Fire Insurance Under Indian Insurance Law

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

FIRE INSURANCE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

LAW GOVERNING FIRE INSURANCE

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

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

INSURABLE INTEREST

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

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

RISKS COVERED UNDER FIRE INSURANCE POLICY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RISKS NOT COVERED BY FIRE INSURANCE POLICY

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

O Theft during or after the occurrence of any insured risks

O War or nuclear perils

O Electrical breakdowns

O Ordered burning by a public authority

O Subterranean fire

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

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

CHARACTERICTICS OF FIRE INSURANCE CONTRACT

A fire insurance contract has the following characteristics namely:

(A) Fire insurance is a personal contract

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

(B) It is an and indivisible contract.

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

(C) Cause of fire is immaterial

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

The cause of the fire however becomes material to be investigated

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

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

LIMITATION OF TIME

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

WHO MAY INSURE AGAINST FIRE?

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

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

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

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

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

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

PERSON NOT ENTITLED TO INSURE

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

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

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

CONCEPT OF UTMOST FAITH

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

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

O The proposer's name and address and occupation

O The description of the subject matter to be assured sufficient for the purpose of identifying it including,

O A description of the locality where it is situated

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

O Whether it has already been insured

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

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

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

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

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

The proposer is not obligatory to declare-

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

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

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

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

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

DOCTRINE OF PROXIMATE CAUSE

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

PROXIMATE CAUSE OF DAMAGE

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

PROCEDURE FOR TAKING A FIRE INSURANCE POLICY

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

1. Selection of the Insurance Company:

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

2. Submission of the Proposal Form:

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

3. Survey of the Property / Consideration:

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

4. Acceptance of the Proposal:

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

PROCEDURE ON RECEIPT OF NOTICE OF LOSS

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

1. Circumstances and cause of the fire;

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

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

4. Other insurances on the property;

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

6. Amount claimed

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

(1) The policy is in force;

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

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

Rules for calculation of value of property

The value of the insured property is-

1) Its value at the time of loss, and

2) At the place of loss, and

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

FILING OF CLAIMS

How a claim arises?

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

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

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

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

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

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

MATERIAL FACTS IN FIRE INSURANCE: PREVIOUS CONVICTION OF THE ACCUSED

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

INSURED'S DUTY ON OUTBREAK OF FIRE, IMPLIED DUTY

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

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

INSURER'S RIGHTS ON THE OUTBREAK OF FIRE

(A) Implied Rights

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

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

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

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

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

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

(C) Express rights

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

When and how a claim is made?

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

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

HOW INSURANCE MAY CEASE?

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

REFERENCE:

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

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

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

5. (1907) Case.

6. National Insurance Company v. Ashok Kumar Barariio

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

8. (1912) 40 IA 10 PC

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

Books Referred:

1. The Economics of Fire Protection by Ganapathy Ramachandran

2. Modern Insurance Law, by John Birds

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

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Twelve Secrets and Tricks to Buying Life Insurance

Secret #1: Don’t spend too much time on a life insurance quote.

Do not be fooled by the low price quotes you get online – they don’t apply to you unless you are extremely healthy. Statistically only 10% of people who apply actually get the lowest priced policy. The premium you end up paying has nothing to do with the initial quote you get online or from an agent. It is amazing to me how often I see people getting duped by an agent who quotes company X at a lower price than another agent.

Life insurance policies are the same price no matter who you buy from! One agent or website quoting a lower premium means nothing. Prices for any given policy is based on your age and health. There are a few exceptions to this but that is beyond the breadth of this article.

Most life insurance companies have 10-20 different health/price ratings and no agent or website can assure you the quote they give you is accurate. You have to apply, do a health check, and then go through underwriting (meaning you complete a mini-exam with a nurse in your home and then the company checks you doctor records and reviews and ‘rates’ your health) to get the real price of the policy. Remember that a health rating also factors in your family history, driving record, and the type of occupation you have. Only use quotes to help narrow down your choices to the top companies. You may want to consider a no load or low policy. The more that you save on commissions the more money builds up in your policy. You can even buy term insurance no load, and save a lot on premiums. You will not get the help of an agent, which may be worth something if they are very good.

The most important factor determining price is matching your particular health history with the company best suited for that niche. For instance company X might be best for smokers, company Y for cancer survivors, Company Z for people with high blood pressure, etc.

Secret #2: Ignore the hype on term versus cash value permanent insurance.

You can go crazy reading what everyone has to say on buying term insurance versus a whole or universal life policy. Big name websites give advice that I think borders on fraudulent. Simply put there is NO simple answer on whether you should buy permanent cash value policies or term insurance.

But I do think there is a simple rule of thumb – buy term for your temporary insurance needs and cash value insurance for your permanent needs. I have read in various journals and run mathematical equations myself which basically show that if you have a need for insurance beyond 20 years that you should consider some amount of permanent insurance. This is due to the tax advantage of the growth of the cash value within in a permanent policy. I am divorced and have taken care of my children should I die. I probably no longer need as much insurance as I now have. I have earned a great return on my policies and have paid no taxes. I no longer pay the premiums, because there is so much cash in the policies. I let the policies pay themselves. I would not call most life insurance a good investment. Because I bought my policies correctly, and paid almost no sales commissions my policies are probably my best investments. I no longer own them, so when I die my beneficiaries will get the money both tax free, and estate tax free.

Since most people have short term needs like a mortgage or kids at home they should get some term. Additionally most people want some life insurance in place for their whole life to pay for burial, help with unpaid medical bills and estate taxes and so a permanent policy should be purchased along with the term policy.

Secret #3: Consider applying with two companies at once.

Life insurance companies really don’t like this “trick” because it gives them competition and increases their underwriting costs.

Secret #4: Avoid captive life insurance agents.

Look for a life insurance agent who represents at least fifty life insurance companies and ask them for a multi company quote showing the best prices side by side. Some people try to cut the agent out and just apply online. Just remember that you don’t save any money that way because the commissions normally earned by the agent are just kept by the insurance company or the website insurance company without having your premium lowered.

Plus a good agent can help you maneuver through some of the complexities of filling out the application, setting up your beneficiaries, avoiding mistakes on selecting who should be the owner, the best way to pay your premium, and also will be there to deliver the check and assist your loved ones if the life insurance is ever used.

Secret #5: Consider refinancing old life policies.

Most companies won’t tell you but the price you pay on your old policies has probably come down dramatically if you are in good health. In the last few years life insurance companies have updated their predictions on how long people will live. Since we are living longer they are reducing their rates rather dramatically. Beware the agent may be doing this to obtain a new commission, so make sure it really makes sense.

I really am amazed at how often we find that our client’s old policies are twice as expensive as a new one. If you need new life insurance consider “refinancing” your old policies and using the savings on the old policies to pay for the new policy – that way there is no extra out-of-pocket costs. We like to think of this process as “refinancing your life insurance” – just like you refinance your mortgage.

Secret #6: Realize life insurance companies have target niches that constantly change.

One day company ‘X’ is giving good rates to people who are a little overweight and the next month they are super strict. Company ‘Y’ might be lenient on people with diabetes because they don’t have many diabetics on the books – meaning they will give good rates to diabetics. At the same time company ‘W’ might be very strict on diabetics because they are insuring lots of diabetics and are afraid they have too big of a risk in that area – meaning they will give a bad rate to new diabetics who apply.

Unfortunately when you are applying a life insurance company will not tell you, “Hey, we just raised our rates in diabetics.” They will just happily take your money if you were not smart enough to shop around. This is the number one area a smart agent can come in handy. Since a good multi-company agent is constantly applying with multiple companies he or she will have a good handle on who is currently the most lenient on underwriting for you particular situation. The problem is that this is hard work and many agents are either too busy or not set up to efficiently shop around directly to different underwriters and see who would make you the best offer. This is a lot harder than just running you a quote online.

Secret #7: Don’t forget customer service.

Most people shopping for insurance focus on companies with the lowest price and the best financial rating. Unfortunately I know of some A+ rated companies with low rates who I would not touch with a ten foot pole simply because it’s easier to give birth to a porcupine backwards then it is to get customer service from them.

Before I understood this I used a life insurance company that gave a client a great rate but 2 years later the client called me and said, “I have mailed in all my payments on time but just got a notice saying my policy lapsed.” It turned out the company had been making lots of back office mistakes and had lost the premium payment!

We were able to fix it because we caught the problem so early. But if the client happened to have died during the short period the policy had lapsed, his family might have had a hard time proving that the premium had been paid on time and they might not have received the life insurance money – a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in that case.

Secret #8: Apply 3-6 months ahead of the time you need the insurance if possible.

Don’t be in a hurry to get a policy if you already have some coverage in force. But go ahead and apply right away knowing that you might need months to shop around if the first company does not give you a good rate. Even though the life insurance industry is getting more automated your application will still often be held up for weeks or months while the insurance company waits on your doctor’s office to mail them a copy of you medical records.

If you are in a hurry and buy a quickie ‘no-underwriting’ policy without going through the full health checks and underwriting that a mainstream life insurance company requires, you will end up paying 20%-50% more because the insurance company will automatically charge you higher rates because they don’t know whether you are healthy or about to die the next day.

Secret #9: Avoid buying extra life insurance through work if you are healthy.

I am sure there are exceptions to this “trick” but I have rarely found one. By all means keep the free life insurance your employer provides. But if you are healthy and you are paying for supplemental life insurance through payroll deduction you are almost certainly paying too much. What is happening is that your ‘overpayments’ ends up subsidizing the unhealthy people in your company who are buying life insurance through payroll deduction.

Usually the life insurance company has cut a deal with your employer and will waive the required health exam for all employees – instead they just average the price for all the employees and offer one or two rates for males or females at any given age. Life insurance companies know they will pick up lots of unhealthy clients this way so they jack up the price on everyone so that the healthy people end up overpaying so that the unhealthy employees get a cheaper policy. Also, unlike the guaranteed term policies which we recommend, most life insurance you buy through work will get more expensive as you get older.

Also group life insurance is generally not portable when you retire or change jobs meaning that when you retire or change jobs you might have to apply all over again even though you will be older and probably not as healthy and risk being turned down for a policy. If the group plan does allow portability they generally limit your conversion choices and force you to go into expensive cash value plans.

I remember helping someone evaluate his supplemental life insurance. He was sure it was a better deal than any policy I could find him. Little did he know that the price of his group plan would go up every year? By the time he retired his premium would have risen to over $10,000/year. I found him a policy for around $1000/year that would never go up. Also, unlike his old group life policy, he could take the individual policy with him when he changed jobs or retired.

Secret #10: Do a trial application on a COD payment basis.

Only send money with the application if you need the life insurance coverage right away. Sending a check with the application is a traditional practice agents used to do – I think mostly because it got them their commissions faster. If you send money with an application you usually get temporary coverage immediately but if you already have plenty of coverage and are just trying to get better rates ask your agent to do a trial application on a COD basis so you only pay once the policy is approved. If you do not send money, and you die before paying for the policy there is no coverage.

Secret #11: Wear your shoes when the nurse measures your height.

When the insurance company sends out the nurse to do your health check try to be as tall as possible if you are overweight? In most states you are allowed to wear shoes and if you are a little overweight your taller height/weight ratio will look a little better to the underwriter who is determining your health rating and policy price. Also do your exam early in the morning with no food in you – this will make your cholesterol count and various health ratios look the best.

Secret #12: Be careful with extra perks and riders.

Most policies come with options like accidental death benefit, child riders, disability riders, return of premium etc. If you do the math on most of these “extras” they usually don’t make smart financial sense. Life insurance companies are out to make money and these riders are usually profitable because they either cover something that rarely happens or they are so stringent that the benefit never gets paid out. Keep things simple and focus mainly on getting a life policy to cover your life without many strings attached. Again a good agent can help you weigh the benefits of the extra riders. But be wary of an agent who tries to tack on every possible extra rider.

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Geode Crystals & Astral Travel

Astral travel can be enhanced by working with crystals and their vibrational field levels during your session. But where do you start and how to help? There are many different suggestions for this, as well as different ones will resonate within different people and their energy fields.

A good place to start is by working with the crystals you enjoy the most. If you are not sure where to start, go with your intuition and follow your gut instincts as they will not steer you wrong.

A wonderful way to work with them in astral travel and meditation sessions are in geode form. The best ones I have come across that have the highest energy vibrational level are clear quartz, amethyst, citrine and calcite. It is best to work with just one type of crystal within the geode, but you can combine them in your circles if you wish. The energy field will be a combination of the different types and will have them make a weaving type of pattern within the energy field. This is a very unique type of field to work within, but may not always be the best, as opposed to a single type of stronger vibrational field you would receive with just one type of geode.

During your astral travel session, surround yourself with as many geodes as possible, in a circle, or alternating the type of crystal found within. The more the better, and even if they are small, the geodes still put out a lot of vibrational fields for you to work within!

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