hustle and bustle and – yes – even the noise of what she had always recognized as the center of commercial shopping, auto and bus traffic – honking included – and life as she had been bred to appreciate!

Though noise has always been the core of her existence, the incessant pecking on the side of her roof in small town America where she currently had set up residence did absolutely no good for her nerves. Five o’clock in the morning, you see was far too early for a woman of the world such as she to be rudely awoken from her slumbering state. And the fact that the pecking was coming from a fine feathered ‘friend’ known most commonly as the woodpecker did little to placate her uneasiness.

Then came the crunch that really threw Amy off. It appeared as the bothersome woodpecker had begun to incur damage on her lovely home! But nothing could appease Amy when she discovered that her standard homeowners insurance policy did not even cover the damages and losses she now suffered!

“You see, Ma’am,” explained the nice insurance agent, “insurance companies simply do not cover general home liability that has been wrought through negligence. In fact, they view woodpecker damage as something that could have been avoided through proper home maintenance.”

If only Amy had known! She most certainly would have confronted the little peril with a vengeance. Now it appeared that it was too late and she and her husband would have to bear the losses through out of the pocket expenditures.

They say life is a great teacher. Amy knows better than most.

“Learn from me,” says Amy, former city dweller. “Don’t let pests get the better of you or your home risks will!”

How does one tackle a woodpecker problem? There are a number of hands-on methods:

• Go out and purchase a tool that’s on the market in regard to woodpecker deterrence.

• Surround outside home spots that connect to the roof with wired fencing.

• Attach colorful tape below roof and around the roof’s gutters.

• Seal attic holes and house siding with caulk or other materials.

• Hire a pest eliminating firm to take care of the problem.

• Explore your own creative to tackle the nasty wood-pecking problem.

Ask Amy. She’ll tell you forearmed is indeed forewarned: speak to an independent insurance agent about your homeowners insurance policy to make sure it is tailored to your needs.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Your Homeowners Insurance May Not Cover Woodpecker Damage

Advantages and Disadvantages of Short Term Insurance Plans

Short term health care insurance policies are becoming more popular by the day due to its flexibility as well as affordability. Many low-income households have no choices other than opt for these short term insurance plans especially when long term plans are not affordable. Although these temporary plans have their own set of limitations, these drawbacks are shadowed by several advantages that are offered by these flexible packages that make them extremely attractive, especially for those who can only afford low income health insurances.

What exactly are the disadvantages of short term health care coverage? Well, for one, it is extremely easy to obtain as application processes do not consume time, you could probably obtain approval within a day of applying. This makes the application process simple, so many flock to health insurance companies get these packages. Another primary advantage is the low premiums, this would be especially attractive for those who can not afford comprehensive health insurance plans. Temporary health care insurance plans also work perfectly for travelers who require insurance in the country of travel during vacations or excursions, as well as people who are between jobs or freshmen out of college. The flexibility of these plans allows you to choose how long you want to be covered, and lets you determine how much you want to pay for your premium (would reflect on the amount of coverage that you receive).

Neverheless, these plans do come with their drawbacks as well. With these health care insurance packages, renewals are not guaranteed, then once your policy expires, you would have to re-apply and hope to obtain approval once again. This could prove to be a little troublesome, as durations of the policy are typically between 30 and 360 days only. Short term health coverage also does not include optical, dental nor medical check ups, so you might incur extra expenditure if you need medical attention on these.

As a conclusion, short term health insurance plans work well for those who are in a financial transition period, or needs insurance during traveling. If the limits of these plans do not deter you, then you would be happy with what temporary health care insurance plans can offer for your benefit.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Advantages and Disadvantages of Short Term Insurance Plans

OUTLAWED: Six Home Insurance Deal Killers Florida Homeowners Should Be Aware Of

As affordable Home Insurance in Florida gets more difficult to attain, it is extremely important for home owners and future home owners to be fully informed before purchasing a new home or shopping for new home owners insurance.

If one of these SIX conditions exist in the home, "BUYER BEWARE" as insurance may be difficult and potentially impossible to bind.

1) Fuse Panel

A properly installed FUSE PANEL by itself is typically not a safety issue, although most insurance companies have banned this type of electrical service for all new policies written. There are a number of reasons, some of these are noted below.

The main safety issues from fuses come into play when a homeowner replaces a blown fuse with too large of a fuse (ie a blown 15 amp fuse replaced with a 30 amp fuse which is readily available on the utility room shelf). The circuit is designed to "blow" if a load greater than 15 amps passes through. Now the "trigger" is set at 30 amps. An extra 15 amps just might be enough for the wiring or other components to heat up enough to cause a fire or other serious injury or damage.

A typical fuse panel can be replaced with a circuit breaker panel for $ 750 to $ 2,000 depending on any other upgrades that may have to be made in the replacement. Always get a minimum of THREE QUOTES from reputable Contractors before authorizing any work done.

2) Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and Tube Wiring (K & T) was used from the 1880's into the 1930's. This early method of electrical wiring did a great job for many years and is still used today in some select governmental and industrial applications. However this old rubber or cloth covered wiring that strings along on porcelain knobs has outlived its useful life and is no longer insurable or even legal in residential applications per the National Electrical Code.

An average size home re-wire can run from $ 8,000 to $ 20,000 depending on the unique layout and access to electrical components. Always get a minimum of THREE QUOTES from reputable Contractors before authorizing any work done.

3) Aluminum Branch Wiring

In Florida, Aluminum Wiring has been in the spot light since 2010 when tens of thousands of Florida home owners learned they could not get insurance if they have this common wiring that was used frequently between 1965 and 1973.

Aluminum wiring is known to "cold creep". The wiring expanss as it heats up and contracts as it cools down, this can cause the wire to come loose at the connection and this can cause an arc which can heat up fixtures and start fires. Aluminum also oxidizes over time which can contribute to this fire safety issue.

There are two options to get insurance if you have aluminum branch wiring. First, and most costly (but the one we highly recommend) is to completely rewire your branch wiring to copper. This can cost on average, $ 8,000 to $ 20,000 depending on how easily or difficult your electrical components are to access.

The second option is to use AlumiConn or CopAlum crimps that in essence crimp a copper "pig tail" to your aluminum wire so that the copper wiring is what is making the connection to your electrical fixture. This option, on average, costs between $ 1,500 and $ 3,000 depending on how many electrical fixtures there are in the home. We recommend staying away from this when possible as we fear that the ever changing insurance industry may indeed OUTLAW the crimp method as well. We also do not like the idea of ​​going from the average fixture having 3 connections to having 6 connections. The more connections the more chance of failure.

4) Less Than a 100 Amp Electrical Service

A more recent industry change in our "power consumption hungry world" is requiring homes to have 100 amps or more of service feeding the home. With the heavy consumption of electrical power the average homeowner uses, insurance companies appear to be fearful that smaller services can overheat when using typical high consumption appliances.

The cost to upgrade an electrical service can range depending on if the size of the electrical wiring can handle the increased electrical load. If it can not, the feeder line will also have to be replaced. As always, get at least 3 quotes from reputable electrical contractors.

5) Polybutylene Plumbing

This popular plumbing pipe was used heavily through the 1980's and into the early 1990's. It is usually "blue or gray colored", is flexible, and has caused flood damage in thousands of homes across the country. Up until recently a few insurance companies did not ask about the type of plumbing pipe so agents would place homeowners with those companies, however starting September 1, 2012 Citizens Insurance Company specifically outlawed Polybutylene Plumbing.

A typical re-plumbing cost can run from $ 4,000 to $ 10,000 depending on the ease of running the new pipe (in attics or under homes). We recommend using copper or CPVC piping as some insurance companies are also taking issue with PEX pipeline that has become very popular over the past decade. We'll cover more on PEX in a later article.

6) Roof with less than 3 Years of life

The final INSURANCE DEAL KILLER in today's article addresses your first line of defense in a wind or rain event, THE ROOF! If your roof has less than three years of useful life left on it you will likely be denied insurance coverage. In our hot Florida sunshine, an average three tab shingle roof will last between 10 and 15 years. An average dimensional shingle roof will last between 15 and 25 years. Other popular roofing options include tile and metal roofing. These options have significantly longer life expectancy of upwards of 50 years if installed and maintained properly.

A re-roof is normally calculated on a per square basis. A square is equal to 100 sq ft of shingle. In the Pensacola area that per square cost can run anywhere from $ 225 to $ 300 per square making the average 30 square roof cost between $ 6,750 and $ 9,000 depending on the quality of products used.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on OUTLAWED: Six Home Insurance Deal Killers Florida Homeowners Should Be Aware Of

Types and Examples of Larceny

When someone is talking about larceny crimes they are talking about the crimes that are associated with personal property. Property has two different titles, which are personal or real. Personal property is any real property that has been cut from the ground. Personal property can become a real property if it becomes attached to the ground. Real property is any property that is affixed to the ground like an apartment or house. The definition of larceny is liable to definition changes that are determined by severance or attachment. When someone is charged with crimes against property, it means a crime in which the defendant acquires property which belongs to someone else. These can include extortion, receipt of stolen property, larceny, false pretenses, robbery.

If you are charged with larceny it means that you have illegally taken of someone’s property, with the intention of permanently dispossessing the owner of their property. It could be goods or money. There are many different forms of larceny, which can include:

• Petty-this is where the property amounting to a smaller prices is being stolen. For a crime to be considered petty larceny the object stolen has to be less than four hundred dollars. If they are convicted of this crime they will have to pay a fine or do jail time.

• Grand-this is also known as felonious larceny and occurs when the property stolen is more than four hundred dollars. In New York, the amount of the robbery has to be more than one thousand dollars for it to be considered a felony. If you are convicted of this misdemeanor are subjected to time in prison. If the crime committed is a crime of a large magnitude can result in longer prison time. In addition to going to prison, you are also liable for fines related to the crime, court fees, and restitution payments.

Examples of larceny

• Snatching a purse-if the offender uses force to snatch the purse and instills fear in the victim it is known as robbery. If there is no force or fear in the victim then it is larceny.

• Shoplifting-this crime occurs when an individual shoplifts certain items from a store and does not pay for them. It also happens if you switch price tags so you are paying an lesser amount that what the actual value is.

• Embezzlement-this crime is when there is misappropriation of funds from an account that belongs to the victim.

• False check -this is a crime when the person issues bad checks to an owner for acquiring the property.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Types and Examples of Larceny

Homeowners Guide to Home Insurance Discounts, Reduced Rates and Savings

In today's economy, many homeowners are juggling higher bills on less earnings – facing tight family budgets in the wake of rising costs, credit limits or even job loss. Yet there's no need to struggle with the cost of home insurance. Despite industry increases, homeowners may be able to reduce their insurance rates by as much as 30 percent.

Neverheless, many homeowners are not using insurance discounts to lower rates – even those who apply discounts may qualify for more savings than they're getting. And lowered rates are still possible, even in today's economy.

Consider the findings reported by independent insurance agent association, Trusted Choice, in a 2009 national survey:

"53 million household responders 'admitted they are probably not taking advantage of all homeowners insurance discounts or said that they simply did not know' about policyholder discounts they are reasonably qualify for."

The survey also found that the largest percentage of respondents, about 26%, estimated they save 6-10% on their insurance premiums by using discounts. In fact, many insurance consumers could be saving significantly more-as much as 30%, according to independent insurance agencies, which often shop on behalf of consumers and help them find discounts and compare rates.

Homeowners are usually aware of the more common discounts – such as a multiple policy discount to insure both home and auto under one carrier. But there are other discounts and savings they miss.

How savvy are you as a homeowner and insurance consumer?

Find out using this quick list to explore or measure your potential for insurance discounts. It's also the knowledge you and your insurance agent need to reduce rates for savings:

  • Dual duty – Do not overlook the most common discount available: multiple policy discounts. When the same company insures your home and car, you can probably reduce your overall insurance costs by 10 to 15 percent.
  • New home, new homeowner? The same criteria used to qualify your home for a specific mortgage is often the same that qualifies your policy for discounts.
  • Living in a gated community? Then you may be eligible for discounts. Be sure to ask about auto insurance discounts if your car is evenly 'protected' to boot.
  • Rooftop savings – Some insurance companies offer hail resistant roof discounts for Class 4 roofs – naturally these credits may vary with locale. Moreover, be sure to ask your insurer about potential discounts before putting a new roof on your house – you'll probably want to capture savings if available and a flat roof without roof warranty may disqualify you from your current coverage alike.
  • Be a new policyholder – You may find additional savings extended to new customers based on new rating models that offer a 'sign up' discount. If your insurer extends this discount, your insurance agent may be able to capture it by applying for a new policy with the same company.
  • Your track record counts – make sure you discover discounts for home insurance customers who have a claim-free track record … when was the last time you filed a home insurance claim? A 10-year history typically qualifies you for this discount; If you've never filed a claim, you may save as much as 20 percent.
  • Risk reductions – Ask your agent to identify risk reduction discounts addressing a range of interior and exterior factors: fire and smoke alarms, electrical wiring, fireplace / chimney safety, heating apparatus, burglar alarms, curb and gutter system and landscaping elements. Proximity to a fire hydrant and your community's fire department also applies.
  • Preventive maintenance and home security – Make sure your insurance agent is aware of any alarm systems or preventive measures you take to secure property and to keep your home safe. Although discount criteria varies, you may be able to get savings of 10 to 15 percent for a combined system that may include two or more measures: deadbolt locks, lockable garages and storage buildings, fire alarms, fire sprinklers, fire extinguishers, a burglar Alarm or home security system.
  • Good breeding gone bad – Like it or not, some pets have a reputation. You may adore your family pet but if Fido is a dog breed considered bite-happy or dangerous, your insurance rating may be affected or your coverage in jeopardy. Choose your pet wisely – be aware of the little issues that can turn your insurance into a big issue.
  • Score card – Expect your credit score to impact your home insurances rates. If married, you may be able to reduce your rate by listing the top scorer as the first named on the insurer's application. Plus, if you've had a less-than-score score and recently improved your numbers, let your insurance agent know. You may be able to get a policy adjustment: a lower insurance rate is still possible without the need to write a new policy.
  • Raise the limit – consider the difference a deductible makes. You can probably lower your rate by raising your deductible – $ 2,500 is the standard deductible and you can expect a lower rate if you raise it to $ 5,000.
  • Agent vs. Agent and the extended marketplace – Is your insurance agent an independent who can tap a broad product range? Or an agent affiliated with a name-brand company? Know the difference. Independent agents can shop around – explore options across the marketplace. Brand agents do not usually have the same agility – they're usually limited to the company practice or limited to brand products. Loyalty counts. Still, if you're committed to one company brand you may be just as limited as the insurance agent who is equally missing rate rates, discounts and savings offered by the brand's competition.
  • 'Home pride' and stewardship are vital – Even many insurance agents do not understand the role that stewardship plays in harnessing the broadest range of discounts possible. Why? The better care you take of your home, the more attractive you'll look to insurance carriers. And the best way to harness discounts is to identify as many discounts as possible – it stands to reason that more companies mean more potential for discounts.

So, you'll want to make sure your home qualifies for coverage from every company that offers coverage in your locale since increased competition generally decreases rates and opens your access to discounts.

In a nutshell, homeowners applying the discounts above will soon realize the many ways they can save on their home insurance – even when times are tough.

Get started on discounts for savings ….

  • Shop around to compare insurance company providers and rates – what companies provide home insurance in your community?
  • Get guidance on the details – an independent insurance agent is not tied to one brand, so these agents can help you see the whole marketplace and get the apples-to-apples lens you need to compare products, coverage and rates.
  • Identify discounts – make sure you identify the common discounts most homeowners hit, along with other discounts that frequently miss.
  • Do the 'homework' – the work at home that demonstrates stewardship makes you eligible to select from the broadest insurance product range possible.
  • Optimize selection, and then maximize discounts to benefit from reduced raters and savings.
Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Homeowners Guide to Home Insurance Discounts, Reduced Rates and Savings

Land Trusts in California

In California, general trust law is found in the Probate Code §§15000-19403. There is no specific land trust statute in California, unlike Illinois land trust law, (765 ILCS 405/410/415/420), Massachusetts business trust (MBT) law (M.G.L.c.182, §2), and Virginia land trust law (Va. Code Sec. 55-17.1).

So, land trusts created in California for California property are based on general trust law in the aforesaid California Probate Code. But an out-of-state land trust may be formed that would hold title through the trustee of a California property, to take advantage of more beneficial statute and case law of another state. Indeed, the Virginia Supreme Court in Air Power, Inc v. Thompson, 244 Va. 534, 422 S.E. 2nd 786 (1992), has confirmed that Va. Code Sec. 55-17.1 gives the trustee of a land trust both legal and equitable power of the real property, which protects the privacy of the beneficiaries.

Indeed, since California does not have a specific land trust statute, there is no legislative history nor developed case law on it in this state, only California general trust law and case law. But a general trust law may have some advantages over a specific land trust statute with more requirements. Indeed, Illinois land trust statute (75 ILCS 435) requires that holders of power of direction owe fiduciary duties to holders of beneficial interests. California general trust law does not have a similar requirement.

In any event, the avoidance of probate over a real property in a land trust trumps all difficulties in its creation.

I. California General Trust Law:

A. Creation Of Trust:

California Probate § 15000 states that “(t)his division (Division 9 of the Probate Code) shall be known and may be cited as the Trust Law.” And § 15001(a) states that “(e)xcept as otherwise provided by statute: This division applies to all trusts regardless of whether that were created before, on, or after July 1, 1987.”

Among other methods of creating trust, a trust may be created by: “(b) (a) transfer of property by the owner during the owner’s lifetime to another person as trustee,” under § 15200(b) of the California Probate Code. And “a trust is created only if there is trust property,” under § 15202 thereof.

“A trust may be created for any purpose that is not illegal or against public policy,” under § 15203 thereof. A land trust is not for an illegal purpose, nor is it against public policy in California, although it is not widely used in this state.

And “a trust, other than a charitable trust, is created only if there is a beneficiary,” under § 15205 thereof.

B. Trust Of Real Property And Personal Property:

So as not to violate the Statute of Frauds, which requires a written instrument to be enforceable, §15206 states that “a trust is relation to real property is not valid unless evidenced by one of the following methods: (b) By a written instrument conveying the trust properly signed by the settlor, or by the settlor’s agent if authorized in writing to do so.”

And under § 15207 (a) thereof, “(t)he existence and terms of an oral trust of personal property may be established only by clear and convincing evidence.” Under § 1528 thereof, “consideration is not required to create a trust….”

Lastly, “a trust created pursuant to this chapter (1, part 2, Division 9 of the Probate Code) which relates to real property may be recorded in the office of the county recorder in the county where all or a portion of the real property is located,” under § 15210 thereof.

II. Mechanics Of A Land Trust:

A. Advantages And Benefits:

(1.) Privacy:

One of the much-heralded advantages of a land trust is that a grant deed-in-trust of a trust property in the name of a different trustee (private or institutional) may be recorded with the County Recorder, but the land trust agreement that states the names of the truster/settlor/investor and the beneficiaries is not recorded.

Thus, the creator/grantor of the land trust: the trustor/settlor who invests in real property can keep his/her/its name, as well as the names of the beneficiaries out of the County Recorder’s and County Assessor’s books, and to a certain extent hide the investment from public view.

But a judgment creditor of a trustor/settlor or of a beneficiary can subject the latter to answer written interrogatories on his/her/its assets, or to debtor’s examination under oath in court to determine assets, and not merely rely on County Recorder and Assessor asset searches.

The land trust agreement may also use a name for the land trust different from the name of the trustor/settlor who created it. This is another asset protection benefit. And if the beneficiary thereof is also the same trustor/settlor, the latter may designate his/her living trust or wholly-owned limited liability company as the beneficiary to hopefully avoid gift tax issues.

(2.) Avoidance Of Probate:

Moreover, just like successor trustees may be designated in the land trust agreement, successor beneficiaries may also be selected to avoid disruptions in distribution of trust assets at termination of the trust, outside of probate proceedings.

A land trust may be created as revocable (terms of the agreement may be changed) or irrevocable (cannot be changed), but the latter requires the filing of separate tax returns and is taxed at a higher rate than the trustor/settlor’s individual tax rate, unless considered a simple trust in which all incomes created are taxed to beneficiaries. For federal income tax implications, if the grantor/trustor is also the beneficiary, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) classifies it as a grantor trust that has tax consequences that flow directly to the trustor’s Form 1040 and state return.

(B.)Disadvantages And Pitfalls:

(1.) Separtate Agreement For Each Property:

In order to preserve the privacy of the investment or transaction and the asset protection benefits of the land trust, only one real estate property can be listed as held in it. Thus, a different land trust agreement is created for each property. This could be cumbersome, although the same trustor/settlor, trustee, and beneficiary can be named in each agreement.

(a) Simpler Alternatives:

Simpler alternatives are to purchase investment or rental properties through a limited partnership (LP) or a limited liability company (LLC), or transfer such properties to a more flexible living trust that does not require the filing of separate tax returns, or transfer the ownership interests of an LLC (not title of the property) to a living trust.

An LLC may also create a land trust by conveying title of a property to the trustee, and designate itself (LLC) as the beneficiary for privacy of ownership. Sometimes less is more; for indeed, creditors can see through and have recourse against avoidance of execution of judgment on properties through asset protection schemes. And transfers of ownerships of properties may result in tax assessments.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Land Trusts in California

The Nuts and Bolts of Auto Law in Pennsylvania

AUTO ACCIDENT BASICS – WHO PAYS WHAT IN PENNSYLVANIA?

Navigating the insurance world after an auto accident can be very confusing. There are many questions revolving around who pays for injuries, medical bills and property damage. Understanding the nuts and bolts of auto accident law, ahead of time, can save considered time and effort.

BODILY INJURY LIABILITY

A. How Much?

Under Pennsylvania law, Pennsylvania car owners must carry at least $ 15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage to pay for personal injuries to another driver, in the event of an accident. Drivers can elect higher amounts.

B. Who Pays?

Bodily injury coverage is based on fault and is available to the other driver in an auto accident. For example, Driver A causes an accident with Driver B, causing serious personal injuries to Driver B. Driver A's auto policy includes the state minimum- $ 15,000 of bodily injury liability coverage. Driver B can make a claim under Driver A's auto policy, for personal injuries, up to the $ 15,000 limit. However, Driver B may be limited in what he can recover, depending on whether he selected Full Tort or Limited Tort in his own auto policy.

C. How it Works?

In some instances, an injured driver can make a claim for bodily injury liability coverage against the other driver's insurance company without having to file a lawsuit. However, if that insurance company fails to offer fair and reasonable compensation, the injured driver may have to file a lawsuit against the other driver.

PROPERTY DAMAGE

A. How Much?

Under Pennsylvania law, Pennsylvania car owners must carry at least $ 5,000 of property damage coverage to pay for property damage to another driver, in the event of an accident. Drivers can elect higher amounts.

B. Who Pays?

This type of coverage is frequently misunderstood. It is not available to an insured driver, under its own policy. Rather, it is available to the other driver in an accident, and is based upon fault. In our example, Driver A causes an accident with Driver B. Driver B's car is totaled. Driver A has $ 10,000 of property damage coverage. Driver B can make a claim under Driver A's auto policy for the fair market value of the total car, up to $ 10,000. In this same example, let's assume Driver A's auto was damaged. Driver A can not make a property damage claim under his own policy. Again, property damage coverage is only available to the other driver and is based on fault.

C. Collision and Comprehensive Coverage

Collision and comprehensive coverage are optional and cover different types of auto damage. Collision covers any damage caused by an auto accident less a deductible. Comprehensive coverage covers any non-accident damage, such as fire, theft, etc., less a deductible. A driver who has purchased these types of coverage can make a claim under their own auto policy. Using the same example, Driver A-who caused the accident, can make a claim for repair to his auto, if and only if he has collision coverage. If Driver A did not purchase collision coverage, he would be responsible for the repairs.

D. How it Works

If an innocent driver's auto is damaged in an accident caused by another driver, a property damage claim can be made directly to the other driver's auto insurance company. So long as the accident is clearly the other driver's fault, this is usually the easiest way to make a property damage claim. If the innocent driver has collision coverage under his own auto policy, then a property damage claim can be made with his own auto insurance company. However, the deductible would have been subtracted from the total amount recovered. Then, because the accident was the other driver's fault, the innocent driver's own auto insurance company should obtain the deductible from the other driver's auto insurance company. That deductible should eventually make its way back to the innocent driver.

Again, using our example, Driver A is at fault for an accident with Driver B. Driver B has a collision coverage with a standard $ 500 deductible. Driver B has a choice to make a claim with Driver A's insurance company or his own insurance company. If he makes the claim with his own insurance company, he would receive the fair market value of his total auto less the $ 500 deductible. His insurance company would then seek reimbursements from Driver A's auto insurance company for the fair market value and the deductible. At some point, Driver B should receive the $ 500 deductible back from his own insurance company-because the accident was Driver A's fault.

A property damage claim is usually made without having to resort to a lawsuit. Incidentals such as rental car costs and towing / storage, are immediately compensable if the innocent driver has purchased such coverage under his own policy. Otherwise, they will become out of pocket expenses in a consequent personal injury lawsuit against the other driver.

MEDICAL BENEFITS

A. How Much?

Under Pennsylvania law, Pennsylvania car owners must carry at least $ 5,000 of medical coverage to pay for medical bills incurred in an auto accident. Drivers can elect higher amounts up to $ 1,000,000.

B. Who Pays?

Many states including Pennsylvania are "No Fault" -meaning that regardless of which fault the accident was, a driver can make a medical benefits claim under their own auto insurance policy, up to the amount of medical benefit coverage purchased.

Using our example, Driver A causes an accident with Driver B. Both drivers have insurance policies with medical benefits coverage. Let's assume that Driver A has $ 10,000 of medical benefits coverage and Driver B has the state minimum- $ 5,000. If both drivers are injured and require medical treatment, they would both make a claim under their respective policies. In this example, Driver A could make a claim for medical benefits up to $ 10,000 and Driver B could make a claim for medical benefits up to $ 5,000.
Also, the medical benefits coverage amount is per person, per accident. In other words, if a father and his minor son are injured in an accident, and the father has an auto policy with $ 5,000 medical benefits coverage, then both can receive up to $ 5,000 of that coverage. If the father or son gets into a consequent accident, they would again be eligible for $ 5,000 of the same coverage.

C. How it Works

When making a claim for medical benefits, a driver may go to a doctor / provider of their choosing and should provide their auto policy claim number and auto insurance information. Under Pennsylvania law, once a driver provides this information to a medical provider, that medical provider is required to bill the auto insurance and can not bill the driver directly. Once the auto insurance company receives bills from the medical providers, the amounts of the bills will be reduced in accordance with Act 6-an Amendment to Pennsylvania motor vehicle law made in 1990. Act 6 limits the amount that medical providers can recover for accident related Medical bills. At some point, the amount of medical benefits under an auto policy may become exhausted and then the driver would use their own medical / health insurance to cover any remaining bills.

D. Priority of Coverage

When a person is injured in an accident, there can be more than one source of medical benefits. Under Pennsylvania law, there is an order of coverage, known as "priority of coverage". The first level is an auto policy in which the injured person is a "named insured" – that generally means an auto policy purchased by the injured person. The second level is an auto policy in which the injured person is "insured". This generally refers to an auto policy purchased by the injured person's spouse, parent or relative residing in the same household.

The third level applies when the injured person does not own an auto policy and is not covered as an insured under any auto policy. This third level is an auto policy covering the auto that the injured person was riding in when the accident occurred. Finally, the fourth level applies to injured persons who are pedestrians or bicyclists. This fourth level is any auto policy involved in the accident. In some situations, more than one policy may apply-and the first auto insurance policy to get billed will be liable up to the applicable medical benefits amount. That insurance company can then, seek reimbursements from the other insurance company. Also, if a person is injured in an auto accident during their employment, workers' compensation coverage is the primary source of medical benefits coverage.

F. Persons Who Do Not Qualify for Medical Benefits

Under Pennsylvania law, certain classes of drivers do not qualify for medical benefits, even though they have purchased auto policies. They include motorcycle drivers, snowmobile, motorized bike, and four wheeler operators. Also, the owner of a registered auto who fails to purchase auto insurance can not make a claim for medical benefits. For example, a person may own a registered car, but then fails to obtain insurance for it. If that person becomes injured while a passenger in a friend's car, they can not make a claim for medical benefits under the friend's auto policy. These classes of drivers must use their own medical / health insurance to pay for any medical bills incurred as a result of an accident.

For more information visit http://www.thepanjinjurylawyers.com/practice_areas/new-jersey-car-accident-attorney-pennsylvania-truck-wreck-lawyer.cfm

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The Nuts and Bolts of Auto Law in Pennsylvania

Understanding the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate in the Philippines

Not a lot of people know what an extrajudicial settlement of the estate is. Well, not unless they have experienced losing a member of the family and dividing his remaining properties.

Extrajudicial settlement of the estate simply means drafting a contract where the properties are divided among the heirs, as the latter may see fit. Enumerated in the contract are the properties left by the deceased, collectively called the “estate”. The properties may range from real properties such as parcels of land, buildings, or personal properties such as money left in the bank, cars, jewelry, furniture and even shares in a corporation.

It should be well-noted that an extrajudicial settlement by agreement is only possible if there is no will left by the deceased. Even if there is a will but the will does not include all of the decedent’s estate, then those not covered can by extrajudicially partitioned by agreement.

Moreover, extrajudicial settlement is not possible if the heirs cannot agree on how the properties will be divided. In that case, they can file and ordinary action for partition.

Publication requirement

After the settlement agreement is signed, the heirs should cause the publication of the agreement in a newspaper of general circulation to ensure that interested parties, if there are any, such as creditors and unknown heirs, will be given due notice.

Payment of Estate tax

After the publication, transfer of title may follow. Upon the transfer of the estate, the Estate Tax must be paid in accordance with Section 84 of the National Internal Revenue Code of the Philippines.

Estate tax is defined as a tax on the right of the deceased person to transmit his estate to his lawful heirs and beneficiaries at the time of death and on certain transfers, which are made by law as equivalent to testamentary disposition. It is a form of transfer tax, not a property tax. More particularly, it is a tax on the privilege of transferring the property of the decedent to the heirs.

The Estate Tax Return must be filed within six (6) months from the decedent’s death. The deadline may be extended by the Commissioner of the BIR, in meritorious cases, not exceeding thirty (30) days.

It is interesting to note that the estate itself will have its own Tax Identification Number (TIN). The BIR treats the estate as a juridical person.

The Estate Tax Return is filed with Revenue District Office (RDO) having jurisdiction over the place of residence of the decedent at the time of his death.

If the decedent has no legal residence in the Philippines, then the return can be filed with:

1. The Office of the Revenue District Officer, Revenue District Office No. 39, South Quezon City; or

2. The Philippine Embassy or Consulate in the country where decedent is residing at the time of his death.

For estate taxes, the BIR imposes the pay-to-file system which means that you have to pay the estate tax at the same time the return is filed.

In cases involving a huge estate where the tax imposed can get too high, or in cases where the decedent left properties which are difficult to liquidate and they do not have the cash to pay the taxes, the BIR Commissioner can extend the time of payment but the extension cannot be over two (2) years if the estate is settled extrajudicially. If an extension is granted, the BIR Commissioner may require a bond in such amount, not exceeding double the amount of tax, as it deems necessary.

The estate tax is based on the value of the net estate as follows:

1. If not over P200,000, it is exempt

2. If over P200,000 but not over P500,000, then tax is 5% of the excess over P200,000

3. If over P500,000 but not over P2,000,000, then tax is P15,000 PLUS 8% of the excess over P500,000

4. If over P2,000,000 but not over P5,000,000, then tax is P135,000 PLUS 11% of the excess over P2,000,000

5. If over P5,000,000 but not over P10,000,000, then tax is P465,000 PLUS 15% of the excess over P5,000,000

6. If over P10,000,000, then tax is P1,215,000 PLUS 20% of the excess over P10,000,000

In computing the net estate, allowable deductions shall always be considered. These deductions include funeral expenses, share of the surviving spouse, medical expenses incurred by the decedent within one (1) year prior to his death, family home deduction of not more than P1,000,000.00, standard deduction of P1,000,000.00, among others. It is best to consult a lawyer or an accountant to determine to ensure that the heirs can properly indicate the deductions and exemptions and thereby determine the accurate net estate of the decedent.

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on Understanding the Extrajudicial Settlement of Estate in the Philippines

The Fireman’s Rule – Law Prevents Firefighter From Suing For Injuries Received While Fighting Fire!

When I first heard the term, "The Fireman's Rule," I thought that I had obviously stumbled upon a rule of law that would be of benefit to firefighters through the country. What I learned after a couple of hours of research was that this rule of law was of no benefit to firefighters, but instead served to benefit the property owner / occupant who Negligent acts or omissions may have been the primary cause of injuries to a firefighter while Fighting a fire. In fact, the Fireman's Rule operates to bar a fireman from suing a property owner / occupant when the acts or omissions of the property owner / occupant caused or contributed to injuries the firefighter received while fighting a fire on the concessions of the owner / occupant.

The fireman's rule is a common law, and in some states statutory, based on a judiciously recognized public policy that encourages people to freely call the fire department for help without concern if they will be held liable to the firemen for injuries that are beyond their ability To control. In other words, the courts believe that a person should be able to call for help when their kitchen is on fire without worrying if a fireman will sue them if he is bitten by the family dog. The courts have held that these risks go along with the job.

In order to understand what the fireman's rule is and is not and how it operates, it is necessary to take a brief look at what the courts have been saying when deciding such cases. In one case, Whittenv v. Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Authority (Fla. 1978), the Florida Supreme Court explained the duty owed to a firefighter by the owner / occupant of the concessions which is the subject of the emergency. The Court ruled that a fireman has the legal status of a licensee, and as a licensee the only duty owed to a fireman was a duty not engaged in conduct that is considered to be either wanton (deliberate, without regard) or willful and / or To warn the fireman of any dangerous defect that is not open to the regular observation by a fireman.

As a basis for the fireman's rule, the Florida Supreme Court explained in Kilpatrick v. Sklar (Fla. 1989) that the fireman's rule is based on public policy. It purpose is to permit individuals who require fire department assistance to call for help without stopping to consider whether or not they will be held liable for any injuries to a firefighter which, in most cases, are beyond their control. In the Kilpatrick case the Court observed that firemen (and policemen) usually enter buildings and structures at unforeseeable times and under extreme emergency circumstances where most people do not have the time nor opportunity to prepare the concessions for their visit. And there should not be held responsible for any injuries that occur to the firefighters as a result.

Lastly, in Lanza v. Polanin 581 So.2d 130 (Fla. 1991) (cites other cases used in article) the Court noted that a firefighter who enters a house or dwelling does so without any guarantee that he will not find a bulldog waiting to bite him. These are dangers inherent in the job and caution should be exercised by the fireman since he is a trained professional. Again the Court emphasized that the policy behind the fireman's rule is to encourage people to call the fire department when needed by limiting the circumstances under which a person may be liable to the firefighter for injuries he may receive responding to and while fighting the fire, or Otherwise handling the emergency.

To summarize, the fireman's rule is a rule of law based on public policy which protects the owner / occupier of property from lawsuits by Firefighters for injuries which receive while on the promotions fighting a fire or handling an emergency. In other words, if you the firefighter are injured while fighting a fire, and you can prove that those injuries were caused by the negligent acts or omissions of the property owner / occupant, you will most likely be barred from recovery unless you can show that Such conduct that led to the injuries was willful or wanton or that the owner / occupant failed to warn of a danger known to exist. All of which is near impossible considering the unlimited variables present in a fire or other emergency. The fireman's rule is no friend of the fireman.

Michael Hendrich, JD FirehouseToday.com

Posted in General | Tagged , , | Comments Off on The Fireman’s Rule – Law Prevents Firefighter From Suing For Injuries Received While Fighting Fire!