Trick to Buy Trusted Rental Boat and Car Insurance Plans

Magruder-Agency-Insurance

Rental boat insurance seems unfamiliar in some areas. Actually, this is including in Florida in which you don’t need to have boat insurance for personal use. The case is different if you have boats for business. The business owners need to provide their boats with boat insurance to protect personal injury or boating accidents.

It is wrong if you think that boat insurance is expensive. In fact, this insurance is offered with several bonuses. For example, you will get discount price if you can show your approved boat safety course. Discount price is also for those who have boats with diesel fuel. It doesn’t matter if you have more than one boat. To get discount, you may insure all those boats on the same time and on the same policy. If you know those tricks, the chance to get low price boat insurance plan will be bigger. The type of coverage you can get is also various. Physical damage, personal effects, boat rental reimbursement, and even fishing equipment are included on the coverage plan. If you don’t have a boat doesn’t mean that you can’t take insurance plan. Just take different insurance suits to you condition such as home insurance, life insurance, business insurance, motorcycle insurance, and including car insurance.

Car insurance brandon fl is easy to find because most of the people are driving car to support their daily activities. For those who realize about the importance of protecting yourself and your car, car insurance is the best answer. Try to learn what the coverage can do for you when you are involved in car or boat accident. Hundreds of insurance companies which offer their service are another problem. Some people don’t know how to choose the best insurance company to get the best plan. Magruder Agency is coming to accommodate you needs as well as to solve that problem by giving the list of trusted insurance companies.

 

Health Savings Accounts Provide Affordable Health Insurance Solutions

Millions of Americans have recently been faced with the task of finding their own affordable healthcare plans for themselves and their families after they have lost their jobs. Already in 2009 alone, an estimated that 7 million Americans who lost their jobs as a result of the recession will have to pay COBRA health insurance premiums in order to maintain their health insurance plans.

The good news for these millions of recently unemployed workers is that a new government Act – the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – has been put into place in many states to help these individuals and their families afford to pay for their COBRA healthcare. However, the ARRA and COBRA only provide temporary financial relief and, for many, the programs are about to end. Health Savings Accounts may be viable healthcare solutions for these employees.

Working with COBRA

COBRA is a program that allows employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own to continue with the same healthcare plans that they had been receiving through their employers. The COBRA program is temporary and, while employees are able to maintain their same health insurance plans, employees do have to pay more for the health insurance premiums on their COBRA plans than they paid while they were employed.

Historically, COBRA premiums have been difficult for laid-off workers to afford on their own. Yet, because many workers were able to quickly find reemployment after being laid off, many workers chose to use the COBRA option as a temporary health insurance solution while they were between jobs.

However, with current challenging economic conditions, it has not been possible for many workers to find reemployment, which means that they have had to pay high COBRA premiums for longer periods of time – or opt to forgo health insurance altogether. Therefore, while COBRA programs have been an affective short-term solution to help workers get through a temporary job loss, they are not able to provide affordable or long-term health insurance.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

In order to help workers more easily afford COBRA (and retain healthcare coverage) the federal government instated the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which has been adopted by some states.

Under the ARRA, workers who lost their jobs during the recession are only required to pay 35 percent of their COBRA health insurance premiums, while the federal government pays the remaining 65 percent. This Act is adopted on a state-by-state basis and has been an effective short-term solution for millions of Americans. However, the state COBRA coverage only lasts from six to nine months, depending on an individual’s state. Federal COBRA coverage lasts up to 18 months, in most cases.

For many Americans currently enrolled in COBRA health insurance programs, COBRA and/or ARRA financial support is about to expire. Americans who are still unemployed are now challenged to find affordable healthcare plans for themselves and their families. It is especially important for them to enroll in a new health insurance program before their COBRA benefits expire so that they will be able to maintain healthcare coverage at all times.

Health Savings Account Options

For individuals who have lost their jobs, a Health Savings Account is generally a very affordable and effective health insurance solution. Health Savings Accounts are used by individuals in all industries and financial situations to save money, including small business owners, businesses, unemployed individuals, families, financial-savvy employees, and more.

A Health Savings Account is similar to an IRA in that individuals set aside money into the health savings account that they can then invest in high interest-yielding stocks, bonds, money markets, and more. The money that an individual puts into the health savings account is tax-deductible and can grow tax-free. When an individual needs to pay for a qualifying health-related expense, he or she can withdraw money from the health savings account to pay for it without paying tax.

One of the many benefits of a Health Savings Account is that individuals can use the funds from their accounts as they wish. However, if they withdraw money for a non-healthcare related expense, they will pay taxes on the funds that they withdraw. When they leave funds in their Health Savings Account, the money can grow completely tax-free for life.

In order to establish a Health Savings Account, individuals need to open a qualifying high-deductible health insurance account. Health Savings Accounts can be used by individuals and families. There are also maximum annual contributions for individual and family Health Savings Accounts, which are subject to change every year.

Health Savings Accounts are not only affordable health insurance solutions for individuals who have COBRA accounts that are about to expire, but they are also excellent solutions for many laid-off workers. For many individuals, Health Savings Accounts are more affordable and financially smart health insurance solutions than COBRA plans. Individuals should speak with an insurance advisor to find the right insurance solutions for themselves and their families.

Honest Review on “The New Health Insurance Solution” Best Selling Book

I purchased the book in order to find a market regarding the holistic health benefits network for which I sell. This book enlightens those who are “working for the man” and the reason for sky rocking health cost. People who rarely see the doctor are paying premiums for older people in their workplace who enjoy unhealthy lifestyles and are addicted to lifestyle drugs.

The solution to this situation is presented in purchasing a private policy. It also indicates how affordable these private policies can be. However, the author misleads the reader in regards to premium rates and premium increases. On page 10 and other pages he writes “premiums on most individual/family policies cannot be increased.” Guess what, depending upon the health, claims, and cost within that group, the insurance company can and do indeed increase premiums. The author contradicts his own statement on page 20 by saying “Monthly premiums paid for individual policies typically increase annually with the level of inflation or overall medical costs.”

The author also indicates in several areas of the book that “good health insurance” for an individual or a family is now only $150.00 to $300.00 per month. The term “good health insurance” is what to this author? On page 26, he contends he pays $400.00 a month for a “superdeluxe” family policy for a family of six and he is 51 years of age. He fails to mention his “superdeluxe high deductible.”

The book explains how insurance companies are raising premiums by using an item called uprating. The author experienced this situation because of what a doctor wrote about a minor back problem. This author is an experienced insurance salesman (selling mostly for Blue Cross Blue Shield). He brags how he was able to “counteroffer”the increase from $400.00 a month to $520.00 back down to $460.00 a month. I wonder how many people (not being a broker for Blue Cross Blue Shield could work that out?)

The author offers no solution to those who are uninsurable other than obtaining insurance through a high risk pool of costs upward of $4800.00 a year, only if your state has such an animal. It is interesting that a book titled The New Health Insurance Solution would omit a chapter on discount health benefit programs. If the author used such a discount program with his chiropractor, his minor back injury would not have been reported to the big “medical computer in the sky” and he wouldn’t have been uprated by Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Chapter 10 talks about How to Be a Smart Healthcare Shopper, but nowhere in the book does he discuss the options available regarding health benefit discount programs (other than a discount prescription card). Smart Healthcare Shoppers are joining members of nationwide companies like Ameriplan, where they receive discounts on the actual costs of their medical care. Ameriplan members get discounts without paying high cost premiums supporting the sick and older people in their insurance pool. Discount health programs also do not report to the big “medical computer in the sky.”

This book is hard to read and understand unless you have a background in the insurance, or employee benefits. The book is technical, misleading, and not for the layman! However if you do sell a discount health benefits program like Ameriplan, invest in this book as it clearly lays out your target market!

Business Insurance Solutions for All Business Types

As a business owner or manager, he or she takes the responsibility to work harder and more effectively to ensure its success. But it is inevitable for some situations and occurrences to happen, which may affect profitability and success. Things that are out of your control may strike and pull down your venture. This is why you should consider investing in appropriate business insurance. Your business should not easily go down the drain when a major financial crisis hits.

Business insurance is insurance product that is specifically and especially designed to cater to a commercial or business interest. It is also known as commercial insurance. What is different about it is that there are many types of business insurance products available to cover different kinds of ventures. Here are some of the most popular insurance solutions for different kinds of businesses.

Commercial property insurance covers buildings and its contents like stock, equipment, and machineries. It is taken to guard against any physical damage or loss. At times, it is paired with business interruption insurance, which in turn compensates for lost income due to sudden closure or operations halt. Commercial general liability covers property damage or bodily injury to other people. This is the product that insures customers who get hurt or injured while at the premises of your own business. This also covers any damage to properties of other people as part of your business operations or tasks.

Professional liability is helpful when customers claim for damages incurred when your staff or business incorrectly did tasks. Your business has to shoulder expenses to correct or repair damages brought upon by mistakes performed by your company and employees. Accounts receivable insurance covers loss of business records due to calamity or other inevitable occurrences. It covers uncollectible amounts from clients. Lastly, crime coverage and fidelity bonds cover losses incurred from crimes like robbery, burglary, or theft.

Overall, business insurance can really help you obtain protection against significant losses that can be devastating enough to impact your venture. It is advisable that such insurance be made an important and necessary factor in your business plans. You should intend to protect your business, your income, and your assets. Fortunately, this type of insurance is now more popular that numerous insurers get more competitive to offer their products. Investing in business insurance will certainly not hurt, although doing so may also cost a significant amount.

Health Insurance Solutions Available on the State Exchange

Though functionality of the health Exchange will be initially limited, nonetheless it will provide health insurance solutions to wide range of residents in the state. The online platform will open its doors to citizens looking for individual or group health plans and small business firms wanting group coverage for their employees.

Health insurance solutions that are available through the insurance Exchange include medical plans for individual, families, group and group coverage for the employees of small business firms. Only those insurance companies that follow the federal guidelines and spend a minimum of 80% of their premium dollars on providing healthcare will be allowed to sell their products through the Exchange.

The platform for individuals will host health plans for individuals, families and small groups. Residents will be able to check the various options online, compare plans across health insurance companies and buy their health plans directly from the company. E-apps will ensure that the applications are processed faster and residents get their medical coverage quickly. All the health plans available on the Exchange will be valid according to the new federal regulations and the residents will not have to worry anymore about scams and fraudulent plans.

The health Exchange would be an easy portal for the Admin to govern. Rate changes, new information, product brochure can all be uploaded and updated in real time. The Admin will also have access to a detailed analysis of the traffic which will help them in their further course of action. The analysis will be about the various age segments that visit the Exchange, their preferred health plans, the source of traffic, the conversion rates and the likes.

Small Business Health Option Plans (SHOP) is a part of the Exchange that caters exclusively to small firms looking for group coverage for their employees. Here too, firms will be able to look at and compare across the health insurance companies. Employees would be able to log in to the Exchange to make their individual changes to the details of the policy like adding a family member, or deciding the amount to be contributed to FSA and HAS. Through the e-apps available on the Exchange, employees would be able to use the following features:

- Apply online
- Partial filling, and save & come back later features
- E-sign the application
- Track the status of application online
- Supports completion of semi-filled application by printing & filling it in by hand
- Allows submission of paper application via e-mail or fax
- Automatic conversion of existing PDFs into e-Applications.

The analysis of SHOP traffic would include details such as:

- Segmentation of consumers by size and types of business and the area they are located in
- The source of traffic
- Traffic Trend
- Conversion rate and trend
- Effectiveness of sales and marketing campaign

For the residents and small businesses operating, insurance solutions on the health Exchange are the easiest way to access coverage. No one is denied coverage due to the prior health status of the resident and application gets processed easier and faster.

Getting Some Auto Insurance Solutions

When you’re in a bind and you just can’t seem to be able to pay your auto insurance, you wonder how to lower the bill. These auto insurance solutions are a few suggestions that you need to try. Using them may be the best way to get a lower premium.

First off you need to ensure that you’re using all the discounts that you can for your premium. Many companies out there will provide discounts if you have more than one car insured through them. Any type of safety feature that may be in your vehicle can also provide a nice break on the cost of your premiums.

Some examples are automatic seatbelts, or even antilock brakes. Plus there are different defensive driving courses that if you take you can get a break on that cost of insurance too.

Check to see what the minimums for coverage are in your state, and see that you have just the bare minimums for your coverage. Many states don’t require that you have insurance for people who are driving without insurance.

Try to see about making your deductible a higher amount. It’s one of the easiest and possibly quickest ways that you can see a difference in your cost of insurance. Plus you need to get auto insurance comparisons every once in a while.

Checking online and pulling up several comparisons will be a great way that you can save money. So use this system and make sure you’re not paying too much on your coverage.

You should also inquire through your insurance agent or even DMV for other ideas on how to save on insurance. Use all avenues of trying to save some money on your policy. If your company provides property insurance too, you should see if they give a discount if you have that coverage along with your car insurance.

10 Secrets to Hiring the Right SEO Company

Even if you are armed with an abundance of knowledge in SEO, you may still need the services of a professional SEO company. Having strong knowledge of SEO is hardly sufficient in some cases. Even if you are doing your best to attempt to obtain a good ranking for your website, you might still wind up wondering why your website is simply not doing well. For starters, you must understand that your website will have to be fully optimized in all elements. Not just that, but your website has to be maintained on a regular basis. SEO is a continuous process that includes a great deal of time and effort. To make things simpler, you will be better off utilizing the services of a competent SEO company to do the work for your website.

There are numerous SEO companies today, and there are a lot of trustworthy companies as well as unreliable ones. Thus, it is crucial that you select the perfect SEO Company. Here are 10 important points that you must keep in mind when selecting SEO services:

Site Evaluation Guide

Does the SEO firm offer you a site evaluation guide? A reliable SEO firm should have the ability to provide you with an extensive analysis of your site, regarding ranking and design structure. This can be done by performing a website audit. The result of this website audit will allow the SEO firm to offer you a proposal of how much work needs to be done to bring you to a certain level of ranking. They must be able to advise and troubleshoot all aspects related to performance, content, and design that might hinder the reading or indexing of your pages.

Tools in Figuring out Keywords

What tools does the SEO Agency use to look for keywords? Do they offer competitive analysis based on your chosen keywords? Understanding what methodology the SEO Agency utilizes for keyword evaluation or research is very important. It will be a great help if you perform your own due diligence using basic tools, such as conducting keyword research and analysis through the use of keyword planner in Google AdWords.

Backlinks to Website

Where will the SEO Company return links from? Backlinks are just as, if not more, vital in SEO than onsite optimization. The SEO Company should be able to obtain high-quality backlinks from reputable websites that are highly related to your niche. Ask your SEO Company what techniques they employ for gathering backlinks.

Cost Structure

A dependable SEO Company will not just give you a quote once they figure out how much work has to be included. Charging you high costs will not necessarily ensure you receive high quality services. It also doesn’t ensure that the rate being quoted is proportional and consistent with the services you anticipate the SEO Company will provide. A good SEO Agency should be able to give you a rundown of services to which the performance and price contract will be based upon.

The Timeline

Does your SEO Company provide you with a timeline? It is through hard work and correct planning that results can be attained on time. Some SEO Firms offer SEO plans that claim to put you in the very first page of search results in just a matter of 10 days. Realistically, however, no SEO Company can guarantee you the number 1 position in Google in as short as 10 days.

An SEO campaign will take 6-18 months to deliver the top outcomes you expect. Make sure you don’t give in to false pledges. Conversely, avoid SEO services that provide you with a time limit. A good SEO company knows that optimization is an ongoing process and they should be able to offer you regular maintenance, customer support and proper upgrading.

SEO Technique

What SEO strategy will your SEO Company use to raise your ranking? You should look out for companies that will utilize spam advertising methods to rank you on top in no time. If the strategy includes any form of dishonest practice, such as spamming or deceiving online search engines, then you should instantly turn away.

An excellent SEO company will certainly see to it that you will not be subjected to spam or misleading services. Keep in mind that if it is based on using deceitful strategies, your site might be taken out of Google’s indexing, which will certainly lead your site to being blacklisted. Knowing your SEO Company and doing your own research on how proper SEO is done is extremely vital in choosing the ideal firm.

Providing Targeted Traffic

Do they understand the distinction between plain traffic and targeted traffic? You will hire the services of an SEO Company mainly due to the fact that you need to attract traffic into your website. However, what you need is targeted traffic that gets you visitors who might be genuinely interested in purchasing your products or services. This is based on your desired keywords in order to generate leads.

You don’t want irrelevant traffic that comes to your website because of irrelevant keywords. Unqualified traffic only enhances your bounce rate (surfers that arrive on your page and immediately leave) and not your sales. The right SEO Company will create relevant content for your website and distribute it to relevant channels, social media and Press Releases (PR). This will potentially lead to natural backlinks that will enhance your overall ranking in the search engine.

Transparent Deliverables

A professional SEO Company should have a clear course of action to attain the desired results in a given time frame. They should be able to show the client what’s being completed for the first month and subsequent months. With this, you will be able to determine how much work is being done in relation to your costs, allowing you to determine your ROI. A clear outline of work in the proposal should be available at any time to show the extent of the campaign. This includes how much fresh and high quality relevant content they are going to publish on your website every week. How many distribution channels? What social media, article directories and websites are they going to use to distribute your content? How many PR submissions? And how many backlinks have been generated? These are the qualifying questions that need to be answered by a good SEO firm.

Reporting

A comprehensive report system should be provided to show the progress of the SEO campaign, as well as ranking status of the site. This reporting could be monthly or quarterly. The report should be clear and concise, using the right combination of graphics and texts. This will be the bench mark of how the firm is progressing towards your desired ranking status.

Performance Guarantee

Does the SEO Company offer some kind of guarantee, such as a percentage increase in traffic? Although there are a lot of factors involved in an SEO campaign, a professional SEO company will be able to give performance guarantees based on their years of experience and proven methodology.

These are the major considerations you need to look at when hiring an SEO Agency to make sure that you don’t pour your money down the drain. SEO is a vital marketing strategy to make your brand highly visible online to your target market and to grow your business. It is a time-consuming effort, but it has greater ROI in the long run when compared to other marketing options

A Brief Introduction to Captive Insurance

Over the past 20 years, many small businesses have begun to insure their own risks through a product called “Captive Insurance.” Small captives (also known as single-parent captives) are insurance companies established by the owners of closely held businesses looking to insure risks that are either too costly or too difficult to insure through the traditional insurance marketplace. Brad Barros, an expert in the field of captive insurance, explains how “all captives are treated as corporations and must be managed in a method consistent with rules established with both the IRS and the appropriate insurance regulator.”

According to Barros, often single parent captives are owned by a trust, partnership or other structure established by the premium payer or his family. When properly designed and administered, a business can make tax-deductible premium payments to their related-party insurance company. Depending on circumstances, underwriting profits, if any, can be paid out to the owners as dividends, and profits from liquidation of the company may be taxed at capital gains.

Premium payers and their captives may garner tax benefits only when the captive operates as a real insurance company. Alternatively, advisers and business owners who use captives as estate planning tools, asset protection vehicles, tax deferral or other benefits not related to the true business purpose of an insurance company may face grave regulatory and tax consequences.

Many captive insurance companies are often formed by US businesses in jurisdictions outside of the United States. The reason for this is that foreign jurisdictions offer lower costs and greater flexibility than their US counterparts. As a rule, US businesses can use foreign-based insurance companies so long as the jurisdiction meets the insurance regulatory standards required by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

There are several notable foreign jurisdictions whose insurance regulations are recognized as safe and effective. These include Bermuda and St. Lucia. Bermuda, while more expensive than other jurisdictions, is home to many of the largest insurance companies in the world. St. Lucia, a more reasonably priced location for smaller captives, is noteworthy for statutes that are both progressive and compliant. St. Lucia is also acclaimed for recently passing “Incorporated Cell” legislation, modeled after similar statutes in Washington, DC.

Common Captive Insurance Abuses; While captives remain highly beneficial to many businesses, some industry professionals have begun to improperly market and misuse these structures for purposes other than those intended by Congress. The abuses include the following:

1. Improper risk shifting and risk distribution, aka “Bogus Risk Pools”

2. High deductibles in captive-pooled arrangements; Re insuring captives through private placement variable life insurance schemes

3. Improper marketing

4. Inappropriate life insurance integration

Meeting the high standards imposed by the IRS and local insurance regulators can be a complex and expensive proposition and should only be done with the assistance of competent and experienced counsel. The ramifications of failing to be an insurance company can be devastating and may include the following penalties:

1. Loss of all deductions on premiums received by the insurance company

2. Loss of all deductions from the premium payer

3. Forced distribution or liquidation of all assets from the insurance company effectuating additional taxes for capital gains or dividends

4. Potential adverse tax treatment as a Controlled Foreign Corporation

5. Potential adverse tax treatment as a Personal Foreign Holding Company (PFHC)

6. Potential regulatory penalties imposed by the insuring jurisdiction

7. Potential penalties and interest imposed by the IRS.

All in all, the tax consequences may be greater than 100% of the premiums paid to the captive. In addition, attorneys, CPA’s wealth advisors and their clients may be treated as tax shelter promoters by the IRS, causing fines as great as $100,000 or more per transaction.

Clearly, establishing a captive insurance company is not something that should be taken lightly. It is critical that businesses seeking to establish a captive work with competent attorneys and accountants who have the requisite knowledge and experience necessary to avoid the pitfalls associated with abusive or poorly designed insurance structures. A general rule of thumb is that a captive insurance product should have a legal opinion covering the essential elements of the program. It is well recognized that the opinion should be provided by an independent, regional or national law firm.

Risk Shifting and Risk Distribution Abuses; Two key elements of insurance are those of shifting risk from the insured party to others (risk shifting) and subsequently allocating risk amongst a large pool of insured’s (risk distribution). After many years of litigation, in 2005 the IRS released a Revenue Ruling (2005-40) describing the essential elements required in order to meet risk shifting and distribution requirements.

For those who are self-insured, the use of the captive structure approved in Rev. Ruling 2005-40 has two advantages. First, the parent does not have to share risks with any other parties. In Ruling 2005-40, the IRS announced that the risks can be shared within the same economic family as long as the separate subsidiary companies ( a minimum of 7 are required) are formed for non-tax business reasons, and that the separateness of these subsidiaries also has a business reason. Furthermore, “risk distribution” is afforded so long as no insured subsidiary has provided more than 15% or less than 5% of the premiums held by the captive. Second, the special provisions of insurance law allowing captives to take a current deduction for an estimate of future losses, and in some circumstances shelter the income earned on the investment of the reserves, reduces the cash flow needed to fund future claims from about 25% to nearly 50%. In other words, a well-designed captive that meets the requirements of 2005-40 can bring about a cost savings of 25% or more.

While some businesses can meet the requirements of 2005-40 within their own pool of related entities, most privately held companies cannot. Therefore, it is common for captives to purchase “third party risk” from other insurance companies, often spending 4% to 8% per year on the amount of coverage necessary to meet the IRS requirements.

One of the essential elements of the purchased risk is that there is a reasonable likelihood of loss. Because of this exposure, some promoters have attempted to circumvent the intention of Revenue Ruling 2005-40 by directing their clients into “bogus risk pools.” In this somewhat common scenario, an attorney or other promoter will have 10 or more of their clients’ captives enter into a collective risk-sharing agreement. Included in the agreement is a written or unwritten agreement not to make claims on the pool. The clients like this arrangement because they get all of the tax benefits of owning a captive insurance company without the risk associated with insurance. Unfortunately for these businesses, the IRS views these types of arrangements as something other than insurance.

Risk sharing agreements such as these are considered without merit and should be avoided at all costs. They amount to nothing more than a glorified pretax savings account. If it can be shown that a risk pool is bogus, the protective tax status of the captive can be denied and the severe tax ramifications described above will be enforced.

It is well known that the IRS looks at arrangements between owners of captives with great suspicion. The gold standard in the industry is to purchase third party risk from an insurance company. Anything less opens the door to potentially catastrophic consequences.

Abusively High Deductibles; Some promoters sell captives, and then have their captives participate in a large risk pool with a high deductible. Most losses fall within the deductible and are paid by the captive, not the risk pool.

These promoters may advise their clients that since the deductible is so high, there is no real likelihood of third party claims. The problem with this type of arrangement is that the deductible is so high that the captive fails to meet the standards set forth by the IRS. The captive looks more like a sophisticated pre tax savings account: not an insurance company.

A separate concern is that the clients may be advised that they can deduct all their premiums paid into the risk pool. In the case where the risk pool has few or no claims (compared to the losses retained by the participating captives using a high deductible), the premiums allocated to the risk pool are simply too high. If claims don’t occur, then premiums should be reduced. In this scenario, if challenged, the IRS will disallow the deduction made by the captive for unnecessary premiums ceded to the risk pool. The IRS may also treat the captive as something other than an insurance company because it did not meet the standards set forth in 2005-40 and previous related rulings.

Private Placement Variable Life Reinsurance Schemes; Over the years promoters have attempted to create captive solutions designed to provide abusive tax free benefits or “exit strategies” from captives. One of the more popular schemes is where a business establishes or works with a captive insurance company, and then remits to a Reinsurance Company that portion of the premium commensurate with the portion of the risk re-insured.

Typically, the Reinsurance Company is wholly-owned by a foreign life insurance company. The legal owner of the reinsurance cell is a foreign property and casualty insurance company that is not subject to U.S. income taxation. Practically, ownership of the Reinsurance Company can be traced to the cash value of a life insurance policy a foreign life insurance company issued to the principal owner of the Business, or a related party, and which insures the principle owner or a related party.

1. The IRS may apply the sham-transaction doctrine.

2. The IRS may challenge the use of a reinsurance agreement as an improper attempt to divert income from a taxable entity to a tax-exempt entity and will reallocate income.

3. The life insurance policy issued to the Company may not qualify as life insurance for U.S. Federal income tax purposes because it violates the investor control restrictions.

Investor Control; The IRS has reiterated in its published revenue rulings, its private letter rulings, and its other administrative pronouncements, that the owner of a life insurance policy will be considered the income tax owner of the assets legally owned by the life insurance policy if the policy owner possesses “incidents of ownership” in those assets. Generally, in order for the life insurance company to be considered the owner of the assets in a separate account, control over individual investment decisions must not be in the hands of the policy owner.

The IRS prohibits the policy owner, or a party related to the policy holder, from having any right, either directly or indirectly, to require the insurance company, or the separate account, to acquire any particular asset with the funds in the separate account. In effect, the policy owner cannot tell the life insurance company what particular assets to invest in. And, the IRS has announced that there cannot be any prearranged plan or oral understanding as to what specific assets can be invested in by the separate account (commonly referred to as “indirect investor control”). And, in a continuing series of private letter rulings, the IRS consistently applies a look-through approach with respect to investments made by separate accounts of life insurance policies to find indirect investor control. Recently, the IRS issued published guidelines on when the investor control restriction is violated. This guidance discusses reasonable and unreasonable levels of policy owner participation, thereby establishing safe harbors and impermissible levels of investor control.

The ultimate factual determination is straight-forward. Any court will ask whether there was an understanding, be it orally communicated or tacitly understood, that the separate account of the life insurance policy will invest its funds in a reinsurance company that issued reinsurance for a property and casualty policy that insured the risks of a business where the life insurance policy owner and the person insured under the life insurance policy are related to or are the same person as the owner of the business deducting the payment of the property and casualty insurance premiums?

If this can be answered in the affirmative, then the IRS should be able to successfully convince the Tax Court that the investor control restriction is violated. It then follows that the income earned by the life insurance policy is taxable to the life insurance policy owner as it is earned.

The investor control restriction is violated in the structure described above as these schemes generally provide that the Reinsurance Company will be owned by the segregated account of a life insurance policy insuring the life of the owner of the Business of a person related to the owner of the Business. If one draws a circle, all of the monies paid as premiums by the Business cannot become available for unrelated, third-parties. Therefore, any court looking at this structure could easily conclude that each step in the structure was prearranged, and that the investor control restriction is violated.

Suffice it to say that the IRS announced in Notice 2002-70, 2002-2 C.B. 765, that it would apply both the sham transaction doctrine and §§ 482 or 845 to reallocate income from a non-taxable entity to a taxable entity to situations involving property and casualty reinsurance arrangements similar to the described reinsurance structure.

Even if the property and casualty premiums are reasonable and satisfy the risk sharing and risk distribution requirements so that the payment of these premiums is deductible in full for U.S. income tax purposes, the ability of the Business to currently deduct its premium payments on its U.S. income tax returns is entirely separate from the question of whether the life insurance policy qualifies as life insurance for U.S. income tax purposes.

Inappropriate Marketing; One of the ways in which captives are sold is through aggressive marketing designed to highlight benefits other than real business purpose. Captives are corporations. As such, they can offer valuable planning opportunities to shareholders. However, any potential benefits, including asset protection, estate planning, tax advantaged investing, etc., must be secondary to the real business purpose of the insurance company.

Recently, a large regional bank began offering “business and estate planning captives” to customers of their trust department. Again, a rule of thumb with captives is that they must operate as real insurance companies. Real insurance companies sell insurance, not “estate planning” benefits. The IRS may use abusive sales promotion materials from a promoter to deny the compliance and subsequent deductions related to a captive. Given the substantial risks associated with improper promotion, a safe bet is to only work with captive promoters whose sales materials focus on captive insurance company ownership; not estate, asset protection and investment planning benefits. Better still would be for a promoter to have a large and independent regional or national law firm review their materials for compliance and confirm in writing that the materials meet the standards set forth by the IRS.

The IRS can look back several years to abusive materials, and then suspecting that a promoter is marketing an abusive tax shelter, begin a costly and potentially devastating examination of the insured’s and marketers.

Abusive Life Insurance Arrangements; A recent concern is the integration of small captives with life insurance policies. Small captives treated under section 831(b) have no statutory authority to deduct life premiums. Also, if a small captive uses life insurance as an investment, the cash value of the life policy can be taxable to the captive, and then be taxable again when distributed to the ultimate beneficial owner. The consequence of this double taxation is to devastate the efficacy of the life insurance and, it extends serious levels of liability to any accountant recommends the plan or even signs the tax return of the business that pays premiums to the captive.

A Guide to Hiring an SEO Provider

If your business has any online components (such as a website), then SEO is crucial to the ongoing success of your business. You may have the most expensive website in your industry, but without web traffic (visitors) to that website, it is essentially useless. It is not just traffic that you need, but targeted traffic. A good quality SEO service can provide relevant, consistent web traffic to your website(s). This guide will allow you, as a non-expert, to distinguish between good and bad SEO providers. There are many of both kinds, this guide should help you to find the good ones.

SEO needs to be implemented in a way that is effective in achieving your SEO goals and providing that all important meaningful presence on the World Wide Web.

Quality SEO is a crucial investment when it comes to developing successful expansion and growth strategies.

Ineffective SEO implementation, renders your SEO efforts wholly ineffective and a waste of your money.

6 things you need to know and understand before hiring an SEO provider:

1) Hiring an SEO provider should be seen as an investment in your business. You should not view it as a business expense, but rather a business strategy and an effective way of enhancing your business presence within your business sector. Try not to begin your search with the intention of “buying some SEO”. Hiring an SEO provider should be viewed rather as hiring an employee that understands and cares about your business and its online objectives.

2) The first page of Google (or any search engine) is everything. Few people ever go to the second page of the search results anymore. Google is so good at being a search engine that people blindly trust Google’s ability to deliver the most relevant results on the first page. Think about how often you click through to the second page. This means that if your business is not on the first page, it’s almost as good as nowhere. The top positions on page one get the most clicks, which decrease as you progress downwards on the page.

3) The ‘big’ keywords are not everything. It is better to be on the first page for a few smaller keywords, than try to rank for bigger keywords and not be on the first page at all. For example, an accountancy business in Preston may not rank for the highly competitive keyword ‘accountant’ (unless they have a lot of SEO budget and time to wait for rankings); but the same business could conceivably rank highly for the keyword ‘chartered accountant Preston’. A good SEO provider should research the keywords that your business could realistically rank on page one for and also keywords that have enough search volume to be worthwhile for your business to try ranking for.

4) SEO is all about beating your competition. There is no guarantee from the search engines to say you will be on the first page of Google if you do certain things. Put simply, SEO works like this:

The search engines have their conventions; websites that conform by giving the search engines what they want, will find themselves achieving better search engine rankings. The only thing standing between you and the top spots in the search rankings is your competition. Not your actual business competitors, but your online competitors. The websites that currently have the top spots in the search engines for your desired keywords are your online competition, and you need to beat them out of those top spots. Some keywords will be easy to rank for, others will be more difficult. It is only your online competition that dictates which will be the case for each individual keyword. A good SEO provider will research the competition for each of your keywords. Then, after the most effective keywords for your business sector have been identified they should be implemented in accordance with point number three above.

5) On-page and Off-page SEO.

Search engine optimisation is a complex and ever-evolving science, but in order to intelligently interview a prospective SEO provider you need to understand that there are two main types of SEO.

On-page SEO relates to the factors on your website that affect your SEO (keywords, usability, page headings, outbound links, internal links, etc.).

Off-page SEO are the factors that relate directly to matters outside of your website that affect the SEO of the website, such as back links, citations, social sharing, etc.

SEO providers can work on your off-page SEO fairly easily, but if you are not willing to change on-page SEO, according to their recommendations, you cannot blame them for lack of results. A good SEO provider will review your website and report back about your on-page SEO, and how it can be improved. You should have your web designer make the adjustments.(Remember he is the expert in this field)

6) An increase in search engine ranking is not necessarily an increase in leads and sales. All your SEO provider can do is get your website, videos, Google Places, articles, blog posts, etc. further up the search engine results. They cannot guarantee an increase in sales or leads, because that factor is determined by your own sales funnel. It is not the SEO provider’s job to make sure that the extra web traffic you receive will convert to more leads or sales. Your website needs to convert those visitors with good marketing, which is an issue for your marketing consultant to deal with.

The key differences between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ SEO providers:

Good SEO Providers
Good SEO providers know and understand the points mentioned above. You can judge this by their answers to the questions provided later in my next article.
Good SEO providers want to build a solid foundation and a proper SEO plan for your business, with extensive initial keyword and market (competitor) research. They will often insist upon it, even if the prospective client does not see the need. Sometimes a good SEO provider will refuse to work with a client that does not want the important groundwork to be done, because they know that without it they will not be likely to provide the client with the results that they want. A good SEO provider will want to provide their client with results as their first priority. Often a client will say “but I’ve already done the keyword research myself”. Many potential clients sit down for 5 or 10 minutes to write out all the keywords that they think are relevant to their business, and then think that they have now done all the keyword research that is needed. Real keyword research is a lengthy, investigative process.

Good SEO providers use responsible SEO methods, such as paying more attention to on-page SEO, securing quality back links, improving citations, aiding social sharing, ensuring a good user experience, etc.

Bad SEO Providers
Bad SEO providers will want to take their clients’ money as their first priority. They will not conduct proper keyword and market research, but will say, for example, “what are your three keywords and your URL that you want to rank for”. If this happens (as it often does) you can be sure they are simply plugging your website into software to get irrelevant back links all over the internet, using spam blog comments, link farms and other means. In many cases this approach is ineffective because the URL, or domain, may not match the client’s desired keywords. This can also damage the reputation and, ironically, the long-term SEO and credibility of the website.
Bad SEO providers use bad quality SEO methods (Sometimes referred to as Black-hat methods), Utilising these methods can have an extremely detrimental effect on how your website is perceived by search engines. This in turn may result in your website being (Sand boxed). Needless to say this is extremely undesirable, as damage such as this is extremely difficult to reverse.

A Beginner’s Guide to Insurance

Having the right kind of insurance is central to sound financial planning. Some of us may have some form of insurance but very few really understand what it is or why one must have it. For most Indians insurance is a form of investment or a superb tax saving avenue. Ask an average person about his/her investments and they will proudly mention an insurance product as part of their core investments. Of the approximately 5% of Indians that are insured the proportion of those adequately insured is much lower. Very few of the insured view insurance as purely that. There is perhaps no other financial product that has witnessed such rampant mis-selling at the hands of agents who are over enthusiastic in selling products linking insurance to investment earning them fat commissions.

What is Insurance?

Insurance is a way of spreading out significant financial risk of a person or business entity to a large group of individuals or business entities in the occurrence of an unfortunate event that is predefined. The cost of being insured is the monthly or annual compensation paid to the insurance company. In the purest form of insurance if the predefined event does not occur until the period specified the money paid as compensation is not retrieved. Insurance is effectively a means of spreading risk among a pool of people who are insured and lighten their financial burden in the event of a shock.

Insured and Insurer

When you seek protection against financial risk and make a contract with an insurance provider you become the insured and the insurance company becomes your insurer.

Sum assured

In Life Insurance this is the amount of money the insurer promises to pay when the insured dies before the predefined time. This does not include bonuses added in case of non-term insurance. In non-life insurance this guaranteed amount may be called as Insurance Cover.

Premium

For the protection against financial risk an insurer provides, the insured must pay compensation. This is known as premium. They may be paid annually, quarterly, monthly or as decided in the contract. Total amount of premiums paid is several times lesser than the insurance cover or it wouldn’t make much sense to seek insurance at all. Factors that determine premium are the cover, number of years for which insurance is sought, age of the insured (individual, vehicle, etc), to name a few.

Nominee

The beneficiary who is specified by the insured to receive the sum assured and other benefits, if any is the nominee. In case of life insurance it must be another person apart from the insured.

Policy Term

The number of years you want protection for is the term of policy. Term is decided by the insured at the time of purchasing the insurance policy.

Rider

Certain insurance policies may offer additional features as add-ons apart from the actual cover. These can be availed by paying extra premiums. If those features were to be bought separately they would be more expensive. For instance you could add on a personal accident rider with your life insurance.

Surrender Value and Paid-up Value

If you want to exit a policy before its term ends you can discontinue it and take back your money. The amount the insurer will pay you in this instance is called the surrender value. The policy ceases to exist. Instead if you just stop paying the premiums mid way but do not withdraw money the amount is called as paid-up. At the term’s end the insurer pays you in proportion of the paid-up value.

Now that you know the terms this is how insurance works in plain words. An insurance company pools premiums from a large group of people who want to insure against a certain kind of loss. With the help of its actuaries the company comes up with statistical analysis of the probability of actual loss happening in a certain number of people and fixes premiums taking into account other factors as mentioned earlier. It works on the fact that not all insured will suffer loss at the same time and many may not suffer the loss at all within the time of contract.

Types of Insurance

Potentially any risk that can be quantified in terms of money can be insured. To protect loved ones from loss of income due to immature death one can have a life insurance policy. To protect yourself and your family against unforeseen medical expenses you can opt for a Mediclaim policy. To protect your vehicle against robbery or damage in accidents you can have a motor insurance policy. To protect your home against theft, damage due to fire, flood and other perils you can choose a home insurance.

Most popular insurance forms in India are life insurance, health insurance and motor insurance. Apart from these there are other forms as well which are discussed in brief in the following paragraphs. The insurance sector is regulated and monitored by IRDA (Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority).

Life Insurance

This form of insurance provides cover against financial risk in the event of premature death of the insured. There are 24 life insurance companies playing in this arena of which Life Insurance Corporation of India is a public sector company. There are several forms of life insurance policies the simplest form of which is term plan. The other complex policies are endowment plan, whole life plan, money back plan, ULIPs and annuities.

General Insurance

All other insurance policies besides Life Insurance fall under General Insurance. There are 24 general insurance companies in India of which 4 namely National Insurance Company Ltd, New India Assurance Company Ltd, Oriental Insurance Company Ltd and United India Insurance Company Ltd are in the public sector domain.

The biggest pie of non-life insurance in terms of premiums underwritten is shared by motor insurance followed by engineering insurance and health insurance. Other forms of insurance offered by companies in India are home insurance, travel insurance, personal accident insurance, and business insurance.

Buying Insurance

There are an umpteen number of policies to choose from. Because we cannot foresee our future and stop unpleasant things from happening, having an insurance cover is a necessity. But you need to choose carefully. Don’t simply go with what the agent tells you. Read policy documents to know what is covered, what features are offered and what events are excluded from being insured.

1. Know your Needs

Determine what asset or incident must be protected against loss/damage. Is it you life, health, vehicle, home? Next determine what kinds of damage or danger exactly would the assets be most probably be exposed to. This will tell you what features you should be looking for in a policy. Of course there will be losses which cannot be foreseen and the cost of dealing with them can be very high. For instance nobody can predict that they’ll never suffer from critical illnesses no matter if they’re perfectly healthy at present.

The biggest mistake while it comes to buying insurance, particularly life insurance is to view it as an investment. Clubbing insurance and investment in a single product is a poor idea. You lose out on both fronts because for the premiums you’re paying more cover could’ve been got in a term plan and if the premiums were invested in better instruments your returns could’ve been several times more.

Be wary of agents who want to talk you into buying unnecessary policies like child life insurance, credit card insurance, unemployment insurance and so on. Instead of buying separate insurance for specific assets or incidents look for policies that cover a host of possible events under the same cover. Whenever possible choose riders that make sense instead of buying them separately. Unless there is a fair chance of an event happening you do not need insurance for it. For instance unless you are very prone to accidents and disability due to your nature of work or other reasons you do not need an Accident Insurance policy. A good Life Insurance policy with accidental death rider or waiver of premium rider or a disability income rider will do the job.

2. Understand Product Features and Charges

The worst way of choosing an insurance product or insurer is to blindly follow the recommendation of an agent or a friend. The good way to do it is to shop around for products that suit your need and filter out the ones offering lower premiums for similar terms like age, amount of cover, etc. All details you need about the product features and charges will be provided on the company’s website. Many insurance policies can now be bought online. Buying online is smarter because premiums are lower due to elimination of agent fees. If buying offline in case of life insurance, tell the agent that you’re interested only in term insurance.

Before you sign on the contract make sure you have understood what items are covered and what items are exempted from the cover. It would be so devastating to learn in the event of damage or loss that the item you hoped to cover with the insurance was actually excluded. So many people rush to their insurers after being treated for diseases only to realize that the particular disease was excluded. Understand details like when the cover begins and ends and how claims can be filed and losses be reported.

Don’t choose an insurance company because your neighbourhood friend is their agent and never let them coax you into buying from them. Insurance premiums run for years and it means a sizeable amount of money. Apart from the premiums charged look for the service provided. When you are faced with a peril you want the claims collection processed to be complicated with non-cooperating staff in the insurance company’s office. Seek answers from people who have had previous experience with the company for questions like how customer friendly and responsive the company is when it comes to handling claims.

3. Evaluate and Upgrade in Time

As you walk from one life stage to another or when the asset insured changes your policies must be reviewed. Perhaps your cover will need to be increased (or decreased) or you’ll need to top it up with a rider. Some instances when you need to review your cover are when you getting married, when you have children, when your income increases your decreases substantially, when you’re buying a house/car and when you’re responsible for your ageing parents.