Using An Insurance Buyer Persona To Improve Prospecting & Closing

An insurance buyer persona is a composite representation of your ideal customer based upon existing client profiles, preferred prospect profiles and market research. The profile should include demographics, personal and business attributes, and behaviors that are typical of your ideal prospect. Let’s review some examples to better illustrate this definition:

Your insurance buyer personas should be a one or two paragraph written description of your ideal buyer. For example:

  • “Jerry Jones is a CEO, CFO, COO or Risk Manager who works at a distribution company with revenues between $15 million and $150 million dollars. He has at least a decade of experience and has been in his current position at least one year. His goal is to improve efficiency and refine processes within his company, which will contribute to bottom line savings. He is a consensus builder, but knows how to drive change, and has the credibility within his organization to implement a new initiative or allocate budget.”
  • “Gina Martinez is a CHRO, Vice President or Direct of Human Resources, with a manufacturer, distributor, technology company or restaurant group. Revenues can range from $5 million to $150 million dollars depending on industry. She has at least a decade of experience and has been in her current position at least one year. Her goal is to improve employee morale, increase wellness programs, ensure compliance and maintain competitive benefits programs. She is open to change, and will consider innovative approaches to this including captives, gap programs, leading edge tools and PBM alternatives.”

An insurance buyer persona can then be used in conjunction with the Prospect Scorecard. The Prospect Scorecard helps producers (insurance agency salespeople) create a simple and easy way to qualify, track and rank their best prospects. Producers often refer to prospects in vague terms such as warm, hot, cold, likely to buy, qualified, etc. These terms do little to better understand a sales pipeline or convey likelihood of purchase to other members of the team. The Prospect Scorecard resolves this issue by offering a simple qualification and quantification schema, turning vague terms into easily understandable and quantifiable results. The Prospect Scorecard integrates an insurance buyer persona with behavioral purchase criteria, which simplifies the process of tracking and ranking insurance prospects.

Creating an insurance buyer persona can help improve producer prospecting and closing, resulting in a leaner pipeline and improved close ratio. And they are also valuable when agencies outsource their appointment setting initiatives. If your agency has not yet created buyer personas, or if you haven’t updated them for a few years, it’s time for a review.



Source by Alan Blume

Which Costa Rican Car Company Is Best?

Renting a Car in Costa Rica? Which company should you choose?

There are so many rent-a-car companies to choose from in Costa Rica – from the large international firms to the smaller national agencies. Reviews on the internet invariably either damn or sing the praises of each company to the extent of being almost useless. So how do you choose the best place to hire a car for your trip?

Many tourists that rent vehicles in Costa Rica complain that they have been ripped off when they realize the extra cost of insurance they are obliged to pay or that they have been charged a dollar rate that reflected the currency rate and not the quoted rate. Understanding the insurance laws and charges that bind the Costa Rican car rental companies may help you to ask the right questions when you are reserving your vehicle and avoid a nasty shock upon arrival. If a company is not upfront about its additional costs; you may wish to consider whether it is a company that you choose to take your business to.

I have worked within the tourism industry in Costa Rica for the last six years and have lived here since 2000. I am familiar with the feelings that many visitors to the country experience when dealing with rent-a-car companies. These can range from delight to discomfort to outright fury; sometimes due to the inefficiency, or even dishonesty of the rental agency, but also due to the renter’s lack of understanding of the legally binding restrictions within which Costa Rican car rental firms must work. I hope that while this article won’t guarantee you trouble-free vehicle rental; it might make you a more knowledgeable customer.

Insurance needs, additional costs in rental and surcharges are considered in more detail below:

Insurance:

Basic insurance is mandatory. Costa Rican law is very clear on this and your rental car company cannot allow you to leave with their car without having agreed to pay it. Expect to pay somewhere between $9 and $20 per day on top of your car rental rate. An honest, car rental agency will make this very clear in their pricing. If it is not clear whether the insurance is included in the rental cost; ask for clarification and be aware of other potentially unstated costs.

Check whether your insurance policy covers you to drive in Costa Rica. Some policies include Collision Damage Waivers and will cover Central America. If you are covered, bring proof (in writing) for your vehicle rental company. If not, consider whether you would be safer to pay the extra cost of this additional coverage. This part is not mandatory.

Zero liability is offered by rent-a-car companies. You may wish to consider whether you would feel more at ease knowing that you would not be liable for any costs should something occur while you are renting their vehicle. You are not obliged to buy this supplemental insurance.

Additional Fees:

Many car rental companies will charge additional fees for a child/baby seat, an additional driver, luggage racks or cooler. You can expect to pay up to $8 daily for each of these extras. Although by shopping around, you can find companies that will offer some or all for a lower price, or even free.

With Costa Rican roads being notoriously poorly signposted and the whole country operating on an address system based on landmarks rather than road names or numbers, a GPS is essential for many car renters. You will usually pay between $8 and $15 a day for this service. It is fairly common practice to allow renters to use one of their cell phones for the duration, but if you wish to use it for your own calls; you’ll obviously be charged.

Surcharges:

Some rental car companies incorporate taxes and additional fees into their rental cost; others don’t. Make sure you know what you will be charged for on top of your rental fee. Airport fees can be charged at 13% of your rental cost which is a sizable fee to pay in addition to an agreed rental charge. You may also be charged a license plate charge, environmental fee and/or any other charge that the rental car company has to meet (or pocket).

Prices for the rental will be given in US dollars, but as the local currency is colones, you should understand that exchange rates change daily and what you are charged on your credit card on the day of payment may vary slightly from what you were quoted.

Criteria for Rating Car Rental Companies:

For this article, three (3) main points were considered for each company:

1) Value: Is the rental rate competitive?

2) Efficiency: How fast do they respond to the needs of the client?

3) Transparency: How clear is the information provided by the company?

You may have your own criteria, but based on complaints from previous customers on community websites like Trip Advisor, Lonely Planet, etc., the requirements of those clients seemed mainly based around these three basic areas.

The companies surveyed below are a mix of local and international firms. Each company was researched based on a week’s rental of a Daihutsu Bego with mandatory insurance.

Dollar Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– Extras are at average prices.

Efficiency

– They have 3 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within 24 hours.

Transparency

– The prices for rental vehicles are displayed on site but a side box contains a ‘Daily RA’ with dollar amount. This is the mandatory insurance.

– Reservation price is listed as ‘Base rate’ and doesn’t include insurance.

– Dollar has received mixed reviews in sites such as Trip Advisor.

– A toll-free number is available.

Vamos Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– Only GPS and cell phone use are charged. All other extras such as child seats are free.

Efficiency

– They have 3 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

– The website clearly states prices and insurance.

– Toll-free number and live chat are provided.

Wild Rider:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– Additional driver is free.

Efficiency

– Email inquiry returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

– Prices are displayed very clearly onsite and include insurance.

– The company has almost 100% positive reviews, but with a fleet of only 30 vehicles and one central office; it may be difficult to help clients who are in difficulty outside the capital.

– They cannot provide a vehicle for the Liberia airport, just San Jose.

Budget:

Value

– $400+ USD.

– Extra charges for baby seat, additional driver etc.

Efficiency

– The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

– No prices displayed with vehicles information.

– Budget has received mixed reviews.

– Surprisingly for a large company, it provides no live chat or toll-free number for clients in the USA.

Service Car Rental:

Value

– $400+ USD including mandatory insurance and taxes.

– Extras such as additional driver and child seat are charged, but at cheaper rates than most companies.

Efficiency

– The company has 5 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within an hour.

Transparency

– Their rates are clearly shown on site.

– Service has received mainly positive reviews.

National Car Rental:

Value

– $400+ USD.

– Extras are priced a little above average.

Efficiency

– They have 23 office locations, although some are Alamo.

Transparency

– Price estimates online do not include insurance or additional charges; however, they are displayed in the full quotation.

– They have received mixed reviews.

– Both live chat and a toll-free number are provided.

Economy Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $200+ USD, but it seems possible to reserve a vehicle without inclusion of any insurance.

– Extras are average in price.

Efficiency

– They have 12 offices nationwide.

– Email inquiry returned within an hour, but email inquiring about insurance was not returned.

Transparency

– Website does not make mandatory insurance clear.

– Economy has numerous negative reviews.

– Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Hertz Costa Rica:

Value

– $400+ USD, but actual rental price is not made clear.

– Extras are pricey.

Efficiency

– 6 offices nationwide.

– No contact email.

– Telephone numbers are available for different offices around the country.

Transparency

– Very confusing quotation system. Two rates are offered for a vehicle and chosen dates. The cheaper option does not include mandatory insurance and it is in very small print under the final quotation price. The more expensive option includes non-mandatory insurance along with mandatory.

– Mixed reviews.

– Both live chat and toll-free number are provided.

Adobe Rent-A-Car:

Value

– $400+ USD.

– Extras are at low prices.

Efficiency

– The company has 9 offices nationwide.

Transparency

– Online estimate includes insurance.

– Adobe has received mixed reviews.

– A toll-free number is provided.

Tricolor Car Rental:

Value

– $300+ USD.

– No charge for pick-up or airport fees.

– Extras aren’t listed or provided in quotation email, although cell phone price is given.

Efficiency

– 3 offices nationwide.

– Email returned within 2 hours.

Transparency

– Website is not very user friendly.

– Reviews are mixed.

– Toll-free number is provided.

Finalizing the Three Criteria:

Economy, at first, appear to be the cheapest company to rent from, but unfortunately this is due to their failure to declare all costs incurred by the renter, rather than a genuine, good deal. For real value, Dollar, Vamos, Wild Rider and Tricolor come out on top for competitive pricing for the basic rental fee, plus mandatory insurance. Vamos is noticed for being the only firm that does not charge for extras such as a child seat or surcharges. Adobe and Service have low cost extras, whereas Hertz has the most expensive rates for extras. Wild Rider does not charge for an additional driver.

Only Economy failed to respond to email inquiry. All other companies responded quickly and with clear answers to inquiries. Wild Rider, as the smallest firm, cannot offer nationwide service, but reviews suggest that they have met customer needs to date. All other companies can offer services from offices in locations outside of the capital city — increasing their ability to serve clients effectively.

Adobe, Wild Rider, Vamos and Service have websites that clearly show rental prices and insurance. Economy and Hertz somehow seems to be deliberately misleading on their websites. The other companies’ websites provide the required information – even if it can take some time in hunting it down.

Conclusion:

This brief survey would suggest that Vamos, Service, Tricolor and Wild Rider would be the best companies to begin your rental research, whereas Economy would be best to avoid.

Now you know as much as I do! The information here is supposed to be your starting point and not the end point. Hopefully, you will know the right questions to ask when you’re looking for a rental vehicle to ensure that your dream vacation begins smoothly without any nasty shocks, like hefty extra charges when you land. Enjoy the drive!



Source by Sara P Ford

Five Advantages to Having a Comprehensive Health Care Plan Provided by Your Employer

Trying to get ahead financially these days is an extremely difficult goal to accomplish and a lot of people are finding that even the basic advantages we used to take for granted are becoming harder to acquire. There was a time that any substantial job would include such benefits as an excellent employer sponsored health care package. That is no longer the case as business owners look for ways to trim their own expenses so they cannot just keep the doors open to their business but so they can turn a profit as well. A person is fortunate to retain any health care benefits offered by their employer and it is not uncommon for that employee to shoulder a portion of the costs for this advantage. It is also rare to find that this package contains anything extra such as dental or vision coverage. Most of the time a vision plan is attained at an extra cost to the employee and it must be analyzed to see if this addition cost is worth it. A truly comprehensive employer sponsored health care package will contain:

1. Low deductibles – This is a great benefit that reduces the out of pocket expenses to be paid by the employee. The rates for insurance go down when a business chooses to let the employee carry the burden of high deductibles and large co-payments so this is an appealing type of insurance to carry on their employees.

2. Dental insurance – A group rate for dental insurance that includes regular checkups and cleanings is such a great perk to workers. There is almost always an extra charge for orthodontics work but oftentimes a good dental insurance contract will pay most of the cost for these checkups and cleanings and a portion of any dental work such as fillings and crowns. These can result in significant savings to an average family who takes advantage of these offerings.

3. Mental health evaluations and treatment – There was a time that this was considered unnecessary but thankfully as more and more people are taking advantage of available mental health resources this insurance will accommodate them. Diagnosis, counseling and mental health medications are often available at a small cost to the employer and employees are finding that this form of treatment saves the business time that would have been lost by absenteeism and poor work habits.

4. Large pool of physicians in network – It is a distinct advantage to be able select a doctor from many that are available rather than a handful that are located nearby. The quality of care and the continuity of having the same doctor are extremely valued by the patient and contribute greatly to a good insurance program.

5. Regular eye screenings – When this benefit is offered it is a service that can detect early stages of eye diseases such as Glaucoma, Cataracts and Macular Degeneration. These diseases are notorious for robbing people of their sight and are feared by many folks. When they are found to be present at their beginning stage, they are much more easily treated and can often improve or at least preserve current eyesight possibilities for a person.



Source by Connor R Sullivan

Calculate Pain And Suffering The Right Way And Settle Your Car Accident

How to calculate pain and suffering? This is a difficult and controversial issue. When you are in a car accident, the insurance company wants to get a written document that releases any and all claims against the person that caused your damages and injuries. To get that release, the insurance

adjuster must compensate you adequately.

You are entitled to special damages (medical bills, wage loss, medicine, etc.) and general damages (pain and suffering, loss of consortium, physiological injuries, etc.) Most of the time, calculating the Special Damages is not very difficult and there is not much debate over the value of the medical bills, wage loss, and other medical expenses. You can add them all up and submit your receipts. However, calculating general damages, which includes pain and suffering, can be very difficult.

How much is your headache worth? Depends who you ask. If you ask the insurance adjuster, she will tell you about $5. If I ask you, then it is probably worth much more than that.

Personal injury attorneys use the medical bills or all “special damages” as a way to calculate general damages. Some multiply the medical bills by two, other by three or even four times (depends in your

jurisdiction). This is only a rule of thumb. The insurance adjuster will fight you and will tell you that that is not an accurate way to calculate pain and suffering. There are no laws that will give you a formula to calculate the value of the injury.

Simply multiplying your medical bills will not yield an accurate number. You could have an injury with medical bills of $2,000 but the pain and suffering be worth much more than three or even four times that value. For example, a fifteen year old girl that suffers a cut in her face, leaving a scar from her eye to her chin. Medical bills for stitches and cleaning the wound might not be very much, but the psychological injury of growing up with such injury could be worth much more.

Multiplying the medical bills is not very accurate when assessing the value of pain and suffering, however it can guide you. Remember that there are many more claim than just “pain and suffering” in a car accident. You can ask for loss of consortium, loss of earning capacity, loss of quality of life, etc. For a detailed list and explanation of each type of claim, visit http://www.auto-insurance-claim-advice.com/bodily-injury-claim.html. All of these claims can add to a lot of money. Most people forget to ask for any of those types of damages. Insurance companies do not explain the process and they just want a release for any and all claims, including all those damages you forgot or did know to ask for. Insurance companies do this on purpose. Be aware.

Insurance adjusters are ready to tell you that the value of the injury is separated from the accident itself. They are trained to argue that they are settling for the neck pain, not the fact that the total loss settlement

was low. They try to narrow the scope of the settlement. For example, they will tell you that the fact that the driver that hit was drunk is not accounted for because they are looking at pain and suffering. Your pain will not be more or less because someone else was drunk. If you were hit at the same speed and the

same conditions by a sober person, your pain and suffering would be the same (same impact, same injury).

The insurance adjuster would be correct; the pain would be the same. But remember that what the insurance company is doing is “buying your lawsuit”. Would the fact that a driver hit you while intoxicated increase the value a jury would award you? I think the answer is probably yes.

To get the most out for your pain and suffering, use the value of your medical bills, the circumstances surrounding the accident, the type of injury, similar cases jury awards, and all the bodily injury claims you

can make. Double check every argument the insurance adjuster is making. Make sure you are getting a fair treatment.



Source by Hector Quiroga, J.D.

Timeshare Verses Travel Club – Which is the Real Deal?

Until recently, timeshares have been the way to go when someone wanted to get a good deal on yearly vacationing, but with the recent rise in discount travel clubs is it still a a smart move? I will compare the two vacation plans and show how discount travel clubs are the better choice for people who want to save on their vacations.

1) Initial costs- Purchase a timeshare at a resort or second hand from the original owner and you will pay anywhere from say $6,500 to $20,000 depending on where your unit is and how good you are at haggling when they try to close on you. Paid either in a lump sum or over time, you now own a week of time at a resort that you can exchange with others looking for something in your area. Let’s go midrange for a buying price of $13,250.

If you joined a discount travel club, you paid somewhere between $199 and $500 to get access to vacations around the world… Gotta give that win to the vacation club for a more affordable initial price.

2) Recurring costs- According to memorable-beach-vacations.com, ownership has its privileges because you now are responsible for ongoing maintenance fees, upkeep, furniture and appliances, roof and pool replacement, and of course insurance and property taxes. We’ll use their figures for time share resorts in Virginia Beach, which they found range from $390-$550 a year, and use a midrange figure of $475 a year. This annual fee would be adjusted for inflation and probably increase over time. Your total annual timeshare costs over 10 years, barring any roof or pool rework, is $4,750. If you trade for other units around the world, there are other costs involved that vary from group to group, so it would be hard to determine the exact costs other than to say they would be at least several hundred dollars more expensive a year.

Monthly fees vary between vacation clubs, so we will use World Ventures number for accuracy. Lets say you liked the presentation and went with the most expensive package that makes you a representative. You would pay $59.93 a month for an annual rate of $719.16, but there is a way to not have any monthly fee by bringing in four people who buy any package that is offered. So if you know four friends who like to travel and join the club, you’ve just erased your annual costs! That is something to consider, but let’s pay the monthly fee for the sake of the exercise.

Over 10 years, club costs are $7,191.60. There are no additional costs for staying at resorts or hotels around the world, but vacation packages are bought in bulk and offered to the members at cost. Other advantages with travel clubs include discounted rates for air travel, hotels, car rentals, vacation packages, and travel insurance that can be used any time of year as many times as you need. There is even concierge service which you can use anywhere and anytime to get information on just about anything you need while home or abroad. I’ll give this one to the timeshare with an asterisk just using the base numbers, but there is more value built into the vacation club membership.

3) Variety of vacation experience- Timeshares give you the same vacation every year staying in the same unit or a similar one every time and swapping is only available at participating resorts in their network.

Travel clubs offer you many different experiences all over the world- you don’t have to repeat the same trip twice (unless you want to). Over 60,000 vacation and rental properties available in over 160 destinations. World Ventures even has a program called DreamTrips where all the reservations and planning are taken care of for you. You have your choice of event, cruise, sport, or theme packages at deeply discounted prices- examples from 2009 include a Cozumel cruise, 5 day/4 night for $179 per person including taxes and fees, trip to Madrid, Spain for $150 per person taxes included, and so on. Get lodging and tickets to the Masters, the final four, even the World Cup in South Africa for hundreds less than you can find online. The vacation club gets this vote easily.

So while the timeshare won the recurring cost section with a handicap, the best overall bargain is the travel club membership for its low initial cost, variety of vacation experiences offered, and the abilities to save on all travel expenses and make money by becoming a representative. The numbers aren’t exact, but do represent a fair comparison between the two vacation choices.



Source by John Sepulveda

Automobile Dealerships – Out of Trust Situations – Tips For the Dealer

Almost every financial organization has a workout department. Their names are as varied as Problem Loan Administration; Central Loan Department; Egypt Special Assets Department. A dealer may be assigned to one of these special departments or a member of the department may start appearing at meeting with the dealer's regular bank officer.

The courts have consistently upheld the rights of lenders to have workout teams and to have those teams, within broad parameters, take affirmative actions to protect the lenders' interests.

Matching the average dealer's experience with work-outs, to that of the lender's experience, would be equivalent to matching a high school football team against a professional team. The professionals have played the game hundreds of times. They have seen and heard hundreds of presentations, arguments, excuses and reasons for a dealership's problems, while the dealer, lacking experience, is encountering the trauma for the first time. Realizing the dealer will probably be a neophyte, with respect to workouts, the following rules are provided the dealer, as a plumb line, to be followed through the workout procedure:

1. Do Not Confuse Friendship with Business . Factories and lenders have seen and heard most of the workout plans any dealer could suggest. The have probably seen versions of each plan which have been refined over generations by some of the best minds in the business. Their experience, however, can not help the dealer get the best benefits for the dealer.

Employees of the factory / lender have an obligation to their corporation and in turn to its shareholders, to get the best contract for their corporation. There is nothing wrong with that; They have a legal duty to their shareholders and creditors to protect them, not you.

They will, however, indicate whether or not you workout plan is "acceptable" or "unacceptable" to them. If the proposed plan is "unacceptable", one of two things can happen. The dealer can keep proposing plans, until one is accepted, or the factory / lender may suggest an acceptable alternative.

If the factory / lender recommends a plan acceptable to them, it means just that: the workout plan is acceptable to the factory / lender. It does not mean, and should not mean, the factory / lender will not approve some other plan, which may be more beneficial to the dealer, if the dealer knows what to request and how to structure it .

2. Do Not Confuse Optimism with Confidence . Optimism means expecting a plan will work. Confidence means knowing what to do if it does not. Never act without confidence.

3. Do Not Value a Dealership by the "SOT + Assets" Formula . The odds against that plan working are about the same as the odds against winning the lottery, except the ante is higher.

4. Do Not Say "SOT" . Sometimes a dealer talks in terms of SOT (Sold Out of Trust) or OT (Out of Trust) with the factory or lender, when the dealer actually has SAU (Sold and Unpaid) units. Once the dealer referes to an out of trust situation, it puts the factory / lender in a precarious position. All sorts of rules then come into play, both legal rules and company rules, which would not have had to take effect if the dealer used the phrase SAU. The factory / lender can not read minds to know the dealer really mean SAU, instead of SOT. From the moment the phrase SOT is used, the only thing the listener knows for certain is, if there is a law suit and the listener were asked if the dealer said he or she were SOT on such and such a date, the listener would have To answer "yes." Do not put them in that position.

5. Do Not Lie . Do not lie to yourself; Do not lie to the factory; Do not lie to the lender.

Dealers, who lie to themselves about their problems, how they got there, or their ability to solve them, base their own solution upon a lie and, without exception, compound and complicate the original problems.

A lie to the factory / lender will alienate the only entities which have both the ability to help and the most to gain, including the dealer and the dealer's family, in finding a workable solution. When in doubt, remember what Mark Twain said: "I never got hurt by anything I did not say." He also said that when he was ninety, he recollected he had worried about a lot of things in life, most of which never happened.

6. Do Not Panic . There are many challenges in business, and being short of cash is but one of them. Numerous dealers have been there before and numerous dealers have survived.

Analyze the problem as if it were someone else's problem, and compose a short letter as if you were giving advice to another dealer. The advice should be to get professional help. A storm at sea, calls for seasoned sailors. No one would want a crew with little experience inorms, unfamiliar with navigation, no charts, no radar and no one to call up for advice. A dealer with a SOT problem is in a big storm, except it will not go away with time. Without help, the dealer's family, friends and employees will all be affected. The dealer has to make tough decisions, or time will make them-and the dealer will not like the decisions time makes.

At the time the lender has the second meeting, referred to above, wherein the lender wants the dealer to sign the work-out agreement, the dealer should be prepared to structuring of the work-out plan, the handling of a keeper, the method Of repayment and such.

As soon as you know you are OT, your first call should be to us (or someone someone as experienced as us) and your second call (after visiting with us, your attorney and accountant) should be to the credit company. Telling the credit company you have sold and unpaid units before they tell you, is vital to establishing a foundation upon which to build a work-out plan. At the same time, Automotive Advisors' experience is vital to the dealer and the dealer's attorney and accountant, in providing constructive suggestions and in planning and recognizing realistic options.



Source by John Pico JD

When Can You File For Village Auto Insurance Claims?

You go for auto insurance in the hope that when you need it, you will have something to run to. However, as much as possible, you would not want to use your insurance if it entails an accident and major damages for you to claim it. Again, you go for it for assurance. Now, when you invested with Village Auto Insurance, you are aware that more or less, you will be filing for Village Auto Insurance claims soon. However, the question here is when is the right time for you to file for claims?

Of course, when you meet an accident, you have all the rights to claim your insurance. It might be for covering the expenses on repair of your car. It can also be for hospital bills and medical expenses if you were hurt or anyone else involved in the accident. You can also claim for some other minor accidents.

Again, this is dependent on the type of insurance policy that you took. You cannot just file for claims if these are not stated in your policy. You also have to be very careful since you might claim on the wrong insurance and mess up with the process. Sometimes, claiming insurance can take time. Thus, you have to do it right starting from the filing onwards.

You also have to take note that they have to do some background check first or look for some evidence about the accident before they will release your claims. Again, this is a standard operating procedure that you have to abide to.

Well, Village Auto Insurance is a good company that you can trust to when it comes to claims. Thus, this is no longer an issue at all.

Find out more about this company at Free Financial Planning Advice. You can also take a look at articles on debt relief solutions.



Source by Robert Blackburn

Practical Tips to Obtain Defendant Driver’s Cell Phone Records In Car Accident Injury Lawsuits

Background: using cell phones while driving is an inherently unsafe: Everyone knows now that it is unsafe to drink and drive, but the effects of cell phone use while driving are perhaps even more devastating, because the use of cell phones while driving is so wide-spread. According to the a National Safety Council fact sheet, drivers using cell phones account for nearly 25 percent of all motor vehicle crashes annually. In fact, research has shown that driving while using a cell phone is comparable to the devastating effects that alcohol causes to the motoring public. See, A Comparison of the Cell Phone Driver and the Drunk Driver, Human Factors, Vol. 48, No. 2, Summer 2006, pp. 381-391. Sadly, 81 percent of driver have admitted to using a cell phone while driving, according to the National Safety Council fact sheet.

In bringing your motions to compel cell phone records, it is important to bring the above-referenced documents to the attention of the judge hearing your motion. It is also crucial to let juries know of these dangers, because it will affect how the jury views the defendant’s conduct, even in cases where the defense admits to liability in a rear-end collision. It is not enough to stipulate to liability and let the defendant escape accountability to the jury for the despicable nature of using a cell phone while driving. If our firm finds out that the defendant was using a cell phone, we will attach a punitive damages cause of action to the complaint, alleging that doing so was despicable conduct within the meaning of Civil Code section 3294. If you have clear facts showing that there was cell phone usage, by all means, include a punitive damages allegation with the original complaint, so that you are not forced to make a motion to amend your complaint to allege punitive damages.

Don’t get timed out: It is important to recognize the key defense that the defendants possess and neutralize that defense immediately: timing. It can often take 6 months or more to get cell phone records from the time that you first notice the deposition duces tecum until you have the records in your hands. In most aspects of a personal injury case, the defense will try to stall and delay the case until it is time for trial, and discovery has closed, leaving the plaintiff with holes in her case. That is particularly true with cell phone records. The defendant will claim to have forgotten his cell phone number and the name of his cell phone carrier. He will claim to have lost his cell phone records. The cell phone carrier will throw up road blocks, too. In most cases, the judge won’t let you get the cell phone records from the carrier until you have demonstrated due diligence in getting the records from the defendant himself.

As you will see in this article and the associated subsequent articles, there is a long process for seeking these documents through written depositions, written discovery, meet-and-confer letters, amended responses by the defense, followed by more meet-and-confer letters, and ultimately, your motion to compel. If you don’t lay the foundation, or move too quickly, the discovery judge will deny your motion to compel. So be sure to build into your discovery plan ample time to go through the whole process. Compelling cell phone records is like baking a layer cake; you have to build it one layer at a time.

Also, keep in mind that if you want to amend your complaint to allege punitive damages, California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1324, will require you to demonstrate good cause why your motion was not brought earlier. Don’t hand the defense an easy escape due to lack of diligence in bringing the motion to amend the complaint to allege punitive damages pursuant to Civil Code section 3294.

Start your hunt right away: Look for indications of cell phone usage on the part of the defense very early on in the case. Start with the intake with your client. Include a question about cell phone usage on the part of both your client and the defense in your intake questionnaire.

If your client knows that the defendant was using their cell phone, your client will usually tell you, because by now most people are aware that using a cell phone while driving is despicable conduct, particularly if the defendant was not using the phone in a hands-free way. If you client does not mention cell phone usage, be sure to ask your client about cell phone usage in the same way that you would screen for drunk driving, because, as mentioned above, cell phones are the new drunk driving and can change the entire course of the litigation, as we will see. Insurers are willing to waive liability and settle early where their insureds were using their cell phones at the time of the collision in the same way that they do with drunk driving cases.

Sometimes clients will have seen the defendant on their cell phone a few minutes before the incident happened, for example, if they were passing the defendant and were later rear-ended by the defendant, so probe your client’s memory as to the first time that they saw the defendant, and think about if they saw any signs of the defendant using the cell phone.

After speaking with your client, think about other sources of information about the collision. Look at the police report, of course, to see if the reporting officer noted cell phone use. Contact all of the witnesses listed in the report to see if they noticed the defendant using a cell phone. Be sure to ask your clients and the witnesses if they saw the defendant appearing to speak to himself, because even hands-free driving is distracted driving, and the above-cited studies show that a driver’s response time is reduced even with hands-free usage. As if they saw the defendant gesturing while driving, because of course many people will gesture with their hands while on the phone.

Even if your client and the witnesses are unable to state that they saw direct evidence of cell phone usage, such as the defendant holding a cell phone to his ear or talking to no one while driving alone, it is possible to infer cell phone usage where the defendant has no logical story to explain their odd driving behavior. For example, if your client sees the vehicle coming up on them from behind and failing to slow down, your client might not have time to focus their gaze on the driver before impact, but the fact that the driver doesn’t slow down is a flag indicating that the driver was distracted. Weaving is of course another example of distracted driving, as is odd variations in speed. You will need all of these facts to persuade a discovery judge that there are some indicia of distracted driving before the judge will let you compel the defendant’s cell phone records.

File suit early: If you see flags indicated distracted driving, file suit immediately. You will need to begin the process of investigation through formal discovery immediately, because insurers are going to fight this discovery battle tooth and nail, as they are aware that the public is disgusted with distracted driving, and that distracted driving will open up their insured’s personal assets, creating a conflict. Of course, it is exactly this kind of conflict that you want to create for the purpose of leveraging a decent settlement for your client.

If you see flags indicating distracted driving, consider serving a deposition notice on the defendant 20 days after service is effected on them, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.210(b) which provides in pertinent part as follows:

2025.210(b) The plaintiff may serve a deposition notice without leave of court on any date that is 20 days after the service of the summons on, or appearance by, any defendant. On motion with or without notice, the court, for good cause shown, may grant to a plaintiff leave to serve a deposition notice on an earlier date.

The prevailing wisdom is that you should serve form interrogatories by mail after receiving the defendant’s answer, but it is exactly that kind of supposed “common sense” that you want to avoid in these cases. You want to send the defense a signal that you are different, and they should not expect “the usual” from you in any aspect of this case. It also sends the defense a signal that you are not going to permit them to enjoy their primary defense tactic, that of stall and delay. This practice also gives you access to the defendant before the defense adjuster and defense attorney have had extra time to help the defendant formulate false testimony. In their haste to prepare an answer, the defense might not have time to screen the defendant for cell phone usage, and so the defendant might be unwary of the need to prevaricate about his cell phone usage.

After serving the complaint and summons, fax and mail the defense adjuster to let them know that service has been effected, and let them know that you expect a timely answer to the complaint. Then serve the deposition notice, and again fax and mail the defense with a letter saying that you expect the defendant to appear on the date noticed for the deposition. Make sure that you give yourself enough time to actually get the deposition notice served. Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.270(a) requires 10 days’ notice.

The defense attorney will likely phone you to say that there is a conflict in their schedule, but you should politely and persistently insist on an early deposition for the defendant. When the defense attorney asks what the rush is all about, tell them that it is the plaintiff’s job to move the ball, and that the defense should expect to see this pace continued all throughout the case. Do not, of course, talk about your interest in getting discovery of cell phone usage at this point. The defense will not understand why you are pushing the case so quickly, and it will make them start to question their assumptions about what is “normal” in a case, including their “usual” evaluation of the ultimate case value.

The purloined letter, hidden in plain view: You are going to want to include a duces tecum demand with your deposition notice. In that duces tecum demand, you are going to want to ask for cell phone records. Be sure to bury the request for the cell phone records in the middle of the demand somewhere, well after the usual request for photographs and statements of the plaintiff and witnesses, etc, unless you have alleged punitive damages in your complaint, in which case the cell phone usage will be front and center. Be sure to serve along with the deposition subpoena set of form interrogatories, a standard request for production of documents, a set of specially-prepared interrogatories, if that is needed in your case, and a request for admissions. All of these documents can be served any time that is 10 days after service of the summons on the defendant. See C.C.P. sections 2030.020, 2031.020, and 2033.020, respectively.

It is important to serve a standard set of requests for admissions, along with the deposition notice and the other documents. The requests for admissions should certainly ask the defendant to admit the facts of liability from your client’s perspective, and should ask them to admit the ultimate fact that the defendant is at fault for causing the collision. This is particularly true if the case is a rear-ender, because the defense attorney will oppose the motion to compel cell phone records on the basis of that the cell phones are not relevant in a rear-end collision. When the defendant denies liability in the request for admissions, as they inevitably will, you now have ammunition to show the discovery judge that liability is disputed, and therefore the cell phone records will go to the issue of fault.

Be thorough in deposing the defendant on how the collision happened: If you have spotted one of the flags of distracted driving, typically the defendant will not admit cell phone use. You will need to first lay the foundation for the erratic driving. Be sure to begin the deposition with a benign tone toward the deponent. Don’t clue them into the fact that you are going to press them later in the deposition, because they will become defensive, and they won’t give you the key facts that lay the foundation for the flags of distracted driving.

The defendant will typically admit that they rear-ended your client, if that is the case, but they will gloss over the facts leading up to the impact. You will definitely want to ask them when it was that they noticed that your client was stopped, and what they did to avoid the collision. You can ask them lead-in questions such as “it sounds like you were a bit distracted” or “it sounds like your attention drifted off of the road for a little bit.” Then, ask them if their windows in the car were rolled up or rolled down. Ask them if their radio was playing. Ask them if they had some trouble keeping their vehicle in their lane.

Then ask them if they were using their cell phone at the time of the collision. If they say no, ask them when the last time was that they used their cell phone before the collision. Ask them where they kept their cell phone. Was it attached to their belt? Was it in a purse or brief case? If there were other occupants in the defendants’ vehicle, be sure to set their depositions for a time immediately following the defendant’s deposition, so that the defendant will be clued into the fact that his fabrications might be contradicted by other sworn testimony.

Sample duces tecum demand in commercial driving cases: You can count on the defendant to be evasive in deposition. It is not uncommon for the defendant to say that they don’t remember their cell phone number or the name of their cell phone carrier! If that is the case, you will need to make sure that you have requested collision reports and bills of lading applicable to the shipment that the defendant was carrying, in case the driver’s cell phone number is there. Here is some language that would cover those items:

All written collision reports prepared by defendant Donald T. Driver pertaining to the subject collision.

All drivers’ time sheets, log books (regardless of form) involved in recording the subject tractor truck’s usage and mileage by all drivers in the 72 hours prior to the subject collision.

Don’t assume that the defense attorney will object to the collision report prepared by the driver. It might be that the defense attorney will need to use the collision report to refresh the recollection of the driver, and so might give up the collision report, rather than argue that it was an attorney-client communication prepared by the driver for the insurance adjuster to prepare for litigation.

Sample language for special interrogatories seeking the defendants’ cell phone info: If the defendant claims in deposition to have forgotten their cell phone number or the name of their carrier, you will need to serve specially-prepared interrogatories to elicit that information. Here are some sample questions:

State the name of all mobile telephone carriers used by defendant Donald T. Driver on the date of the subject incident which is the subject of this lawsuit.

State the name of any mobile telephone carrier with whom defendant Donald T. Driver had a contract for mobile telephone service on the date of the subject which is the subject of this lawsuit.

State the mobile telephone number(s) of any mobile telephone(s) for which defendant Donald T. Driver had active service on the date of the subject incident.

State the name of the mobile telephone carrier providing service for each of the mobile telephone numbers for which defendant Donald T. Driver had active service on the date of the subject incident.

State the mobile telephone number(s) of any active mobile telephone(s) provided to defendant Donald T. Driver by his employer on the date of the subject incident.

State the name of the mobile telephone carrier providing service for each of the mobile telephone numbers provided to defendant Donald T. Driver by his employer on the date of the subject incident.

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for driving directions at the time of the subject collision?

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for voice communications at the time of the subject collision?

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for text communications at the time of the subject collision?

Was defendant Donald T. Driver using a mobile telephone for any purpose at the time of the subject collision?

When was the last time before the subject collision that defendant Donald T. Driver used a mobile telephone for any purpose?

IDENTIFY the last person that defendant Donald T. Driver spoke with by mobile telephone preceding the subject collision?

As used in these interrogatories, “IDENTIFY” means to provide the name, address, and a telephone number of the person to be identified.

Sample language requesting cell phone records: Below is an example of language that you can use in requesting cell phone records. Be sure to include questions that are both narrowly directed to the time of the collision, as well as questions that are broader, so that the defense won’t say that they don’t have records which are precisely that exact. Bear in mind that the defendant will typically say that they are not in the possession, custody, and control of the requested records. Your primary purpose in requesting these records is to demonstrate to the discovery judge that it will be necessary to compel the defendant to sign a release of records, because the defendant will, by that time, have answered these questions saying that they don’t have possession of the records. In most cases, the only custodian of the records will be the carriers, but you have to set up the defendant by asking these questions first.

Produce all contracts for the delivery of mobile telephony service entered into between defendant Donald T. Driver and any mobile telephony carrier which was in effect at the time of the subject collision.

Produce all contracts for the delivery of mobile telephony service entered into between defendant Donald T. Driver’s employer and any mobile telephony carrier which provided service for defendant Donald T. Driver’s use in effect at the time of the subject collision.

Produce any and all billing statements in the possession, custody or control of the responding defendants for mobile telephony service used by defendant Donald T. Driver for mobile telephony service which was in effect for the billing period which covered the date of service for May 1, 2008 [insert the date of your subject collision].

Produce any and all billing statements covering the period of 10:00 a.m. through 2:00 p.m. on the day of the subject collision for mobile telephony service used by defendant Donald T. Driver.

You are going to have to customize the language above to fit your case. If the collision happened at 12:00 noon, for example, you will want to go back to 10:00 a.m. and forward to 2:00 p.m. to make sure that you get the data for the subject call, in case the parties or the reporting police officer got the time of the collision a bit off.

Conclusion: It may be a long haul to get cell phone records in car accident litigation, start now: You can count on both the defendant and the defense attorney to fight tooth and nail to prevent you from getting your hands on the requested cell phone records. Start your hunt early, or you will find that you are right up against the discovery cut-off without your records, or without adequate time to amend your complaint to allege punitive damages.



Source by Albert Stoll

Japanese Business Structure – Toyota and the Keiretsu System

The Toyota Group (Keiretsu)

A keiretsu is a cluster of interlinked Japanese firms, centered on a bank, which lends money to member companies and holds an equity stake in these companies. By combining forces, these companies are able to reduce costs and risk, better facilitate communication, ensure trust and reliability and provide insulation from outside competition. There are two types of keiretsu, horizontal and vertical. Horizontal, inter-market keiretsu are diversified networks of large companies. These included the three aforementioned descendents of the pre-WWII zaibatsu. Vertical manufacturing and distribution keiretsu are asymmetric networks where small-firm sectors are dominated by large sectors.

The Toyota Group is considered to be the largest of the vertically-integrated keiretsu groups. The United States and most Western countries looked unfavorably upon the keiretsu because they interpreted such a business scheme to be that of an outlawed monopoly or cartel.

The Toyota Group is a terrific example of a highly successful, complex and prominent keiretsu in Japan. It is a member of the Mitsui Group, which is one of its main banks, but functions very independently of the bank. In the past couple of decades, Toyota has been on the top of the list domestically in the United States as well as abroad in terms of sales and profits. The parent firm generates, on average, $72 billion each year in sales with 72,000 employees. That equates to one million dollars in sales per employee, which is roughly six-times that of competitor, General Motors. Toyota has been the best selling car in Japan for over twenty-four years. This alone shows the clout and power of the Japanese keiretsu.

This company is the largest industrial combine in Japan and one of the largest keiretsu in the nation. Another amazing fact is that Toyota is much more than a car manufacturer. In fact, Toyota is a major participant in three telecommunication companies; it is a principle investor in a computer system development firm; and it holds stakes in an insurance company specializing in automotive insurance. Furthermore, Toyota operates four real estate firms, two financial firms and is currently exploring opportunities in the aerospace industry.

Due to the prominence of keiretsu in post-WWII Japan, only those employees that worked in core firm sectors benefited. Those who were forced to work at small firms suffered from low wages, limited career mobility and job instability. Much can be said for the keiretsu system, which, as seen in the case study on the Toyota Group, can yield much power and success.



Source by David J Stone

Turn Your Service Into A Product and Double Your Sales Potential

I sell a service, so sometimes when I see people struggling to sell their products I think, "Really? Your merchandise is on display. It’s hard to put a "service" on the shelf." But hard does not mean impossible. Take companies like Progressive. Now, they may or may not be your insurance company, but they had a challenge: How to turn a service into a product.

How’d they do it? Bundling. "Flo" now comes with a talking box, and the company has a device one can plug into their car to calculate usage.

Products sell services.

It’s that simple.

Since business coaching is a relatively new concept, we took a service and turned into a product in the form of CDs, E-books, and You Tube videos. These products provide valuable tools for business owners and not only introduce them to our services, but show them ways that business coaching can benefit their companies.

So, what about you? What’s your service? Auto Mechanics? Stylist? Masseuse? Consulting? Painting? Designing? Sports? Teaching? CPA? Banker? Domestic Engineer? Media? Power? Health? Motorcycle maintenance?

What would your service look like as a product? Brainstorm with your team. I’ll leave you with a few ideas in a moment, but first, to make an idea like turning your service into a product viable, you will want to work on changing your mind set.

Start with a closed mind and you might as well go back to getting a paycheck and working for someone else, rather than owning your own business. Some key things to consider when you start on this new journey, is to let go of the blame game. Sure, you’ll make mistakes, but you’ll gain knowledge! Business is hard work, but it should also be fun! Seriously, if you’re not enjoying what you’re doing, why keep doing it? No amount of money is worth that much agony. So, make it fun.

And one way to make it fun is to think of new ideas. A photographer may take 4000 photographs before "the one" emerges that wins him or her recognition. And, yeah. You might go through a lot of ideas, but when one hits the bullseye, you’ll forget all the growing pains. Trust me.

Okay, so let’s have some fun. To start, let’s select a few of the services listed above and brainstorm on how those services could be turned into products.

1. Auto Mechanic. While many new cars start with a button, most still use a key. So, let’s focus on that key. What product can you develop that contains a key? Oh, I know. A KEY! Okay, so how can you market a key and get people to come in for auto maintenance? Some car dealerships send keys out for people to come in and try to win a car, but frankly, most people I know don’t bite. The keys don’t even feel real. But your key can have a real lock and a key purpose. What if the keys fit into locks you’ve set up and labeled that highlight certain services: oil change, alignment, BOGO free tire…whatever you decide. Potential customers get the key. They come in. They try the key. It turns a lock. That service is free – or greatly discounted. Your print material can contain "key tips" with the keys as bullets. I think you get the idea.

2. Masseuse. I had a massage a while back that included hot rocks and a rubdown that was like no other. What if your "product" is a small rock? Flat. Lightweight. Maybe with a message carved in it (Peace, Tranquility, Abundance, Joy). Think they’ll just throw it away? I don’t. Your slogan might be "A pebble of peace awaits you. Bring yours in for a 20% discount on your next massage." They bring in the pebble, recycling your campaign, and you get new customers!

3. CPA. Wow, you guys are a tough nut to crack. Who likes taxes? Not too many people that I know do, but a good CPA is like an effective headache remedy. Why not create a medicine bottle "For Those Taxing Headaches." Of course, it would contain candy "pills", but it would also include a tax tip, a discount, or how about a penny? "Bring this in for a "penny for our thoughts" on how to get you a well-deserved tax return."

How fun is this? But fun isn’t good enough. It has to work. And this is a great time to try campaigns like these because the stressed economy has meant a real cutback in direct mail. People like to get gifts, so give them some! But make them relevant to your industry.

Want a couple more:

4. Designer. Send them a magnetic picture frame that’s light, flat – something they can hang on their fridge, with a card that reads, "Picture yourself happy." What will that design or remodel mean to them? Make them "see" it.

5. Domestic Engineer. You clean houses. What product can possibly sell that service? How about a rag? Seriously. A square of cotton with clever slogans like: "I could have been on vacation," or "Let’s get messy," or "Quit ragging on me" with your logo and phone number. People always need rags, and yours will remind them of how they could be doing something else if only they’d hired YOU for their service needs!

Okay. Now it’s your turn. What’s your service? What product comes to mind? How can you tie in a slogan with your product?

Remember these important "E"s.

* Educate your public about your service (e-book, report, CD, video, etc.)

* Entertain your potential customer (key, pill box, photo frame, rag)

* Earn their trust (brand recognition, quality service, added value)

In the end, you’ll earn more than trust. You’ll earn double, if not more, of what you were making before by having both a product and service to sell.

Remember, good products sell services. Good service sells products. Now, that’s a winning combination if I ever saw one.



Source by Peter G Williamson